I consider “The Crimson Idol” to be WASP’s (and by default Blackie Lawless) crowning achievement. It’s funny how the person that wanted to be somebody in 1983 ended up singing about a person that didn’t want to be the idol of millions.
From my own musical evolution, there is no one higher in my own personal church of rock n roll than Blackie Lawless.
So here is a COMPENDIUM list of post “Crimson Idol” cuts.
Heavens Hung In Black
The masterpiece in Blackie’s career. It is from the “Dominator” album released in 2007. It’s seven plus minutes long and it is not pretentious or wankery. The way it goes from the synths to the outro solo is excellent and emotive. Go on YouTube and you will see that the song has over 10 million views. This is what Blackie said of the song in an interview with Blabbermouth:
“The title is from a quote from American President Abraham Lincoln when he saw the casualty reports from the battle of Gettysburg, and after reading that he said, ‘Tonight the Heaven’s are hung in black.’ So I took that idea and I wrote it from a point of view of a U.S. soldier in Iraq who’s on the verge of dying and he’s standing at the Gates of Heaven but St. Peter tells him that because of all the fighting that has been taking place, they have no more room in Heaven, and that he must come back some other time. So based on that understand that the verses are St. Peter talking, and the chorus is the soldier.”
Some artists need others to write music with however Blackie Lawless is an anomaly that doesn’t subscribe to that paradigm.
It’s also from 2007’s “Dominator” album. Love that open string palm muted pedal point riff to kick it off. Blackie rewrote this song and called it “Crazy” for 2009’s “Babylon” album. Both of the songs are just good old rockers.
Take Me Up
One of my favourites. The whole digital delay intro is subtle and powerful. When the clean town first verse comes in, I still have no idea what’s coming. Then the heavy grinding and groovy second verse kicks in and when the hooky chorus kicks in, I am all in. Nodding my head and tapping my foot. It’s also from 2007’s “Dominator” album. “Take Me Up” is a tour de force.
The “Dominator” album is a classic like W.A.S.P’s other classic albums. It’s perfect and without the big hit single, it doesn’t get the attention it deserves. However for those fans who have heard, we can never forget it.
And then there was the album cover, with the American flag partially in flames, a skull take up a corner and nameless headstones taking up another corner. Focusing on the foreign policies of the U.S, Blackie delivered a mind-blowing experience. This is what he said about the album title:
“It is based on the idea of Western imperialism and about what’s wrong with Washington D.C. It’s important that people understand this is not about the American people and it is not a critique on the American people — it is a critique on the government in the United States. If someone looks at the lyrics of ‘Dominator’, they’ll think it’s a man talking to a woman. And I like the interesting concept of that because that’s what bigger countries do to smaller countries — they toss them like they’re their bitch.”
My Wicked Heart
It’s from the “Dying For The World” album released in 2002. The intro is a combination of “Iron Maiden” and “Judas Priest”. Then it morphs into a derivative version of Love Machine in the verses merged with Arena Of Pleasure in the Chorus. Then the Interlude is “Chainsaw Charlie (Murders In The New Morgue)”. Totally brilliant.
“Nothing can change my wicked heart”
It’s also from the “Dying For The World” album released. Just think of the song as “The Idol” part 2. I wouldn’t be surprised that sometime in the future, the publisher who would hold the copyright for this song would probably get sued by the publisher who holds the copyright on “The Idol”. That is how messed up Copyright law is.
It’s from the “Unholy Terror” album released in 2001. It has this Led Zeppelin “Kashmir” groove, but it’s classic WASP. Thank God that Blackie Lawless didn’t use the “feel” from a Marvin Gaye song otherwise he would have been in the courts as well if the song made some serious cash.
The song is also from the “Unholy Terror” album and it is a cross between Alice Cooper’s “School Out” and WASP’s “Love Machine”.
From 2009. It’s a combination of “The Invisible Boy” and “I Am One” from “The Crimson Idol” album. I love it.
Into The Fire
One more power mid tempo ballad from Blackie. It’s also from the “Babylon” album.
It’s from the double concept album “The Neon God – Part 1 – The Rise” released in 2004.
What I’ll Never Find
It’s also from the double concept album “The Neon God – Part 1 – The Rise” released in 2004. As usual Blackie Lawless is in top form pounding out his epic power ballads. This song reminds me as an amalgamation of “The Idol” and “Hold On To My Heart”.
The Running Man
It’s funny how “The Running Man” (TRM) sounds like another song with the first letters of each word as T R M (The Real Me). Add to that flavours of “Doctor Rockter” and you have another perfect WASP song.
The Raging Storm
“Sleep In The Fire” merged with “The Idol” over a 12/8 blues rhythm. Brilliant. When I hear Blackie scream “give me love” I am immediately reminded of the “No Love to shelter me” from “The Crimson Idol” album.
It’s from the second part of the double concept album “The Neon God – Part 2 – The Demise” released in 2004. It’s “The Titanic Overture” merged with “The Great Misconception Of Me”.
The Last Redemption
The finale from the double concept album “The Neon God” and it’s as good as “The Great Misconception of Me” which is the finale on “The Crimson Idol”. At 13 plus minutes long it sums up the influences of Blackie Lawless.
From 1999’s “Helldorado” album. Coming after the disappointing KFD album I was already getting disappointed three songs into “Helldorado”. I started believing that WASP and Blackie were finished. Then came track number 4, with is AC/DC “Hells Bells” intro and I had faith again in the power of Lawless.
Still Not Black Enough
This song is a 4 minute version of “The Great Misconception of Me” from “The Crimson Idol”.
Actually “Still Not Black Enough” and “Black Forever” from the same album have a lot of similarities in the music (the intro’s are identical).
The “Still Not Black Enough” album released in 1995 was the one that followed “The Crimson Idol”. I didn’t know what to expect at this point in time as a lot of the bands I liked delivered more contemporary sounding albums as the commercial musical landscape threw in their lot with the Seattle sound.
Was there a place for WASP in this new environment?
Of course there was. Blackie, re-wrote “The Crimson Idol” and stayed true to the old ways.
Scared To Death
It’s got this “Eye Of The Tiger” vibe merged with “Jesus Christ Superstar”. Another classic from Blackie.
A remake of “Chainsaw Charlie” and “The Titanic Overture”. The reason why W.A.S.P resonated with me is that as Blackie got older, I felt like he didn’t have to fit a formula to succeed. The hit parade that the mainstream writes about was just not for him. He instead focused on the thousands of cult fans that gravitate to W.A.S.P.
Keep Holding On
A derivative version of “Hold On To My Heart” from “The Crimson Idol”.
A derivative version of “Forever Free” merged with “Hold On To My Heart”.
In the end, the “Still Not Black Enough” album was just a perfect remedy for 1995.
W.A.S.P (and by default Blackie Lawless) may never be cool and Blackie may never be a tastemaker. I don’t expect to see W.A.S.P to have any hits on the top 40. However, what I do know is that when W.A.S.P puts out an album and goes on tour, there are fans there ready to listen and to attend.