Sound: Wishbone Ash, the quintessential English rock group, with the distinctive twin guitar sound of Ted Turner and Andy Powell backed up by bassist/vocalist Martin Turner (no relation to Ted) and drummer Steve Upton, brought out this, their third album, in 1972, the very height of the British progressive rock / blues period that produced such a rich vein of bands and sounds.
Whilst the first two albums saw the band finding their studio feet, here they garnered that experience to bring out one of the classic 1970's albums of its genre. A loose conception album based around medieavale life, the struggle for freedom and its uncertain aftermath, it gained the band its first gold album and made major inroads into the US market, though the band already had a considerable live rep since their conception.
Good heavens, it opens with a nine minute plus track "Time Was"....only in 1972 could you get away with this kind of thing. Wishbone whilst nominally a progressive rock act, had a strong grounding in the jazzier side of things and this shows in Martin Turner's often strident rythym lines, especially in the lengthy playouts to "Time Was" and "Sometime World". "Blowing Free" is a loose but tight structured five minutes and the seven minute plus "King Will Come" with its dual twin leads playing the same notes still bring a shiver to the spine nearly 40 years after its recording.
"Leaf And Stream" is a quiet piece, as if the singer is metaphorically pondering the battle to come, which follows in all its fists-in-the-air glory with "Warrior" another song with a blistering dual guitar playout. The quieter, wistful "Throw Down The Sword" is the aftermath to the battle, with the question of what is it all about.
This closed the original vinyl LP. The CD release throws in the life favourite "No Easy Road", a typical bluesy number of the time. It doesn't add to the album but showcases the band's live capability at the time. // 8
Lyrics: The lyrics in the main deal with a kind of quasi-mediaevel struggle to overthrow an oppressor. The exception are the opening numbers which are more to do with lost loves and times gone by. Unfortunately Martin Turner was not the greatest vocalist in the world but he does have an ability to drag out a line, which compensates for some of the weaker vocal parts (indeed on six of the seven original tracks the rest of the band are used as backing vocals in part). // 7
Overall Impression: Produced by Derek Lawrence - associated with Deep Purple - the album has a very earthy feel, you can hear the throbbing of the amps on the fadeout of some of the tracks. "The King Will Come", "Blowing Free" and "Warrior" are still Wishbone live favourites after all this time. Whilst it is an excellent album of its genre, there is still the nagging thought that Wishbone, whilst a more than capable act, were just not quite good enough to become superstars but that's not taking anything away from an overall very good performance and this is pretty much an essential purchase if early 70's progressive rock is your bag. And if it isn't then what the hell are you reading this for. // 9