blackie lawless

VHS Archives #6: Blackie Lawless of W.A.S.P. interview (1986)

This video comes from popular Facebook vote!  Stone from Metal Odyssey, Max the Axe, and your Heavy Metal Overlord all voted for Blackie Lawless as our next VHS Archive.

In this interview (estimated to be from 1986 based on the date of the tape), Blackie is confronted by MuchMusic’s Erica Ehm about W.A.S.P.’s stage show.  Lawless is strangely awkward and makes very little eye contact with anyone. It’s the 1980s and so Satanism must be denied.  Check it out!

 

Who would you like to see next in the VHS Archives?  Vote in the comments from the artists below!

  1. Faith No More (Billy & Roddy) 1992
  2. Bruce Dickinson 1986
  3. Kiss (full band) 1992
  4. Queensryche (Wilton & DeGarmo) 1990
  5. Steve Vai 1990

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)

REVIEW: W.A.S.P. – First Blood…Last Cuts (1993)

scan_20161125W.A.S.P. – First Blood…Last Cuts (1993 Capitol)

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.

4/5 stars

scan_20161125-2

REVIEW: W.A.S.P. – K.F.D. (1997, domestic and Japanese versions)

FLAMING TURDS

“Flaming Turds” artwork courtesy of SARCA at CAUGHT ME GAMING.  Thanks Sarca!

We continue with the WEEK OF FLAMING TURDS!  We’re looking at a collection of malodorous music.  Strike a match, you’ll need it for these stinkers!  This one smells like something went bad in that fridge….

W.A.S.P. – Kill.Fuck.Die (1997 Castle, 1997 Victor Japanese import)

W.A.S.P. sure started to suck in the 1990’s. 1995’s Still Not Black Enough was alright: It got the job done in putting new W.A.S.P. music on the shelves, though it was hard to find in stores.  Then Marilyn Manson came along, the new king of shock rock, and Blackie Lawless said “Hey!  I did that first!  I need to take back my throne.”  Caking on the makeup, he reconnected with erstwhile lead guitarist Chris Holmes.  Rather than playing to their collective strengths, the pair instead wrote and recorded an album of industrial rock that came off as a desperate attempt to be relevant.   The oh-so edgy album title Kill.Fuck.Die. had to be abbreviated to K.F.D.  The album packaging was clever in concept but crap in delivery.  A blurry picture of a fridge opens to reveal another blurry picture body parts and meat.  On the inside, yet another blurry picture of a pig carcass.  Go, 90’s!

Because this writer is a fucking OCD idiot, he owns both the domestic and Japanese versions of K.F.D.  This means I have all the different bonus tracks.  You get to read a one-stop review including all the tracks.  Good for you!

“K.F.D” sounds as if the band were playing in a shoe box full of stuffing.  W.A.S.P. are muffled, robbing them of the guitar excitement we’re used to.  Blackie’s voice is distant because…90’s.  As usual Stet Howland’s drumming is way too busy.  Fortunately the song has hooks, but who wants to run around singing “Kill!  Fuck!  Die!”?  Not this guy.  Sorry Blackie, but even as an angry young man I thought this was lame.

Skip the boring and monotonous “Take the Addiction”.  Do the same for “My Tortured Eyes”, a slow distorted drag of a song.  These tunes are necessary listening only for diehard Blackie fans who need to buy everything he burps and farts.  There are a couple good songs next, though the titles are pretty doltish:  “Killahead” and “Kill Your Pretty Face”.   The first is fast metal, but of course still with this annoying “industrial” production.  (I use the quotation marks because it’s really not industrial music per se…there are no interesting samples or loops to keep things moving.)  The second is a slow burn, that drags for a while before we finally get to the chorus, which is a good one at least.  Good enough to consider it a decent song.  “Fetus” is a waste of time, just a minute of screaming and noise.  It blends into “Little Death”, just noise trying to sound like Trent Reznor.  Wisely, the Japanese edited these two off, and included their own bonus track “Tokyo’s On Fire” in this spot.  Maybe “Little Death” could have been a good song if it wasn’t compressed and distorted into nonsense.  Thankfully they stuck to a rock production with “Tokyo’s On Fire”.  That does make it sound odd sitting in the middle of the album.  Suddenly, the music sounds alive, not strangled!  “Tokyo’s On Fire” sounds like W.A.S.P., not Marilyn-Trent Lawless!

