Wishbone Ash
Blue Horizon


4.0
excellent

Review

by Mad. USER (28 Reviews)
March 2nd, 2014 | 26 replies


Release Date: 03/04/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Wishbone Ash, keeping fellows in line.

We've reached a point in time where the legendary bands of the 70s rock Golden Age are in their twilight years, which in many bands has seen a pattern - most have their 70s glory days, delivering the goods such as Led Zeppelin IV, Deep Purple In Rock, Hawkwind's Hall of the Mountain Grill and Wishbone Ash's Argus, there's then the rough 80s and 90s period of albums too eye-wateringly weak to be named. And finally, in a delightful phenomenon, the 21st Century has brought a resurgence of the old gods. With Deep Purple returning to credibility in Now What, UFO releasing the respectable Seven Deadly and Hawkwind churching out the impressive Onward, Wishbone Ash's climb back to greatness after a 90s period that saw them dabbling in Trance music (yup) is cemented by the wonderful Blue Horizon.

The album is a glorious show of a band in the most comfortable place of its career, recently securing the rights to be the one and only Wishbone Ash, and featuring a tight line-up oozing with chemistry.
Throughout, we are presented with all of their best characteristics, the progressive-tinged long solo passages really standing out on 'Being One' and the superb tempo change of opener 'Take It Back' after a hair-raising intro, just going to show that lone founding member Andy Powell is still as vibrant as ever. There's no wankery here however, with variation provided on the jazzy leanings of 'American Century.' Plus, fans will be pleased with the blues influences reminiscent of There's The Rub thanks to Finnish guitarist Muddy Mannien on 'Deep Blues' (obviously) and 'Mary Jane' which make the cliché lyrics of a difficult lover acceptable.

There is a tendency for cheesy lyrics, as a song title like 'Way Down South' will testify, but we can let the band off, having reached a point in their careers where they've already sung about angst, girls, wizards, warriors and the like. Instead, the album has a theme of a band at peace with where they've ended up, looking for closure - "I'll find some time for thinking / They say that life is slower way down south". Even if you are slightly lactose intolerance, the song makes up for it with a mid-point drop to a soothing transition that feels almost retrospective, bursting into an upbeat joyous solo the likes of which you'd hear on 'Sometime World.'

Despite the occasional American-themed song title, Wishbone Ash wear their quintessential Britishness on their sleeves with Powell's wise-old-father vocals and particularly the stirring chorus of "Tally Ho!," a song that plays with classic prog loud-quiet dynamics excellently, the guitarwork never feeling stale and younger drummer Joe Crabtree doing a great job of creating an atmosphere.
Atmosphere is another of the album's greatest merits, mirroring the lush blue artwork just as you'd hope, the persistent clean guitar tone creating a relaxed and airy feel, contrasted brilliantly by Bob Skeat's bass, throwing down a dirty line on 'Strange How Things Come Around' and though having nothing on Martin Turner's Argus-era antics, Skeat is a more-than-worthy successor.

The last two songs of the album, in a very Argus way, end with an astounding one-two-punch of glorious 7 minute-each classic rock goodness. The burbling bass of 'Blue Horizon' opens the stage to an onslaught of riffing, with even the keys making an appearance and would have been a fine way to end an album, but 'All There Is To Say' is even better. The song starts with a riff continually teasing you with a chance of breaking into Argus' transcendent closer 'Throw Down The Sword.' It moves into a folk-tinged verse that is a perfect way of encapsulating Blue Horizon's perfect balance between the classic rock sound of old, and the modern production that gives way to one of Ash's most atmospheric works to date.
This song's title, as well as the album's, reinforces that having achieved everything they could have wanted with commercial success, critical acclaim and a loyal fanbase, Wishbone Ash are putting out a firm statement (as well as charting in Amazon's top 10 "rock 'n' roll" albums in several countries) that they're still rock royalty, even as the band approaches its final horizon.



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user ratings (22)
Chart.
4.1
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Mad.
March 2nd 2014


4735 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I'm actually quite pleased with how this review turned out, despite my frustratingly limited knowledge of Wishbone Ash. Definitely worth any classic prog/rock fan's time.



Entire album streaming here: http://www.deezer.com/album/7455191

Album trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fecmfywHKUI



menawati
March 2nd 2014


16587 Comments


I had a quick listen this morning and got to admit i was pretty underwhelmed, maybe wasn't in the mood for it. Will spin a few more times. I see what you mean about that 'throw down the word' riff its very similar.

manosg
Staff Reviewer
March 2nd 2014


11340 Comments


Glad to see these dudes still around and making music frequently. Unfortunately, I haven't listened any of their albums apart from Argus.

Mad.
March 2nd 2014


4735 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

@menawati It definitely grew on me despite the cliches, maybe if you've heard more Ash then it won't seem as good I dunno



@manosg I'd definitely recommend it, they're certainly more than a one-trick pony

TwigTW
March 3rd 2014


3525 Comments


Nice review Mad. “Going South,” is definitely my favorite—love when the guitar takes off after the breakdown.

Digging: The Bathers - Sunpowder

TwigTW
March 3rd 2014


3525 Comments


. . . or "Way Down South," whatever that song about the south is called.

Mad.
March 3rd 2014


4735 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks man, that's a great track but I prefer Take It Back and the last two, lyrics are a bit less cheesy and they have the best instrumentation IMO

menawati
March 3rd 2014


16587 Comments


feel sad bcos I cant get into this

TwigTW
March 3rd 2014


3525 Comments


I think the second half of the album is stronger than the first half, but I listened to this after their New England album—so maybe I’m not being fair this one.

Mad.
March 3rd 2014


4735 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Damn Cap'n, where you live, Antarctica!?



@Menawati that sucks man, you've probably heard too much classic rock already lol



@TWIG Hmm, I'd say it's a fairly even spread, you've got Take It Back, Strange and Being One in the first half, and then the last 3 in particular of the last half.

MeatSalad
March 3rd 2014


17389 Comments


Solid review dude, ill probably get to this after I check out some more of their early stuff

Mad.
March 4th 2014


4735 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

@Meat thanks man, it's worth your time



@Captain Dayum, not bad man, not bad. You'd think they'd have Deezer in California of all places

Underflow
March 8th 2014


4657 Comments


Nice review, Mad. Two great albums in a row for these dinosaurs. They're coming to my town to play music off of this and the entirety of Argus. Definitely going to go.

menawati
March 8th 2014


16587 Comments


all of Argus !
damn wish i was going to be there

Underflow
March 8th 2014


4657 Comments


Yeah, i'm pumped. They're playing at my favorite venue, too.

KILL
March 8th 2014


81231 Comments


damn theyre playing london too, def have no one to go and see em with though lol

Underflow
March 8th 2014


4657 Comments


Lol that's the most depressing bit. I don't know anyone who would care to go haha.

KILL
March 8th 2014


81231 Comments


fuck that lone wolf shit, its depressing

menawati
March 8th 2014


16587 Comments


neither do i, its not till nov in uk tho so i got 6 months to convert someone

KILL
March 8th 2014


81231 Comments


i was lucky enough to get someone to go to camel with me, this is an even bigger challenge



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