?70s folk/prog unit Wishbone Ash still going strong

wishbone0511.jpgCombining the best elements of mythical prog-rock and misty English folk, with a solid foundation in blues and soul, Wishbone Ash was among the giants of English hard rock in the early- to mid-?70s.

Between 1970-73, Andy Powell, Martin Turner, David Alan “Ted? Turner and Steve Upton produced a self-titled debut, Pilgrimage and Argus, each a great leap forward for the band.
Powell hasn?t mothballed the band yet. Powell?s Wishbone Ash is still a touring and recording entity, having released Clan Destiny in 2006 and the XM Satellite Live album on Friday Music. Powell recently chatted with Goldmine.

GM: Talk about how you prepared the new album. Was there concern about making it a Wishbone Ash album in the classic sense, with some of the old rock dynamics and folk and prog tendencies you displayed in the early 70s, or did you want it to be a departure of sorts?

Andy Powell: We recorded the album in a studio called Blue Jay Recorders, near Boston. At one time, bands like Aerosmith had recorded there, but these days, it?s co-owned by one of the Backstreet Boys. At any rate, it was a beautiful facility with a great old Rupert Neve console.

There was not concern, but more a feeling that we wanted the album to have a stripped-down feel, rather in a manner of the early-?70s recordings by Wishbone Ash, but for me, I?m so entranced by the band?s sound after 37-some years, that it’s second nature to produce music like this. The folk and prog thing you mention is there, whether I like it or not. So, there were songs like “Dream Outta Dust? and “Capture The Moment? that were definitely a nod to the past with twin lead guitar breaks, harmonized vocals and different time signatures, for example.

However, we were very open in approaching new ideas at the same time. New guitarist Muddy Manninen, for example, brought along a song, “The Raven,” which was his inspiration, but of course, it had a lot of those elements I mentioned, since he’s been influenced big-time in his writing by the music of ours and other bands of our era.

GM: Were these old songs that you had lying about somewhere, or did the album come about in more of a spontaneous manner, with kind of a wild spurt of creativity?

AP: Some ideas were from the treasure trove, but there was a specific rehearsal period in a beautiful, old Pennsylvania theater, in order to capture a spontaneous writing vibe. The song “Steam Town” comes to mind as an example of a wild spurt of creativity, along with “Capture The Moment.”

GM:
Listening to Argus the other day, it occurred to me how similar some of the grooves of say ?Sometime World? are to the work of an artist that would probably never be mentioned with Wishbone Ash, and that is, Lou Reed of all people. And yet on ?Blowin? Free? there?s elements of the Who and the Allman Brothers. Do you ever make connections like that between artists that seemingly operate from wholly different places, and along the same lines, do you see Wishbone Ash as a kind of melting pot of rock genres?

AP: We absolutely make those connections. Wishbone Ash is a sort of melting pot, much like a modern jam band. In the early-’70s that was how it was. Everybody was influenced by everything and even the heaviest bands, like Led Zeppelin, were influenced by folkies like Bert Jansch, for example. We toured the U.S. with the Allmans and The Who, and there’s no doubt that some of their attitude and music rubbed off on us. Similarly, you can listen to the riff at the end of Steely Dan’s “Reelin’ In The Years” and hear a nod from them to our classic song, “Blowin’ Free.”

Thin Lizzy freely admitted that their sound was influenced by ours. For sure, I was listening

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