Wishbone Ash, an influential British rock band, marked their 45th anniversary in 2014 with a return to North America to showcase brand new tunes from their latest album, Blue Horizon.
Nicknamed "The Blue Horizon Tour," the first leg began April 15 in Florida and wound south and west before heading northward through the Pacific West Coast and Canada. The trek celebrated the return of the band to areas not visited in many years. The group still delights with high-energy performances featuring a vast catalog spanning decades of music-making.
“I thought, why not ring the bell to see if our fans in the South and Southwest would come out and join the party,” said bandleader and founding member Andy Powell. "We hope our long-lost fans will come check out what we’ve been doing, which has been continuously touring, recording and rehearsing. The band has a fire in its belly, and we want to share that.”
Formed in 1969 a scant year after Led Zeppelin, many listeners became devoted disciples of Wishbone Ash after hearing their electrifying brew of hard rock, jazz, blues, acoustic folk, and prog rock on college campuses or then-burgeoning FM radio, a free-form format where deejays played any song on an album that struck their fancy. A favorite in Europe almost immediately after the release of their self-titled 1970 debut, it took three years before America finally caught up with the commotion on the best-selling Wishbone Four record. Surprisingly, the group never experienced a hit single.
For evidence of the band at their zenith, give a listen to the medieval-inspired "Warrior," an epic six-minute rock track from their 1972 masterpiece, Argus. The band has to its credit 24 original studio recordings, 10 live albums and four live DVDs including a rockumentary entitled This is Wishbone Ash.
The band is currently led by Powell on guitar and vocals, who trades licks with Finland’s guitar wizard Muddy Manninen. Bassist Bob Skeat, a 17-year veteran of the band and in-demand studio musician, sets the pace with Joe Crabtree, one of the best of Britain’s new breed of drummers whose performance credits include Pendragon and David Cross of King Crimson. “The band basically lives together year-round, so we have a very strong level of communication that translates in our performances and recordings,” remarks Powell.
Lynyrd Skynyrd, Thin Lizzy, Iron Maiden, and Judas Priest have all cited the original, legendary twin-guitar approach of Wishbone Ash as a primary influence on their style. Longtime fans and new converts will find that The Ash offers an undeniable concert experience. Complete tour dates and more information can be found by visiting the band's official website.
- DON'T GO ANYWHERE YET! The Beach Boys were at a crossroads in the early ‘70s, exacerbated by Brian Wilson's dwindling creativity. Fortunately for listeners everywhere, little brother Carl had a remedy. He had propitiously been demonstrating his burgeoning production skills since the soulful "Wild Honey" arrived with minimal fanfare in 1967. Gradually taking over the leadership reins from his elder brother, Carl was more than ready to put his stamp on the band's 18th long player, along with a little help from two South African musicians with a penchant for hard driving rock 'n' roll, Blondie Chaplin and Ricky Fataar. An in-depth feature on "Carl and the Passions – So Tough" sheds light on an often misunderstood period in the group's renowned discography. At least for a season, this was not your parents’ square fun in the sun band anymore.
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Further Reading: Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Rick Nelson was on the verge of a mini comeback when his plane tragically caught on fire en route to a New Year's Eve gig on December 31, 1985. A rockabilly-themed album was in the final recording stages, and the singer had found a new record label in Nashville named Curb Records. Unfortunately, the project was promptly placed in the dustbin whilst various figureheads argued over rights, whether Rick's vocals were satisfactory, and if the project deserved to see the light of day. Wrangling beyond the so-called myths revolving around the project, an in-depth feature ["True Love Ways: A Glimpse Inside the Tangled Web of Rick Nelson's Final Album"] sheds light on the ill-fated Curb sessions nearly 30 years later.
Further Reading No. 2: Did you know that former Beatle George Harrison followed up his critically-acclaimed solo debut, the triple-LP "All Things Must Pass", with another number one record featuring the drumming expertise of compadre Ringo Starr? Surprisingly, "Living in the Material World" contains one song that remains largely undiscovered by the general record buying public. "Don't Let Me Wait Too Long" is a Beatlesque and pop-oriented track that deserved to be a hit single. No stone is left uncovered in the fascinating feature, "Rediscovering a Superb Love Song..."
- Further Reading No. 3: It's difficult to find a more illustrious 40-year musical career than that of Chuck Leavell, best known as a member of the Allman Brothers Band (dig his iconic contributions to the "Jessica" instrumental) and currently manning the keyboards for the Rolling Stones. On the rare occasions when he performs solo, the raconteur's anecdotes absolutely mesmerize the crowd. An all-new article, "That's Chuck Leavell, Not Chocolate Milk: In Concert with the Stellar Pianist", details a special benefit performance in South Georgia as the musician recalls his admiration for Hank Williams, country music, the secret to a successful marriage, the songs he wrote for the women in his life, touring with George Harrison during a 1991 sojourn in Japan, and the confused, funny reaction he received from a six-year-old fan after listening to Eric Clapton's definitive "Unplugged" MTV album.
Further Reading No. 4: Although originally covered by The Beatles (John Lennon on lead), Smith truly captured the counterculture's collective consciousness during the summer of Woodstock and Easy Rider with a fiery rendition of "Baby It's You", originally written by Brill Building pianist Burt Bacharach. A resounding Top Five single captained by the gorgeous, pre-American Idol Gayle McCormick belting the lyrics with intense abandon, the band inexplicably never had another hit. For the complete lowdown on why fans of classic '60s rock still hold the performance in such high esteem, head on over to "One Hit Wonder Flashback: The Timeless Allure of Smith's 'Baby It's You'".
- Exclusive Interview: Cherie Currie, best known as the former lead singer of '70s female punk icons the Runaways, lived the ultimate rock and roll fantasy until it came crashing down in a raging sea of inner band turmoil, trashed hotel rooms, financial mismanagement, and substance abuse. After an extended lost weekend invigorated by the success of The Runaways, a film based on her shocking memoirs and starring Dakota Fanning and Twilight's Kristen Stewart, Currie is ready to rock 'n' roll all night. In an extremely personal chat ["Believe in Yourself: Words of Wisdom From..."], the blonde bombshell revisits her meeting with singer-songwriter John Denver, the eclectic music she would take with her if stranded on a desert island, whether there is such a thing as the perfect guy, what she is most passionate about, what makes her angry, facing online criticism, the tragedy of living on pipe dreams, and much more.
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