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Wishbone Ash - Time Was... The Live Anthology CD (album) cover

TIME WAS... THE LIVE ANTHOLOGY

Wishbone Ash

 

Prog Related

3.49 | 5 ratings

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AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
4 stars Live Wishbone Ash the way they are meant to be heard.

The liner notes of this 2 CD package are interesting. The guitarist Andy Powell writes, "The blues mutated into psychedelia and it was this phase that was to herald the progressive rock era, with which Wishbone Ash is most closely associated." I have always thought Wishbone Ash as more of a live stadium band and everything they did was always played better and more progressively live including all the material on the "Argus" masterpiece that is legendary. Live, they get a chance to rock out with jamming excellence and those trademark twin guitar duelling lead breaks are fantastic music to the ears.

The great WA sound consists of the excellent musicianship of Andy Powell and Ted Turner. The guitar breaks are nothing short of extraordinary, before Iron Maiden and before Judas Priest's twin guitar solos there was Powell and Turner.

The two CD package consists of two live albums "Timeline" and "The King Will Come". Both feature very precise musicianship and the best of the band's repertoire. There are some double ups on track selections which is understandable with two separate live performances, but both live CDs have exceptional quality, are very uplifting and played with enthusiasm to an appreciative crowd. On both concerts from "Argus" there is the quintessential Wishbone Ash tracks 'The King Will Come', 'Throw Down The Sword', 'Blowin' Free' and 'Time Was'. The second concert even features 'Warrior'. So there you have the best from "Argus". But there is so much more on this anthology.

The "Timeline" concert is performed at Bottom Line in Nagoya, Japan 23.5.91. Andy Powell and Martin Turner are here, with Ted Turner on guitar and Ray Weston on drums. It opens with 'Lost Cause In Paradise' which has a fabulous melody and a very strong riff that carries it along. The harmonies are really a feature but the lead breaks are the main attraction as usual.

'Standing In The Rain' is excellent melodic rock with an infectious guitar motif and chorus. It's taken from "Strange Affair" from 1991, perhaps one of the best from this. It is interesting to note the band totally ignore material from the albums from 1977 to 1988.

'Strange Affair' is very bluesy mod tempo AOR. It has a cool rhythm and a strong melodic chorus. Taken from the album of the same name.

'Why Don't We' is one of my favourites from the 1989 album "Here To Hear" running at 8 minutes and featuring the twin guitars jamming it out. It begins with a great riff and steady rhythms. The verses have a terrific melody that is one you could sing to and once again a catchy chorus. It changes time sig at 3:14 and at 5:37 opens up for a lengthy guitar break as good as I have heard them.

'Wings Of Desire' from "Strange Affair" is a moderate track with a nice little riff and easy listening harmonies. The melodies are always infectious with huge choruses.

'Vas Dis' er... What's' this? It is a guitar dominated jam and very well executed. It comes from the second album "Pilgrimage". The drums pound on this and the bassline is delightfully heavy. It is weird how the vocals scat to the tune of the lead melodies. This is quite different to other tracks and stands out as a highlight due to the intricate guitar breaks.

The last track, 'Where were you tomorrow' is an added bonus performed at a BBC session in 1970. This is also from the 1971 "Pilgrimage" album. It is a rocking 12 bar blues song, no different to what you might hear at a blues bar. It is definitely archival as you can tell from the inferior quality but quite a cool blues track with tons of guitar breaks.

The second concert is the album "The King Will Come ? Live" performed at Davenport, USA in 1976 and some parts in Canada in 1973. This is classic Wishbone Ash in their heyday when they were actually popular and not just a cult prog related group. On guitars are Turner and Powell but Laurie Wisefield is the second guitarist, Steve is on drums and the real bonus is the keyboards of Graham Maitland adding a more progressive edge. The enthusiasm and lively performance is a credit to the band. They have a ball bashing out one classic after another. This CD is the better of the two, it is way more proggier too.

