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Wishbone Ash - There's The Rub CD (album) cover

THERE'S THE RUB

Wishbone Ash

 

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3.89 | 184 ratings

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Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
3 stars 'There's the Rub' (67/100)

Repeated listening to Wishbone Ash has definitely tempered some of the more vicious criticisms I've had towards their music. While There's the Rub hasn't dissuaded my belief that they're fairly weak songwriters, I've been able to rationalize their weaknesses somewhat. Even if the essence in many of the Wishbone's seems lacking, there is still earnest enjoyment to be had if I interpret the song structures as a potential vessel for great guitar moments. There's the Rub might not have as many of these moments as Argus did, but I might go so far as to say the songwriting here is a little more consistent.

Wishbone Ash's other guitarist Ted Turner had left the band prior to this album's recording. Had it not been for newcomer Laurie Wisefield, I'm not sure the album would have sounded as good as it does. The surprising sounds of the banjo and steel guitar are here thanks in large part to him, and while the band don't make use of these ingredients outside of a purely rock context, it does sweeten the band's melodic rock sound a fair bit.

Wishbone Ash had, by this point, all but given up their hesitant chase with progressive rock, but they fortunately kept their sense of variety. Although I remain unimpressed with their largely predictable hard rock songwriting, it is worthy to mention that each of the songs on There's the Rub (like Argus) feels distinct in some way. "Silver Shoes" and "Hometown" are country-rock tunes, of all things. "Don't Come Back" is a standard hard rocker, "Persephone" is an atmospheric ballad, and the album's highlight "Lady Jay" bears the distinct feel of a Medieval madrigal. The nine minute instrumental "F.U.B.B" seems like it was penned with Wishbone Ash's considerable guitar talents in mind. Be that as it may, nothing here quite excites me the way "Sometime World" off Argus did, but in does feel like the band were a little more aware of their strengths and weaknesses on There's the Rub than they were on their magnum opus. Wishbone Ash fans may proscribe me for saying so; I don't think this one is quite as exciting as Argus, but it is very close.

At first, I thought the lyrics on There's the Rub were pretty awful. With the welcome exception of "Lady Jay" and "Persephone", it felt like Wishbone Ash were running into hard rock cliches as often as not. Having given the album a little more time now, I think I judged them too harshly. There's a melancholic angle to the words here I might not have expected at first glance. "It hurts when people let you know that you're not a movie star..." Taken outside the bright energy of "Silver Shoes", it sounds sad, and it sounds as if Wishbone Ash may have been writing it as a self-conscious reflection on their own career. I can see why it might not have been immortalized as a classic like Argus, but if anything, it demonstrates a renewed sense of self-awareness in their own strengths and weaknesses.

Conor Fynes | 3/5 |

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