Tag Archives: andy powell

25. MARTIN TURNER’S WISHBONE ASH at TOUCHLINE LIVE MUSIC, Hullbridge, Essex. Friday, 17th October, 2014; plus, a few words with MT back-stage beforehand.

TURNER AND ME: Pre-show back-stage chin-wag! (Photo by JPC)

TURNER AND ME: Pre-show back-stage chin-wag! (Photo by JPC)

It was very  good of  MARTIN TURNER to invite me round for  a chat before  his gig at TOUCHLINE LIVE MUSIC, Hullbridge, Essex; and of DAVE KITTERIDGE of the club for sorting it all out. My boy James and I turned up early at the venue; and after  promoter Dave greeted us; we soon got chatting with a couple of fans in the bar, while we waited for the nod from MT for an interview. We also had a chat with the very informative DARREN WISDOM on the merch desk too; and I bought MT’s new album The Garden Party. As we waited, we  had a few words with long-term MTWA guitarist RAY HATFIELD who was on stage making some fine adjustments to his FX set-up. We talked about his solo albums, and he said he’d written a song that was to be played by MTWA tonight – ‘Mystify Me’. No, its not a cover of the old RONNIE WOOD song, but a totally original piece. This led us to talk of ROLLING STONES guitarists; and Ray said he was a big fan of MICK TAYLOR, a most underrated musician – and I must agree with that.

Before long, we got the invite back-stage where we were greeted by MT and his other long-serving axe-man, DANNY WILLSON. Martin was relaxed and we were soon speaking about his friends in the band BLUE BISHOPS (see my blog entry #21), who he jams with at times.   I wasn’t sure if he would want to speak about the recent controversy between himself and ANDY POWELL (see my blog entry #5), but he did so very freely. However, those issues are outside the scope of this review – suffice to say that the whole unfortunate business still rankles  him deeply; and I’m not surprised. He was, shall we say, less than complimentary about AP! Enough said.

Now, anyone who knows me, knows that my favourite album of all time, is the Wishbone epic, Argus; and it has been since I first heard it back in the 70s. So inevitably I brought up the subject. MT avidly discussed the themes of the album in some length and detail (it being, after all, his magnum opus), but his comments on this deserve to be the subject of a dedicated future article on my blog. (Watch this space). He also told the story of his lost Rickenbacker 4001 Bass guitar, which he used on the album.

MTWA (Photo by JPC)

MTWA (Photo by JPC)

I asked also, about new material. MT said that four tracks have been recorded; with another two – possibly four – in the pipeline. The whole band apparently, are currently collaborating in the song-writing; and ‘Mystify Me’ (a song by Ray Hatfield – as stated above) being one of two newbies planned for that night. Then my son James (who is actually a sports journalist) asked Martin if there is a theme to the new album. This was a good question, as it led our host to wax philosophical. The new song ‘Written In The Stars’ (due to be the opening number at the gig) apparently encompasses his view of a pre-ordained Universe. He believes in re-incarnation, and I asked if he was a Buddhist. No, he’s not; but he is interested in the Hindu religion; and feels that he has, in the past, fallen foul of the goddess Kali. Now you may, or may not believe this; but you cannot deny that it influences his admirable song-writing. James also asked if his new music has branched out. Martin thought so. He mentioned his love for various musical genres other than rock and blues – classical; jazz; and Hindu music, which he says ‘are bound to’ influence him. Of course.

Now, I know the official name of the band has recently been changed to MARTIN TURNER PLAYS THE MUSIC OF WISHBONE ASH (actually, to me it will always be MTWA!); but what I wanted to know was, who will the new album be credited to? It can’t be labelled as MT PLAYS THE MUSIC OF WA, because WA never played it in the first place. MT says that this is undecided at the moment; but that the artist’s name will probably include the name ‘WA’ in it  somehow – as long as it doesn’t contravene the recent court ruling which found in favour of Andy Powell’s use of the name. I also asked why a simple MARTIN TURNER BAND, or similar wasn’t used.  He answered that WA would be incorporated in the advertising for gigs etc anyway, so why not include it in the title? Fair enough.

