Posts Tagged ‘WASP’

I was driving the rockbratmobile recently and the Cure came on the radio. Naturally enough I slammed some Twisted Sister in the tape deck and killed off that depressing whining of Robert Smith. But then the ol’ brain flash-backed to the 80’s, and a time I recalled when some ultra-hip university students started a ‘we want a  Cure tour’ campaign. Then I started pondering about all bands who’ve never toured downunder and there are quite a few (oh and the granddaddy Goth used to  regale me of the time he once met vocalist Smith – so that means they must’ve toured here a couple of time – but alas, that is not a world I understand).

Bangles Australia 1989

they may’ve gone down to Liverpool – but not Australia – thanks to an airline strike

Sometimes it took years for an act to hit our shores – like the Eagles – who finally flew our way in the mid-90s – though surely a tour was warranted in  their 70’s heyday ? What about Klaus Meine and the Scorps ?! Their big ballad from 1990 ‘Wind Of Change’ would hit #7 here, yet they’ve never toured  Australia’.  Which leads to me to the legendary Michael Schenker….nope, he too has never brought his Flying V our way (happy to say I saw him live in Tokyo  in 2012 – he ripped !). Which indeed leads me to the equally legendary UFO. I don’t think they’ve toured here either. I know Girlschool never jetted  downunder – though their was a club tour locked in sometime in 1986 – which never happened. How is it that the Nuge – the motorcity madman – Ted Nugent has  never been here ? Plenty of Nugent pinball machines made it to milk bars here in the late 70’s but never the great man himself ?! Did Nazareth ever make it here ? Melanie Safka (who I have  been devoted to for years – what, not ‘rock n roll’ enough for you, dude ? Can’t I like the Carpenters AND Venom ? Keep on truckin there friend) toured  Australia in 1973 and also 76 and 77 – and in fact – she was one of the first artists to perform at the Sydney Opera House, but I digress. I’ve given up on her touring here.

I  know Rush have never been here – nor Bob Segar. The King – Wally…err Elvis Presley never toured Australia – though I think he never performed out of his homeland. Fear of flying ? Why oh why the great Lynyrd Skynyrd have never announced an Aussie tour is beyond me. What about the Pistols ? Ahhh who needed ya – we had Birdman which woulda wiped you little London boys off the

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the great Michael Schenker – yet to jet downunder

stage anyway. Ringo Starr only recently toured, yet it had been nearly five  decades since his last stage performance – as a Beatle – get off my stool Jimmy Nicol. Guitarist Ross The Boss would finally tour with The Dictators – though  his former outfit Manowar are yet to tour. They have a loyal following and you would think they woulda been here once in thirty odd years of existence.  Britain’s perennial prog favourites Marillion have toured the world, but again, not Australia. Rockbrat-faves The Bangles were locked in for a tour in 1989 but it fell through from memory – due to a domestic arline related strike ! They would eventually make it here in 2005. The list is endless – and what about bands who pretty much ignored the Australian live circuit for some time. I mean, Def Leppard were huge in the 80’s – Hysteria sold bucket-loads of records right ? But, although gracing us with a quicky club tour in early 1984 (one gig at Selina’s, The Venue in Melbourne and at the Narara Festival (!)  – they would not return until 1992 in suport of the overblown Adrenalize album. It made no sense. Favourite sons AC/DC would last perform in 81 – and return in 1988. Was it the low Aussie dollar ? Maybe. Kiss build up a  solid fan base of non-makeup believers in the 80’s, yet would not tour here for fifteen years (1980 – 1995). Blackie Lawless made a quick promotional visit  to Sydney and Melbourne in late 1985 – yet his band W.A.S.P failed to make good his promise of a tour which he mentioned during the press interviews. He  would tour about two decades later and play shitty clubs. How long is it since Macca toured ? 1975 with Wings – and then 1993 as part of a massive world  tour. I saw him a couple of times and all but nodded off. Play Beatles and Wings and nothing else – definitely avoid the temptation to self-indulge by avoiding  latter day material. To think I shelled out big dollars from my small pay packet to hear Hope of Deliverance belted out. Anyway, time for another tour Paul. Not time for another Beach Boys tour by the way – seems we can not keep the evil ginger wizard and his band of faceless beach boys away from here. Enough already. Van Halen never toured back in the day – their first visit was with Cherone which is an event to forget. Ozzy, Krokus, Dokken, Quiet Riot, Cinderella, Ratt – all of these acts never toured here back in their hey-day and they would’ve attacted an audience ….even the plump Swedish meat ball managed to tour here in the early 1990’s – and he had no hits to tour on either ! Looking back – someone like Judas Priest really should’ve toured before their first visit in 2001 – and that was with Ripper Owens and not Halford. As you can see, the list is never-ending…. Australia is a long way to fly if you ain’t gonna make a profit – though Stryper toured here twice in three short years and pretty much played to half-empty concert halls. But I digress. Mr Rockbrat is seldom wrong – well, at least when it comes to all things rock n roll – so please send amendments if my recollections are indeed wr…wr..wr – see, it wasn’t only Fonzie who had trouble with that word. Your memories of bands who’ve never made it here are most welcome. I wonder if those self-important, university-educated, now late 30-something – (and no doubt) wealthy, executive-types still pine for a Cure tour ?!

