Friday, December 17, 2010

Wishbone Ash - Number the Brave

Following the departure of founder member Martin Turner, the remaining members of Wishbone Ash invited respected British bassist/vocalist John Wetton (UK, King Crimson, Roxy Music, Family, Uriah Heep) to join them for the recording of Number the Brave. On paper, this union promised great things. The end result, however, would prove somewhat disappointing in the eyes of many fans - and indeed the band’s new recruit.

Recording for Number the Brave took place during the latter part of 1980 at Criteria Sound Studios in Miami - the scene of many previous Wishbone Ash recording sessions. Additional recording would take place at Surrey Sound in England. Nigel Gray, who had played an enormous part in helping shape the Police’s studio sound, was recruited as producer, while Claire Hamill was invited to contribute backing vocals to the album, following the success of her contribution to Just Testing.

However, it soon became clear that John Wetton was not going to be a direct replacement for Martin Turner. Wetton believed he was joining the band to take over Martin’s duties of bassist and lead vocalist, yet this would not prove to be the reality. Although John Wetton offered several songs to the band, most of these would be rejected as unsuitable for the band’s style. Meanwhile, Wetton was frustrated by Andy Powell and Laurie Wisefield’s decision to take the majority of the lead vocals. In retrospect, the lack of input from John Wetton was, perhaps, detrimental to the overall content of the album. As John says, “I think if I had been allowed to write and sing to the fullest extent of my capabilities, it would have been a really good album. I got the impression they didn’t want anyone to take over from where Martin had left off.”

“Loaded” opened the album and set the blueprint for much of the album, which had a funkier feel than previous Wishbone Ash offerings. “Where is the Love” came next - a workmanlike boogie number. There then followed one of the albums true highlights, the anti-nuclear message “Underground”, which featured some fine guitar picking from Andy Powell, whose lead vocal blended effectively with Claire Hamill’s voice. “Kicks on the Street” was largely forgettable hard rock, while “Open Road” was perhaps the band’s msot successful venture into funk-rock territory.

“Get Ready” was a cover of the Smokey Robinson hit and, although not fairing too well with the bands purist fans, was a more than adaquate cover and a valid - if commercially unsuccessful - attempt at singles success. “That’s That” was John Wetton’s sole songwriting and lead vocal contribution to the album, while “Rainstorm” and “Rollercoaster” both featured Laurie Wisefield on lead vocal. The latter was fairly forgettable funk-rock, but “Rainstorm” had a strong melody, though was marred by Laurie’s weak vocal work. Album closer “Number the Brave” was another of this albums triumphs, perfectly mixing the Ash sound of old with a modern sound and direction for the eighties.

Number the Brave peaked at No.61 on the UK chart and would be the band’s final MCA album. Before the album’s release John Wetton and Wishbone Ash had parted company, Wetton going on to achieve enormous success with Asia, establishing himself as one of the UK’s most distinctive rock vocalists, while Wishbone recruited former Uriah Heep/David Bowie bassist Trevor Bolder to perform on the Number the Brave tour

Andy Powell (guitar/vocals)
Laurie Wisefield (guitar/vocals)
Steve Upton (drums)
John Wetton (bass/vocals/keyboards)
Claire Hamill (backing vocals)


1) Loaded
2) Where Is The Love
3) Underground
4) Kicks On The Street
5) Open Road
6) Get Ready
7) Rainstorm
8) That's That
9) Roller Coaster
10) Number The Brave

John Wetton


  1. Thank you for this post, Colin, but there is one error: the link goes to "1964 - Alex Harvey and His Soul Band" and not to the Wishbone Ash's album.

    Merry Christmas and a next year full of joy for you and your family


  2. Really, it was indeed useful to me personally. I'm just a brand-new blogger. Thank you so much!

  3. Appreciate your sharing. Quite simple and relatively easy to recognize. Congratulations!


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