Wishbone Ash – Argus (1972)

FrontCover1.jpgArgus is the third album by the rock band Wishbone Ash. It is their most commercially and critically successful album. It peaked at No. 3 in the UK Albums Chart.

The album is medieval-themed, featuring a blend of progressive rock, folk, and hard rock, and is considered a landmark album in the progression of twin-lead guitar harmonisation later adopted by bands such as Thin Lizzy and Iron Maiden. The sound engineer on Argus was Martin Birch, who also worked with Deep Purple, later with Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden and other hard rock bands.[6] The bulk of the lyrics were provided by bassist/lead vocalist Martin Turner, although all members are credited with the music and arrangements.

It was named “Album of the Year” in the 1972 year-end issue of Sounds magazine. (by wikipedia)

If Wishbone Ash can be considered a group who dabbled in the main strains of early-’70s British rock without ever settling on one (were they a prog rock outfit like Yes, a space rock unit like Pink Floyd, a heavy metal ensemble like Led Zeppelin, or just a boogie TShirt.jpgband like Ten Years After?), the confusion compounded by their relative facelessness and the generic nature of their compositions, Argus, their third album, was the one on which they looked like they finally were going to forge their own unique amalgamation of all those styles into a sound of their own. The album boasted extended compositions, some of them (“Time Was,” “Sometime World”) actually medleys of different tunes, played with assurance and developing into imaginative explorations of new musical territory and group interaction. The lyrics touched on medieval themes (“The King Will Come,” “Warrior”) always popular with British rock bands, adding a majestic tone to the music, but it was the arrangements, with their twin lead guitar parts and open spaces for jamming, that made the songs work so well. Argus was a bigger hit in the U.K., where it reached the Top Five, than in the U.S., where it set up the commercial breakthrough enjoyed by the band’s next album, Wishbone Four, but over the years it came to be seen as the quintessential Wishbone Ash recording, the one that best realized the group’s complex vision. (by William Ruhlmann)

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Warrior, The King Will Come, Time Was, Blowin Free are such Classics..In fact every track on this album is at least very good if not excellent! This is the “Must Have” Ash recording and has become regarded by most as their finest hour..Its a master piece of prog rock, mystical, diverse and exciting and every track is delivered with conciseness and consistently high quality. One of the best Prog Albums ever! (Steve Smith)

Wishbone Ash were a staple of me and my friends’ mainly English, Progressive leaning lineup of early 70’s bands, and Argus is undoubtedly one of, if not the best, of their albums from that period and this lineup. It is very typical of the then newish, album-oriented, rather than singles, days, in that it is to be listened to as a whole, and indeed, with only two tracks coming in under four minutes, this wasn’t AM radio material (AM radio was still the predominant format in the U.S., esp outside cities). Those were the days of the complete ‘album experience’.

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You put it on, you listened to both sides, in order (Argus only had 2 songs on the second side, so it was a typical listening ‘experience’, then). And that was a big achievement, to put out an album with no fillers and is what brought forth many masterpieces of that time. Argus is full of many songs with strong hooks, however; even the long, ‘proggy-ier’ songs, which change in tempo, etc, have many memorable moments. Powell’s and Ted Turner’s dual guitars turn in joyous performances here, landing them on many ‘best of’ lists. There are softer tracks on this album (the lovely Leaf and Stream) as well as hard rockers, like the majestic Warrior. The King Will Come, and overall theme were often looked upon as Tolkien references, as Lord of the Rings was extremely popular and mined by many bands at that time Although I own and love all of their first four albums, this is my go-to Ash album, and certainly the most cohesively proggy of those. (S BB)

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Personnel:
Andy Powell (guitar, vocals)
Martin Turner (bass, vocals)
Ted Turner (guitar, vocals)
Steve Upton (drums, percussion)
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John Tout (organ on 07.)

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Tracklist:
01. Time Was 9.46
02. Sometime World 6.57
03. Blowin’ Free 5.20
04. The King Will Come 7.08
05. Leaf And Stream  M. Turner 3:55
06. Warrior 5.54
07. Throw Down The Sword 6.00
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09. No Easy Road (single version) 3.39

All songs written by Andy Powell – Martin Turner – Ted Turner – Steve Upton

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I’m leaving to search for something new
Leaving everything I ever knew
A hundred years in the sunshine
Hasn’t taught me all there is to know

The valley, we will gather there
Helpless in our surrender
Tomorrow the plow becomes the sword
Make us stronger in our danger

Time will pass away
Time will guard our secret
I’ll return again
To fight another day

I’d have to be a warrior
A slave I couldn’t be
A soldier and a conqueror
Fighting to be free

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