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Wishbone Ash

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mystic fred
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars i guess in 1973 wishbone ash had their hands full following up "argus", which reached no.3 in the uk album chart. they took off to a cottage in wales (now who else did that?) and the result was "wishbone four" which turned out to be something of a disappointment to fans at the time of its release, but still managed to reach no.12 in the uk album chart in may 1973. much more laid back and nothing like its predecessors, ted turner left the group a year after this album was released, dissatisfied with the way the group were going. engineered by keith harwood, recorded at olympic and abbey road studios in london, there is some nice use of slide guitar and some good songs here, "everybody needs a friend" , the up-tempo "doctor", but overall not really much to interest prog fans.
Report this review (#73746)
Posted Saturday, April 1, 2006 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
2 stars What could WA do after such a resounding success as Argus had been and not wanting to make a Son-of-Argus? Well they certainly had the courage to get back to basics and did probably out of pressure of their MCA label, but I believe because they probably felt incapable of furthering what they had achieved just before. So they went back to basics, but unfortunately started paying a price, as this album was also the breaking point of the original line-up as one of the twin-lead guitarist Ted Turner would leave after it, joining religion. Most likely out of frustration for taking such a step backwards!

Because a step backwards this album definitely is: all of the charm of Argus was simply washed away as if inexistent and very unfortunately that spirit will simply never be caught again in their discography even three decades later. Basic rockers sounding a bit as if they had become a more progressive Status Quo, this album does not even have real highlights or peaks, it is just flat down RnR with little inventivity. Best-known track is Persephone Jives, which still gets regular playing live nowadays but it is nothing worth writing home about and barely deserves a space on a compilation or best of. Lacklustre collection of song, this album is the blueprint for many WA albums to come, but at least this one still has the merit of having the original line-up.

Report this review (#82996)
Posted Friday, July 7, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars This album was the follow up to Argus and showcases the band in a more mature light. If you are looking for Argus mark 2 then you will be dissappointed, the progressive influences are still there but not so noticeable and the medieval fantasy element has gone completely. I guess it alienated a lot of fans when it first came out because it is such a large departure from Argus; however, don't let this put you off. The song writing is excellent and they still have that experimentation with different guitar sounds from electric and slide to acoustic which give the songs much more depth.

Son Many Thing to Say is an up tempo rocker and has a distinct live feel. Great solo in the middle. Next up is Ballad of Beacon and one of their best acoustic numbers, superb instrumentation. No Easy Road is more of a pop song but swings with energy courtesy of a brass section. To end the first side of the vinyl album we have the epic Everybody Needs a Friend, there is a couple of superb extended solos in this track.

The next four tracks have much the same feel with a rocker, a ballad and an epic. Sing out the Song is a more mellow number with some great slide guitar by Ted Turner.

Not worthy of five stars but a solid 4, no question in my mind.

Report this review (#88703)
Posted Friday, September 1, 2006 | Review Permalink
Chris S
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Wishbone Ash evolved quicker perhaps than the likes of Camel or Caravan and ' Four' for me although will never rightly so compete with ' Argus', it is undeniably a classic if only for standout songs alone!Their musical directions changed before a lot of other bands in the 70's. Who can deny the wonderful ' Ballad Of The Beacon', in honour of mountains and all trails grand? The stunning but sad ' Everybody Needs A friend'. This is the album where Wishbone Ash perfected ballads and these two in particular standout above the rest. There is no question that the band evolved into a less conceptual outfit with this release but the material is of vintage quality. ' Rock and Roll Widow' the closer on the album set the tone for future albums to come. As I said for standout tracks ' Four' is a must, it will not challenge the first three releases in terms of conceptual offerings but nevertheless an excellent album all the same. A worthy four stars.
Report this review (#89823)
Posted Saturday, September 16, 2006 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Everybody needs a producer

Following up the magnificent "Argus" was always going to be a monumental task for Wishbone Ash. Instead of trying to create another similar album, the band decided to go back to basics, while taking on production duties themselves.

