Through more than 15 years of garage-rocking, Japan's Guitar Wolf has never seen much need to screw with their formula. After all, when you've boiled rock & roll down to its basic essentials leather jackets, sunglasses and two-minute garage tantrums that are as high-velocity as they are high-volume why try to improve perfection?
The 26-track Golden Black compilation represents everything from 1993's Wolf Rock LP through 2004's Love Rock, and for such a large timespan, it's surprising how consistent the disc is. The skull-splitting blast of "Missile Me" (1996) is just as effective as the epileptic squall of 2004's "Shinkansen High Tension" and neither of them varies much in approach from the racket on 1993's "Red Rockabilly." Everything here is lo-fi, red-level ferocity and it's all blisteringly effective.
Guitarist Seiji has ensured that his band has remained singularly devoted to a very specific sound. Thankfully, rather than try to expand or modify that sound, Guitar Wolf has opted instead to codify exactly what a meth-fueled, scuzzy garage-rock band should sound like at all times. After all, we're talking about the band that made sure their rock & roll movie (Wild Zero) had zombies, boobies and a microphone that shot flames.
That unstinting consistency means that even when a diverse bunch of musicians gather to pay tribute to the Wolf, it's going to be the sound of Guitar Wolf that comes through. As hard as it is to believe, I Love Guitar Wolf Very Much may be the only disc extant that could provide a sonic and philosophical bridge between J Mascis, Snuff, Jim O'Rourke and Lightning Bolt.
It shouldn't be too surprising that garage-rock acts like The Hellsquad (who completely demolish "Kawasaki Z11750 Rock 'n' Roll") are here, but it is interesting that groups like that are in a clear minority. Rather, there are far more bands inspired by Guitar Wolf's unhinged noise assault. You know that when The Wildhearts sound positively primal (as they do on their ultra-distorted version of "Wild Zero") and when Jon Spencer remembers on which side his blues-rock bread is buttered (another version of "Kawasaki Z11750 Rock 'n' Roll"), you're talking about a disc that's light on production flourishes and heavy on raw power. (OK, Puffy Amiyumi's version of "Can-Nana Fever" isn't the most brutal track you'll ever hear … but it may be their best moment yet.) And since that's exactly what Guitar Wolf has always been about, this may be one of the better tribute albums in recent memory.
I Love Guitar Wolf Very Much