Album review: MARTIN TURNER AND FRIENDS – The Garden Party

Martin Turner and Friends - The Garden Party

Dirty Dog Discs [Release date 27.10.14]

This 2-CD album is like an almighty two-finger salute to Andy Powell.  Back in 2012 Martin Turner assembled a stellar cast of one-time Wishbone Ash alumni and in front of a specially invited audience, and out in the sunny Buckinghamshire countryside, they rekindled former glories.

The coup de grace was enticing long-serving drummer Steve Upton to attend (although he didn’t play) whilst Ted Turner arrived from the States to re-create an authentic ‘The King Will Come’ and ‘Jailbait” with Laurie Wisefield.  Current Turner band members Danny Willson and Ray Hatfield took the lion’s share of guitar duties and along with drummer Dave Wagstaffe acquitted themselves with distinction especially on the funky ‘Rest In Peace’ and spritely ‘Doctor’.

The material ranged from the less obvious to the more familiar.  Strangely nothing off ‘Front Page News’ although ‘No Smoke Without Fire’ is represented by the prog-tinged ‘Way Of The World’ and, indirectly, through the session out-take ‘Fire Sign.’ A new piece ‘Mystify Me’ doesn’t appear in this collection although performed on the day, whilst Turner revisited his 1996 solo album on ‘Broken Down House’.

‘In The Skin’, ‘Why Don’t We?’ and ‘Standing In The Rain’ appear from Turner’s later tenure with the band but the emphasis is very much on the period 1971-1976.  The idea was to record tracks that Turner and his band were playing live but hadn’t appeared on a live album.

In that sense, it’s a triumph and you might be hard-pushed thinking that this was indeed recorded live at all.  In fact, on the actual day there were sound issues with the PA system, so this recording will go some way to make amends for those who attended.

Given that there is a complete lack of new material from Martin Turner (the last band album was released in 2011) ‘The Garden Party’ is both a great souvenir of a “private” and historic event and a stop-gap until, well… er… uhm.. the next live album.  ****

Review by David Randall

David Randall presents ‘Assume The Position’ on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio every Sunday at 22:00 GMT.

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