I had not heard of The Werewolves before but picked this up because there is a vaguely New Wave-ish power pop look to this band from 1978.
Something I'm not alone in as they do crop up on power pop and punk sites
Well, the lesson is, appearances are deceiving.
But, in this case, a pleasant one.
The label may have marketed their appearance on the then popular New Wave but the Werewolves are anything but.
The information on-line is sketchy.
Texas always was a fertile ground for dusty, swaggering, and often idiosyncratic rock 'n' roll and The Werewolves were a Dallas (from Oak Cliff), Texas bar band. And they were very popular, almost legendary, on the Dallas scene in the 1970s.
The band formed in 1974 and like many bands of the day, and in their locale, they were a working band. They played covers and originals and played them tight.
But, their pedigree goes back a lot further.
Guitarist, Seab Meador, had been on lead guitar and vocals as a teenager in Dallas garage band "The Gentlemen" from about 1964 – 1968. He then joined The Bridge, before joining The Werewolves.
Seab Meador, also, did a short tour as a member (along with two future members of ZZ Top) in a fake version of the Zombies in the late-60s. The manager had the legal rights to form a band to tour off of the Zombies great hit songs, as the original band had broken up.
Singer Brian Papageorge had his roots in other Dallas bands also, and formed The Hurricanes in Houston with Seab and Ron Barnett, both later of The Werewolves (this band may have directly morphed into The Werewolves).
Like any other band of the early 1970s The Werewolves were loud and took on board the influences of Jeff Beck, The Animals, The Kinks, Bad Company and the rhythm and blues swagger of the Rolling Stones .
"We're always being compared to them," says singer Brian Papageorge, whose spry frame makes him closer to Nuryev than Jagger. "It's understandable, and even quite a flattering comparison, but not really that true." "When the Stones first came along I was really influenced by them," says guitarist Meador. "But they influenced me to go back but they influenced me to go back and discover the roots of their music the old blues and r-and-b groups which are the roots of our music, too. That's really the way in which we're like the Stones." (https://www.newspapers.com/newspage/77501726/)
The Beatles were the English band most emulated in the 60s but the 70s belonged to the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin … well, up till late in the 70s.
This was (white) bluesy flavoured rock and roll similar to what the Flamin’ Groovies had been doing in California, The New York Dolls had done in NYC and (especially) what Grin had done in Washington DC. But like the Vaughan Brothers (other Oak Cliff boys), The Werewolves added some Texas country flavouring and desert grit to the sound.
This, despite the influence of English bands (doing American music), was distinctly Texan American roots music, blues, rock ‘n’ roll and soul.
(Belabouring the point) the band sounded like a Texan version of the Rolling Stones and Bad Company albeit with some glam trappings. Singer Brian Papageorge could wail and was often compared to Paul Rodgers or Mick Jagger though I think he sounds more like Nils Lofren if Lofren in a bluesy rock ‘n’ roll band (or even a bit like Graeme "Shirley" Strachan from Skyhooks).
Apparently the Werewolves became very popular locally (and were known for their raucous live act).
With the resurgence of progressive country throughout Texas they donned Blue Brothers outfits (prior to the Blue Brothers) and played up-tempo blues as The Texas Kingsnakes (https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1696&dat=19790510&id=dMkaAAAAIBAJ&sjid=EEcEAAAAIBAJ&pg=6527,1346566&hl=en)
But it was time to make a move.
In the mid to late 70s they moved to New York. They played the CBGBs with the punks of the day and were eventually heard by Rolling Stones manager and producer Andrew Loog Oldham.
Oldham, well known and Svengali-like, gave them exposure but it was, perhaps, a double edged sword. Oldham had a tremendous ego so any discussion of the band, inevitably, ended up being a discussion about alchemist Oldham.
He had them signed and produced this, their first album.
In their original unadorned incarnation their sound was ahead of its time and probably pre-empted The Black Crowes and the Georgia Satellites.
This album doesn’t capture that.
Oldham had been quiet in the 70s and the Stones had long since left him.
No doubt he hears some of the Stones in the Werewolves but the times were changing. The Stones rock swagger sound was on the way out and even they would try other things, hence the disco and hard (ish) rock dabblings in the late 70s.
Perhaps that’s why (market considerations) there is a vaguely New Wave-ish makeover for the Werewolves … short (er) hair, nice (albeit country) threads and a smoother sound etc.
But, a band is a creature of habit and the old stylings can still be heard. It has been toned down a little but there is still a lot of 70s rock swagger in the tunes. Even more impressive is their versatility (and quirkiness in a genre not really know for that). This is rock and roll but there are many shadings here that show that The Werewolves had put in a lot of time playing gigs and soaking up their musical ancestry.
The album failed. It was probably lost in the in the rush of “new bands” from the late 70s.
Likewise, their sound was a little too old, though in a few years it would be new again.
There is something here and they could have been great.
One more album followed, “Ship of Fools (Summer Weekends And No More Blues)”, on RCA in late 1978 and then they imploded.
Seab Meador died from brain cancer in 1980.
Tracks (best in italics)
- The Flesh Express – (Papageorge-Meador-Ballard) – suitably rocking and themeatically, perhaps, an apt way to kick off the album. Perfectly 70s.
- Hollywood Millionaire – (Papageorge-Meador-Ballard) – the up-tempo ballad with the "la di dah dah dah" hum a long bits.
- Too Hard – (Papageorge-Meador) – The slow burn and not unlike some of Grin's ballads.
- City by The Sea – (Ballard) – the country blues rock exercise and there seems to be some accordion in there.
- Never Been To Hades – (Meador-Ballard) – a great tune which is rock with country asides and a touch of left of centre style.
- Lisa – (Papageorge-Ballard) – some pop influences (in a Flamin Groovies kind of way) and quite engaging.
- The Two Fools – (Papageorge-Ballard-Meador) – a country rock ballad in the style of Doug Sahm.
- Heaven Help Me – (Papageorge-Meador-Brewster) – a good song though the horns are misplaced.
- Deux Voix – (Papageorge-Ballard) – a mid tempo rocker with some late 70s keyboards diffusing the excitement
- One Night – (Bartholomew-Steiman-King) – Elvis Presley’s #4 smouldering sexual ballad from 1957. The band do it faithfully … even the echo and backing vocals are included. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One_Night_(song)
- Silence – (Papageorge-Ballard) – another melodic up-tempo rocker.
Occasionally derivative but ballsy and a lot of fun … I'm keeping it.
The Flesh Express
Never Been To Hades
A truckload of photos
A Dallas doco
- Personnel: Seab Meador (gtr) / Bucky Ballard (bass)(gtr) / Bobby Baranowski (drms) / Kirk Brewster (gtr) / Brian Papageorge (vcls) / Ronnie Barnett (drms) / Keith Ferguson (bass)