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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Wishbone Ash

Elegant Stealth

Review by Gary Hill

Wishbone Ash is a unique band. They seem to occupy a rather unusual space somewhere between AOR, hook laden rock, jam band and guitar god music. Whatever you call it, though, this is an intriguing disc that never feels old or redundant. It’s a set that should please old fans while bringing in some new ones.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Reason To Believe

A twin guitar element opens this and the band create an intriguing introduction with that. Then it works out to something more like AOR music. It’s good, but a bit too generic for my tastes. There’s a tasty instrumental section later and the cut does work reasonably well in an almost Asia-like way.

Warm Tears
This is more like it. Parts feels a lot like Kansas, while other sections have an almost Nektar like texture. The twin guitar soloing is simply great!
Man with No Name
There’s almost a Beatles-like sound on parts of this. Overall it’s closer to “Warm Tears” than it is to the opener. There’s a cool false ending that gives way to a hard edged jam that’s sort of like a cross between King Crimson and Led Zeppelin.
Can't Go It Alone
Here’s a cut that combines a catchy hook, some balladic sections and some serious fusion-like rock. There’s a cool instrumental break that has an almost Dixie Dregs like quality to it. This is one of the best tracks on the CD.
Give It Up
The vocal sound and arrangement that accompanies it here really has a 1970s soft rock feeling to it. It’s catchy and accessible, but perhaps not overly prog-like. There seem to be some hints of Santana on the arrangement of this tune.
Searching For Satellites
Somehow this makes me think of some of the mellower music from Captain Beyond. It’s pretty and cool. There’s an intricate and tasty instrumental section in the middle of the song and chorus is catchy. There is a bit of a Beatles-vibe on some of the later sections, too.
Heavy Weather
This cut has a driving guitar driven segment that’s counter-pointed with a more melodic jam. It’s an intriguing song that feels quite a bit different from the rest of the album, but still related. There’s a cool feedback laden section later in the piece, too. There’s some cool melodic guitar soloing later.
Mud-slick
Here’s a smoking hot instrumental that has more of that Dixie Dregs vibe. It’s fusion with some killer keyboard work (much of it with a retro sound) and all the guitar mastery one expects from Wishbone Ash.
Big Issues
With this we get a cut closer to the rest of the album. That Dixie Dregs vibe is still present, but it’s got a bit of a Max Webster feeling, too. Bass guitar opens it and plays a big part in the arrangement. There’s an extremely extended instrumental section.
Migrant Worker
A bouncy guitar riff makes up the basic motif for this jam. It’s got a cool groove, but is more jam band than pure progressive rock.
Invisible Thread
There’s an incendiary riff driving this. It works out into another extended jam. I’m reminded of Captain Beyond and the more guitar oriented side of Nektar.
Hidden Track
After quite a bit of silence we get a remix of “Reason To Believe.”
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