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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: May 19th 2018
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Score:
Related Link: Twin Barrels Burning at Cherry Red
Hits: 659
Language: english

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Wishbone Ash: Twin Barrels Burning (2 disc remaster)
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2018-05-19 14:19:49
My Score:

Much like its unheralded sibling Raw to the Bone, Twin Barrels Burning is another of those Wishbone Ash albums from the '80s that seems somewhat forgotten in the minds of many, cast aside as some of the weaker releases in the bands wide discography. Thanks to Cherry Red, fans can now revisit this somewhat overlooked album in this new remastered 2CD edition. At the time, Twin Barrels Burning saw Wishbone Ash moving towards a more commercial hard rock sound, with a dash of the burgeoning NWOBHM sound that was all the rage in Europe at the time. Gone was founding bassist/vocalist Martin Turner, his bass slot here being filled by former David Bowie/Uriah Heep (though he would soon return to the Heepsters) bassist Trevor Bolder, with most of the lead vocals being taken on by guitarists Andy Powell and Laurie Wisefeld. The results are an album with some energetic hard rock anthems, though lacking some of the majestic twin guitar explorations that the band were always known for.

Disc one contains the original European version of the album as well as a few bonus tracks. "Engine Overheat" is a very strong opener, bristling with heavy rock energy and potent vocals, closer in spirit to Demon, Diamond Head, or Satan than classic Wishbone Ash, but still a potent rocker. "Can't Fight Love", "Genevieve", "Me and My Guitar", and "Streets of Shame" contain plenty of bluesy hard rock guitar firepower, while "Hold On" shows the bands penchant for writing a crafty pop hook in what is one of the albums more memorable tunes. "No More Lonely Nights" is a tune that seems like it was aimed for the US charts, and listening back it's kind of a shame that radio here in North America didn't pick up on this song or a few others from this album. "Angels Have Mercy" is like a head on collision between the NWOBHM and classic Montrose, and "Wind Up" sees Powell & Wisefeld tossing together some of the albums only twin guitar harmonies, and in fine fashion I might add.

The bonus cuts here are actually pretty strong, with "Cat and Dog Fight" rocking pretty hard with some cool guitar riffs, and both "Go For the Gold" and "Night Hawker" lean & mean, the Ash showing the world they can still lay down the heavy rockin' boogie with the best of them. The fact that these tunes were left off the original album is somewhat of a travesty, as they are arguably just as good as any of the original songs. Disc two contains the American remix of Twin Barrels Burning, and it's fair to state that it's sub-par to the original mix of the album, but included here for completists. With a different running order and a slightly more commercial sound, this will be a cursory listen for most at best.

All told, Twin Barrels Burning is actually a pretty solid affair and shows a harder rocking Wishbone Ash that most had experienced previously. The absence of Turner, who is actually a very strong vocalist, shows here, as neither Powell, Wisefeld, or Bolder were quite ready to deliver on that level yet, especially Powell, who later developed into a very fine singer in his own right. The remastered sound here is crisp and clear, and the booklet contains a wealth of info and photographs. A nice job done by Cherry Red of a Wishbone Ash album that's better than we originally remember it.



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