Themes From Great Cities

It might have come to your attention that I'm not a regular poster of love and understanding, which you will just have to get used to. I will however, have bursts of creativity where I move completely randomly from post to post with no rhyme or reason. I have recently posted a few singles (7 & 12”) and the odd bootleg which have been received very well by all who visit. More of the same will continue as you, dear readers, seem to be enjoying them.

Some of the rips are my own, but many more are from other blogs and I’m just sharing the wealth. If other bloggers out there wish to share the rips from my posts, please as I do, host them yourself. To combat this, the FLAC files that are over 6 months old will be replaced with MP3 files.

Finally I am happy to re-up old posts where the link has expired. Please comment in the relevant posts comments box.


New Hope For The Wretched

You can't put an exploding car or a television that's been smashed to bits inside a record sleeve, which sums up the problem the Plasmatics had in capturing their appeal on vinyl -- so much of the band's initial reputation was based on their frantic and destructive live show, and divorced from the images, their first album, New Hope for the Wretched, simply had to get by on the band's music, which was a bit of a stretch. As musicians, the Plasmatics were tight and not without imagination; their attack suggests guys who had been playing metal or hard rock who figured this punk rock stuff was going to be the next big thing, but rather than disguise their roots, guitarists Richie Stotts and Wes Beech were more than willing to let their doom struck metal influences shine through on the instrumental breaks to tunes like "Monkey Suit" and "Concrete Shoes," and parts of New Hope suggest thrash metal arriving a few years early. However, as songwriters Stotts, Beech, and Rod Swenson (the band's manager and idea guy) didn't have all that much to say and not an especially compelling way of saying it. Stylistically, New Hope for the Wretched keeps going around in circles until it finally wears a groove into the floor, and the album's real weak spot is lead singer Wendy O. Williams, who hadn't been singing very long and delivers most of these tunes in a guttural bleat that suggests Stiv Bators with a mouthful of Novocain; she may well have known what to do on-stage, but in the studio her weaknesses were obvious and unavoidable. And while the album's great musical experiment -- the middle section of "Dream Lover," during which the musicians could neither see nor hear one another -- may have been an interesting idea, the results suggest a roomful of college freshmen making their first stab at forming a noise band. A bit like Kiss' first three albums, New Hope for the Wretched is the work of a band struggling to make the excitement of their stage show work in the studio and falling short of the mark, though there are a few moments where the Plasmatics manage to get over on sheer sneering energy, one quality the microphones were able to capture.


The Plasmatics received a lot of mainstream press compared to most punk bands of their era due largely to their over the top stage show and the provocative attire of lead singer Wendy O. Williams. Wendy often performed topless with only a piece of electrical tape covering her nipples. She had a really butch, gruff voice but as feminine of a body as it comes and the band’s shows were something of legend. A Plasmatics show was visual overload where Wendy would take a chainsaw to anything in reach and cut it up (often guitars) and she’d even blow things up as well. All of this was happening while they were playing their fast-paced punk rock. They took punk rock and mixed it with performance art and there wasn’t really anyone else doing anything like it at the time.
My first exposure to the band came thanks to their ability to get some mainstream press. I read an article about the band and was enamoured with the photos of the band which depicted Wendy destroying things on stage. It was mesmerizing to say the least and I wouldn’t even hear their music for another year or so. When I finally did hear their first album, New Hope For the Wretched, I was pretty blown away by it as punk rock was very new to me at that time and very exciting. Their music was fast and powerful and their songs were mostly on the shorter side of the spectrum and this charismatic lead singer of theirs had such a gruff voice that was delivered in grunts that she almost sounded like a guy. That album has been in regular rotation for me for decades now and it is weird that they don’t get talked about by many people these days in comparison to the other bands of that era. In the modern-day they are overlooked and I’ve yet to see this album come up in any of those “best punk album” listicles you see all over the internet that are written by people who weren’t even born when records like this were released but somehow feel qualified to make a list and try to pass it off as gospel. In a list of best punk albums, the first Plasmatics album would certainly make the cut. I think it has held up well and is pretty timeless. It also beats the hell out of any modern mainstream or even punk music.

Ripped from a Reissued 2001 CD with Metal Priestess as bonus tracks (sadly left off for a future post) to MP3 @ 320kbps

Plasmatics: New Hope For The Wretched

1.      Tight Black Pants
2.      Monkey Suit
3.      Living Dead
4.      Test Tube Babies
5.      Won’t You
6.      Concrete Shoes
7.      Squirm (Live)
8.      Want You Baby
9.      Dream Lover
10.  Sometimes I
11.  Corruption
12.  Butcher Baby
13.  Tight Black Pants (Live)*
14.  Living Dead (Live)*
15.  Sometimes I (Live)*

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