Double Live Assassins


CMC International Records, 1998

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Somewhere in a corner of the White House, Tipper Gore is shaking uncontrollably. One of her biggest nightmares when she was head of the P.M.R.C., Blackie Lawless and W.A.S.P., are back with their second live set and ninth album, Double Live Assassins. This album is sure to make Washington wives faint with shock, make your parents turn away in disgust, and make the dog howl with pain. In short, it's a great album.

Their first live effort since Live... In The Raw, Lawless and crew are here in all their blood and glory (or is that "gory?") from their K.F.D. tour. While a good portion of their career is covered in the sixteen songs that make up this two-disc set, it displays the power that W.A.S.P. has always had - and even emphasizes the fact that Lawless is quite a good songwriter. Exhibit "A" to back this up: "Wild Child," a song which loses a little bit in the translation from the studio version, but not much.

If a live setting does anything for W.A.S.P., it takes the industrial edges off some of the songs on my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 K.F.D., making them a little less scary than they sounded on their studio conterparts. In one sense, this works to W.A.S.P.'s advantage; to my ear, their more all-out metal sound they made (in)famous on songs like "Blind In Texas," "Animal" and "L.O.V.E. Machine" is a better fit. Still, it is nice to hear some of the better selections from K.F.D. here, including "Kill Your Pretty Face" and "U".

Another thing that Double Live Assassins accomplishes is it instills more of a respect for some of the latter-day material Lawless and his band was creating near the end of their first run as W.A.S.P. The selections from The Headless Children and The Crimson Idol take on a whole new life here, and make me want to run back into the Pierce Archives and dust off my copies of these albums.

There's also no doubting that the musical partnership between Lawless and lead guitarist Chris Holmes is an amazing yin-yang relationship not unlike that of the Davies brothers of The Kinks. These two guys constantly feed off of each other, and push the other to new musical limits in their genre. (Bassist Mike Duda and drummer Stet Howland, who also played on K.F.D., do an incredible job here - Howland might be the best drummer W.A.S.P. has ever had.)

Of course, it wouldn't be W.A.S.P. if they weren't offending someone. Never mind the fact they're a decade older now, Lawless will still send shivers up the Moral Majority's spine... especially after I've read about some of the things he's done on this stage show. (And is it sacrilege for me to mention that Lawless looks like a deranged version of The Crow on the album cover? Just a thought...) If you're easily offended, don't bother picking this album up - when you buy a W.A.S.P. album, you usually know what is in store for you.

The long-time fans could probably rattle off a grocery list of songs they wish had been included on Double Live Assassins, but the simple fact of the matter is this is one of the better live albums out on the market - and the live album is the most difficult thing for an artist or band to produce. W.A.S.P. have masterfully pulled it off, and Double Live Assassins is one album that will keep you up late at night until you've finished every last song - and then you'll want to start with disc one again.

This could be W.A.S.P.'s best effort yet, and Double Live Assassins is one disc that belongs in your shopping cart, in your CD player, and embedded in your head. It is one of the most pleasant surprises of 1998.

Rating: A-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1998 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of CMC International Records, and is used for informational purposes only.