• Guitar Wolf - Hero The Wolves (Ki/oon Records) DVD Review

    Released by: Ki/oon Records
    Released on: December 2nd, 2004.
    Director: Various
    Cast: Seiji (Guitar Wolf), Billy (Bass Wolf), Toru (Drum Wolf)
    Year: 2004
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    Guitar Wolf - Hero The Wolves - Movie Review:

    Guitar Wolf remain a fringe act here in the United States where, aside from the fine Wild Zero release from Synapse films, their only domestically available DVD is the Guitar Wolf – Red Idol release from Narnack Records. In Japan, however, there have been a few DVD releases covering the band’s history, the first of which is Guitar Wolf – Hero The Wolves. This half hour compilation disc compiles five of the band’s earlier promotional videos and slaps them onto a nice shiny disc with some accompanying live footage shot during one of their all too infrequent North American tours.

    Included on the DVD are:

    Invader Ace - "Strange And Beautiful!"

    Directed by John Michael McCarthy, this one uses clips from his film Sore Losers, which Guitar Wolf appear in, and basically sets them to music. It doesn't really make any sense, but it works.

    All Through The Night Buttoobose! - "Strange And Criminal!!"

    This one was also directed by John Michael McCarthy, and it was probably made around the same time as the Invader Ace piece as it has a similar feel. The highlight of this one is a woman in funky lingerie who shoots a skull at the band out of her crotch after drawing a weird sort of hypno-wheel on there to get things started.

    Kaminari One - "Strange And Oriental!!"

    This third video was directed by Tetsurou Takeuchi and it's a step up as far as scope goes from the first two videos. In this on, the band gets to do a little more - they don't just stand around looking cool, they also wander around with their instruments!

    Can-Nana Fever - "Strange And Dangerous!!"

    Tetsurou Takeuchi directs this one as well, and it's a pretty nutty affair. It splices in some live/on stage footage in with the newly shot narrative footage.

    Jet Generation - "Strange And Peaceful!!"

    Tetsurou Takeuchi directs this one as well, the best of the five promotional videos contained on this little DVD. Watch for the bit where the entire band get into pint sized space ships and fly into the heavens, Seiji holding his guitar while he pilots. It doesn't get much cooler than this. There's some quality 'yelling into a megaphone' action here too.

    U.S. Live! – "Strange And Chaossss!"

    This last chapter is just a compilation clip of the band playing at various clubs (one in Hollywood, one in Los Angeles and one in Seattle) on one of their rare U.S. tours. Judging by the fact that in one clip Seiji has a piece of paper on his guitar that says 'Poison Ivy' on it, it's probably safe to assume that at least some of this material was shot when they opened for the Cramps on their Flamejob tour. They do a couple of different version of Link Wray's Rumble in addition to Seiji's infamous 'machine gun guitar' bit where he shoots audience members with his electric-twanger. They also do a cover of the MC5's Kick Out The Jams. It's all shot rather haphazardly but it suits the band nicely.

    The six chapters do a pretty good job of capturing the raw energy and complete, manic insanity that Guitar Wolf brings to their recordings and more importantly to their live shows. While obviously it isn’t the same as being there, there’s a nice sense of chaos that permeates every second of this material and, as such, it’s a good representation of what the band is all about.

    Guitar Wolf - Hero The Wolves - DVD Review:

    Well, the video quality on this release is a mixed bag. Some of the studio-shot videos look perfect without any compression or defects at all, while the live video footage is a little worse for wear. The live footage is shot in such a way that the camera shakes and moves around a lot, which goes a long way to capturing the feel of the band, but makes it dizzying to watch in a few spots. The overall image clarity is pretty solid though, and for the most part it all looks pretty good (those few minor complaints aside).

    The audio is presented in a Japanese language Dolby Digital 2.0 track without any subtitle options of any kind (thankfully, since this is all music footage, it doesn’t really matter). The levels on their recordings are always way in the red and totally off the meter so expect plenty of noise, feedback and distortion all through the video. This is completely on purpose and that's exactly the way it should be.

    Aside from a main menu screen that allows you to pick from the six chapters on this disc, the DVD itself is barebones. Inside the keepcase, however, is a strange little booklet that is all in Japanese and printed on newsprint. It contains credits for the six videos contained on the DVD and some other text that, unless you can read Japanese, is indecipherable.

    Guitar Wolf - Hero The Wolves - The Final Word:

    It was a little on the expensive side (roughly $20 US) for less than half an hour’s worth of material back when it was released, and it’s now long out of print, but Guitar Wolf fans will want to add Guitar Wolf – Hero The Wolves to their collections. The five videos on the DVD are all a lot of fun and the live footage is completely insane.