The changes are immediately apparent on the frankly poorly produced "So many things to say" which opens the album. The song does not stand up well as the first one to succeed "Argus". The vocals for example, which are far rougher than we are used to from the band, are too far back in the mix.

Fortunately, things quickly improve with "Ballad of the beacon", where the more traditional harmonised multi-tracked vocals return and the unique guitar sound of the band is far more apparent. The song (the lyrics of which reflect the band's decamping to Wales to work on it) is one of the hidden gems of the Wishbone Ash catalogue. "No easy road" is a generic rock song, which features a horn section(!) and unaccredited female backing vocals. It is not the Wishbone Ash we know and love at all.

The bad song/good song nature of the album is at its most obvious with the wonderful "Everybody needs a friend". This acoustic guitar based 8˝ minute ballad features an excellent vocal performance of a fine melody, combined with some of the finest lead guitar work the band have come up with. Once again, the production could have been much better, but that cannot disguise the excellence of the song. The lyrics, while melancholy, are optimistic and supportive. "Broken wings can heal and mend again, Don't be afraid to cry your tears out loud, Everybody needs to have a friend". The track is immeasurably enhanced by the addition of mellotron played by George Nash.

The second side of the album is significantly the weaker. It opens with a very ordinary guitar rock number "Doctor", which ironically is one of the few tracks to exploit the bands distinctive twin guitar sound. Lyrics and melody wise though the song, which sounds like an outtake from an album by the WHO, has been heard a thousand times before. It is hard to get excited about any of the remaining songs which are adequate but unremarkable.

While it is understandable that Wishbone Ash did not want to simply try to create another "Argus", their story might have been very different if they had. By ditching their long term producer and taking on those duties themselves, they were saddled with a huge mountain to climb. The erratic nature of the compositional quality only serves to exacerbate the challenge. "Wishbone four" does contain a couple of essential Wishbone Ash songs, but they are found alongside some very average material.

Guitarist Ted Turner would leave the band after this album, apparently unhappy with the backward step he felt the band had taken, and the classic line up of the band was at an end.

Report this review (#116561)
Posted Wednesday, March 28, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Wishbone Four is a fine album, especially when compared to some later Wishbone Ash albums. No, it's not Son of Argus, as some expected. But there are some great songs and some great playing. So Many Things To Say, No Easy Road and Doctor are rocking numbers. Ballad Of The Beacon, Everybody Needs A Friend and Sorrel (perhaps my own fav Ash tune) are nice ballads. Fewer of the songs have the mystic quality more common on the first three Ash albums. While it's often underrated, Wishbone Four does have the classic Ash sound. But it would be nice to see Martin Turner remaster Wishbone Four to improve the sound. There is word that all of the Mark I and Mark II Wishbone Ash albums on MCA will be reissued in remastered deluxe editions. But for now, get the Japanese release of Wishbone Four; the sound is better than on other releases.
Report this review (#118324)
Posted Friday, April 13, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars As this is a prog related band, you should not expect something progressive about the music of Wishbone Ash. But asa legendary band, I also like the kind of music this band plays. There are blends of hard rock, vintage rock (like The Who), blues and sothern rock (like Lynyrd Skynyrd) are presented here. When you play this CD, you might find that So Many Things To Say (5:00) is like typical hard rock music. But, if you notice that there is brilliant segment in the middle of the track that sounds truly progressive through great double guitar work. It's truly cool segment. Similar thing happens again to track 5 Doctor (5:48) where the double guitar work brilliantly in music style that is similar with The Who. But the guitar solo and double guitar work make it so different with any kind of vintage rock music.

