Sleaze Roxx Readers’ Favorite W.A.S.P. Albums
About eight months ago, I asked Sleaze Roxx readers what were their top three favorite W.A.S.P. albums via Sleaze Roxx’s Facebook site. The top W.A.S.P. albums were no surprise with the shock rock group’s “big three” albums dominating the results. It really became more a question of which of W.A.S.P.‘s “big three” albums would snatch the number one position. What was interesting was seeing which of W.A.S.P.‘s lesser known albums would be nominated for this survey. Even though W.A.S.P.‘s heyday was back in the mid to late 1980s, the group continues to release studio albums albeit at a slower pace now than in years past.
Over the course of W.A.S.P.‘s musical career thus far, the band led by its incomparable frontman Blackie Lawless has released many albums including 15 studio albums (with the last studio album being 2015’s Golgotha) and three live albums (with the last live album dating back more than 15 years ago to 2000’s The Sting: Live At The Key Club LA). W.A.S.P. continue to be very popular with Sleaze Roxx readers given that their Golgotha album claimed the #2 spot on the Sleaze Roxx Readers’ Top 20 Albums of 2015 while their prior studio album Babylon reached the #6 spot on the Sleaze Roxx Readers’ Top 20 Albums of 2009. Perhaps the most telling sign that W.A.S.P. have resonated with Sleaze Roxx readers is that despite selling a fraction of the records that other bands had that figured on Sleaze Roxx’s recent survey “Top 12 Albums that stayed with Sleaze Roxx Readers”, W.A.S.P. featured prominently on the list. W.A.S,P. notched the #8 spot for most votes for an album with their debut self-titled album and #6 in terms of percentage of Sleaze Roxx readers (30%) that chose a W.A.S.P. album among their top 12 albums that had stayed with them. In addition, despite only releasing 15 studio albums, W.A.S.P. also figured tied for eighth spot for the most albums (six) by a band in the survey.
Suffice to say that Sleaze Roxx and the majority of its readers really like W.A.S.P.‘s music. Without further ado, here is the Sleaze Roxx Readers’ Favorite W.A.S.P. Albums!
p.s.: In terms of how the scoring was tabulated, it was very simple with a number one album receiving three votes, a number two album receiving two votes and a number three album receiving one vote. When a reader attributed no ranking towards his/her top three W.A.S.P. albums, the number one album was identified as the first one listed, etc. The percentage that you see beside each album title heading is the percentage of total votes that the album achieved in this survey. As an example, if every Sleaze Roxx reader voted the same W.A.S.P. album as its #3 album, that album would finish with a percentage of 33% meaning 33% of the possible votes.
1. W.A.S.P. – 54% of possible votes
Released on August 17, 1984
Did you expect any other W.A.S.P. album to land the #1 spot? With W.A.S.P.’s self-titled album landing the #8 slot on Sleaze Roxx’s survey “Top 12 Albums that stayed with Sleaze Roxx Readers“, it is no real surprise to see the album claim top honours on this survey as well. There are so many classic songs on W.A.S.P. that still are and/or could be played live to great reception. Although the song “Animal (Fuck Like A Beast)” had already been released in advance of the album, you have to wonder if W.A.S.P.‘s self-titled debut album would have been even bigger if that song had not been omitted from the US release of the album due to Capitol Records reportedly bowing to pressure and the risk that the album would be banned from major retail stores. The reissued version of the album in 1998 includes the controversial track.
2. THE HEADLESS CHILDREN – 50% of possible votes
Released in April 1989
Reinventing yourself is always tricky to do but with The Headless Children, W.A.S.P. went in a heavier direction both musically and lyrically, and just based on the results from this survey, more than succeeded with what is often considered to be the group’s best and most accomplished album. The Headless Children sees W.A.S.P. tackling mostly serious subjects after their first three albums focused mostly on the sex, drugs and rock n’ roll mantra. This new serious direction would become W.A.S.P.‘s trademark going forward with the exception of 1999’s Helldorado. In were monumental epic numbers such as “The Heretic” and “The Headless Children” replacing the more commercial numbers that could be found on the band’s three prior studio albums. Of note is W.A.S.P.‘s killer rendition of The Who‘s “The Real Me” and the ode to guitarist Chris Holmes’ crazy and wild lifestyle — “Mean Man.” The Headless Children also sees Quiet Riot‘s Frankie Banali handling the drums for W.A.S.P. for the first time.
