Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Deep Bands- W.A.S.P.

Picture: Guitarist/Singer Black Lawless rocks the stage in Norwich, 2006

Deep Bands: W.A.S.P.

For this installment of Deep Bands, we’ll be looking into a different kind of band. I’ve covered the psychedelic rock of Spirit and the power pop of Badfinger. This entry, I’m going the opposite way.

They were hated by the critics, parents, and everyone else. Their name was W.A.S.P. At a time when rock bands were going the glam route, W.A.S.P. went heavy into sex, partying, and later politics. After 25 years, they are still here.

W.A.S.P. was formed by Steven Duren, aka Blackie Lawless (bass/vocals). Lawless was in the New York Dolls for a very short time before forming the band, Sister. When Sister broke up, Lawless formed his own band in 1982. Along with Lawless were guitarists Chris Holmes and Randy Piper, and drummer Tony Richards. As for a band name, they called themselves We Are Sexual Perverts or for short, W.A.S.P. The band, in their early shows, were considered shocking. Lawless would throw raw meat into the audience and during the show; there was the whipping of a semi-naked woman. W.A.S.P.’s antics got them a record contract with Capitol Records in 1984. That same year, their self-titled debut album was released. Although the album didn’t really take off, it cotained the future classics “I Wanna Be Somebody” and “LOVE Machine”.

1984 would also seee the release of a controversial single/song. The inspiration for the song came after Blackie Lawless saw Sam Kinson performing. In one of Kinson’s jokes, he said that when he gets home to his wife, she f***s like a beast. Lawless took this idea and wrote the infamous “Animal (F*** Like a Beast)”. The lyrics foamed with sexual content (“I got pictures of naked ladies/Lying on their bed”) and used the F word a few times. The following year, Tipper Gore and a group of White House wives formed the PMRC. The PMRC were a group of mothers that were concerned with the rock music their children were listening to. On a list called “The Filthy Fifteen”, W.A.S.P. were on it with “Animal”. Luckily, the controvery made the band more famous.

In 1984, Tony Richards called it quits and was replaced by Steve Riley. In 1985, The Last Command was released. The album was a commercial success with MTV-friendly videos for the songs “Wild Child” and “Blind In Texas”. Randy Piper left shorty left and was replaced by bassist Johnny Rod, which put Blackie at guitar/vocals. 1986’s Inside the Electric Circus wasn’t well received by fans or critics. Today, Lawless thinks it’s one of the worst albums ever made. Live…In the Raw was released in 1987 and that same year, Steve Riley left. His replacement would be former Quiet Riot drummer Frankie Banali. For the band’s fourth studio album, Lawless decided the next album should be different musically and lyrically. That album, The Headless Children, was released in 1989 and proved to be one of W.A.S.P.’s strongest. The lyrics focused less on sex and more on society and politics. The band also appeared in the documentary The Decline of the Western Civalization Part II: The Metal Years. The most infamous scene in the movie was when Chris Holmes was interviewed, in a swimming pool along with bottles of vodka. His mother sat in the background while Holmes declared himself a drunk and poured a whole bottle of vodka down his mouth.

By 1990, Chris Holmes had left the band along with Johnny Rod. Around this time Blackie Lawless, with Frankie Banali still in the band, annouced he was making the next album a rock opera. Lawless was low on members so the line up in the studio was Banali, Stet Howland (drums), Bob Kulick (guitar), and himself. The final product, The Crimson Idol, was released in 1992 and received positive reviews. The story dealt with the life of a rock star named Johnny Steele. For the tour Lawless had Johnny Rod recruited, Howland, and guitarist Doug Blair. After the tour finished up in 1993, Lawless annouced that W.A.S.P. was over. Despite the annoucement, Lawless kept doing W.A.S.P. projects. A compilation was released in 1995 and new album, Still Not Black Enough, was released the following year. Originally, the new album was supposed to be Blackie’s solo album but with the Crimson Idol line-up recording, it ended up as a W.A.S.P. album.

