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Wolf - Canis Lupus CD (album) cover




Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.94 | 70 ratings

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Psychedelic Paul
5 stars DARRYL WAY's WOLF emerged from the band CURVED AIR when violinist and keyboard player Darryl Way decided he needed a breath of fresh air. He recorded three albums with Curved Air before breezing away:- "Airconditioning" (1970); "Second Album" (1971) and "Phantasmagoria" (1972). He also co-wrote Curved Air's one and only hit song: "Back Street Luv". He left the band to form his own group Darryl Way's Wolf - or simply Wolf - in 1972 with a sense of dogged determination, although his band project never quite managed to achieve the howling success of Curved Air. Darryl Way's Wolf recorded three albums together:- "Canis Lupus" (1973); "Saturation Point" (1973) and "Night Music" (1974). The first album "Canis Lupus" (the Latin name for Wolf), features a number of classical themes, so let's travel Bach in time now to the proggy annus mirabilis year of 1973 and take a look at the album from a 21st century 20/20 vision perspective.

We're journeying back through time and space for "The Void", a spectacular cosmic opening to the album. This lively Jazz-Rock number features warm and silver-toned vocals from singer and bass player Dek Messecar, in powerful combination with a sparkling display of dexterity from Jazzy guitarist John Etheridge, and just to remind us that the piano is a percussion instrument in the orchestra, Darryl Way really hammers away at those piano keys with passionate intensity, backed up by drummer Ian Mosley giving the song some added Wolf bite with his pounding percussion. Well, that's all of the four lupine band members given a well-deserved name-check in the opening, so onwards to the next song: "Isolation Waltz". This song is no Waltzing Matilda though. No, "Isolation Waltz" is a storming rocker, in solid pulverizing 4/4 Rock time, and definitely not some wimpy pendulating Waltzy tune in 3/4 time. Darryl Way's way-out manic violin bow curves through the air demonically throughout this solid rocker, bringing to mind some of the classic Curved Air blasts from the past. In fact, Way's vital and vivacious violin playing sounds like Vivaldi going at pell-mell speed on anabololic steroids. Make no mistake, this band are no wolves in sheep's clothing! If you "Go Down" to the woods today, you might just meet a big bad Wolf, or you might be in for a big surprise with "Go Down", which features the band Wolf in a much mellower mood this time around in this cool and groovy Jazz number. This smooth and sophisticated Jazz would no doubt be best listened to whilst dressed elegantly in a dinner jacket or evening dress whilst coolly sipping on a dry Martini - shaken not stirred - in a salubrious cocktail lounge. Yes, it's that kind of cool Jazzy music that might have featured in an early James Bond movie, or maybe a much more recent Austin Powers movie. Either way, it's a great song. The final song on Side One "Wolf", represents a return to some mean and mighty Jazz-Rock with another vivid violin display from Darryl Way of stunning Vivaldi-esque proportions. This song has claws!

We're off on another crazy helter-skelter violin ride with "Cadenza". What's a "Cadenza" you may well ask? Well, it's a a virtuoso solo musical performance, and that's exactly what you get here from Darryl Way's maniacal violin. In fact, ALL of the musicians in the band are given the chance to display their magnificent musical plumage here with stunning style and panache. There's the inevitable drum solo, a dynamic dazzling display from Darryl Way on the keyboards, and a glittering glissando of guitar soloing. Darryl Way's incredible keyboards soar so high up into the stratosphere on this magnificent magnum opus that they almost go beyond the limits of human hearing. If you play this exhilarating music loudly and your dog starts going crazy, then you'll know the reason why. All in all, it's an outstanding piece of music. There's another invigorating burst of music on the way with "Chanson Sans Paroles" (which is French for "Song Without Words). The music is exactly what it says on the label because it's an instrumental, although the uninspiring term "instrumental" can never do justice to this fabulous piece of music. Take cover and batten down the hatches because Hurricane Darryl is on the Way! You can expect to hear another stunning display of awesome musical virtuosity with Darryl Way's wild and untamed werewolf violin leading the way. This is Jazz-Rock like you've never heard it played before and it's just as good - if not better than - anything Curved Air have ever done. This stormy music is no light breeze. No, this is more like a category five hurricane of unbridled raw power and energy! It's safe to come out now though, because the closing number "McDonald's Lament" is a return to altogether gentler climes. "McDonald's Lament" is nothing to do with a well-known American fast-food chain running out of hamburgers. It's just a gentle slice of Irish Folk whimsy floating on a mellow wave of vivacious violin strings and delicate percussion.

Darryl Way's Wolf "Canis Lupus" debut is an incredible howling performance from beginning to end. If you like Curved Air, then you'll surely love Darryl Way's Wolf. They're like a breath of fresh air. This terrific lupine "Bark at the Moon" music jumps up and bites when you least expect it, so watch out, there's a Wolf about!

Psychedelic Paul | 5/5 |


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