We are pleased to announce that Martin Turner's Wishbone Ash will be releasing a live DVD recording from the Argus tour this Autumn.
The DVD, which was professionally filmed at Southend Palace Theatre in April 2009, will feature a performance of the Argus album in its entirety, as well as a selection of other Wishbone Ash favourites.
Audio and visual mixing is presently taking place and full release details will follow in due course.
Life Begins - Martin Turner celebrates the 40th Anniversary of Wishbone Ash's formation
JUNE 4 2009
September 2009 marks the 40th anniversary of the formation of Wishbone Ash. Forty years will have passed since Steve Upton and Martin Turner arrived in London to embark on their musical journey. Forty years since Ted Turner and Andy Powell answered that now legendary Melody Maker advert and joined Steve and Martin in a rehearsal room for the first time, establishing a partnership and a unique musical identity that would produce some of rock music's most revered works. Forty years on, the enduring music of the classic marks of Wishbone Ash continues to delight audiences worldwide through both live performances and a rich legacy of recorded work that continues to be enjoyed by fans old and new.
Founding original member Martin Turner is delighted to announce that he will be marking this anniversary with an exciting sequence of celebratory activities and events throughout 2009/2010. Martin's anniversary celebrations will commence in September 2009 - marking the exact 40th anniversary of Wishbone Ash's formation - with Martin Turner's Wishbone Ash undertaking an extensive period of touring throughout the UK, Germany and Austria. The UK shows will see Martin Turner's Wishbone Ash co-headlining 37 theatre dates as part of the critically and commercially acclaimed Classic Legends of Rock package, alongside Focus and the Groundhogs. This period of touring will complete the Argus tour and this may well be the last chance for fans to hear the masterpiece performed in it's entirety.
2010 will see the 40th anniversary celebrations continuing, with continued exploration of the successful Wishbone Ash Mk.1 and Mk.2 back catalogues during the Life Begins tour, as well as new music from its creative influence Martin Turner.
MTWA Sell Out London Show
MAR 29 2009
Martin Turner's Wishbone Ash was greeted by a capacity crowd at its central London show this past Friday.
Promoters at the 100 Club declared the show a sell out and many fans without tickets were turned away disappointed at the door.
We urge fans to always purchase tickets in advance in order to avoid disappointment.
Statement by Steve Upton, Ted Turner and Martin Turner
MAR 13 2009
In response to Mr Powell’s statement below, we confirm that we do not seek to restrict Mr Powell’s rights, but he is not the sole owner of the name Wishbone Ash, which is owned by the core members of the band, none of whose rights have ever been sold or otherwise forfeited.
The band’s reputation and goodwill was established by its core members and each of us therefore has a right to protect that part of the reputation and goodwill of the band with which we have been and continue to be associated.
We also confirm that none of us were aware of Mr Powell’s registration when it was made. He did not advise us as co-owners despite the presumption upon him of transparency and candour.
We request that fans refrain from comment and allow us to resolve the matter in the appropriate medium, in private.
Steve Upton, Martin Turner, Ted Turner
13 March 2009
FROM A. POWELL:
To all, I, Andy Powell, am the registered proprietor of the WISHBONE ASH community trade mark, which was registered in 1998. Under Article 9 of the Community Trade Mark Regulation (Council Regulation 40/94) "a Community Trade Mark shall confer on the proprietor exclusive rights therein. The proprietor shall be entitled to prevent all third parties not having his consent from using in the course of trade (a) any sign which is identical with the Community trade mark in relation to goods or services which are identical with those for which the Community trade mark is registered; and (b) any sign where, because of its identity with or similarity to the Community trade mark and the identity or similarity of the goods or services covered by the Community trade mark and the sign, there exists a likelihood of confusion on the part of the public, the likelihood of confusion includes the likelihood of association between the sign and the trade mark.". In addition, Article 95(1) of the same Regulations provides that a community trade mark shall be treated as valid unless its validity is put in issue.
FEB 27 2009
Last night, the reputable and acclaimed classic rock DJ Nicky Horne interviewed Andy Powell on Planet Rock radio. With the 40th anniversary of the formation of Wishbone Ash approaching, the conversation naturally turned to the possibility of the original members of the band regrouping to celebrate this milestone. Nicky Horne offered to act as an “honest broker” to enable the differences between the original members to be resolved. Any initiative that could result in the four of us getting together – even just one last time – to make music together has to be applauded. Management acting for Steve Upton, Ted Turner and myself immediately accepted Nicky’s offer. An e-mail was sent to Nicky and copied to Andy suggesting that any reasonable person would acknowledge that Andy’s litigious activities in the past, and those in the present, are not conducive to fair negotiations and should be ceased before a round table meeting.
