REVIEW: W.A.S.P. – The Headless Children (Remastered)

WASP HEADLESS CHILDREN_0001W.A.S.P. – The Headless Children (1998 Sanctuary remaster, originally 1989)

When this album came out in ’89, my friends gave me a hard time for buying it. “You still listening to W.A.S.P.? Don’t they suck?” Then later on that summer, the ballad “Forever Free” was released as a single, and suddenly everybody wanted to tape my W.A.S.P. album! Funny how that worked out.

This is W.A.S.P.’s best. As far as the early stuff goes, It’s their meanest, heaviest, most aggressive and honest record. It’s the last before Chris Holmes split (for the first time anyway) and it has Frankie Banali (Quiet Riot) on drums. This is it. If you’re going to own one W.A.S.P. album, it has to be this one. The first single “The Real Me” (a Townshend-approved Who cover) was misleading, as the album is much heavier than that. The title track, “Thunderhead”, and especially “The Heretic” all kick some serious metallic ass. Double-bass, fast riffs, eerie Sabbathy organ, it’s all here.

Blackie outdid himself on this one, even his concept album opus The Crimson Idol couldn’t top it. Lyrically this is (mostly) more serious territory, tackling subjects such as hard drugs, Reagan, and the decline of western civilization. Occasionally they lapse back into joke material (“Mean Man”) but soon it’s back to serious rocking.

Blackie was inspired to get serious by his old song, “B.A.D.” from the first album. A fan had come up to Blackie and said that song had helped her kick drugs. It was the line, “It’s the bloody fix you do” that inspired her to quit. Blackie realized, “Here we did this thing without even trying. What could we do if we tried?”

Hence, songs like “Thunderhead”. Even the excellent ballad “Forever Free” has some serious spirit to it, an ode to someone who is no longer with us. Regardless of the lyrics, music is the most important thing, and The Headless Children is W.A.S.P.’s strongest collection of music to date. It was all there:  heavy metal with solid riffs and influences dating back to the roots. Mood wise, we are firmly in the blackest of Sabbath territory on many songs.

The bonus material is interesting on the remastered edition. “Locomotive Breath” is a W.A.S.P.-ified version of a Jethro Tull classic, much simpler but heavy as lead. Other tracks are outtakes, and some musical and lyrical bits would be re-used on Crimson Idol. See if you can spot them.  The closing track “Blind In Texas” (a live B-side) is unfortunately a useless version with some drunk dude being invited to sing the chorus. A waste of plastic.  Fortunately the rest of the album proper makes up for it.

5/5 stars


  1. This was I think my last purchase of Wasp back in 89. Compared to the other studio releases before Headless Children this is there strongest but I think it generally went unnoticed by the masses I believe in regards to sales at the time. Too bad though a strong effort esp with drums being done by a pro!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yup, I think that this lineup is the peak. Chris isn’t the most awesome guitarist but he has an image that is part of what W.A.S.P. was. Johnny Rod had an image too and then Frankie gives it that precise musicality.


      1. Chris has a very personal sound that defines WASP in many ways. No, he’s no Yngwie, that’s for sure, but he still beats CC DeVille…

        Johnny Rod has a real mean voice, not that far from Blackie’s and I guess that was a strong reason for him getting hired. Randy Piper had a similar voice.


      2. Chris has a very personal sound that defines WASp in some ways. He’s no Yngwie, that’s for sure, but he beats CC DeVille…

        Johnny Rod has a pretty mean voice quite similar to Blackie’s and Piper had a voice like that as well, so I guess he was hired for his voice asa much as for his bass playing.


  2. I enjoyed this review very much! Have you considered selling ladies support hose in this forum? You could make extra dollars and work from home very much in this field. I will bookmark this site and tell all of my friends administrator goldfish!

    Hahaha man. I don’t know much about WASP except what you guys talk about in these pages, so I appreeciate it all! Good one, Mike!


    1. I’m sure Tipper would have liked to put a sticker right over Blackie’s buttless pants.

      Tipper would have loved this album, especially the song the Heretic which is a spiritual Christian-type song ;)

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This is a great album. My favourite WASP too. Never really thought of it as being Sabbathy though… interesting. I’ll keep that in mind next time I listen to it. Quite a few bits always remind me of Maiden and 7th Son. Actually, I think they shared management for a while didn’t they?


  4. I both agree with you and I don’t. Some parts are just brilliant, some are not. The title track and The Heretic (I know what you mean by Sabbathy) are among his best work ever and the cover of The Who’s The Real Me is just brilliant. Blackie is the king of covers! Also Forever Free is fantastic. Blackie is also the king of ballads! But the rest of the songs are good, no more no less.
    Too bad this line-up didn’t continue. Frankie banali was perfect for WASP.
    I still hold their debut and The Crimson Idol as WASP’s best albums and I actually take The Last Command over this album as well.
    But Blackie has a real high lowest level when it comes to the quality of song writing, so in my book, the six first WASP albums are more or less faultless.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I really haven’t given Last Command or Electric Circus much of a chance. I have them both here but I have to admit I wore out on their lyrics. Can only listen to so many songs about “ballcrushers” etc.

      However as I said I have them all, and as I rip music to my PC I revisit everything so that’s something to look forward to.


  5. I just saw some recently-released (I think) official lyric videos for songs from the Golgotha album and was both surprised and impressed by how good, and “deep” for lack of a better word, the songs sounded. I’ve never given W.A.S.P. any attention, to the point of not being able to name even a single song or album, as I had preemptively written the band off as shallow and gimmicky (not in a good “Manowar” way). Anyway, those songs sent me down a bit of a rabbit hole, and brought be back here to your site to look up this album, which I’ve seen cited as being really good and a real evolution for the Blackie and band. As a 5/5, I guess I better give this lot a chance.

    Have you heard Golgotha? I was really taken by the two songs/videos “Scream” and the title track.


  6. This reissue really annoys me as they removed a single bar’s worth of music from the middle of the riffy bit in “Heretic” that is there on the original release (it’s on my 1989 vinyl copy) which really jars and affects the groove of the song. Apparently, this was to fit all the bonus shit on the reissue. I’d rather they would have left one of the bonus songs off, to be frank.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Once you notice it, you’ll never un-notice it!
        I even found another copy of the reissue as I originally thought it could be a disk problem, but it wasn’t. Not sure if it was a UK only thing but I assume not.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I agree with you 110%. I’d rather have all the tracks unaltered. Skip one bonus track or do a double.

          Now that you told me I’ll never un-notice!

          Time to look for vinyl.


      1. I am reliably informed by my good mate Rich (who showed me this originally) that the original pre-Sanctuary CD version has the song intact… But you can’t have too many headless children. That sounded wrong.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Hahhaha yes it did but I know what you mean!

          Sincerely thank you for this information. This kind of stuff matters to me. I don’t know how much you’ve read here but I am a completist in every way. If it’s officially released I need it. And if it’s something like an original full length song that was edited for CD, well that just riles the collector blood.

          Liked by 1 person

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