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Milan Fahrnholz Profile
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Registered: 09-2003
Posts: 17842
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Bona Fide - A Review


Bona Fide – Wishbone Ash (2002)

Image

Personnel:

Andy Powell (Guitars, Vocals)
Ben Granfelt (Guitars, Vocals)
Bob Skeat (Vocals, Bass, Hammond Organ, Piano, Flute Sample)
Ray Weston (Drums, Percussion)


Notes:

Six years after the release of their last album with only new studio material(Illuminations in 1996) and three years after their last release(Bare Bones which basically consisted of accoustic re-recordings of old songs which was preceeded by two albums with Trans remixes of their classics, Trans Visionary and Psychic Terrorism) the band around Andy Powell hasn´t only changed completly, since the last release they also got an important addition to their line-up, which is Ben Granfelt who had more or less a solo career before that.
The new Wishbone Ash of the 21st Century is completly with that and sounds as fresh as 30 years ago.

1.Almighty Blues

This one starts out as a tight rhythm´n´blues number. As the vocals kick in you don´t realise it´s 2002 but it more feels like 30 years before. Classic Wishbone Ash is present even if you couldn´t tell why. Very singable indeed, a swinging number to go along with. Driving bass and twin slide guitar(er, yeah!) and in good blues tradition it always finds its cool way back to the chorus. Truley groovy number, with a very moody bridge on the guitars that´s always changing between the guitars dueling and building a perfect unit. And never forgetting the groove.

2.Enigma

The entire track is dominated by a moody and very melodic guitar unit. The riff is subtle but the drums are very present and the vocals are almost like a choir. Great chorus this one, the kind of thing that gets stuck into your head. Ah, and then there are those twin guitar riffs that seem to come out of nowhere. I could imagine that could be a very good track to play to newcommers to the new Wishbone Ash and it also has all qualities to be a radio hit(though most of the songs on this album have this, what doesn´t mean that it´s really a mainstream record).

3.Faith, Hope And Love

Yes, that´s the one. A contender to enter my list of top 10 Wishbone Ash songs of all time. At least for the ballads it´s a definite highlight. The harmony guitars playing the gorgeous main riff will never leave your ears once they´ve entered them. Also the chorus is memorable, and the vocals overall lead through the song without sounding pathetic as it can easily happen with ballads like this. There´s so much feeling in this song as a whole, balladesque on one side and kinda powerful on the other. Reminds me of what I said about Lady Jay:“How can you fit so many great riffs into one song?“. Then the solo on one hand doesn´t sound like anything you´re used to from Wishbone Ash but it also fits into the form like nothing else. If only more bands would come up with such brilliant power ballads like this.

4.Ancient Remedy

Yeah, another brilliant track follows! The way the song starts with fast accoustic playing that´s followed by an arabic/medieval sounding guitar riff that leads through the song(and gets absolutly stucked into your head and ears!!!) reminds me a bit of Focus´ House Of The King. Overall it´s uptempo that´s broken for short by a slower bridge that force great(if humble) singing into the foreground but then fast drifts back to the maintempo again to give us a great guitar solo and reminds us what this song will leave us after we´ve stopped listening to it. THAT riff! Boy, I promise you, you´ll hum that on every occasion if you want or not. Lyrically it seems to send across a messeage that in 2002 especially every american citizen should have heard. Wishbone Ash are usually not a band of political statement, but I´ll surely subscribe to what they say when they make an exception!

5.Changing Tracks

A more harder rocking tune that still has the groove and kinda brings us back to the style of Almighty Blues. The lyrics are about the blues and in some very modern way the blues is delivered here like dancing across the hardrock world never forgetting it´s roots. Albeit I would never call this one a filler it also doesn´t connect as much to the series of songs we had from track 2 to 4. Still it´s very good as it has a part that reminds me a lot of a part in The Pilgrim, don´t know if that´s intended or not, but most important this one has again the groove that dominated most part of the album and that makes you going with the music, all of the time from beginning to end.

(to be continued...)
18/8/2004, 2:07 Link to this post  
 
Milan Fahrnholz Profile
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Re: Bona Fide - A Review


(continued...)

6.Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda

Yet another contender for Wishbone Ash´s greatest dance tunes. In a way it goes on where the last track left off making it a trilogy of grooving blues tracks together with the first tracks. The riff is picked as is most of the lead guitar. I can´t really describe it, it´s so groovy that I´m undecided if that´s a laid-back tune to drink a glass of cold whiskey to or something to stand up practising the best of your dance art you can deliver(if no one´s around to witness that!) the repeated „shoulda, woulda, coulda“ quiet backing vocals at the end are kinda funny and round up that really entertaining tune.

7.Bona Fide

The first of two instrumentals on this album is dominated by Twin-Slide-Guitars that give you the drive. The rythm section is more important here than you´d probably think on the first listen. It´s good enough to be part of a different song actually, I´d like to hear that in context of something else. Somehow it is also, it more or less builds a bridge between to very groovy tracks that consists of driving slides that are played like they´d climb up a wall and then drop down again just to continue to go up with at least the same tempo..

