REVIEW: W.A.S.P. – Still Not Black Enough (both versions)

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W.A.S.P. – Still Not Black Enough (Castle, US and UK versions)

This one came up due to some discussion between myself and Jon Wilmenius who suggested that I not outright dismiss Still Not Black Enough.  I decided to give it a listen again, all the tracks from both versions, and listen with an open mind.  I haven’t listened to this album in years.  I went through a brief W.A.S.P. phase not long after quitting the store.  I bought Helldorado, Unholy Terror, and both Neon God CDs, which might not have been a good idea; doing so many at once.

Still Not Black Enough was a treat to revisit.  It’s top-loaded with some pretty great W.A.S.P. songs.  In fact the album rocks and rolls along quite excellently for four solid tracks in a row:  “Still Not Black Enough”, “Skinwalker”, “Black Forever” and the awesome “Scared To Death”.  I’ve never heard Blackie attempt anything like “Scared To Death” before.  Female backing vocals on a W.A.S.P. album?  It actually works, and brings this track to a much higher level.   Nothing wrong with the other three songs either — all are catchy, heavy W.A.S.P. songs with that Crimson Idol sound.

The album skids to a halt upon track 5, “Goodbye America”.  The unfortunate thing is that “Goodbye America” is a great W.A.S.P. song, kinda similar to “Chainsaw Charlie”, like a shorter twin brother.  Blackie chose to introduce it with a boring, spoken word political thing, which sucks all the air out of the room.  Cut the shit, Blackie.  You’re a rock star who drinks fake blood from a fake skull for a living.  Leave the politics to Bono on the left and Ted on the right.  Shit, even Ted doesn’t write his songs about it.

After a rousing cover of Jefferson Airplane’s “Somebody To Love”, Blackie gets out the piano and does the first ballad of the album.  It’s essentially a reprise to “Hold Onto My Heart” from Crimson Idol.  It’s even called “Keep Holding On”.  Nice song, but no need to do it twice.  OK sure, “Keep Holding On” is a different slant, on a lot of different instruments, but it’s the same damn song.

“Rock And Roll To Death” is both old (previously released on 1993’s excellent First Blood…Last Cuts compilation) and too gimmicky.  It’s an old-timey rock and roll song a-la Chuck Berry played metal style.  I guess it’s supposed to sound like “old W.A.S.P.”, like “Blind In Texas”?  Regardless it’s out of place on Still Not Black Enough, and it was already on the last album, so to me, that means “delete”.

The original ten-track version of the CD placed a ballad here, after “Rock And Roll To Death”.  The acoustic-with-strings ballad “Breathe” was removed from the re-release, and I get why.  It’s similar once again to Crimson Idol songs like “The Idol” and “Hold On To My Heart”.  The actual sonic quality of the song is not good at all, it sounds like a demo.  The drums are obviously not real, they sound like a drum program.  The strings are obviously synth.  It sounds unfinished, compared to the rest of the album.


No matter which version of the CD you buy, track 9 is “I Can’t”.  It’s also acoustic, so again it’s good they removed “Breathe” from the CD, two acoustic songs in a row is too much for a W.A.S.P. album.  This one’s a little edgier, it’s not a ballad.  It’s more a cheesy bad-ass cowboy song with gratuitous “fucks”.  Thankfully it turns electric at the end.  Track ten, and original album closer, is “No Way Out Of Here” which sounds like any number of songs from Crimson Idol.  The similarities are more than superficial.  There are lyrical references to that album, and both albums were performed by the same band:  Frankie Banali and Bob Kulick.

The re-release of Still Not Black Enough has three bonus tracks.  (It also has “Skinwalker” which was track 2, but not on the original release of the CD.)  Track 11 is “One Tribe”, which is pretty different and pretty cool.  It’s a softer song, but it’s about the most original song on the album.  It has strong melodies, and a dramatic enough arrangement.  There’s also what sounds like an electric violin solo!  Lyrically, this sounds like redemption.

Then come the unnecessary covers:  “Tie Your Mother Down” and “Whole Lotta Rosie”.  Of the two, I would say “Tie Your Mother Down” works best.  It brings back the female backing vocals from “Scared To Death” and it’s fun!  “Whole Lotta Rosie” isn’t particularly notable.

I was surprised that I like Still Not Black Enough as much as I do.  I dismissed it outright years ago as an inferior clone of Crimson Idol.  It has moments like that, most definitely.   It’s also a pretty enjoyable listen, and now that I’ve dusted it off, I’ll spin it a couple more times.  Regardless of which version you get (track listings for both below), I think Still Not Black Enough is worth about:

3.5/5 stars

32 comments

    1. Dude if you still own it, you may as well spin the three singles: The Idol, Hold On to My Heart, and Chainsaw Charlie. I think you’ll be happy with those three. Kulick and Banali baby!

