Over the course of nine years, Wolfstone dragged Scottish music -- sometimes kicking and screaming, but always quite loudly -- into the world of rock. They were loud and proud and transferred Seattle's grunge ethic from the Pacific Northwest to the Highlands, applying it to both traditional and their original music. It all began when fiddler Duncan Chisholm put together a ceilidh band to play dances in the Highlands, adding pipes and bass and drums into the mix -- a combination that was well-received. Along with original bassist David Foster, Chisholm brought in Stuart Eaglesham on guitars, his brother Struan Eaglesham on keyboards, and the guitarist/songwriter Ivan Drever to round out the lineup.
The group's 1991 debut, Unleashed, proved to be the biggest seller ever for tiny Iona Records, garnering the band a silver disc (two earlier collections, Wolfstone I and Wolfstone II, circulated once the band became famous. However, they distanced themselves from the material, recorded in their very formative stages). A year later they issued The Chase and took their more developed sound international, with a more refined mix of blazing instrumentals grounded by the heavy rhythm section and Drever's songs, including "The Prophet" and "Tinnie Run." They played around Europe and made their first foray to America, a place they'd visit several times over the next few years. Wolfstone: Captured Alive Video, a video of their live show from the period, illustrates the power of their performances -- not too subtle, but able to get to the masses.
1994 brought two U.S. releases, Wolfstone and the massive Year of the Dog, which had plenty of crunch on songs like "The Sea King." It also introduced two new members, Wayne MacKenzie on bass, and Steve Saint on pipes. It made them into even more of a rock band, and producer Phil Cunningham let the guitars ring loud and distorted. The Half Tail, two years later, had a richer, slicker sound, with one utter standout piece, "Bonnie Ship the Diamond." It put a new stamp on Scots music. Unfortunately, the stamp peeled just a year later, thanks in large part to problems with the record company and management squabbles. However, that was far from the end of the story. Drever and Chisholm worked together, and 1998 and 1999 both brought new Wolfstone albums, This Strange Place and Seven (the first reportedly a contract-filler), following on from a best-of set. While the band has played occasional shows since, they've not gotten back together. ~ Chris Nickson