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.


Music Appreciation – Introduction

‘Music Appreciation’ is one of the tags I use here. I write ‘music-appreciation’ posts for a few different reasons. ‘Nothing else to do’ isn’t one of them.

I write these posts because I know from experience that exposure to music is the best predictor of whether any person, young or old, is going to stay when they come in for lessons on guitar, bass or piano. A person who loves music is more likely to stay on and do well than someone else with real aptitude, but no real love of music.

It’s not just that exposure is good, it’s that a lack of exposure is a problem. I’ve had this discussion with more than a dozen other teachers, and we all agree. But what to do about it? We don’t want to spend lesson time trying to get someone to take an interest in this or that song. It’s hard to impart a passion for music to someone else. Remember Blackboard Jungle? (“…Listen to that coronet.”)

Another reason for these posts is I believe that part of being a musician is knowing what’s good. I’ve know of many great players who don’t make great music, I believe, because they don’t really know what great music is.

I also think it’s important to know the history and literature in any area that you’re serious about studying. The history of rock, especially the history of ’60s and ’70s rock radio, is a little misunderstood. That’s important, because in the ’60s and ’70s, rock radio was the only place people learned about new music. Radio was the source for anything new. Much more on that later.

Finally, these posts are here in the hopes that some of my less-informed students, and their parents, will get a clue and take an interest. If you don’t like any of the music here or on my Youtube and Spotify playlists, then I have to ask, “Why are you here?”