Scan_20160226 (4)

Another dumb title, “U”, masks an OK song.  The lyrics are pretty are pretty half-baked.  “U fuckin’ suck!” sings Blackie.  No wonder they didn’t include a lyric sheet in this baby.  Anger is a great emotion to express in rock music.  Get it out!  But “Kill yourself for me,” doesn’t cut it for lyrics.  Shock without purpose.  A molotov cocktail without a revolution.  It’s just shrapnel, nothing more.  “Wicked Love” is better, thankfully, with a good chorus and melody, but again the compressed guitars just underwhelm.  It would have been nice if Blackie had let the guitars sound like, you know, guitars.  The album closes out on “The Horror” which is way too long, and takes forever to go anywhere.  A good solid five minutes could have been trimmed from this coma-inducer.  It ends powerfully, but it’s basically just a reprise of “K.F.D.”.  So, if you consider “K.F.D.” and “The Horror” to be one song in two parts, and do the same for “Fetus” and “Little Death”, then…holy shit, Blackie only came up with nine new songs for this album, including the Japanese bonus track!

The aforementioned domestic CD packaging has two significant flaws.  One is that the cardboard fridge is hinged on a perforation, which usually tears after opening it too many times.   The other is that it is unfortunately not worth opening.  Keep the fridge closed, fans.

2/5 stars

WTF Search Terms: Joey Tempest Strikes Back edition

DARTH TEMPEST

WTF Search Terms XXVII:  Joey Tempest Strikes Back edition

Been a long time since I rock and rolled?  Hardly!  I just rock and rolled last night actually.  But it has been a long time since we’ve seen some WTF Search Terms!  (The last was in March.)  These are the most bizarre of the bizarre search terms that somehow led people to mikeladano.com.  Today’s instalment includes a couple for the Dark Lord of the Sith himself: Joey Tempest (you devil, you!) and a fair share of farts.

First up, a follow-up to the bizarre Joey Tempest Conspiracy Theory (TM):

  • satanic signs of joey tempest

I think the next person was looking for Joey aka Joakim Larsson as well!

  • presinor in paradies song

Here ya go, fella!  This would actually be the first album with Fake Joey.

Here are some fart and bowel related search terms:

  • thunder fart piss
  • how to rip on coworker who is constipated
  • white lion till death do us fart
  • faith no more farts

The video where Mike Patton farts into his microphone is called You Fat Bastards: Live at the Brixton Academy.  Here ya go, fella!* 20 seconds in. You’re welcome. You’re all welcome!

Here’s an old classic for you.  Were you aware that the Boobsy Animation Whore Wearing Glasses Acquired Screwed series was up to Part 7 already?

  • boobsy animation whores wearing glasses acquire screwed hardcore part 7

The question below is one I have often wondered.  Not really a WTF, but a good question.  Should they have called the album something else?

  • why did cinderella release “long cold winter” album in may

In England, it was released in July.  Imagine that!

Then, the below search term is a belief I do hold.  It’s OK if you don’t but why are you searching for this?  Is there one definitive authority who “knows” this?  (If so, let it be me?)

Finally, I’d like to close this batch of search terms with a guy who, well, he hasn’t been featured in WTF search terms for a long time.  His last appearance was WTF Search Terms XVI, back in February 2014.   Please welcome back the founder and bare buttocks of W.A.S.P., Mr. Steven Edward Duren aka Blackie Lawless!

  • biggest ass in leather
  • black lawless is an arse hole

Thank you, goodnight!

* Yes I made the assumption that the searcher was male.  Because farts.

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

Part 302: Blackie Lawless

STILL NOT BLACK ENOUGH_0004

RECORD STORE TALES Part 302:  Blackie Lawless

W.A.S.P. singer, founder and leader Blackie Lawless is known among fandom for his raging douchebaggery.  Witness a recent event in Russia, where Blackie ignored the one and only fan at the train station asking for his autograph.  Everybody should understand a human being’s need for privacy when they live in the limelight, but asking for an autograph at a train station is hardly imposing, especially when they’re the only fan in the place.

Blackie don’t sign nothin’!

Even back in the Record Store days, I was hearing stories about Blackie being an asshole to fans.  Witness the evidence below, an interaction I had with a customer in the late 1990’s:

Customer:  Hey, do you have any W.A.S.P. albums?

Me:  We might…are you looking for a specific one?

Customer:  No.  Just one that has a picture of the singer.  Blackie’s his name right?

Me:  Yup, Blackie Lawless.

Customer:  Here’s the thing.  I just want to see what he looks like.  I was in Toronto a couple months ago, and I swear I saw this guy.  I asked him, “Hey, are you in a rock band called W.A.S.P.?”  The guy said no, but I was sure it was him.  I said, “Come on, you’re him.  You look exactly like him.”  He had the long black hair, and he was really tall, man.

