REVIEW: White Wolf – Endangered Species (1986 Japanese CD)

wwesWHITE WOLF – Endangered Species (1986 BMG Japan)

With a name like White Wolf you’d almost expect this band to come from the forests of Northern Ontario or Quebec.  No so; they hail from provincial capital of Edmonton Alberta (pop: 800,000).  So we’ll forgive that the music video for “Shadows in the Night” (from 1984’s Standing Alone) made them looks like outdoors winter survivalists.  Long-haired sidekicks of Les Stroud?  No; they look much more indoors-y on Endangered Species, their second album before disbanding.  The album cover is notable for being a Hugh Syme work, though obviously a lesser one.

They earned some minor video play with “She”, indicating a more keyboardy direction than album #1.  Mushy sounding drums distract from the killer Don Wolf (Don Wilk) chorus.  Akin to Dokken’s “Breaking the Chains”, “She” will appeal to hard rockers who like melody with their guitars.  It’s all about that chorus though, the kind that makes you hit “repeat” and go right back to the start.

White Wolf has a weird 80s metal thud and that combined with harsh production values make Endangered Species sound terribly dated.  Techy keyboard flairs sound lifted from David Bryan’s Slippery When Wet sound library.  Anyone craving mid-tempo 80s hard rock will find enjoyable music on Endangered Species, but few songs have the same impact as “She”.  Dull verses, bland choruses and generic song titles keep things from sticking.  Sub-Jovi with none of Jon’s then-irresistible innocence is a narrow niche.

“Just Like an Arrow” comes close, but the keyboards weigh it down when it should be flying.  Too many bands (Quiet Riot, Stryper, etc.) really let the keys have too much space around this time.  “Cryin to the Wind” has an excellent acoustic intro but not enough of a song to go with it.  The drum samples are obtrusive because they don’t sound natural.  It sounds like a lot of time was taken in the studio but the technology wasn’t up to the task, and everything came out tinny and powerless.  “Holding Back” doesn’t have enough hooks.  “Snake Charmer” steals a title and a hook from Ritchie Blackmore, and appeals as a Rainbow-like understudy.  The only other track besides “She” and “Snake Charmer” that hits the spot is “One More Time”.

Not a terrible album, not a flaming turd…but not a winner either.

2/5 stars

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14 comments

  1. Never heard of this lot, Mike. Don’t think I’m missing much either based on what you’ve written and what I can hear from She. I can almost see the 1986 review puns: “White Wolf lack bite”.

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  2. I was lucky enough to have MTV on one of the few times it played their video from 1984. I thought it was okay. Likewise I thought the song featured here is okay. I’ve never heard of their 1986 album and now I’m tempted to check it out or at least put it down on my 1986 list.

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  3. The 2 out of 5 album tends to fall in the ‘meh’ category for me – not strong enough to be worth exploring but not enough of a ‘flaming turd’ as you say to be memorably awful!

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  4. I have one White Wolf album here – on cassette! Standing Alone… don’t think I’ve ever played it.

    “Not a terrible album, not a flaming turd…but not a winner either. 2/5 stars” tells me what I need to know, here!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. So. Here I am. The odd man on the bill. Haha.
    I have to disagree with you heavily. See, I love White Wolf – and especially this album. Standing Alone was awesome but this one is their true killer!
    I bought Standing Alone when it came out, why I’m totally clueless of. I think it was Trust Me, the song they played on the 30 min rockshow we had on on our national radio station back when, that made go and and buy it.
    So Endangered Species was a no-brainer for me when it came out – I bought it unheard.

    I love almost every song the album and Crying To The Wind is one of the hard rock ballad greats as far as I’m concerned. Besides, I always thought White Wolf had their own sound. Speaking of sound, sure, the sonics might leave a whole lot to be desired but it was 1986 and the sterile, plastic production here is just a sign of the times. I mean, we all own albums produced by overrated people like Ron Nevison, Neil Kernon and Kevin Elson, right? So called producers that ruined album throughout the 80’s? Well, this album is no exception. Most melodic rock records sounded like this in the 80’s.
    But the songs are bloody terrific, if you ask me.

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    1. Hey John! Sorry I took out the chainsaw on White Wolf. At least it proves I am not purposely biased towards Canadian bands, am I right? I love that when they were over here working hard, you were over there in Sweden rocking out.

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