REVIEW: White Wolf – Standing Alone

Bought in April at the Toronto Musical Collectibles Record & CD Sale.  Not listened to in full until October.  Backlog!

WHITE WOLF – Standing Alone (1984 RCA)

From Edmonton, Alberta, Canada came White Wolf.  The land that spawned the massive West Edmonton Mall also produced a hard rock band that combined old fashioned Canadian workmanship with prototypical 80’s rock and heavy metal.  Sharing common ground with bands like Scorpions, Dokken, and even Van Halen and Rainbow, White Wolf weren’t half bad.  The singer Don Wolf (Wilk) has enough power in his voice to raise the roof just enough to be an opening band in an arena.  They’re not quite headline quality, but I bet they were damn good openers.

Their debut album Standing Alone is best known for the single/video “Shadows in the Night”, still my favourite song from the band.  In fact I think it’s quite excellent.  The chugging riff, the excellent vocals and chorus, it has everything!  It even had a suitably cheesy and sexist music video, portraying the band as some sort of wilderness totem hero/villains.  Don’t worry, maybe it’s all a dream, or  just a hell of a bush party/concert?  Hell, I don’t know.

I friggin’ love fur hats! So warm!

Thankfully the album is more than just one song.  The track “Standing Alone” is a mid-tempo but ominous opener, a mournful song about (guess what) standing alone! (Like a wolf?  Layers!)  “Headlines” is uptempo, verging on Priest territory.  Both have plenty of guitar work to go around.  They are followed by “Shadows in the Night” and the seven minute plus “What the War Will Bring”.  This a pretty respectable shot at doing an epic.  Utilizing multiple vocalists and backing keyboards, it’s a tour-de-force suitable for closing side one of the album.

“Night Rider” begins with bad King-Kobra-esque vocal harmonies, but quickly gets into a dual guitar melody before it takes off.  This would be one of the weakest songs with one of those awful, cliche titles.  “Homeward Bound” is a fun song utilizing two lead vocalists, but that riff sure does sound familiar.  Although the guitar rips off “God of Thunder” by Kiss a little bit, this is one of the better songs.  I love the dual vocalist concept, and it’s a fun sleazy romp like 80’s Kiss.  “Metal Thunder” is a pretty poor song title, but a decent stomp through territory previously explored by the likes of Judas Priest.  “Trust Me” is the final song, clearly inspired by Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow.  All it needs is Ronnie James Dio shouting, “Danger! Danger!” and suddenly it’s “Kill the King”.

There’s a certain kind of Canadian mediocrity that exudes from bands like White Wolf and label-mates Thor.  This even extended to bands like Triumph and Helix, at various parts of their careers.  I don’t know what it is, but so many Canadian bands of this sub-genre just failed to explode into fully-fledged world-classic song writing and recording.  Maybe it’s touring in a little van during harsh Canadian winters, but I think I’ve made a valid observation.

All that being said, for the $7.00 I paid for this record, I have no regrets.  Standing Alone doesn’t overstay its welcome, nor does it fail to raise a smile any time I’ve played it.  I’m glad to finally have “Shadows in the Night”, and I’m pleased to induct songs like “Homeward Bound” into my collection for the first time.

3/5 stars

15 comments

      1. Actually they were supposed to open for Ted Nugent here at the Gardens in Tbay on Nugents Little Miss Dangerous tour 86 but for some reason White Wolf pulled out so no one opened…bummer!!
        Actually this debut was pretty good…..other than that they never did play here.

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  1. In the mid eighties, we hade a radio show called Rockbox that was broadcasting an hour every week. Which is weird because Swedish media hated everything remotely releated to hard rock back then. Anyway, it was great show and the dj had some wide knowledge about heavy rock and he did shitloads of research to find new exciting bands. he was the first one in Sweden to play Bon Jovi, I might add. “Runaway” and “Breakout” and the following week half my school knew about Bon Jovi and they hadn’t even released their debut album yet.
    Whatever, that guy played “Trust Me” and I bought this album the day after because I thought the song was so awesome. Still do. I loved this album back then and I can still sing the lyrics in my sleep. However, it hasn’t really stood the test of time as a few of the songs doesn’t hold up today. But many do. The title track, the fantstic “What The War Will Bring”, “Trust Me”, “Shadows In The Night” and “Homewatrd Bound” are all brilliant. But as you wrote, “Night Rider” and “Metal Thunder” just doesn’t cut it.

    As always, I wrote a novel instead of just a few sentences… ;-)
    Will you be reviewing Endangered Species as well? Apart from a lame and very very 80’s production, that album is brilliant!

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    1. When I get Endangered Species, I’ll be happy to review it!

      Very cool that you were aware of these guys back in the day. Thanks to that one DJ in Sweden you were onto some great bands pretty early!

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      1. Yeah, that guy was really cool. Played Aldo Nova early on as well and lots of stuff like that. Almost all my obscure melodic rock and AOR albums comes from that DJ. Remember a band called Aviator? He played them. And Autograph. Cool records that maybe were better back then than they are today…

        You should get Endangered Species…

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        1. Sign In Please and That’s The Stuff, their two first albums were the best. Loud & Clear wasn’t all that great.
          Aviator had a similar sound to Auotograph, very AOR-ish.

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        2. Which one has Blondes In Black Cars? That music video was basically the first time I realized I liked girls.

          Aviator is cool! This sounds like a lot of those 80’s bands that I liked, King Kobra for example. If I was aware of these guys in 85 or 86, I would have been a fan.

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