D I S C O G R A P H Y
Front Page News (1977)
Released: October 1977
UK chart position: 31
Martin Turner's memories:
"We enjoyed the New England experience so much that we retained the services of the Albert Brothers for our next album Front Page News. Once again a lot of the material was co-written by the band as a unit and rehearsed in my basement in Connecticut, although this time there were also quite a sizeable helping of individually written songs, coming mainly from Laurie and myself. By this time we had gained enough confidence to contemplate recording in a professional recording studio again and decided to record the whole album at Criteria. As such Front Page News ended up bearing the hallmark of a studio-type album – a direct contrast to the raw live feel of New England.
I’m quite fond of Front Page News. The album captures a certain atmosphere and, like all our albums, is a “record” of where we were at a particular time – in this case finding us towards the end of our period of living in the States. Even the cover quite accurately captures the vibe at the time, with the band, wives and crew acting out various scenarios.
By the time of Front Page News I had decided that I really wanted to go back to the UK. The American experiment was originally intended to be for one year – we ended up staying there nearly three years. During the time we had been in the States, the band had passed on some really good deals and in addition I felt the band was losing its musical identity and becoming more and more Americanised, which I didn’t think was the way to go. So, towards the end of the album sessions, I said to the band, “After we’ve finished this album, I’m going back to the UK. We belong in our country of origin. I want to return and re-establish contact with my roots and I think we should do it as a band.” I didn’t think the other guys would go back – in which case we really would have had a problem – but with our agent John Sherry also recommending this as being best for our career, they did all end up coming back to the UK, albeit a little reluctantly."
adapted from the book "No Easy Road - My Life and Times With Wishbone Ash"
Read review from NME, October 1977
Front Page News has never been one of my favourite Mark 2 albums - I tend to prefer the rockier There's The Rub, New England and No Smoke. But I played it a couple of days ago, and maybe I was in the right mood for something mellow, but it is a very good album. We all appreciate the title track, "Come In From The Rain" and "Diamond Jack", but songs like "Midnight Dancer", "Surface To Air" and "714" are very well-constructed too. I can't really get into "Right Or Wrong" though, and I'm not sure about "Heartbeat".
I think the beauty of Wishbone Ash is that they can follow up a rocker like New England with something completely different. Maybe that's a weakness too, 'cos sometimes it hasn't worked - Argus/Wishbone Four, for instance, or There's The Rub/Locked In.
Here is my take on Front Page News. The Cd is good. Yes i know it's not that heavy rocker we are all used too. But you can't go wrong with any Mk 1 or Mk2. My take on this is the lads were just to busy trying to save ass with the record deals to get that one song on the top 10 list which to me sounds very hookie because these guys had and still have very much talent when it come to singing. But in a sense that was not a bad idea because it had them go in a different direction and the end result was they actully had some very mellow and great ballads. OK here we go, "Diamond Jack" hot, "Right or Wrong", good rocking boogie, hot, very hot, "Heartbeat" very spacey, mellow, pull my heart stings, close my eyes and dream. Do I need to say any more. I've been an Ash fan sense blind eye.
I’ve never warmed up to this album. For me, the cover reflects the music inside (or is it the other way round?) – sun-tanned & a bit superficial.
"Front Page News" – Didn't care for this song until I heard the live version. It’s not well-served by the studio gloss & polish - it needs the edge & the grit that come through in a live setting.
"Midnight Dancer" – some nice guitar work, that’s about all.
"Goodbye Baby Hello Friend" – too poppy. Lyrics are oh so bad.
"Surface to Air" - one of the better tracks. I like the quirky & dissonant guitar harmonies.
"714" - For me, as an American baseball fan, the title immediately translates to “Number of career homeruns hit by Babe Ruth.” That aside, this number (excuse the pun) is a snoozer all the way through. I’m still puzzled how this (and "Pay the Price") ever wound up on the Time Was collection. Skip button!
"Come In From The Rain" – best song on the album
"Right Or Wrong" – like "Pay the Price" on Just Testing – funky, bluesy rocker with little character.
"Heart Beat" – kind of like "714" with words
"The Day I Found Your Love" – Never really gets off the ground
"Diamond Jack" – not as big a fave with me as with many folks, and I gotta say that “Heard it Through the Grapevine” motif throws me every time. But it’s a good MT effort in a similar vein to "Come in from the Rain". The guitar breaks sparkle.
Wonderful album for a sunny day- and what can be wrong with that? A bit slick perhaps - I prefer the band with a few ragged corners here and there - but I think the album has worn well. Maybe it's an album for middle aged old gits. I certainly like it more now...
This album is a bit of a grower. I didn't take a lot of notice to this album on first hearing as it seemed laid back and not as "in yer face" as others. However, it has definitely grown on me the more I play it. That said there are a couple of numbers that I don't care for much but I do like "Front Page News", "Come In From The Rain" (my fave on the album), "Right Or Wrong", which I think is an underated rocker, "Diamond Jack", and I think "Surface To Air" is very underated and it's only recently that I took much notice of this track. Those solos in it are fantastic in my view and it's one I wish MTWA would bring into the set on odd occasion. "714" is an OK track but I still don't care for the rest much. Overall it's not a bad album but not as good as other MK 2 albums (apart from Locked In).
There was a time in the eighties when Front Page News was my second or third favourite Ash album of all time (Argus and Pilgrimage have been and still are, constant as No 1 & 2). On reflection, of the Mk II albums, There's The Rub has stood the test of time better and New England has a rawer, more real edge. I still think that Front Page News is a good album though, even if it is a bit slick and polished. It always struck me as the most "American" of their albums.