Live... In The Raw


Original Masters Records, 1987

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Why did Blackie Lawless and W.A.S.P. choose to release Live... In The Raw in 1987, at the height of their popularity? Was it because Lawless wanted to capture the band in their glory days? Was it because he wanted to recharge his batteries after Inside The Electric Circus and a whirlwind tour?

I don't claim to know the answers, and I don't feel like bothering Blackie at home just to write the opening to this review. (I'm sure he appreciates that.) But whatever the reason, Live... In The Raw was just the thing W.A.S.P. needed at that juncture in their career.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

I've gone on the record saying that I didn't particularly like Inside The Electric Circus, and I have not changed my opinion of that album. But what this night in Long Beach, California does is convince me that there was indeed some life in songs from that album. Opening with "Inside The Electric Circus," Lawless, guitarist Chris Holmes (who is absolutely on fire on this record), bassist Johnny Rod and drummer Steve Riley do a number on the crowd, who love every minute of it.

What is a pleasant surprise on Live... In The Raw is the inclusion of brand new material, like "The Manimal". While the "classics" (can that word be used for a band that had only three albums out to that point?) are just as rewarding, the hint of new material was enough to keep the hounds drooling for more. (It would be two years later that W.A.S.P. would deliver the goods, with The Headless Children.)

Live albums are always difficult, because it's hard to re-create the mastery of the studio (where parts are often layered one on top of the other) in the live show. But W.A.S.P. successfully makes the translation - even down to the harmony vocals, which really impressed me. Hearing songs that I grew up banging my head to again, such as "Blind In Texas," "Wild Child" and "L.O.V.E. Machine" is still a thrill.

Live... In The Raw was also noted for the inclusion of the studio track "Scream Until You Like It" (from Ghoulies II). This is an okay track, but it's still fun to listen to now and again. The re-release of this album also includes a treasure chest of b-side live tracks and an acoustic performance of "Sleeping (In The Fire)", a track I wish had gone on longer. Of the three additional live tracks, only "Sex Drive" disappoints, sounding a bit sloppy. The other two, "Shoot From The Hip" and "Widowmaker," are excellent additions.

Live... In The Raw may have been W.A.S.P.'s first attempt at a live album, but it was a very successful experiment - and is an album that still produces smiles today, 12 years after its release.

Rating: B+

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© 1999 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 Original Masters Records, and is used for informational purposes only.