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Tapestry of Delights:
Martin Turner and Steve Upton formed Wishbone Ash in Torquay, Devon, in 1969 along with Martin's brother Glen. They'd earlier played together in various south-west groups. Glen Turner was soon forced to leave due to health problems and the band moved up to London with Ted Turner (no relation) and Andrew Powell, who'd come in as a replacement for Glen.
After signing to MCA they recorded their debut album in 1970. Essentially mainstream rock characterised by the twin guitars of Powell and Ted Turner some likened them to a British version of The Allman Brothers. It took them into the UK Album Charts peaking at No 34.
They began to build up a strong following in the UK, mostly around the clubs and colleges during the early seventies. Their next album, Pilgrimage, consolidated their earlier success, peaking at No 14 in the UK. This is full of instrumentation and some self-indulgent solos, but already their limitations vocally were becoming apparent. Tracks like Vas Dis, The Pilgrim, Lullaby and Valediction were pleasant enough but lacking in excitement and, perhaps, imagination. They have not aged well. The lengthy Where Were You Tomorrow (which also features some melodic guitar work) and Jail Bait, were livelier and arguably the highlights. They have more vocals, too!
Their third album, Argus, is usually considered their definite offering. Rising to No 3 it was certainly their most successful commercially. This was their most varied album but somehow they failed to capitalise on its success reverting back to their earlier mainstream rock format for Wishbone Four. They failed to forge a distinctive identity and lacked real charisma on stage. Their albums also lack much musical excitement, although their double Live Dates album released in January 1974 is one of their better efforts.
Ted Turner, having got into religion, departed in June 1974 being replaced by former Home guitarist Laurie Wisefield. They also relocated to the East Coast of the USA which offered them a more favourable tax environment than the UK. There's The Rub was recorded in Miami and included the instrumental track, F*U*B*B, which stood for Fucked Up Beyond Belief.
By now they were almost adopted Americans. Their music became more country-ish (ugh!) and they toured the US frequently, but seldom came to the UK. Locked In, their sixth album, was produced by Tom Dowd and session man Peter Wood (formerly of Sutherland Brothers and Quiver) was featured on keyboards.
They continued to record well beyond the time span of this book - indeed until the early nineties. Anyone wanting to sample their sound could do no worse than to track down a copy of Classic Ash, which was originally issued in 1977 and reissued a couple of times in the early eighties. Generally, though, their early seventies music has not aged well.
(Vernon Joynson / Trevor Vanderplank)
"You See Red" (Laurie Wisefield) "Baby the Angels Are Here" (Martin Turner) "Ships in the Sky" (Laurie Wisefield) "Stand and Deliver" (Laurie Wisefield) "Anger in Harmony" (Andy Powell/Laurie Wisefield/Martin Turner) "Like a Child" (Martin Turner) "The Way of the World (Part 1)" (Laurie Wisefield) "The Way of the World (Part 2)" (Laurie Wisefield)
Martin Turner - bass guitar, vocals Andy Powell - guitar, vocals Laurie Wisefield - guitar, vocals Steve Upton - drums
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