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Wishbone Ash

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Wishbone Ash Nouveau Calls album cover
2.95 | 83 ratings | 13 reviews | 10% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1987

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Tangible Evidence (4:18)
2. Clousseau (3:38)
3. Flags Of Convenience (4:27)
4. From Soho To Sunset (3:24)
5. Arabesque (4:24)
6. In The Skin (4:48)
7. Something's Happening In Room 602 (3:30)
8. Johnny Left Home Without It (3:38)
9. The Spirit Flies Free (3:41)
10. A Rose Is A Rose (3:32)
11. Real Guitars Have Wings (3:10)

Total time 42:30

Bonus track on 1999 & 2003 reissues:
12. T-Bone Shuffle (3:30)

Line-up / Musicians

- Ted Turner / electric & lap steel guitars, banjo
- Andy Powell / electric & acoustic guitars, mandolin
- Martin Turner / bass, keyboards, co-producer
- Steve Upton / drums, percussion

- William Orbit / percussion, co-producer

Releases information

Artwork: The Leisure Process

LP I.R.S. Records - MIRF 1028 (1987, UK)

CD I.R.S. Records - ILP 460473 2 (1987, Europe)
CD Powerbright - PBVP005CD (1999, UK) With a bonus track
CD Talking Elephant - TECD050 (2003, UK) With a bonus track

Thanks to avestin for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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Buy WISHBONE ASH Nouveau Calls Music

WISHBONE ASH Nouveau Calls ratings distribution

(83 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(10%)
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(19%)
Good, but non-essential (42%)
Collectors/fans only (19%)
Poor. Only for completionists (10%)

WISHBONE ASH Nouveau Calls reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by ClemofNazareth
2 stars So after issuing a promising debut and an uneven but still hopeful second album, Wishbone Ash hit on all cylinders with the instant classic ‘Argus’ in 1972. That was followed by their obligatory ‘getting away from it all in a cozy studio to be introspective’ album ‘Wishbone Four’, which apparently didn’t go well because the band fractured and began a lengthy period of musical chairs for their lineup for almost fifteen years after the fourth album released. Just about everybody except the hardcore faithful fans (of which I was certainly not one) pretty much forgot about these guys, but apparently they were still plugging away touring and releasing the occasional tepid album.

Along comes Miles Copeland in 1987 with the idea to create a new, all-instrumental label under the IRS Records banner that he had founded, and he needed an inexpensive way to draw attention to the label with a big name. Having been Wishbone Ash’s original manager, he sort of had an ‘in’ with the band and leveraged that to convince them to reform the original lineup and release a new album of vocal-less music. (Just as an aside, anyone know where IRS Records got its name? Or where Copeland’s brother Stewart came up with the band name ‘the Police’? Their father was an American CIA agent back during the Cold War (and a big hawk when it came to American intelligence operating covertly in other countries’ affairs, by the way), so the names are a sort of nod to their bureaucratic connections. His mother was a British intelligence agent. After their father retired in 1983 he granted a lengthy interview to Rolling Stone magazine where he issued a prophetic warning about the emergence of Middle-Eastern terrorists as a major future threat to western nations. It’s kind of an interesting read twenty-three years later).

Anyway, the band reformed and the album was released, although the professional reviews were rather weak, and I don’t think it sold all that well (my copy is from a cut- out bin anyway, which tells me something). I believe they enjoyed a few years of touring success due to the reformation though, so at least something good came of it.

Like I said, there’s no vocals on this album, the only of its kind for the band that I’m aware of. The band also employs a few more instruments than on the early albums like banjo, slide guitar, a mandolin, and even some keyboards (which are pure eighties- sounding, by the way). Overall the album sounds like a lot of the stuff Jeff Beck, Summers-Fripp, Group 87, and Steve Morse were doing around the same time, although only Beck and Morse approach the level of skill Turner and Powell exhibit on guitar.

Surprisingly the band wrote their own arrangements, which is worth a mention at least. None of the tracks here stand out in particular, although “Clousseau” has some very nice electric picking in it, and “Arabesque” has a rather exotic feel to it, albeit mostly due to the keyboards.

