High Voltage Exclusive: Guide to Argus By Martin Turner’s Wishbone Ash
Martin Turner’s Wishbone Ash will be doing something special when they play on the Prog Stage at High Voltage on July 25. They’ll be performing in its entirety the classic 1972 Wishbone Ash album Argus. Classic Rock thought we’d get bassist/vocalist Martin Turner to give us a track-by-track guide to the record. So, prepare for his insight into the magnificent seven songs.
Time Was – “The opening is very moody and was composed by (guitarist) Ted Turner, who was the youngest member of the band. He did a really good job here, and it provided a nice introduction to the more thumping rock that was to come.”
Sometime World – “This was me playing around with the concept of time and space, which defines us all. I was heavily into the weird and wonderul world of psychic goings on at the time, and even attended a spiritualist church in the 60s. So, I was into the idea of what has gone before, the present and the future all being one. Musically, it’s influenced by The Who, a band with whom I grew up. I even got to support them a few times when I was in The Empty Vessels, just prior to Wishbone Ash.”
Blowin’ Free – “In a way this song is a misfit here. I’d written it in the 1960s, and had been trying to record it since the band started. It’s about a Swedish girl. When I lived in Torquay, there were a lot of female Swedish students who came down during the summer. To us guys there, they were all beautiful, with fantastic hair, fresh complexions and white teeth. I had a few Swedish girlfriends. But this song is about one in particular, Annalina. Quite how we got together I don’t know. We were real opposites. She loved the outdoor life and was very intelligent. Whereas I lived in grotty bars and smoked unbranded cigarettes.
“The song didn’t fit the atmosphere of the album. Most of the songs were heavy, moody and gothic, whereas this was an expression of joy. But I fought to keep it on the album, and it provided a great counterbalance to the rest.”
The King Will Come – “I was brought up in a standard orthodox church. Because I had a good voice, I joined the choir and became head choir boy, so I took all the solos. My voice quite literally made old ladies cry. I was so sweet looking as well. Little did they realise that, underneath my cassock, I had on faded jeans, cowboy boots and a mauve shirt. But I loved church music, and it provided the idea for this song.
“What I wanted to do was explore the whole idea of the biblical teaching that the king will come for a second time when the end of the world arrives. The new messianic age. I read the bible extensively for this, and lifted a lot of lyrics from there, although I modernised the language.”
Leaf & Stream – “Steve (Upton, drums) wrote the lyrics for this. He was a little intellectual about the whole process, spending days poring over a thesaurus. It was the opposite for me. I wrote lyrics very quickly. The problem with Steve’s lyics were that they were very hard to sing, which is why the original Wishbone Ash never did this live. But it is a beautiful song and Ted and Andy (Powell, guitar) did a great job in creating a babbling brook on guitar, which was their challenge.”
Warrior – “You known how young men have so much passion and physical energy? Sometimes this is directed towards sex, and sometimes it comes out through confrontations. I was a pretty boy, who grew up in a rough area, and was constantly picked on. But I loved fighting, and was always in scraps. Once the adrenalin rush kicks in, then you didn’t give a damn about blood loss or anything like that.
“History is full of men who harnessed that energy and went to war. That’s what this song addressed.”
Throw Down The Sword – “As a Libran, I have a strong sense of balance. So, having dealt with violence on Warrior, I wanted to look at the other side. When it’s time to go home, settle down, have kids and become a farmer. It’s a very pseudo-classical piece, and if you listen carefully you can hear a church organ (played by John Tout). It’s a great way to finish the album.”
To find out more about Martin Turner’s Wishbone Ash, go to www.wishboneash.co.uk
All the info on High Voltage is at www.highvoltagefestival.co.uk