Kerrang! Issue 46 – July 1983
WILDLIFE – ‘Wildlife’ (Swansong B 0078)

HEY! THE debut album by Simon Kirke’s new band – what’s it like? Well, the first and most obvious thing to say is how much better it is than Bad Company’s last effort. It’s spirited, energetic, exciting and incisive. Which is perhaps a little surprising when you consider that both albums were produced by the same man – Mick Ralphs – in the same studio – Ridge Farm – and, of course, feature the same drummer at the core of a similarly full but empty sound.

But then Wildlife’s other members- Overland brothers Chris and Steve, bass player Philip Soussan and keyboardsman Mark Booty-are uniformly young and hungry and out to prove their point. Hardly well- heeled, well-oiled and well-padded like their venerable Swansong label mates. And so Wildlife snarl and snap and sink their teeth into their ten songs like their lives depended on it. Which is how it should be. Anything less than 100% commitment and who would take ‘em seriously?

Nevertheless Wildlife won’t find it an easy ride. Uphill struggle and bloody baffles lie between them and real success. It’s one thing, you see, to be a good band with tight arrangements, explosive guitars and great vocals – but it’s quite another to be special nowadays, and to these ears Wildlife sound like every other accomplished mid-Atlantic Heavy Melody band with their fingers crossed for American acceptance and international chart success. When, that is, they don’t sound just a Iittle too much like Free and Bad Company for comfort.

Mind you, I do feel a little guilty making these criticisms, since the Overland brothers (whose band I figure this really is considering between them they see to all the songs, the singing and the guitar playing) have come up with some very fine material. Side one is maybe a. little patchy but side two is masterful throughout. And pleasantly varied too. But the fact remains they haven’t written a Heavy Rock classic and neither do they offer any radical departures or reassessments of style.

So ultimately no song here is better than par for the course – competitive enough to warrant its place on the starting grid but with little of the stamina and character required to head the field and beat the clock. On the other hand though, as a first tilt at the big time, this album augers well for Wildlife’s future. The crunch will come with the next one.

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