The legendary British rock band Wishbone Ash has returned from a lengthy hiatus (this seems to be the trend these days) to release Bona Fide, a CD chock full of hard -hitting, twin guitar rock. The only original member left is guitarist Andy Powell, whose trademark Gibson Flying V licks are all over this CD, along with fellow axe-slinger Ben Granfelt. This twin-guitar attack, which in the 70's paved the way for such bands as Thin Lizzy, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, and countless others, is still in fine form, and the bands combination of hard rock, blues, jazz, folk, and prog, remains relative and enjoyable some thirtly years since the bands inception.
The one main difference I found on this new release is that much of the material is more vocal oriented than on the bands earlier recordings, which included a lot of instrumentals. This in no way hinders Bona Fide, as Powell and Granfelt still show off their guitar talents throughout. "Faith, Hope & Love" is a dark, moody rocker, kind of a mixture of Robin Trower and older Whitesnake, and features ripping, emotional guitar work and raging organ. The ending dual-guitar melody break is quite stirring, and brings back memories of the glory years when Powell and Ted Turner wowed with many similar melodic flights. "Enigma" has a catchy chorus and some nice guitar effects, while the Trower-esue "Changing Tracks" features some heavy distorted blues guitar and a chugging rhythm. The two instrumentals, "Bona Fide" and "Peace", were both penned by guitarist Granfelt, and are fine pieces of melodic guitar rock which let both players shine without getting indulgent. The latter even has an Eric ClaptonAllman Brothers feel to it, somber and touching. Some anthem-like hard rock is all the rage on "Difference in Time", a catchy tune about the pains of relationships in the modern age, and the band goes into prog territory for the folky "Come Rain, Come Shine." This tune is a throwback to albums like Argus from the bands heyday, with lovely acoustic guitars, flutes, organ, and fantastic dual electric guitar work. The songs lyrics will hit home with many in this day of terrorism and uncertainty.
The only drawback to this CD is the inclusion of a couple of generic blues tunes like "Shoulda Woulda Coulda", "Almighty Blues" and the weak Dylan-esque "Ancient Remedy." Other than those, Bona Fide is chock full of vintage Wishbone Ash. Welcome to 2002 guys!