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Wishbone Ash - Illuminations CD (album) cover


Wishbone Ash


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3.68 | 67 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose

After an anxious wait of some 5 years to see whether there would be any further new material released in the name of Wishbone Ash, Andy Powell finally put the fans out of their misery with this 1996 release. While misgivings about the absence of Ted and Martin Turner plus Steve Upton were only to be expected, the continuation of the twin lead guitar line up, backed by a solid rhythm section and a dedicated lead vocalist, offered the reassurance that Powell was intent on business as usual. Pretty much all the songs here are co-credited to Powell and the multi-talented Roger Filgate.

The 6 minute opener "Mountainside" could easily have been lifted straight from one of the band's early albums, only the unfamiliar vocals belie its origins. A lengthy burst of harmonised guitars introduces an upbeat toe-tapper with a pleasing energy and freshness.

An early highlight is "Top of the world", a mid paced number with jangling guitar and a great hook. The song suits Tony Kishman's voice well and the lead guitar work here is right up there with the band's finest. The lyrics could be, at least in part, a reflection on the former days of the band: " Say goodbye to the old days, they're over and gone. Facing up to the realisation that we've got to move on.".

Andy Powell takes on lead vocals for "No Joke", a song firmly rooted in the "Argus" days, with changes of tempo and incisive guitars. This one will please long term fans immensely. The following 10 minute "Tales of the wise", might be described as a loose remake of "Phoenix". This magnificent epic has all the ingredients of a Wishbone Ash classic, with an opening anthem leading to a raising of the pace for a lengthy guitar break. This really is one of the finest songs recorded in the Wishbone Ash name for many a long year, and alone makes the album worthwhile.

The latter part of the album settles down to a series of more straightforward guitar rock songs. Of these, the biting "Mystery man", a song empathising with the plight of Vietnam war veterans, stands above the rest. The song actually sounds rather like a Free number, with its brooding blues style. We close with a bonus instrumental track "The crack of dawn", a sort of backing track for "Leaf and stream".

In all, a fine album in the Wishbone Ash name, which captures the essence of the band while moving them firmly into the late 1990's. While let down slightly by the later tracks, the first half of the album makes this an essential purchase for fans.

Easy Livin | 4/5 |


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