There must be some mistake, surely? Wolfmother seem to have been together for a lot longer than ten years. Maybe it’s just that their songs have become so much a part of the fabric of life that I’ve been fooled into thinking they’ve been around forever. This month however sees the release of Wolfmother: 10th Anniversary, and what a treat it is. Their self titled debut album was indeed released in 2005 and will now be re-released in celebration of the fact, along with bonus b-sides, unreleased demos, remixes and live tracks galore. It will be available via Interscope/Universal Music Catalogue digitally or on double CD from September 25th, and on 180g heavyweight vinyl from the 30th. This is an opportunity for fans to hear for the first time tracks from the Velvet Sound demo, which has gone down in Wolfmother legend. Before the band headed to the US to begin work on their debut proper, they spent a day in Sydney’s Velvet Sound studio for Interscope, working with producer Dave Sardy. Andrew Stockdale has said that what they did that day ended up “pretty close” to how the album sounded when complete. “I can’t believe we were that good, we hadn’t toured, we hadn’t made any records before, we had no experience.” This deluxe release gives fans the chance to hear for themselves just how good Wolfmother were from the very beginning. On it’s release Wolfmother won several Australian ARIA awards, and a Grammy for Best Hard Rock Performance in 2007 for Woman. Since then the band have only released two further albums, 2009’s Cosmic Egg and last year’s New Crown. They have recently completed work on their fourth studio album with producer Brendan O’Brien which will be released early 2016.
The thing is though, not only do I find it hard to believe that Wolfmother have only been around for a single decade, I also can’t believe that this album is ten years old. Give it to someone unfamiliar with it and they’d think it was brand new. It hasn’t aged a day. Wolfmother seemed to just arrive at a time when the world was ready to hear them, they don’t sound like anyone else but their music was instantly understood and accepted. Their mix of rock and psychedelia is completely original, Stockdale’s voice is unlike any other and to be honest it should really jar the senses but for some reason it works.
CD one features eighteen tracks altogether, including an acoustic version of Vagabond and three remixes. It’s hard to believe this was a debut when you hear classic Wolfmother tracks like Woman and Joker & the Thief and realise these were among the very first songs they ever recorded. The album is as good as it ever was, original, imaginative and completely creative. Tracks like Tales from the Forest of Gnomes and Mind’s Eye are chock full of imagery and can transport you into another world. That said, CD two is where this release really comes into its own. Fans will be delighted at the demo tracks, which show off well loved, familiar tracks with a twist, slight differences that turn them into something completely different. The live tracks that complete the CD are excellent. I always say if you’re going to include live tracks on an album it has to be clear that they are live and not studio tracks or there’s no point. There’s a power and vitality to these choices, heightened by the roars of the crowd, the singing along and the interaction between them and the band, particularly on Mind’s Eye which has a real energy to it.
This brings me to my one problem. As is often the case with these deluxe releases there is a fair bit of repetition. Woman appears four times on this release. I’ll concede it’s in four different versions, the original album version, a remix, a demo and live, but there does come a point it feels a bit like overkill. Just a bugbear of mine, but Wolfmother are by no means the first band to do this and I’m sure they won’t be the last. Overall though, as a fan of Wolfmother there’s a hell of a lot to be happy about with this release. The mix of studio and live recordings, the album tracks, demos and remixes is enough to keep anyone listening for hours. For anyone not already familiar with the band it’s a brilliant introduction and I’m sure it’ll create a whole new generation of fans.
Where Eagles have Been
Joker and the Thief
Tales from the forest of Gnomes
The Earth’s rotation around the Sun
Vagabond (Acoustic Version)
Joker and the Thief (Loving Hands remix)
Woman (Mstrkrft remix)
Love Train (Chicken Lips Malfunction remix)
White Unicorn (demo)
Woman (Early days demo)
Apple Tree (demo)
Not Goin’ Home (Joker & the Thief – demo)
Pyramid (Early Jam demo)
Witchcraft (Rehearsal room demo)
Love Train (Rehearsal room demo)
Vagabond (Rehearsal room demo)
Tales from the forest of Gnomes (live)
Mind’s Eye (live)
Where Eagles have been (live)