If you are of a certain age, do you remember a little lamb, called Lambsy, protected by a dog called Bristle Hound from the constant attempts of Mildew Wolf to catch and eat the little lamb…what the hell are you going on about now, I hear you ask…well, the catchphrase of said Lambsy was “It’s DeWolff!” I will seek professional advice and medication one of these days.
I first got into the band on the recommendation of the legend that is Roger Glover who likened their sound to Purple and then another hero of mine, Seasick Steve, likened them to the Allman Brothers…that was more than enough for me and I bought up all their stuff. Nine albums into their career (well, eight and an EP) DeWolff continue to ignore trends or pander to the industry’s expectations and go their own way…and I applaud them for that. The previous releases have always thrown up a heady mixture of rock, blues and, for a trio, a wall of sound that belies their number: never more so than on this live album called, aptly, obviously and modestly, Live & Outta Sight II. With a set reading like their own ‘best of’, you are guaranteed some fiery bluesy rock.
It opens with the mildly proggy Big Talk as the Hammond and guitar lead to the quieter vocal passages where we hear the mature and varied vocals of Pablo that always suit the music and any comparisons you may hear in the press tend to take away the fact that he is his own voice and not just a copy. He is also a damn good guitarist and the solo here is certainly fiery. The quiet keys/guitar midsection leads to a climactic close and (always a sign of quality) the five minutes fly past. No introduction to the next track just straight into Sugar Moon with swirling Hammond and then a simply brilliant chorded riff that sums up blues-rock so neatly. The vocals are given plenty of space before the riff returns and then morphs into a clever riff on the riff than injects a bit of funk into the proceedings and the Hammond and guitar duet and the backing singers join in before leading the audience to sing along with woah, whoahs. Medicine follows immediately with a laid back and excellent guitar phrasing that pours the blues out of the speakers. This eight-minute song has always been a favourite of mine and the Purpleness Glover alludes to is obvious as the Hammond background flourishes and the remarkable solo is very Lordy…which is a very good thing. A quiet echoed, volume control play guitar follows and leads the song to its natural conclusion…you will find hard to believe that there are only three of them.
Tombstone Child is another class song that is pure early 70s blues-infused rock. A weighty riff with the Hammond lighting it all up and the backing singers giving the chorus some heft while the instrumentation glides from quiet to loud effortlessly and effectively. The next track, California Burning, will perk up any Dead Head ears as Pablo channels his inner Gerry Garcia in a marvellous piece of rock that is like Grateful Dead and Purple having a party…love it! Now it’s time to sit back for the ten-minute epic treat that is the strangely named Deceit & Woo as it takes in heavy rock, blues and funk. This is how live bands should sound…a burning and fascinating guitar and Hammond excursions and even the drum solo is more than listenable. Most importantly, it again demonstrates three excellent musicians totally in tune with each other and the music…. I know many abhor drum solos but listen before you judge, as this is not a pointless hammering that many seem to be; it is actually musical in its own right. “Sock it to me!” indeed, Pablo. We get a shorter song next but Share the Ride stays firmly in the 70s with a touch of West Coast about the harmonies but it is again the guitar/Hammond interplay that leaves you awestruck as the song unfolds…not quite Blackmore/Lord but if it gets remotely close, and this does, then that is good enough for me (even the hints of Jessica are great). Tired Of Loving You may not be original in its title but the eleven-minute plus reading of the studio version is heavy blues at its best and I can listen to the quality guitar and Hammond solos forever…and the solos here are on repeat as they are complex, classily constructed and hugely entertaining. It begins a bit Lazy and builds for a couple of minutes in a great way before the recognizable phrases of the studio song cuts in…it is long but not long enough: that’s how good it is. Outta Step & Ill At Ease is next and throws a hint of country into the mix…that’s country in the style of Warren Haynes…there are no Dollys here! I also love the little hints of Ash and the Allmans that make this different but still high quality. Double Crossing Man is a (relatively) short stab of 70s infused rock a la early Aerosmith if they had had Jon Lord guesting. It’s the least immediate of the songs on first listen but quickly grabs you after a couple of run-throughs, even with the audience participation. The closing track, Love Dimension, builds and builds to a cleverly cacophonous ‘jam session’ to close the track and the concert…with the last ninety seconds sounding as if they were cut from any one of my vast number of Purple bootlegs.
If you like DeWolff as I do, then you will adore this album…if you’re new to them, I think it better that you buy up their back catalogue first as this is a snapshot and doesn’t fully reflect on their invention and craftsmanship the studio albums reveal. That said, it is still a superb piece of blues-rock rendered live, immaculately…so on second thoughts, just buy it. The shortest summary I can up with is…DeWolff are a new/old original jam/psychedelia band blended perfectly and refreshingly.
(The now traditional ‘fumbled fingers’ hit Devon Allman’s Honeytribe with the short and very sweet Mercy Mercy…lovely blues from a master.)
NINEdoodle paws out of TEN …
- Big Talk
- Sugar Moon
- Tombstone Child
- California Burning
- Deceit & Woo
- Share The Ride
- Tired of Loving You
- Outta Step & Ill At Ease
- Double Crossing Man
- Love Dimension
Pablo van de Poel: guitar, vocals
Luka van de Poel: drums
Robin Piso: keyboards