Monday 12 May 2014

Choice Cuts: W.A.S.P. - (S/T)

The Band :
·         Blackie Lawless | lead vocals, bass guitar
·         Chris Holmes | lead & rhythm guitars
·         Randy Piper | lead & rhythm guitars, backing vocals
·         Tony Richards | drums, backing vocals

In the early 80's Sleaze Metal/Hair Metal was just starting to really come into its own, if you know anything about that era, you know they called a lot of these acts, Strip bands, as they played all up and down the Sunset Strip. Names like Motley Crue, Great White and London come to mind. A band called W.A.S.P. Fell into that category, however the band didn't necessarily fit as their demeanour, songs and attitude weren't anywhere near as nice as the aforementioned bands. In early 1984, W.A.S.P. Unleashed their Self-Titled debut on Capitol Records. Given that this album is now 30 years old you're probably wondering why in the hell I'm babbling about it. Well lemme tell ya, not only was this album the start of a torrid love affair that I continue to have with the band to this day, but it was also one of the best debuts in the history of Metal in my opinion.

The album was momentarily shelved due to the highly controversial track, “Animal (I Fuck Like A Beast)”. Never a band to sit idly by, the boys opted to hold off the release of the full length and instead released the song as a 12” single with an independent label in the UK. Much to the dismay of the record execs at Capitol, the single exploded and the band were almost instantly awarded a Gold Record for its sales. Forwarding on a bit the Self-titled album was released, debuting at 74 on the billboard charts. Not bad for a band the PMRC had already jumped due to lyrical content and the heinous acts of lead vocalist/bassist Blackie Lawless – the dude threw raw meat at the crowd, had a saw blade crotch piece and some of the most bad ass musicians around in his band.

The first single off the album “I Wanna Be Somebody” is a skull dragging, fist pumping anthem about fighting the man, standing up for yourself and doing it with a take no prisoners attitude. What's more metal than that, let's see, lead breaks that'll make any guitar enthusiast stand up and shout. And the riff, man the riff is ferocious, not only does it pack a punch, but it creates a perfect pocket for the rhythm section to destroy everything in it's wake. Up next is every schoolboy's dream and every mother's nightmare - “Love Machine”. This tune alone, has taught me more about playing double bass drum patterns than any book/video I've ever touched; you couple that with the fact that throughout the verses it's just bass riffing and drums and you get exactly what I'm talking about. Lyrically speaking Lawless, touches on what he can do, what he expects and what he needs... Something every young impressionable male needs to hear. HAHAHA!

The third single off the album is entitled “School Daze” and back in the day I was all about it, because well like every other red blooded male, I hated school. Now that I'm older, I still dig the track but it doesn't resonate as much – I'm a LONG way from school daze for real. The last two tracks I'll talk about are in my opinion the highlights and neither received much of a push from the label as singles - “Hellion” and “Sleeping In The Fire”. “Hellion” is still my Heavy Metal anthem, there will never be another. Lyrically, it deals in everything you need to know about being a Metalhead. “The Gods you worship are steel, at the Altar of Rock N' Roll you kneel”. This tune could've easily been HUGE on MTV, had a video been made. “Sleeping In The Fire” is a ballad of sorts, but as opposed to babbling over a woman, Lawless is fixated on the occult, Lucifer and all things dark and mysterious.

To this day you still won't find better twin lead guitar work, for what appears to be over a minute, guitarists Piper and Holmes trade off blistering leads and continue to rip them until the song fades out. Hands down one of my favourites off the album and even better live, if you've had the privilege.

W.A.S.P. Self-titled album is a classick piece that should be in every fan's collection if you fancy yourself a Metal head. Personally, I have at least 10 different versions of it on album, cassette and cd. And yes, I'm sitting in a room right now with at least 20 W.A.S.P. Posters on the wall. Nothing is wrong in admitting you're a fanatic. If you haven't heard of this band, go check them out now. They're not what you think and I think that's what has hurt them all these years. They weren't soft enough to be a strip band like the Crue, nor were they heavy enough to dish it out with bands like Slayer & Anthrax, they were somewhere in between and that's a mighty fine mix from where I'm standing. “The Torture Never Stops”!

Words & Recommendation by : Andy Burke

Album Details :

W.A.S.P. is the debut album by band W.A.S.P., released August 17, 1984.  The album has been known under three different names; the spine of the original vinyl release had Winged Assassins printed on it, while early cassette releases of the album had the name of the album's first track, "I Wanna Be Somebody", printed in bold letters on the cover. The album is officially entitled simply W.A.S.P.

Track listing :

1). ‘I Wanna Be Somebody’ 03:43
2). ‘L.O.V.E. Machine’ 03:51
3). ‘The Flame’ 03:41
4). ‘B.A.D.’ 03:56
5). ‘School Daze’ 03:35
6). ‘Hellion’ 03:39
7). ‘Sleeping (In The Fire)’ 03:55
8). ‘On Your Knees’ 03:48
9). ‘Tormentor’ 04:10
10).’The Torture Never Stops’ 03:56

Notes :

Tracks 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 10 by Blackie Lawless
Track 3 by Lawless, Holmes, & Marquez
Track 9 by Lawless & Holmes

"Animal (Fuck Like a Beast)" was intended to be on the original version of the album, but was removed due to record company pressure following the controversy the song had created at the time.

The album was originally supposed to be called Winged Assassins.

The LP has engraved onto it near the label "We Are Sexual Perverts".

Songs added to the 1997 CD reissue:
1. Animal (Fuck Like a Beast) (03:07)
12. Show No Mercy (03:48)
13. Paint It Black (Rolling Stones cover) (03:27)

(1997 reissue tracks by Blackie Lawless except track 13 (Rolling Stones cover))

Reissued by Snapper Classics on February 25th 2003 remastered in a digipak with the same bonus tracks as the 1997 reissue.