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Wishbone Ash - Bona Fide CD (album) cover


Wishbone Ash


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3.67 | 51 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Def: Bona fide means "in good faith"; good, honest intention (even if producing unfortunate results)

Officially listed as the follow up to "Illuminations" from 1996, this 2002 album actually comes after the band's acoustic release in 1999 entitled "Bare bones". Once again, Andy Powell changes the line up, with guitarist and occasional vocalist Ben Granfelt making his only appearance on a Wishbone Ash album. Bob Skeat and Ray Weston make up the rhythm section.

In the main, the album remains firmly within the parameters established by the band over many years, guitar driven vocal rock being the order of the day. The brief dabbling with prog nuances of the early albums are pretty much absent here, the emphasis being on gathering together a collection of highly accessible numbers.

The opening "Almighty blues" may have blues touches, but it is actually a high energy rock song featuring some fine lead guitar. Andy Powell takes on lead vocal duties on the following "Enigma", giving the song a retro-Ash feel. The melody of the chorus accentuates this, the song being slightly lighter while remaining reliant on strong guitar riffs. "Faith, Hope and Love" is a slower power ballad. The song itself is rather prosaic, but benefits from a decent arrangement including some nice Hammond organ played by Skeat.

The acoustic guitar based "Ancient Remedy" has a bit of an offbeat feel, primarily due to what sounds like slightly de-tuned lead guitar. For me, the main riff is repeated a bit too often, but once again the arrangement comes to the rescue. "Changing tracks" tries to be a southern blues, but the band cannot bring themselves to drop the rock guitar resulting in a rather nondescript number with corny lyrics. Perhaps though the word cony should be reserved for the title of the following "Shoulda Woulda Coulda"! The song itself is an unremarkable plodder.

The title track is a rare instrumental by the band. Based around a blues improvisation, this relatively brief number offers the guitarists a fine opportunity to express themselves. Given that "Difference in time" features a couple of guest vocalists, it is ironic that overall the vocals are the weakest on the album. The track harks back once again to the glory days of the band, with some nice guitar duelling along the way. Unfortunately though, the composition is weak.

"Come rain, come shine" features some brief flute played (or "sampled") by Bob Skeat. The song has the feel of a Celtic anthem, the battle theme clearly intended to take us back to songs such as "Warrior" and "Throw down the sword". Midway through, the song is interrupted by a succession of war/terror themed sound effects before moving into a much heavier section. By far the most progressive, indeed only progressive part of the album, this relatively ambitious piece by and large works well.

The album closes with a second instrumental entitled "Peace". The title says it all, this being a relaxed guitar duet with a pleasant theme.

Overall, not one of Wishbone Ash's strongest albums by any means. "Bona fide" is though true to the band's roots, and does contain some decent material. Fans of the band should find themselves satisfied overall, but those looking for Wishbone Ash's prog credentials can safely pass by.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |


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