Return to the 80s Music: Just Testing by Wishbone Ash

Wishbone_Ash_-_Just_TestingHey Everybody, welcome back to Return to the 80s Music! As I mentioned previously, I will go through chronologically and cover as many 80s albums as I can. We’ll hear some classics, some hidden gems that not everybody may be familiar with, and maybe some nobody has heard of, which can be a great discovery, or something that will make you say What the HELL was that?!?!

I hope this is good and you all enjoy it. I hope we make some rad discoveries, and I know there will be songs that will bring us back to some great times! In either case, it is always awesome to Return to the 80s!

You can click on the song title to check out the YouTube video of the song. I’ll also include the Spotify playlist at the bottom of each article, if the album is on Spotify.

This album is uncharted territory for me. Not only had I never heard of the album Just Testing, but I had never even heard of the band Wishbone Ash.

So let’s break this wishbone, and make a wish that this album is good!

martinturner13Wishbone Ash are a British rock band who were big in the U.K. on the early-to-mid ’70s. They had formed in Torquay, Devon, in 1969 by Martin Turner (bass & vocals) and Steve Upton (drums and percussion) along with guitarists/vocalists Andy Powell and Ted Turner (Not THAT Ted Turner).  Powell and Turner made Wishbone Ash known  for their extensive use of harmony twin lead guitars. They were voted “Two of the Ten Most Important Guitarists in Rock History” (Traffic magazine 1989), and to appear in the “Top 20 Guitarists of All Time” (Rolling Stone). In 1974, Ted Turner left the band, and was replaced by Laurie Wisefield. The band continued on with strong critical and commercial success until 1980 (ahem – which is when this album was released. Uh-oh).

I am going to have to look into their earlier music. But for now, Let’s hop into Just Testing.

Just Testing was released on January 18, 1980 on MCA Records.  It was produced by Martin Turner, John Sherry, and Wishbone Ash. It was the last of their albums to feature the original lead vocalist and bass guitarist Martin Turner until the release of Nouveau Calls in 1987).

Here is the lineup on this album:

Andy Powell – electric and acoustic guitars, back vocals
Laurie Wisefield – electric and acoustic guitars, back vocals
Martin Turner – lead vocals, bass guitar, acoustic guitar, back vocals; co-producer
Steve Upton – drums and percussion

Let’s slap this baby on the turntable and check this out!

Side one
1.   “Living Proof

This is a very good start to the album. I just played the album the first time without looking into the band, and had no idea what to expect. And I was pleasantly surprised to find out that this is a rock album. This song kind of feels like late 70s Kiss or Blue Oyster Cult (minus the cowbell). I enjoy the guitar playing in this song.

2.   “Haunting Me

This is a mid-tempo song that’s just OK. It’s not bad, but I’m not blown away either. It sounds like something that would be playing on a record player, in a late teen/young adult male’s basement (with fake wood paneling walls and beanbag chairs included) as he and his buddies are smoking pot and drinking as this is playing in the background.

3. “Insomnia

Another mid-tempo song. The vocals are strange to me in this song. The song is just interesting enough to not be able to crack an insomnia joke.

4. “Helpless

Things pick back up on the last song of side one. This is kind of a hard bluesy song. I love the guitars and vocals in this song. You can hear the dual guitars in the solo, and they compliment each other well. I can see how they could have been an influential guitar duo.

Side two
5. “Pay the Price

Before Wishbone Ash had signed with anybody, they had opened for Deep Purple in early 1970. Ritchie Blackmore, Deep Purple’s legendary guitarist, helped the fledgling band secure a record contract with Decca/MCA Records. In this song, you can hear Blackmore’s influence. The guitar riff sounds a lot like “Smoke on the Water.” This is a good rockin’ song to start Side 2.

6. “New Rising Star

Back to the boring mid-tempo songs. This sounds like a Led Zeppelin reject.  If Zeppelin had stayed together longer, they may have stolen this one down the line. Once again, the guitar is impressive. It’s the production that’s bothering me, I think. But, Chad and his buddies in the fake wood paneling basement are in their beanbag chairs as high as fuck, so they don’t care.

7. “Master of Disguise

This is a little better than the last song. I love the guitar opening. Something still feels off. It’s yet another mid-tempo song. The guitars save it.

8. “Lifeline

OK, I’m digging this song! It had me a little worried at first as it sounded like yet another mid-tempo song. But, it builds up very well. It is mainly instrumental, and they rock it! And when there are vocals, they are very good too.

Hidden Gems: Well this whole album is new to me. So I’ll go with the first and last tracks of the album – “Living Proof” and “Lifeline”.

Here is my ratings scale

5 Classic – a must buy
4 Solid album – worth buying
3 Some good or great stuff, but also skippable songs
2 Meh – may have 2 or 3 good songs. Just buy the singles you like, if any
1 Sucks. Time I can’t get back

I will give this one 3 Lifelines. There’s some good songs and some skippable songs. The guitar playing is great throughout the whole album though. I’ll have to check out their earlier stuff.

This album is not on Spotify. It is available at Amazon:

If you are a fan of Wishbone Ash, please let me know, and let me know what some of your favorite songs are.

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