Many of the great live albums functioned as “end of an era” releases. They documented a period of a band’s career and placed a full-stop on it before evolving into something new.
Ever since the release of their debut single (Animal) Fuck Like a Beast, controversy had dogged W.A.S.P. and they soon became a prime target for the PMRC, while also experiencing death threats and even assassination attempts. The stress had tired the band, causing tensions in the ranks but also galvanising band leader Blackie Lawless who felt that the focus on the band’s image and antics had meant their musical merits were under-estimated.
Live… in the Raw was recorded over three dates on their successful world tour promoting their third album, Inside The Electric Circus. Opener Inside The Electric Circus is thrilling and has some great sawing guitar riffs. The band proceeds to tear through a taut, muscular set that mixes classics and new tracks alike. In fact there are three tracks on here that would have previously been unavailable: two excellent live tracks Harder Faster and The Manimal and one studio track Scream Until You Like It recorded to promote the Horror sequel Ghoulies II.
Like many of the best live albums, some of the songs here enjoy their definitive performances on this album. Inside The Electric Circus, L.O.V.E Machine, Wild Child and 9.5.-N.A.S.T.Y. are all superb. The only thing that stops Live… in the Raw being all the W.A.S.P. you’ll ever need is the notable omission of (Animal) Fuck Like a Beast (although they would atone for this with the release, in 1988, of the Live Animal EP).
Live… in the Raw would prove pivotal to the band’s career. It boosted the profile and legitimacy of their catalogue and functioned as a historically important “end of an era” release. The album would provide a full-stop on the sex, parties and gore period of their career. From now on, W.A.S.P. were going to get serious!
In addition to the live album “research” I’ve been doing, here’s what’s been assaulting my ears lately.
UFO – No Place to Run Not one of their best but a grower and a refreshing listen when you’ve worn out the classics.
The Stranglers – La Folie Can’t think of much to say about this other than I enjoyed it! A set of tight, angular pop songs with an ongoing lyrical theme of love. Taking in nuns, the Mafia and heroin.
Toto – The Essential (Disc 1) Not usually a big fan of compilation albums but this is a fantastic set of essential Toto. I was enjoying this immensely until my girlfriend announced that she thought I was trying to seduce her back to the 1980s! Maybe I was… she’d love it there.
Paul Stanley – Live To Win KISS man-crush Paul Stanley entered dangerous X-Factor-friendly territory with his long awaited second solo album. Generally, as on Wake Up Screaming, Bulletproof and the title track, there is enough of the great man’s bombastic heroism to make this enjoyable but there are a few too many sub-Forever ballads on this. I like hearing him apply his talents outside of the heavier rock sphere though so this is a bit of a guilty treat. Hilariously, a run of UK magazine adverts stated that the album featured the track Bulletpoof. True story.
Queen – Jazz and The Game I think Jazz is a hugely underrated effort from Queen. The general wisdom is that their Heavy Rock credentials ended at their previous album News of the World but Jazz is full of mighty riffing and Fat Bottomed Girls is a euphoric pub-rock classic. Brian May has a guitar tone to die for on this. I’m less fond of The Game but really got into it this time. It was all I could do to not dance around my flat like a twat when this was on. As Alan Partridge would say… Classic Queen!
Testament – The Formation of Damnation Aha, some actual Heavy Metal to end off an admittedly rather odd week of listening. I always want to like Testament more than I actually do. As they have a new record out I thought I’d give their previous effort another spin. This has been raved about since its release but it never really did the job for me. It went down well this week though and seemed to catch me in a receptive mood. Good melding of old and new styles here and Chuck Billy’s voice is always a joy!
Another wee update of what I’ve been listening to before moving on to more pressing thoughts…
Sammy Hagar – Essential Red Collection Pretty cool compilation of the Red Rocker’s solo career. Accompanied my reading of his Autobiography which was… ok. Some quality bitching about Eddie Van Halen and Ronnie Montrose! The always raging Van Halen vs. Van Hagar debate is one thing but who’s the better author? Sammy or Dave? It’s Dave. Sorry Sammy.
The Darkness – Permission to Land A great debut. If you’ve never heard this on vinyl though, remedy that immediately! I love that they keep their albums short too, quality not quantity. And, if you’ve heard any of the B-Sides of the period, you’ll know they had great songs to spare. Check out Planning Permission, How Dare You Call This Love and the excellently named Curse of the Tollund Man if you’ve never heard them. It’s exciting to see them back and their upcoming Hot Cakes is one of my most anticipated releases of the year.
