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WOLFSTONE "Pick Of The Litter The Best of Wolfstone 1991-1996"
Iona IRCD056

Ladies and Gentlemen, Wolfstone have NOT left the building. Contrary to popular belief the hardest rockers in the folk firmament are still together and promising to play on. Looks like I'll need to dust down the old air guitar and rescue the t-shirt from the charity pile in readiness for the next time Wolfstone hit town. Until then I'll just turn up the stereo until my ears bleed and listen to the sixty-eight minutes of hard heavy metal folk that is the "Pick of the Litter". Damn, it's a hard life.

With the pipes and fiddle at full throttle and the guitars, drums and keyboards giving it serious rocking Wolfstone are simply awesome. You don't so much listen as experience them. The band's treatment of the hornpipe "Kenny Gillies of Portnalong" is impossible to sit still to. While for me Wolfstone are at their best when going full tilt, they have also produced some cracking songs some of which make an appearance on this CD. Ivan Drever's unmistakable Orcadian drawl takes us through "Heart and Soul", "Holy Ground" and the traditional "Sleepy Toon" with Stuart Eaglesham doing the honours on "White Gown". The other four songs included are "Glass in the Can", "Tall Ships", "Brave Foot Soldiers" and "No Tie Ups". As is usual with 'best of' compilations, there is a bit of a bias towards the newer material with "Year of the Dog" and "'The Half Tail" providing nine tracks while "Unleashed" and "The Chase" only provide five. The "Battle" set from the "Burning Horizons" EP kicks off the CD.

The particular mix of tracks on this CD doesn't make up my ideal Wolfstone CD, but as no two people are likely to agree on what exactly is the 'best of' Wolfstone, this is perhaps as good a stab as any. Usual rules apply, if you already own the back catalogue there is nothing new for you here. If you are looking to test the water then this is a good a place to dip your toe in.

Chris MacKenzie

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This album was reviewed in Issue 25 of The Living Tradition magazine.