About the closest the band comes to the heavy guitar sound of their early albums is on “Something's Happening In Room 602”, but even here the keyboards give the track a very eighties sound that doesn’t wear all that well over time; and “The Spirit Flies Free”, which is almost devoid of keyboards and as such is probably the best representative Wishbone Ash track on the album (although here the mandolin is quite prominent).

“T-Bone Shuffle” is included on some reissue CD versions of the album, and this is a much stronger guitar composition than anything else on the original release. I’m not sure where this one came from, but if you pick this up, look for the CD version that includes this track as it’s worth a listen.

This is the oddest sound of a band that has certainly had their share of incarnations over the years. I can’t say it’s necessarily a great or even memorable sound, and the keyboards and comparatively subdued guitar riffs place this music squarely in the eighties, so I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone but devoted Ash fans. This would be the last Wishbone Ash album I ever bought (so far), although from what I understand they had a bit of a resurgence in the mid-nineties, so those records might be worth checking out at some point. It’s very close to three-star material just for the great production and tight arrangements, but it’s lacking in spark and doesn’t showcase the band’s strongest talents (guitars) all that well, so I’ll settle for two stars.


Review by ZowieZiggy
1 stars This album doesn't call for anything great, I'm afraid.

Where are the great twin guitars from the beginning? Gone, forgotten, and disappeared. What's left is just some sort of easy listening rock music with some reggae influence ("Clousseau"). Is this what one could expected from this band? The answer is NO. This is a minor album, not only in WA discography but as a rock work on its own. No passion, no wonderful melodies, no nothing. Just an addition of below average tracks. From start to finish.

This whole instrumental album is NOT the one you should listen to while entering their repertoire. Actually, you should not even consider listening to it. It is really poor and useless. None of the songs featured are worth a penny or a ?cent.

To summarize my opinion, it is a superb "press next" type of an album: from start to finish this time. A great zero. I can't rate it with less than with one star because PA doesn't allow to rate lower. But frankly, this album is just [&*!#]ty. One star. And I am generous.

Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This is one of those much-maligned prog-rock releases that get slammed for being deviant of past classics, as if artists need to continually rehash the same but very good songs that made their fame. All the luminary bands like Jethro Tull (Aqualung/TAAB vs Under Wraps/A), Marillion, Oldfield, Yes, King Crimson etc' have faced this rather easy criticism , which often is quite unfair both to the artist (it's their art after all) and the discerning public (who may desire diversity). In the case of Wishbone Ash, there is little doubt that albums such as 'Argus', 'Live Dates' and 'There's the Rub' are recognized classics. Within such a long career, every artist has released some form of dud, whether forced upon them by sharky record companies (Lou Reed's monstrous' Metal Machine Music' comes to mind) or just plain old 'Sometimes I feel so Uninspired' vibe as penned by Traffic.

This is part of the IRS Records collection of reworked all-instrumental material (hence the 'No Speak' label) from artists as varied as Pete Haycock, Stewart Copeland, Billy Currie, William Orbit, Steve Hunter, Jimmy Z, Ronnie Montrose, Robbie Krieger, Jan Akkerman, Darryl Way and a few compilations. Some are pretty good, others okay but I daresay this is one of the better ones. Sadly, it gets knocked down by those who wished for another bone (excuse the pun) of dual guitar, rock 'n roll mayhem. Again context is crucial, as many progressive bands in the late 80s were left in the proverbial desert of unemployment, as disco, punk, grunge and new age ruled the airwaves. These were very lean years indeed and anything that defied the fads is better than silence, in my opinion. The set list on 'Nouveau Calls' (a wordplay on 'no vocals') comprises 11 tracks all written by Andy Powell, Martin Turner and Steve Upton, and by adding Ted Turner, this is the definite classic Wishbone Ash line-up. As discreet rock music but bold background music, it contains a few brilliant tracks, namely the suave 'Arabesque', the fabulous 'In the Skin', the heavily synthesized opener 'Tangible Evidence' (also emboldened by a delirious and funky bass furrow).

The other tunes are all interesting, the twangy, bass-propelled 'From Soho to Sunset' shows a slick technique of unending detail (lap-steel, mandolin) , some closer to rock roots like 'Something is Happening in Room 602' with its cool surf-guitar licks or the Police-like riffs on 'Johnny Left Home Without It', conjuring images of Andy Summers on the guitar. If one added vocals to songs like 'The Spirit Flies Free', this could have been a hit among their hits, as Powell and Turner show off gorgeous melodies on the fret boards, then shriek like madmen, the mandolin making another fine appearance.

