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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Wishbone Ash

Raw to the Bone

Review by Gary Hill

This is a new two-CD reissue of an older album from Wishbone Ash. The first disc includes the original album with some bonus tracks, while disc two is comprised of some live performances. Apparently this album is much maligned among fans of Wishbone Ash. Taken in the context of their catalog, I can see why. It's clearly much more of a mainstream hard rocker than the kind of progressive rock stuff they generally did. That said, if you ignore the legacy, it's a solid disc. It's not the most original thing you'll hear, but it has some good songs built into it. The addition of the all the bonus material, along with the massive booklet, really make this something worth having. It should be noted that this is included in the progressive rock section of Music Street Journal based on the bulk of the band's catalog, not this album. This clearly is not progressive rock.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2018  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Disc 1
        
Raw to the Bone
            
Cell of Fame

This comes in with some guitar tapestry. The cut combines that with more of an AOR hard rocking sound. This is catchy and anthemic. It's very much an arena rocker type of tune, but it still has some proggy tendencies at play. There are metallic edges here for sure, too, though.

People in Motion
More of a straight-forward rocker, this has some anthemic metal in the mix. It's not bad, but clearly not up to the same level as the opener. It's an accessible rocker, though.
Don't Cry
While there are some hints of space rock at points here, this is more of a straight-ahead metal stomper. I like this one a lot. It's catchy and meaty.
Love in Blue
The opening movement of this has some definite AOR prog in the mix. I dig the keyboard fills.
Long Live the Night
This melodic rocker is solid. There is a real blues rock vibe to it. It makes me think of bands like Whitesnake quite a bit.
Rocket in my Pocket
Arena rock, AOR sounds and more merge here. There is a hard rock grind to this with some hints of metal. I guess I should mention the lyrics. That's a big issue with this cut because they are so trite.
It's Only Love
A scorching hot hard rocker, this leans toward heavy metal.
Don't You Mess
A melodic rocker, this has more an AOR rock sound to it. This is arena rock for sure. It's a catchy cut and has some cool guitar work.
Dreams (Searching for an Answer)
Metallic hard rock, this has a lot in common with the hair metal of the 80s. It's accessible and has a solid groove.
Perfect Timing

Another hard rocking number, this has a lot of that hair metal texture in the mix. This makes me think of Kingdom Come quite a bit.

Bonus Tracks
               
She's Still Alive

Intricate and expressive guitar brings this cut into being. The vocals come over the top creating a balladic approach. It gets more metallic later, but continues with the intriguing textures throughout.

The 1986 Sessions
                    
Apocalypso

This is more of a mainstream rocker. It has some cool grooves to the later sections of the cut. The main riff on this has a real blues rock vibe to it.

Valley of Tears
This number is more on the prog side of the equation. It has some cool instrumental work. I'm not really sold on the vocal performance on this tune, though. Beyond that it does sound more like the kind of thing one expects from Wishbone Ash.
Kkomo
It has to be mentioned that the opening of this feels like something Prince would do. From there it works out to a rocking jam that has some serious funk in the bass work. This is an energized and reasonably accessible cut.
Talk to Me

I really am not a fan of this tune. I don't like the vocals on it, and the song just isn't strong enough to get beyond that detriment. With a different singer this would alright. It just doesn't have the style or oomph to be a great tune. It's kind of a generic rock cut.

Disc 2
           
Raw to the Bone at the BBC
            
Friday Rock Show
                  
BBC Malda Vale Session Transmitted on 5th July 1985
              
Long Live the Night

This hard rocker works pretty well in this live telling. I love the guitar sound on this.

Cell of Fame
This rocker is quite metallic in this live telling. I dig the guitar work on this.
Love in Blue
The intricacies of the guitar parts on this work pretty well here. Overall this is more of a mainstream rocker, but it has some cool elements here. It works well in this live telling.
People in Motion
This is much more of a metallic rocker. It works pretty well here.
Live at Hammersmith
              
BBC Local Radio Transmitted on 9th December 1986
          
Living Proof

Coming in with a real metallic sound, this shifts to more of a mainstream rocker from there. The instrumental section, and particularly the melodic guitar soloing, works particularly well.

Cell of Fame
I don't really like this live take of the tune as well as I did the first one. It's not bad. It just isn't at the same level as that track.
King Will Come
Here we get a live take of a song from the classic era of the band. It's a killer tune, and this performance works quite well. This has some extensive melodic proggy jamming built into it.
Blowin' Free
The continue with another song from the Argus album here. The cut has a very hippie music meets jam band and prog sort of vibe. This live rendition is solid. There are some cool changes on this thing, and we get some great guitar work. The extended instrumental section gets quite intense and has some killer interplay. This is about the best way one could imagine to end this set.


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