They may have retained relative chart anonymity for 30-odd years (while pursuing ball-busting gig schedules), but it’s worth remembering that, in the 70s, Wishbone Ash were major figures in British rock.
Pioneering the twin lead guitar approach, they were endorsed by Ritchie Blackmore and subsequently emulated by everyone from Thin Lizzy to Opeth. But 28 albums, various experiments, a myriad line-up shuffles and one bitterly contested title-ownership feud (there’s also a Martin Turner’s Wishbone Ash on the go) later, can any of the inspiration behind their brilliant Pilgrimage and Argus albums be spotted in their music today?
Happily, Elegant Stealth is clearly recognisable as a Wishbone Ash work. Can’t Go It Alone and Give It Up boast beautiful prog-tinged guitar, while the sweeping, arpeggio-dominated technicality in Warm Tears echoes the style of their heyday. Lovely.
However, some tracks tend to wander and aren’t helped by some frankly godawful lyrics, the pseudo-political ramblings of Migrant Worker being the biggest offender. This, in turn, does no favours for some unremarkable vocals – arguably a bit of an Achilles heel.
A range of styles are included. Big Issues flirts with funk (good), Mud Slick is all-out dirty blues (also good), and opener Reason To Believe appears in a hidden dance remix (best left hidden…).
Not an Argus, then, but should be well-received by a devout – if profoundly split – WA following.