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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Martin Turner

Life Begins – Deluxe 2CD + DVD Set

Review by Gary Hill

This set captures a live performance from 2010. As many will know, Martin Turner was a founding members of Wishbone Ash, and this particular tour was all about the 40th Anniversary of that band. This set has never been released like this before. Up until now, there was a CD release and there was a separate DVD available only at shows. This performance includes a full performance of the Argus album and more Wishbone Ash classics. It’s a great live convert. The DVD is quite good and includes some nice bonus materials. This comes highly recommended to Wishbone Ash fans for sure.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2016  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Disc: 1

                      
Time and Space

Starting with some spacey elements, this works out to more of a high energy sound. In a lot of ways this makes me think of the more melodic, but still energized, side of Blue Oyster Cult. The crunchy bits reinforce that comparison. The first instrumental section later has an almost blues rock sound to it. Yet, overall, this is a proggy thing.

Vas Dis
Introduced as “a wee bit of jazz,” percussion leads this out of the gate. From there we get into something that is rather jazzy, in fact, but more of a prog meets psychedelia excursion. Yes, the scat singing is full on jazz, but overall I’d land this under prog. There are definitely things here that make me think of Peter Banks era Yes.
Ballad of the Beacon
This is much more of a mainstream rock tune. It’s kind of folk rock in a lot of ways. It’s a good song, but not one of my favorites here. I love the particularly expressive guitar soloing, though, and the bass that accompanies it.
Rock 'N' Roll Widow
The dueling guitars work really well here. This is part mainstream rocker and part space jam. It’s a classy cut with hints of jazz and psychedelia built into it.
Sorrel
This is quite a dynamic piece. It has sections that are more aligned with mainstream rock music. Other things, though, work more into the prog end of the spectrum. It’s a great tune and the closing instrumental section is particularly effective.
Everybody Needs a Friend
Definitely more in the vein of mainstream melodic rock, this has some solid guitar soloing. It’s a good number, but a bit less impressive than some of the others here.
Phoenix
More of a trippy, spacey song, this is a slower thing. It’s much proggier than the previous cut. It’s also one of my favorites here. It’s just so cool. The more rocking section later really brings the piece into a faster paced and more powered up prog territory. How many rock songs can you name off with a spoons solo? This one should make that list. There is a scorching hot guitar solo based jam that follows that.
Lost Cause in Paradise
A dynamic number, this really is one of the more soaring and growing things here. I love the guitar soloing, but the whole hard rocking, but melodic, prog concept here works so well, really. This is another standout tune.
Errors of My Way
While the guitar interplay really sells this, the cut works on its own, too. It’s not a real standout, but that’s more about the music around it than it is about this song.
Ships in the Sky
A mellower tune, this is very much a folk prog number. It has some elements of blues rock, too. It’s classy, but not a real highlight.
You See Red
Not the proggiest thing here, this is a more mainstream rocker. The instrumental section mid-track at once makes me think of both Thin Lizzy and Southern rock at first.
Disc: 2
                    
Time Was

Here they begin a full performance of the Wishbone Ash album Argus. With intricate picked guitar as the backdrop, a multi-layered vocal arrangement is the central factor here. That holds more than the first two and a half minutes. Then it shifts out to a faster paced, melodic rock jam from there. This reminds me of the post Yes Peter Banks band Flash just a bit. The guitar solo section later is very classy and rocking.

Sometime World
A slower cut, this is a trippy kind of prog jam. It has an almost dreamy element to it, at least until the two and half minute mark (or so) when the song changes. This works out to a faster paced jam that again makes me think of Flash again. The non-lyrical vocals over the top add to that. The song gets lyrical vocals from there, though.
The King Will Come
On the one hand, this is a more cohesive and consistent piece of music. Yet, it’s more fully proggy. There is folk, jazz and more built into this piece. It’s one of my favorites of the whole set.
Leaf and Stream
This mellower cut is another with a lot of intricate folk built into it. Sure, it’s prog, too. It is a cool cut that works nicely and really does grow as it works through.
Warrior
One of a rare breed of tunes, this is proggy and yet has a real groove to it. I love everything about this song. The guitar soloing is classic and classy, yet the vocal hooks stand even to them.
Throw Down the Sword
The final cut from the Argus expedition, this comes out of the previous number. It’s a jam based song in the first section with a lot of classical music in the mix. It works out to mellow folk prog from there for the vocal section.
Blowin' Free
Perhaps a bit less prog oriented, this is still folk rock for sure. The more rocking section later is both bluesy rock and roller and more proggy.
Living Proof
This actually makes me think of Roxy Music quite a bit. It’s a cool tune. It’s proggy enough, but has a great soulful groove at the same time. It gets out to more of a bluesy rocker further down the road.
Jailbait
More of a straightahead mainstream rocker, this is classy stuff. It includes the introductions of the band members.

 

 
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