Friday, October 5, 2018

LEAVES: Leaf and Stream/Wishbone Ash

There is always going to be an elephant in the room of this theme, what with the sort of leaf and leaves seeming to be of, um, such appeal to musicians and music lovers. And I don't mean tea. So I have deliberately looked away and have not inhaled today, celebrating the more pastoral side. As in ain't nature wonderful, which, of course it is. This too has also provided a rich vein of inspiration, especially in my home land and especially in the more whimsical days of the hippy/folk/prog interface. Wishbone Ash, who would have hated any of those epithets alone, let alone collectively, actually and amply epitomise this union. Songs about a mythical mystical past? Check. Gentle melodies sweetly sung? Check. Rippling, dual lead guitars, playing tunes rather than shredding the notes. Check, double check. All so Game of Thrones, but without any of the troublesome cussing or titties.

Wishbone Ash were the cool band to have an album of tucked under your arm. 'Argus', from which this song is plucked, and/or 'Pilgrimage' seemed to be the peak of teenage dudedom in the early 70s, at least at my school. Not too popular or chart-bothering, a little bit niche, certain to pop up on the Old Grey Whistle Test TV show or in NME, the inky weekly hipster's bible . Yup, I fell for all of this, hook, line and sinker until the great awkwardness of the punk wars came along, sweeping all with hair and melody away in the tsunami of year zero. Which I also loved, transferring my passions, cutting my hair and narrowing my trousers. I don't suppose I ever listened to anything of theirs again. But they didn't go away. Nobody did: they all play on and probably at a theatre near you soon. Ash, as their faithful called them, did better, or was it worse, musical differences, always musical differences, causing them to become 2, or is it 3, bands, each with some claim to the name. Ugliness and the courts intervened and so there are currently at least 2 versions on the road, Wishbone Ash, featuring one original member, Andy Powell, and Martin Turner's band notallowedtobecalledWishboneAsh (which they probably wouldn't be allowed to be called either), which contains, ironically not only Turner, who actually founded the original band, but often also another original member, (no relation) Ted Turner and the long serving drummer of those epochal recordings, Laurie Wisefield. The Powell helmed band have continued to release new material, the Turner version ploughing the classic furrows of yesteryear. Such is life, and I would probably see either band as having equal right to the name and to perform, without, to be fair, me taking the time and trouble to seek out either. (Would either, could either surpass the records?)

Here's the nearest thing to making that decision, a near-unplugged from the official Ash, in 2017, Andy Powell sadly not wielding the flying V that was as much their trademark* as anything else, but it is visible behind him, stacked against the drum podium. (*And maybe why the courts gave him the band?)

And here, from the year before, is Martin Taylor's.

Buy the original, when all is said and done, it is a beautiful song.

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