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Wishbone Ash - Wishbone Ash CD (album) cover


Wishbone Ash


Prog Related

3.83 | 245 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
4 stars With this first album, the quartet become right away a serious contender for the best complementary twin-lead guitar attack. For the first few years in the early 70's, WA will be one of the most endearing group for anybody into what was to be become prog rock, but like most progheads, they never really considered them to be progressive in the true sense of the words. Sure these four young men were particularly good at their respective instruments, and their music was certainly a lot more complex than some of the contemporary groups of the time, but apart from one album (Argus), they never could quite confirm the adventurous direction they had taken with their cornerstone album, Argus. And it is no surprise that some prog specialist actually create a new category called "hard prog" where WA would have their place along with other predominantly guitar rock. On the whole, their lenghty career which spans into a fourth decade by now, they really stuck to a hard rock with an excellent live band reputation even if the personnel changed many times over the years with only Andy Powell as the mainstay.

If the twin-barrel guitar-powered engine of group were Ted Turner and Andy Powell, Steve Upton's drumming was also helping out as the powerhouse pistons, while in the early albums bassist Martin Turner (no relation to their guitarist Ted) provided them with a rather strong if unspectacular vocals while still playing one of the better bass playing of those years.

This debut album coming with an impressive but sober gatefold artwork came as an excellent surprise with the first vinyl side presenting four very tight tracks and the second side with two strong extended tracks sometimes close to a jam where their good musicianship was ever present. From the straight rock of Lady Whiskey and Queen Of Sorrow to the more delicate and delightful Errors Of My Way, their music was evidently aimed at a male fanhood with a touch of machismo clearly underlined by their lyrics and guitar heroics. Some of their vocal delivery (Martin Turner's good voice was extremely well supported by Andy Powell and sometimes by Ted Turner and when the three were singing in unison, this could be a goosebumps experience) are simply awesome and in some case can remind a bit of those lenghty bard-like stories sung around a fire: check out the Errors track.

The second side will be of more interest to the proghead with two long tracks and all of the leisure to expand on their virtuosity without ever being too demonstrative. Once the track slows down (around the middle of the track, listen to Martin's bass guitar flowing up and down your spine ever so effortlessly drawing shivers and chills, but unfortunately this comes to a stop with a rather boring and failed drum solo, before the track reprises in a much less poetic and rockier manner, which does not suit the superb debut. The second track, Phoenix is one of the best they ever wrote and is also over the 10 min mark. Even if the crescendo (around the 7 min 30 mark is a bit long), the musicianship is excellent and, if perfectible, the writing is quite enthralling. To describe their sound is rather hard, because WA had their own distinctive and (then) unique sound.

Their first album held so much promise, that their follow-up had a hard time living up to it, and in may ways, it did not. For progheads, the debut album is certainly one their best ever although not flawless, but for a first try, this was for sure a masterstroke.

Sean Trane | 4/5 |


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