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Wishbone Ash - Live Dates CD (album) cover


Wishbone Ash

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mystic fred
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars i have always been rather wary of live albums for obvious reasons: poor sound quality, audience intrusion/singalong, over-indulgent solos etc., and i have very few in my collection, but "live dates" is one of the best live albums you will find, in my opinion almost up there with "made in japan", "live at leeds" and "yessongs". the sound quality is spacious, clear and full, the playing is faultless, this mca double lp contains some brilliant solos and has tracks taken from each of their first four albums. the album was recorded during dates at croydon, newcastle, reading and portsmouth during june 1973 on the rolling stones mobile ( who else used that?? ). side one disc one kicks straight into "the king will come", "warrior" and "throw down the sword" from "argus". on side two i wish they'd included "errors..." and "handy" instead of "rock'n'roll widow" and "ballad of the beacon", but actually these sound better on this live album than the studio versions, so there you go i suppose. this side ends with the blues song "baby what you want me to do" which includes great blues/slide guitar solos. disc two starts with tight versions of "the pilgrim", boogie- style "blowin' free" and "jailbait" (really cookin' now) and side four has great versions of "lady whiskey" and a beautiful 17 minute long version of "phoenix" from the first lp, other than that track no long improvisations, just excellent renditions of some their best songs. excellent addition!
Report this review (#73750)
Posted Saturday, April 1, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Live Dates is the only proof needed to show that Wishbone Ash were one of the finest live acts of their time (and still are). The flawless renditions of their classic songs along with an incredible impression of energy is what makes this an absolutely essential part of the Wishbone Ash collection.

The obvious highlight of this album is Phoenix, which has remained a staple of the Wishbone Ash live experience all throughout their history as their improv piece. This 17 minute rendition is no exception, it's exceptionally played with surprisingly soulful solos and brilliant twin guitar harmonies as well as incredible drumming to put it all together. Other highlights include Warrior, Blowin' Free and Jail Bait which are perfect to play live for a crowd.

Usually live albums are generally overlooked as decent parts of a discography, however this one is essential, not only to the Wishbone Ash fan but to any fan of live albums, it really doesn't get much better than this.

Report this review (#149409)
Posted Wednesday, November 7, 2007 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
5 stars Live Dates is one of those classic live albums of the 70's that any rock fan must have. It is in the same league with the better known Made In Japan (Deep Purple), Yessongs (Yes), Genesis Live (a pity it is not a double album!), Live And Dangerous (Thin Lizzy), Live At Leeds (The Who) , Strangers In The Night (UFO) and very few others. Unlike many of their peers, Wishbone Ash were really better live than in the studio, as this CD shows all the time. Those guys were outstanding musicians and their performances are spotless, beautiful and, believe it or not, extremely well recorded.

My CD is the single disc version, released in the mid-90's by the Beat Goes On label, which were the very first companies to actually do a fine, respectful, remastering of the original tapes. Their work on this album is up to their fame: crystal clear sound, where you can hear everything, even the guitarrist pickin'on the strings of the guitar on the 17 minute epic Phoenix. The single CD holds the entire double LP in 79:48 running time, quite a feat! The double original CD by MCA has only one song on the second disc, another version of Phoenix, not worth the extra money you had to pay for it. At the time I thought this was very unfair to the fans and I still think so. So look for the BGO version.

The set list is great, picking up songs from their first four LPs. If you ever wanted to know a band that is quite progressive and used no keyboards on their sound, then Wishbone Ash is a good exemple (just hear the 9 minute instrumental track Pilgrim to get a glimpse of how good and progressive they really were). Great guitar solos, licks and duels, fine vocal hamonies and a very strong rhythm section (the bass is so well mixed you can hardly believe) Those guys were very influential for the 80's hard and heavy metal bands (like Iron Maiden, among others), but not only. Their melodic sound is very original and have some classical and british folk leanings that add to their obvious rock'n roll and blues influences (they deliver a great cover of the Jimmy Reed's blues classic Baby Waht You Want Me To Do). Andy Powell is a superb guitarrist, and his slide guitar interventions here and there are quite creative and different from most players.

All in all a classic album recorded when Wishbone Ash was at itsr peak. One of the few live albums that captures the band outdoing their already fine studio perfomances. Everything works here. A must have for any rock fan, prog or not. Five stars, no less.

Report this review (#184349)
Posted Wednesday, October 1, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars All revews on this album are good, and it isn't strange: WA is rare band, who's almost all concerts and live recordings are better than studio works!

I saw them first time somewhere at the end of 80's in Vilnius Concert and Sports Hall. OK, there was different band and different music, we all waited for their old blues-rock songs, but got instrumental rock show. But even in that situation, their live music was better, than their last instrumental albums.

Absolutely the same situation with Live Dates album ( OK, just from early their history). After few strong studio albums they released disappointed "Wishbone Ash Four" with few strong songs, uninspired musicanship, low quality produced sound and plenty of fillers in album space.

