In the early 80’s, I was fascinated by how extreme bands were in the Post-Punk scenario. Particularly The Birthday Party, The Pop Group and Einsturzende Neubauten, even The Gun Club with their take on Voodoo Blues. I should have been looking closer to home! Some bunch of misfits in Glasgow were kicking up a hornet’s nest accompanied by the soundtrack of the darker sounds of the USA. Hank Williams, The Stooges and Johnny Thunders’ Heartbreakers, come to mind, but James King and the Lonewolves may have been using archetypical elements, yet they made them sound eloquent – there was classic songwriting here, although it may have been ‘cursed, poisoned and condemned’. James King had most definitely sold his soul to the devil at the same crossroads as Robert Johnson.
I remember writing a review in Cut magazine, stating I found them more sinister than The Violent Femmes, which was saying a lot, as they had just written Country Death Song – all about a father murdering, and disposing of his own daughter down a well. In the early 80’s, while Scottish pop was getting brighter and shinier, James King and the Lonewolves were the dark side, and they made no bones about it.
While ex-Fall guitarist, Martin Brammah’s band The Blue Orchids did the honours in Edinburgh, as fallen Velvet Underground chanteuse Nico’s backing band, The Lonewolves did the same in Glasgow.
They signed to Alan Horne’s Swamplands label in 1984 alongside Davy Henderson’s WIN! and Steven Daly’s Memphis, but after an Old Grey Whistle Test performance, featuring multiple profanities, which received countless complaints from viewers, Swamplands washed their hands of this unmanageable collection of individuals in 1985. An album recorded with John Cale at the height of his madness would never see the light of day. Until now that is – Sterogram Recordings are about to set the record straight, through the bands main protagonists burying the hatchet.
Fast forward to the future – James King and Jake McKechan make it up in 2011 after 25 years of not speaking and play a memorial show for former agent, Alan Mawn. It is nothing, if not fantastic. In light of all the complacency we are currently experiencing in modern music, hearing the sounds of James King and the Lonewolves again is a joy. This is Rock’n’Roll as it should be and you can tell they mean it maaan!
Ken McCluskey (The Bluebells) in 1996 at height of Britpop, ‘You guys were 10 years too early’
The first recorded fruits of the revamped Lonewolves in May 2013 was a revelation. Pretty Blue Eyes sounded like it should have been a double-sided 7” on Ork Records from 1975, as cool as Little Johnny Jewel by Television, you kinda wanted it to be longer. Fun Patrol kicked in like The Smiths’ How Soon is Now, then morphed into The Glitter band meets The Stooges – need I say more, and James still has a vicious tongue. James King and the Lonewolves – as stated on their very first single, were indeed Back from the Dead!
Now, having hooked up with Edinburgh’s Stereogram Recordings (home to The Cathode Ray and Roy Moller), that fantastic, long-lost album, Lost Songs of the Confederacy, has finally seen the light of day – obviously re-recorded, re-mastered and brought up to scratch with new recordings to supplement the buried ones resulting in James saying ‘ there was unfinished business to be done’. I’m sure there are many other buried treasures out there, meanwhile, this is as good a place as any to re-acquaint yourself with the Lonewolves’ particular brand of classic rock through the ages.
The album was pre-empted by the download-only single, Fly Away. It found the Lonewolves in prime-time Byrds’ territory. Roger McGuinn had a well-documented fear of flying – Hmm, is there a link – over to Jimmy if you want to know more…