John Phillips “John The Wolfking of L.A.” CD (Varese Sarabande)

A lot of reviewers are focusing on Bob Dylan’s aping of Phillips’ cover pose and costume on the front of Desire, but the most interesting things about Wolfking –and there are plenty–are in the grooves. This storied 1969 solo disk from the ravaged ex-Papa proves that not just symbolist poets make their best work when systematically deranging souls and senses. (Of course, Rimbaud didn’t surround himself with ace players from the Wrecking Crew and Elvis’ band, nor with the Blossoms on backing vox.) Wolfking is an eclectic, ambitious and playful romp through scenes of Hollywood and Malibu excess and redemption, exquisitely sung and arranged. Phillips’ style fuses country, pop, scat, gospel and soul in a very personal and appealing way. Eight strong bonus tracks easily turns the disk into a shoulda-been double, including the tender "Lady Genevieve" which negates some of the emotional ugliness of "Let It Bleed, Genevieve" from the original album, and ending with the superior single version of "Mississippi."

(Buy from Amazon. See also Brian Doherty’s review of the album from the Lost in the Grooves book.) 

“Quirkily irresistable” (Uncut)

Quirkily irresistable guide to the best records you’ve never heard. 4/5 stars.

It’s a great idea. Somewhere in the overflowing cut out bin of a dusty store in Scuntthorpe, lies your favourite record – and you don’t even know it exists. To help you locate it, a bunch of American fanzine writers have nominated their own neglected ‘classics’ in a book designed to ‘nudge the cannon so that lost records tumble out’.

They’ve come up with a fascinating list, full of records too demented and generally out there to have round mass appeal. Not all of the 200 or so reclaimed masterpieces are in the same league as Nick Drake, and quite why the editors “want Mekon fans to check out Kylie Minogue” is never clear, but there’s enough unhinged zeal in the writing to make you want to track down most things here.

Uncut readers will take some convincing that they have unfairly overlooked David Cassidy Live! all these years. But it’s a resounding ‘yes’ to Joe E Covington’s Fat Fandango, Ron Nagle’s Bad Rice, John Phillips’ The Wolf King of LA and Bridget St. John’s Songs for the Gentle Man. The latter appeared on John Peel’s Dandelion label in 1971, and makes you wonder why the great man himself never wrote a book like this.

If your own lost classic isn’t included, don’t sit there fulminating. Get in touch via because they’re planning a follow up. (Nigel Williamson, Uncut)