The WOLFMEN – Married to the Eiffel Tower

I’ve made little secret in the past of my admiration for early Adam & the Ants, and how my ardour cooled in their later, more commercial, phase. Adam has recently been scathing in his attacks on long time collaborator Marcoi Pirroni and therefore I must admit that it was with a certain amount of trepidation I sat down to review this CD, given that the band contained the aforementioned Pirroni and also another ex-Ant in Chris Constantinou.

However, my reservations were totally without foundation as this is a cracking album. Certainly not a punk album per se, it contains many different styles of music, but all tracks are professionally constructed and infectiously catchy.

The band was formed in 2005 and the current line up is completed by Preston Heyman (ex Massive Attack and Kate Bush’s band) on percussion, Phil Harvey on keyboards and Daniel Stittmatter on drums. The album came about as a direct result of their recent sessions with Dandy Warhols’ frontman Courtney Taylor-Taylor.

Album opener “Cat Green Eyes” starts with a Jethro Tull flute-like intro, but it’s not long before the guitars kick in and the rich, deep, warm vocals of Constantinou start to caress the airwaves. The middle eight contains a “Grimly Fiendish” style harpsichord break that does nothing to detract from the overall upbeat feel of the track. The sound of a psychedelic trip on a warm summer’s day.

Second track “Mr Sunday” is in a more conventional rock’n’roll style and contains that instantly recognisable guitar sound of Pirroni. However, not to be too conventional it sees to include a melatrone, whilst the whole number is played over a Stray Cats backbeat.

“Jackie, is it my birthday?” has an initial style and vocals that sound like they have been backmasked. However, the slightly unnerving melody is cut through by the angelic voice of guest vocalist Sinead O’Connor. Whilst her career path has been somewhat erratic since the highs of the early 90’s, it cannot be denied that she has a beautiful, ethereal quality to her singing. Again somewhat psychedelic with great distorted guitar adding to the trippy feel. Apparently the track received rave reviews from both Dermot O’Leary (Radio 2) and Don Letts (BBC6) and I can see why.

“I'm Not A Young Man Anymore” is a long lost Velvet Underground track. The start is almost in a country and western vain, but then uses looped guitars to segway into a more Primal Scream type rock driven dance number. Minimal repeated vocals construct a number that wouldn’t have been out of place at one of the infamous parties at Andy Warhol’s Factory circa 1964. And to top it all a certain Lou Reed has given his blessing to their version. High praise indeed.

“Wam Bam JFK” has a slow start with falsetto voices introducing the story of Marliyn Monroe’s affair with the most famous American President. There's a nice line - “JFK with no foreplay”. Following number “July 20” reminds me of something that XTC would have done in their heyday, all clever wordsmith and killer hooks. Also it contains a bona fide guitar solo presumably courtesy of Mr Pirroni.

If I didn’t know better I would have said that next track “Damn it, can’t you just can’t be straight” was recorded by New Order circa 1983. It has that quintessential guitar led dance groove so beloved of Sumner, Hook and Morris. And the chorus of “No more tears, no more dirty lies, damn it can’t you just be straight” seems ant apt question to put to any politician at the moment. It becomes harder edged as the song progresses and ends with squealing guitars. This would be a definite contender for a single if I had my way.

“The Cowboy’s Dream” to me has a retro mid 70’s feel to it and once again shows that the band are not prepared to stick to the same formula for the whole of the album. Also it has a harmonica on it, an instrument that is vastly underused in the rock genre. Another achingly catchy number that implores you to “Walk the walk, talk the talk”.

Penultimate track “Coca Cola Kid” is a slower song. However, it still manages to surprise with Pirroni’s inclusion of slide guitar, thankfully though not in the style of most country and western songs. Album finale “Blushing God” is all John Kongos bongo’s, ghostly horns and thumping bass and leaves the whole experience on an upbeat note.

So there we have it. Despite my initial reservations this is a brilliantly constructed album that highlights the overall musicality of the band. It contains a myriad of different styles and a varied ensemble of instruments and is definitely worth checking out.