Today Andy Powell has posted a message on his site, where he has chosen to distort the goodwill and put a negative spin on the content of communications between my management and Nicky Horne. I would much prefer that the differences between the core members remain private, but once again Andy has chosen to go public, which we regret.
Right now there appears to be a great deal of enthusiasm for all things Wishbone Ash and a general positive vibe from both the public and the media. Respected, high profile figures such as Nicky Horne have nothing personally to gain through making such offers. They do it out of sheer passion for the music. We can all see from Andy’s comments today on his website that he once again has thrown the rattle out of the pram. Given Andy’s present mindset, it would seem he has shot himself in the foot here. And when Andy Powell shoots himself in the foot, he also shoots Wishbone Ash and its fans in the foot. Ultimately rock ‘n’ roll is built on an edge of controversy and without that edge it becomes safe and sterile, but this is childish. I am often confronted with questions concerning contentious matters, but I tend to field them with a smile on my face and, on occasion, an injection of tongue-in-cheek humour (sometimes misinterpreted, admittedly!).
With so much appetite for the public activity of the various Wishbone associated musicians, I continue to be somewhat perplexed as to why Andy feels the need continually to put a negative spin on events, re-writing history and presenting gross inaccuracies and mistruths – as was evident several times during his Planet Rock interview and his comments today. As stated, I personally prefer to keep behind the scenes matters out of the public arena. However, so long as inaccurate information and negative spin concerning my conduct and activity is published and broadcast elsewhere, I have no option but to set the record straight from my perspective. No doubt some of the commentators who choose to act as self-appointed judge, jury and executioner in the kangaroo court that certain fan forums masquerade as from time to time, have no real idea as to the true facts or the underlying issues that have been the cause of conflict between Andy Powell and his former colleagues in Wishbone Ash. Let me elaborate...
Firstly, the name - yes, that old chestnut! To clarify, I have chosen to perform as Martin Turner's Wishbone Ash under the legal principle of "residual rights". As co-owner and co-founder of the brand, I have every legal privilege to use Wishbone Ash with or without a prefix. This right extends to all core members of the band. I am comfortable with the prefix, as it describes exactly what is in the tin. Andy Powell continues to perform as Wishbone Ash, as he is entitled so to do if he wishes, though he is drawing on the reputation and goodwill of all core and founder members and creating a confusion which would not be there if he accurately described himself as Andy Powell’s Wishbone Ash. This is a moral decision for Mr Powell to make. His activity post-1994 cannot truly be considered a ‘continuation’ of previous Wishbone Ash activity. The spin from Mr. Powell's publicity machine gives the impression of an 'uninterrupted history' whereas the reality is that following the eventual disintegration of the reformed original line-up, Andy (aware that there was, and I quote his words, "an existing fanbase to exploit") constructed a new band from scratch that had absolutely nothing in common with the original entity in terms of its personnel, management, business structure, group democracy, equity division or moral ethics. The only connection (aside from Andy's obvious guitar talent) has been its performance of songs originally written and recorded by the core members.
I should also state that – contrary to what was claimed by Andy during his Planet Rock interview – I did NOT initially agree to call my band “Martin Turner’s Wishbone” and never have. The band was called Martin Turner’s Wishbone Ash from DAY ONE, as the news archives on this very site documents. We did make a brief trial non legally-binding “gentleman’s agreement” with Andy at one stage where we agreed to appear as Wishbone featuring Martin Turner and, by return, he agreed to certain terms that included, amongst other things, him agreeing not to discuss publicly the specifics of the agreement (a clause he contravened the very next day after the agreement had been signed by discussing the deal at Ash-Con) and he was required to add a clear and distinct link to my website on his site. Several months on, it was clear that we had been somewhat tricked into making this “gentleman’s agreement” and that he had no intentions of adhering to his part of the bargain. The agreement simply didn’t work and we reverted to our original chosen name on a business as usual basis.
