So last weekend I went down to Portland, Oregon to attend the annual beer festival and, of course, shop for records. We decided to hit up Mississippi Records because on the way day because after hours and hours of relentless stop-and-go traffic we needed a chance to get out and stretch our legs, and getting off the packed highway in north Portland to take the surface streets the rest of the way put us right in the path of Mississippi.
Mississippi Records is both a label and a record store, but make no mistake about it – these folks aren’t tied to a specific genre, style, or philosophy, other than the ideal of bringing all kinds of different music to the people and doing so at very reasonable prices. They had a large punk section, but also healthy selections of rock, jazz, blues, gospel, folk, bluegrass, metal… hell, if I’d looked long enough, I suspect I’d have come across at least one bin of 1970s Bulgarian Prog Metal Opera. Which is saying a lot since the shop is pretty small, though I have to admit if I found some of that music I’d feel compelled to check it out. They had what appeared to be a custom wooden card-catalog (kids, if you don’t know what a card catalog is, go to the library and ask to see one… it’ll blow your mind) type cabinet built for 45s, plus a bunch of cassettes, some of which the woman working there was eagerly recommending to a customer she obviously knew. This followed the ten minute conversation with the guy working there about what they were going to get for dinner. I believe they settled on vegan Indian food.
It was early in the trip so I resisted the urge to go hog wild and limited myself to four records, one of which was Guitar Wolf’s Wolf Rock! If you want to know why I was interested in this record, just look at the cover. I mean, seriously. This cover screams rock ‘n’ roll. Turns out Guitar Wolf is a Japanese rockabilly band, which is every bit as cool as it sounds. Unfortunately Wolf Rock! is marred by some pretty poor sound quality which, if I’d read the insert, should not have come as a surprise:
YEAH so there’s a lot of NOISE on these tracks, ON these tracks, IN YOUR
HEAD. If you don’t like it, go fling it out the window and buy some more
ROCKABILLY REVIVAL CDs. Or real records from some REAL LABEL.
I don’t know where/how these songs were recorded, I don’t know how they
ended up sounding so FUCKED on this Lp, hey I’m not a scientist. I’m
That, my friends, is truth in advertising.
Wolf Rock! sounds like it’s a live recording, though only one track has any discernible applause or crowd noise. The mix is super low and bass heavy, and the low stuff is distorted a bit it’s so heavy, so unfortunately it’s tough to get a lot out of it and a lot of the songs come out sounding more or less the same. “Red Rockabilly” was my favorite track, but I’d be hard pressed to tell you why exactly other than that I liked the beat… and it was hard to follow much else. Which is too bad, because Guitar Wolf sounds like they’re a pretty solid punk-surf-rockabilly outfit. They’ve got five albums available on iTunes, so I may need to go check out some of their studio stuff and see if it matches what I’m envisioning in my head, and I’ll certainly keep my eyes peeled for some of their other stuff on vinyl in the future.