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Guitar Wolf - Golden Black

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Artist: Guitar Wolf

Album: Golden Black

Label: Narnack

Review date: Dec. 10, 2005

“Ya’ll niggaz must be out of your head if your system ain’t up to the red.“ Some might find it bizarre to begin a review of a Guitar Wolf record by quoting a perpetually stoned hip-hop producer genius, but on the contrary, Madlib’s words are about as apt as any one could chose to preface any writing on the Japanese garage rock legends. With their amplifiers perpetually pushing the needles well past the black, Tokyo’s loudest band began challenging eardrums in the late 1980s. 1996’s Missile Me on Matador was most of America’s introduction to the band’s brand of testosterone-driven distortion mania; a sound that might be described as some sort of Japanese MC-5/Ramones hybrid on speed. Over the next decade, fans were treated to six proper domestic releases of bone rattling rock and roll featuring nonsensical lyrics about beer, girls and jets, all screamed in a brand of half-English that was unmistakably Guitar Wolf.

Tragically, it seems the band lived as hard and as fast as they played. On March 30, 2005, Hideaki “Billy” Sekiguchi, affectionately known as Bass Wolf, died in Tokyo following a massive heart attack. He was survived by his wife and their two children, and of course, by Seiji and Toru, Guitar Wolf and Drum Wolf respectively. While the remaining two members have vowed that this is not the end of Guitar Wolf, the band will certainly never be the same without the greasy-haired, tattooed Billy dominating stage right in all his amplifier mounting (and dismounting) glory.

In the bizarre world that is the music industry, the mourning process surrounding the loss of musicians must include the obligatory retrospective release. The case of Bass Wolf is no exception: Golden Black is a rip-roaring 26-track look back at the last 10 years. The majority of the record features all of your favorites from the six studio releases, focusing heavily on 1999‘s iconic Jet Generation. From “Canana Fever” to “Summertime Blues,” the record is one hell of a 74-minute ride. There are a few extras tacked on, a couple of b-sides and other previously unreleased goodies, but nothing too exciting.

For fans already in possession of Guitar Wolf’s proper studio efforts, the only reason to be interested in Golden Black is the packaging, conveniently featuring English language translations of the lyrics. Still, as an introduction to one of the greatest, most bombastic rock and roll bands of the last decade, this record works just fine.

By Mark G. Davis

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