Review Summary: 1972's Argus is the prime piece in the Wishbone Ash collection and a must have for any fan of 70s progressive rock. It shows pioneering twin lead guitar work, great (independent) basslines, a lot of melody, and a nice mystic feel in the music and lyrics,2 of 2 thought this review was well written
Formed in 1969 and releasing their first album in 1970, English classic rock band Wishbone Ash were pioneers of the twin lead guitar sound which was also used by Thin Lizzy
and which would become famous in the 80s through the work of Iron Maiden
. Some of their early work, including this album, is actually progressive rock, although no keyboards are used.
What immediately stands out on Argus are the bass lines of bassist / vocalist Martin Turner. Unlike many rock bassists of this time, Turner does not just follow the guitars but does his own thing, adding an extra dimension to each song on this album. A prime example of this is formed by the beautiful bass riff (which is even played without guitars for a while) about 3.30 into 'Sometime World'.
The swapping of solos between guitarists Andy Powell and Ted Turner is extremely innovative on this album, especially on the track 'Throw Down the Sword'. I would like to turn everyone's attention to the solo section of this song, since both guitarist are soloing at the same time by playing different lines, yet keeping in perfect harmony, continuously diverging and converging. A great accomplishment which has rarely been heard since.
That being said, the twin lead guitar sound is really great on the album as a whole, which includes a great many beautiful harmonies.
The album has a lot to offer in terms of song structure as well.
The opener Time Was starts out with some beautiful, mellow, acoustic acoustic parts, accompanied by soothing vocals. Halfway the song gains in tempo and becomes more heavy, leading up to a grand finale with some really nice guitar solos.
The song 'Sometime World' starts out as a soft melodic rock song, fading away around 3.30 into the song, only for a beautiful melodic bass line to arrive which increases the tempo of the song and is soon joined by the rhythm guitars, which gradually increase in volume. Vocals follow soon after that, after which a great solo section launches.
A favorite of mine is the song 'The King Will Come', which gradually builds up in volume, starting off with a nice guitar riff with a lot of great wah-wah effects. After about a minute the song is underway and becomes a real melodic rock song. It shows some nice interaction between both guitarists. This really helps to build up the atmosphere. Halfway through the song has an easy, melodic break/interlude which adds even more to the atmosphere and feel of the song.
I guess atmosphere is one of the strong points of this album in general. The album has a bit of a mystic feel, which is nicely represented by the album cover. The feel of each song nicely corresponds with the lyrics as well.
'Warrior' is another highlight off the album, starting out with a real hardrocking riff, arguably the loudest riff on the album, which is followed by one of the better leads on the album right away. The song has a few nice mellow and mystic sections and a great sing-along chorus with heavy riffs: 'I have to be a warrior, a slave I couldn't beeeeee. A soldier and a conqueror, fighting to be freeeeee'.
The only weakness of the album is the lack of a real vocalist. Although bassist Martin Turner does a good job which fits the songs, and so do some of the other members who take part in the singing, a true lead vocalist may have given the album just a little bit extra.
1972's Argus is the prime piece in the Wishbone Ash collection and a must have for any fan of 70s progressive rock. It shows pioneering twin lead guitar work, great (independent) basslines, a lot of melody, and a nice mystic feel in the music and lyrics, which is also expressed in the album cover.