Cheap Trick – Cheap Trick (1997) This is a brilliant Cheap Trick record and marks a new beginning for the band. Unfortunately, their label went bust so it probably hasn’t been given the shake of the stick that it deserves. The album has a great live sound and the band tap into the more eclectic, alternative feel that the 80s beat out of them. It would take a long time for them to follow this up but the rebirth continued and new Cheap Trick albums have stayed exciting ever since.
The Smashing Pumpkins – Siamese Dream Not a huge fan of this band but this is a good album and the Cheap Trick CD put me in the mood for this (Cheap Trick being a big influence on Billy Corgan). There are some brilliant tracks like Cherub Rock and Disarm is a stunning song. Think they could learn a thing or two about running lengths from CT and The Darkness though!
Paradise Lost – Tragic Idol A real favourite band of mine and I’m still not sure whether this is just average or if I’m just not in the mood. I’m going to reserve judgement because I love them so much. A bit of a let-down because their previous album was stellar.
The Moody Blues – Days of Future Passed I have so much love for this album. Proto-Progressive Rock with a charmingly naive concept, pioneering mellotron and breathtaking orchestral accompaniment. It’s so lovely and innocent it makes you glad to be alive. The Classic Albums series should get in on this because it has a great back-story too and the multi-tracks are bound to be a revelation!
Aerosmith – Permanent Vacation Another band on the verge of a studio album comeback (although I can’t say their new song is doing much for me). Managed to pick this up on vinyl and it sounds great. I always though this album was a bit patchy but I enjoyed it hugely the whole way through. A surprisingly enjoyable re-discovery!
Burzum – Filosofem A Black Metal classic and a great place to start if your interested in the genre and can separate the musician from the music. Say what you like about him, Varg Vikernes is a talented guy and this is a very innovative album. Atmospheric, lo-fi and ambient but still extreme and ominous. A game of two-halves, though, as the last two tracks are lengthy electronic affairs. One of the few BM albums I can put on without annoying my girlfriend.
Urchin – High Roller Adrian Smith before he was poached for stardom by Iron Maiden. I always thought he was their secret-weapon, an extremely talented songwriter and exquisitely melodic guitar player. Great to hear him early in his career and this is more in a UFO, Thin Lizzy classy Rock vein. Adrian has a great soulful voice and there is an interesting track here (Life In The City) that would go on to become the jokey Sheriff of Huddersfield in the hands of Maiden. Got this through the excellent German label High Roller who bring out some spectacular NWOBHM vinyl resissues. Although, if you fancy this and are near Glasgow, there’s a great shop there called Monorail Music that has these in stock!
Manowar – Triumph of Steel One of my picks of the 90s and it should be pretty clear how much I love this band by now so I’ll leave it at that! So, until my next post – Hail and Kill!
So far I’ve been reviewing my purchases in full but, to be honest, there have been a few sneaky purchases here and there that I haven’t mentioned so, in the interests of full disclosure, they are:
Pink Floyd – Animals (HMV – £10) I’ve been picking up a few of recent Pink Floyd remasters and enjoying them a lot. Was never much of a fan of them growing up but, after a good 10 years of getting into a lot of Progressive Rock stuff, thought I ought to give them another chance. There was a good Classic Rock magazine piece on this album recently too and it’s great to have that cover in the collection too!
Volbeat – Above Heaven/Below Hell CD/DVD (Fopp – £3) Good find in the bargain bin of Fopp. Heard a few mentions of them and thought they might be worth checking out. Not that fussed with it to be honest. Win some lose some.
Ian Hunter – You’re Never Alone With A Schizophrenic 2CD (HMV – £15) More like it. Already had this album but thought my old copy needed updated. I always thought this was one of his more overrated efforts but after revisiting it I couldn’t be more wrong. This is fantastic stuff. I even enjoyed Ships! Must be getting sentimental in my old age.
Heart – With Love From Heart 3LP Box Set (Discogs – £15) I wanted to get Bad Animals and their S/T from the 80s on vinyl. Found this 2nd hand box set online which included both, two letters from Ann and Nancy and a fantastic time-warp 80s calendar which I hope to be able to use at some point in the future. Bonus – the seller threw in Brigade on LP too! RESULT!
The Stranglers – La Folie (HMV – £8) Somehow Strange Little Girl found its way into my head and needed exorcising. I’m not a fan of compilations but this track was only released as a single. Luckily the album of the period has it on as a bonus track. Didn’t expect to like this that much but gave it a spin this morning and was pretty impressed! I expect this to be a bit of a grower. Might even pick up some more of their stuff too.