In 1997 Blackie Lawless reunited with guitarist Chris Holmes. Also in the line-up was Stet Howland and guitatist Mike Duda. K.F.D. (stands for “Kill, F***, Die”), was released that year. The band was playing in smaller venues but that didn’t stop the fans from attending the shows. Double Live Assassins followed while the poorly received Helldorado came out in 1999. After the release of 2001’s Unholy Terror, Chris Holmes left once again along with Howland. Ever since this 1997 “reunion”, Lawless and Duda have remained in the band and still do today (for those line-ups, read the line up chart for more information). W.A.S.P. still makes music today. As of 2009 the current line up consists of Blackie Lawless, Doug Blair, Mike Duda, and Mike Dupke. In October 2009, Babylon was released.

Recommended albums: W.A.S.P., The Last Command, The Headless Children, and The Crimson Idol

Personal thoughts on albums: The debut album wouldn’t be a bad place to start but at the same time, The Crimson Idol is a classic.

Recommended songs: Animal (F*** Like a Beast), I Wanna Be Somebody, LOVE Machine, Sleeping In The Fire, Wild Child, Blind In Texas, Shooting From The Hip, Scream Until You Like It, The Real Me (cover of the Who hit), The Headless Children, Forever Free, Invisible Boy, Chainsaw Charlie (Murders in the New Morge), The Idol, Hold On To My Heart

Recommended compilations: There are only two available. The first is First Blood…Last Cuts. This has a good song selection although I’m not sure about the remixes I’m reading about. The other is The Best of the Best 1984-2000. The song selection on here isn’t that good as it excludes a lot from 1986 to 1992 and more of the then recent material. It also has a new cover of Elton John’s “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting”.

Line-Ups (with small comments on each album. *=I own)

W.A.S.P. I (1982)

Blackie Lawless- guitar/vocals

Randy Piper- guitar

Rik Fox- bass

Tony Richards- drums

W.A.S.P. II (1982)

Blackie Lawless- guitar/vocals

Randy Piper- guitar

Don Costa- bass

Tony Richards- drums

W.A.S.P. III (1983-1984)

Blackie Lawless- bass/vocals

Chris Holmes- guitar

Randy Piper- guitar

Tony Richards- drums

Albums

W.A.S.P. (1984)*- Classic debut from start to finish.

W.A.S.P. IV (1984-1986)

Blackie Lawless- bass/vocals

Chris Holmes- guitar

Randy Piper- guitar

Steve Riley- drums

Albums

The Last Command (1985) *Second album is slightly more commerical but still rocks

W.A.S.P. V (1986-1987)

Blackie Lawless- guitar/vocals

Chris Holmes- guitar

Johnny Rod- bass

Steve Riley- drums

Albums

Inside The Electric Circus (1986)

Live...In The Raw (1987)

W.A.S.P. VI (1988-1990)

Blackie Lawless- guitar/vocals

Chris Holmes- guitar

Johnny Rod- bass

Frankie Banali- drums

Albums

The Headless Children (1989)*Great mature album. Very dark.

W.A.S.P. VII (1991-1992)

Blackie Lawless- guitar/vocals

Bob Kulick- guitar

Frankie Banali- drums

Stet Howland- drums

Albums

The Crimson Idol (1992)*One of the most overlooked concept albums. Brilliant!

W.A.S.P. VIII (1992-1993)

Blackie Lawless- guitar/vocals

Doug Blair- guitar

Johnny Rod- bass

Stet Howland- drums

Hiatus (1994-1995)

W.A.S.P. VIIa (1995-1996)

Blackie Lawless- guitar/vocals

Bob Kulick- guitar

Frankie Banali- drums

Stet Howland- drums

Albums

Still Not Black Enough (1995)

W.A.S.P. IX (1996-2002)

Blackie Lawless- guitar/vocals

Chris Holmes- guitar

Mike Duda- bass

Stet Howland- drums

Albums

KFD (1997)

Double Live Assassins (live, 1998)

Helldorado (1999)

The Sting (live, 2000)

Unholy Terror (2001) *Frankie Banali on drums also

W.A.S.P. X (2001-2006)

Blackie Lawless- guitar/vocals

Darrell Roberts- guitar

Mike Duda- bass

Stet Howland- drums

Albums

Dying For The World (2002)

The Neon God- Part 1: The Rise (2004)*- Blackie’s second rock opera, released in two parts. It’s okay

The Neon God- Part 2: The Demise (2004)

W.A.S.P. XI (2006-present)

Blackie Lawless- guitar/vocals

Doug Blair- guitar

Mike Duda- bass

Mike Dupke- drums

Albums

Dominator (2007)

Babylon (2009)

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