The Hassles

Hour of the Wolf

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Hour of the Wolf showed a great leap in ambition and moved away from blue-eyed soul in favor of hippyish near-psychedelia, this time with Joel handling the songwriting himself (with a couple of co-writes with bandmates). Some of the stuff is certainly cringe-worthy -- none so much as the title track, a 12-minute epic which boasts lyrics like "...God has loosed a hellhound freed to feed upon the prey of his desire/Death is borne alive akin a creature with eyes of burning fire..." (there's even a middle bit featuring the band imitating wolf noises). Embarrassing? Yes, but probably no more so than much of the other music from the era. Musically, the album shows the group dabbling in several styles, at times hinting at the more singer/songwriter-oriented direction Joel would take in the early '70s, as well as displaying his strong melodic sense. [Hour of the Wolf was set for release on CD in 1992, presumably with bonus tracks like the first album, but it was cancelled at the last minute when The Hassles was pulled.]

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