Wishbone Ash – Just Testing (Epic #350)

The Epic 2017 Project #350: 171216

Wishbone Ash – Just Testing (1979)

Just Testing was the tenth studio album from Wishbone Ash, pre-released in November 1979 to the likes of radio stations etc, and generally released on 18 January 1980 by MCA Records; I (for reasons I can’t immediately fathom – as I brought it when new) have a pre-release copy.

Recorded primarily at Surrey Sound Studios in England, it was the last to feature the original lead vocalist and bass guitarist Martin Turner until the release of Nouveau Calls (1987).

The track I’ve chosen for today is the last on the album – ‘Helpless’. And it’s there primarily for the guitar bridge that kicks in at 2:50. Almost 40 years on, both the spine tingles and the tears come at that moment. Proves to me that music always moves if you let it.

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Walking Papers (Epic #348)

The Epic 2017 Project #348: 171214

Walking Papers (2012)

Walking Papers hail from Seattle, Washington and got together in 2012. Formed by Jeff Angell (vocals, guitar) of The Missionary Position and Barrett Martin (drums, percussion) formerly of the Screaming Trees, they added Guns N’ Roses bassist Duff McKagan, and The Missionary Position’s Benjamin Anderson (keyboards) to the lineup following their contributions to the debut album.

Their self-titled debut, produced by Angell and Martin and also mixed by Jack Endino, was released on October 2, 2012 and featured contributions by Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready.

The Virginmarys – King of Conflict (Epic #346)

The Epic 2017 Project #346: 171212

The Virginmarys – King of Conflict (2013)

The Virginmarys are an English three-piece Macclesfield. They band formed in 2009 and self-released a limited series of sold out EPs, before releasing their debut album King of Conflict on DoubleCross/Cooking Vinyl in the UK and Wind Up Records stateside in February 2013. The album was awarded Editors Choice by iTunes US following their songs “Bang Bang Bang” and “Just A Ride” both being iTunes Singles Of The Week and was then nominated for Album Of The Year at the Classic Rock Awards 2013 where they won the ‘best breakthrough act’ award.

In 2014 we caught them at Brighton’s Concorde II on a triple bill also featuring ‘Reverend & the Makers’ and my daughter’s band ‘Mok’.

U2 – War (Epic #337)

The Epic 2017 Project #337: 171203

U2 – War (1983)

U2’s third studio album was released on 28 February 1983 on Island Records was U2’s first overtly political album

The album was recorded from September through November 1982 at Windmill Lane Studios with Steve Lillywhite producing. While the central themes of their earlier albums Boy and October focused on adolescence and spirituality, respectively,War focused on both the physical aspects of warfare, and the emotional after-effects. Musically, it is also harsher than the band’s previous releases.

War was a commercial success knocking Michael Jackson’s Thriller from the top of the charts to become U2’s first number-one album in the UK. It reached number 12 in the US and became their first gold-certified album there. While poorly received by British critics at the time of release, War has since gained critical acclaim. In 2012, the album was ranked number 223 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of “The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time”. The group supported the album with the War Tour through the end of 1983.

U2 – October (Epic #336)

The Epic 2017 Project #336: 171202

U2 – October (1981)

U2’s second studio album was produced by Steve Lillywhite and released on 12 October 1981 on Island Records. Inspired by Bono’s, the Edge’s, and Larry Mullen Jr.’s memberships in a Christian group called the “Shalom Fellowship”, the record features spiritual and religious themes.

After completing the Boy Tour in February 1981, U2 began to write new material for October, eventually entering the studio in July 1981. Just as they did for their debut album, Boy, from the previous year, the group recorded at Windmill Lane Studios with Lillywhite producing. The sessions were complicated by Bono’s loss of a briefcase containing in-progress lyrics for the new songs, forcing a hurried, improvisational approach to completing the album on time.

October was preceded by the release of lead single “Fire” in July 1981, while a second single, “Gloria”, coincided with the album release. The record received mixed reviews and limited radio play. In 2008, a remastered edition of October was released.

U2 – Achtung Baby (Epic #335)

The Epic 2017 Project #335: 171201

U2 – Achtung Baby (1991)

U2’s seventh studio album was produced by Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno and was released on 18 November 1991 on Island Records. Stung by criticism of their 1988 release, Rattle and Hum, U2 shifted their musical direction to incorporate influences from alternative rock, industrial music, and electronic dance music into their sound. Thematically, Achtung Baby is darker, more introspective, and at times more flippant than their previous work. But the album and the subsequent multimedia-intensive Zoo TV Tour were central to the group’s 1990s reinvention, by which they abandoned their earnest public image for a more lighthearted and self-deprecating one.

Seeking inspiration from German reunification, U2 began recording Achtung Baby at Berlin’s Hansa Studios in October 1990. The sessions were fraught with conflict, as the band argued over their musical direction and the quality of their material. After tensions and slow progress nearly prompted the group to disband, they made a breakthrough with the improvised writing of the song “One”. Morale and productivity improved during subsequent recording sessions in Dublin, where the album was completed in 1991.

Achtung Baby is one of U2’s most successful records; it received favourable reviews and debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200 Top Albums, while topping the charts in many other countries. Five songs were released as commercial singles, all of which were chart successes, including “One”, “Mysterious Ways”, and “The Fly”. The album has sold 18 million copies worldwide and won a Grammy Award in 1993 for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal. It’s since been acclaimed by writers and music critics as one of the greatest albums of all time. The album was reissued in October 2011 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of its original release

Two Door Cinema Club – Tourist History (Epic #334)

The Epic 2017 Project #334: 171130

Two Door Cinema Club – Tourist History (2010)

The debut studio album from Irish indies Two Door Cinema Club, released on 17 February 2010 by Kitsuné. The album is named for the reputation of the band’s hometown, Bangor, as a tourist attraction.

The album was recorded at Eastcote Studios in London with Eliot James in July 2009, and was based in a studio adjacent to Duran Duran. It was mixed at Phillipe Zdar’s newly built studio, Motorbass. After working with Two Door Cinema Club, Zdar told the NME…

Their stuff was already tight—I was just able to give big bass, big highs and something a bit large! They are completely crazy about music—there is not one hour when they don’t listen or download something from a blog. They remind me of me when I was a teenager.

Tourist History won the Choice Music Prize for the 2010 Irish Album of the Year. The band donated the €10,000 prize money to charity.