One of the great Live moments in Rock and Roll history is the release of Live Dates, the double LP issued back in 1973 from UK band, Wishbone Ash. That album is not only a great collection of songs in a live setting by one of Rock’s most overlooked bands, it is also proof of the consummate musicianship capably played by these four men (Martin, Andy, Steve, Ted). Live Dates impressively (and warmly) stands the test of time with its generous selection of Wishbone Ash classics. But while it is the most impressive live document of the band, it was not the only well-received one.
The band followed up Live Dates with Live Dates II. Originally released in the UK as a Limited Edition, twelve track set with only 25,000 copies made, the album, once sold through, pared down to a truncated eight-track collection. In the US, that release was named Hot Ash. Like the legendary status of the band’s promo live set, Live In Memphis, Live Dates II in its full glory is also legendary, and, until now, largely unattainable.
Live Dates II showcases the band’s music released after Argus, and with the Mark II lineup that included Laurie Wisefield (Home) on guitar. The Live selections found on this revered set include “Doctor”, and “No Easy Road” from their unheralded Wishbone Four; “Lorelei”, “Runaway”, “(In All My Dreams) You Rescue Me” from New England; “Living Proof”, and “Helpless” from Just Testing; “F.U.B.B.”, and “Persephone” from There’s The Rub; “The Way Of The World” from No Smoke Without Fire; “Goodbye Baby, Hello Friend” from Front Page News; and a cherry-picked blessing from Argus in “Time Was”. Without question, these songs well represent the band from the second line-up phase.
Real Gone Music, a varied reissue label, has saw fit to revisit the Live Dates II in its original release state. And happy we are. As a collector, the complete 2LP Limited Edition set eludes all but the most richest of collectors. But with Real Gone on the fans’ side, April 4 brought a single-disc CD (in a digipak casing) into availability once again. We couldn’t be happier as we can now slot another classic on the shelves.
The CD (with all that glorious Wishbone Ash music in a live setting) is joined by a folded six-page booklet that lists song credits, adds a photo of the band, and includes a new (2012) essay from Scott Schindler. If you’re a fan of the band, then Live Dates II needs to be in your library, no questions asked. Soon enough, it too, will be as rare as the original.