REVIEW: W.A.S.P. – The Last Command (1985, 1997 reissue)

scan_20170110W.A.S.P. – The Last Command (1985, 1997 Snapper reissue)

With W.A.S.P.’s second album The Last Command, Blackie & cohorts made a slight move closer to the mainstream.  Blackie Lawless gave the producer’s chair to Spencer Proffer who worked magic with Quiet Riot in 1983.  There was also a new drummer.  W.A.S.P. said sayonara to Tony Richards and hit Japan with new guy Steve Riley, who today is best known for L.A. Guns.  Riley’s pasty-white demeanor fit right in with W.A.S.P.’s horror rock fantasy.  This foursome (also featuring guitarists Chris Holmes and Randy Piper) became what many refer to as the “classic” lineup.

Each side of the original LP was top-loaded:  “Wild Child” led off side one while “Blind in Texas” was used to ignite side two.  This was a calculated move, as none of the rest of the songs are as memorable as the two singles.  The strategy worked as this album doubled the sales of W.A.S.P.’s first, and those two singles had a lot to do with it.  “Wild Child” in particular was proof that W.A.S.P. could write songs and not just iron riffs.  With a bright incandescence, “Wild Child” found its way onto radio.  It’s an early example of what Blackie Lawless can do when he gets everything right.

As for “Blind in Texas”?  It was always more of a novelty, a chance for the crowd to yell along with Blackie (just listen to the live B-side version on the Headless Children CD).  A cute ZZ Top cameo in the music video didn’t hurt their chances on the Power Hour, and even the staunchest critic must admit this is a blast of pure fun.

Delving into the deeper cuts, “Ballcrusher” is…a quaint love song, let’s say, with a metal chug and a cutting W.A.S.P. riff.  Throw on one of those shouty W.A.S.P. choruses and you pretty much know how “Ballcrusher” goes!  Wealth is celebrated on “Fistful of Diamonds” which is the blueprint for all the generic W.A.S.P. rockers to follow. Steve Riley made his songwriting debut on “Jack Action”, a cool but forgettable nocturnal chug. On side one, however you will discover one real diamond which is the slow and ominous “Widowmaker”. This one too is a blueprint, for classic W.A.S.P. prowls like “The Headless Children”.

Side two has its own pits and valleys. As a sequel to the first album’s ballad “Sleeping (In the Fire)”, “Cries in the Night” is less successful. However it does have a strangely futuristic Iron Maiden-circa-1992 vibe, as if Steve Harris nicked this song for some of his own on Fear of the Dark.  “The Last Command” is junk; limp and hookless.  Blackie plagiarized himself and not for the last time.  When Blackie goes “Running Wild in the Streets” it sounds as if he’s stealing from Quiet Riot.  Ask Spencer Proffer, but surely the similarity between the “all the way!” section and the “I want more!” part of “Scream and Shout” is not coincidence.  The point is moot as neither song is particularly amazing.  Closing The Last Command is “Sex Drive”, a “good enough” song but only just.

W.A.S.P. have been generous with their reissues and included virtually all their related B-sides on the CDs.  “Mississippi Queen” (Mountain) is actually a decent B-side cover.   You have to wonder if, in 1985, W.A.S.P. could have had a hit with “Mississippi Queen” just as Motley Crue did with “Smokin’ in the Boys’ Room”.  Then “Savage” is better than 90% of the actual album.  Why are songs like “Savage” left off albums?  Who makes the decision to release it as an obscure B-side?  The rest of the bonus tracks are all live B-sides, and all W.A.S.P. classics:  “Fuck Like a Beast”, “I Wanna Be Somebody”, “Sleeping (In the Fire)”, “Hellion” and “On Your Knees”.  Some suffer from excessive crowd noise, but it sounds like W.A.S.P. were formidable live.  Blackie should consider selling a live album made up of single B-sides like these, all in one place.

So good are the bonus tracks for The Last Command that they even alter its final score:

3/5 stars (original LP)

to

3.5/5 stars (CD reissue)

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23 comments

    1. Well Mr. Scott I think I need to go in and try the third again. (And the live one that comes after that.)

      W.A.S.P. are an interesting band for me. I can be craving some W.A.S.P. and then satisfy that craving quickly with just one listen.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m a bit like that too. I get wee W.A.S.P. phases but they’re usually pretty short-lived. When that phase kicks in though, only they will do. It’s all in Lawless’ voice. The third one starts well but it’s a bit front loaded. Not terrible but just meh.

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  1. I’m with Scott….The first two WASP albums I bought as they filled that theatric void that KISS was not doing at the time so WASP was interesting to say the least! Last Command was a ok record at the time but like Scott says album numero 3 was a bore…

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    1. THis is interesting…I haven’t played these W.A.S.P. albums in a long time (at least 5 years because they were not ripped to my PC yet). But I seemed to remember the third being better. Now I’m eager to go back and listen.

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  2. I never listened to W.A.S.P. Until I got Apple Music. It came up as a suggestion and I listened to it and loved. I have really only explored their greatest hits so far, but have listened to them more over the last year than ever before.

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  3. I really like this album though I think that side one was measurably better than side two. However, I bought this album for a totally different reason. It was the first album that I know of to have the PMRC label. WASP could have sounded like Madonna on this album and I still would have bought it on account of the label. Still, I’m glad that they didn’t and put out a cool album. I would have given the original a 3.5.

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  4. W.A.S.P… I don’t know what to say about these folks. Or that folk. Or… see what I mean. I got a bunch of their albums from a friend of mine a while back and I honestly didn’t last even half an album before I decided I couldn’t take any more. Very few bands find themselves on my list of ‘na, move along’, but they’re there. Right next to Nickelback and Limp Bizkit.

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  5. From Headless on am well versed in W.A.S.P but singles aside never bothered with this one, probably a good time to explore :)

    Cheers Mike

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  6. I thought ‘The Last Command’, ‘Inside The Electric Circus’, and ‘The Headless Children’ were pretty great records. The band got better each time out, with Lawless wanting to be a legitimate rock band, as opposed to KISS/Alice Cooper rip offs. ‘Children’ in particular was a damn good record.

    I haven’t bought a WASP album since 1990, or heard anything newer than ‘The Crimson Idol’, but they made my teen years all the more interesting.

    ***I made a “95-NASTY” light box in Industrial Arts in the 8th grade. Wish I still had it.***

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