The last two tracks are the Achilles heel of this album. Not a big fan of the rather limp 'A Rose is a Rose', it's a 'skip it' track that is just too saccharine for my taste. The finale is the short 'Real Guitars Have Wings', a mid-tempo piece that offers complex guitar interweaving but offers a very binary feel that fails to explode into nirvana. But the 9 previous tracks are completely listenable.

My conclusion: listen to this album without paying attention to who it is, let bygones be bygones and evaluate according to what you hear and not what you would like then to play. I enjoyed this album when it came out in the prog 'Ice Age' and still do today.

3.5 Novophones

Latest members reviews

4 stars A highly enjoyable and melodic album with good musicianship. The band maintained its integrity in the pop-dominated 1980s, a time when prog and rock bands tended to flounder. Miles Copeland produced a number of these instrumental albums on his No Speak label. The music is generally not prog, but ... (read more)

Report this review (#2853032) | Posted by Greta007 | Friday, November 18, 2022 | Review Permanlink

2 stars This album sounds stuck in the late 1980s when there was a movement toward instrumental rock albums. It had a stronger curiosity factor and held more interest then. But it did succeed in getting the original lineup back together and the subsequent Hear to Hear which had vocals was more accessibl ... (read more)

Report this review (#2754571) | Posted by SR000 | Monday, May 16, 2022 | Review Permanlink

2 stars The Original Four are back together and the expectations are red hot, especially after the total failure of the previous two albums. Those expectations were certainly NOT met by Nouveau Calls (pun for "No Vocals"), as it's up for the almost impossible: to be a great instrumental album; and it fai ... (read more)

Report this review (#1630646) | Posted by BigDaddyAEL1964 | Monday, October 10, 2016 | Review Permanlink

3 stars I guess anyone who is really a music lover has got that band or album that just seems to rise above the rest and touches their music soul. Wishbone Ash and especially Argus were the band and record that did it for me. I expected alot from this band. I got goosebumps from their successes but wo ... (read more)

Report this review (#107484) | Posted by harmony | Sunday, January 14, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This album gives a new insight into the music of Wishbone Ash and proves they are not just a 1970s band and they're looking for some new inspirations and motifs. The guitar sound is crisp and clear, and amazing guitar soloes are built around nice and lively riffs. But the most important featur ... (read more)

Report this review (#106502) | Posted by Lakesfield | Monday, January 8, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Nouveau Calls is a great album. Fans were happy to see the Mk I lineup back together, and given early Ash albums, doing an all instrumental album was not a stretch. Some fans complain about the 1980s sound of the music; it's a sort of blend of '80's rock, fusion and Ash. But if you keep an open m ... (read more)

Report this review (#102279) | Posted by DocB | Saturday, December 9, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Attention fusion fans! "No Speak" was a short-lived label that may be of great interest to fans of jazz-fusion or instrumental rock in general, and this is one of its catalogue's strongest offerings. Because their sound is not bound by WA's normally narrow vocal range and seeming sameness of ... (read more)

Report this review (#95524) | Posted by vingaton | Monday, October 23, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars As it says in the sleeve notes, the brief for this album runs 100% contrary to the industry norm. Miles Copeland got the original line up together to record an instrumental album where they could play their instruments free of any other consideration. The twin lead guitars are, as ever, much in e ... (read more)

Report this review (#80612) | Posted by | Wednesday, June 7, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars When people think of Wishbone Ash, what they have in mind is Argus. This is not good. It has been 37 years since they recorded their first, self-titled album and as someone has said, "they can still deliver"; during that time they experimented a lot - and Nouveau Calls is one of their experiments ... (read more)

Report this review (#80582) | Posted by Ampersand | Wednesday, June 7, 2006 | Review Permanlink

2 stars To write a review of average album from group that I like very, very much, the group that has one extraordinary five star album, 1972 "Argus", is not a pleasant job, but is necessary to evaluate it's real value. One important thing about it is that is recorded by most successful, legendary fir ... (read more)

Report this review (#78958) | Posted by cedo | Sunday, May 21, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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