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the Hellion himself – Mr Lawless

Back in the day – no denim-clad headbanger’s jacket was complete without a cloth back patch. Essentially, patched up metal-heads were a gang – all unified against the popular and accepted forms of music of the day. I recall – when Blackie Lawless did his in-store at Sydney’s Utopia in late ’85 – seeing a lot of guys sporting identical Lawless back patches. Looked pretty darn cool from memory. Some other fan showed up with saw blades on his arms – that story another time. For me, it had to be Kiss – no contest. The rest of my jacket was smaller Kiss patches/buttons, so – it was a simple decision to have Gene and Paul proudly displayed on my shoulders. But those large WASP back-patches – which displayed a sinister looking – blood dripping Blackie – were something to reckon with. A distant time – when loud rock n roll mattered – and heavy metal was the law…..and if you have never heard the early WASP albums, do so. Their self-titled record from 1984 was cut loud – and when played loud – still smokes all opponents….(‘Sleeping In The Fire’ anyone ? Man, that is fiery rock n roll at its very best). Having Lawless in town – my town – was indeed the stuff of teenage heavy metal worship. He was on my walls – on my stereo – in my head big time. I idolized that cat….it ain’t often you get to meet your rock hero when still a teenager – but I did. Here’s to you Blackie Lawless – and to one of the most striking rock n roll back patches ever produced.

image (c) Todd Kirby

image (c) Todd Kirby

Let’s start with some context. Around 1984, my three favourite bands were probably Maiden, Motley Crue and Ozzy Osbourne. Whilst Mr. Rockbrat was focusing on ‘Animalize’, ‘Stay Hungry’, ‘Last In Line’, ‘Out Of The Cellar’ and Blackie’s boys in WASP – I was listening intently to Ozzy’s ‘Speak At The Devil’ and ‘Bark At The Moon’. These were good albums, but not a pinch on the ‘Blizzard Of Oz’ and ‘Diary Of A Madman’ albums which were, as time has proven, landmark albums. My walls were emblazoned with posters of Ozzy circa ‘USA 83’ Festival and posters of Randy Rhoads. I played those first two Ozzy albums to death. Fast forward to 2011. My mate Bucko is good enough to lend me a copy of the new Ozzy DVD, “30 Years After The Blizzard”. After watching it, I look back on those years of the early to mid 1980’s and realise that what I dug about Ozzy all along – was Randy Rhoads. With the exception of the live footage on the DVD, I think the DVD is nothing short of a disappointment. There’s a documentary on the DVD that for the most part made me cringe. Ozzy and Sharon Osborne hold court, telling all and sundry how great Randy was. Bottom line is, without Randy, Osbourne could have quite possibly been a nobody in the 1980’s, a drunk who was the ex lead singer of Sabbath. Of course he’s gone on to sell squillions of albums and is a household name worldwide – and the Osbourne’s owe it all to Randall Rhoads.