And then there is the issue of the 'registered trademark' that Andy delights in parading around these days (personally I think that clumsy looking ® symbol demeans the brand and spoils the aesthetic beauty of the classic Wishbone Ash logo, and I’m not alone in this opinion!).
Andy Powell registered the name Wishbone Ash in 1998 as a trademark for his use without the required consent of the other original owners – in fact, without even informing us. The registration only came to light in 2004 during the legal action Andy launched in an (unsuccessful) attempt to shut down my website. Andy’s registration prevents third parties from using the name, but does not prevent use by any core member who possesses residual rights. The other three original members retain rights to the name. The owners of the name Wishbone Ash are therefore Andrew Powell, Steven Upton, David Turner and Martin Turner. We have no objection to Laurie Wisefield registering his interest, and we also state publicly that we do not seek to deny his rights in any case. In many band’s cases, one man may own the name if he has bought the shares of the other members. In the case of Wishbone Ash, this simply did not happen - FACT! Andy has never paid a penny for our shares – it is like co-owning a house with three brothers, allowing one brother to remain in the house rent free, and then finding out he is claiming he owns the house by virtue of his continued presence.
None of the core members of the band - Steve Upton, Ted Turner, Andy Powell, Martin Turner and Laurie Wisefield - ever sold or otherwise forfeited their rights to the name Wishbone Ash. I am often asked why I chose not to put my share up for sale and I respond that Wishbone Ash is my life - I've never wanted to do anything else and, contrary to what continues to be reported elsewhere, I've never voluntarily left the band. To set the record straight, in 1980 I was effectively 'edged out' by being put in an untenable situation when the band felt changes were vital; in 1991 I was told by Andy (on my birthday!) that my services were no longer required; and in 1995/96 I appeared with Andy on a session basis and was quite prepared to continue, but was subsequently excluded from further activity and Andy choose to continue with sidemen). I am a reasonable man and not one to hold grudges – as has been proven by my continual attempts to work with Andy through the years, with me often compiling albums of re-mastered or archive WA material to coincide with his tours or appearing with his bands at short notice to save him from cancelling shows. I have always remained willing to be involved in Wishbone Ash activity. It saddens me that we have to defend ourselves against Andy’s current legal action by drawing attention to the fact that his 1998 registration of the trademark was made in “bad faith”, according to our counsel. What a ridiculous state of affairs.
Once again Andy’s self pity, bitterness and anger is getting in the way of common sense.
And so to reunions….
As original members of the band, Steve Upton, Ted Turner and myself are in receipt of a significant offer from the UK’s second biggest music promoter to regroup for a series of major venue concerts during 2010 on the basis that the line-up would include at least three of the original members. We are all, in principal, receptive to the idea and are presently reviewing the feasibility of such a project. It should be added that this offer was presented to us – and in turn to Andy - long before Andy announced his 40th anniversary concert in London. Any shows performed would be in the context of the originals performing together for the full duration of the evening - not as 'special guests' alongside Andy's band, or mine for that matter, which would be something of a compromise for both the musicians and the fans. Naturally any reunion shows will be appropriately branded and need not be a threat to either of the existing bands presently performing Wishbone Ash music. In fact the existing bands would only benefit from the extra publicity a high profile reunion would generate. It is blatantly obvious that Andy’s London show was hastily arranged and announced as a deliberate ploy to “trump” the reunion plans already being discussed and to get it on record that we – the original members – had turned down a reunion. Andy was asked about his invitation to the original members during the Planet Rock interview and Nicky Horne enquired as to whether Andy felt he had given us reasonable notice of the invitation before going public. Andy replied to the affirmative. It has already been documented that, in actual fact, Andy gave us just 24 hours notice before going public. I will leave people to make their own minds up as to whether they feel this “reasonable”, taking into account the logistics involved in producing a show of any description, never mind one involving four individuals who have not been in the same room at any one time since July 1990…
The original members of Wishbone Ash remain open to sitting down with Andy and discussing any issues that may be on our minds, or his for that matter. For example, there are certain outstanding matters regarding apparent grey areas in some of Andy’s business dealings that need to be addressed properly. In particular, various misrepresentations concerning the licensing of past Wishbone Ash material (to which the core members possess equal ownership) dating back over a number of years. To date Andy has been unwilling to respond to our not unreasonable request for clarification regarding various seemingly dubious deals. Neither his “bad faith” trademark registration or him being the sole original member in the band that presently performs as Wishbone Ash gives him any legal or moral license whatsoever to sign away rights to our collective material or conduct business deals on our behalf without our consent, which has been the case on several occasions - in fact, there is a whole catalogue of releases out there featuring material performed by the original members (and therefore collectively owned by the original members), which has been released without our required consent. Andy may well feel he has the right to "exploit" the existing fanbase but he certainly has no right to exploit or otherwise abuse the
original band members. We retain the right to exercise control over all co-owned material, on both artistic and business levels and Mr. Powell has denied us this right on several occasions. His moral fibre therefore has to be seriously questioned. The rich body of work we created together back in the days of group democracy and equity membership is not only Andy Powell's lifeblood, but also the lifeblood of the other original members and their families. Does the housekeeper have the right to sell the family silver?
