A R T I C L E S
a n d I N T E R V I E W S
There's The Rub album review - NME, October 1974, by Bob Edmunds
When MCA pulled the Wishbone, their wish came true. They got a safe, hard working, hit rock band, happy to toil away at the same successful formula without protest. And since the formula’s a beaut, everyone’s happy.
The initial concept was simple. One talented axeman can mean guaranteed chart longevity for even the most pedestrian band - problems such as the occasional mental and physical breakdown notwithstanding. Put two talented guitarists in the same four-piece, sparking ideas off each other, and you might as well press the platinum platters at the outset. The Ash used to mean Andy Powell and Ted Turner, but Ted’s fled, to be replaced by one Laurie Wisefield. If you can hear the difference, you’ve been reading your NME Guitar Book better than most. Wisefield proves a more than adequate Turner re-tread, taking all those instrumental Z-bends at high speed without losing his grip. Guitar freaks can safely invest in Ash Model II. You get the usual smooth musical ride.
If you want to get straight to the nitty gritty, the album’s final cut “F.U.B.B.” is a classic Ash work-out, a most pleasing display of fretboard gymnastics, performed with finesse and neatness, not a rumpled gymnslip in sight. “F.U.B.B.” apparently stands for “Fucked Up Beyond Belief”. but why the Ash should want to call their music anything so aggressive is unclear. The point about their music is its polite restraint. “F.U.B.B.” has as delicate an air as is possible with so many watts flying around. The band’s twin leads interlock with the shyness of gay stags rubbing antlers. The cut even maintains its politeness when one of the guys steps daintily onto a wah-wah pedal and the rhythm section sets aside its cucumber sandwiches for something of a thrash. “F.U.B.B.” has a certain majesty about it, soaring to a climax that’s handled with taste, like a royal orgasm.
The Ash aim to produce intriguing sounds without wandering too far from the safe haven of the identi-kit rock line-up. They also do it without punching holes in your eardrums. And, by and large, they succeed. This is a very amiable set that demands your attention without rattling your teeth. For those who’d find two sides of guitar convolutions daunting, the Ash make suitable provision. He’s called Martin Turner and he belongs to one of two great schools of English rock vocalists - more your Jack Bruce quality warble than your Robert Plant death throe. Martin puts in a typically unpretentious performance on the other five cuts, notably “Silver Shoes” and “Hometown”. It can’t be said that the melodies cling like limpets to your memory, but the experience is agreeable enough when you’re undergoing it, and that’s the main thing.
Wishbone Ash show what a rock band can do with a little ingenuity, and respect for their listeners boredom threshold. There’s no need to risk a musical rupture every time a plectrum’s lifted. Finally, something should be said about the album’s producer. He’s called Bill Szymczyk, which means he’s in the unusual position of having no vowels in his surname; not every band has a producer who’s been disemvowelled.