Martin Turner — Life Begins
(Dirty Dog DDD008, 2011, 2CD+DVD)
Martin Turner — New Live Dates: The Complete Set
(Dirty Dog DDD CD009, 2007/2016, 2CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2016-09-14
With the lawsuit over the Wishbone Ash band name finalized in Andy Powell's favor, in 2014 "Martin Turner’s Wishbone Ash" became "Martin Turner Ex-Wishbone Ash." Late last year the band released their first album of all new material, Written in the Stars, and now Turner has reissued the three live albums released between 2006 and 2011 under the revised name. Those are New Live Dates Vol.1 (2006), New Live Dates Vol.2 (2007), now combined into a single 2CD package called New Live Dates – The Complete Set, and last but certainly not least, Life Begins, a sprawling 2CD + DVD set recorded on the night of March 13, 2010 at The Y Theatre, Leicester. The latter set features a solid collection of WA material from the 70s, drawing heavily from Wishbone Four, a couple each from the first album and Pilgrimage, three from No Smoke Without Fire, a few cuts from the reunion albums from the 80s, but most importantly, the second disc features the entire Argus album in its original running order. The band features two exceptional guitarists, Ray Hatfield and Danny Willson, both sharing vocals with bassist and lead singer Turner, as well as drummer Dave Wagstaffe, who some will recall from his tenure in Landmarq. The DVD mirrors exactly what is on the CD, and shows the band in full-energy mode, laying down licks precisely how they were played on those early WA albums. It also features a lengthy interview with Turner and the other band members, as well as some behind the scenes fun.
While Life Begins features the WA material that old fans know and love, the New Live Dates release features some of the lesser-known gems from the WA back catalog, as well as material from Turner’s 1996 solo album Walking the Reeperbahn. In fact there are only three songs here that are also featured on the newer live set. It’s important to note that the performances are taken from numerous live dates throughout the UK and Europe over a two year period, and while the where and when on each track is not documented, the material still rings with brisk energy. The lineup features Ray Hatfield and Willson’s predecessor, Keith Buck, as well as earlier drummer Rob Hewins. Also featured on the last four cuts from the 2007 collection is original WA guitarist Ted Turner on lead guitar, lap steel, and vocals. All taken, these are two excellent live sets that are living documents of the magic of early Wishbone Ash.
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