3. THE LAST COMMAND – 48% of possible votes
Released in September 1985
I remember how back in the day, The Last Command was seen as a big departure for W.A.S.P. following their rather raw self-titled debut album. I think I even read an interview back in the day where Blackie Lawless stated that The Last Command was too much of a leap for the fans, should have been the band’s third or fourth album, and W.A.S.P. should have come out with something like Inside The Electric Circus instead. W.A.S.P. reached platinum success with The Last Command and deservedly so. The album had some epic videos in support from the cool setting of “Wild Child” to the humorous video for “Blind In Texas.” There’s not one weak track on The Last Command and it contains some of Lawless‘ most witty lyrics such as on “Ballcrusher” where he sings “I say ‘AC.’ She says ‘DC’. The damn bitch is just too bizarre.” The Last Command has to be considered a classic album.
4. THE CRIMSON IDOL – 17% of possible votes
Released in 1992
What was supposed to be a Blackie Lawless solo album turned out to be one of W.A.S.P.‘s most powerful and deep albums. The concept album The Crimson Idol tells the story of Jonathan who runs away from home, becomes addicted to drugs and alcohol, before becoming a rock star only to find out life is not so great and eventually, he kills himself. I haven’t read that many interviews from Lawless about this album but I have always wondered how much of Jonathan‘s story came from Lawless himself. To illustrate how Lawless feels about The Crimson Idol album, he decided to do a tour 15 years later playing the full album from start to finish. I attended the Toronto stop for that tour and if anything, that tour cemented to me what a timeless album The Crimson Idol truly is. Songs like “The Invisible Boy” and “Chainsaw Charlie (Murders In The Rue Morgue)” have to be considered among W.A.S.P.‘s best all-time songs.
5. INSIDE THE ELECTRIC CIRCUS – 8% of possible votes (two-way tie)
Released in October 1986
Inside The Electric Circus should likely have received more votes than it did in this survey but its main problem is that Sleaze Roxx readers were only asked to name their top three favorite W.A.S.P. albums. Although Inside The Electric Circus is a solid album filled with some great songs such as the title track, “9.5.-N.A.S.T.Y.” and “Shoot From The Hip”, it has remained in the shadows of the “big three” W.A.S.P. albums. I have always viewed Inside The Electric Circus as a disappointing follow up to The Last Command. If Inside The Electric Circus hadn’t had to follow W.A.S.P.‘s two first albums and subsequently been followed by two of W.A.S.P.‘s heaviest and powerful albums, one has to think that it would have received more recognition as the great album that it is. Inside The Electric Circus was the first W.A.S.P. album that saw Blackie Lawless ditch his bass in favour of a rhythm guitar.
5. DYING FOR THE WORLD – 8% of possible votes (two-way tie)
Released on June 11, 2002
The big question for me for with this survey was which W.A.S.P. album would come next after the first five classic W.A.S.P. albums. I would have never predicted that Dying For The World would be that album but perhaps Blackie Lawless‘ stark response to the 911 attacks resonated with some of the Sleaze Roxx readers. If you think about it, Dying For The World actually tied for fifth on this survey given that it was tied with Inside The Electric Circus for the fifth highest amount of possible votes. Dying For The World has to be considered one of W.A.S.P.’s darkest albums with Lawless taking aim at the 911 events but also having a go at the plight of Native American Indians and taking another shot at the Catholic church (with W.A.S.P.‘s previous album Unholy Terror going all out in that regard).
7. LIVE… IN THE RAW – 4% of possible votes (two-way tie)
Released on November 27, 1987
Another surprise entry for this survey is Live… In the Raw. I have always considered W.A.S.P.‘s 1998 Double Live Assassins as the group’s best live album but the timing for the release of Live… In The Raw (in between Inside The Electric Circus and The Headless Children) likely helped this live album in getting what turns out to be a rather small amount of votes in any case with only 4% of the possible votes. Of note, it is the only W.A.S.P. live album (out of three) to receive any votes. Live… In the Raw saw the release of two new studio tracks — “Manimal” and “Harder Faster” — along with the inclusion of the song “Scream Until You Like It” which was recorded for the movie Ghoulies II. Live… In The Raw feels a little bit on the short side with only eleven tracks including the three new aforementioned songs.
