Iím pretty sure it was Christian watchdog Bob Larson who turned me on to the car bombing Plasmatics. The titilating horror stories of a shaving cream-clad Wendy O Williams slashing herself and her audience with razors were more than a 13 year-old boy could resist. Back then, their antics were labeled punk. The truth, that they had more in common sonically with Judas Priest, was lost on Larson. Still, I learned early on to trust Bobís keen ear. Anything he deemed abhorrent had to be worth a listen. Just a few years later, Williams appeared on the Donahue show with the suit-wearing Jello Biafra and the suit-heckling Mike Muir. Wendy was already looking as rough as her voice. She had been around and had the road map to prove it.
1982ís Coup DíEtat is the soundtrack to the carnage created onstage. And like other Plasmatics discs, it canít accurately capture the mayhem, as there are no album credits for chainsaw. The sexually charged "Put Your Love In Me" has the former stripper begging for satisfaction. It seems Wendy was vying for the title Iron Maiden. Manly vocals prove she has more balls than Halford or Dickinson. Chugging guitars, acoustic slowdowns and cymbal tapping make this too slow to be punk. Iím sure that during "Stop" Richie Stotts is waving the guitar head over the monitors and mugging with Wes Beach in true metal form. This is an environmental diatribe urging, "Stop with the rape of the earth/You were not made for this/Stop with your campaign of hate/Stop before itís too late." Breathy seduction marks "Rock N Roll." Lyrics take the backseat to heavy Nazareth shredding. Williams gives the impression that the object of her desires really has no choice in the matter. "Lightning Breaks" is a Sabbath rolling dirge with farting bass and dark tones. Breaking into more straight-ahead rock, "No Class" sounds like ZZ Top pissed off. This Motorhead cover may provide credence to the rumor that Van Halen asked Wendy O to front them in í96. The fetish ode, "Mistress of Taboo" is the punkest piece here. Itís faster, has flatter solos and a proto-rap line.
Williams shows that when she isnít spewing gravel, she has a rich, sweet voice on "Country Fairs." But the dreamy lullaby goes terribly wrong. "Creeping horrors out to get you/Morbid weirdoes inside your head." The soft and vulnerable side isnít exposed long before the monster comes back. Stottsí delicate guitar on this number is lovely. The conflict is lyrical as well, "First you hate it, then you love it/You canít stand it, you want more/You detest it but you need it/Canít stand being straight no more." May be a junkie tale.
Sci-fi visions of armageddon on "Path of Glory," "Just Like on TV," and "The Damned" are a likely influence on Megadeth. "The Damned" features synth-intro, and a slow, steady build until Wendy mounts a bus travelling across the desert sands crashing into a wall of t.v.ís. An orchestra of powerchords and screaming solos punctuated by a springy acoustic motif. Fantastic dynamics make this a sing along anthem.
Backwards vocals introduce "Uniformed Guards," a more progressive piece. Itís obviously not the same musicians. Williamsí vocals are reverbed too much. For all I know, itís Marianne Faithful back there. The rhythm is a skipping po-mo lacking the power of the rest of the album.
Plasmtics undoubtedly influenced a great many musicians and afficianados in their short career. This disc featured some shining moments, along with some fillerÖsome raucous, ear-splitting filler.
- Put Your Love In Me
- Rock N Roll
- Lightning Breaks
- No Class
- Mistress Of Taboo
- Country Fairs
- Path Of Glory
- Just Like On TV
- The Damned
- Uniformed Guards