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Ashton - 1988 Modern Pilgrims



ARTIST: Ashton
ALBUM: Modern Pilgrims
LABEL: RCA
SERIAL: PD-87666
YEAR: 1988

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

LINEUP: Mark Ashton - vocals, acoustic guitar * Mandy Meyer, Mark Adams - guitars * Guy Babylon - keyboards * Bobby Birch - bass, saxophone * Johnathan Valen - drums * Joe Lala - percussion

TRACK LISTING: 01 Are You Ready * 02 Rain On Me * 03 These Days * 04 A Breath Away * 05 Black And White * 06 Modern Pilgrims * 07 Caught Up On Love Street * 08 Shaky Days * 09 Genie In The Jar * 10 A Place To Go


Background
Mark Ashton (real name Mark Ashton Vey) is an English singer who released two albums prior to this, this one being his third (and unfortunately his last). During the 70's, Mark was a member of the band Headstone, and they were signed to the same production company as a certain other London band called Queen. Headstone released two albums. Ashton had led an interesting career, and travelled and lived around the world in different places. He was in born England, raised in Scotland, moved to London, then New York, then L.A; and this is where he was when 'Modern Pilgrims' was released. The album was released under a band-name Ashton, rather than it being a solo project. A great line-up of musicians were involved. Babylon and Birch have been involved with Elton John's backing band, plus Warpipes. Birch was also with pomp/AOR band Fortune. Meyer has been in some great bands, notably Cobra, Krokus, Asia and Gotthard, while Valen has played with Legs Diamond.


The Songs
The opener 'Are You Ready (For Love)' is high on orchestration, while it's a punchy affair in the Boulevard style. Guy Babylon has a major part to play on 'Rain On Me', this track full of synth parts. I didn't quite get into 'These Days', it chopped and changed style throughout which was a bit disconcerting. 'A Breath Away' is part anthem part ballad, much better than the previous track. 'Black And White' features a keyboard splash similar to Aldo Nova circa his 'Twitch' era. The overall keyboard work gives it a proggy feel. I like the crispness to the title track 'Modern Pilgrims', plus some smart guitar work which gives this one a certain edge. 'Caught Up On Love Street' is played at a slightly slower tempo, with soaring guitar parts and sax work prominent. I could take 'Shaky Days' with a grain of salt, much better is 'Genie In The Jar', where melodic rock is given some breathy qualities. 'A Place To Go' is kinda different, with a celtic backdrop, bagpipes included. Obviously a nod to Mark's Scottish upbringing.


In Summary
'Modern Pilgrims' appeals readily to fans of 80's AOR and melodic rock, but it didn't move many units. After his L.A stint, Ashton moved back and forth across the trans-Atlantic ditch to Europe and the USA, and took up a career as a painter. He's been based in Spain and France, and as at 2011, has returned to music after a long lay-off, but nothing like his 80's material, suffice to say.


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Comments
#1 | reyno-roxx on August 19 2015 21:32:13
I once met Mark when he was on a visit to London and he popped into the Kerrang! office for a chat. He reminded me very much of the typically English L.A. based 70s rock star you would see in US TV shows usually played by Michael Des Barres. A nice chap. I have a tape somewhere of tracks he cut for an intended follow up to Modern Pilgrims. Few really met the standard he reached on this album, but they were demos. Incidentally, Mark Adams who played on the record went on to release solo product under the name of Devin Powers with Cats: Choir.
#2 | reyno-roxx on September 17 2016 11:38:28
Bob Birch sadly took his own life in 2012. He was still a part of Elton John's band alongside Guy Babylon, Davey Johnstone and Nigel Olsson. He had been suffering from a great deal of pain for many years since being hit by a car in Canada back in 1995. He was part of the excellent Warpipes band alongside Johnstone, Olsson, Babylon and Billy Trudel.
 
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