Cry Wolf

Grand Slamm Records

Why is this band cheered like some sort of rock and roll messiah in the Orient and barely even recognized in the States? Who knows. But like with our country's economic direction, we could take some lessons from the Japanese about Cry Wolf, who first signed a deal to Epic/Sony in Japan.

Now, with a domestic release on Grand Slamm Records, Crunch is a solid collection of 10 true grit rockers. All of these songs are good. Vocalist Timmy Hall's near perfect tonality has just the right edge and fits Steve McKnight's melodic, driving guitar phrasing like a worn-in pair of Levis. Phil Deckard's thump-groove bass and Paul Cancilla's steady skins bashing add concise rhythms to the record.

The true diamonds on Crunch are "Face Down In The Wishing Well," "Long Hard Road," "Stop, Look and Listen" and "West Wind Blows." I don't mean to take away from the other worthy tunes here, but these four really shine.

"Face Down In The Wishing Well" is an all-out, balls to the walls, ass kicker about where money can get you: "Oh, it's a scary scene, reaching for the green/When you wish on a star/`Cuz there's a chance you take, ya might find a snake/In the cookie jar."

"Long Hard Road" is a power ballad that works. This moving ditty is a love meets reality story recorded with precision and taste. No "Baby, baby, let's 69" here.

"Stop, Look and Listen" takes a rock and roll look at the creatures of. . .well, rock and roll. I love the way wordsmiths Hall and McKnight describe some of those creatures: "Techno panoramic gloomster cowboys on parade/Freaks and geeks and painted cheeks/Most of them in shades."

Finally, "West Wind Blows" is a killer road song. It centers around a mid-tempo commercial progression that gave me that summer night party feeling. Hall's passionate screams sound a lot like Michael Sweet of Stryper on this one.

Grand Slamm Records of New York knew what the hell they were doing when they signed a record deal with Cry Wolf. Crunch is not only an extremely marketable album, it's a damn good one. That's a sure-fire combination.