Wishbone Ash
(Copyright © 1999 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )

Wishbone Ash (1970), 6.5/10
Pilgrimage (1971) , 6/10
Argus (1972), 7/10
Four (1973) , 5/10
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Wish Bone Ash were unique among the early British progressive-rock bands because of the twin guitar attack by Andy Powell and Ted Turner. Not quite the Allman Brothers, they delivered hard-rocking instrumental passages that worked wonders as background muzak for blue-collar barbecues. Martin Turner was not much of a singer or songwriter, but the guitars and the rhythm section were more than adequate. Wishbone Ash (MCA, 1970) features only six songs, including one of their classics, Lady Whiskey, and two lengthy jams: the 11-minute Handy and the 10-minute Phoenix.

On the mostly instrumental Pilgrimage (1971) the two lengthy tracks, the live 10-minute boogie Where Were You Tomorrow and the 8-minute The Pilgrim, were not as brilliant, but Jail Bait was another classic.

Argus (1972) fused the best of the first and second album. THe 9-minute Time Was was classy and conceptual progressive-rock, while King Will Come, Blowin' Free, Throw Down The Sword and Warrior were granite-solid, melancholy, occasionally epic, compositions.

Four (1973) was inferior on all counts, despite attempts to improve the arrangements with keyboards and horns. Rock And Roll Widow, No Easy Road, So Many Things To Say were merely passable, and the lengthy track, Everybody Needs a Friend, was disappointing.

After replacing Ted Turner with Laurie Wisefield, they continued releasing albums that did not break any new ground, but sounded more and more like their southern-rock counterparts. There's the Rub (1974), the last of their important recordings, still featured an imposing FUBB (besides diligent replicas of their classic style such as Hometown, Persephone and Don't Come Back), but Locked In (Atlantic, 1976) was merely a collection of AOR songs, and that would be the format also for New England (Atlantic, 1976) and Front Page News (1977). No Smoke Without Fire (1978) seemed to return to longer jams, such as The Way Of The World, but Just Testing (1979) marked another low point and another crisis. After Martin Turner also departed, the band released two more albums, Number The Brave (1981) and Twin Barrels Burning (1982). After a three-year hiatus, Raw To The Bone (1985) was basically the band of newcomer Mervyn Spence, vocalist, bassist and songwriter.

The original line-up reunited to cut an all-instrumental new age album, Nouveau Calls (No Speak, 1988).

Here To Hear (1989) and Strange Affair (1991) offered more twin-guitar acrobatics.

A new incarnation of Wishbone Ash was de facto a solo Andy Powell project, who embraced a calmer style (a` la J.J. Cale) on Illuminations (1996). After an experiment in the realm of dance music with Trance Visionary (1998), also remixed with guitars and reissued as Psychic Terrorism (1998), Powell continued delivering laid-back, relaxed soundtracks for the stressed-out such as Bare Bones (1999) and Bona Fide (2002).

(Translation by/ Tradotto da Claudio Vespignani)

I Wishbone Ash furono unici fra i complessi del primo progressive rock grazie alla coppia di chitarre di Andy Powell e Ted Turner. Non proprio come gli Allman Brothers, furono autori di passaggi strumentali hard-rock che facevano miracoli come musica di sottofondo per intrattenimento della classe operaia. Martin Turner non era nŠ un gran cantante nŠ un grande autore, ma le chitarre e la sezione ritmica erano pi— che apprezzabili. Wishbone Ash (MCA 1970) contiene solo 6 brani, fra cui un classico, Lady Whiskey, e due lunghe jam: Handy, di 11 minuti, e Phoenix, di 10 minuti. Sul quasi interamente strumentale Pilgrimage (1971) i due pezzi lunghi, il boogie dal vivo di 10 minuti Where were you tomorrow e The pilgrim, di 8 minuti, non erano altrettanto brillanti ma Jail bait fu un'altro classico. Argus (1972) unŤ il meglio del primo e del secondo disco. Time was era un progressive-rock d'alta classe e concettuale della durata di 9 minuti, mentre King will come, Blowin' free, Throw down the sword e Warrior erano composizioni granitiche, malinconiche, a tratti epiche. Four (1973) fu inferiore da tutti i punti di vista, nonostante i tentativi di arricchire gli arrangiamenti con fiati e tastiere. Rock and roll widow, No easy road, So many things to say, erano appena passabili e la lunga Everybody needs a friend fu deludente. Rimpiazzato Ted Turner con Laurie Wisefield, continuarono a far uscire dischi per nulla originali, che suonavano sempre pi— come i loro idoli del rock sudista. There's a rub (1974) conteneva ancora un pezzo imponente come FUBB, ma Locked in (Atlantic 1976) era una raccolta di pezzi AOR, e sulla stessa falsariga sarebbero stati anche New England (Atlantic 1976) e Front page news (1977). No smoke without fire (1978) sembr• tornare alle lunghe jam come The way of the world, ma Just testing (1979) segn• un'altro momento di crisi. Dopo l'uscita di Martin Turner, il gruppo fece uscire altri due dischi, Number of the brave (1981) e Twin barrels burning (1982), poi si sciolse. Raw to the bone (1985) era sostanzialmente il gruppo di Mervyn Spence, nuovo cantante, bassista e compositore. La formazione originale si riunŤ per un disco totalmente strumentale e new age, Nouveau calls (No Speak 1988). Hear to hear (1989) e Strange affair (1991) propose altro che ulteriori imitazioni di ZZ Top e Allman Brothers. Una nuova rinascita dei Wishbone Ash fu di fatto un progetto solista di Andy Powell, che si dedic• ad uno stile pi— rilassato (alla J.J. Cale) su Illuminations (1996). Dopo un tentativo nel campo della musica dance con Trance visionary (1998), disco poi remixato con chitarre e reintitolato Psychic terrorism (1998), Powell ha continuato a sfornare colonne sonore rilassate e posate come Bare bones (1999) e Bona fide (2002).

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