Ballad Of The Beacon (4:58) has strong component of blues rock with nice singing while No Easy Road (3:40) is more on Southern Rock. The most critical song of that time was the radio hit (at least in my country) of Everybody Needs A Friend (8:27). It was quite famous song where it reminds me to the kind of music Babe Ruth plays. It's a mellow blues rock in pop signature. It's nice and easy listening. Sorrel (5:02) has progressive touch at the opening part of the song. The guitar solo in the middle of the song with talk box is a brilliant segment of the music. Again, the double guitar work makes this song is different and enjoyable. Sing Out The Song (4:21) is a mellow track with good acoustic guitar work, nice and natural music flow. The album concludes nicely with Rock'n Roll Widow (5:41)

Overal, this is a good album. For those of 70s generation, owning this album is a must. This is the kind of music we loved in the 70s even though composition-wise there is nothing special. But, it's truly enjoyable. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW (i-Rock! Music Community)

Report this review (#184367)
Posted Thursday, October 2, 2008 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
1 stars Wishbone Ash was never a truly progressive rock band, but on their first three albums as well as on the great but underrated There's The Rub they surely flirted with prog territory. Not so much on Wishbone Four. Here we have pretty much a straightforward rock 'n' roll album.

The best song here ought to be Ballad Of The Beacon. It is certainly not prog but it is a nice little folky tune with a memorable melody, which is something I cannot say about the rest of the albums tracks. Another decent song is Sorrel. The over eight minutes long Everybody Needs A Friend is not, despite its length, a track with a lot happening in it.

This album is about as interesting as its title and its cover art. In addition to all these criticisms, I think that the album is badly produced. The sound is murky and the instruments don't seem to be in the right places in the mix.

It is very hard to believe that this poor album is wedged in between the two very good ones Argus and There's The Rub.

I could recommend this album only to Wishbone Ash completionists since only they will really enjoy it.

Report this review (#193961)
Posted Tuesday, December 16, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars We have here a mix of good songs and bad songs. Near strong ballad "Ballad Of The Beacon" or "Everybody Needs A Friend ", there are plenty of fillers there.

The music is not a prog, more usual rock of that time, heavier than in other WA albums. The last album song "Rock'n'Roll Widow"is typical hard -rock song of a time.

The sound isn't as good as could be. Sounding soft, producing is not clear, below the standart level. All in all, album consists of some good raw material,which haven't been realized as good as possible, and some fillers, which just destroy the album.

Can't recommend this album for prog fans. Best option is WA "Live Dates", realised just one year later, and including some best songs from "Wishbone Four".

Report this review (#237038)
Posted Friday, September 4, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars ''Please close the gate''

Wishbone Ash have always struck me as one of those quintessentially English bands, but with this release they departed from their usual style and the end result has a very American feel. The twin guitars are still present but much of Ted Turner's playing is on pedal-steel. The songs themselves are generally shorter than on previous albums, and there are very few extended instrumental passages or contrasting sections within the songs. It's a pretty standard collection of rockers and folky ballads; there's even a song that comes close to country. Vocals are the usual Wishbone fare, but with none of Martin Turner's scat-singing.

Previous albums had drawn heavily on historical and fantasy symbolism, via the music and the album covers. Wishbone 4's sleeve design is a simple photo of the band, and the songs deal with real, down to earth issues of life on the road, heroin addiction and murder. Presumably this was part of a self-conscious change in style.

Highlights on Wishbone 4 are Ballad Of The Beacon, Sorrel, Rock'n'Roll Widow and the stately Everybody Needs A Friend. George Nash is credited on the sleeve as playing ''keyboards'' on this last-named track. It is of course a Mellotron. Twin Wishbone guitars and Mellotron... I can listen to this song all day.

Overall then, not a patch on previous releases and containing no progressive elements, but still an enjoyable listen with one essential track.

Report this review (#256420)
Posted Wednesday, December 16, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars The music from this album is as original as its title.

Still, there are some good rocking moments to find (prog is alien, but this is not a new feature). The fabulous twin guitar sounds are probably less impressive now, but the opener does hold some excellent guitar though. "So Many Things To Say" is a solid hard rock song, with a touch should I say: this is not too bad a start.

I won't say that this work is a masterpiece, but a fine rock album with ups and downs. The syrupy ballad ("Ballad Of The Beacon") is probably not the best of their song, but the (short) guitar solo is rather emotional. And I like emotions.

