Picks and Pans Main: Song

updated 05/15/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/15/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT


When have you gotten too old to rock and roll? One sure sign is when you start looking as if you're sucking your cheeks in on the album cover photo, as singer Blackie Lawless is doing here to give himself that lean and hungry look. (Ozzy Osbourne—bless his chubby and benighted soul—has been more honest as the pounds and years have piled on. While he may have taken to wearing muumuus and capes onstage, he's never been vain enough to resort to puckering up for photographers.) Actually, all of W.A.S.P., a SoCal shock-rock group, is sounding a little puffy on The Headless Children. It's now a trio of Lawless, guitarist Chris Holmes and bass player Johnny Rod. (Sounds like the cast of a porno film, nicht wahr?) They borrowed drummer Frankie Banali from Quiet Riot to make this record, which falls out in some metallic no-man's-land situated roughly between Kiss and Iron Maiden. The best selections in a dreary lot are "Rebel in the F.D.G." and a cover of The Who's 'The Real Me."

You do have to credit Lawless for knowing which way the wind blows. Realizing that most of the younger metal bands are making it with serious lyrics, Blackie has set aside writing about his putative sexual ferocity (his favorite, indeed almost his only subject in the past) in order to wax philosophic. The title track is about the folly of war, and "Thunder-head," a particularly insipid piece of work, is about heroin addiction: "And soon you'll be dead from that poison that you're on/Oh—the venom that's worse than the snakes/And I say hey, hey, hey/Oh no, hey-hey-hey." Maybe Blackie could present this apercu to Nancy Reagan, another notorious exploiter of photo-ops. Drugs? Just say hey-hey-hey. (Capitol)

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