Wishbone Ash: Reissues

Mid-period reissues, each with an additional disc of live tracks.

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Their music might lack the personality of their hard rock peers, but no one can fault the Ash for their staying power. They released their 24th studio album, Blue Horizon, this year, and these reissues – spanning the decade between 1996’s Illuminations and 2007’s Power Of Eternity – provide further reminders of Andy Powell’s ear for a pop hook.

Even now, Illuminations (710) has the feel of classic Ash, a crisp production ensuring that even 10-minute wig-out Tales Of The Wise doesn’t overstay its welcome. Where the largely acoustic Bare Bones (610) has the feel of a stop-gap, 2002’s Bona Fide (710) fizzes with energy, Powell indulging in bluesy lead face-offs with Finnish axe-hero-for-hire Ben Granfelt.

Power Of Eternity (810) is the best of the bunch. All the familiar Ash trademarks (tungsten-strength melodies; spaghetti-length solos) are present and correct. Funky curve balls (Driving A Wedge) and searing mid-life analysis (Growing Up) are all delivered with a conviction that they’re on the right path, a feeling vindicated by the fact that this revised line-up – including Muddy Manninen and Joe Crabtree – remains to this day.

With more than eight hours of music to trawl through, plus new interviews with Powell about each album, these thoughtfully presented packages define how all reissues should be done.

Paul Moody is a writer whose work has appeared in the Classic Rock, NME, Time Out, Uncut, Arena and the Guardian. He is the co-author of The Search for the Perfect Pub and The Rough Pub Guide.