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Wishbone Ash - Pilgrimage CD (album) cover


Wishbone Ash


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3.61 | 263 ratings

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Easy Livin
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3 stars A pilgrimage. . . to the pub!

"Pilgrimage" is a something of a transitional album for Wishbone Ash, sitting between the raw excitement of their superb first album, and the majestic excellence of "Argus".

The indications are that the band had struggled to come up with sufficient material for the album, including as it does a cover version, a lengthy live workout, and a some fairly prosaic compositions. This may have been due to time pressures to come up with a follow up to their successful debut.

The album opens with a rare non-band composition "Vas-Dis", which features scat vocals and intrusive drumming. The song was written and originally performed by legendary jazz organist Jack McDuff (at least the band paid him due credit, Led Zeppelin take note!). The track is altogether a bit too jazzy for my tastes. Quickly however, we are into the more orthodox "The pilgrim", the feature track of the album. This finely crafted piece opens with relaxed drifting guitar before moving steadily into a faster twin guitar work out with vocalised passages. There are no lyrics as such, but the track is along the lines of "Time was".

"Jail bait" is written around a standard blues structure, the superb band performance preventing it from otherwise being rather ordinary. "Alone" gives the best indication of the route the band would take with "Argus", the twin guitar sound being developed far more successfully here. It sounds a bit like the introduction to "The king will come".

The second side of the album consists of just three tracks. "Lullaby" is a suitable title for the brief lilting guitar instrumental which opens the side pleasantly but unobtrusively. The studio album effectively ends with "Valediction", a fine reflective piece which develops through an excellent guitar section.

The closing track, "Where were you tomorrow" is for no apparent reason a live recording. It seems the song was recorded in the studio as part of the "Pilgrimage" sessions, the studio version eventually seeing the light of day on a 1993 compilation. I can only assume the band felt that the live version captured the energy of the track better. Unfortunately, in retrospect all they did was to highlight the weakness of the song, which is little more than a blues based excuse for a protracted guitar jam. The rendition is enjoyable, but could be by any of the thousands of bands who play in pubs all over the UK week in week out. Think of TEN YEARS AFTER's (great) performance at Woodstock and you have a good idea of the song.

In all, a decent second album by the band, but very much a stopgap between two of their major releases.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |


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