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Wishbone Ash: Twin Barrels Burning (2 disc remaster)

Twin Barrels Burning was the twelfth album from UK hard rock legends Wishbone Ash and like so many bands transitioning from the dark dingy 70s into the futuristic 80s found them unsure whether to stick or twist. Having never quite recaptured the lightning in a bottle of their 1972 magnum-opus Argus, as this band's line-up began to evolve, so did their sound. Long famed for their twin guitar attack, the cunningly titled Twin Barrels Burning hinted at a full blown return to that style and yet, in reality this 1982 album was a much more straight up commercial rock affair. Guitarists Andy Powell and Laurie Wisefield were both in fine fettle, but their attack was more that of lead and rhythm guitarists, than a twin-pronged lead assault. Opening with a surprisingly Southern rock kick, "Engine Overheat" found the pair combining more obviously behind the mic; lead and backing vocals shared throughout the album and all being powered on by the underrated drums of Steve Upton. With bassist Martin Turner having left the band after 1980's Just Testing album and ex-King Crimson and future Asia four-sting-man John Wetton only sticking about for 81's Number The Brave, it was Uriah Heep bass master Trevor Bolder (who had also taken Wetton's place in the Heep six years previously) who equally briefly stepped in.

The twin-guitar and vocal team of Powell and Wisefield had been in place since 1974 but a quick run through of this album found Wishbone Ash seemingly seeking for a direction. With Americanised vocals and big thumping riffs, the feeling you're left with is that of a band chasing the current rock scene and desperately trying to find their way; the very English sound of the early days traded in for something that lands between Blackfoot and Aerosmith. That doesn't mean however that "Genevieve" (one of the most Ash-like tracks), or "Streets Of Shame" don't pulsate and pound in all the right places, or that "Angels Have Mercy" and the boogie-tastic "Me And My Guitar" aren't both sing alongs of the hugest variety. However, in all honesty, there's not really that much to make Twin Barrels Burning stand out from the crowd and for a band who had previously possessed such a trademark sound that maybe takes the sheen off an undoubtedly good slab of commercial hard rock.

With the press blurb proclaiming that this release is this album's first reissue 'in decades' and that it comes fully approved by Upton, Wisefield, Powell and the estate of Trevor Bolder, it maybe is worth mentioning that Twin Barrels Burning and the three bonus tracks on disc one - "Cat And Dog Fight", "Go For Gold" and the excellent "Night Hawker" - all feature in the recently released ginormo-box The Vintage Years 1970-1991. However with the second disc here being the US remix of the album which the band themselves hated and had nothing to do with, there is still a strong reason to purchase. Unsurprisingly the results are much more dry and to the point and should have been perfect for the US market, which instead roundly ignored the album as it completely failed to emulate the top 25 positioning it gained in the UK. While these are the same songs, the difference in overall sound is marked and while, like the band, most prefer the original mix, this is the first time the US version has been released on CD and as such will be something fans will want to own.

It would be quite a stretch to suggest that Twin Barrels Burning found Wishbone Ash at their strongest and yet there's still a lot to enjoy here, even if it wasn't particularly Ash-like in its sound. However take into account the bonus disc with the US mix and no Wishbone Ash fan should be without it.


Track Listing
DISC ONE
1. ENGINE OVERHEAT
2. CAN'T FIGHT LOVE
3. GENEVIEVE
4. ME AND MY GUITAR
5. HOLD ON
6. STREETS OF SHAME
7. NO MORE LONELY NIGHTS
8. ANGELS HAVE MERCY
9. WIND UP
BONUS TRACKS
10.CAT AND DOG FIGHT
11.GO FOR THE GOLD
12.NIGHT HAWKER


DISC TWO: THE AMERICAN REMIXES
1. ENGINE OVERHEAT
2. CAN'T FIGHT LOVE
3. NO MORE LONELY NIGHTS
4. WIND UP
5. STREETS OF SHAME
6. MY GUITAR
7. HOLD ON
8. GENEVIEVE
9. ANGELS HAVE MERCY

Added: February 3rd 2018
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Score:
Related Link: Twin Barrels Burning at Cherry Red
Hits: 197
Language: english

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