We remain willing to talk with Andy and our management has been trying to facilitate this for some time now. Andy implied on Planet Rock and has stated elsewhere that our management has denied him direct access to the original members. This is nonsense, untrue and another gross distortion of the facts. All that has been asked is that Andy remove any legal threats in order to allow talks to proceed on an even playing field. We are requesting nothing more than to be treated with the degree of respect, honesty, good faith and fair play that we as founder members of Wishbone Ash deserve. For the four of us to address some of the above matters by talking face to face around a table like grown men strikes me as no big deal, and sometimes "really sorry about that mate" can make quite a difference, so what is the problem? Fear of....? Using the old adage that there is nothing to fear except fear itself, I believe the problems can be straightened out and the way cleared for a re-union of the original band in its entirety. Now that really would be a real deal for all concerned, would it not? Especially as an acknowledgment and "thank you" to all the fans who all helped to make the band happen in the first place. Our preferred route would always be negotiation and mediation as opposed to litigation. The four of us have more uniting us than dividing, we just need to recapture a totally dignified spirit of harmony, mutual respect and co-operation - the very strengths that helped Wishbone Ash achieve its international success in the early days.
I hope the presentation of the above facts helps people to see the situation a little clearer and give a little insight into the reasons why relationships between the original members and Andy Powell have broken down over the years. A small minority of fans have, of late, been passing judgement on matters they have no personal or professional qualification to comment on, with some of the material published being nothing short of libellous. This goes totally against the grain when juxtaposed with the unanimous support and respect I have been shown at the shows we have played. These really are behind the scenes matters for the original members and their appointed representatives to deal with - privately if possible.
Even if a reunion isn’t possible, it would still make sense for us to go down the pub as mates.
Thanks for listening,
MTWA to appear at major UK classic rock festival
FEB 26 2009
We are pleased to announce that Martin Turner's Wishbone Ash is confirmed to appear at what promises to be the UK's highest profile Classic Rock festival of 2009
MTWA will appear at the Memories of Woodstock festival in Shrewsbury on 8 August 2009. This all-weekend event is a major feature on this Summer's festival calendar and will see MTWA appearing alongside Focus and headliners Asia (featuring, of course, another Wishbone Ash member in John Wetton).
Big name acts are expected throughout the weekend and, acts already confirmed for the other nights include Alvin Lee (Ten Years After), John Lees' Barclay James Harvest and Jethro Tull.
The festival has an anticipated audience of at least 10,000 classic rock fans and Martin Turner is delighted to be appearing at such a prestigious event, sharing the bill with some of rock's most respected names.
Tour Dates Added
FEB 6 2008
Martin Turner's Wishbone Ash is pleased to announce that additional shows have been added to the 2009 tour schedule. Go to our tour dates page for the updated list of shows.
Message from Martin Turner
FEB 20 2009
Greetings to Wishbone Ash fans everywhere.
Looking back on the past twelve months, I feel 2008 was a highly positive year for MTWA, with much progress made on both the touring and recording fronts. The Classic Legends of Rock theatre tour was an undeniable success for the bands involved, the audiences and the promoters alike and certainly helped us re-connect with the mainstream rock audience. At the nightly album signing sessions around the merch table, we were greeted by many people who had not seen a Wishbone concert for many years. The reawakening of lapsed fans interests in all things Wishbonian through both this tour as well as during our own Argus tour (extended into 2009 due to popular demand from both audiences and promoters) is a big plus, not only for MTWA, but also for all members of the classic marks of the band, who also benefit through increased revenue from improved back-catalogue sales. Win-win! There is already talk of doing more Classic Legends shows later in the year, taking in areas not covered on the 2008 tour.
