I threw a ball for my dog yesterday. I admit it was a little extravagant, but it was his 16th birthday.
Today’s double live album is from Britain’s Wishbone Ash, who are noted for their extensive use of harmony twin lead guitars. Their contributions helped Andy Powell and Ted Turner to be voted “Two of the Ten Most Important Guitarists in Rock History” (Traffic magazine 1989), and to appear in the “Top 20 Guitarists of All Time” (Rolling Stone). Several notable bands have cited Wishbone Ash as an influence, including Iron Maiden, Van Halen, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Thin Lizzy, Metallica, Dream Theater, Overkill and Opeth. Following the release of this album, founding member Ted Turner left the band, resulting in a shift of the band’s musical approach. Live Dates is their first live album, released in 1973.
One of the earliest rock bands I got into was Wishbone Ash, especially the album Argus, one of the greatest rock records out there. The twin guitar sound, the solos, the songwriting hooked me as an 11 year old and I wanted to hear more. The first four albums, for me, are excellent hard rock/prog rock classics; they kind of lost me after today’s live album and each subsequent album has resulted in dimishing returns to me. Some really good songs are on those albums but overall they are not that essential. But enough negativity for now, let’s dive in and enjoy Live Dates.
As you may have already guessed, I really enjoyed this, I used to own the album so this wasn’t a big surprise for me. It felt really good to listen to this again and brought back a lot of real fine memories. The opening 3 tracks are featured on side 2 of Argus and set the tone for the record: the soaring solos, the rythym section from Martin Turner and Steve Upton keeping the whole thing anchored whilst the two guitarists (Ted Turner and Andy Powell) show why they are highly regarded with their tantalizing and melodic interplay. Throughout the four sides, the band show their chops, the pace never falters as the band plow through their classics: The King Will Come, Warrior, Throw Down The Sword, Blowing Free (from Argus alone), Jailbait and more.
So is it excessive? No, only 1 of the 11 tracks is over 10 minutes and it’s a great song to close the show with (Phoenix). Would I listen to it again? Most definitely. Would I recommend it? Totally. If you want to hear a band at its songwriting heights and some great dual guitar playing then this is for you. Is there a drum solo? No, and that’s always a plus.
The score for this one is a very respectable 8.5/10, I’m not too hot on Ballad of the Beacon nor Lady Whiskey but they don’t spoil my enjoyment of the record. I do highly recommend this album, it’s a great record from a great band. Thanks for coming along and TTFN.