Guitar Wolf|Various 

Golden Black|I Love Guitar Wolf Very Much

The sheer longevity of "Japan's Greatest Rock 'n' Roll Band" (eighteen years!) is amazing enough, but consider that most who pursue such visceral live tenacity and aural cacophony usually burn out immediately. For nearly two decades, Guitar Wolf has spewed a surprisingly consistent rock tornado mangled in that particularly Japanese way, all the while looking impossibly cool in jet-black pants and pompadours, yelping Lock and Loll!! as a call to battle. The tracklist for Narnack's best-of Golden Black was determined by vote online, making it the perfect intro for rookies and a godsend for fans, as much of this material is out of print, and you get a swank booklet with the requisite boss pics, too.

Then there's the tribute CD, I Love Guitar Wolf Very Much. Spazz-masters Lightning Bolt start things off perfectly, leading to a cavalcade of Cramps-y cut-ups (Fast Fourier, Autoramas), gut-bucket garage blues (Porch Ghouls, Blues Explosion, Cato Salsa Experience), and bar punk run-throughs (Hellsquad, Snuff). Not as much white noise as expected, though Japanese deconstructos Total Dork oblige, while J Mascis and the Fog go psychedelic sky-riding. Most amazing of all is Japanese Day-Glo duo Puffy Amiyumi, offering the best evidence that underneath all the caterwaul, Guitar Wolf has some snappy tunes indeed.

For the cynics, both of these releases were planned long before the tragic death in March of bassist Billy Wolf, aka Bass Wolf. RIP Billy. And long live Guitar Wolf.


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