Steamhammer/SPV [Release date 28.02.20]
I think it fair to say that, more recently, you’re not going to get a really duff album from Andy Powell and his men. Patchy maybe, but never dipping like some of the quality control in the 1980s and 1990s. The previous album ‘Blue Horizon’ (2014) was well received and this is the first with new guitarist Mark Abrahams. I can only assume that the band’s incessant touring doesn’t give much time for developing new material.
‘Coat Of Arms’ plays it safe and the most you could say about this album is that it could have been made in the early seventies and typified by the pivotal piece ‘It’s Only You I See’.
From the start, the twin guitar harmony indicates you are back with the masters of heritage rock whilst the title track is also marked by those characteristic robust rhythms and fluent soloing.
But there are some distinctly ordinary tracks on offer here including ‘Empty Man’, ‘Floreana’ and ‘Drive’. And this also extends to the retro/reflective feel of ‘Back In The Day’ (celebrating the band’s 50 year journey). Maybe some of the shortcomings should be placed at the door of Andy Powell’s son Aynsley who has extensively co-written both music and lyrics with his Dad.
We’re not expecting anything on a par with ‘The King Will Come’ or ‘F.U.B.B.’ but there’s no urgency or grit in any of this with Abrahams bedding in, politely. When the album finishes with a mid-tempo blues you are left feeling a tad short-changed. Where’s the meat?
With many older bands these days they merely top up the catalogue with an average new release as the loose basis for the more lucrative touring. Wishbone Ash are constantly on the road and sadly ‘Coat Of Arms’ might not repay too much scrutiny longer term. ***
Review by David Randall
2020 Vision: An introduction to Wishbone Ash
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Power Plays w/c 10 January (Mon-Fri)
SMOKING MARTHA Wild & Free (Xelon Entertainment)
TRUE NORTH Fix (Out Of Line Music)
COLLECTED Say When (indie)
ABOUT KINGS Heaven On Down The Highway (indie)
WHALEDOG Leave Me Alone (indie)
LED BY LANTERNS Six Feet Down (indie)
KROOKED TONGUE Freaky Love (indie)
Featured Albums w/c 10 January (Mon-Fri)
09:00-12:00 BITE THE BULLET End Of The Line (Escape Music)
12:00-13:00 CRYSTAL BALL Crysteria (Massacre Records)
14:00-16:00 SEAN TAYLOR The Beat Goes On (indie)
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