This DVD ranks as a cash grab to me. If it was going to be done with any kind integrity, they would have been bothered to interview guys who were actually there; like Rudy Sarzo, Tommy Aldridge, Frankie Banali or even guys like Kelly Garni from the early QR days. Instead, there are interviews with guys like ‘Blasko’, who I’m told is Ozzy’s current bass player and would have been about 11 when Blizzard Of Oz came out. How is he qualified to talk about Rhoads? Also adding their insight into Randy Rhoads are Zakk Wylde, who in 1988 emerged as a carbon copied version of Rhoads and is currently vying for pie eater of the month (and hey Ghode, there is only one Black Label and they hail from Western Sydney OK). Sure, he’s got all of Randy’s licks down pat, but one can’t help get the feeling that he’s another who’s leveraged his own career off of Rhoads. Most of the documentary shows Ozzy sitting in the studio next to his producer Kevin Churko, who also would have been about 12 when Blizzard came out.  C’mon Sharon, the guy who actually produced the album, Max Norman wasn’t available? Instead we get some guy who had no connection to the album pressing the play button, grinning an assured smug and commenting about the recording? Please. Gotta keep it all in the Oz family right. Even in sobriety, Ozzy comes across as incoherent and bewildered – with a permanent puzzled look – and for a guy who says he doesn’t want to be remembered for “the dove, the bat, and the Alamo”, he never fails to mention them in every interview I hear or read. Always good for a few more sales hey Shaz. Pissing on The Alamo –  He’s just damn lucky The Duke wasn’t alive in 1982 to sit him on his ample ass. What’s interesting, is that one month after the ‘Alamo incident’, Rhoads was killed, yet apparently, he’d already told Osbourne he was wanting to leave the band and do other musical things. Sharon Osbourne comments on the documentary that Randy had had enough of Ozzy’s behaviour……Anyway, where was I, yes, the interviews. Bill Ward, Steve Vai, Nikki Sixxcheeseburgers, that leather whip crackin’ Rob Halford and Lemmy add some authenticity, but overall, as a documentary it left a lot to be desired. It goes without saying that neither ex Uriah Heep man Lee Kerslake or our own Bob Daisley got a mention – so there in lay the problem. The DVD documentary is about the ‘Blizzard’ album, and with the exception of Ozzy – there is NO ONE ELSE, offering comment who was actually on the album – be it other musicans, producer – not even the janitor from the studios! Instead we get Ozzy’s current bassist trying to tell me all about it! Hey dude – metal up your ass. Talk about dis genuine. I’m always about dubious about re issues, more money for the Osbournes, but on this one, I can smell a rat., and this is a grab of Simmons like proportion. In fact – NO ONE from those first two albums was interviewed. Before I forget – Along with Ozzy (who I assume wrote the lyrics), 99% of the music on those first two albums was penned Daisley and Rhoads, with Daisley’s songwriting skills coming to the fore. Dont underestimate the contribution that Daisley made to the Blizzard of Oz. By the time he joined Ozzy’s band, he had 10 years as a top notch songwriter under his belt, from Kahvas Jute to Chicken Shack, Mungo Jerry, Widowmaker and Rainbow – he was a crucial factor to the success of those two first Ozzy albums. As is well known, on the original Diary of a Madman LP notes, both Kerslake and Daisley weren’t credited. They were both fired in late March 1981, just after the recording session, and replaced for the tour by Aldridge and Sarzo, whose photos were put on the album and they were credited as studio musicians – though they didn’t play on the album. Anyway, as I mentioned elsewhere, the live footage on this DVD (including video of the New York Palladium from May 2, 1981) is very cool, and worth while picking up for that reason alone. Almost 30 years later, I still love Randy Rhoads. As I’ve written elsewhere, along with Ron Wood and Johnny Thunders, Rhoads is one of my three favourite guitar players of all time. His legacy is already assured, though I still don’t think the definitive documentary on his life has seen the light of day.

Sydney metal heads gather for Blackie. Note the Circus mag in Rockbrat's hand

Late 1985 and WASP had a buzz about them that made them the hottest property in international heavy metal. Cowboy Col and Mr. Rockbrat played the first WASP album and 1985’s Last Command til death on the Rockbrat stereo. Man those songs were anthems for teen rebellion in a way that modern bands just don’t deliver anymore. So it was that Blackie Lawless, WASP main man made a promo visit to Sydney to test the waters for a possible tour. Alas that tour never eventuated, but Utopia Records (then located in Challis Arcade, Martin Place) was the location for a meet and greet session.  Late on that day, Mr Rockbrat and I gathered with our denim clad metal brethren (a time when any headbanger worth his salt was identified by the back patch he wore) outside in Martin Place to meet rock’s chosen warrior.  Part of the excitement was viewing the gathered mass of headbangers and checking out who was wearing the KISS shirt, or spying imported tee shirts etc. I remember a guy was wearing one of those KISS paper jackets that were available during the 1980 KISS tour. In my mind, heavy metal was larger than life, and guys like Lawless were bona fide rock stars who represented a salvation away from the drudgery of high school.  I got to meet Blackie and shake his hand and greeted him with an awkward  “G’day Blackie.” He signed a copy of the ‘Animal – F**k Like A Beast’ single for me, which I still have. I remember Rockbrat got a magazine photo signed, and later procured some autographed posters.  You couldn’t wipe the smile from my melon. WOW, meeting Blackie Lawless! It didn’t get any better.  Those first couple of WASP albums are heavy metal classics, and sure, you can download them now and they may be just a file to you, but when I listen to them, 25 years after their release, I can still recall the anticipation and excitement of meeting a heavy metal hero.

What: Signed Blackie Lawless Photo

The Rockbrat has previously blogged about being heavily influenced by WASP in 84/85, which culminated in a promo visit to Australia by vocalist Blackie Lawless (that is a cool rock n roll name my friends) in November of 1985. You can read my musings here. But lo and behold I just unearthed a picture which the great man signed for me that day all those years back. It was like Weinbower meeting his Sammi Curr – if you know what I mean. Lawless was an outlaw, a nasty rock n roll idol who you’re parents despised, yet we worshipped. A true legend and I will stack those first two WASP LP’s up against anything released back then !

