Monday, September 12, 2016

CD Review: Martin Turner's New Live Dates (2016)

Martin Turner's New Live Dates
For better than a decade now, singer, songwriter, and bass player Martin Turner has made a living reminding people that he was a founding member of legendary British rockers Wishbone Ash which, by the way, are still touring and recording under the aegis of longtime bandleader Andy Powell. Turner really should just let it go – it’s been over 30 years since he left that band, and most of us no longer care why – and concentrate on what he does best, which is sing (and quite well, I might add).

Martin Turner’s New Live Dates: The Complete Set

Turner’s New Live Dates: The Complete Set is a two-disc reissue of the two separate New Live Dates albums from the mid-2000s, which documented the 2005 and 2006 tours of Martin Turner’s Wishbone Ash, a name he subsequently lost in a court battle with Powell. No matter which side of the great Wishbone divide you fall on (and make no mistake, Turner has developed a well-deserved cult of personality through the years), there’s a lot of great music among the two-dozen tracks on New Live Dates, which isn’t surprising ‘cause they’re mostly classic old Wishbone Ash songs. Guitarists Ray Hatfield and Keith Buck are a real find, both men talented string-benders that provide ample support (and that gorgeous Wishbone twin-guitar sound) behind Turner’s supple vocals.

“Blind Eye” in particular displays a healthy dose of fiery fretwork that sets off sparks alongside Rob Hewins’ exciting, jazzy drumming. Turner’s “Walking The Reeperbahn” features awe-inspiring and mesmerizing guitars and gorgeous vocal harmonies to rival Crosby, Stills & Nash. The raging instrumental “Outward Bound” displays the band’s impressive musical chemistry (and includes some flamethrower guitarplay). The Wishbone gem “Front Page News” showcases the extent of Turner’s vocal gymnastics as he dances atop scorching guitar licks. Turner’s “Cosmic Jazz” reminds of Bob Welch’s solo work in its delicious melodies, but the wiry, choogling guitars and driving rhythms aspire to higher ground than mere soft-rock heartbreak.

Disc two, with performances drawn from the 2006 tour, includes such firestarters as “Diamond Jack,” which offers up more of Hatfield and Buck’s stunning intertwined guitarplay alongside an inspired Turner vocal performance. The sly, funky “Master of Disguise” is pure throwback joy with a ‘70s vibe and the breathtaking instrumental “F.U.B.B.” is nine-plus-minutes and soaring guitars, throbbing bass lines, and pulse-quickening percussion. “Blowin’ Free,” one of Wishbone’s better-known and well-constructed tunes is acquitted nicely here with lovely vocal harmonies and shimmering guitars, and former Wishbone Ash bandmate Ted Turner drops in for “Flesh and Steel,” contributing some tasty steel guitar to the up-tempo Southern fried instrumental.

The Reverend’s Bottom Line

New Live Dates: The Complete Set is a fine, rockin’ collection of tunes with stellar fretwork and Turner’s undeniable charisma and talent. If you have the original releases from 2006 and ’07, you won’t need this set, but if you’re a fan of classic 1970s-era Wishbone Ash (and what bona fide rocker isn’t?), it would be well worth your time and effort to track down a copy of this inspired set of live performances. Grade: B (Dirty Dog Discs, released April 15, 2016)

Buy the CD from Martin Turner's New Live Dates


Anonymous said...

Andy Powell Band Leader. GET REAL.

Rev. Keith A. Gordon said...

Powell is leading the band, is he not, and has been at the helm of Wishbone Ash since the 1970s...wouldn't that make him the de facto 'band leader'?

Anonymous said...

I am not sure there is any doubt that Martin has 'let the Andy Powell thing go'. And he has done it with dignity. It is a sizeable number of fans that still care. There is no doubt however that this is a wonderful collection of mainly Wishbone Ash material sung and performed well. I can't say the same for Andy Powell who rarely sings anything very well.

Anonymous said...

You must have some severe hearing issues if you think Martin is able to sing well these days.........his singing whilst never premier league in his heyday is like listening to a strangled cat a lot of the time......often masked by his band in particular Danny. Andy Powell also never a top class from the start cam at least still sign in tune unlike Martin!

Anonymous said...

There were four singers in WA:
Martin, Ted, Laurie and Andy. Without a doubt Andy was the worst of all four. And now Andy sings evrything in WA. In contrast, Martin still sings as good as he used to.