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Updated: W.A.S.P. The Neon God: Part One

By Jeff Kerby, Contributor
Monday, April 19, 2004 @ 1:25 PM


(Sanctuary)

Conversation uttered shortly after the release of W.A.S.P.’s last album Dying For the World:

“Yeah, Blackie—this is your manager. Look, we just cancelled the whole tour—a whole tour. I know you know that no road gigs equals little promotion for this record. What the hell am I going to tell the dozens of people who already bought tickets to the shows?”

“Just tell them that I have a new idea for a concept album. This could be bigger than Operation: Mindcrime. It’s gonna be great--it may not be as big as Tommy though.”

“How the shit could you ever top The Who anyway? That ‘deaf, dumb and blind kid sure plays a mean pinball!’”

- advertisement -
“Actually, I did have an idea about this guy who loses his arms and legs and eyes and can’t even hear and shit because he was involved in an unfortunate accident at a Catholic church. See, they were playing bingo and this nun had a wicked gas leak because she was the really the devil (only no one knew) and her flatulence weakened the structure supporting the roof and when it collapsed, the guy in the album was basically reduced to this fleshy shell. Yeah, this fucker, he couldn’t see or anything, but what he could do was… well, this mutherfucker could play Pong like a bastard. Obviously, he couldn’t move the paddles with fingers, but instead, he used the The Force. He became famous and shit only he never knew because, like I said, he couldn’t see and hear or shit. I decided that storyline was too derivative though so I decided to go with something else.”

Boy did he ever.

Right now I’m staring at a ten-page narrative outlining the action in part one of The Neon God: The Rise. Admit it, many of you haven’t read anything over ten pages since Animal Farm in the ninth grade, so it’s for you that I’ll supply a Kerb Note’s version of the plot---well, let me at least quote the beginning though:

“I come from a place where children are of shadow and isolation.

“Where broken dreams heal themselves disfigured, in a silent world of desperation. The wasteland of fragile young hearts left to die!

“I am Jesse Slane… mine would not die… it would live…and live again!”

Yeah, ok. Uh, pretty much the whole ten pages are a bit… hmm, melodramatic, but here’s the gist: there is this guy named Jesse, and he was a little kid whose dad died when he was six. Before the father died though, he gave the boy a Bible. Jesse would then look at the Bible for comfort when he was scared. The boy’s mother’s name was Mary. Mary was a drug addict who “had a different man almost every night.” His mom was a drug addict, but even worse than that, she was kind of an illiterate. See, she used to scream double negatives at her young child. She would yell shit like, “You are nothing—You will never be nothing.” Of course, by telling him that he would never be a “nothing” she was actually implying that he would really eventually become something. Maybe the kid shoulda paid better attention to each word his mom told him and quit being such a puss—in any case, when she wasn’t yelling non-sequiters, mother Mary took to calling her young boy “the Devil.” Eventually, she got tired of taking care of Satan, so one day she dropped him off at Sisters of Mercy Boys Home. The boy was upset. Who would teach him English? Who would supply his burgeoning crack habit? Life sucks.

It sucked so much in fact that he… take a guess… HATED LIVING AT THE ORPHANAGE! It was this state-operated facility that housed an orphanage in one part of the building and a mental institution in the other. Originally I had heard that they were going to put in a Starbucks where the mental institution was eventually built, but there was some problem with zoning, and I guess that coupled with the fact that cuckoo people make the state more money than double lattes, eventually squashed that idea. That’s too bad for young Jesse, though because it sounds as if the sisters could have used a brownie, some cappuccino and a hug. One in particular was especially heinous—Sister Sadie. She was damn mean. She was six feet two inches and weighed 250. She also looked like a “Nazi.” One day, Jesse gets busted stealing some food. I’m guessing they were Fig Newtons—anyway, he gets sent to Sadie and there she commences to sexually abuse him three times a week. She gets kinda creative with it at certain points, too, and would often suspend him from the ceiling while she drank sacrament wine. Reality was grim for young Jesse.

