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Wishbone Ash - Just Testing CD (album) cover

JUST TESTING

Wishbone Ash

 

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2.87 | 97 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars Test result - must try harder!

Into the 1980's we go, and Wishbone Ash are still releasing albums. That, unfortunately is about the best that can be said for "Just testing". This was the last album (for the time being) to include Martin Turner in the line up. After the strong "No smoke without fire", it seems the band were now running low on ideas, perhaps born out by Claire Hamill's co-writing of the opening track, and the inclusion of a non band composition "Helpless". Hamill also adds backing vocals to three of the tracks, but her contribution is under- exploited.

The tracks are generally mid-paced boogies with little variation, and a general air of laziness. Certainly, the guitar sounds are more varied than usual, "Insomnia" sounding like it has a synthesiser break. "Living proof" is the only track on the first side to have any real life, but the song itself is prosaic and uninteresting.

"Pay the price", which kicks off side two is a really ordinary pop rock song. The following "New rising star" is a slower dirge, but it lacks the impact usually associated with the band's ballads. The lyrics too plumb the depths, "Skin deep, so cheap, This thing called beauty Beholder, railroader, cold shoulder... This song has found its life Inside its own breast.

"Master of disguise" is the best of the bunch here, but admittedly it does not face a lot of competition. The song has a stronger melody which, when combined with more orthodox Ash guitar work and some background organ playing, make for a pleasant diversion. Hamill's vocals are at their most apparent here too. The closing "Lifeline" also has more pleasing guitar work, but the song itself is devoid of an identity.

It seems to be no coincidence that when the band chose to produce themselves, the production is lacklustre. Here, Martin Turner receives an individual production credit, along with John Sherry and the rest of the band. There is a real 80's feel to much of the music, with something of a new wave tint to the songs. The poses in the sleeve image too, have much more of an image conscious overtone than the band would have tolerated a few years previously.

In summary, a poor offering from Wishbone Ash.

Easy Livin | 2/5 |

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