Chrysalis Records, 1984
REVIEW BY: Riley McDonald
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 07/26/2004
After months of being used to the olde, folky sound that went hand-in-hand with Jethro Tull, it would be an understatement of epic proportions to say I was surprised to hear the opening couple of seconds on the band's 1984 album. At first, I thought I grabbed an electronica/disco album by mistake! Only when I heard the flute passages in the background was I assured that this was my favourite rock band, taking yet another musical direction.
The first track, "Lap of Luxury" met with an astounding "what the hell is this?" from yours truly. Instead of the usual dual melodies of Anderson's flute and Barre's guitar, the song had synthesisers, and, the bane of my musical enjoyment, electronic drums. Of course, leave it to Ian Anderson to be the only one who can use these drums effectively.
Along with the prog/folk musical feel, the timeless lyrics are gone as well. Seen on songs like "European Legacy" and "Later, That Same Evening" (to name a few) the lyrics seem to be based around espionage or the Cold War. While the words themselves aren't terrible, a lot of the tracks seem very dated nowadays.
The thing that really strikes me about this album is hot hit-or-miss each of the tracks are. There really is no middle-ground. Songs like "Radio Free Moscow" and "Paparazzi" are excellent rocking tunes, while stuff like "Tundra" and "Astronomy" are dismal failures.
Even in this album, which is an oddity unto itself, there are the odd tracks. The ones that stick our are "Nobody's Car," which sounds pretty awful, and "Under Wraps #2," which is actually a return to the folk stylings that are sorely missed on this album.
Overall, this is definitely not going to be everyone's cup o' tea. This album was heavily disliked in the American market, and it was a heavy blow to their popularity overseas. I also do not recommend this CD to any newbies to Tull, lest they end up forsaking their classic '60s and '70s work. However, for die-hard Tull fans, people who dig electronica or '80s pop, or people who are really open-minded, this album will be a good, if slightly strange record to have in their collection.