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Wishbone Ash - No Smoke Without Fire CD (album) cover

NO SMOKE WITHOUT FIRE

Wishbone Ash

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Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Firing on all cylinders

After the decent but uncharacteristically laid back "Front page news", Wishbone Ash re- united with original producer Derek Lawrence for "No smoke without fire". The results are immediately apparent on the opening "You see red" with the jamming twin guitars back where they belong, right up front. The pace of the song is not overtly quick, but it has a driving basis while telling a troubling tale of domestic violence.

The troubled themes continue throughout the album, with the exception of the closing song "The way of the world", which finally evokes optimism. Musically however, this is far from a darkalbum. There are softer songs, such as the brief "Leaf and stream" like "Ships in the sky", but as a whole, this is a far more traditional Ash album than those which preceded it.

Things don't always work as well as they might, with the 7 minute "Stand and deliver" being something of a curate's egg. It has some fine guitar work, but the main hook is weak and inadequate. We are quickly back on track though with "Anger in harmony", which features a striking change of tempo midway to play out with a spirited twin guitar jam. "Like a child" features some of the strongest harmonies and one of the finest melodies the band has delivered in a long time, a real overlooked gem.

The closing 9˝minute "The way of the world" is very much a "Time was, part 2". The slower acoustic opening vocal section eventually gives way to a lengthy upbeat guitar jam.

It is undoubtedly significant that the return of Derek Lawrence's to the producer's chair coincided with what is Wishbone Ash's finest album since "Argus". In many ways this is in fact the belated follow up to that magnificent album. While "No smoke without fire" is not quite of the same standard, it is an unjustly forgotten album in the band's back pages.

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Send comments to Easy Livin (BETA) | Report this review (#122755)
Posted Saturday, May 19, 2007 | Review Permalink
SouthSideoftheSky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
3 stars No Smoke Without Fire is one of the better Wishbone Ash albums in my opinion. I actually like this about as much as I like the albums that are usually considered to be Wishbone Ash's best, namely the three first ones and There's The Rub. This album rocks, it has very strong melodies and superb guitar work. There are no epic compositions here like Phoenix or Persephone, but the album is more consistent as a whole. Overall, the sound somehow reminds me of Dire Straits! Only a lot better, and harder rocking. The Dire Straits similarity is especially apparent on the song Anger In Harmony, the intro sounds exactly like that band.

The progressive leanings are basically concentrated to the last two tracks which go together as one (here it is apparantly listed as one long track but on my album it is divided into parts 1 and 2). It is a great song, but hardly a prog epic.

A very good melodic hard rock album with some slight progressive touches.

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Send comments to SouthSideoftheSky (BETA) | Report this review (#192735)
Posted Friday, December 12, 2008 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars This album is plain rock essence. Some fine compositions are featured, that's for sure. Now, to decide if this album is prog or not is quite easy an easy choice to make?

The best song from this offering as far as I am concerned is the great "Stand And Deliver" which features some gorgeous guitar play like during the great old days. This is a fantastic rock moment. Guitar lovers: be ready for a great trip. Almost as great as "Southern Man" from whom you might have heard. THE highlight from this work for sure.

Most of the songs from this album are quite decent and hold some great rocking moments ("Anger In Harmony"), not quite in line with your expectations with pure prog music but quite pleasant to be honest.

This last tune is rather harmonious and gentle. Is it necessary to add that the guitar break which covers the second half of the song is awesome? I guess not!

The last two songs are rather conventional even if the early moments of "Like A Child" has a definite early "Santana" feel. But most of this song sounds quite AOR: fortunately guitar is brilliant (as usual).

I will be rather conventional with my rating. Three stars. A good rock album by all means.

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#386459)
Posted Tuesday, January 25, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars For many fans of Wishbone Ash, "No Smoke Without Fire" is the band's best album since Argus. For me, it's certainly one of the best from the mark 2 line up with Laurie Wisefield. And the sound is a quite inspired by him in many ways, although you can still hear many traces of the old band's style. It was a nice way to evolve. As a whole, it rocks and is consistently strong throughout. The second half of the album has the best songs, "Anger In Harmony", "Like A Child" and "Way Of The World". The bonus tracks on the CD version "Firesign" and "Time &Space" are really good too. This is recommended to fans of arena and classic rock. Those that like fine guitar playing will appreciate this effort.

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Send comments to Frankie Flowers (BETA) | Report this review (#747058)
Posted Monday, April 30, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars Derek Lawrence, producer of Wishbone Ash's Magnum Opus, Argus, was back in the fold for this album, and boy, does it show! Of the 5 albums in between Argus and NSWF, two were pretty good, two were disappointing, and one was downright awful. No Smoke Without Fire is, in my opinion, the best Wishbone Ash album since Argus and the best of the Laurie Wisefield era. The album opens with You See Red, a Wisefield composition that was released as a single (but never got anywhere near the charts). The song includes some lovely vocal harmonies and twin lead guitar. Next up is Baby The Angels Are Here, which has some excellent interplay between Martin Turner's bass and Andy Powell's guitar. I was never too keen on the mellow Ships In The Sky, whilst Stand And Deliver is one of the more controversial Ash lyrics. Based on the poem The Highwayman, the song seems to glorify rape, particularly in the second verse

When I climb inside your window With more in my mind than a share of the night You can kick bite and scratch, but you'll have to surrender The chances are you won't see me no more

Musically the song has a great hook line, but the dodgy lyrics let it down. Shame.

On to Side 2, we have three of the best songs on the album. Anger In Harmony is a rocker with some lovely twin guitar duelling at the end. The album title comes from a line in this song, and it also contains what I think is an inspired lyric "your trigger finger's itching on your loaded tongue." Then we have Like A Child, with a beautiful guitar line underpinning the vocals and some excellent vocal harmonies again. Finally, the epic Way Of the World is the Mark 2 band's Phoenix and easily stands up against that masterpiece.

AND if that wasn't enough, the CD version of NSWF has the best bonus tracks I've ever heard on a CD. There are two songs, Firesign and Time and Space, which are as good as any track on the album, and were presumably left out only because of lack of space. Personally I would have included one of them in place of Stand And Deliver. Then we have three live tracks, Lorelei, Come In From The Rain and the regular encore number Bad Weather Blues, all of them performed to Wishbone Ash's usual high standard. These three are included because Bad Weather Blues was the B side of the You See Red single, whilst a 7" single containing the other two live tracks was given away with the original vinyl album.

Highly recommended

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Send comments to AlanB (BETA) | Report this review (#1039010)
Posted Thursday, September 19, 2013 | Review Permalink

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