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.