7. K.F.D. (KILL FUCK DIE) – 4% of possible votes (two-way tie)
Released on April 19, 1997
Yet another surprise on this list is W.A.S.P.‘s likely most polarizing album, the aptly named K.F.D. (Kill Fuck Die). Probably the least commercially accessible album ever released by W.A.S.P., Kill Fuck Die sees Blackie Lawless branching out with industrial sounding computer heavy songs. I remember how disappointed I was when I purchased Kill Fuck Die and that caused me to stay away from W.A.S.P.‘s next studio releases for almost ten years. I will say that the Kill Fuck Die songs that showed up on W.A.S.P.‘s 1998 live album Double Live Assassins sounded pretty good on that release and fit in surprisingly well with the rest of the live tracks. Kill Fuck Die is for the most part an acquired taste but it appears that a small percentage of Sleaze Roxx readers view W.A.S.P.‘s departure into industrial sounding songs as a good one.
9. STILL NOT BLACK ENOUGH – 3% of possible votes
Released in Japan in June 1995 and the US in August 1996
Still Black Enough is another record that was slated to be a Blackie Lawless solo album but that ended up being released under the W.A.S.P. moniker. As it turns out, it likely should have been a Lawless solo album as the man plays just about every instrument on the album except the drums which are handled once again by Quiet Riot‘s Frankie Banali. Still Not Black Enough had some tough albums to follow up after 1989’s The Headless Children and 1992’s The Crimson Idol, and probably never got its just due. Songs such as “Black Forever” and “Rock And Roll To Death” are solid tracks that have flown under the radar likely due to W.A.S.P.‘s impressive first five studio albums. In any event, it’s nice to see that some Sleaze Roxx readers consider it among their top three W.A.S.P. albums.
10. HELLDORADO – 2% of possible votes
Released on May 18, 1999
While apparently some critics did not like Helldorado and Blackie Lawless‘ new screaming vocals, I have always looked at that album as a return to form (certainly after Kill Fuck Die) and old with topics more in line with what was covered on W.A.S.P.‘s three first studio albums. The songs on Helldorado are simpler and more straightforward rock, and one wonders just how much backlash that Lawless received for Kill Fuck Die to cause this 180 degree turn. Helldorado would have ft nicely as a successor to Inside The Electric Circus with the songs having a much more commercial and ’80s feel than anything that W.A.S.P. had done since that album. For those who have stopped following W.A.S.P. after the group’s first five albums, the closest that you will get to W.A.S.P.‘s first three studio albums after that point is likely 1999’s Helldorado.
11. UNHOLY TERROR – 1% of total votes (two-way tie)
Released on April 3, 2001
Another underrated W.A.S.P. studio release gem is Unholy Terror as I recently discovered while doing the review of that album to celebrate its 15th year anniversary. Unholy Terror is yet another 180 degree turn for Blackie Lawless who lyrically takes on the world and all its vices on this album. Unholy Terror would have been a good follow up to 1989’s The Headless Children and 1992’s The Crimson Idol rather than 1997’s industrial sounding Kill Fuck Die and 1999’s commercial sounding Helldorado. As it turns out, Unholy Terror is the album where Lawless apparently found his way after switching styles a number of times since the next three albums that followed Unholy Terror are lyrically rather serious in nature, and more or less, have continued musically in this vein.
11. BABYLON – 1% of possible votes (two-way tie)
Released on October 13, 1999
W.A.S.P.‘s last three studio albums in a span of almost ten years has seen the band try to go back to the sounds of old school W.A.S.P. which has for the most part pleased the fan base. Anyone of 1997’s Dominator, 1999’s Babylon and 2015’s Golgotha could have garnered the few votes it took to generate 1% of the total possible votes but as it turns out, it is Babylon that did it. There are only nine tracks on Babylon and two of those are cover songs that W.A.S.P. handle with ease. Deep Purple‘s “Burn” and Chuck Berry‘s “Promised Land” get the W.A.S.P. treatment or makeover, and both sound great. Other highlights include the single “Crazy” and “Babylon’s Burning” which sees W.A.S.P. returning to their old school sound. If anything, Babylon shows that W.A.S.P. still have a lot of game.