What after? Yes, this live double LP ( which became double CD later -with just one additional bonus (another live Phoenix version)) put everything in it's places! WA can play good music, but they do it live! Even songs from "Wishbone Ash Four"sounds better during concert. I am not speaking about earlier golden period songs!

Plenty of guitar solos, more focused sound, more energy - that is Live Dates! And more prog sound ( in comparence with their new direction, started from "WA Four").

OK, I can't name their music prog-rock, no way, but at list you will get more instrumental beauty there. As for me, I think that if you want to have just one WA album in your collection, this is that one!

Report this review (#237047)
Posted Friday, September 4, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars There are few bands as fundamental to the history of rock and roll, as influential to its future, yet as woefully obscured by time as Wishbone Ash. Their lack of prolonged mainstream success or even cultural re-evaluation makes it all the more jarring to hear the raucously adoring crowd fade in at the start of Live Dates, and continue all throughout. Clearly those who knew about Wishbone Ash knew there was a lot to love about this band.

The double live album craze of the 70s hadn't really hit its stride yet in 1973, with classics such as Kiss Alive and Frampton Comes Alive still a few years down the road. However in the world of progressive rock, where songs stretching at least over six minutes were par for the course, double live records must have made a lot of sense right from the start (or in the case of Yes and ELP, triple live records). The fact that Live Dates spreads its eleven tracks over two discs seems then to make a statement about Wishbone Ash as part of the prog rock canon. While not as technical and flashy as their more widely recognized prog contemporaries, Andy Powell and crew are clearly aiming to take rock and roll somewhere new...or rather somewhere ancient.

While many bands were already dabbling in medieval themes, Wishbone Ash conjure up uncompromising visions of knights and farmers, kings and cornfields, witches and wars, all cast in a chilly gray haze. Not content to simply tell tales of battles and myths, their lyrics turn philosophical, almost spiritual, on many songs, including the opening 1-2-3 punch of The King Will Come, Warrior, and my personal favorite, Throw Down The Sword. This isn't just some soundtrack music for your next reading of Tolkien or round of Dungeons And Dragons (though it certainly sets the perfect mood for both of these activities), it's great music to sit and watch the leaves turn colors in the fall, or to watch a pond freeze over in the winter, or to watch flowers bloom in spring. This is music that will have you looking to the sky and pondering the passage of time and the dream of peace.

Yet Wishbone Ash aren't just a group of wandering minstrels teleported into the 1970s, they're a real rock and roll band, and they know how to conjure up a fine brew of bluesy, early 70s rock. Cuts like Rock N Roll Widow, Jail Bait, and Blowin' Free are perfect for the live setting because of their inherent, jammy nature. The cover of Baby What You Want Me To Do clearly shows where these players' roots lie. But of course a good jam needs some great lead guitar work, and that is precisely what the band gives us through all of these more rocking numbers. Trading one sizzling solo after another, Andy Powell and Ted Turner prove over and over the awesome benefits that double lead guitars provide. Certainly Thin Lizzy, Judas Priest, and Iron Maiden were all taking notes. But the pair truly shines on the more progressive side of things, weaving together hazy harmonized riffs which immediately cement themselves into your memory. Throw Down The Sword is the perfect example of this, a rather simple minor key melody from one guitar gets harmonized by the other as it fades in, the the rhythm section breaks in and carries the progression into its B-section before it all turns around to support the plaintive lead vocal in the first verse. Speaking of harmonies, though the group's vocals aren't necessarily the strongest of their peers, they make up for this with impressively catchy melodies sung in harmony most of the way through. The softer tone of the lead vocals also aides in creating the mystic atmosphere which surrounds their music.

Of course I would be remiss not to mention the 17 minute closing track, The Phoenix, and the nearly ten minute disc two opener, The Pilgrim. The former is an aural journey taking the listener through a passionately performed series of moods and dynamics, dropping out almost to nothing at one point before bringing things back around to the vocal to close out the record. One might compare its construction to the Lizard suite from King Crimson, being not so much comprised of distinct sections as it is an engulfing, evolving piece. The Pilgrim on the other hand is similar in its coherence, but takes its time in its first half building up a beautiful instrumental before getting to the meat of the song in its second half, somewhat like Rush would do on Xanadu some years later. Both of these are fine progressive pieces which serve to bookend disc two of this live set quite well.

There is one moment on the record which stands out to me as the most transcendent though, and that is the climactic lead at the end of Throw Down The Sword. The studio version of this song is famous for featuring two simultaneous guitar solos overlapping one another to great psychedelic effect, but my heart lies with this live version, in which one single guitar summons forth a melody so righteous, so full of life and color, that it inadvertently makes the rest of the record pale in comparison. If one ever needed inspiration to pick up a flying V, let this solo be a testament to that particular axe's legend and quality.

Report this review (#2458240)
Posted Thursday, October 22, 2020 | Review Permalink

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