MR. TURNER - master of the Thunderbird! (Photo: PTMQ)

MR. TURNER – master of the Thunderbird! (Photo: PTMQ)

By the time we returned to the auditorium, it was packed with MTWA fans eagerly awaiting the show. We didn’t have to wait long before Master Of Ceremonies BRIAN SANGWIN introduced the band. Soon the lads were on-stage belting out the new tune that we’d just discussed back-stage: ‘Written In The Stars’. Its a great song and proved to be a good opener. Old Argus favourite ‘Warrior’ followed; and was performed in an exemplary fashion. Its as near as you will ever get these days to the original album version. As on the album, this was immediately followed – and counter-balanced – by ‘Throw Down The Sword’. Again, we were transported back to ’72! We witnessed a  beautiful harmonised twin solo from Hatfield and Willson; with MT as usual, faultless on his Gibson Thunderbird bass.

Another of my WA favourites followed: ‘Goodbye Baby, Hello Friend’, originally penned by ex-WA guitarist LAURIE WISEFIELD for the ’77 album, Front Page News. MT quipped that Ray H would sing it – as he was the one who most resembled Laurie! The instrumental ‘Lullaby’ from Pilgrimage followed; with Danny W,  highly competent  on 12-string.  The progressive and bluesy ‘Persephone’ was up next. The whole band impressing with their musicality. Heavy rocker ‘Living Proof’ hit us without further ado; new drummer TIM BROWN impressing us with his skin-beating.

Martin then announced that the band would have a short break after one more song.  At this point I was most surprised to hear the iconic Argus track ‘Blowin’ Free’; as it is usually reserved for the encore. But then why not? It was a superb rendition as you’d expect; and ended the first half of the set on a high.

After the break (involving beer and chat!); Martin and his boys returned to the stage and began Part Two with another Argus classic: ‘Some-Time World’. I love this song. Its strummed, vocalised intro soon gives way to Turner’s iconic, busy bass-line – in fact, a busier bassist you’ll not see outside of the jazz world! Hatfield and Willson did a fantastic job on it too; as did Tim on the skins.

'Thank you, Hullbridge, and good night! (Photo: PTMQ)

‘Thank you, Hullbridge, and good night! (Photo: PTMQ)

Next was the eagerly anticipated, Hatfield penned, ‘Mystify Me’. It did not disappoint. It is highly compatible with classic WA material. It went down well with the crowd. I liked it a lot. And I’d like to hear the studio version (along with the other new one; the opener ‘Written In The Stars’). Another old favourite ‘Lorelei’ (from New England, ’76), was played next; followed by TED TURNER’s song  ‘Keeper Of The Light’ ably sung by Danny W.

Another instrumental, ‘Outward Bound’ (also from New England)  was followed  by an impromptu joke, told by MT in his stand-up comedian mode! It was about astronauts and Red Indians. A more serious theme was explored in the lyric of  ‘Lifeline’. Then Martin said they’d do a song from the very first WA album ‘..that was 1907’ he quipped! It was of course the old fans favourite, ‘Phoenix’ (1970). And thus ended the main set to rapturous applause.

The question now was: Did we want them back for encore? ‘Let’s here it for Martin and the band with no name!’ called Brian Sangwin. And we cheered loudly until ‘the band with no name’ returned. After a few bars of the ancient song ‘Greensleeves’, they  launched themselves into the unmistakable intro of ‘The King Will Come’. It was the fifth song from Argus, and another sublime rendition! The wah-wah solo from Ray was excellent. Rocker ‘Blind Eye’ followed, and ended with MT teasing his fans by coining the phrase ‘Zimmer-Rock!’ The finale – if not ‘Blowin’ Free’ – had to be,  of course, the live favourite: ‘Jailbait’. (Martin had talked to us earlier about the inspiration for this song). Then he thanked the band who each did their solo; and all staff – both his and the club’s; before exiting the stage to wails of approval.

It was one of the best gigs I’ve seen this year. Thanks to Martin and the band for a fantastic show; and taking the time to talk to James and myself.  And to Dave Kitteridge and his Mrs; and all the staff at the Touchline for all their hard work in making a memorable evening. Cheers, PTMQ


ME & TURNER at the BOOM BOOM CLUB, March 2013

ME AND TURNER at the BOOM BOOM CLUB, March 2013 (Photo by CGM)

Since I first heard their classic album, ‘Argus’ back in the mid-70s, I’ve been a big fan of WISHBONE ASH. I first saw them live in ’78 at Hammersmith Odeon, London; and seen them many times since. I’ve listened to their music, strummed and sung along; and followed all their personnel changes over the decades. I’ve met some of them on occasions too.

