D I S C O G R A P H Y
Wishbone Ash (1970)
Released: December 4 1970
UK chart position: 34
Martin Turner's memories:
"In September 1970 we recorded our first album for MCA with producer Derek Lawrence, after having previously recorded most of the material at an earlier session at Advision. Although Derek Lawrence had used the recordings we’d made at Advision to help get us a record deal, he wanted to produce us at De Lane Lea in Kingsway – a studio he was familiar with, having worked there with Deep Purple. So we set about recording the album from scratch. Derek brought with him Deep Purple’s engineer Martin Birch, who was a vital part of the team for our first three albums. Martin was a great character who we liked a lot. He was young, full of beans, down to earth and had a good feel for rock music. He was a good engineer. Derek, meanwhile, was very non-technical, very instinctive – what you would call “old school” really. He didn’t want to get involved in twiddling knobs and all the technical aspects of recording. He was purely instinctive and knew when something sounded good and when it didn’t. He was very adept at being able to keep the sessions on track if we were getting silly or over-indulgent. Conversely, if things were getting fraught or frayed he would lighten the atmosphere by telling jokes. He steered the ship very well. His instinct as far as music went was absolutely spot-on.
I can remember walking into the first recording session we did with Derek with my home-made £5 bass guitar. I’d been using it for years and was perfectly happy with it, but Derek took one look at it and said “We need to hire you a proper guitar”. I tried various different instruments, none of which I was happy with at all. In fact, that process went on through the first and second album. If I’d been a little more cocksure, I’d have told Derek to sod off and I’d have used my “£5 guitar”, but he did encourage me to get confident with a serious instrument. In the end I used a Fender Jazz bass, but it was too “clicky” for me, because I played with a pick. You can hear that clearly on the first album. I tried a six-string bass as well, which I didn’t get on with. I don’t think I tried a Fender Precision bass at that time although later I ended up using Precision basses in the studio for years. As for the other guys’ equipment – Ted had a little Gibson SG Junior fairly early on, while Andy used what we called the Les Powell, which was a copy of a Les Paul which he had made himself. It certainly looked the part, even if it didn’t quite have the sound of the “real deal”, but obviously he knew how to play it. Andy later progressed to a Gibson Flying V, which became the instrument he would be most associated with.
The "Wishbone Ash" album basically comprised of the songs which were part of our stage act at that time. The album peaked at number 34 on the UK album chart. We were all pretty pleased with this level of success, especially for a band that was clearly not aiming at the singles chart or the Top of the Pops market."
adapted from the book "No Easy Road - My Life and Times With Wishbone Ash"
Well this was the first WA album that I heard back around 1975. I was blown away right from the off. This is (together with New England) my fave WA album. I like every track on it and "Handy" is my favorite track of all along with "Vas Dis". "Blind Eye" was the first WA track i'd heard, I loved it then and still love it now. "Lady Whiskey" is a great little rocker, "Errors" is a beautiful slowie and "Queen of Torture" just rocks. What can I say about "Handy"? well it has to be MT's finest moment, and there's some lovely guitar interplay throughout. Also I've still yet to see anyone master that drum solo, what an underated drummer Steve Upton was. "Phoenix" is also a masterpeice, although I've always prefered "Handy" myself. "Phoenix" is a bit overplayed live now in my view. I also love the simple, understated cover as well. All in all a fine debut.
First one I heard, in 1975, and I loved it. A tale of 2 sides.
BLIND EYE: Andy's serring lead stands out. Love that boogie piano, but glad they rarely use it.
LADY WHISKEY: is it really 1970? Eat your heart out out Deep Purple
ERRORS OF MY WAY: Personal Fav. Ted's shinning moment
QUEEN OF TORTURE: Steve, my man, pound them skins. Andy again shines.
HANDY: Must say, my least fav on this album, but a classic. Martin's bass is outstanding. Ted plays beautifully
PHOENIX: Just a total masterpiece, should have been a 1970's anthem, along the lines of "Freebird". From Ted's bluesy intro lead, to Martin's emotional awesome vocals, to Andy's stinging guitar taking it home, this song has it all.
I love this album. Would love to hear "Handy" live...my favourite version of "Handy" is from the First Light album but I prefer listening to the first album becuase I love record (i have it on record) plus love listening to "Phoenix" after it. Side two is defently my favourite side but this album is full of awesome-ness.
MTWA unleashed their own version of "Phoenix" on the last tour. I did not look forward to another flight of the old bird, to be honest, but it was quite magical. The harmonies (now better than ever) lifted the song beautifully and the bass and guitars interplay was perfect. Crucially they didn't over-extend it the way it has been stretched in the past at times; it seemed newly vital - almost lean. I'd still opt for "FUBB" or "The Pilgrim" if the set can accomodate just the one longer (largely) instrumental piece, but MTWA's "Phoenix" is a treat.