When asked what to type of music his namesake band Wolfe Gang plays, Michael Wolfe isn't always sure what to say. "Usually I just say 'Rock and roll, rhythm and blues,' and that's close," Wolfe states. Wolfe Gang's Read the Fine Print might be best described as a tasty slice of Americana, true roots rock that draws from many sources: rock and roll, blues, rhythm and blues, jazz, swing, funk, soul, folk, country, and zydeco. They will do both originals (Wolfe is both songwriter and singer) and covers from such eclectic sources like Bob Marley, Merle Haggard, and Blitzstein, Brecht, and Weill's Mack the Knife (introduced by Louis Armstrong but made famous by Bobby Darrin, and later Frank Sinatra).
To the originals, the title track has a strong rock, rhythm and blues feel, Get on Home to You passes for a simple melodic rock ballad with a slight country feel, and Another Sunday Morning and Everybody's Got One returns to the blues. Then, for something completely different, Wolfe Gang invokes some Celtic inspiration for the instrumental Irish Dream Song. For the covers, Mack the Knife, Haggard's Shade Tree Fix-It Man, and Marley's Three Little Birds they are deftly handled and delightful.
Overall, the music is varied, entertaining and sometimes unexpected, consider the arrangement of Mack the Knife. Wolfe's vocals and vocal arrangements take some getting used to, especially if you listen only to the first two tracks where he sounds over-extended. Nevertheless, the production is crisp and lush (handled by Wolfe and engineer Jeff Reid). Possibly, the single most defining feature of Read the Fine Print is the saxophone work of Jon Tucker: for my money, he steals the show.
While a fine album with great songs that express the roots of Wolfe and his Gang, I'm guessing this music is best heard live. Until you can hear Wolfe Gang in your area, I suggest you buy this album, especially if you dig fundamental American roots rock. Well recommended.
Wolfe Gang's Read the Fine Print might be best described as tasty slice of Americana, true roots rock that draws from many sources: rock and roll, blues, rhythm and blues, funk, soul, folk, country, and much more.
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