Wishbone Ash

wishbone ash in concert
Wishbone Ash and their Orange amp rigs in the 1970’s always put on a fantastic show.

Wishbone Ash was a forerunner to the guitar sounds of Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Eagles. Wishbone Ash’s album ‘Argus’ was out by 1972, a year before the first Skynyrd album.

Their album ‘There’s The Rub’ has some great guitar work, with melodic solos. A great study for aspiring lead players. High points on the album are ‘Don’t Come Back,’ ‘Persephone’ and ‘Lady Jay.’

The rhythm-guitar parts on ‘There’s The Rub’ are varied and interesting. The rhythm-guitar in Persephone uses 6th and 3rd lines. Persephone is a study in arranging for rock rhythm-guitar.

The King Will Come is probably their biggest hit. It uses a single-line hook instead of a chordal background, like in Clapton’s Sunshine Of Your Love and Hendrix’s Purple Haze. Except this one’s spookier, darker than Love or Haze. The lead is a soaring ‘wah’ solo similar to the feel in Clapton’s solo on Presence Of The Lord.

Blowin’ Free was probably their second biggest hit. This one starts out with a rhythm-guitar riff based on a moving the open ‘D’ chord shape up the neck, and alternating against the open ‘D’ string. (Warning: wicked little-finger stretch if you’re not used to it. May want to barre across three strings instead of just shifting your standard ‘D’ chord shape.) The verse has a unusual open-position rhythm-guitar riff. There’s a slow section with some nice solo guitar lines. This is followed by another solo section that’s a little like Allman or Betts.

This album also has some great material for bass-players. The bass lines jam, they’re all over the place. But they are completely coherent and appropriate to the moment. A little like McCartney and Entwhistle.

According to Wiki, John Wetton played with them after King Krimson, so there’s a direct link with Trapeze and Uriah Heep. More to say about some of these guys in later posts.

Wishbone Ash was a pioneering group that influenced many of their contemporaries. One of the essential high points of 1970’s rock guitar.

Historical notes: Wishbone Ash played at a free outdoor concert in 1975 at Fair Park in Dallas, sponsored by KZEW 98 FM. It was called the ‘Can Jam.’ Admission was a can of food for the local food bank. Radio stations used to do that sort of thing back then. Also performing that day were Freddie King, Blue Oyster Cult, Head East, and Black Oak Arkansas.

ABC’s Wide World Of Sports used instrumental sections of Don’t Come Back as music for a pre-recorded segment in the early 70’s. Another time, WWS used parts of Yes’ Close To The Edge in a segment about ski-jumping.

The King Will Come got air radio airplay in Dallas on KNUS, KZEW, and KRLD (?), and in Houston on KLOL. Blowin’ Free was played on KNUS and KZEW.