One of the Ad Hoc label's first objectives has been to reissue the complete catalog of Woof Records, a small independent imprint directed by Tim Hodgkinson and Bill Gilonis in the '80s. Woof 7 Inches culls the EPs and singles released on the label between 1980 and 1984 by the Hodgkinson/Gilonis duo, the Work, and the Lowest Note. Some of these tracks were already available on CD, but it makes sense to have them all in one place, and the album as a whole makes a very fine listen of British avant pop at a time when the majority were emulating "Mr. Roboto." First up is the Hodgkinson/Gilonis material, home recordings released in 1980 as the EP I Do -- I Do -- I Don't -- I Don't. Harsh-sounding experiments in pop deconstructionism, these tunes are packed with good and not-so-good ideas and provide important context to the history of the Work, a group consisting of the aforementioned two plus drummer Rick Wilson and guitarist Mick Hobbs. From the Work there is a contribution to the 1980 compilation LP Miniatures, the three-track single I Hate America, the Recommended Records Sampler track "Houdini," and the 1992 piece "Scream Circle." All of these are available as bonus tracks on CD reissues of the Work's albums. "I Hate America" and "Houdini" pack a lot of punch, blending punk angst, rock stance, and avant-garde flair. The collection finally comes down to the Lowest Note, a shape-shifting group spearheaded by Andy Bole, Sven Halo, and Billy Rebel. Their songs come closer to the pop format and are extremely rich in arrangements, instruments, and homespun studio wizardry. Included are the tracks from the singles The Lowest Note on the Organ and Piggy Bank; three "outtakes" from Bole's first solo LP, Ramshackle Pier (also included on Ad Hoc's reissue of that album); and a live rendition of "Jane" (retitled "Naiwabi") featuring Bole, Gilonis, singer Catherine Jauniaux, and a drummer. "Jane," "Piggy Bank," and "Trial By Silhouette" still sound as quirky and fresh as when they were recorded. Fans of the avant-garde pop/rock scene that developed in the '80s and '90s around labels like Recommended, RecRec, and even in the first years of Ambiances Magnétiques deserve to hear this material, along with Things from the Past, a similar Ad Hoc compilation culling the material released by the collective MCCB (Mass Culture Control Bureau).
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AllMusic Review by François Couture