Eventually, he decides to complain to another nun, but of course she wouldn’t listen, so what he did was, he jumps into this well and tries to commit suicide. Somebody saves him though, which is kind of weird, since everyone appears to pretty much hate him. I don’t know. Seems like they woulda just let this poor bastard die. Anyway, he ends up in a coma for a few days having visions of what he was to become. We all know what attempted suicide leads to if you’re an orphan—a nice firm bed at the mental institution. At the nuthouse, he meets a couple of dudes; one is named Spazmo. The attendants would test drugs out on this guy--consequently all the patients wanted to be Spazmo. Not really, his primary job actually was to score drugs for this rich kid named Billy. Billy had been sexually abused by a male teacher. In a fit of rage and frustration, Billy sticks some methanol alcohol and rat poison in the air filtration system of his car. The teacher dies.

Billy, Spazmo and Jesse become friends and they would do all kinds of dope together at the asylum. The room they do it in is called the “Red Room of the Rising Sun.” Undoubtedly old Billy had Queer Eye For the Straight Guy design the decor because it had a lot of Middle Eastern lamps and some Indian influence. Jesse finally feels like he belongs. He was high and sad now most of the time. Being high and sad is always better than just being sad. Well, you know this couldn’t last very long—someone has to either die or get raped or something pretty quick because this just ain’t a happy story. What happens is that shortly thereafter Sister Sadie dies, and the nun that Jesse confided to years ago wants Jesse removed from the goofball house. This makes Billy sad. Billy then decides to OD on sleeping pills in the Red Room right next to a pretty Persian rug. It was a tasteful Persian rug. Jesse was devastated again.

He runs away a few days later and gets hooked up with a street magician named Judah. This guy promises to be his mentor in the realm of the paranormal. They get along real well, but after awhile, both realize that the force is strong in Luke-- I mean, Jesse… and that he would soon surpass the abilities of his teacher. Eventually, they start to attract a few people and friends and become a sort of gang. After one night when the protagonist of this story breathes life into the nostrils of a dove, the group begins traveling from town to town as Jesse would preach and try to attract new converts. In a very short time, the following reached numbers in the several hundreds—which would of course make it more widely attended than most W.A.S.P shows—the whole experience causes Jesse to believe that he may be God.

O.K.

That’s pretty much it…. for part one anyway. I didn’t even embellish on anything except for the Starbucks part and Queer Eye business. On the album Dying For the World, it was already evident that Blackie was becoming increasingly interested in evil forces, God and the barriers that separate them. On the first installment of this concept record, Lawless obviously takes this fascination to extreme lengths, but regardless of the storyline, the sound remains traditional W.A.S.P. No one else sounds like this. Between Blackie’s distinctive metal warble and the singular guitar sound, the origination of each song is plainly evident. Of course, you always know that there will be plenty of hooks that are evident, and the ballads are always going to have a certain haunting quality if for any other reason than the fact that Lawless is singing it. Musically, The Neon God isn’t really a disappointment in any way. The interesting issue regarding this album though primarily concerns how many fans out there will actually take the time to make the connection with the selections here. There are different characters singing different parts, but of course, it is all Blackie—so whether or not sorting out the characters ultimately becomes problematic for the listener remains to be seen. If they aren’t well versed in the story, they may not understand the significance of the words.