These days of course, after an acrimonious split, there are now (to all intents and purposes) two Wishbone Ash’s – MARTIN TURNER’s, and ANDY POWELL’s. The two gentlemen in question (both members of the Mk1 and Mk2 versions of the band, 1970-80) fell out some years ago, and it seems that there is no love lost between them. Both have a fair claim to be in a band called Wishbone Ash, and both always put on a great show, playing more or less the same favourite songs, which they and other ex-members co-wrote together. But Powell has recently taken legal action to try to prevent Turner from using ‘his’ registered trade-mark ‘Wishbone Ash’, claiming it exclusively for himself and his version of the band; whilst Turner seems to have been content merely to continue using the name in some form: ie: MARTIN TURNER’S WISHBONE ASH.

The ins and outs of the split and the legal wrangles between Turner and Powell are complex and outside the scope of this article; and are well documented elsewhere (For example, both bands have detailed their own side of the story on their respective Facebook pages). Nor am I qualified to opine on it in any great detail. However, I find myself leaning heavily towards Turner’s camp for several reasons: (1) Turner was the founding member of the band when they were called THE EMPTY VESSELS back in the 60s – long before Powell was even recruited, so it seems reasonable for Turner to continue to use something like the original name if he wants to – even if he did leave his own original band. (2) Having read Turner’s excellent autobiography ‘No Easy Road’ (Dirty Dog Books, 2012), I can understand his point of view, which seems perfectly reasonable to me. (3) All of the other important ex-members of the group (such as Ted Turner, Steve Upton, and Laurie Wisefield) seem to be firmly on Turner’s side; attending Turner’s annual Garden Party, for example. These old boys also endorse the website http://www.wishboneash.co.uk, domain name ownership of which is, I believe, in the hands of Turner. Powell of course, owns the .com version.

Recently however, it seems that Powell has had some success in his legal undertakings, preventing Turner’s use of the trade-mark ‘Wishbone Ash’. Therefore Turner has now had to re-brand himself as ‘MARTIN TURNER PLAYS THE MUSIC OF WISHBONE ASH’ – which is a bit of a mouthful and sounds like a tribute act! But as we know, Turner is far more than that. What I’d like to know is, when Turner releases and plays new music (as he will do, as he is an excellent song-writer), will it be appropriate to credit it to a band called ‘MT PLAYS THE MUSIC OF WA’? Because obviously WA never released it in the first place! Or will it be released under the name Martin Turner, perhaps? I hope MT can clear this up. As you can tell, I’m not too happy about the new name of MT’s band! I would have thought something simple like THE MARTIN TURNER BAND would do very nicely. Or how about MARTIN TURNER’S PHOENIX – rising from the ASH(es)? (For the uninitiated, ‘Phoenix’ is track off the seminal 1970 album ‘Wishbone Ash’)

There are no winners in this debacle – all this legal wrangling is so very unnecessary and divisive. I think there is enough room within rock’n’roll for both bands, even if they are both using a similar name. Blame for this schism though must be mostly levelled at Powell for bringing legal action in the first place. I seem to remember that a similar controversy occurred some years ago with STATUS QUO, although in Quo’s case it was resolved amicably, and the classic four original members made it up enough to get back together again recently. I can’t see that happening with WA though. As for the fans: they are very likely to be fans of both bands, and not likely to be confused by similar names! Both Turner and Powell will always be synonymous with Wishbone Ash anyway; and I can’t see that changing – whatever happens regarding name-changes and court cases!

Now I wouldn’t rule out going to see Andy Powell’s lot in concert again, as I know he is an excellent guitarist, and is dedicated to the old WA material – he and his boys can certainly put on a good show; and I’d enjoy it. But personally I can’t wait to see Turner’s band play again. How annoying is this, though?: On 29th March this year MTWA (or whatever they will be billed as) are due to play a ‘Classic Legends of Rock’ gig along with THE STRAWBS (who I reviewed as my first entry on this blog) and CURVED AIR at the Palace Theatre, Southend-on-Sea, Essex. Will I be there? No, because I’ll be taking my Mrs to see the excellent and unique RICHARD DIGANCE a few miles up the road, at the Touchline Club – and you can’t be at two good gigs at once. Stop press! Amazingly, I’ve just received an email informing me that MT will be at the Touchline Club in October! Fortuitous, or what?

Anyway, I’d just like to wish MT good luck for the future, and hope that he and Powell can now: ”Throw Down The Sword, the fight is done and over, neither lost, neither won….” Phil The Music Quill.