Re-recording Argus was a long-time ambition fulfilled and I was pleased not only with the way Argus: Through The Looking Glass turned out, but also with the feedback from fans. Re-visiting a much revered 'classic' work was something of a brave move and I'm delighted that it was accepted in the spirit intended. The guys in my band did a great job in recreating the music while at the same time stamping their own personalities on the recording.
I am pleased to be able to welcome new drummer Dave Wagstaffe to the band - a great player and an all-round nice guy with an upbeat, positive attitude, which is one of the main qualities I look for. In addition we are pleased to announce that Keith Buck will be making select appearances with MTWA during the Argus tour, due to prior contracted commitments on Danny's part, which we were aware of prior to him joining. Maurice Douglas will also be joining us for a few dates. All in all, I consider it a privilege to have such an impressive reservoir of talent I am able to draw on for both recording and live performances, as I continue on my musical journey. The different players naturally bring their own personal styles to the party, but the blueprint always remains the same, the intention being to present audiences with a performance of classic Wishbone Ash music delivered to the high standards they have come to expect. No one's asked for their money back yet, so we must be doing something right!
And so we move into 2009...
The new year started on a high as we resumed the Argus tour with an intense week of shows in Greece. The venues were packed, the audiences enthusiastic and the local people extremely hospitable. Music is an important part of Greek culture and they have a passionate love of Western rock music and a particular attachment to the Argus album. 2009 is already promising to be a very busy year for the band, with Argus shows already booked for the UK, Holland, Belgium, Germany, Austria and Switzerland. New markets and opportunities are opening for us all the time and we look forward to taking classic Wishbone Ash music to as many people as possible.
I continue to receive many requests for fresh studio material. To that end, it has always been my desire to further my creativity in that area. However, it has to be appreciated that the past couple of years have been a period of essential re-establishment and re-connection. Naturally the most practical way to achieve this was through the performance of the classic WA material that the fans know and love and had been asking me to play for many years - and we've only just scratched the surface there! New studio work is certainly on the "to do" list and we do have material written. However, the timing and situation has to be right in order for us to maximise on such an opportunity and deliver a first rate work to be enjoyed by as many people as possible. We'll get around to it, but at a time of our choosing.
Thank you for your continuing love and support. We look forward to seeing you on tour during 2009.
Onwards and upwards.
Martin Turner on Planet Rock
FEB 16 2009
Martin Turner has recently recorded a lengthy interview with Mark Jeeves for Planet Rock radio show "My Planet Rocks". Martin's interview will air this Saturday 21 Feb at 6pm, repeated Tues 24 Feb at 6pm. (UK times).
In addition to talking about his present activities, Martin also picked several tracks from bands and artists Wishbone Ash appeared alongside in the classic days and provided associated anecdotes. Martin described the recording as "really enjoyable".
Planet Rock is the UK's leading dedicated rock radio stations and can be received on Digital Radio, Sky/Freesat/Cable, and also online.
Last time we went out there it snowed in Athens - very rare! This time - got up at 5am to snow here. Made it down the hill in a lightly laden van - just. Main roads were OK so got to Stanstead with Dave (new drummer) and who do we meet in the car park - Ray and Danny. Good timing!
Slept on the flight, met promoter at Athens airport, hotel, off to gig, soundcheck, bite to eat, gig at 10.30pm. Great gig, good to be back in Greece but I hadn't bargained on Dave's daughter Cassie - what a Minx. She is a lovely gal, runs a bar with her ol' man in Athens, so, its "gotta go back to the bar for a wee drink", despite not getting finished at the gig till 1.30am. She was thrilled to see her Dad and beer after beer arrived along with some wonderful food, then the shots started arriving and I'm thinking "Oh God, here we go". Staggered back to Hotel about 5am, which is when we started out if I remember right.
Day 2 - in Athens again - Man, I could sleep all day, I did most of it and now it's "Have I seriously got to play a gig tonight in this state?" Of course it was fine, better than night one, and then its back to Cassie's bar and do it all again.
Day 3 - up early for a nice little svenhour schlepp up north to Thessalonika. Wel,l after a nice long drive cramped up in a little bus we deviated from the schedule to pop out to a TV production which was located in a kind of industrial estate on the edge on Thesalonika. I met the main chap last year when I did an interview with him for radio and I understand that him and his friend now host a satirical show ripping the mick out of current events, the government, politics generally and anything else they fancy.