The bottom low is reached with the weak "No Easy Road" which features too much trumpets to my taste. If I were you, I would press the next key in this case. Same applies to the country-style "Sing Out The Song".

I have always liked their long songs: it was the occasion of great instrumental intros and they provided the opportunity to develop superb guitar solo. While "Everybody Needs A Friend" starts, I immediately think of CSN & Y. Again.

It starts with a very melodic vocal part, and then a sumptuous guitar moment lifts off: really great and passionate. These are great rock moments that needs to be shared. Of course, the prog aspect is non-existing; but once in a while it is good to plunge into something else. It is a quiet but beautiful song (even some mellotron lines can be distinguished). This is a highlight as far as I am concerned.

I would be more indulgent than most of my fellow reviewers in this case (it is so rare that I like to point this out). I you like some good (hard) rock from the seventies this album should suit you pretty well ("Doctor" for instance holds some other jewel guitar breaks).

My second preferred song from this album is the closing "Rock 'N Roll Widow". Again (but this is usual with "Wishbone Ash"), guitars are just prefect. And illustrate quite well the strength of the band.

Three stars.

Report this review (#338474)
Posted Monday, November 29, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars In fact this is a fun album, because the band experiments with different styles. In that light, this album is not bad. The songs are not all that bad either, in fact a lot of songs on this albums are Wishbone Ash classices (Ballad of the Beacon, No Easy Road, Doctor, Sorrel). The fun thing is that some songs are so far away from the Wishbone Ash-sound (No Easy Road sounds like Lynyrd Skynyrd meets Rolling Stones) that it brings a smile on my face. If they put their mind to it, these guys can in fact really rock out on short songs.

The problem with this album is, that doesn't ave the same impact as Argus and There's the Rub. I guess Four and Pilgrimage will always be kind of underrated and forgotten. But when you put on Locked In or Front Page News this album sounds really fresh and inspired.

For people who don't know the band, and want to hear a more playful album by this band, please give Four a chance.

Report this review (#457828)
Posted Tuesday, June 7, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Wishbone Four is an offering I consider to be among the band's "classics". If ever there was an album in search for an identity this is it. As it has already been said, there were some changes in sound after "Argus" but most of the songs here are really excellent. "So Many Things To Say" is a belting rocker that starts the album. The slide guitar is one of the noticable differences to their first three albums, but it is a memorable piece and the playing is top notch. At least this release gives us plenty of variety. The gentle folky ballad "Ballad of the Beacon" follows and it is one of the band's finest songs, with superb guitar playing throughout. Perhaps the rock and rolling "No Easy Road" doesn't fit in to the collection as well but it is hardly a bad one. Besides, there is plenty more quality to make up for it, such as the beautiful, sorrowful "Everybody Needs a Friend" and the stunning "Sorrel" which arguably takes the honours for musical craftsmanship, displaying what old fans loved about Wishbone Ash, thier folky vocal harmonies as well as harmonizing guitar riffs. "Rock And Roll Widow" signs off the album. Love this one too. It's a somewhat eerie rocker with more slide guitar. Great album.
Report this review (#701296)
Posted Friday, March 30, 2012 | Review Permalink
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
2 stars After a masterpiece like Argus it's obviously very difficult making something at the same level, and effectively the Wishbone Ash didn't. Wishbone Four is a collection of songs without any concept and the songs are shorter and weaker than on Argus.

The rock and roll element is more in evidence so that the only song that every listener is likely to remember after the first listen is "No Easy Road", that's just a rock and roll song. Also the best version of this song is the live one of "Hot Ash" where it's extended to over 10 minutes by a solid guitar instrumental part.

To stay in the Rock and Roll world, the best track is probably "Rock and Roll Widow", the rest goes from country-rock in a CSN&Y style (4 way street comes to mind) to more bluesy things, but it's quite a forgettable album on which the most distinctive element of WA's music, the twin guitars, is partially left behind. This could have been one of the reasons why Ted Turner left the band after this album the first of a huge number of lineup changes which during the years will see the disappearing of all the original members of the band.