8.Difference In Time

This is simply a straight forward tune. Melodic Rock, what else can I say? Good lyrics and a memorable chorus. The change of backing and lead vocals also works really well during the chorus. A gentle guitar solo divided in several parts is preceeded by a heavenly bridge(with choir-like backing vocals) and then we´re back to the expected groove. That´s so great about Wishbone Ash, as soon as you think you know a tune it changes completly but still the overall picture is a complete. Then you´ll hear familar tunes again.

9.Come Rain, Come Shine

Ah well, it was 2002 so this is the inevitable September 11th track, written by a british band.
Still that doesn´t stop that one from being yet another highlight on an album that´s brilliant nonetheless. A ballad for peace and equality in the world. Flute samples are dominant through the first part of the song. The vocals might sound a bit pathetic but it´s also a hymn for the world if you will and that´s how it sounds like. The overall feel is probably a bit more posititve than the messeage within, still you understand why everything is like it is. Personnally I could live without the 30 seconds of radio reports and sounds. But as I read somewhere it´s also Pink Floydish, maybe because the sound is remincent of the radio sound in Wish You Were Here. The part after that is really hardrocking for some time and then comes another instrumental balladesque part dominated first by piano that is then joined by a guitar with a lot of feedback. Then comes the hardrock tune again and we´re back to the hymn that finds it´s unexpected ending with a low pitched backing vocal, that sounds kinda funny, actually.

10.Peace

How could you end an album more beautiful and gentle? Like the way it is played it delivers a great feel of harmony and peace. The two guitars make their way along together than one goes his own way before they meet again and so on. It leaves you with the same positive feel after the ending like you had when you heard Throw Down The Sword, the last track on Argus. That´s how I want to remember and album like this. Ending gently and sheer beatiful. Gorgeous instrumental this one! Great harmony guitars, I just love it!

Conclusion:

Ah, finally they did it again! The name is programme with this record because Wishbone Ash delivered another bona fide classic with this one. I think I can savely say that Bona Fide is Wishbone Ash´s best album since There´s The Rub...but to be honest I like it even more than that! So maybe it´s the best Wishbone Ash album since Argus and that´s a big thing to say considering Andy Powell´s not the youngest anymore. However he still shines like no other and with the addition of Ben Granfelt the band seems at least musically like a unit again. The only problem that might keep them from having a big future is probably that Andy Powell is the only undeniable boss in the band for years now. The rest of the musicians are only payed on a session base so Wishbone Ash are still basically Andy Powell´s backing band(which was the reason that kept Martin Turner and Laurie Wisefield from doing another reuion a couple of years ago). But then again, they don´t sound like that. This album records the most tight Wishbone Ash since the second line-up. I wish they´d go on they way they are and become more of a band again. It´s incredible how a legendary(even if of secondary legend status concerning the commercial and populartiy factor) can still release such a brilliant and fresh sounding album in such a late state of their career. They delivered a brillianty produced album(Powell himself once again took the production duties on himself) that sounds great all the way through and has all the elements of a classic Wishbone Ash record. Combining complex structures with music that goes to your head, dueling and harmony guitars, lyrics to go along and an absolutly unique sound. The drums are unusually loud in the mix and another new thing is that this one has a lot of organ, and that even more dominant than you´re used to from, say Throw Down The Sword.
But in the end it´s like it´s supposed to be that every instrument comes perfectly through and is crystal clear in the mix. The songwriting is unbelivable good and it really doesn´t seem like it was done by people who were so long in the business it´s like a debut album that leads the new Wishbone Ash into the 21st Century.
Overall, it´s a return to form and sees Wishbone Ash as they should be remembered, a band that deliveres classic records that are perfect in every detail, I just hope they go on like that for many years to come, that would earn them huge respect in my book, even more than they have with me anyway for the past output.
Wishbone Ash has risen like the phoenix from the ashes and is alive and kicking, better than ever!

- Milan
18/8/2004, 2:07 Link to this post  
 
Rahul Profile
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Registered: 09-2003
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Re: Bona Fide - A Review


Wow, great review Milan! That must have taken you ages to write! I pretty much agree with your assesment of it! Fantastic album!

Do you realise that you've developed a fan club over on the Wishbone Ash forums?

emoticon


---
We're here for a good time, not for a long time!
23/8/2004, 15:58 Link to this post Send Email to Rahul   Send PM to Rahul
 
Milan Fahrnholz Profile
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Re: Bona Fide - A Review


Jesus Christ! Yeah, sometimes I forget how many people actually read what I write even though they don´t make any comments on it...man I really should check more into the forums of my favourite bands to see how they react on what I write here.emoticon

Anyway cheers, I think it would be impossible for me to review Argus but maybe I´ll give it a try one day...

And it actually didn´t take me as long. I could narrow my reviews down to the conclusion which just sum up what I think about the albums but I need that song by song run through(I always listen to the album while I make the run through so that one took me 46 minutes to write.emoticon).

Anyway, the next time I´ll have a great album in my hands I´ll review it...don´t know why I don´t review albums I don´t like maybe that´s just to negative for me and I don´t like to look at any music from a very negative perspective(maybe I should learn to, though in a moderate kind of way)...

Anyway, I´m always grateful for any kind of reaction, so there!emoticon
23/8/2004, 16:30 Link to this post  
 


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