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Wishbone Ash - Bona Fide CD (album) cover


Wishbone Ash

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mystic fred
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars In my opinion one of the best albums to come out of 2002, and one of the best ever albums by Wishbone Ash to boot! Some great songs, excellent playing and sound production, "Bona Fide" is still a regular listen for me. The CD kick s off with the rocker "Almighty Blues", part of their live set, a very catchy song and contains a great guitar solo. "Enigma" , another catchy song with a memorable chorus, sounds very much like a typical early Wishbone Ash song, it has that traditional sound on the vocals and guitars, with a very good short slide guitar solo. The line-up on this album is Andy Powell guitars and vocals, Ben Granfelt on guitar, "smiling" Bob Skeat on bass and Ray Weston on drums. The next track "Faith hope and Love" is one of my favourites on the album, a very memorable song which could be autobiographical, it features twin guitars and organ, and contains a great guitar solo. This song is part of their live set and sounds fantastic. "Ancient Remedy" has a very catchy eastern-sounding guitar riff as a hook, interspersed with vocal passages, another favourite track of mine, good one to sing along to! another gem of a guitar solo. "Changing Tracks" is next, great heavy blues guitar, and a collection of blues song cliches! (jumping trains, chicago, texas etc.!). "Shoulda Woulda Coulda", i can't imagine anyone getting away with a song title like that! but they nearly do - the song has an almost reggae-style beat and works well, but i don't know about those lyrics though!! The title track "Bona Fide" is an instrumental, and has a traditional Ash-style boogie rhythm, not the strongest track on the album but has some nice twin guitar effects and solos. "Difference in Time" is very much another traditional sounding Ash song, it has some nice vocals and jangly twin guitars, as has "Come Rain Come Shine", a great song which includes some nice flute playing, i could almost imagine it could have even have been left off "argus", except near the end of the song it breaks into a mixture of sound effects, middle-eastern singing, bombs and american voices, then goes back into the song's main chorus. the last song "Peace" is another very good instrumental, slow and bluesy, featuring of course those twin guitars, this is a good tune i'm surprised the TV people haven't discovered it yet - a very "peaceful" way to close a very enjoyable album, which will be a top favourite of mine for some time to come! overall very highly recommended, some very memorable songs, the band are really on form here, an excellent addition to any prog music collection, easily 4 stars.

Report this review (#78176)
Posted Sunday, May 14, 2006 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Def: Bona fide means "in good faith"; good, honest intention (even if producing unfortunate results)

Officially listed as the follow up to "Illuminations" from 1996, this 2002 album actually comes after the band's acoustic release in 1999 entitled "Bare bones". Once again, Andy Powell changes the line up, with guitarist and occasional vocalist Ben Granfelt making his only appearance on a Wishbone Ash album. Bob Skeat and Ray Weston make up the rhythm section.

In the main, the album remains firmly within the parameters established by the band over many years, guitar driven vocal rock being the order of the day. The brief dabbling with prog nuances of the early albums are pretty much absent here, the emphasis being on gathering together a collection of highly accessible numbers.

The opening "Almighty blues" may have blues touches, but it is actually a high energy rock song featuring some fine lead guitar. Andy Powell takes on lead vocal duties on the following "Enigma", giving the song a retro-Ash feel. The melody of the chorus accentuates this, the song being slightly lighter while remaining reliant on strong guitar riffs. "Faith, Hope and Love" is a slower power ballad. The song itself is rather prosaic, but benefits from a decent arrangement including some nice Hammond organ played by Skeat.

The acoustic guitar based "Ancient Remedy" has a bit of an offbeat feel, primarily due to what sounds like slightly de-tuned lead guitar. For me, the main riff is repeated a bit too often, but once again the arrangement comes to the rescue. "Changing tracks" tries to be a southern blues, but the band cannot bring themselves to drop the rock guitar resulting in a rather nondescript number with corny lyrics. Perhaps though the word cony should be reserved for the title of the following "Shoulda Woulda Coulda"! The song itself is an unremarkable plodder.

The title track is a rare instrumental by the band. Based around a blues improvisation, this relatively brief number offers the guitarists a fine opportunity to express themselves. Given that "Difference in time" features a couple of guest vocalists, it is ironic that overall the vocals are the weakest on the album. The track harks back once again to the glory days of the band, with some nice guitar duelling along the way. Unfortunately though, the composition is weak.

"Come rain, come shine" features some brief flute played (or "sampled") by Bob Skeat. The song has the feel of a Celtic anthem, the battle theme clearly intended to take us back to songs such as "Warrior" and "Throw down the sword". Midway through, the song is interrupted by a succession of war/terror themed sound effects before moving into a much heavier section. By far the most progressive, indeed only progressive part of the album, this relatively ambitious piece by and large works well.

The album closes with a second instrumental entitled "Peace". The title says it all, this being a relaxed guitar duet with a pleasant theme.

