D I S C O G R A P H Y
Locked In (1976)
Released: March 12 1976
UK chart position: 36
Martin Turner's memories:
"We recorded our sixth studio album Locked In at Atlantic Studios in New York with producer Tom Dowd. This was an arrangement that had been negotiated prior to us parting company with Miles Copeland and had come about through Miles managing the Average White Band. They’d had a huge hit with ‘Pick Up The Pieces’ on Atlantic Records and Miles had been very impressed with Atlantic Records in New York. They were considered much hipper than our record company MCA and so Miles had negotiated for us to be released to Atlantic, solely for the American market, for two albums. With Atlantic Records came their in-house producer Tom Dowd. He was hugely respected and had produced a lot of successful records dating back to Aretha Franklin. He’d also worked with Lynyrd Skynyrd, Rod Stewart, Eric Clapton, The Allman Brothers, and a host of really successful artists, and at that point he was considered to be one of the best producers in the world.
We met with Tom at his office in New York, prior to commencing recording in November 1975. He was very nice – a real gentleman. We really liked him but he dictated the recording process completely. Tom also wanted us to set up in a semi-circle, with little tiny amplifiers and play live with a keyboard player Peter Wood added to the line-up. Peter was a very accomplished musician and a good bloke – he’d played on a lot of successful records, including Al Stewart’s ‘Year of the Cat’.
Locked In should have been great. We were with a great record company, recording an album in a very famous recording studio just a short walk from Times Square where everyone had recorded going right back to Frank Sinatra, and had the services of one of the world’s greatest producers. It just wasn’t right though – as a band, we had moved to the USA and were unsettled as yet. For me personally, it seemed we were being forced to be something that we weren’t – more American, more commercial, and it was like trying to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.
The whole experience was pretty awful and by the end of the album I felt miserable. When they played the album back to us at the end of the recording, I felt it sounded a million miles away from my vision of what the band should be. I can remember lying in a foetal position in the corner of the control room and I just started crying. I was not happy with what I was hearing. The engineer picked up on how I was feeling. He put his arm around me and said “Martin, listen man, this is just a bad time for you –you gotta keep going, man. I’ve seen a lot of dudes go through the same thing. You’ll come out the other end and look back on it all.”
adapted from the book "No Easy Road - My Life and Times With Wishbone Ash"
This album is clearly a dud. Hate to say that, with such a wonderful band, and especially when you consider it came on the heels of a great piece of work likeThere's The Rub....but really, this is at the bottom of the Mark II barrel. Mediocre songwriting, mediocre vocals from Laurie Wisefield, absolutely NONE of that old Wishbone mythic/epic atmosphere. Pedestrian. "Rest in Peace" deserved a better fate, and "Say Goodbye", is a nice, if unspectacular, Martin ballad.
I also hated this album when it came out. The production is limp and lifeless and some of the vocals are terrible. Martin had nodes on his vocal chords at the time and Laurie was ....well just Laurie. "She Was My Best Friend" still makes me cringe even now. I never listened to it for about 20 years.
Now I listen to it quite a lot - in fact more than most of the other back catalogue stuff. "Rest In Peace" is one of the best songs any version of Wishbone Ash ever did and it's worth buying the album just for that track alone. There is some great guitar playing on the album - the solos on "Rest In Peace" & "Moonshine" are outstanding.
I tried to go in for it with an open mind rather than "people say it's weak - especially Martin". And I was pleasantly surprised! I really enjoy it, and really the only thing I'd change is that they seem to have removed the bass from Martin's voice! It's sounds too light. Other than that I don't know what he was so upset about...it's really rather nice. But honestly - if you're sat there as one of these people who remembers being disappointed with it in 1976...just play it again, see what you think. It's fair enough, not like the good old early 70's days - but for what it is, it's really good.
I play it every now and again (as do many others) and the main fault / complaint is with the 'thin' production of the album. The main body of songs stand up to scrutiny and I and others would LOVE to see Mart get his re-mastering head around this album to bring out the full glory of the songs. The band at the time felt 'locked in' by various things and this does seem to come across on the recording, but a re-mastering or better still a re-recording would lift most of the songs out of the stupor that the production at the time has them wallowing in. I would love to hear some of these songs live (other than "Rest In Peace") as ALL incarnations of Wishbone Ash come alive in a live setting which has never been faithfully recreated in the studio.