Wishbone Ash – Clan Destiny (2006)

FrontCover1Wishbone Ash are a British rock band who achieved success in the early and mid-1970s. Their popular albums included Wishbone Ash (1970), Pilgrimage (1971), Argus (1972), Wishbone Four (1973), There’s the Rub (1974), and New England (1976). Wishbone Ash are noted for their extensive use of harmony twin lead guitars, which had been attracting electric blues bands since Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page had played together in the Yardbirds in 1966. Their contributions helped Andy Powell and Ted Turner to be voted “Two of the Ten Most Important Guitarists in Rock History” (Traffic magazine 1989), and to appear in the “Top 20 Guitarists of All Time” (Rolling Stone). Melody Maker (1972) described Powell and Turner as “the most interesting two guitar team since the days when Beck and Page graced The Yardbirds”. Several notable bands have cited Wishbone Ash as an influence, including Iron Maiden, Van Halen, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Thin Lizzy, Metallica, Dream Theater, Overkill and Opeth.

Formed in Torquay, Devon, in 1969, out of the ashes of trio The Empty Vessels (originally known as The Torinoes, later briefly being renamed Tanglewood in 1969), which had been formed by Wishbone Ash’s founding member Martin Turner (bass & vocals) in 1963 and complemented by Steve Upton (drums and percussion) in 1966. The original Wishbone Ash line-up was completed by guitarists/vocalists Andy Powell and Ted Turner. In 1974, Ted Turner left the band, and was replaced by Laurie Wisefield.

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The band continued on with strong critical and commercial success until 1980. There followed line-ups featuring former bass players from King Crimson (John Wetton), Uriah Heep (Trevor Bolder), and Trapeze (Mervyn Spence), Wisefield left in 1985. In 1987, however, the original line-up reunited for several albums – Nouveau Calls, Here to Hear and Strange Affair – until 1990, when Upton quit the band. After Martin Turner was replaced in 1991, the band recorded The Ash Live in Chicago, before Ted Turner left in 1993. This left Andy Powell as the sole remaining original founding member of Wishbone Ash to continue the band on into the future.

Clan Destiny is the nineteenth album (!!!) from Wishbone Ash. It is the first album to feature guitarist Muddy Manninen, who replaced his student, Ben Granfelt, in 2004. ((by wikipedia)

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Wishbone Ash was mistakenly lumped in with the boogie bands of the late ’60s and early ’70s when it first started out, but the group soon developed its own voice—a majestic sound of intertwining guitars and regal vocals, matched by a certain propensity to improvise upon lyrical imagery of knights and warriors that made the group sound like refugees from King Arthur’s court with guitars instead of swords.

Not surprisingly, the band’s been through more than its share of personnel changes since then, but it soldiers on under the aegis of guitarist Andy Powell these days, constantly touring and regularly recording. Clan Destiny is a play on words that carries more than a little significance when you listen to the current Ash lineup (though some more action photos would have been preferable to the lyrics printed in the CD book liner).

It’s one thing to deliberately try to recreate a distinctive sound and style, quite another to actually do it. Listening to the opening track, it’s absolutely uncanny to hear the tenor vocals mesh with the dual guitars that harmonize to create hooks. The effect is the same on the next track, “Dreams Outta Dust, but the little things make it sound different, including how the second vocal enters on the second line of the verse while a mandolin murmurs in the background. The largely original material on this disc, recorded in just over three weeks in Massachusetts, takes a variety of forms. “Healing Ground, for instance, alternates a dirty guitar figure that acts as a refrain, the dynamics of which are highlighted by way the instruments drop out on the bridge to reveal a sole falsetto vocal.

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Clearly Powell has assembled a band with a palpable chemistry, including some not untalented, though perhaps overachieving, musicians. Yet you can’t really deny the savvy of bassist Bob Skeat, second guitarist Muddy Manninen and drummer Bob Weston, nor their versatility: Skeat plays various keyboards, while Manninen handles lap steel and slide (the way he decorates “Your Dog demonstrates how he serves the song, instead of flashing pure technique). And for his part, Powell, still brandishing a Gibson flying-V guitar, does an admirable job on vocals—and like his three compatriots, he knows that less is definitely more when it comes to soloing.

In fact, Clan Destiny keeps improvisation in tight rein. Wishbone Ash uses the studio as a means to craft smart arrangements, rather than confine jamming. Nevertheless, the quartet generates some momentum on “Steam Town, while the instrumental “Surfing a Slow Wave sounds at once everything like vintage Wishbone Ash and something more, its delicate tandem lines echoed in the melancholy of “loose change. (by Doug Collette)

And I´m surprised how good this album was … listen to “Surfing A Slow Wave”, “Capture The Moment”, “Healing Ground” … or, or,or …

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Personnel:
Muddy Manninen (guitar, vocals)
Andy Powell (vocals, guitar, mandolin)
Bob Skeat (bass, piano, clavinet, vocals)
Ray Weston (drums)

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Tracklist:
01. Eyes Wide Open (Andy Powell/Aynsley Powell/Manninen) 5.15
02. Dreams Outta Dust (Andy Powell) 4.27
03. Healing Ground (Cromwell/Nicholson/Greenberg/Rhodes/Wynans) 4.25
04. Steam Town (Andy Powell/Skeat/Manninen/Weston) 4.03
05. Loose Change (Andy Powell/Skeat/Manninen/Weston/Harris) 4.47
06. Surfing A Slow Wave (Kicklighter) 3.48
07. Slime Time (Powell/Manninen) 4.54
08. Capture The Moment (Andy Powell/Skeat/Manninen/Weston) 3.30
09. Your Dog (Andy Powell) 3.33
10. The Raven (Manninen) 4.46
11. Motherless Child (Traditional) 4.07

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And here … Wishbone Ash, live in 2006:

More from Wishbone Ash:
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