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W.A.S.P - 1986 Inside The Electric Circus

ALBUM: Inside The Electric Circus
LABEL: Capitol
SERIAL: ST-12531
YEAR: 1986
CD REISSUE: 1990, Capitol, C2-46346 * 1997, Snapper (UK), SMMCD505 * 2003, Snapper Classics (Europe), SDPCD128


LINEUP: Blackie Lawless - vocals, guitars * Chris Holmes - guitars * Johnny Rod - bass * Stephen Riley - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 The Big Welcome * 02 Inside The Electric Circus * 03 I Don't Need No Doctor * 04 9.5 Nasty * 05 Restless Gypsy * 06 Shoot From The Hip * 07 I'm Alive * 08 Easy Livin' * 09 Sweet Cheetah * 10 Mantronic * 11 King Of Sodom And Gomorrah * 12 The Rock Rolls On


The boys from the US fire themselves back into the circus, with a ball busting melodic rock cannonball of an album. After the initial controversial entrance, mainly due to that single, which Capitol Records lost its nerve and subsequently, here in the UK anyway released on Music For Nations, they needed to maintain shock levels. Their debut still contained enough rockets to became one of the most impressive debuts, although they somewhat lost momentum with their second, in the shape of 'The Last Command', which I seem to remember being referred to as the 'Lost Command' in a Kerrang review at the time, just managing a paltry 2K. So was a possible rethink in order? Well, although no wholesale changes were needed, no cutting and slashing (it's a W.A.S.P review so butchering terms are a must), just a more refined strategy, and the results were slick. Look at the cover, notice the removal of the dots, W.A.S.P become WASP, intentional?, the focus on a more commercial aspect, I wouldn't go so far as hair metal, as they have always contained more of a ruthless aspect to their songwriting, particularly the guitaring although tracks likes 'Forever Free' on the studio follow up, 'The Headless Children' show they were always capable of producing melodic rock when it was desired. But Lawless has always seen to have quite an astute business brain together with an air of professionalism in all that he has undertaken. More strategic decisions in the shape of Randy Piper leaving, which enabled Blackie to switch to guitar and install Johnny 'Hot' Rod to bass. This blond bombshell joined from King Kobra, to join an already tight ship, with Steven Riley a veteran of The B'zz (formed out of The Boyzz) and who then went on to join LA Guns, together with giant Chris Holmes, a very important sidekick. So what of the promotional activities, well they managed to secure an appearance on the good old BBC, where Blackie displayed all his Paul Stanley leaps and skips, but the exploding codpiece was a step too far to be shown on British TV and was cut, I suppose just in case we all got the urge to have one installed, although the Black Russian codpiece wasn't frowned upon (see Black Adder comedy program to understand what I am going on about!). Ok the ringmaster has appeared so let's get the review underway!

The Songs
The opening attraction is the title track which I have always regarded as one of the great WASP tracks. A powerful storming number that gain energies through the length of the tune, pulling up trees and cars and whatever lies in its path.

Renowned for the old cover tune, two actually appear here with somewhat differing results, which is mainly due to two factors, one being the original instigators and my own musical knowledge. Let me explain, with 'I Don't Need No Doctor' I find this to be an excellent version and they have really have added their own WASPism's to it (new word?), and probably on my initial listens I didn't even realise it was a cover of a Humble Pie song. Whereas when 'Easy Livin' appears later in proceedings, while good, doesn't really change the identity of the song, and has too much Heepism's (another new one) about it. Along with the fact that at the time I was very much aware of the original, anyway the debate will go on about cover versions.

'95 Nasty', which has an inspired opening, influenced no doubt by The Who, goes on to legalise being nasty and end up with a clinical mess on the floor. Great track, drums providing the backbeat which develops into the main character in the verses. Genuine single release lifted from the album the forms part of a formidable opening trio.

After the nastiness of 95, is the excellent, melodic, even AOR of 'Restless Gypsy'. What's also remarkable is that even Blackie appears to soften his vocal approach, as it's quite easily imaginable to be something similar to what Marcie Free would appear on.

At this point, after a quite melodic fest of tunes, they must have got abit concerned to what image they may be portrayed as having, because 'Shoot From The Hip' is the wild cousin to the preceding track. Although it does follow a similar format it definitely has more dirt under its fingernails. Which has a less impressive result, with the lyrics of 'Hot and Sticky' it's not one for your parents to hear and with all the booms it has Krokus possibilities.

'I'm Alive' brings back the melodic intent and contains one catchy chorus, much like Uriah Heep were supplying on their Fallen Angel' era (just a coincidence over the song titles).

With many of the tracks, Chris Holmes can always be relied upon to inflict some damage to the melodic intentions and bringing things down to earth with some helium fuelled solo's, he provides a real balance to proceedings.

'Sweet Cheetah', other than being a brilliant name for an 80's hair metal band and thus appearing on Retrospect Records soon no doubt, runs along quite nicely but slight signs of fatigue may be creeping in. This is followed by 'Mantronic', even though with a couple nice 'Ohhhs' can probably be assessed by the somewhat dated song title. Whereas the 'King of Sodom and Gomorrah', probably won't be considered to be an appropriate song choice for TV's Glee, but would be fun anyway, but really wouldn't even appear on the UK Civil List, let alone be crowned.

However good times return by the rip roaring 'The Rock Rolls On', a speedy sprint with lots of clich‚ lyrics.

In Summary
Momentum was continued with a wisely released live album, 'Live In The Raw', which unlike many live albums I find, this one was worth listening to. Also add the Gremlins soundtrack appearance with Paul Sabu's 'Scream Until You Like It' to keep them in the consciousness of many a metal head. Slight change with the next studio outputs being the recommended 'The Headless Children' and 'The Crimson Idol', but at that point I seemed to lose touch, in fact I never brought another W.A.S.P album, which really is a shame, which I feel should rectify, especially with their latest, 'Babylon'. In 1997 we saw the re-issue on the Snapper label, with a couple of bonus tracks along with an essay by Dante Bonutto, maybe a possible dry run for the future with the Rock Candy label? Which just leaves me to mention the animals, 'well they're something else'.

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#1 | dangerzone on July 05 2010 03:26:33
Bit of a letdown after the first two albums.
#2 | super80boy on March 26 2016 23:59:48
The album gets off to a strong start with a well arranged beefy title cut. 'Restless Gypsy' is a favorable melodic respite. To these ears, 'I'm Alive' harkens back to Last Command's 'Wild Child' and 'Sweet Cheetah' is just pure unadulterated WASP antics at their best. The two covers aren't too shabby either. A pretty consistent third outing that closes out with some good guitar work on 'The Rock Rolls On'.

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