Reviewed: June 1999
Released: 1999, CMC International Records
Think the Rolling Stones are the “Bad Boys of Rock ‘n’ Roll”? Think again… Don’t believe me? Okay, picture Mick Jagger wearing a codpiece with a circular saw-blade jutting out of it and spitting blood… I rest my case.
WASP is back with their eighth full-length studio release, entitled Helldorado. Claiming it to be more like their original demos than anything they’ve released to date, Blackie Lawless and co. have recorded an album of full throttle, in your face party anthems. Age certainly hasn’t affected their attitudes, that’s for sure.
Even though Helldorado is a good CD, I have to admit that I was a little disappointed when I finally heard it. With all the advance hype about this album being a return to WASP’s roots, I was expecting something more reminiscent of the first couple of CD’s (WASP and The Last Command), not a whole disc of three and four chord, hammer-on laden tunes. When I think about classic WASP, I think of songs like “I Wanna Be Somebody”, “Wild Child”, “Hellion”, etc… and the songs on Helldorado just aren’t of that caliber.
The CD begins with “Drive By”, a spoken intro in which Blackie (as the devil) invites the listener along for a joyride in the Cadillac from Hell and from there goes into the title track (possibly the best on the disc). “Helldorado” makes for a great lead-off track, but the repetitive, blues-based nature of the tunes does get a little boring. Two or three songs of this style would have been fine, but a whole album? (“Blind in Texas” was never really one of my favorites.) Almost all the tracks are interchangeable. When you can sing one lyric to six or seven “different” tunes, you know that’s not a good sign.
But of course, this IS WASP after all, and attitude is always the #1 priority. An attitude which comes through loud and clear on songs like “Dirty Balls”, “Saturday Night Cockfight”, and the parent enraging “Don’t Cry (Just Suck)” (If you have daughters, this one’s bound to make you cringe.), all driven home by a very impressive vocal performance by Mr. Lawless. As for the bands performance, they were good but far from technical. And Chris Holmes’ soloing… Well… Uh… Let’s just say I don’t think he went off key.
So while Helldorado isn’t exactly groundbreaking (well, maybe in 1958), I don’t think it was meant to be. It’s all in the name of hedonistic fun, folks. Listen to this one when you throw a party or feel the need to reaffirm your masculinity in a redneck manner.
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