Wishbone Ash – Just Testing

Wishbone Ash  Just Testing

Studio Album, released in 1980

Songs / Tracks Listing

Side One

  1. Living Proof 5:43
    2. Haunting Me 4:33
    3. Insomnia 5:08
    4. Helpless 4:04

Side Two
1. Pay The Price 3:30
2. New Rising Star 3:54
3. Master Of Disguise 4:24
4. Lifeline 6:29

‘Just Testing’ finds Wishbone Ash in a period of change. It is an album of mainly upbeat songs, but quite a distance from their earlier works. It has the introduction of Claire Hamill’s backing vocals and co writing skills and also has a non band written track ‘Helpless’. It was also significant that original vocalist, bassist Martin Turner would leave the band after this album.

Opening with the very strong ‘Living Proof’, a crowd favourite and live mainstay, the band sound very tight on this rocker. ‘Haunting Me’ has some powerful guitar licks and forceful vocals. ‘Insomnia’ takes the band to a slightly new direction. The Laurie Wisefield and Andy Powell twin guitars are given a new sound as they move around the speakers in a charging duet. The side ends with ‘Helpless’, another rocker of a track and great live too.

Side Two starts with ‘Pay the Price’ which I feel is the weakest track on the album, I’m not too happy with Hamill’s backing vocals here. ‘New Rising Star’ is a slower paced number with great twin guitar work and excellent Turner vocals. ‘Master of Disguise’ has a typical Wishbone Ash beginning but ends with some exceptional vocal harmonies. The last track, ‘Lifeline’ tells the story of Turner seeing a vision of his recently passed Grandmother. He has stated that at the time he felt no fear, just a safe, calm sense of warmth. The song has some great key changes as well as all the twin guitar battling that you would expect from a Wishbone Ash classic.

I particularly like the production on this album, the guitars being very high in the mix. To this day, ‘Just Testing’ remains one of my favourite Wishbone Ash albums.

Peter Devine September 2016