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Wishbone Ash - Argus CD (album) cover

ARGUS

Wishbone Ash

 

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4.22 | 663 ratings

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TCat
4 stars "Argus" is the third album in a long string of albums by Wishbone Ash. It was also their most popular, and their most progressive album, though it is not a strict progressive album as much as one that contains several prog elements interspersed within it's hard rock tracks.

Wishbone Ash was one of the first bands to ever use twin lead guitars and this would inspire bands like Iron Maiden and Thin Lizzy, albeit their music would be much heavier. The twin guitars are very relevant on this album, and guitars pretty much drive most of the music. There are no keyboards, at least not much, except for an organ on the last track. While there are elements of prog here, there are also elements of folk rock within the tracks.

Most of the tracks are long, mostly exceeding 5 minutes, with the first one approaching 10 minutes. "Time Was" starts out with a beautiful acoustic beginning with some nice harmonies, but it soon rocks out after a few minutes. The melodies change often as it does in a lot of prog epics, however, the meters are pretty standard throughout. Thus you get the feeling of prog rock in the complex melodies, but on the light side of prog. "Sometime World" also starts out soft and gets faster as it continues. This one carries a distinct folk song throughout most of it, then as the vocals come in, you can hear an early Yes influence. The track ends with a great guitar solo. The track however, does feel a little dated, but that's all because of the mixing. It makes it even more early "Yes-like".

"Blowin' Free" is a heavier song, but the music is definitely standard rock. This doesn't make it a bad song, but it doesn't make a real prog song either. The harmonies on this one are very similar to Crosby, Stills and Nash. As the tempo slows in the middle of the song, there is that return to the folkish sound, and then a nice slow guitar solo. The tempo picks up again and another solo follows. This is great hard rock, but again, other than the tempo changes, there isn't much progressive rock here.

"The King Will Come" exceeds 7 minutes. It starts off with a reggae vibe for about a minute, then the beat tapers off to another standard rock beat. Again, you have harmonies similar to early Yes. As the first track, this one has many changing melodies and it makes for another complex track. But the complexity doesn't reach any real heavy progressiveness again. The changing melodies stay in a standard meter throughout. You get another great guitar solo here too.

"Leaf and Stream" returns to the folk-ish sound. It matches the horned helmet shadowed figure on the cover in feel and style. Again, we have another beautiful guitar solo. The melody pretty remains the same throughout this track however. "Warrior" is a heavy rocker with a great opening riff, but it quickly mellows out and slows down as vocals begin. When the chorus finally arrives, things get more interesting as vocals and guitar solos take turns. I can hear some early Styx in the harmonies and the structure of the last half of the song, so it's obvious here where Styx was inspired early on. But the song, as epic as it sounds, doesn't rise above the standard hard rock tune.

"Throw Down the Sword" is the last track and the only track that features a guest organist. However, there really isn't much that stands out on this track, just a continuation of the same style.

This is definitely Wishbone Ash's best work, and it is unfortunate that they didn't improve on this sound. From this point on, most of their music would continue to become more and more radio friendly, even though they never really had much success from that style. Also, this band is still releasing albums, though the line up has changed a lot. Andy Powell has been the only constant member in the line up. Yes, this is a great hard rock album, and if the group followed this style, they may have actually reached a full progressive status. Unfortunately, there are only hints of progressiveness here. Yes, this album is a huge influence, and that cannot be discounted. But it is far from 5 star prog material. Because of it's status, more than anything however, we can manage to give it 4 stars as it is has excellent musicianship and it's strongest points are the twin guitars and the excellent solos.

TCat | 4/5 |

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