They say you have to kiss a lot of frogs to find a prince, and it's never been truer with music. Dreaded words from casual acquaintances like “Oh, my son\dad\brother\nan etc etc (delete where appropriate!) is in a band, I'll bring you in a CD” or “ I'll lend you the latest Sting album if you want” fill me with dread (usually for good reason). But when it goes right it makes it all worthwhile. I have some trusted friends who when they say “ you've got to listen to this…”, I sit up and take note. And that is exactly how I came across The Wolfmen. A mate popped round a couple of weeks back, and before the door had even closed, he was eagerly thrusting a CD into my hand… and it's pretty much remained in the CD player ever since (and I am dreading him asking for it back!). This was one of those rare finds, when the deal is sealed on the very first play and you instantly know it’s for you.
The Wolfmen contain some much loved musicians from my past, namely Marco Pirroni (chief ‘Ant’ and also Adam's right hand man during his solo career) on guitars and Chris Constantinou (also part of Adam Ants' solo set-up) on vocals and bass. Another former Ant - Chris Hughes (a.k.a 'Merrick'), has also been contributing to some of their material.
The quality of the material on this five track promotional CD I have here is so good, it could easily pass as a mini album, and I am stunned at the variety of sounds and styles crammed into this 16 minute disc. If The Wolfmen are happy to throw away tracks like these as mere samplers, I can't wait to hear the material they are saving for the debut album!
First up is Jackie Says. Of the five tracks on show here, this one comes closest to an Adam Ant solo sound (circa Viva Le Rock/Apollo 9). An upbeat rocker that is so damn catchy, it was engraved on my brain after the first play.
Next we see The Wolfmen take the Brian Eno track Needle in the Camels Eye and claim it as their own. There are nods to Roxy Music and a driving 'I’m Waiting for the Man' style riff underpinning it throughout. Add to this the unmistakable sound of Marco’s guitar providing a mesmerising solo midway through, and you have the classic cover version: respectful, fresh and bang up-to-date.
Track three is recent single, Cecile. It is an atmospheric little number, and Chris’s vocals evoke memories of a 1980's Iggy Pop, as he croons darkly. There is a genuine edgy feel to the song, which just when you think has reached its peak -- takes a surprising (and brilliant!) detour with a haunting flute solo. It's half Jethro Tull, half intro to 'Down Under' by Men at Work! but it works beautifully. Not enough flute in rock 'n' roll these days! There is a catchy little riff throughout this song, and everytime I hear it, it reminds me of Submission by the Pistols!
Track four is a stormer of the highest order. Love is a Dog is The Wolfmen doing T-Rex for the new millennium… 21st Century Boys if you will. A stomping Glam riff and even Bolan-esque vocals from Chris, make this the standout track for me, and a real contender for my top five songs of the year. Crank the PC volume up as high as it'll go and enjoy it for yourself.
The disc finishes with While London Sleeps. The vocals are firmly back in the Iggy Pop territory for this track, which has the most beautiful 'melt in the brain' melody that I defy you not to fall in love with the moment it touches your ears! Try it for yourself now!
This CD has left me buzzing for more and desperate to see them live (oh, and scouring eBay trying to track down a copy before my mate asks for it back!) - The guys played their inaugural gig last month (15th November) at the Islington Academy, and by all accounts it was an amazing night. Word is the next show will be in February 2008.
This episode sums up why music plays such a big part of my life -- fuck drugs and alcohol, ain’t nothing else around that can give me a high like the one I've been on since discovering this little gem.
I'd struggle to find someone who I wouldn't recommend this too. 60's\70's punk fans, 70's glam, 80's\90's Ant fans will all love it, but I genuinely think fans of today's indie scene will get it too. Just to prove their wide appeal, another recent release (October 2007), ‘Two Eyes’ was a collaboration with bhangra star Daler Mehndi – is there nothing they can’t turn their hand to?!
My thanks to Marco and Chris for allowing me to host two tracks here, for you to try out for yourselves.
The Wolfmen are currently working on their debut album, scheduled for release early to mid 2008.
Visit The Wolfmen Official website here
To see the Wolfmen on MySpace click here
Finally, view the video for Cecilie right here!