It's not a bad album, its principal defect consists in being the first "just normal rock" album after three very excellent releases so it probably appears weaker than what it really is. However I can't rate it with more than two stars.

Report this review (#753087)
Posted Monday, May 14, 2012 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
4 stars Contrary to most people in here, I always found Wishbone Four to be an excellent LP. It was the first Wishbone Ash album I bought and I nearly wore it out after so many listenings at the time. I can understand it is not as groundbreaking or progressive as Argus, their truly masterpiece. Still, I love it then and when I recently got it on CD I found out my original feelings remain intact. Granted: the production sucks, but that´s a minor problem. The songwriting is top notch, even if the progressive and folk elements are toned down. But, as far as I know, they were never a ´real´ prog band. They were never symphonic rock, nor claimed to be anything like that. They were progressive in the original term: they created a new sound, expanded their original blues rock to an extend few bands did. In that way they were very progressive.

Of the song here there are few controversities: Ballad Of The Beacon and Rock´n Roll Widow are regarded as classics and rightly so. The former was always a favorite of mine. Progheads also praised Everybody Needs a Friend. Now I do too, but it is one of those tracks that can be more fully appreciated on the CD format (and, besides, there is a mellotron on that). Sorrel is a forgotten gem (great harmony vocals!). Of the other stuff, I like them all, even if their rocking side is not as appreciated as their softer material. I disagree: to me, No Easy Road is a fine uptempo rocker that have a nice uplifiting quality on me every time I listen to it (brass arragement and all).

Conclusion: while not nearly as well crafted and novelty as Argus, Wishbone Four still manages to deliver great twin guitar leads, fine songs and impeccable perfomances. If only the production was a little better, maybe this CD would not get so much flak from reviewers here. Rating: something between 3.5 and 4 stars, but I´ll round up to four for personal reasons and maybe to compensate the unfair criticism it got from some.

Report this review (#766677)
Posted Thursday, June 7, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars A click behind Pilgrimage, this is the first not-elite quality album by Wishbone Ash. Yet, it has some classics in it!

Let's get down to a track-by-track review:

So Many Things To Say: A song in the spirit of The Who, both musically and vocally. Edgy and aggressive, yet melodic and catchy. A very good song.

Ballad Of The Beacon: Indeed a ballad, it's considered one of their best songs; actually one of the most well known, not one of their best. The chorus is very catchy and easy to memorize, it gives a live concert standard for the fans to sing along, but not an actually great song in my opinion. I think it's overrated.

No Easy Road: A rather common Rock 'n' Roll formula, feels like it's been played by bands like The Rolling Stones a hundred times before. Not bad, but not significant.

Everybody Needs A Friend: A beautiful ballad, much better than "Ballad Of The Beacon" in my opinion. The last, long lasting instrumental part is my favorite, as it makes you feel so high and nostalgic... Very, very nice.

Doctor: Another song close to The Who formula, not as good as "So Many Things To Say", but fun to listen and maybe headbang to!

Sorrel: One of the most unique riffs they ever wrote, you never forget it once you listen to it. Sounds like it came from the Argus sessions; it could! Timeless.

Sing Out The Song: Yet another ballad, with a country feeling and nothing extraordinary to offer. Let's jump to the next song, 'cause it's...

Rock 'n' Roll Widow: What a song! Fantastic riff, great melody, catchy chorus, easy lyrics; the perfect combination for a radio hit which never went to become. Maybe if they played it a bit more edgy and bold... Who knows. I know that this is one of my favorite songs by Wishbone Ash!

RATING: Half of them are great, half of them are not... Where does Wishbone Four stand next to Pilgrimage, which is the less great of the Holy Triad for my taste? A bit lower. So it has to go with 3 stars, although it should get 3,5.

Report this review (#1378704)
Posted Friday, March 6, 2015 | Review Permalink

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