Please Note: This is republished from 7th January 2020
Hailing from the land of Hughes…that’s Glenn Hughes and Cannock, the rebranded Bad Flowers are now officially known as Wolf Jaw. Frankly, that was a damned good idea as the previous name nearly sounded like another band that have the equally faded bloom sounding name…Wolf Jaw certainly has more bite! It is even more serendipitous as Mr. Hughes has recently joined the ranks of ‘Expired Bellis Perennis”! The BF debut, Starting Gun, was a statement of intent and an indication of the potential and now they have moved up a gear and provided a collection of strong, heavier and coherent rock songs with a healthy dose of blues included. An additional tinge of more modern rock occasionally imposes itself but mostly works well. As vocalist Tom Leighton explains, “’The Heart Won’t Listen is the next step along for us in terms of songwriting, our evolution, our sound, our life as a band.”
Opening with the raucous Hear Me, that intent quickly shows with the solid drumming of Karl in perfect synch with the big bass of Dale (who reminds me so much of the great John McCoy in both style, attack, humour and stature). The accomplished vocals and guitar of Tom rounds out the power trio and could be a new definition for that format. It is definitely blues based and the riff carries the song as the marriage of modern and classic reveals itself a bit like Wolfmother achieve with the very modern take on a 70s rock base. The bridge and solo are the highlight. I Ain’t Ready starts with some neat drum patterns and bass before the slightly more restrained and better vocal cuts in…the riff then joins the fray to bring the same edge to classic blues-rock and the solo is measured, assured and subtle that means it is very good indeed. Ticking Time Bomb has another riff of quality and the vocal has multi-tracking to fill it out on the chorus with, after the clever bridge, a solo of more non-shreddy inventiveness. The Fighter has a touch of rough and ready Rainbow in its riff but follows a similar pattern to the preceding tracks with a delicious solo to lift it out of the rut it could have ended up in. Piece Of Me is a lighter and even more modern sounding slice of rock with plenty of echo on the picked chords and a hint of QOTSA in the feel. Next up is the six-minute plus epic, Open Your Eyes. Opening with nice acoustic, it develops into a neat verse that reminds me of Mr Page on the Coverdale collaboration. The acoustic then turns into a lovely blues before the band build it into a hefty riff that works a treat. The electric work is heavy with a light touch that makes it even better and we get another studied solo that takes us to the dénouement.
Choke is next and it lives up to the name as it rocks from the outset and a strong vocal melody while the band knock seven bells out of their respective instruments. I Lose My Mind runs for under three-minutes but it is one of the best here as it has numerous melodies vying for prominence but pulls everything at the same time. I had an awful feeling when the next title came up…Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda. Surely it isn’t the song from the Wolverhampton Diva, Beverly Knight…after all, Wolverhampton to Cannock is only around ten miles. I needn’t have worried; those ten miles are a world apart. Wolf Jaw have instead used that hackneyed phrase to build a heavy blues song that does have Midland connotations but is closer to Sabbath than Ms. Knight. Beast then serves up a crashing riff with suitable weight and screaming vocal choruses. The softer bridge lulls with lovely bass and chords before the solo rocks out. The final track, Living The Dream is a totally different (ahem) beast as the guitar is very blues via Canvey Island but with additional metal and works really well.
This album may not break new ground but these three are very, very good at what they do and I think the next stage in their development will be even better. If you like your rock with that more modern edge but retaining proper rock and blues influences then you really should give this a listen.
Bluesdoodles Rating: Wonderful Modern Edged Rock
- Hear Me
- I Ain’t Ready
- Ticking Time Bomb
- The Fighter
- Piece Of Me
- Open Your Eyes
- I Lose My Mind
- Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda
- Living The Dream
Tom Leighton: vocals, guitar
Dale Tonks: bass
Karl Selickis: drums
(The iTunes run on track this time gave me a blast of Wolfman Jack covering the classic Stormy Monday in a fascinating and rewarding way, including the extended spoken intro that is full of humour…it appeared on the compilation album, ‘White Boys’s Blues Guitars’ alongside a feast of other blues exponents.)