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    2. Oh boy, The Crimson Idol is a masterpiece!!! Easily Blackie’s best work. Ever! And on the remastered version’s bonus disc, he does an amazing cover of Led Zep’s When The Levee Breaks. I’d give it a 10/10 rating without hesitation.

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  1. Unless you’re going to go all flamenco, or something don’t even consider ever covering AC/DC – they’re like ZZ Top, there’s nothing ever to be gained there. learn, bands, learn !

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    1. I’m struggling to think of an exception to that.

      Joan Jett destroyed Dirty Deed Done Dirt Cheap. I mean, what are you going to do with it? You’re right, the only way to do it is to go all the way into left field. Hayseed Dixie for example.

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        1. Yes but also so much of the individual personalities are in the music. Bon and Angus in particular, there is no way to really separate the songs from those two individuals.

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  2. I think it’s a great album, but I guess it kinda is the sister of The Crimson Idol in many ways – with a lesser sound. That’s the only thing I hold against this album, it sounds too thin. But the songs are all killers, almost. I think Scared To Death sounds like a Meat Loaf song given the WASP treatment. But I have never even heard Skinwalker. What I don’t agree with is Breathe. I love that song. I think it’s better than Keep Holding On and to me, Breathe is Hold On To My Heart’s brother.
    I’m also curious of the covers. I mean, covers has a tendency to go very wrong, but I think Blackie nails each and every cover he has ever made. I didn’t know there was a re-mastered version of this album, but this one’s a get for me.

    Now that you revisited this, maybe it’s time to revisit the Randy Piper’s Animal records as well? Me, I can’t stop listening to those…

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        1. Right on, thanks Jon. I have the “Virus” CD in the deck and ready to rock.

          In the meantime…feel free to watch this! Lots of Vinnie Vincent dirt here. (the guy in the middle is Mitch Lafon the guy that gets mistaken for you)

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        2. Hey Jon if I manage to crank out a review, can I quote some of the text from the text file that you sent me? Just some of the background stuff, and I’ll give you credit.

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        3. Sure. Go ahead. You don’t have to give me credit at all.
          I’ll look forward to the review.

          And yeah, I’m gonna check out the Vinnie Vincent thing. Cool.

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  3. Actually the Headless Childern was a good solid rock album in a metal cheese puff market when it was released at the time(89)…almost a opposite to what was popular at the time.
    So props to Blackie for that but I have no idea why it gave up on him after this release ???
    You know I still remember the buzz I received from them on there debut when I think I posted on one of Mikes other Wasp reviews that I got into them at the time cuz they were doing what Kiss gave up on at the time..filling the void I guess u could say……
    Last Command as well I thought was good but by Inside The Electric Circus naaa I passed and it wasn’t until Headless Childern that I bought another Wasp album,oh wait I bought the Live one on cassette whatever it was called with the studio track tagged on the end but once I seen the vid for The Real Me….man what a awesome cover version……so I bought it on cassette and spun the crap out it ….I think I gotta rebuy that one……but for some reason none of the other stuff appeals to me …wierd???
    Mike I remember that Joan Jett covers album….man it was all bad…….filed that one to the trash…..

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    1. I think Electric Circus was really good. There are some really killer tunes on that album. To me, WASP lost it after this album, but they have really made a killer come back with their latest albums Dominator and Babylon.

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    2. Headless Children’s awesome. I’m going to give that one a spin soon, I haven’t played it in a while. Personally I didn’t like The Real Me nearly as much as the rest of the album!

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  4. This is the reason I come to Lebrain’s… a band I know next to nothing about (except that they exist) and I get insightful, interesting review and commentary on it. Now I know more! One more reason to make Lebrain’s your one-stop shop for all your musical needs (insert jingle here).

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      1. You’re welcome, but don’t get too sappy, you haven’t heard the jingle yet… Last I heard, there were talks about a Kroeger/Dion duet, but scientists came in at the last minute with well-founded fears about Universal collapse if this were allowed to happen…

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  5. Always thought this was a great album. The sequence of Headless, Crimson & this one were my entry points to studio WASP. All 3 albums have some filler but they still hold pride of place on my eyePod (along with Live…. In The Raw obvs.)

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  6. Just got this one out. Digging it. Don’t have any recollection to ever listening to this before. Didn’t even know there’s 2 different versions of this.

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