Specialist reissue indie Wounded Bird unearthed this interesting AOR artifact from 1986. While the presence of Jason Bonham behind the drum kit drove most of the publicity for Virginia Wolf, the band was actually more of a stage for vocalist and guitarist Chris Ousey. Oversinging in a style typical of the era, he fell somewhere between Eric Carmen and Paul Rodgers, and helped define the more workmanlike moments of this, the band's self-titled debut. "Livin' on a Knife Edge," for example, is achingly similar to contemporary pop-metal outfits like or Whitesnake; however, it's Ousey's histrionic vocal trills that give it some real spark. Elsewhere, standout tracks like "Are We Playing With Fire?," "Only Love," and the ballad "It's in Your Eyes" are all muscular, white-denim rockers that revolve around recycled, yet still appealing arena rock riffs. While he certainly proves himself as a propulsive drummer with little use for flash, Bonham doesn't do anything on Virginia Wolf to suggest his all-star lineage. At the same time, the by-the-numbers '80s rock production -- featuring egregious amounts of reverb and pitter-pattering synthesizers -- doesn't encourage any of the players to really stand out. Instead, Virginia Wolf's debut was designed with radio singles in mind. It only briefly fulfilled that wish; "Take a Chance" made a few waves, but for whatever reason wasn't able to build a bridge to the upper tiers of stardom. Nevertheless, the band and its individual members have enjoyed a strong cult following over the years, making this release (as well as Wounded Bird's reissue of 1987's Push) essential for fans looking to replace worn-out vinyl or cassettes.
AllMusic Review by Johnny Loftus