Of course, given the recent shooting of a young 15 year old lad and the outpouring of frustration generally it was no surprise when they asked us to perform " Warrior". I wondered if "Lullaby" might be a better choice to try and calm things down a bit but no, we gave em both barrels although the sentiment expressed doesn't seem to have got them back out chucking petrol bombs around, thank God. There is in Greece considerable angst among the populace about the unjust educational system, lack of decent wages, corruption with the Police and fuddy duddy government. I did get my ear bent somewhat when enquiring - I've become very fond of the Greeks and clearly they deserve better, hopefully it will come.
Back to the TV station - it being located where it was and the fact that they had been working a long day when we showed up, there was a lack of refreshment available and I managed to sing OK on the run-through but I searched all over for a drink and could find nothing. I do need a bit of throat lubrication, so when we did the actual recording my vocal chords were as dry as a nun's knickers. I did the best I could under the circumstances but I havnen't seen the show - hopefully it was OK. I do remember there being a rather provocative young minx in the make-up room who was posing in front of the mirror - she is a co-presenter apparently. I did get me hands on her for a minute.
One more thought - there are two ways of looking at the TV, one is at the screen and the other is at the camera. You don't get paid for looking at the screen, mores the pity, we'd all be rich if you did !
Thessalonika - lovely city, even better gig, decent hotel, finally got a good shower! Successfully captured some plastic boxes to put sticky Baclava in for UK
Day 4 - up early and scoot back down south to Petra. Boy, food on the road was great and you wonder what must people think when they come to the UK and stop for a bite at our motorway establishments? Petra gig was a whacky one - dodgy stage, rinky dink gear, noddy acoustics, but we did the biz and they seemed to love it, so all good.
Day 5 - off to Agrinio. Different, kinda tight little club run by a good bunch, fantastic decor, skulls on the walls, fascinating toilet graffiti etc. Gig was well - intense, packed, had a geezer 2 feet in front of me singing all the Argus lyrics very loud and out of tune. Hard work for me, I did think about whackin' him in the head with me Viking longship but I didn't. They all smoke in Greece - indoors, lots of it this night. As I took a breath to sing some twonk hit me full on with his exhaled smoke and I got it in stereo owing to the over zelous DJ in charge of the smoke machine. That sweet hooligan (Dave's daughter) had driven over from Athens for the last gig and so it was "we have to go find a bar afterwards". "Ugh, just one drink for me, hot chocolate," I said. The beers flowed for hours, then the shots - we had a lovely last night. On arriving back at Hotel, 5.30am-ish, I realised we have to be up early again so just had time to repack bags before breakfast. Got loaded into two vehicles and as our driver left a garage he clipped the kerb and the back tyre promptly deflated - so did we on realising we've now gotta unload all bags and instruments to get the bloody spare wheel out. Despite a bent wheel brace we got back on the road somewhat late now and had a stimulating ride through the mountains then down a 2 lane highway with trucks 18 ins on either side and us flying down the middle at 90mph. The motorway into Athens was looking good until I saw a bloke walking out into the outside lane with his hand up in that "Halt" gesture. I'd noticed we were doing 160 clicks which is 100mph and I thought this guy must be out of his tiny mind expecting us to stop. It was the long arm of the law he was holding up and he did have to leap out of the way as we slammed on the anchors. I went out with our young driver and we managed to negotiate a reduction of the 480 Euro fine and 6 month ban. Tell him we are an English rock band, late for the sky, puncture, hang over etc. Young stroppy cop, proud of uniform and pistol on his belt, but he came through and did the driver for 70 Euros and forgot the ban. Even got to the airport on time - all good. I'm thinking that Gypsy woman must have meant it when she said I had a charmed existence. Later that day back to Blighty and a good cup of tea with my mad family.
Ah, but I do look forward to the joys of the road again soon,
Love to all,
Argus Through The Looking Glass - South American review
FEB 3 2009
This perfect review of Argus Through The Looking Glass for the South American market recently appeared on www.whiplash.net
Like many other classic bands from the 70s, Wishbone Ash suffered through time several lineup changes and in recent years only guitarist/vocalist Andy Powell remained, eventually inviting other musicians to join him. Just a bit over 2 years ago, however, original bassist/vocalist Martin Turner launched his own version of the band, which has been releasing live albums and now a remake of the legendary album "Argus", the most worshiped from the original band.
