Here’s another killer LP from the late great 1989. From Huntington Beach, El Lay, we present Leatherwolf and ‘Street Ready’.
Written by: gdmonline
ALBUM: Street Ready
SERIAL: 7 91072-2
CD REISSUE: 2002, Leather Wolf, LW003 (remastered, bonus tracks)
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
LINEUP: Michael Oliveri – vocals, guitars * Geoff Gayer, Carey Howe – lead guitars * Paul Carman – bass * Dean Roberts – drums
TRACK LISTING: 01 Wicked Ways * 02 Street Ready * 03 Hideaway * 04 Take A Chance * 05 Black Knight * 06 Thunder * 07 The Way I Feel * 08 Too Much * 09 Lonely Road * 10 Spirits In The Wind
WEBLINKS: Site Link
Here’s another killer LP from the late great 1989. Yes, it is with some embarrassment that we get to Leatherwolf some 6000+ albums reviews and 16 years later. Really, this should have been covered earlier than it is, but no doubt some other long lost album will pick up the mantle of ‘why hasn’t this been reviewed yet?’
From Huntington Beach, El Lay, Leatherwolf came into being back in 1981. The town was awash with johnny come latelys, covering every sub-genre of rock, but Leatherwolf stuck to their beachside guns, mixing, surf, sand, babes and hard rock all through the 80’s decade. They released an EP in 1984 ‘Endangered Species’ plus their self-titled LP from 1986, but their big break came with this Island Records release in 1989, which got global coverage.
The Leatherwolf sound is quite epic sounding, not quite Iron Maiden like, but with three guitarists in the mix, the comparison would seem obvious. Also, their influences are mostly European or English rather than American, so therefore other American outfits like Queensryche and Savatage could be considered contemporaries but by no means influential.
Leatherwolf get the benefit of a big lush production thanks to Kevin Beamish (REO Speedwagon, Fortune). As mentioned, with three guitarists, the solos are spectacular throughout, starting out with the six-minute ‘Wicked Ways’ which ebbs and flows seamlessly. ‘Hideaway’ sounds like LW and Fifth Angel have all sat in the same recording booth together, such is the similarity in the arrangement. Very commercial sounding melodic metal. Meanwhile, ‘Street Ready’ and ‘Take A Chance’ take the gung-ho approach to 80’s metal. In your face, but still very melodic.
‘Black Knight’ sees our rag-tag bunch deliver a fast/frantic instrumental in blunderbuss fashion. The pick of the album for me, is the stunning ‘Thunder’. The end section is superb, so too the immaculate solos which come at you like red hot laser beams. Just when you think Leatherwolf are all set to take a breather thanks to the tender intro to ‘The Way I Feel’, it ends up being another superb melodic metal outburst of impassioned energy.
Next up is the rabid ‘Too Much’, a track which lives up to its title. The drum tempo here is at a crisp beat, while the guitar work is rough and ready. Howe and Gayer go for broke in the solo department. Super! ‘Lonely Road’ is the band’s power-ballad for the album, though more ‘power’ than ‘ballad’. The closer ‘Spirits In The Wind’ gallops off into the sunset, leaving this listener totally entertained throughout.
As history would show, Leatherwolf never really got the rub of the green, and ‘Street Ready’ as a slab of heavy metal was about the most perfect presentation of the genre in 1989. Quite how audiences missed the mark with these guys remains a mystery to this day.
In their time, Leatherwolf jousted with the best South L.A bands of the early 80’s era including early Metallica and Slayer, then toured with W.A.S.P, Great White and Motley Crue. In support of ‘Street Ready’, the ‘Wolf’ ventured to Europe, and played the 1989 Aardschok event, then opening slots for Vow Wow and Zed Yago.
By the end of the year however, things were falling apart due to non label support and a change of style and personnel. The best part of Leatherwolf had unfortunately come to an end. The band are still in existence with only Roberts holding the fort together as of 2022. Check out their website for more, and if you haven’t got this CD, find it quick!