Me:  Well, Blackie’s definitely known for his hair and his height.  Sounds like him.  Hey, I have a CD called Headless Children here and there’s a picture inside.  Let’s take a look.

So we grabbed the W.A.S.P. CD and opened up the booklet.

Customer:  That’s him!  That’s the fucking guy!  I knew he was lying to me!  What an asshole.

Me: Yeah, he’s known for being one of those too!

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

STILL NOT BLACK ENOUGH_0001

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

WTF Search Terms: Musical Inquiries edition

Welcome back to WTF Search Terms.  These are real search terms that somehow led people to mikeladano.com.  Today, I thought I’d answer some people’s musical questions.

Click here for the last WTF Search Terms XV: Fan Favorites – Thussy Edition.

WTF Search Terms XVI:  Musical Inquiries edition

1. why is lenny kravitz last two cds a disappointment

Lenny Kravitz has sucked since cutting off his dreads.  Scientists call it “Samson Syndrome”.

2. whats the dirt on richie kotzen screwing bandmates wifes

Great question.  Kotzen was actually screwing Rikki Rockett’s girlfriend/fiance while on tour with Poison.  Kotzen later married her after being terminated by Poison.

3. glenn tipton can’t play anymore

Incorrect.

4. iron maiden lyrics “what information do you need”

“We want…information…information…information!” – The Prisoner

5. does blackie lawless ever talk to anyone? 2013

Blackie Lawless has taken a vow of silence and now speaks through a computer like Stephen Hawking.

6. i wonder book list of names in the rock roll band kiss used to be in ks benny gene simmons paul stanley ace frehley peter criss and vinnie vincent

I wonder what this person is actually asking.

7. quite riot mr roboto

No.  It’s QUIET Riot, and Mr. Roboto was by Styx.

8. did malcomb mcdowell sing in a rock band?

No.  But there’s this musical:

9. back street boys with guitar

Next.

10. lebrians bb pin

I am not posting my BlackBerry pin, thanks.

SAM_2571

Be sure to check back soon for more WTFs!

REVIEW: W.A.S.P. – W.A.S.P. (remaster)

WASP_0001W.A.S.P. – W.A.S.P. (1997 Snapper Classics, originally 1984)

I remember having this self-titled cassette back in the 80’s, and for whatever reason the word on the street was the album was actually called Winged Assassins. I’m still not sure how that started but strangely enough W.A.S.P. later did an album called Double Live Assassins, so there must have been something to it.

This album was well overdue for a remastering. The original CD sounds tinny and weak, not at all like the way I remember it sounding originally. This CD fixes that. It also adds the bonus track “Animal (Fuck Like A Beast)” which fits right in. I guess Blackie wanted the track to open the album originally but cooler heads prevailed. Anyway, given the opportunity to do a remaster Blackie has restored that song to the beginning of the album as originally intended.  The hit single “I Wanna Be Somebody” is now the second track.

WASP_0003If you’re a W.A.S.P. fan, then you already know and love this album and you’re not going to disagree with anything I say about these classic meat n’ metal toons. If you’re not a W.A.S.P. fan yet…well, grab hold of something bolted to the ground when you push play. Blackie & his original cohorts had the pedal to the metal all the way through this disc, with the exception of “Sleeping (In The Fire)”.  That “ballad” had a powerful enough chorus to keep you going, even if the verses were too lightweight for us as kids.

But seriously though:  “L.O.V.E. Machine”… “The Flame”… “B.A.D.” (enough with the abbreviations!)… “School Days”… everything on this album kicks.  Hard, heavy, rated R and sometimes X.

But catchy!  That’s the thing, really, isn’t it?  Blackie has always said his prime influence was the Beatles.  I don’t hear it myself, but he obviously learned a lesson or two about the construction of a melody.  Blackie’s songs are memorable and melodic without once giving an inch, or sounding like anything less than heavy metal purity.  Unfortunately my feeling is that later on, Blackie’s songs all sounded the same.  On this first album, he was writing standouts and some would argue that he’s never reached these heights again.

Bonus material at the end includes the B-side “Show No Mercy” which I also have on a CD soundtrack for a movie called Dudes. Great song. Easily as good as the album. “Paint It, Black” is the only song that sucks. From the Tea Party, to Glen Tipton, Vanessa Carlton and Deep Purple, I’ve never heard a good cover of this song. W.A.S.P.’s is no different.

Packaging is awesome, loaded with cool pics, blood, and Blackie telling you how he sees things. If you’re a fan this remaster is a must. If you’re not yet, this is the logical place to start.  It’s one of the few W.A.S.P. studio albums that I would consider essential (the other being Headless Children).

4.5/5 stars