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The Plasmatics Coup De Grace

By Frank Meyer, Contributing Editor
Monday, March 31, 2003 @ 12:30 AM


(www.plasmatics.com)

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Fans of Wendy O' Williams will rejoice over the long-awaited release of this highly sought after lost album by her insane band of lunatics known as The Plasmatics. For years there was rumors that there was a shelved early version of the band's 1982 Capitol Records effort Coup D'Etat recorded at Jimi Hendrix's Electric Lady Land studio in New York. Finally the folks at www.plasmatics.com have issued this nugget in all of its sleazy glory.

This is a pivotal effort for the group as they were transforming from the Stooges-influenced punk outfit they started as into a leaner, meaner more metal hard rock band they became. Produced by famed knob-turners Dan Hartman and Rod Swenson, Coup De Grace is a slightly rougher, rawer, randier version for sure, much closer to the live sound of the band. The big budget, '80s neo-metal production is all but stripped away here, revealing a tougher sound, with Wendy right up front.

"Put Your Love In Me," "Stop" and "Rock ĎN Roll" hint at Wendy's KISS-inspired, Gene Simmons-produced WOW era, but are terrific hard rock anthem type tunes. "No Class" is pure old school 'Matics ala 1980'sNew Hope for the Wretched, revealing the bands Motorhead inspired metal-punk influence, while "Uniformed Guards," "The Damned," and "Just Like On TV" point towards the future-kill cyber metal the band transmogrified into by '87s Maggots: The Record.

As always, itís Wendy's voice that carries the tunes, her attitude that leads the way. She may not have been a great singer (Rest In Peace, baby), but like Iggy before her, she takes what she's got and makes it works, even shoving it in your face and ramming it down your throat. Yet for all her punk-bitch moves, she occasionally pulls out a truly lovely vocal performance, here on the New Wave-by-way-of-white-trash-country-hick ballad "Country Fairs." If you can get past the mohawk, the Reform School Girls stance, and the blood-soaked naked hard body, you'll find Wendy had a voice, and a heart.

As per usual, Ritchie Stotts' guitars rips and tears like a switchblade, playing riff-tag with Wes Beech's rhythm guitars and Chris Romanelli's bass as Joey Reese keeps time. It's a glorious mess, a beautiful monster, and welcome sound to these ears to hear unearthed gems by this forgotten but great band.

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