W.A.S.P.'s Epic Journey Through "The 7 Savage" Vinyl Boxset - Madfish Records

W.A.S.P. ‘The 7 Savage: 1984-1992 Review

Review: W.A.S.P. ‘The 7 Savage: 1984-1992’

Tying in with W.A.S.P.’s 40 Years Live World Tour, this deluxe 8LP box set presents the band’s golden period in fine fashion. Alongside five newly half-speed remastered studio albums, The 7 Savage: 1984-1992 reissues the band’s 80s heyday live record and serves up a new compilation of bonus tracks and b-sides, a 60-page book, and a wealth of memorabilia.

Kick-starting the music side of things is W.A.S.P.’s self-titled debut from 1984. Frontman Blackie Lawless’ ferocious vocals were a monstrous match for the chainsaw-like riffs of Chris Holmes and Randy Piper, with Steve Riley’s powerhouse drums completing the blueprint for W.A.S.P.’s signature sound – a darker, heavier, twisted take on the 80s LA metal scene. Lawless was on a mission to shock, and the infamous single ‘Animal (F*** Like a Beast)’ was deemed too controversial by Capital Records and deleted ahead of the record’s release, though you can spin it to your heart’s content on the bonus LP included here. Nevertheless, the debut contains ubiquitous anthems ‘I Wanna Be Somebody’ and ‘L.O.V.E. Machine’ together with deep-cut gems such as ‘B.A.D.’, with the record as a whole being solid from start to finish.

The Last Command built on the strengths of its predecessor, following hot on its heels the following year. Opener ‘Wild Child’ was a high point for the band at the time, and the likes of ‘Blind in Texas’ and ‘Ballcrusher’ proved this was to be anything but a difficult second record. Inside the Electric Circus dropped in 1986 and, despite marking the departure of Piper, welcomed a chunkier production and yet another impressive collection of songs. Whereas most bands bore when it comes to covers, W.A.S.P. have always been outstanding, and their rendition of Ray Charles’ ‘I Don’t Need No Doctor’ is a testament to this. It’s also sandwiched between two of the band’s finest self-penned songs, the fist-pumping title track and ‘9.5.-N.A.S.T.Y.’

This rebellious, tongue-in-cheek chapter of the band is bookended fittingly with 1987’s Live… In the Raw. Packed with a bunch of the best tunes from the preceding studio albums, it’s an excellent live document that showcases the strengths and flaws of the period. The production is superb, and the band is captured in blistering form. The flipside of the infectious riffs and thunderous performances can be found in ‘The Manimal’ and ‘Harder Faster’, two songs written specifically for the album which represent just how cringe-inducing and downright awful Lawless’ lyrics could be in his effort to shock – something that was soon to change.

Of the founding members, only Lawless and Holmes remained come 1989’s The Headless Children. A monumental album, their fourth studio outing saw Lawless shift his songwriting focus to mature subject matters, with politics and social issues adorning the lyrics. From the first note, the stars feel aligned as a gargantuan production sets the stage for 10 slices of metal perfection. It’s difficult to cherry-pick highlights from an album so seamless, but the title track, ‘Mean Man’, and the magnificent power ballad ‘Forever Free’ would get the nod.

Just when it seemed Lawless had reached his songwriting peak, 1992’s rock opera The Crimson Idol raised the bar even higher. With Holmes now out of the picture, the record is a Blackie Lawless solo album in all but name, and the responsibility of chief axe wielder couldn’t have been passed over to a more equipped successor than Bob Kulick; his playing is insatiable throughout, blending technical prowess with emotive, lyrical leads. ‘The Idol’, essentially a heavy metal take on ‘Comfortably Numb’, hosts two of the finest solos ever recorded, and is the most powerful song released under the W.A.S.P. name. The tale of the fallen rock star had been well covered by concept albums prior to this, yet The Crimson Idol is undoubtedly up there with the very best of them.

While The 7 Savage: 1984-1992 offers nothing ‘new’ in the way of unreleased songs, the superb book and presentation of the overall package is sure to delight fans. Compiled with the full cooperation of Blackie Lawless, the book includes exclusive pictures from acclaimed photographers (including Ross Halfin, Tony Mottram, David Plastik and Paul Natkin), along with extensive liner notes from Amit Sharma (Kerrang!, Planet Rock). The box also offers a Blackie Lawless poster, plus an individually numbered circular saw-shaped (what else?) certificate.

Dan Aston | Now Spinning Magazine

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