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Russ Dwarf: Wireless

Being honest, Canada's Killer Dwarfs never really made a huge impact on my musical life, with a brief encounter with the band in 1988 supporting Iron Maiden being more memorable for frontman Russ Dwarf entering the stage on a kid's tricycle, than any of their songs. Therefore reading the press release for Wireless, an acoustic reworking of Killer Dwarfs songs from the albums Stand Tall, Big Deal, Method To The Madness and Dirty Weapons by Russ himself, was a bit of an eye opener. I had no idea that the band had made such in impact in North America, been nominated for Canadian Juno Awards, or sold in the region of two million records worldwide. Not bad in anyone's estimations. So with interest piqued and respect heightened, I have dutifully persevered with Wireless to try and get under the skin of a surprisingly understated album. As with many releases where old songs are re-imagined there's no denying that not knowing those original versions is a hindrance in appreciating the fare on offer, and what we have here is no different.

The album sounds simply wonderful, with the enthusiastically strummed acoustic guitars being bright and full, while Russ's voice cuts through admirably. However, with few exceptions (the cool, if short banjo intro to "Strartin' To Shine" being one), the approach simply fails to vary enough to truly hold the interest. Now if the likes of "Keep The Spirit Alive", "Dirty Weapons" or "Four Seasons" were songs I'd known and loved for many years, my thoughts might be different. As it is though, the lack of variance in attack makes for slightly tough going.

That said the guitar playing from Glenn Belcher is poised and skilled, while fret guest spots from the likes of Glenn Drover (Megadeth/King Diamond) and Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal (Guns 'n' Roses) don't exactly hurt either. Dwarf himself has a cool bourbon soaked voice that sits easily in this stripped back setting, possessing a similar emotional delivery to that which has served Mike Tramp (White Lion, Freak Of Nature) so well over the years and while he'll never be classed as one of the greats, there's no denying he does a fine job here.

Time and familiarity have begun to reveal the inner beauty of songs such as "Doesn't Matter", "Driftin' Back" and "Look Around" and it would be a lie to suggest that my initial frosty disinterest in this release hasn't thawed significantly as I've stuck with it. However there's also little even now to suggest that this set of songs won't work best for those who already class themselves as Killer Dwarf-ites. If that's the category you fall into, or indeed if finely crafted acoustic melodic rock is your bag, then you will love Wireless. However those not so enthralled by "unplugged" or by this man's main band will have to work hard to unlock this album's inner beauty, although those efforts do bring some worthy rewards.

Track Listing
1. Keep That Spirit Alive
2. Stand Tall
3. Startin' To Shine
4. I'm Alive
5. Doesn't Matter
6. Comin' Through
7. Dirty Weapons
8. Look Around
9. Four Seasons
10. Driftin' Back

Added: June 1st 2013
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link:
Hits: 2040
Language: english

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