A blog about my favourite movies, music, and TV.

15 February 2009

Wendy O. Williams - Wow, 1984

Wendy O. Williams had recorded albums with her band The Plasmatics from 1978 to 1982 when in 1984 they decided to rebrand themselves under Wendy’s name. For the album WOW they lost a couple of members and their very hard edge in favour of something a bit poppier (for them!) and more commercial. This album is great; Wendy and the band team up with Gene Simmons and other members of Kiss to make probably the most listenable album of Wendy’s, far too short, career. Simmons co-wrote many of the songs and played bass.

I Love Sex (and Rock & Roll) kicks off the album, I’m not too keen on this one, as a pop fan I am used to the strongest tracks appearing first. This one is loud and brash, with little more to say than the title suggests. It would probably put a lot of people off venturing any further, and maybe that was the point! While I’m quite sure this was an attempt to be a bit more saleable, Wendy’s punk sensibilities evidently came first. In the early days she’d appear on stage with a bleach-blonde Mohawk and nothing more than a pair of knickers and some duct tape over her nipples!

The single, Its My Life is next, which didn’t make much of an impact on the pop charts, but appeared in the movies The Legend of Billie Jean and Reform School Girls (in which Wendy made her acting debut in 1986). This hard edged rock/pop gem is one of my absolute favourites. I like the lyrics about breaking the rules and doing what you want, the guitar solo is fantastic too. Wendy’s rough as nails vocals blend perfectly with the big guitars on the track. The video features Wendy driving around the desert and off a cliff; she did her own stunts, naturally!

Priestess and Thief in the Night are pretty strong mid-tempo metal tracks with solid choruses, it’s clear the direction they were going in was to make them more accessible to casual rock fans. Wendy’s glammed up image added another marketable ingredient to the mix, although she was still pretty ferocious.

Opus in Cm7 is pretty haunting, in particular Wendy’s throaty ‘Oh Yeah’s’, which she chants at various stages throughout the song. The lyrics are quite political, “Why are we all breathing dioxin?” She asks at one point. It’s a gentler track than the previous ones on the album. Wendy was a keen political and green activist right up until her death.

Are You Ready to Rock is pretty standard, by the numbers, mid-tempo rock. Nothing wrong with that though, and it’s another good track in my opinion.

Bump and Grind is more good filler, a rock and roll work-out with its roots firmly in punk:

“Do ya wanna bump, do ya wanna grind, do ya wanna bump and grind with me?” Wendy sings.

Legends Never Die is a tender ballad, well as tender as you can be with a voice like Wendy’s. I think this one is really quite moving and a nice change of pace for her as an artist. While she’s by no means an accomplished vocalist, this shows off quite a different side to her.

Ain’t None of Your Business is a bit like Its My Life, but a bit slower and smoother, same general messgae though, and a nice finisher to a pretty solid album. It’s a shame that Wendy chose to go back to her hard edged punk roots after this album. In 1986 she put out Komander of Kaos, which is extremely loud and unapologetic, and lacks the rhythm and relative subtlety of WOW. While not a mainstream success by any means, Wendy was nominated for Best Female Rock Vocalist of the Year at the 1985 GRAMMY AWARDS.

UK Chart Action: Wow (LP) #100; Its My Life (Single) [Didn’t chart]; F*ck & Roll (Live EP – unofficial release featuring tracks from the album [Didn't Chart]

Video - Its My Life (Music Video)
Video - Bump and Grind (Live in London, 1985)
Video - Reform School Girls (Music Video, 1986)


this alien said...

i saw wendy o williams just a couple of years after this release. small club, and very, very big energy coming from her and the band she had at the time. it would have been interesting to see where she went.

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