Wishbone Ash-30th Anniversary (2001)

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Released 24-Jan-2002

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Music Booklet-4 pages
Menu Animation & Audio
Featurette-Wonderful Stash
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 96:15 (Case: 100)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Andy Powell
Ramona da Gama

Warner Vision
Starring Andy Powell
Mark Birch
Bob Skeat
Ray Weston
Claire Hamill
Laurie Wisefield
Case Soft Brackley-Transp
RPI $39.95 Music Wishbone Ash

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     Wishbone Ash could usefully be known as the Andy Powell Band, as having undergone countless changes of members over the last 30 years, Andy is the sole remaining founder member. Named from a random list of words, the band name was chosen "so as not to associate with any particular kind of music". Their music, however, is bog-standard, traditional, British rock. From the conservative array of Marshall amps (no PA towers here) to the standard fare of Les Paul Classic, Fender Strat and acoustic Gibsons this is about as representative of British Rock head music as can be found. No complex synths or digital processing here, even the effects pedals are standard fare - compression, wah-wah and reverb.

    The line-up featured on this concert DVD dates back to 1996 when co-lead guitarist Mark Birch joined the crew - he's the long-haired dude on stage left. Filmed in April 2000 at London's Shepherd's Bush Empire, the set is made up of Andy Powell (lead guitar, vocals), Mark Birch (lead guitar, vocals), Bob Skeat (bass, vocals) and Ray Weston on drums playing 12 songs spanning their career. The set commences with the laid-back Real Guitars Have Wings, progresses through to acoustic versions of Ballad Of The Beacon and Errors Of My Way, includes their theme tunes Blowin' Free and Phoenix and culminates with encores of Come In From The Rain and a general melee of the guest musicians in Hard Times. The band are joined by ex-guitarist Laurie Wisefield and part-time vocalist Claire Hamill who, incidentally, co-wrote Living Proof. As will be noted from their instrument line-up, Wishbone Ash were one of the first bands to feature twin lead guitars played in complementary rather than duelling fashion.

    The music could be described as laid-back and is pleasant to listen to - no screaming tonsil-rasping vocals or theatrics here - just good ol' rock and roll, sufficiently harmonious so as not to disturb the THC-induced mental haze of the average listener. This in no way detracts from the music - this is top quality rock, but don't expect the ball-bustin' beat of AC/DC or pyrotechnics of Rammstein. For nostalgic long-standing fans, the stage has two backdrop, rear-display screens where pictures of  band members, past and present, are projected throughout the set.

    Oh, and incidentally, if you happen to see the band lately and wonder if Mark Birch had had a hair-cut, nope! He's left the band too, to be replaced by Finnish guitarist Ben Granfelt.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Track Listing

1. Real Guitars Have Wings
2. The King Will Come
4. Ballad of The Beacon
5. Errors Of My Way
6. No Joke
7. Starnge Affair
8. Living Proof
9. Blowin' Free
10. Phoenix
11. Come in From The Rain
12. Hard Times

Transfer Quality


    Overall, this is a good quality video transfer fairly typical of the genre. Camera work is excellent and unobtrusive, including good shots of guitar fretwork of interest to wannabe musicians.

    The transfer is presented in a full frame aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and is not 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer is sharp throughout most of the video, apart from a short burst of fairly coarse grain towards the end of the concert. There is a little low level noise throughout but otherwise blacks are clean and well-rendered and  there is good shadow detail in a mostly softly lit stage.

    Colours are well presented, much of the set has the stage lit in typical brothel-red lighting but the film clips projected show vibrant colours and realistic skin tones.

    Apart from minor aliasing seen, as is usual, in shots of guitar strings and mike stands, the transfer is free from MPEG and video artefacts and as it was shot on video, there are no film artefacts or telecine wobble.

    There are no subtitles which is a shame as the lyrics are at times indistinct and some of the songs sounded interesting.

    The disc is a single-sided, single layer DVD-5 and hence there is no layer transition point.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    This is an excellent audio transfer and the listener is spoilt with a choice of three sound streams, recorded in Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1 Digital Surround and the default Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround. All three tracks were listened to and enjoyed equally. Perhaps the DTS track had a little more depth to the sound but it was a hard call to distinguish this consistently from the Dolby Digital 5.1 track. The soundstage was magnificent, vocals, bass and percussion directed principally to the centre channel and each lead guitarist featured in a separate front main speaker.

    The lyrics were a little indistinct but this was principally a feature of the laid-back style of the vocalists rather than a problem with the soundtrack. Audio and lip synch were spot on.

    The surrounds were realistically used to enhance the concert atmosphere by augmenting reverberation and conveying audience noise to the rear.

    The subwoofer was well utilised throughout the set to sensitively augment reproduction from the bass guitar and the drums without becoming intrusive.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


     A few extras are included:


    Soft psychedelic 1.33:1 menu with soft video replay of concert shots through the strings of a 'flying V'.

Featurette - Wonderful Stash

    Banal 5:30 feature in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded sound of some gormless git wondering through various levels of Paris Airport in search of  ......


    4 paged variety with centre spread of interesting background info from Andy Powell and credits listed on the back cover. Song lyrics would have been nice and not taken up much room!

Photo Gallery

    32 shots of good quality stills presented in 1.33:1 of band members.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The R1 version is not due for release until February 2002 but doesn't seem to feature anything not found on the R4 version and may miss out on the DTS soundtrack.


    Enjoyable, though low-key, hour and a half of classic folk and traditional rock from an enduring, albeit ever-changing, institution of the British music scene.

    The video quality was good.

    The soundtracks were excellent.

    Recommended for Wishbone Ash and British rock fans.

Ratings (out of 5)


© John Lancaster (read my bio)
Saturday, January 26, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba SD-900E, using RGB output
DisplayPioneer SD-T50W1 (127cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersB&W 602 front/rear. B&W LRC6 Centre / Solid (AKA B&W) 500 SW

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