FROM THE VAULTS
EXPLORING TWENTY-FIVE YEARS OF W.A.S.P.'S 'THE CRIMSON IDOL'
W.A.S.P.: 'The Crimson Idol'
Released 1992 (Capitol Records) 2nd March 2017
Words: Jonathan Churchill
I blame W.A.S.P. on the 'The Crimson Idol' tour for making me deaf.
Back in October 1992, at Preston Guild Hall, Blackie Lawless and his band put on such a powerful and extraordinarily loud performance that I couldn't hear properly for days afterwards. It was worth it though - it's still one of most intoxicating and enjoyable gigs I've ever seen.
Why? Because they were touring 'The Crimson Idol', a landmark album in W.A.S.P.'s career and one that has stood the test of time. Twenty-five years later, it still feels very special indeed.
With Blackie planning a twenty-five year anniversary UK tour in late 2017 and the prospect of a re-recorded 'new' version with his current band waiting in the wings, now is the time to revisit the original version of 'The Crimson Idol' and explore just why it is such a stone cold classic.
Following the success of 'The Headless Children', Blackie Lawless moved even further away from the blood, thunder and rampant sleaziness (and Chris Holmes) that defined W.A.S.P., to create a largely solo record that channelled his inner Pink Floyd and The Who. The result was a genuine surprise; a lyrically insightful concept album featuring superb musicianship, foretelling the rise to fame, demons and fall of Jonathan Steel, the titular 'Crimson Idol'.
From the opening 'Titanic Overture', which sets the tone for the amazing drumming throughout the album, to the adrenaline-charged genius of 'Arena Of Pleasure' and the awesomely heavy 'Chainsaw Charlie', this album soars and dives with huge emotional effect, capturing perfectly the broad metaphors Blackie Lawless weaves through his lyrics.
Arena Of Pleasure:
"Some people never go crazy... what boring lives they must lead..."
While the idea of W.A.S.P. without Chris Holmes at first seems unthinkable, Bob Kulick does a phenomenal job in the studio, the stand-out moment being the solo on 'The Idol', a heart-breaking ballad and precursor to the incredible finale 'The Great Misconceptions Of Me', a near ten-minute crescendo of drums and guitar, detailing the despair and ultimate suicide of Jonathan.
There's also the gorgeous ballad 'Hold On To My Heart', the arena-filling powerhouse 'I Am One' and the stunning B-side 'Phantoms In The Mirror' which isn't even on the album, but can be found on the 'Chainsaw Charlie' single, and re-mastered 2008 album.
As soon as the debut single, 'Chainsaw Charlie', hit the shops, it was clear this album was going to be special. W.A.S.P.'s 1992 live line-up (Johnny Rod, Stet Howland, Doug Blair) were on superb form, playing at Donington and blowing my mind on their UK tour, and they even hit the UK charts, playing a pointless three-minute, clean edit of 'Chainsaw Charlie' on Top of the Pops.
W.A.S.P. are a band that polarise opinion, but one thing is for sure, they are a force to be reckoned with on stage. Having been at the original tour in 1992 and enjoyed the fifteen year anniversary show at London's Astoria, I certainly won't be missing the twenty-five year anniversary show later this year.
I love this album. It's a genuine Metal masterpiece and one of the great Rock/Metal concept albums, easily standing alongside Queensrÿche's 'Operation: Mindcrime' or Green Day's 'American Idiot'. If you haven't yet heard it, check it out – you may be surprised how well it’s stood the test of time.
Here's W.A.S.P.'s forthcoming 2017 European/UK tour dates:
June 11th: Bulgaria, Vilige Mogiloo, Rock In The Wine Valley
June 16th: Belgium, Dessel, Graspop
June 17th: France, Clisson, Hellfest
June 30th: Spain, Barcelona, Rockfest
2017 Re-Idolized Tour
September 25th: Sweden, Gothenburg, Tradgarn
September 26th: Sweden, Stockholm, Fryshuset
September 28th: Finland, Tampere, Pakkahuone
September 29th: Finland, Seinäjoki, Rytmikorjaamo
September 30th: Finland, Helsinki, The Circus
October 2nd: Sweden, Lulea, Kulturens Hus
October 3rd: Sweden, Umea, Idun
October 5th: Sweden, Borlange, Liljan
October 6th: Sweden, Örebro, Kongress
October 7th: Sweden, Gavle, Gasklockorna
October 8th: Norway, Oslo, Rockefeller
October 10th: Sweden, Helsingborg, Tivoli
October 11th: Denmark, Aarhus, Voxhall
October 12th: England, Hastings, White Rock Theater
October 13th: England, Nottingham, Rock City
October 14th: England, Leeds, o2 Academy
October 15th: England, Newcastle, o2 Academy
October 16th: Scotland, Glasgow o2 ABC
October 18th: N. Ireland, Belfast, Limelight
October 19th: Ireland, Dublin, The Academy
October 20th: England, Wolverhampton, Wulfrun Hall
October 21st: England, Manchester, o2 Ritz
October 22nd: Wales, Buckley, Tivoli
October 24th: Wales, Cardiff, Tramshed
October 25th: England, Bristol, o2 Academy
October 26th: England, Norwich, UEA
October 27th: England, London, o2 Forum Kentish Town
October 29th: France, Paris, Elysee Montmartre
November 8th: Italy, Bologna, Estragon
November 9th: Italy, Milan, Live Club
November 10th: Switzerland, Lausanne, Les Docks
November 11th: Switzerland, Pratteln, Z7
November 14th: Germany, Hamburg, Markthalle
November 15th: Germany, Hannover, Capitol
November 16th: Germany, Saarbrücken, Garage
November 17th: Germany, Oberhausen, Turbinenhalle
November 18th: Germany, Geiselwind. Music Hall
November 20th: Germany, Frankfurt, Batschkapp
November 21st: Germany, Stuttgart. Lka Longhorn
November 22nd: Germany, Munich, Backstage
November 24th: Czech Republic, Hluk, Sportshall
November 25th: Poland, Warsaw, Progresja
November 26th: Austria, Vienna, Arena