Overall, not one of Wishbone Ash's strongest albums by any means. "Bona fide" is though true to the band's roots, and does contain some decent material. Fans of the band should find themselves satisfied overall, but those looking for Wishbone Ash's prog credentials can safely pass by.

Report this review (#290596)
Posted Saturday, July 17, 2010 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
Honorary Reviewer
4 stars At the end of the winter 2001 German tour Mark Birch left the band, which placed Andy in a predicament as a spring tour had already been booked. He turned to his old friend Ben Granfelt (Leningrad Cowboys etc), who had been a special guest at the 30th Anniversary concert, and Ben jumped at the chance of being able to join the band. Of course, this also gave the band impetus in going into the studio to record a new album. Ben has had a huge impact already on the song-writing front, as while Andy wrote two of the songs on his own, Ben contributed three, including the two instrumentals (most of the others were co-compositions).

This certainly doesn't sound as if it has been recorded by a band that have only been together for a short while as when Andy and Ben lock horns it is like the Ash of old, although with a modern slant. "Changing Tracks" is a good example of classic Ash that has been taken further, as it relies on solid melodies without the trademark duels. But anyone listening to the introduction of "Shoulda Woulda Coulda" will know immediately that this is the band who introduced twin leads to the world, as it is typical 'Argus'-style Ash. That album is thirty years old now, and while there may not be a "Blowing Free" on this album, it is still one that they can be proud of.

This is an album that all Ash fans will love, as it follows on in the steps of 1996's 'Illuminations', which is arguably their last studio album prior to this one. Only Andy Powell remains from that line-up but while he is on the scene he will always protect the musical legacy of a great band. Certainly the instrumentals do not sound as if they have been written by a newcomer to the outfit, as they are typical of what Andy and Ted used to do.

Originally appeared in Feedback #68, Jun 02

Report this review (#975652)
Posted Tuesday, June 11, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars After 28 long years, finally, Wishbone Ash released a REALLY great album!

Let's see how they matched long forgotten excellence track-by-track:

Almighty Blues: ZZ Top style rocker, with a surprising atmospheric bridge that leads to an old fashion guitar solo section, and then back to the "regular" section, closing with another solo. Very nice song, one of the best WA songs of the "Andy Powell Band" period (1996 and on).

Enigma: Mediocre lyrics and vocal lines, but very nice music. The instrumental parts of the song are great, if the vocal lines were more inspired we could talk about a classic.

Faith, Hope And Love: Fantastic intro, a wonderful power ballad in general, with perfection in every aspect. The FIRST song that I'd put in a strict WA "Best of" compilation after Real Guitars Have Wings from Nouveau Calls (1987). Splendid!

Ancient Remedy: What a unique ethnic riff! Very catchy, I was singing along the rhythm instead the voice! I really love that, and I believe it would make a major radio hit if it was released by another band. I would just want it to be a shorter (3:00-3:30), as it becomes a bit repetitive.

Changing Tracks: Another ZZ Top style song, with a lyrical reference to the late, great Stevie Ray Vaughan. Not so special, but very well played and produced. This band line-up really found a chemistry!

Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda: A boogie rocker with playful nature, the groove reminds me of reggae music. It's an OK song, just not my taste.

Bona Fide: That riff sounds like "Tin Soldier" by Small Faces, only faster! Yeah, not THAT much, but it came to my mind right away. Anyway, the guitar work is truly inspired in this one! Excellent additional riffs here and there, fantastic solos, a wounderful instrumental track. Bravo!

Difference In Time: A radio friendly song, not very special, but with a fantastic guitar solo, which brings shades of the first WA albums. If the rest of the song was at the same level we would talk about something huge!

Come Rain, Come Shine: FLUTE?! YES!!! I love this instrument as a Jethro Tull Tull fanatic, so I moved from my sit as soon as it came through the speakers! The song is a very complex one: It stops at 2:30, and we're listening to TV news sounds about Islamic terrorist attacks, only to begin again at 3:00. Before and after it goes from elegant mid-tempo (Shine) to hard rock (Rain) over and over, in order to recreate it's title musically. A very intelligent song, big Jethro Tull influence here, listen carefully!

Peace: The basic riff reminds me a little of REM's Everybody Hurts, but it's a very basic riff in general, so it doesn't mean anything. A very bright, optimistic instrumental that comes as the ideal epilogue of Come Rain, Come Shine. War, Peace, War, Peace... Where does it stop? To Peace of course!

RATING: Fantastic! The Elite Four of Wishbone Ash albums (Debut, Pilgrimage, Argus, Where's The Rub) finds a fifth member, and a VERY powerful one. No track sounds odd, nothing to be taken out. Excellent production, steadily high musical level, comprehension, stand-out songs... Bravo guys! For me, the fourth greatest WA album overall, better than Pilgrimage and a bit less great than Where's The Rub. 4 stars without a question.

Report this review (#1631876)
Posted Thursday, October 13, 2016 | Review Permalink

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