Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy. Here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album or band is unique in some way & not every submission was reviewed. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Wendy O. Williams & the Plasmatics ~ Metal Princess (EP)

(Click on heading to visit official website.)
Style: punk, shock rock, heavy metal, hard rock, punk, live
Label: Stiff Records
Year: 1981
Home: New York City (deceased)

Members: Wendy O. Williams ~ vocals
Richie Stotts ~ guitar
Jean Beauvoir ~ bass/keyboards
Wes Beech ~ rhythm guitar/keyboards
Joey Reese, Tony Petri ~ drums


NYC's punk rockers the Plasmatics were not so much famous for their music as they were their singer Wendy O. Williams & the controversy she stirred up on stage, including: destroying & blowing things up such as automobilies & televisions, mohawked Williams strutting around in near nudity, simulating sex on stage & the climactic moment of every show when she would cut a guitar in half with a chainsaw. It was sex & shock rock at its obnoxious underground best. Though, the G.G. Allin-esque punk rock tended to leave much to be desired both musically & lyrically, while Williams was more of a shouter than a singer. In 1984 Williams went solo with an album featuring all of the then members of Kiss. She'd release two more solo albums before retiring & working in a health food store taking to animal activism & healthy eating with as much controversy as her music. She was finally success in committing suicide in 1998. But, before Gene Simmons the producer was on the horizon, the Plasmatics had just released their second album when the Metal Princess EP came out. It's creation was instigated by producer/writer Dan Hartman who'd worked with .38 Special & James Brown & had became enamoured with the Plasmatics wanting to do something with them. The EP came at a time when the record label also wanted new material to cash in on the growing popularity of the band but timing was pre-mature for a full-length. It probably was not what was expected by the label nor fans as it leaned far more to hard rock/metal than Plasmatics had done before, plus had some of the most cohesive songs & the best vocals by Williams on any album. It also introduced two new members behind the keyboards & drums, though the attention is always & completely on Williams with the band going through many line-up changes before its day was over that few will notice outside the wild stageshow. Metal Princess features the tracks: "Lunacy", "Doom Song", "Black Leather Monster", "12 Noon" & live versions of "Sex Junkie" & "Masterplan". The guitar solos aren't fancy & the songs still retain shock value over unique arrangements but for over the top headbanging one really doesn't need any more than the basics. "Lunacy" is a highlight with its Randy Rhoads wannabe riffing falling behind some of Williams best singing, or for once as close to real singing as she could do. Halford comes to mind as a similiar vocal equivilant at times. "Doom Song" also demonstrates an openness to experiment & getting moody in a way that the Plasmatics hadn't done before with its church organ opening, but the whole album is an ongoing experiment, such as in the Cramps-esque stomp "Black Leather Monster" or with the Blondie sing-song approach in "12 Noon". On one hand it shows the band pulling out all the stops but on the other greatly over-represents them. The least interesting tracks are the two live cuts from the previous tour which don't just suffer from low production but also are the chugging punk music that the Plasmatics had been churning out & pales in comparison to the neater hard rock of the new studio recordings. Though, in this context these unimaginative songs actually come out sounding better as they are one more example of variety. This little under-rated & oft-forgotten album, as EP's often do, ends up showing the range of the Plasmatics. The next step is a video to see the chainsawing in action. After that pop culture junkies only need to continue.



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