When grunge took over the airwaves in 1991-1992, a lot of older guard bands found themselves without a record contract. W.A.S.P.’s 1992 concept album The Crimson Idol failed to generate enough interest for Capitol Records to continue investing in the band. A greatest hits contractual obligation album was a typical move for bands in this situation, and that is how First Blood…Last Cuts came to be. With that in mind, the 16 track album is great bang for the buck. Rarities and new songs add value, and the photo-loaded booklet is tons of fun.
A rarity right off the bat, “Animal” was a non-album single and W.A.S.P.’s first. It’s better known as “Fuck Like a Beast”, and that might explain why it wasn’t on the W.A.S.P. album. A good but not exceptional track, it does boast a nice metal chug, but it’s otherwise just there for shock value. It is primitive metal akin to the first LP, with Blackie in full screech. You either like W.A.S.P. or you don’t.
“L.O.V.E. Machine” from the first LP is remixed with the first verse re-recorded, for some reason. Presumably Blackie must have been dissatisfied with the original. There are several remixes on this CD, including singles “I Wanna Be Somebody”, “I Don’t Need No Doctor” (a metalized Ray Charles cover via Humble Pie), “Blind In Texas” and “Wild Child”. The remixes generally have a sharper drum sound, particular the tracks originally from the muddy first album. The remixing leads to an uneven listen. Rather than sounding fresh, the remixes feel off-kilter and slightly unfamiliar, especially when butted up against non-remixed tracks. The muddy “On Your Knees” follows the remixed “I Wanna Be Somebody”. The transition between the two songs, both originally from the same album, could be better.
Thankfully the strong songs outnumber the middling by a hefty margin. “Headless Children” and “The Real Me” (a Who cover from Quadrophenia) remain two highlights of the W.A.S.P. canon. The chugging heavy epic “Chainsaw Charlie” has never been topped by Blackie.
The final incentives are the two new songs, although one (“Rock and Roll to Death”) was recycled on 1995’s Still Not Black Enough. “Sunset and Babylon” is special as it features Lita Ford on guest lead guitar. The nimble-fingered Ford adds some character to the tune, a pretty standard rock n’ roller from Blackie and cohorts.
At 75 minutes, First Blood…Last Cuts is a long running album providing great value. Perhaps it runs a song or two too long, but nit picking aside it is a solidly hot listen through. The drunken cowboy blasts of “Blind in Texas” are as fondly remembered as the gentle strumming on ballads like “Hold On to My Heart”. Indeed, as the album runs on to its second half, ballads begin to outshine the rockers. “Forever Free” remains one of W.A.S.P.’s brightest stars, as likeable as it was in 1989. “The Idol” is a darkly beautiful ballad demonstrating that Blackie Lawless is indeed deeper than just his assless chaps. Although the album dialogue should have been chopped for this greatest hits CD, it just breaks up the flow.
Most people do not need all the W.A.S.P. albums. In fact, scientific studies have shown that one or two W.A.S.P.’s is all the average homo sapiens will ever need. First Blood…Last Cuts would be solidly recommended CD for your first or only W.A.S.P. purchase.