England - Full Moon 73 - 09/21/02
Talking Elephant Records
If you have followed the output from Wishbone Ash the last decade, you know
that the music (and the musicians) may differ substantially from release to release.
Guitarist Andy Powell is the only remaining original Wishbone Ash member here,
joined by Finnish guitarist Ben Granfelt (Leningrad Cowboys) as a major creative
force on this album, writing or co-writing more than half its material. One
could hope for something more exciting than a blues album from this combination,
but that's what we get, more or less. Another Norwegian reviewer categorized this
album as a 'blues-festival album', while at the same time praising
the newly re-released and re-mastered Argus as a classic. With the latter, I couldn't agree
This is not a pure blues album, although it is centered around several bluesy tracks
with lots of multi-tracked guitars ("Almighty Blues", "Faith, Hope and Love", "Changing Tracks", "Bona Fide").
It is partly reminiscent of Whitesnake just before they
got too heavy, but with more finesse than balls. Powell's songs are more diverse than
those written by Granfelt, who seems to be more into the blues. But the stand-out track,
"Come Rain, Come Shine", is a collaborative effort, close to the folk sound Wishbone Ash
once possessed way back in the '70s. This 6-minute song also contains some guitar runs
typical of the Allman Brothers Band, before it departs into something that could
have been a Camel instrumental, and continues on to a rather misfitting
blues riff-o-rama. Still, it is the most interesting track on the album.
The other not-so-bluesy stuff is mostly
bleak and disappointing, failing to catch any special interest ("Ancient Remedy", "Difference in Time"), with only the occasional hint towards
the Wishbone Ash sound we know ("Enigma" reminds me a little of the 1981 release Number the Brave).
In spite of the dirty Texas twang of "Changing Tracks", and the fact that the other blues tracks
sound great in my car, I'm afraid that this album will be rather uninteresting for the older fans.
Copyright © 2002 Knut Tore Breivik