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Wishbone Ash

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Wishbone Ash Just Testing album cover
2.95 | 121 ratings | 8 reviews | 17% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1980

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Living Proof (5:43)
2. Haunting Me (4:33)
3. Insomnia (5:08)
4. Helpless (4:04)
5. Pay The Price (3:30)
6. New Rising Star (3:54)
7. Master Of Disguise (4:24)
8. Lifeline (6:29)

Total time 37:45

Bonus tracks on 1998 remaster:
9. Come On (1979 single) (3:23)
10. Fast Johnny (1979 single) (4:04)
11. Blowin' Free (Live) (1980 single) (6:34)
12. Helpless (Live) (1980 single) (3:46)

Line-up / Musicians

- Andy Powell / acoustic & electric guitars, backing vocals
- Laurie Wisefield / acoustic & electric guitars, backing vocals
- Martin Turner / bass, acoustic guitar, lead & backing vocals, co-producer
- Steve Upton / drums, percussion

- Claire Hamill / vocals (1,5,7)
- Ian Kew / organ (7)

Releases information

Artwork: Hipgnosis with Colin Elgie (design)

LP MCA Records ‎- MCF 3052 (1980, UK)

CD Universal ‎- MCLD19375 (1998, Europe) Remastered by Martin Turner with 4 bonus tracks

Thanks to avestin for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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Buy WISHBONE ASH Just Testing Music

WISHBONE ASH Just Testing ratings distribution

(121 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(17%)
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(21%)
Good, but non-essential (40%)
Collectors/fans only (20%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

WISHBONE ASH Just Testing reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by 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.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
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.

Review by b_olariu
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.
Review by ZowieZiggy
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).

Latest members reviews

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 ver ... (read more)

Report this review (#1619560) | Posted by BigDaddyAEL1964 | Friday, October 7, 2016 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#458009) | Posted by gr8dane | Tuesday, June 7, 2011 | Review Permanlink

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 dec ... (read more)

Report this review (#107347) | Posted by Patique | Saturday, January 13, 2007 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#83717) | Posted by M. B. Zapelini | Friday, July 14, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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