Saturday, 26 November 2011

Wolfe - Wolfe (1972)

Wolfe were essentially the same band John Pantry, Nick Ryan & John Richmond had been putting out killer popsike singles since the mid sixties under various aliases (Norman Conquest, The Bunch, Sounds Around, Peter & The Wolves etc).  Recorded in 1972 at IBC Studios in London where Pantry had engineered recordings for the likes of The Small Faces, Bee Gees & The Kinks to name a few.  Where as most of the British psych bands of the sixties would develop into Prog or Hard Rock, Wolfe remained pop. There is nothing remotely heavy or proggy on Wolfe and only one track exceeds 4 minutes.

The record was released only in the US by Rare Earth (a Motown subsidiary for white acts) and must have been aimed at the last remnants of the bubblegum market.  Five out of the albums twelve songs are covers of popular songs of the day and although an eclectic mix, they all fit perfectly between the Pantry/Ryan originals.

The album starts off with "Ballad of the Unloved" written by Scott English & Larry Weiss who would be most famous for penning Barry Manilow's "Mandy" and sounds rather like something off one of the first three Bee Gees albums. There is a wobbly sound effect on this track that I have never heard on any other record!  "Bite it Deep" is the highlight of the album for me.  If you can imagine "Sugar Sugar" by The Archies with biblical references in the lyrics, a killer Moog solo and hand claps a plenty then you're about there. One of my all time favourite songs and namesake of this blog!! "If the apple is sweet then bite it deep"

Hammond organ and McCartney style piano pump some life into Lesley Duncan's beautiful ballad "Love Song" and is played in a style that Pantry would continue on his debut album as a solo artist later that year.
A nice take on James Taylor's "Something in the Way She Moves" adds flute and  banjo to draw out the melody and turns it into a great pop singalong, almost gospel like in the choruses.  The version of Chinnichap's "Funny Funny" stays true to the Sweet's but with sweeter harmonies.  Makes me wonder if they attempted "Sugar Sugar" in the recording sessions!?!

Wolfe's "Dancing in the Moonlight" opens side two and beats the King Harvest original hands down. The album version is far superior to the single version which appeared prior to the albums release. "Us" is a sweet tune which sounds like something Graham Nash could have written for the first CSN album and  Mark Wirtz penned "Mama Lion" adds some neat slide guitar parts which always makes me want to play along every time I hear it.  "Time is Money" has got a nice Hard Days Night acoustic feel to it, Pantry doing his best Robin Gibb impression halfway through and the Moog stuck on the Doctor Who setting makes another welcome appearance!  The album ends with "Song with No Name", a minute long Pantry piano ballad which had been kicking around for a few years in demo form.

Wolfe split after this album but the members worked together throughout the 70's on a few religious albums produced by John Pantry who eventually became an Anglican Minister.  Nick Ryan went on to write "Just One Cornetto".


  1. Great song. Consider yourself linked...

  2. Thanks for all the info. I just picked up a copy of this LP over the weekend. It's terrific!