Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#908 in the Series) is the self-titled debut from Wishbone Ash.
Everyone has a band or two, that, for one reason or another, they consider “their band.” Perhaps you were the first kid on the block to discover them, and then couldn’t wait to tell everyone about them! Or they simply remind you of a special time in your life. For me, Wishbone Ash is one of those bands.
Wishbone Ash was the first “real” band I ever saw. They were opening for Alice Cooper at the long since demolished International Amphitheatre in the lovely stockyard area of Chicago’s south side. That show was in the year of 1972. I was 13 and pretty green. Oh, and alone.
The lights dimmed, and a band I’d never heard of came on. Within seconds, these guys were rockin’ n’ boogiein’ like no tomorrow! I’m not sure if they won over the, uh, “unusual” crowd Alice Cooper attracted back then (think: whips & chains), but they definitely made me a lifelong fan!
If only that night I’d known about this album! Wishbone Ash’s 1970 debut kicks off in rousing fashion with “Blind Eye,” a straight-ahead boogie rocker! The first thing that grabs you is the twin lead guitars of Andy Powell and Ted Turner. Ash may have been the first hard rock band to use it so prevalently. Remember, Thin Lizzy and Judas Priest, among others, were years away! Rumor has it the band got signed to MCA at the suggestion of a certain Ritchie Blackmore after he jammed with Powell! Not a bad endorsement!
Side two, on the other hand, is somewhat experimental and less straightforward. “Handy,” a primarily instrumental eleven-minute opus, is rooted in jazz and features a drum solo by Steve Upton and bass solo and scat singing by Martin Turner. I can’t stress enough the musicianship of the entire band! No slackers here!
Of course, they, and I, have saved the best for last- their masterpiece “Phoenix!” The one thing about Ash I remembered from the concert was a long song that had an amazingly heavy center piece that brought the crowd to its feet. It took me a few years, but I finally realized it was “Phoenix!” This ten-minute treasure has it all- slow/fast melodies, great vocals and lyrics, guitar solos and that rocking bridge that makes me 13 all over again! Only this time, I know the songs!
- “Handy” – 11:37
- “Phoenix” – 10:26
- Andy Powell – Lead guitar, Vocals
- Ted Turner – Lead guitar, Vocals
- Martin Turner – Bass, Vocals
- Steve Upton – Drums
Listen to the album in its entirety below.