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Wishbone Ash - Pilgrimage CD (album) cover


Wishbone Ash


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3.61 | 280 ratings

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2 stars Once again Wishbone Ash delivered an excellent guitar album with their sophomore effort ‘Pilgrimage’, but once again this is more of a well-constructed rock album than it is a progressive work. That’s not to say there aren’t some pretty creative moments though.

The opening track “Vas Dis” is an unusual blend of scat, fat-bottomed guitar, and a much-improved performance over their first album by drummer Steve Upton. Andy Powell takes trading guitar licks with Ted Turner, and alternating these with a scat-like vocal interpretation of the same licks, which is oddly intriguing in a strange way. Like many of the tracks on this album, this one seems to have been tailor-made for live performances.

“The Pilgrim” is quite a bit more subdued at first, but eventually gives way to the trademark twin-guitar flights that have endeared these guys to their fans for so long. The bass line reminds me a bit of a number of early fusion bands, but overall this is an exercise is guitar interplay and persistent drumming. I don’t really get the ‘pilgrim’ aspect of the tune, but I suppose it’s there somewhere in the mix.

The lyrics on “Jail Bait” are pretty trite, but the guitar work is powerful and engaging. This sounds more like the first side of the band’s debut album than anything else on this one, and I get the same vibe from this as I do from many early Allman Brothers and Lynyrd Skynyrd songs. Another live song just waiting for a stage to be performed on.

The band shows some early indications of the more ranging and artistic sound that would fully emerge on ‘Argus’ with “Alone”, which is full of beautiful guitar interplay and subtle bass. “Lullaby” on the other hand is just that – a slow, peaceful and languid number that just plods along like a slow, shallow stream.

“Valediction” is another mellow tune, but the moody vocals and poetic lyrics distinguish this song from the more blues-powered front side of the album. Not really a very strong composition, but here again the band shows some of the mood-intensive sensibilities they would perfect on ‘Argus’.

“Where were you Tomorrow” is a full-blown honky-tonk rant, complete with thudding bass, throwback vocal tones, one-two basic beat, and plenty of fat guitar chords to spice things up. Grab a Bud and swing your partner boys – it’s time to two-step! The extended live noises and clapping sections serve to draw this out much longer than it needs to be though, and weaken the overall power of the song.

The CD includes a live version of “Jail Bait” that is pretty true to the original, but doesn’t add much to the offering.

This is a good example of the twin-guitar attack that made Wishbone Ash famous, but it is unlikely to appeal much to hardcore progressive music fans. I would venture to say this is an album that fans and collectors would consider a good buy, not too many other people probably would. Two stars.


ClemofNazareth | 2/5 |


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