First of all, no Lambsey references…in case you’re wondering about mistake of mind, a quick look at Bluesdoodles previous reviews of this exciting trio will reveal my madness.
As I said in the review for Live & Outta Sight II, the best summary for their music is “DeWolff are a new/old original jam/psychedelia band blended perfectly and refreshingly”.
Well, now they release a new studio album (not done for 50 Euros) and show that they have lost none of their vim, vigour or vitality and that the cruel curtailment of the tour to support the Tascam Tapes courtesy of the damnable Covid hasn’t dimmed their creativity either.
This, their ninth studio offering is called Wolff Pack and came about, to use guitar/vocalist Pablo van de Poel’s own words; I figured: never in our lives are we going to have this much time again to soak up inspiration, to write and create,” Pablo reflects. “Music is our favourite thing in the world.” With lockdown restrictions imposed across the world, the recording was as far from Tascam Tapes as you can get. A “DeWolff Demo Panel” WhatsApp group was set-up between Pablo, Luka van de Poel (drums) and Robin Piso (Hammond Organ) for them to exchange ideas.”
Tom’s thoughts on the Wolffpack tracks
The result is the professional, dramatic, rock with a touch of psychedelic, a hint of southern and lots of bloody good songs.
Take opener Yes You Do for example: a Purple coloured structure from across their Mk1, 2 and 3 incarnations…listen to the riffs, the Hammond as it all combines beautifully and the laudable (Lordable?) Hammond and key work is superb.
The quality is maintained with Treasure City MoonChild as the snare/foot drum intro leads into a funky slice of rock that also happens to be catchy too…it has so many elements: 60s psyche, 70s rock/funk and a swagger in the extended bridge before the very high-quality guitar solo in perfect keeping with the whole.
Next up is a surprising sound as they take Do Me and make it a sort of stripped-down 10CC, but with more bite as well as a guest vocal from french singer/songwriter Theo Lawrence…a soulful pop song that is certainly pleasant, but little else in my humble.
Sweet Loretta is much, much better as more guests (Stefan Wolfs and Diwa Meijman) has an ingenious story in the lyrics (I won’t spoil the twist in the tale…listen and enjoy) while the band build early 70s rhythms and feel Diwa’s vocal additions add to the tension and soulfulness…not rock, but so engaging.
Half Of Your Love is laced with balls…disco balls, that is as the song evolves it would have been in the charts, pop-pickers, in the 70s without a doubt: Smokey in the Robinson sense but with the Hammond rejoicing in the backing it stays listenable, enjoyable but, again, not rock.
Lady J is Radar Love reborn and, this time, addressed to Lady Justice…OK, not totally Golden Earring but it has that swing and then it manages to combine another disco hint with a great riff and it just works and is frankly, genius as is the too-brief Blackmoresque guitar solo.
Rolling Up The Rise sounds like it may be a tribute to Sisyphus, or not! It is funked up rock with enough in the individual instruments (which really need listening to separately) to make this a strong song, despite the almost rapped chant of the title. Bona Fide is worth the entry fee on its own for that beat, that Hammond (again) but mainly for that southern, swampy slide that makes you forgive the rare misstep these guys make…love it; if only it the solo had been about an hour longer!
R U My Saviour is a toned-down Sweet with added brass in a curious amalgam that turned out better than I thought…the use of letters instead of words is anathema to me, which is probably why it takes me an age to send a text; turns out that this slower bluesy, souly song works really well with an intriguing guitar solo. It all wraps up with a song apparently based on a novel by Colson Whitehead about two slaves in the US during the 19th century, who make a bid for freedom from their Georgia plantation…
Hope Train begins with an acoustic intro of 30s sound and style crossed with a hint of flamenco: then it switches to a rolling riff with genius keys behind it and then a ken Hensley type solo that is outstanding. This complex and actually quite beautiful song shows how good DeWolff are.
My overriding feeling is, after a single listen, mild disappointment at the ‘too much disco’ content…however, on subsequent listens, as the detail and layers emerge, I am no longer disappointed and actually enjoy the whole album regularly. OK, for my preference at least, if the whole album had been of the standard of inventiveness and intelligence of songs such as Yes You Do or Hope Train, it would have been a contender for album of the year.
Bluesdoodles rating: 4 Doodle Paws: a Wonderful album that gets better every time you listen and will be welcome in any rock lovers collection…or blues, or soul, or funk…so everyone’s then.
Yes You Do
Treasure City Moonchild
Half Of Your Love
Roll Up The Rise
R U My Savior?
Musicians credited in the text.
(Ah, good old NWOBHM…iTunes run on came through with the lovely Diamond Head and fan favourite Am I Evil?)