Rating: 9 Certainly it is not the first time that something like this happens: the fight for the name of a classic band by their old and/or current members. Examples abound, in varying degrees, including since the 2 concurrent versions of Saxon to the different versions of “Whitesnake” presenting former members of the group (The Snakes, Company of Snakes, M3, etc.). In the specific case of Wishbone Ash, the dispute happens this way: while Andy Powell always remained active, until the present day, regularly releasing albums and touring the world (including in Brazil, in 2003), Martin Turner claims his version of the group is more faithful to the classic sound, as he used to be the main vocalist and composer, and also has maintained a style closer to the 70s. One detail: the name "Wishbone Ash" belongs to the 4 original members who are, in addition to Martin and Andy, guitarist Ted Turner and drummer Steve Upton. Well, each band will have some arguments in their favor, but the fact is that the two versions of Ash are great. In fact, Andy Powell's Wishbone Ash has a more modern and heavy sound, while Martin Turner's Wishbone Ash presents a more classic and elegant style, playing the songs without that sense of urgency that permeates the current market for music. Respectively in 2006 and 2007, Martin released 2 live CDs with his band called "New Live Dates" Vol 1 and 2 (clear references to the original Ash's "Live Dates" albums). And now in 2008, he has released the first studio CD since his return. However, instead of composing new material, he decided to re-record what is considered to be the best Wishbone Ash album, "Argus" (1972). Probably not for lack of new material, but because of a strategic decision to show concert promoters that this version of the band is more faithful to the “seventies aesthetic”. After all, nowadays the artists earn more money from concerts than from CD sales. A proof is that the other version of the band has been also playing the complete album "Argus" live. Confused? Perhaps this is the idea...
Talking specifically about this album, and as explained on the booklet, the basic concept was to rewrite the songs keeping the original spirit intact, but adding the technological advantages of modern recording techniques. Together with Martin are Ray Hatfield (guitar and vocals), Keith Buck (guitar and vocals) and Rob Hewins (drums and vocals). As during the recordings Buck left the group, the new guitarist/vocalist Danny Willson also added some contributions.
Furthermore, the duo John Wetton (bass, vocals) and Geoff Downes (keyboards), who play together in both Asia and Icon, contributed to "Throw Down The Sword".
The new versions are actually very faithful to the old ones in everything: the “spirit”, right doses of heaviness and speed, arrangements in general. The vocals and guitars harmonies, the band's highlights, are impeccable. Some small details were added too, in order to bring some interest to the new release. Firstly, the order of songs was changed slightly, with "Blowin' Free" being moved to the end of the CD. According to Martin, he had written this song before the time of conception of the original “Argus”, and it had a more uplifting style when compared to the rest of the material, which is more introspective. On the original LP format, it had an important role as closing the A side, but now, on CD, he preferred to use it on a similar role, thus closing the album as a whole. Moreover, while guitar, bass and drums have been played in the album in an almost identical way as in the original version, there are some differences here and there in order to bring interest even to listeners who know the original record in detail.
The most interesting version, from this “repagination” point of view, ended up being "Throw Down The Sword", which features Geoff Downes on the Hammond organ and John Wetton on "harmony vocals." The original version included no keyboards, and so its inclusion here added a very subtle though relevant detail. Wetton’s voice matched perfectly Turner’s and so the final result was great, and different from the original. A curious fact is that Wetton was, years ago, exactly Turner’s replacement in the band, when he left in 1980.
Now let’s hope for an album with fresh new material. Martin Turner seems to be in full form, and so do the musicians joining him. Who knows, maybe he will be even able to bring Ted Turner to his boat, as the guitarist has been making some special appearances with the group live (registered on the "New Live Dates").
One final curiosity: Ted and Martin are *not* relatives.
More Live Dates
JAN 12 2009
We are pleased to confirm that further dates in the UK and Holland have been added to the Argus Tour 2009 schedule.
In addition, Martin Turner's Wishbone Ash is pleased to announce dates in Germany and Switzerland during May 2009.
Tour Dates Added
DEC 11 2008
Further dates for the 2009 leg of Martin Turner's Wishbone Ash's Argus Tour are now online, with confirmed shows in the UK, Holland and Belgium.