Friday, August 30, 2013

Wishbone Ash - Live Dates

I expounded upon my "guilty pleasure" of digging this band before, but this live album is what really got me into the group, and I believe that this is the tour that I saw them in a small-ish place in Indiana. Fabulous players and singers, though, frankly, not much of a visual act. Still, man, could they play guitar!

Argus must have been the album that they were touring on for this live record, as many of that record's songs appear here, including the opener, "The King Will Come", which shows off their strengths right away - terrific vocal and guitar harmonies, lots of dynamic work and great playing all around! No, not raw rock'n'roll like I normally dig, but cool pop-metal. Love the catchy chorus of "Warrior", despite the fairly silly lyrics (as were all-too-common at the time), and "Throw Down the Sword" is what would later be called a power-ballad, with some quiet verses and a big, dramatic solo and choruses.

"Roll and Roll Widow" is an earlier song from Wishbone Four (that the audience appreciated) that shows off some nice, melodic slide work with cool echo effect in the solo section and "Ballad of the Beacon" essentially sounds like a British folk song set to electric guitars. I actually like their poppier version of Jimmy Reed's "Baby What You Want Me To Do", with its slide work and twin lead guitars, though it is a far cry from Reed's original. The groups musicianship and tightness are on display in "Pilgrim", where they actually pull off a live "fade out" from the melodic intro into the main structure of the song, which is an instrumental riffer, augmented by some harmony vocals singing "ahhs" - basically, a structured jam.

Definitely my favorite song by WA is "Blowin' Free", though I would be hard-pressed to describe why. Supremely catchy melody, nice guitar work, cool riff, and a breakdown which moves into a rockin' solo section, giving another excuse to show off their dynamics. "Jailbait" is one of their more upbeat numbers - still pretty clean but more rock'n'roll than harmonically pretty, with lots of room for the guitars to stretch out - with their patented twin leads as well as each guitar getting their own time - and a good set closer.

They come back with two more, "Lady Whiskey", another more traditional riff-rocker, though with a number of changes and a bit of their melodic twin leads. The closer is "Phoenix", a bit mellower, but more dramatic, with some lead flourishes giving it some intensity and finishing with a huge jam section.

Again, this is not something for pure punk'n'rollers, but if you dig melodic hard rock with some inspired guitar playing, this is fun stuff.