~ Under Wraps ~


Photograph taken during the Under Wraps tour in 1984,
exact location and date remain unknown. By courtesy of
© Kevan D. Shaw.

Radio Free Moscow

  • The ironic song title alludes to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Free Europe, Inc., was established in 1949 as non-profit, private corporations to broadcast news and current affairs programs to Eastern European countries behind the Iron Curtain. The Radio Liberty Committee, Inc., was created two years later along the same lines to broadcast to the nations inside the Soviet Union. Both were funded principally by the U.S. Congress, through the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The mission of these stations was: "promoting democratic values and institutions by disseminating factual information and ideas". Like Moscow Radio, they were in their own way propaganda tools of the Western world. Although their transmissions were obstructed by Soviet jamming stations during the fifties and sixties, they could be received.

  • The "Voice Of America" is a radio broadcasting network of the U.S. government, a unit of the United States Information Agency (USIA). Its first broadcast, in German, took place on Feb. 24, 1942, and was intended to counter Nazi propaganda among the German people. It became part of the USIA when that agency was established in 1953. The VOA's function was to promote understanding of the United States and to spread American values ("symbol of the free"). During the Cold War it concentrated its message at the communist countries of eastern and central Europe. Its daily broadcasts include news reports, stories and discussions on American political and cultural events, and editorials setting forth U.S. government policy.

  • "Moscow Radio" was the official state radio of the Soviet Union ("Tune into messages from the eastern avenue"). It was used for internal and foreign propaganda during the Cold War ("mine of disinformation, pleading sympathy"). Their transmissions were also obstructed by jamming their signals, but they could nevertheless be received in most of the Western countries. There is more detailed historical information on Moscow Radio at hand in the article "All power to the microphone", written by Armen Oganessian and issued in The Unesco Courier (February 1, 1997).

  • So the Cold War wasn't only fought out by the spies and hitmen, mentioned in the previous songs, but also in the ether and the broadcastings from both sides increased the political tension in those days: "War of the air-waves making scare-waves". Listening to Moscow Radio was considered to be a subversive activity, especially in the United States during the McCarthy era:
    "Somebody's at the door,
    catching me in the act,
    they've been keeping the score".
    * Jan Voorbij

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* Ian Anderson during the Under Wraps tour. Courtesy: Ivar Aasheim.

Nobody's Car

  • "Black Volga following me". Several models of Volga limousines were used in the Soviet Union by communist party officials, diplomats, and - as in this song - by KGB-agents. Most of them were armoured.

  • Volga in the colour of black was a symbol of extreme power in Soviet. They used to carry Big Cheeses. Common man couldn't buy Black Volga (he could but nobody sold it to him). Though there were a plenty of yellow Volgas used as a taxis and other colours in private owns. Though it isn't popular among folk because it has lousy construction and to keep it in fit you should be either a handyman or hire a personal one. Big Cheeses always drove with such personal drivers-handymen. It consumes a lot of petrol and money, were completed with built-in radio-phone. But Black Volgas was untouchable among militia, they could drive literally everywhere and on the wrong side of the street, they could smash your car and drove away and nobody cared. They used to have registration numbers such as 0001, 5555 or 1111 (grace numbers).
    Now the situation has changed and Volga is an ordinary car among all the others. Not a big deal at all and no tracks of old luxury. Big Cheeses have changed for Mercedes SL 600, BMW or Audi-A8, or Mercedes jeeps.
    * Peter Diakonov

  • "Intourist city": Intourist was the only official travel agency of the Soviet Union for travel to in within that country. The secret service KGB used the Intourist organisation to keep an eye on foreigners who visited the Soviet Union. Today Intourist is a travel agency that deploys a variety of commercial activities in the field of tourism.
    * Jan Voorbij

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  • I tend to take this song as a continuation of "Nobody's Car". Once again the tension is carefully built up to an extent that the "wanted man" and his unit ("Notify all parties") is offered a last chance to escape from the agents (or hitmen) that are chasing him ("Better run while you can - better set the tall sail").

  • "Trop tard sera le cri": This is the first part of a sentence which Ian borrowed from a French school book he used in his teen years. The full English translation reads: "Too late will be the cry, when the ice-cream salesman has gone by".
    * Jan Voorbij; Source: Greg Russo: "Flying Colours, the Jethro Tull reference manual"(Crossfire Publications, 2000), p. 131.

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Under Wraps # 2

  • A reprise of Under Wraps # 1, with the same lyrics, however this time in an acoustic setting. It's the only acoustic song on the album and might be included to give a warmer, different kind of expression to the tender feelings of the narrator than in the first take.

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* Concert poster from the Under Wraps tour.
Courtesy: Ivar Aasheim


  • "It's apogee" (or "apogeum"): The moon and artificial satellites are orbitting the earth elliptically. When they reach the point where they are as far from the earth as possible, they have reached their apogee.

  • "Tennyson and Wordsworth there,
    waiting for me in the cold thin air":
    William Wordsworth (1770 - 1850) and Lord Alfred Tennyson (1809 - 1892) were English poets from the Romantic period.

    * Jan Voorbij

  • "Beware a host of unearthly daffodils
    drifting golden, turned up load"

    All kinds of celestial bodies are compared here to daffodils. A reference to one of the best known poems of William Wordsworth:

    The Daffodils

    I wandered lonely as a cloud
       That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
    When all at once I saw a crowd,
       A host, of golden daffodils,
    Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
    Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

    Continuous as the stars that shine
       And twinkle on the milky way,
    They stretched in never-ending line
       Along the margin of a bay:
    Ten thousand saw I at a glance
    Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

    The waves beside them danced, but they
       Out-did the sparkling leaves in glee:
    A Poet could not be but gay
       In such a jocund company!
    I gazed - and gazed - but little thought
    What wealth the show to me had brought:

    For oft, when on my couch I lie
       In vacant or in pensive mood,
    They flash upon that inward eye
       Which is the bliss of solitude;
    And then my heart with pleasure fills,
    And dances with the daffodils.

    "The Wrong Stuff": is a reference to the novel "The Right Stuff" by Tom Wolfe, which was also made into a film. The 'right stuff' is what these guys had, apparently: guts, good old American machismo in the early days of the space programme.
    * Andy Jackson

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    Photograph taken during the Under Wraps tour in 1984,
    exact location and date remain unknown.
    By courtesy of
    © Kevan D. Shaw.

Automotive Engineering

  • This is a song about the appliance of new technologies in the car-industry ("....... everyone's turbo'd and carbon fibre is the way to go, go"; "Down at the robot factory things are humming"), showing a feel of uneasiness with the augmenting power of these technologies, taking over the human role in the production process ("no humans testing").
    The line
    "But the Japs are coming..." refers to the growing competion in the car-industry. Since the mid-seventies the number of Toyotas, Nissans and Mitsubishis sold in the US and in Europe increased tremendously, to an extent where the Japanese car-industry conquered a large percentage of the market at the expense of European and American made cars.
    * Jan Voorbij

  • "Take a trip in your Freudian slip
    Doctor Ferdinand (Ferdie) has got you in his grip."

    I think this verse of Automotive Engineering is about driving a Porsche. The designer of the German sports car was dr. Ferdinand Porsche, who also was responsible for the design of the Volkswagen Beetle in 1934. Austrian psychoanalist Sigmund Freud was long gone wehen the first Porsche left the factory in 1951, but in his view driving a sports car might be regarded as a man's subconscious compensation for his fear of impotence. The powerful car would in that respect serve as an extension of a man's penis.
    * Jeroen Louis

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General Crossing


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Last modified: November 28 - 2000

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