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Wishbone Ash - Wishbone Four CD (album) cover

WISHBONE FOUR

Wishbone Ash

 

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3.04 | 183 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Everybody needs a producer

Following up the magnificent "Argus" was always going to be a monumental task for Wishbone Ash. Instead of trying to create another similar album, the band decided to go back to basics, while taking on production duties themselves.

The changes are immediately apparent on the frankly poorly produced "So many things to say" which opens the album. The song does not stand up well as the first one to succeed "Argus". The vocals for example, which are far rougher than we are used to from the band, are too far back in the mix.

Fortunately, things quickly improve with "Ballad of the beacon", where the more traditional harmonised multi-tracked vocals return and the unique guitar sound of the band is far more apparent. The song (the lyrics of which reflect the band's decamping to Wales to work on it) is one of the hidden gems of the Wishbone Ash catalogue. "No easy road" is a generic rock song, which features a horn section(!) and unaccredited female backing vocals. It is not the Wishbone Ash we know and love at all.

The bad song/good song nature of the album is at its most obvious with the wonderful "Everybody needs a friend". This acoustic guitar based 8 minute ballad features an excellent vocal performance of a fine melody, combined with some of the finest lead guitar work the band have come up with. Once again, the production could have been much better, but that cannot disguise the excellence of the song. The lyrics, while melancholy, are optimistic and supportive. "Broken wings can heal and mend again, Don't be afraid to cry your tears out loud, Everybody needs to have a friend". The track is immeasurably enhanced by the addition of mellotron played by George Nash.

The second side of the album is significantly the weaker. It opens with a very ordinary guitar rock number "Doctor", which ironically is one of the few tracks to exploit the bands distinctive twin guitar sound. Lyrics and melody wise though the song, which sounds like an outtake from an album by the WHO, has been heard a thousand times before. It is hard to get excited about any of the remaining songs which are adequate but unremarkable.

While it is understandable that Wishbone Ash did not want to simply try to create another "Argus", their story might have been very different if they had. By ditching their long term producer and taking on those duties themselves, they were saddled with a huge mountain to climb. The erratic nature of the compositional quality only serves to exacerbate the challenge. "Wishbone four" does contain a couple of essential Wishbone Ash songs, but they are found alongside some very average material.

Guitarist Ted Turner would leave the band after this album, apparently unhappy with the backward step he felt the band had taken, and the classic line up of the band was at an end.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |

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