Ian Anderson and company seemed to make a conscious effort to update Jethro Tull's sound on this record. And, to the amazement (and distress) of many, it was voted the Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Performance. Truth is, it isn't a bad album, with an opening track that qualifies as hard rock and pretty much shouts its credentials out in Martin Barre's screaming lead guitar line, present throughout. "Jump Start" and "Raising Steam" also rock hard, and no one can complain of too much on this record being soft, apart from the acoustic "The Waking Edge," along with "Budapest" and "Said She Was a Dancer," Anderson's two aging rock-star's-eye-view accounts of meeting women from around the world. The antiwar song "Mountain Men" is classic Tull-styled electric folk, all screaming electric guitars at a pretty high volume by its end. Overall, this is a fairly successful album and arguably their best since 1978, even if it does seem a little insignificant in relation to, say, Thick As a Brick. By this time Tull was effectively a core trio of Anderson, Barre, and bassist Dave Pegg, augmented by whatever musicians (drummers Gerry Conway and Doane Perry, Fairport Convention keyboard player Martin Allcock, and violinist Ric Sanders) that they needed to fill out their sound. The result is a very lean-sounding group and a record probably as deserving of a Grammy as any other album of its year -- in the cosmic scheme, it sort of made up for Tull's not winning one for Thick As a Brick or Aqualung, or for Dave Pegg's former band Fairport Convention never winning.
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AllMusic Review by Bruce Eder