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4AD

The Wolfgang Press

One of 4AD's longest serving acts, The Wolfgang Press were formed by Michael Allen (vocals, bass) and Mark Cox (keyboards) in 1983. The pair had previously played alongside future Adam And The Ants guitarist Marco Pirroni in Rema-Rema, who cut one EP for the label in 1980. They then briefly reunited in Mass, who managed a single and an album before disbanding (Mass colleagues Gary Asquith and Danny Briottet went on to form Renegade Soundwave).

The Wolfgang Press' debut album, The Burden Of Mules, ploughed a similar post-punk furrow to Rema-Rema and Mass. It featured guest contributions from fellow 4AD signings Richard Thomas (Dif Juz) and David Steiner (In Camera), plus, crucially, guitarist Andrew Gray. The latter soon joined the group full-time.

1985's The Legendary Wolfgang Press And Other Tall Stories compiled remixed and alternate versions of tracks from the Scarecrow, Water and Sweatbox EP trilogy, which had been produced by Robin Guthrie of the Cocteau Twins. The trio's range was expanding to include both poppier and more experimental material.

Their second album proper, Standing Up Straight, arrived in May 1986. An intense blend of industrial and classical tropes, it also featured the inimitable guest vocals of Cocteau Twin Elizabeth Fraser on ‘I Am The Crime’.

Two years later, Bird Wood Cage saw the band take a bold step into more melodic territory, incorporating wah-wah funk, female backing vocals and a tinge of dub reggae.

The Wolfgang Press' transformation from moody post-punkers to avant-dance groovers was completed by 1991's Queer, which featured ex-Throwing Muses bassist Leslie Langston. Heavy use of samples led to copyright issues in America, resulting in the entire record being re-recorded or remixed for its Statesside release.

The trio's fifth and final album came out in January 1995. Aptly titled Funky Little Demons, it was entirely devoted to dancefloor-friendly fare. This most enigmatic and underappreciated of groups disbanded shortly afterwards.

In 2001, 4AD issued the retrospective compilation Everything Is Beautiful, featuring key tracks and rare mixes from all stages of The Wolfgang Press' lengthy career. The following year, Andrew Gray released a solo album, Homegrown, under the name Limehouse Outlaw. This featured guest vocals from Michael Allen, who re-emerged himself in June 2005 with Geniuser, a collaboration with The Orb associate Guiseppe De Bellis.

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