Ginger – 555% (Pledge Music – £10 for download) 3 CDs worth of new Ginger material. Haven’t heard much of the Wildhearts’ main-man’s solo stuff but I’m really enjoying the 1st disc of this. Enjoying it so much, in fact, I haven’t moved on to the other 2 discs yet. So, at this rate, I could probably review this in 2014.
Deep Purple – Purpendicular Had a bit of a Jon Lord tribute by myself! One of the best later Purple albums. Still don’t feel the Morse-era lineup has managed to better this. Anyone who wrote the band off when Blackmore threw in the towel would be well advised to check this out.
Whitesnake – Slide It In (UK Version) Continuing my Jon Lord remembrance! A real favourite of mine. Killer Classic Rock with some great Lord atmosphere on tracks like The Gambler and Love Ain’t No Stranger (which is a real Desert Island track of mine and frustratingly short!). And remember, David Coverdale never said he was Billy Shakespeare.
King Crimson – In the Wake of Poseidon Some neighbours were having an enthusiastic party with some awful Auto-Tuned msuic as the soundtrack. I decided to protect my ears with some classic Progressive Rock! This is the gorgeous 200g vinyl edition that came out last year. Sexy.
Yes – Fragile Continuing my Progathon.. One of the most accessible Yes albums.Even though there aren’t many actual songs on this, the songs that are are absolute giants! Heart of the Sunrise is an beast of a track. How can the wind with so many around me? I have no idea.
Skid Row – Slave to the GrindThe album of the 1990 as discussed here. Big mainstay of my listening throughout the 90s along with many late night viewings of the excellent Roadkill VHS! A recent Metalsucks reviewer thought the opening 3D promo for Psycho Love on Roadkill was the only memorable moment from it. I guess seeing the band performing Delivering the Goods with Rob Halford and Cold Gin with Pantera and Ace Frehley live is pretty forgettable stuff when you can watch them lip-syncing alongside some 3D swirly bits.
Nile – At the Gate of Sethu Great music to endure the eternal molestation of flame to. This sounds great but on a 1st listen I can’t say much about it I’m afraid. Don’t feel very literate when it comes to Death Metal although I’m enjoying it more and more. I’ll review this after a few more goes.
Anathema – Alternative 4 A brilliant album from one of Northern Englands Unholy Trinity (along with Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride). Anathema have been getting progressively more blissful and exciting throughout their career although a few of their most wonderful moments are crammed into the 1st half of this. Opener Shroud of False/Fragile Dreams is just stunning.
Enslaved – Axioma Ethica Odini Bought this when it came out a couple of years ago on double vinyl. Enjoyed Side 1 of 4 so much I keep listening to that over and over. Thought I’d better catch up on the rest before their new release comes out later this year. A good band to start on if you fancy getting into some Black Metal.
Been on holiday the last week so not as much music listened to as I would manage normally.
Helloween – Mini-LP and Walls of Jericho These two always put a spring in my step. A bit derivative at times but with an insane energy that makes them irresistable! A great way to start any holiday.
Nile – In Their Darkened Shrines Great, exotic Death Metal classic. Getting in the mood for their newbie At the Gate of Sethu, which just popped through the letterbox today but I haven’t had a listen yet. I’m kind of hovering around it.
Gojira – The Way of All Flesh Enjoying this band more and more. What I thought was kind of flat, at first, is now all kinds of thrilling and interesting. Their new album and their previous From Mars to Sirius are on their way.
Anathema – Weather Systems I really love this band. Their previous album We’re Here Because We’re Here was the best thing to come out in 2010 (along with Ghost’s Opus Eponymous) so I was really up for this. It’s great but not grabbing me quite the same as the previous… but that was a grower so we’ll see.
Heart – Little Queen I was always a mild fan of Heart in their 80s incarnation. A great article about this album in the recent issue of Classic Rock magazine prompted me to check this out. Sounds good on first listen but maybe not what I’m quite in the mood for at the moment so it’s been put on the backburner.
Gregg Allman – Laid Back The perfect soundtrack to a night in playing cards with my beautiful girlfriend. This is one of my all-time favourite albums, absolutely gorgeous soulful Rock. Gregg’s voice is peerless. The versions of the Allman Brothers’ Midnight Rider and Please Call Home are stunning and his cover of Jackson Browne’s These Days is masterful.
Little Richard – Here’s Little Richard and Little Richard The 1st two albums from the Rock n’ Roll innovator and originator. All Rock and Metal owes Little Richard a debt and it’s really worthwhile going back to the source every now and again .Songs like Lucille, Rip it Up, Slippin’ and Slidin’, Tutti Frutti, Keep A Knockin’ etc. are impossible to resist and Richard’s voice is an absolute belter.