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“…I got the guts to be somebody…to cry out…”
With the uncorking of their wholesome Animal (F**k Like a Beast) single a month earlier, the still very fresh-faced, yet confident L.A. four-piece launch themselves comfortably close to the forefront of independent metal on the strength of its namesake track in what seems to be record time. B-side “Show No Mercy” not only does nothing to prevent the main attraction from getting its just deserts, it strengthens the overall pot with its own sinewy stand-alone identity and appeal. Sounds like the start of a pretty damn good success story.
To keep band chatter to a maximum, their new label, Capitol, springs for a follow-up two-dinger which happens to have another a-side that rails the ball hard toward the home run fence. I mean, you can hear the hiss coming off this one, but as quickly as the rollicking and equally-anthemic “I Wanna be Somebody” sees the batter’s box getting smaller and more distant in the rear view mirror as it missiles away, the tune's being held back, its momentum stifled by what appears to be a stiff…opposing…wind...?...what’s that sour smell? When he’s not holding his nose, the first base coach sends hand signals verifying that the origin of the stench as well as the wind it rides on is the flip side of this very disc.
Chances are you heard b-side “Tormentor” after picking up the band’s debut; with its rather doleful chorus, downdraft aesthetic and unpredictably volatile solos, it still ranks as a pretty decent track. Well, that’d be true if that rendition is what we were getting a whiff of here. Nope. Our lucky buns get the half-baked live, slovenly edited adaptation kidnapped from the 1984 sci-fi stinker Ragewar a.k.a. Ragewar: The Challenges of Excalibrate and Digital Knights. Its third alias will probably jog your memory best: The Dungeonmaster. Or not. When Ice Pirates-induced nightmares finally run their course, this takes over. Here ya go: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rBotHYHRlPk
While “I Wanna be Somebody” is a born slugger that effortlessly rounds the diamond waving and still has energy to easily fill the all-important lead-off spot on the band’s debut, the paycheck for rounding these bases is earned more so here for keeping the damage of the sure strikeout to a minimum. Had this been graced with 'Tormentor"'s album version, its rating woulda been somewhere around 85%. Now fire the manager.
On a rosier note, not all issues of this single were unhallowed by this depressing crapper version (stick the usual feather in the cap of a good ‘ol Japanese pressing. Australia and Spain are gonna need hats as well to stick their own quills, meanwhile poor Mexico is stuck with a repeat a-side, which could be construed as a blessing).
Not this particular release, but the song itself.
Upon hearing this, I thought it was the most awesome song on the face of the earth – for those particular three minutes and forty-five seconds. Blackie’s voice soars and echoes above all else, the bass grumbles like a beast, the lead charges like the Australian light horse, and drumming capitalizes on any blank moments. The solo is just as crude and vulgar, showcasing the eclectic style of Holmes and Richards’ fast-paced assault.
The chorus is catchy as hell – “I! WANNA BE SOMEBODY! BE SOMEBODY SOON! I! WANNA BE SOMEBODY! BE SOMEBODY TOO!”
“Tormentor” is much more serious in nature and tone, with Lawless pouring his heart out over the chorus. He sounds so guilty but apologetic, so you can’t help but feel for his pain. The productions in both songs are generally great, with extra handles on the power of the drums. Unfortunately, it pales in the light of “I Wanna Be Somebody,” especially on the debut when it has to compete with songs like “Sleeping (In The Fire)” and “L.O.V.E. Machine.” It still is one of the better other tracks, so I’d say it’s a good choice to keep fans wishing there were other hits.
No doubt the title track for this single has a special place in my heart as the first W.A.S.P. song I ever heard. On it’s own, it’s got just as much balls as the debut, so get some if you don’t have any yourself.