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If you had a walk like mine,
they'd crown it the King of Soul
-- Wolfgang Press
The Wolfgang Press

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Artist Listing: A - F G - R S - Z
Line-up:
Michael Allen (vocals)

Mark Cox (keyboards)
Andrew Gray (guitars)

" Too sophisticated for the mainstream and too, well, arty for the prevailing underground scene of the time, any record of theirs was always going to require more than one pass to grub out the intricacies. "
-- Sam Bucca, Michael Rodham-Heaps

"The Wolfgang Press (Michael Allen, Mark Cox and Andrew Gray) were one of 4AD's most enduring bands, spending the entirety of their career (more than twelve years) with the influential British indie label set up by Ivo Watts Russell back in 1980. Even before they formed the Wolfgang Press in 1983, Cox and Allen had released material on the label -- first as Rema Rema (with future Ant-person Marco Pirroni), and then with Mass. The story of the Wolfgang Press is a familiar one. They were a talented alternative band with a distinctive, multifaceted vision: over the course of five studio albums, their sound encompassed everything from dark, somewhat difficult noise to orchestrally enhanced art-angst to idiosyncratic electronic funk-soul hybrids that were well received on the alternative dancefloor. The group garnered critical acclaim, flirted with mainstream success and soldiered on until the mid-'90s, only to end up as a footnote in alt.rock history, coming up in the context of questions like "Whatever happened to that 4AD band the Wolfgang Press?""
-- Wilson Neate, Pop Matters, 8/01

 Wolfgang Press Discography - Album / CD Reviews

1983: The Burden of Mules

Tracklisting: Lisa (The Passion), Prostitute I, The Burden Of Mules, Compleate And Utter, Prostitute II, Slow As A Child, Journalists, Give It Back, On The Hill
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***¾ 1985: The Legendary Wolfgang Press & Other Tall Stories

Compiles the EPs Scarecrow, Water and Sweatbox.
"Out of the ashes of Rema Rema came the Wolfgang Press, fronted by Mick Allen, as long-faced and gangly as Nick Cave, but with a thick London accent and bleached whiteboy dreadlocks. The Wolfgang Press specialized in challenging industrio-punk dance music with occasional forays into symphonic, cinematic beauty (check Ecstasy on this album). After a truly obscure, wryly humorous debut album, 'The Burden of Mules' (released in LP format only), the Wolfgang Press released several 12" EPs which were later compiled, some with new production by Cocteau Twin Robin Guthrie, on this CD. Liz Fraser has a guest appearance on the hilariously straight-faced cover of Respect; Heart of Stone lifts lyrics from Neil Young's Heart of Gold and turns them into a droning, howling art-punk epiphany. My Way borrows from Frank Sinatra. Sweatbox is cavernous industrial dancefloor fodder; Fireeater builds from eerie beginnings to a corrugated take on the blues standard Take Me to the Water.
-- Elisa Staneff, Amazon customer, 3/00

****1986: Standing Up Straight

Tracklisting: 01 Dig A Hole 02 My Life 03 Hammer The Halo 04 Bless My Brother 05 Fire-Fly 06 Ghost 07 Rotten Fodder 08 Forty Days, Thirty Nights 09 I Am The Crime
"Musically, Standing Up Straight is as challenging and inventive as the band's other work, adding industrial and classical instrumentation to the creative arsenal. Dig a Hole, Hammer the Halo and Rotten Fodder are the best the Wolfgang Press has to offer — dark and thoroughly uncompromising — on a record which is not for the easily intimidated. Also of interest is the enclosed lyric sheet, a multi-fold affair in which lyrics are presented as artistic design elements.
-- Megan Frampton, TrouserPress

**** 1988: BirdWood Cageaudio

"The Wolfgang Press were contemporaries of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, the Cocteau Twins, and the dance-noise sampling team of Colourbox, whose Martyn Young played on and helped produce several TWP albums. The Cocteaus' Robin Guthrie also helped produce several early albums, and Liz Fraser provided backing vocals on TWP's hilarious cover of Respect, and the haunting I Am the Crime, from 1983's 'Standing Up Straight.' After a cavernous compilation of early EPs, 'The Legendary Wolfgang Press...,' and the darker, more mysterious 'Standing Up Straight,' TWP's 'Birdwood Cage' (featuring a hilarious, Warhol-like photo of an antique toilet in a field of grass) was the most accessible, cohesive thing they'd done. There are hints of Jim Thirlwell's Foetus and twisted Motown soul in the instrumentation. Mick Allen's thick Londoner's accent, whether he's mumbling, "rapping," singing, or howling, has always reminded me a little of Nick Cave or, to use a more recent example, the Tindersticks' Stuart Staples. 'Birdwood Cage' features the hilarious, booty-shaking Kansas, a minor hit for TWP, skirting the issue of the Kennedy assasinations--and the particular American affliction of assasinations in general. Raintime is a prime example of TWP's twisted Motown soul. See My Wife and Bottom Drawer are bilious, blackly humorous "love songs," of a sort (She's got a middle sewn up in roses/She's got a middle wrapped up in hoses/You check the facts, you check the facts/You taste my sheets, and you read my back). Shut That Door is a corrugated, cavernous example of the kind of industrial noise TWP can generate when so inspired.
-- Elisa Staneff, Amazon customer, 3/00

*** 1991: Queer audio

"With this release, the Wolfgang Press came their closest to mainstream success, almost having an American hit with A Girl Like You...Improbable though it may seem, Tom Jones heard the song and covered it. Not only that, but Jones the Groans had the group write another song for him -- Show Me (Some Devotion) -- and actually performed live with them in Los Angeles during 4AD's "All Virgos Are Mad" series of gigs in 1994. But at the same time as Queer underscored the Wolfgang Press' smart pop sensibility, the dark, moody undercurrent of their sound remains. This dimension can be heard on more intense tracks like Martyn Young's remix of the menacing, anti-Thatcherite Sucker, with its angry circular rhythms."
-- Wilson Neate, Pop Matters, 8/01

1995: Funky Little Demons audio

"On Funky Little Demons, the Wolfgang Press finally realized they had been trying to fit a square peg into a round hole and sought to make straight-ahead dance music with the correct materials. Unfortunately, songs that sound properly formed and constructed are much less interesting. No longer enigmatic risk-takers, the Wolfgang Press have become just another white post-new wave soul band."
-- Megan Frampton, TrouserPress

***¼ 2001: Everything Is Beautiful: 1983-1995audio

"'Everything Is Beautiful' claims to encompass 1983-1995 but its earliest tracks are from 1985; namely the still vital sound of the funk workout that is 'Sweatbox' and, less impressively, a drunken karaoke version of Otis Redding's 'Respect'. That apart, this compilation draws from their later work whose any similarity with their nascent sound is Michael Allen's brooding vocals. Somehow Allen's monotone worked well alongside the grooves, hip-hop and remix tricks that litter this collection; offering an edgy cool over the subtly danceable backgrounds, reaching a chilled-out peak with 'Chains' and 'Executioner' from 1994's Funky Little Demons..."
-- leonardslair.co.uk
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Recommended Links:

Eyesore: WolfGang Press Discography
Similar/Related Artists:

Rema Rema | Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds | Cocteau Twins | Talking Heads | And Also the Trees | The Damned | Joy Division | LowLife | Rome

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