Last week, out of the clear blue, I received a live album from none other than LEATHERWOLF, entitled Unchained Live. Yes, you read that right…LEATHERWOLF. I hadn’t thought of these guys since I found a used cassette copy of 1989’s Street Ready at Record Collection back when I was a pizza delivery driver and I needed something new to listen to. That record of course yielded fan favorites “Thunder” and “Hideaway”, the latter of which got some decent airplay on MTV. Then of course, grunge came in and effectively killed good music as we know it for a couple of years. Anyone who says the 90’s were a good decade for music has their head up their ass! The world suffered a musical vasectomy during those years, with few, if any bands putting out good material. One listen to this record and you’ll agree with me.
The original “Triple Axe Attack”, this band really had something for everyone, and on this record songs like “Spiter”, “Kill and Kill Again”, “Hideaway”, and the instrumental “Black Knight”, which was re-recorded for the album, definitely showed that. Live albums are tricky because essentially what you’re trying to do is capture the essence of what it was like to be there for those who couldn’t attend, and for those who WERE there, you want this to be a souvenir that they can play and reminisce fondly. I am a live albums guy; I grew up in the 70’s and 80’s, and I have heard some that damn near blew the hair off my head, and others that put me to sleep. Unchained Live definitely falls into the former category. LEATHERWOLF aren’t here to fuck around, okay? They plug in, put a foot up your ass for nine songs, then leave you broken, bruised, and wanting more.
The band is tight, and you can actually hear a certain comfort level when they play off of each other, newest members Rob Math (guitar) and Greg Erba (guitar) blending seamlessly with singer/guitarist Michael Oliveri. Longtime bassist Patrick Guyton and original drummer Dean Roberts are the sparkplugs that get this muscle car firing on songs like “Rise Or Fall” and “Wicked Ways” while the three swirling guitars blanket everything around them. The production by Roy Z (HALFORD, BRUCE DICKINSON, JUDAS PRIEST) is flawless, not that I’d expect anything less. All told, Unchained Live is a pleasant surprise, a short and sweet time capsule for a band that never got their due, and if possible sounds even better now. I can only imagine what they’ve got brewing for their next record, and I for one can’t wait to hear what’s in store.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Kill and Kill Again”, “Wicked Ways”, “Rise Or Fall”, “Hideaway”