What: Sew-On Cloth Patches

As mentioned in the ‘Who Is The Rockbrat’ page, I was a metal-head, headbanger, rivet-head…whatever you want to label it – basically a fan of loud heavy rock ! Do kids still wear patches anymore ? Having patches sewed on your denim jacket spoke volumes about who you were. It screamed your loyality to a particular band in no uncertain terms ! I can remember seeing kids in the UK wearing patches in the late 70’s…Pink Floyd, AC/DC, Nazareth, Motorhead etc.  Attached is a photo of some of the Rockbrat’s vintage patches. Kiss, Twisted Sister and WASP….I guess you could say I was a fan of Shock Rock. From memory there was a rock store in Sydney CBD where I got most of mine…located under Centrepoint Tower called ‘Impact Imprints’ from memory. Play it loud Mutha ! There is a good page on Kiss patches here.

Back in 1984/85, Blackie Lawless and his band of shock rockers ruled each day of my life ! Along with the likes of Kiss, Twisted Sister and Dio, that debut W.A.S.P album got heavy rotation on the Rockbrat stereo. I devoured everything I could on the band – courtesy of over-prices U.S Rock Magazines like Hit Parader and Circus (the Australian dollar was 50c at one stage !) Nevertheless, my hard earned cash was spent on finding out recent news and info on my favourite Metal Masters. In this era of instant information, where 10 minutes on an Internet connection can provide you with news and updates – locating information back then on rock bands was sourced from magazines or books. Also word of mouth ! Being a Kiss devotee, I was clearly taken by the look of W.A.S.P and when a fellow HM buddy bought the debut album, I headed to his house and listened in awe. ‘On Your Knees’, ‘The Flame’, ‘B.A.D’, ‘Sleeping In The Fire’, ‘Hellion’ – all anthemic masterpieces which blew my mind. I looked over the covert-art and the inner sleeve. Man ! THIS was a rock band ! 
Whilst others in school were taking in the wimpish sounds of INXS, and radio stations played Prince, Michael Jackson and lame keyboard bands from the UK – I was absorbed in the almighty W.A.S.P ! and what a salvation it was my friends. A local TV music show aired the single ‘I Wanna Be Somebody’ and I could not get a tape into the VCR fast enough. I had gold ! Blackie Lawless, Chris Holmes and Co. soon adorned by bedroom wall, taking up all available space. Looking back, 1984 was a freaking great year for album releases….whilst my brother had Iron Maiden’s ‘Powerslave‘ cranking from down the hall, I was overdosing on a rock feast of W.A.S.P, ‘Animalize‘ by Kiss, Dio and the mighty ‘Stay Hungry’ by Twisted Sister. Kids of today – you missed out ! Don’t tell me it’s the same thing today cause it ain’t. My denim jacket was adorned in W.A.S.P and Kiss patches. These two bands had passed on the torch and it suited me fine. I splurged big dollars on the ‘Live At The Lyceum’ video cassette and sat mesmerized by their coolness.
Australia was starved of international touring Metal bands – (sure Deep Purple toured that year – but I didn’t want dinosaurs – I wanted cutting-edge, dangerous heavy
rock bands!) – and you can imagine the excitement when W.A.S.P leader Blackie Lawless announced a promotional tour downunder in November of 1985. He was my Sammi Curr, a hero, a salvation from the tedious bullshit of High School ! (I painted a Kiss logo on a school wall during my final days – to signal my departure – giving the finger to a place I hated). I met Lawless in November of 1985 at an in-store appearance in Sydney and when I came face-to-face with him I was all but speechless. I was at the alter and here was the Rock Lord. He signed my red vinyl copy of ‘Animal’ – and I still have it. I’ll keep it forever. If I show it to a kid of today it would mean nothing. They wouldn’t understand. Back then many kids didn’t understand and never would. I did understand. I got the message loud and clear. You wanna know something ? That debut W.A.S.P album still sounds f**king great. I don’t think they ever topped that release. I purchased ‘The Last Command’ – which had just been released before Blackie came to town and I wore the grooves out on that record too. He promised a 1986 tour which never eventuated. They would tour Australia 22 years later. In 1986/87 Lawless and W.A.S.P started wearing spandex, American Football Jerseys and had aperoxide blond named Johnny Rod in the band. They even did a video for ‘Forever Free’ sitting by a camp fire ! This was a far cry from the blood and screaming of the first album, from Mr

Lawless roaring down the highway on the ‘Wild Child’ video…and I lost interest. Angus and Malcolm never altered the course and it shows. Nevertheless, those first two W.A.S.P albums are very special – top to bottom, truly great records from a long ago time when a shock rock band from Los Angeles ruled my world !