Sunday, August 17, 2014

W.A.S.P. - W.A.S.P.

Today (August 17th) marks the thirtieth anniversary of W.A.S.P., the self-titled debut album from the Los Angeles heavy metal band. The record spent thirty-one weeks on the US Billboard Album chart, peaking at number 74.

The band included Blackie Lawless (lead vocals and bass), Chris Holmes (guitar), Randy Piper (guitar and backing vocals) and Tony Richards (drums and backing vocals).

Side one opens with the liberating “I Wanna Be Somebody”. Released as a single, it hit number 30 in New Zealand. It was ranked at number 84 on VH1’s list of the 100 Greatest Hard Rock Songs.

The mid-tempo “L.O.V.E. Machine” breaks a relationship down into a rather cold, mechanical process. The pounding percussion really drives this one for me.

“The Flame” simmers at a steady pace. The guitar solos on this one do cook though.

Clearly the band liked to use abbreviations, as evidenced further with the next track “B.A.D.”

“School Daze” was released as the second single. The opening with children saying the Pledge of Allegiance reminded me of grade school growing up. Do kids in school still say the Pledge daily today?

Side two begins with the rapid-fire “Hellion”. I am impressed with how the guys hold out the note on the first syllable of the title as part of the chorus. The guitar solo on this one is hot too.

“Sleeping (In the Fire)” slows things down with a dark power ballad.

“On Your Knees” has both a religious and a sexual tone at the same time.

The B-side to the first single was “Tormentor”, a song about bondage and punishment. By the end, it spirals into an instrumental cacophony.

The vinyl release closed with “The Torture Never Stops”.

The 1998 CD release added three additional tracks.

The first was “Animal (Fuck Like a Beast)”, a rousing rocker which had gotten pulled from the original vinyl by the label due to proposed retailer banning campaigns by Tipper Gore and the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC). The song was released anyway, by the band on an independent label, as a single in 1984.

The other two tracks were “Show No Mercy” (the B-side to the independent single) and a cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Paint It Black” (which was the B-side to the album’s second single).

In a lot of ways W.A.S.P. reminds me of a lot of the Los Angeles based metal bands at the time - Mötley Crüe, Guns N’ Roses, Poison and Ratt. As such, the tracks from W.A.S.P. tend to blur with the pack; I liked what I heard but not much really jumped up as a standout for me.

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