Wishbone Ash

Wishbone Ash

MCA Records, 1970


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


One of the biggest arguments I have made in support of file sharing is that people can be exposed to groups whom they might not have been willing to try otherwise. Face it: would you spend $18 on a CD having never heard a note the artist played, or would you rather try out a song you downloaded, discover you liked it, and then went out and spent the money on the CD?

As a result, I've been discovering a lot of bands who have been all but forgotten with the passage of time. Make no mistake, at one point some of these groups were well-known, but in today's fast-food society, where the flavor of the month is shoved down people's throats via the present musical industry, these bands are collecting dust at the bottom of the cut-out bins. All they need is a chance to be re-discovered by today's generation, dusted off, and enjoyed again.

With this concept in mind, boys and girls, please meet Wishbone Ash.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Best known as a rock group with progressive bends to their music, Andy Powell and company started out life as a blues-based rock band who weren't afraid to use multiple lead guitars and lead singers. Their 1970 self-titled debut disc may only contain six songs, but it isn't the quantity of material which sets this disc apart from the pack, it's the quality contained therein.

The entire first half (or first side, for those of us who remember vinyl) is, quite simply, unstoppable. Leading off with a blues-shuffle on "Blind Eye," the band -- guitarist/vocalist Powell, guitarist/vocalist Ted Turner, bassist/vocalist Martin Turner and drummer Steve Upton -- locks the listener into an unstoppable groove that makes you wonder why you've never heard of these guys before. The power continues in "Lady Whiskey," leading to the crowning moment of this disc for me, "Errors Of My Ways." Sounding a lot like an Irish dirge (albeit a lot more lively), Wishbone Ash proves to be both introspective and celebratory at the same time in words and music, creating a track which is just screaming to be re-discovered by album-oriented radio. (I swear, if any station ever gave me a chance to program and host a show of hidden treasures, this would be one of the first songs on my playlist. Call me -- I work cheap.)

The second half is where things stumble just a little bit. "Queen Of Torture" is another powerful rock number with one foot securely planted in the band's blues heritage, but Wishbone Ash then moves into experimental territory. Both "Handy" and "Phoenix" clock in at over 10 minutes in length, and each one occasionally feels like a bit here and a bit there could have been lopped off without hurting the overall song. "Handy," in particular, takes a little too long to develop, and its sudden detour in the last few minutes into a blues-rock song is unexpected, even a little anticlimactic. And it's not that these songs are bad -- indeed, the time on "Phoenix" just seems to fly by. But for a first attempt on record, it sometimes sounds like Powell and crew bit off just a little more than they could chew.

Wishbone Ash is the kind of disc that makes you wonder why this band has been all but forgotten in today's musical climate, and why you never hear them on the radio anymore. You want to know what keeps someone like me interested in music? It's re-discovering groups like Wishbone Ash. Come and see what all the fuss is about… you'll quickly be converted as well.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2004 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of MCA Records, and is used for informational purposes only.