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Wishbone Ash - Illuminations CD (album) cover

ILLUMINATIONS

Wishbone Ash

 

Prog Related

3.68 | 67 ratings

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tszirmay
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I am glad I finally hunted this one down, always liked Wishbone Ash even though you can't really have them join a symph-prog festival without scratching your head. They have eternally espoused an original style , a thundering rock groove propelled by twin guitars (allegedly showing the way to the Iron Maiden/Def Leppards of the rock world) adding some old fashioned extended guitar solo flights that simply enthrall. This 1996 album is no slouch either, a clear revisit of the glory days of Argus, There's The Rub and Live Dates. With Andy Powell firmly at the helm, the rock solid vibe kicks off straight away on the opener "Mountainside", aided and abetted by multi-instrumentalist Roger Filgate and the fantastic voice of Tony Kishman (a softer version of Ian Gillan) while seasoned drummer Mike Sturgis holds down the drum kit with aplomb. "On Your Own" has a nice boogie style, some hard-driving music that has fast-car, green-eyed babe and rock 'n roll steeply etched within the grooves, as the highway star slide guitar illuminates the autobahn. "Top of the World" is a classy affair, as the bass ruffles along insistently, weaving stylishly into a spectacular vocal chorus that breezes along with passionate flair, assorted rhythm guitars clashing and jangling. The first short guitar solo explodes from the deepest recesses of the soul, hinting at some future second tortured flight that is just as inspiring. "No Joke" has Powell on lead vocals and is another Ash adventure, with that hallmark guitar artistry inspired by the blues greats of days gone by. There is a strong southern boogie influence here that again recalls the early Ash days, a series of blistering axe solos slicing through the sky. "Tale of the Wise" is the progressive jewel here, a 10 minute exercise of shimmering emotions, fueled by a deliberate and astute drum pace, giving the punch to Kishman's sultry and bluesy voice and rolling along addictively. The thumping bass ushers in a faster paced break where the guitars fully exalt and enthrall, a modern sonic revisit of their classic Phoenix, the dual leads at full bore. This is why Wishbone Ash is on this site, an exquisite example of prog-related rock guitar genius, Powell certainly among the most under appreciated six-string slingers ever. While firmly in the rock camp (the only keyboards are for coloring purposes only), the whopping guitar work is simply breathtaking and sorely need to be applauded by our prog cognoscenti. As stated by my fellow PA colleague, this track is right in the vein of Persephone, FUBB and Phoenix. A masterpiece. After this epic monster , the mood alters a bit, "Another Time" having the inglorious task of following such a colossus, so it comes across a bit weak, though on its own it has great merits, namely another splendid vocal display from the previously unknown to me Kishman. The next sequence of songs , "A Thousand Years", "The Ring" and "Comfort Zone" are more straightforward rock tunes , short , punchy and to the point. Not my cup of tea but nevertheless no way near filler or fluff. "Mystery Man" is a challenging anti-war theme that features throbbing bass and pounding drums, all overcome with some splendid slide guitar flurries that are simply phenomenal, a very typical bluesy piece that Ash have a knack for (there are hints of Free and Foreigner here). "Wait Out the Storm" is the one track that does nothing for me, too formulaic for my alien-infused tastes, so I skip. The closing instrumental however is extremely propos, a perfect ending to a hyper-pleasant album that deserves a little surgery (yeah, it's a tad too long) and a wider audience. The artwork is stellar too, as well as the sharp, crisp production. I rest in complete agreement with Easy Livin' and Southside in recommending this Ash. 4 lights
tszirmay | 4/5 |

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