Evaluating a work like this presents a variety of variables, which need to be addressed. If a reviewer were going to assign a value on ambition, this would be a solid four and then some. Musically, this record is also pretty respectable. There has never been a time when I couldn’t throw on a W.A.S.P. record and appreciate the unabashed metaldom coming through my speakers. The biggest drawback though regarding this concept album in my mind concerns the storyline, which at times alternates from overly bleak and ominous to a narrative that features themes which have become dangerously cliché--mean ass nuns, drugged out geniuses—and obvious names like Jesse’s mother being named “Mary” because he is going to be a messianic figure, ya get it? “Sister Sadie”? C’mon, you might as well have called her “Sister Who Likes To String Up Young Boys and Get Loaded.” Blackie is a smart enough guy. I give him a certain degree of credit for actually attempting this, even if it falls short in some places. Regardless of The Neon God’s inadequacy, I’d still rather hear this than some new effort by Queensryche, where they attempt to write a sequel for Operation: Mindcrime, mostly because I think that WASP has consistently created more quality music over the last ten years especially. Two albums of this though? I don’t know.

I’ll also say this, unlike Queensryche’s potential project, we actually know that this one already has a follow up that will be released this summer. Let’s say that I can’t wait that long to find out what happens to Jesse though… what should I do?

Well, here goes: if you have any idea for what should happen to our favorite drug addled orphan, email it to me and I’ll post it in a separate review/feature and make sure you get all the credit for being the genius that you are. If I can’t get my hands on any more copies of this offering, I will send you some other disc… granted, it will probably be one that sucks and has been sitting under my bed for a month or two, but hey, it’s free. Remember though, Sister Sadie is already dead, so let’s not bring her back to life just to kill her again. Keep in mind that you do get bonus points though for making any allusions to either Pong or religious flatulence. Have fun, and get your lips off your dead parakeet—it’s NOT moving.

* * ½

Updated 04/27/04:

Prophecies of the Neon God Part 2

Alright, now. With The Neon God Part I: currently climbing the charts at position # 1,003 on CD Now, it is clear that the public is completely enthralled with the plight of Jesse the drug addicted messiah. Last week I asked you to come up with what you thought would be a probable conclusion to this saga. The first offering comes from Willie Toro.

Willie writes:

“My guess on The Neon God Part 2 is that the main character Jesse will rise to be an evil figure with millions of followers around the world and some asshole is gonna try to assassinate him to save the world from Jesse's evil world domination.”

Right on, Willie. I can definitely see this happening. Jesse is gonna be an evil guy in Part 2—he has the power to breath life into small birds—what could be scarier?

The second choice actually consists of two possibilities and comes to us from Mr. Wilhelm Fischerstrom from Stockholm, Sweden. His response states:

“First we’ll hear some more of Jesse’s existential pondering and drug usage…

“1.) …then I think either Jesse meets a girl, preferably with some kind of biblical reference, as Lillith, that gives him hope and the ditches him and it ends in Jesse’s suicide. Jonathan in Crimson Idol hanged himself in his guitar strings (weird, but ok) so maybe Jesse crucifies himself or some other way that give yet another biblical reference,

“2.) …or Jesse and Judah get competitive about the black magic they use and start to build 2 groups of followers and when Jesse kills Judah to get rid of the competition, Judah’s followers will hunt him down and kill Jesse, very much like Frankenstein - Judah being the doctor making Jesse his monster that finally kills him. I bet his final words will be, ‘Why was I here, all I wanted was to be loved by someone.’”

Self-crucifixion…nice. I totally loved the Frankenstein reference too—the last line sounds appropriately smaltzy and sentimental. Hell, it sounds just like what the last line will probably be.

I got to thinking about all these scenarios as well, and I decided that I would also throw my vision into the mix. It’s something I’d like to see happen in the Neon God Part 2, but…sadly enough it probably won’t. Anyway, here’s my take—a song-by-song description, and it’s not even 15 pages either!! Yeah!!

The story begins when Jesse is at the height of his career. He now has followers all over the place, and he finds himself feeling a bit complacent. Due to his prior horrific experiences, drug abuse is no longer an option, so just as many people do when they start to feel stagnant, he begins to binge eat. So, the first song will probably be titled something like, “My Followers Need Me, I Need Snack Cakes.” Oh yeah, that doesn’t sound very evil, so let’s call it “My Followers Need Me, I Need DARK Chocolate Snack Cakes.”

