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Wishbone Ash - Wishbone Ash CD (album) cover


Wishbone Ash


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3.83 | 252 ratings

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4 stars Still recording, releasing and touring after almost half-a-decade in existence, the lengthy and colourful Wishbone Ash story began all the way back in 1970 with this assured self-titled debut. Forty-four years and twenty-nine studio albums have followed, yet the simple fact of the matter is that Wishbone Ash peaked early on, issuing a fine opening trio of albums before venturing into a long, slow and sometimes painful artistic-and-commercial decline. However, despite those ill-judged late-career forays into NWOBHM-era heavy metal and, er...techno(!?) on the late-nineties albums 'Trance Visionary' and 'Psychic Terrorism', Wishbone Ash have actually enjoyed a pretty successful career, cracking North America during the late-seventies, issuing at least one stone-cold classic in the form of 1972's 'Argus' and somehow sustaining an audience throughout their many fluctuations in both style and popularity. Like many groups who started out during the heady days of the late- sixties/early-seventies, Wishbone Ash's best bits defintely came early on, during a short-but-scintillating three-year period that began with this debut album, continued on with 1971's 'Pilgrimage', and peaked with the all-conquering 'Argus'. All three albums, plus 1974's folksy 'Wishbone Four', feature the 'classic' Ash line-up of Andy Powell(guitar, vocals), Martin Turner(bass, vocals), Ted Turner(guitar) and Steve Upton(drums), and it this period which truly defines the group. These peak years effectively ended when, following 'Wishbone Four', the group's original twin-guitar attack was broken up, and Laurie Wisefield, formerly of progressive rock outfit Home, replaced the departing Ted Turner. From here on in, the distinctive Wishbone Ash sound would undergo a gradual Americanisation, with albums such on as 'Locked In' and 'New England' showcasing a slick and formulaic hard rock style aimed squarely at the North Ameican charts. Issued by MCA during the run-up to Christmas, 1970's 'Wishbone Ash' proved a surprise debut success and instantly found the group an audience in their homeland. The dual guitar attack offered up by Powell(who, as of summer 2014, is still leading the group) and Ted Turner both thrills and enthralls on the album's closing pair of epics, with both the ten-minute 'Handy' and the mystical opus 'The Phoenix' displaying the group's clever mix of hard rock pyrotechnics, soaring harmonies and atmospheric acoustic undertones. Despite a so-so opening with the frenetic, blues-stained opener 'Blind Eye', this remains a fine album from a youthful and energetic group. Echoes of 'Argus' can be heard in the album's carefully-layered grooves, whilst Martin Turner's ambivalent lyrics mesh cleverly with the album's lofty themes. STEFAN TURNER, TOULOUSE, 2014

stefro | 4/5 |


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