For me, one of the biggest musical disappointments of the 80s was that lost Glasgow rock legends James King and the Lonewolves never made an album. They nearly got there – one was recorded for Swamplands but, sadly, it never saw the light of day. Their legacy therefore is confined to a string of excellent singles and the wonderful ‘Texas Lullaby’ E.P.
For all that, the Lonewolves have pretty much been the most popular band I’ve ever written about – in fact three of my 5 most viewed posts feature the Lonewolves.
Until very recently, the prospects of any further posts looked slim. Even if many bands often do eventually reform, the re-emergence of the Lonewolves in 2013 was unexpected. Given their history of missed opportunities, that they have returned so full of purpose is even more surprising. There’s clearly a desire to deal with unfinished business.
So here I am writing about the unlikeliest of unlikely beasts, a new Lonewolves record, in the shape of the new double A-sided single ‘Pretty Blue Eyes’ / ‘Fun Patrol’.
I say a double A-sided single because that’s its official designation even though the record has 4 tracks. But in practice there’s little difference in the quality between both sides of the single and the 2 bonus tracks.
Let’s start with the two single songs. Lead track ‘Pretty Blue Eyes’ (a new song apparently) is probably the closest in feel to the earlier recordings yet it’s just more fully realised and has added heft. Funnily enough, for the lead track, it’s not the most immediate of tunes yet it is a real grower.
The other A-side is an older, unreleased tune, ‘Fun Patrol’. One of my favourites from a tape recording of a TV appearance, it was a live highlight (twice!) at last week’s record launch. With its reverb drenched guitars and relentless pacing (which is only enhanced by some urgent mouth organ) it’s the song that best captures the intensity of the live performances.
Then there’s the bonus tracks. Shit, if only every other band had as good bonus tracks as these.
The dirty, menacing riffs of ‘Even Beatles Die’ showcase the harder edge of the band whilst the jangle of ‘Happy Home’ may owe a debt to the Byrds but fits in perfectly here. They are not in any way inferior to the other two songs on the record.
The production is the critical difference. If the earlier records demonstrated that King was a songwriter of rare talent, fine though the songs were, they didn’t come close to capturing the ferocity of the live show . This, finally, is the record I always hoped that they would make.
Rightly identified as close cousins of the emerging American underground back in the day, in lots of ways the 21st century should be even more fertile territory for the Lonewolves. With plans apparently well in train for an L.P. to follow later in the year then there’s no reason, on this evidence, why it won’t be one of the albums of the year.
In the meantime, with King’s songs and voice receiving the backing they always deserved, this E.P. truly is as vital as anything else released this year.
The single is available on CD and as a download from the usual places.