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Wishbone Ash - Just Testing CD (album) cover

JUST TESTING

Wishbone Ash

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3 stars This album marks the end of Martin Turner's first association with Wishbone Ash, and features Claire Hammill as a background singer in some songs (she also co-wrote "Living Proof" with Laurie Wisefiele) - I've read somewhere that she would be hired as lead singer, but somehow this arrangement has failed. "Just Testing" is obvioulsy not as good as "Argus", "There's the Rub" or "Wishbone Four", but it's still a pleasant and enjoyable album, plenty of the guitar sound which made Wishbone Ash deservedly famous, but there´s something that really bothers me: Steve Upton's drum sound. His drumming is up to his previous standards, but it was recorded with an 80s sound which really annoys me. Highlights: "Living Proof", "Helpless" (these two really shines on stage - check out for live versions and confirm it), "Lifeline" and "Haunting Me" (love Powell/Upton's guitars at this last one, it's probably the best guitar work in this album). On the other side, "Pay the Price" is one of the worst things ever done by Wishbone Ash. I don't have the CD edition aforementioned (my CD does not have bonus tracks), but having listened to "Come On", "Fast Johnny" and the live "Blowin' Free", I must say that only the last one is really a welcome addition to this album. But you can find on "Hot Ash", which is a wonderful album who deserves a CD release (any information about?) - I think the live "Helpless" is also in that album. As a whole, "Just testing" is good, but non-essential.
Report this review (#83717)
Posted Friday, July 14, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars For me it is one of the best WA albums. "Just Testing" is a great summary of the first era of their career and it could be a fine step into new decade. With head hold up high. Into the bright future. Unfortunetly after this release MCA broke off the contract with the band and Martin Turner decided to leave...

On this album The Ashes found golden connection between the classic WA ("Helpless", "Living Proof") and a new sound ("Insomnia"). They did not afraid to find a new formula for forthcoming 80s.

The history likes to repeat itself. Yes also made a great album "Tormato" - a new meaning of their music for the further years, but just like WA after recording the last fine album there was a greatest split up in bands line up which was a big meaning for next years.

"Just Testing" is a fantastic closing of the golden decade of progressive and classic rock.

Report this review (#107347)
Posted Saturday, January 13, 2007 | Review Permalink
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.

Report this review (#129513)
Posted Friday, July 20, 2007 | Review Permalink
SouthSideoftheSky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
2 stars Compared to the previous No Smoke Without Fire, this album is much weaker. Especially the tracks in the middle of the album; Helpless and Pay The Price are rather boring rock 'n' roll numbers and New Rising Star is also a quite boring slow bluesy number. It is not even over four minutes long but it feels like ten!

The first three songs, as well as the last two, however, are fully decent songs. The vocals on Insomnia strangely remind me of David Bowie! Master Of Disguise is a good semi-ballad type of song with acoustic and electric guitar interplay.

The guitar work is great as always, but you always have to have good songs to work with. Nothing here is awful but it is also not memorable enough to make a good album.

Hardcore Wishbone Ash fans need to have this album, they will surely enjoy it! But this is really only for them.

Report this review (#194042)
Posted Wednesday, December 17, 2008 | Review Permalink
b_olariu
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Wishbone Ash enters in a new decade - the'80's not exactly with the right foot. Less enjoyble than the predecesor and even weaker than the next one Number the brave - who was for me a real good album, this Just testing released in 1980 is for sure a real test if you want to listen this album at once. The music from here is pop meets hard rock and not a trace of prog. Well it might be ok for some of you but not for me, at lest this Wishbone Ash album is real boring one, some pieces are hard to diggest in a way, not because here are very bad tracks , because this album runs out of ideas, simply this album is flat without consistancy and totaly unintristing. Maybe couple of pieces are ok like :Insomnia or Living proof but the rest is almost a disaster. So 2 stars for this one, less enjoyble than anything I've heared so far from them.
Report this review (#201159)
Posted Friday, January 30, 2009 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars When one is listening to the great opening track "Living Proof", one is brought back some years backwards: the good old days should I say...

And the good feel is even maintained while you hear the great guitars during "Haunting Me". Would this "Wishbone Ash" album be the one of some kind of recovering the glory?

So far so good, but "Insomnia" shows some other kind of direction, although not too bad. Heavy pop-rock: a new genre maybe. Not too thrilling to be honest.

Most of this album is quite upbeat and good old rocking ("Pay The Price"). It is of course not the style of music one could be found of on this site. Nonetheless, if you would except some good new wave bands, who was really playing good music in the early eighties?

This album has to be taken for what it is. No less no more. Good rock music, that's it.

Some Led Zep influence ("Tea For One") can be observed during the very good "New Rising Star". I would have liked this song to be much more extended, but this is not the first time I write such a comment. It is my fave from this album.

The closing and longest track here is also a good rocking moment: vocal harmony, heavy bass and of course excellent guitar work are the ingredients that should please your rocking ears. Even some prog ones could be charmed.

In all, this is a good rock album. It is above average when compared with the overall production from the early eighties. Three stars (but not for the prog angle of course).

Report this review (#386461)
Posted Tuesday, January 25, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Yes it is 1980 and not 1974.Prog was dead,and Wishbone Ash did not roll over and die,thank you very much. They kept on going (with a solid line up of Powell,Upton ,Turner and Wisefield on this one) and put out some very decent albums like 'Number of the brave','New England','Hear to here' and this one,'Just testing'.6 out of 8 tracks are solid.

Guess they are now more AOR oriented with some somewhat shortish songs that are catchy punchy and mostly very melodic.No real Argus music here,but what the hey.At least we have music and we can take it or leave it.I am quite content to still follow.And there were of course more goodies to be had.

Report this review (#458009)
Posted Tuesday, June 7, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Each of their last four albums was better than the previous one, but this definitely stands lower No Smoke Without Fire. It contains an absolute classic though!

Let's get to the songs one-by-one:

Living Proof: Very nice, feel-good rocker, great for arenas. Not one of their best songs, but very catchy indeed!

Haunting Me: What a riff. What-A-Riff! One of the absolute best slide guitar riffs I've ever heard, it made me pop my eyes the first time I listened to it. An absolutely splendid song!

Insomnia: Too much and too loud synthesizer on this one, too chaotic in my opinion. I would like it to have a more "traditional" sound. A good composition but with a sound far from my taste.

Helpless: First half of the riff sounds a lot like to Alice Cooper's super hit "School's Out", but it's a much different song overall. This one is a blues rocker, a good song, but not so significant in my opinion.

Pay The Price: Another kinda familiar riff, it sounds inspired by "Smoke On The Water". This song has a southern rock feeling, I wouldn't be surprised if it was a Lynyrd Skynyrd composition. Again a pleasant song, but not very special.

New Rising Star: A bluesy ballad which is just OK. Nothing we haven't already heard a lot of times.

Master Of Disguise: Blues rocker with some country elements, interesting for it's rich sound. It also has backing vocals by Claire Hamill. Not such an remarkable song, but definitely an interesting one.

Life Line: It begins as an ordinary blues rock song, but it evolves into a hard rocker at around 2:25, mostly to showcase their ability. Should we be surprised by something? No. Nothing we didn't knew already, and nothing we (more or less) hadn't listened to already.

RATING: 3 stars. Slightly better than New England, slightly worst than Front Page News.

Report this review (#1619560)
Posted Friday, October 7, 2016 | Review Permalink

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