It begins with 'Rest In Peace' that has some amazing shimmering Hammond from Maitland that adds depth and a definitive prog vibe. There is also a voice guitar vocoder. This is as experimental as WA get.

This is followed by the classic 'The King Will Come' that everybody in the audience loves. It is my favourite Wishbone Ash song and I saw this on the Classic Rock Anthology which drew me to the band. It is a song about the Biblical end times when the king (Jesus) will return and apocalypse will reign; the Revelation. The lead break is magnificent from both guitarists using wah wah pedal effects and huge scales. Once again this is a staple of the live set and would not be complete without it. It is brilliant prog rock.

'Trust In You' is a slow loud piece with glorious Hammond and scorching guitars from the "Locked In" album.

'Persephone' is a slow paced bluesy thing with tons of grinding Hammond taken from "There's The Rub" from 1974.

'Moonshine' and 'Half Past Lovin'' are from the average 1976 album "Locked In". Neither are the best the band has to offer but still rock hard in a live performance. I like the bluesy riff on the latter track and once again the lead guitar voice vocoder is fun to listen to.

'Rock N Roll Widow' is from "Wishbone Four", a straight forward rocker with loads of lead guitar breaks.

'Time Was' is the "Argus" classic track with very soft folk guitar and melancholy singing. The guitar jamming is a feature and there is a lengthy solo with a driving rhythm, after 7 minutes 23 the track finally comes to a close. The crowd are ecstatic after this, roaring waves of delight.

'Ballad Of The Beacon' taken from "Wishbone Four" is a swing style moderate track.

'The Warrior' from "Argus" has a rocking riff and lead intro before the gentle lyrics; "I'm leaving to search for something new, leaving everything I ever knew, a hundred years in the sunshine, hasn't taught me all there is to know..." The theme centres around the conquest of the vanquished or fallen and how they triumph over the war to find the sword of destiny. The time sig changes to a faster tempo on "Time will pass away, Time will guard our secrets..." Then there is an anthemic section with the chorus repeated over and over with striking harmonies; "I have to be a warrior, a slave I couldn't be, a soldier and a conqueror, fighting to be free." Another great harmony and melody on this memorable track. There is a bit of a drop out in sound on this but that may be perhaps due to the live recording.

The second best WA track is 'Throw Down the Sword' which features a very nice guitar riff that sounds medieval in tune. Great lyrics on this; "Throw down the sword the fight is starting over neither lost neither won, to cast away the fury of the battle, turn my weary eyes for home... leave the glory, a story time could never change, to walk the road the load I have to carry..." The lead breaks are awesome on this live performance.

'Blowin' Free' begins with the killer riff that drives the song. The lyrics are great to sing to; "I Thought I had a girl I know because I seen her, her hair was gold and brown, blowin' free like a cornfield..." The twin guitar solo is a feature once again and this is a real favourite with the band and they always include it on their live set. There are some delicious passages of soaring guitar and blues scales on this.

'Doctor' ends the concert with a bang. This is from the 1973 "Wishbone Four" album. It is a fast paced guitar riffing gem. The vocals drop out a bit as I guess the vocalist runs out of steam toward the end of a show. Upton fairly pounds the skin off the drums on this. The extended guitar duelling is excellent and a true finale to an incredible concert. There are even moments where the guitars are solo and the time sig changes towards the end.

Overall this is a great document of WA at their very best. It features everything worthwhile from the band and works as a kind of greatest hits package but live is definitely the way to enjoy Wishbone Ash, so I wholeheartedly recommend this to anyone who is interested in this cult act. Grab this with "Argus" and you could almost stop there. Unfortunately, their other material is not quite up to a progressive standard.

In conclusion, 3 stars for "Timeline" CD, 5 stars for "The King Will Come" CD, so I can round this off to 4 stars in total. Great classic live prog-related music.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 4/5 |

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