Eventually, the whole traveling congregation goes through a variety of fatty foods before many people of the faith find themselves hopelessly addicted to Little Debbie Oatmeal Pies. It isn’t long before the church circumvents the whole gluttony issue by having Jesse proclaim that an ancient prophet originally created these cakes in Israel thousands of years ago and that the only thing new is the plastic wrapper. Track 2: “Prophet, Prophet: What the Hell Is This Tasty Filling?”

Over time, the rather large and corpulent Jesse sees his legions dwindling, so he decides to construct an expansive compound made primarily of trailer parts and chicken wire. Due to a decrease in contributions and the cost of building, the group’s financial situation becomes dire. Song 3: “I’m Mean Motherfucking Broke Fat Man of God, Oh Wait, I Am God!” The chorus for this one is kind of long.

At some point Jesse decides that the only way to pull his church out of poverty is to record a two-part concept album to sell on cable during broadcasts of the church’s services. He surmises that the storyline would be about this guy who fronted this band in the ‘80s and wore assless pants and drank blood. Everyone would love this musician. In fact, they would think he was the messiah--or at least he would think he was the messiah, and that would be just as good. The funny thing was, Jesse got the feeling that he had done this before. He kept having visions of crimson idols and such. Selection 4: “Déjà vu, Concept Album Two.”

Since Jesse has no prior musical experience, he had to recruit the only musicians he knew of that could make sweet melody with the rudimentary instruments he had access to at the compound. Consequently, Fat Albert and the Junkyard Band were enlisted as the backup band. Song 5: “Yo, Ba, Cosby Kids Be Ill On Da Ba Metal, Yo!”

Needless to say, the record tanks everywhere in the free world except Europe where Jesse The Savior’s Band is recruited to open for Manowar. The crowds go crazy, but Fat Albert begins to bogart the Oatmeal pies causing certain dissention in the ranks. Eventually the group breaks up after Rudy the Pimp gets into a fight with Marc Storace from Krokus over who has the best fro. Jesse goes back to the compound. Dirge 6: “Rock Star’s Lament.”

Jesse decides that he needs to recoup after the concept album debacle, so what he decides to do is try to recreate the magic he felt when he first breathed life into that dead bird so long ago. He then tells the congregation that they are to follow him at dawn to a local cemetery where they will exhume the corpse of Minnie Pearl. Track 7: “I Hope this Bitch Breathes”

About a hundred or so followers make the pilgrimage to the cemetery where they dig out the plywood coffin and remove the skeletal remains that rested snuggly in the box along with a hat with a tag hanging off of it. Jesse puts his lips on the skull only to find them quickly covered in a dusty film. It is apparent that the magic has left, and there are no more oatmeal pies. He is left hopeless and holding onto the bones that used to comprise the body of Minnie Pearl in his hands. Depression sets in….Tune 8 “Fuck, My Life Sucks.”

Everyone leaves Jesse at the graveyard. He begins to walk disorientated and disheveled down a lonely dark road. Jesse starts to consider the possibility that his life can’t get any worse when Gary Coleman suddenly drives up in a rented Geo Metro. He’s blasting N.W.A. and screaming incoherently about exploitation and the fact that Fat Albert deserved a better fate. He takes out his gat and fires three rounds into Jesse. The savior’s body rests lifeless on the ground. Song 9 “The Dark Side of Gary Coleman.”

Word of Jesse’s death spreads over the news wire and people start to reconsider what this self-styled messiah meant to popular culture. Hundreds of people come out to the site of his murder and leave oatmeal pies and copies of his record as a tribute. The question is though, is he really dead? Can he be resurrected? Will his human spirit transcend death? Final song: “The Answer Is—Fuck No! He’s Dead, Homie.”

Yep, that’s how it would end. My version anyway although I’m certain that Willie and Wilhelm are pretty close to what the actual conclusion would be. Special thanks to those who played along, and we’ll see what happens this summer.


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