There are stories of how black radio stations in the USA programmed the Spencer Davis Group’s ‘Gimme some lovin’ single because they assumed that the band were black after hearing Steve Winwood’s early ‘Ray Charles on Helium’ singing voice.
A similar thing happened to me with The Wolfhounds. A friend ran me off a compilation tape in the mid-80’s which was notable for The Wild Swans’ ‘Revolutionary Spirit’ single and a track by The Wolfhounds called ‘Another hazy day on the ‘Lazy A’ ‘. I assumed because of the song title and the demented steel guitar playing on this stand-out track that the band were from the USA – I imagined them as being from somewhere in the southwestern ‘Sunbelt’; Phoenix perhaps. Like Wall of Voodoo, they seemed to have that western ‘thing’.
The Wolfhounds – Romford’s finest…
Imagine my surprise, therefore, when I discovered about 20 years later that The Wolfhounds actually originated from Romford. Now, I know a few people from Romford and even more from neighbouring Dagenham and having visited the area I can say with some confidence that there is nothing remotely ‘Arizona-esque’ about Romford. Anymore than Steve Winwood’s home in Great Barr is like Watts or Roxbury or Harlem.
Romford Market…..nothing like downtown Phoenix, frankly….
So, here I am in twenty-ten, listening to more of the Wolfhounds’ output – specifically, two albums – Unseen Ripples From A Pebble (1987) and Bright and Guilty (1989) – plus a 1987 EP, ‘Me‘, and I can see that the major influences on this band were from a lot closer to home – in particular bands like The Clash and The Sound and even….weirdly enough, The Smiths.
What does seem extraordinary is that The Wolfhounds didn’t have more success; songs like Ropeswing, Rent Act and Cold Shoulder are musically accessible and lyrically interesting. Who knows, maybe they were just with the wrong label or didn’t kiss enough journalistic arse…..
If you can’t access any of the stuff I’ve mentioned here, there is (or was) a CD compilation album called ‘Lost but Happy’ on Cherry Red Records (cover reproduced below). If 80’s guitar bands were ever your thing, try The Wolfhounds; I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.