BILL WARD – “Straws” (mp3: October 9, 2002 CD: October 11, 2003)
A true rarity indeed, this is one that I wished I owned a physical copy of. Sadly I do not. Only 2200 were made. 1200 were sent out to the heads of state all over the globe, including George W. Bush. The other 1000 copies were sold at billward.com, and are so rare now that Discogs doesn’t even have a listing for it. Each copy was signed and numbered with the proceeds going to your choice of five charities. For all the details, check out Joe Siegler’s excellent article at black-sabbath.com.
Jesus Murphy! George W. Bush owns a Sabbath related CD that I don’t??
I’ve had to make due with a mere mp3, also purchased directly from Bill’s site. The charity I chose was the National Veterans Foundation. Now, even the mp3 is unavailable for purchase, making this a true rarity today. We can hope that Bill’s Beyond Aston solo album will one day be released, as over 10 years have passed since this single from it was released!
Previously on LeBrain’s Record Store Tales & Reviews, we took a look at Bill’s excellent debut, Ward One: Along the Way. “Straws” is reminiscent of that and his second solo album, When the Bough Breaks. Like much of his solo work, it is complex and passionate. Understated but powerful. It begins jittery but soon evolves into an anthem of sorts with some very heavy Bonham-esque drums performed by Ronnie Ciago. On this track, like When the Bough Breaks, Bill does not play drums. He is only singing on Beyond Aston. He did, however, write all 17 tracks slated for that album himself.
“The Dark Half Hour” (2005)
According to Joe Siegler’s information, Beyond Aston has been completed but shelved. I hope this is not a permanent situation. The only other track released was called “The Dark Half Hour (web mix)”. It was made available for free in 2005 and is still available for free. It too has the stomping Zeppelin drums, but is much heavier than “Straws”. This is Sabbath-level heaviness. It has some solid riffing and some amazing buzzy noisy solos on instruments I can barely identify! This is one heavy track, saturated with distortion. Since this is “not the final version” I would expect the sound to be cleaned up for CD. I kind of like it overdriven and noisy though.
If these two tracks are any indication, Beyond Aston is going to be an incredible album, if it is ever released.
5/5 stars for each track