Wendy O. Williams was the front-woman for punk rockers The Plasmatics and here own solo heavy metal outfit W.O.W. She was know for her outrageous stage theatrics that included blowing up equipment and chain-sawing guitars. Williams died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound on April 6, 1998. She was 48 years old.
Wendy O. Williams - W.O.W. (Plastmatics Media) 1984
1. I Love Sex (And Rock And Roll) (3:47)
2. It's My Life (3:58)
3. Priestess (3:23)
4. Thief In The Night (3:47)
5. Opus in Cm7 (4:20)
6. Ready To Rock (5:11)
7. Bump And Grind (4:27)
8. Legends Never Die (4:25)
9. Ain't None Of Your Business (3:27)
Wendy O. Williams was the reigning queen of punk rock from the late 1970's into the 80's. For most of her time in The Plasmatics she sported a mohawk, barely wore any cloths, and was known to take a chainsaw to a guitar or two. With the first release under here own moniker, W.O.W., she attempted to become the sleaze queen of heavy metal. The Plasmatics had toured with Kiss a few years prior to this album and Wendy developed a relationship with the members of Kiss. As such, Gene Simmons approached Wendy about producing the next Wendy O. album. To avoid legal issues with Capitol Records, the band name was changed from the Plasmatics to simply W.O.W. This was probably a smart move, not only for legal reasons, but because the style of music was so radically different from the obnoxious, yet raucous punk the Plastmatics were know for. Wes Beech from the Plastmatics remained to play rhythm guitar and some lead. Williams even lost her trademark mohawk for this album, opting instead to keep it more simple.
Simmons had his hands in songwriting more than half the album. As well, Kiss members Eric Carr, Ace Frehley and Paul Stanley were all brought in as guest artists. Gene also played bass on the album under the name Reginald Van Helsing. Gene Simmons himself co-writes five tracks (which also carry the names of Plasmatics bassist Junior Romanelli and lead guitarist Richie Stotts, who aren't actually on the album). As such, it's not surprising at all that the music sounds a lot like Kiss with Wendy O. on vocals. Her raspy voice keeping the music from getting too poppy.
The single from the album "It's My Life" is as catchy as a pop metal song gets. It's surprising that the song didn't become a bigger hit. The song was also featured in a couple of movies. Still, the single didn't chart. Years down the road, Kiss themselves recorded the song, though it didn't appear on an official Kiss release until the box set in 2001. It is rumored that Wendy O's version of the song is actually Kiss with the vocals of Wendy added in which case it would include Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Eric Carr, and Vinnie Vincent plus lead overdubs by Wes Beech. Likewise, "Ain't None of Your Business" is a song written by Simmons, Eric Carr and Vinnie Vincent and sounds like it could have been on an 80's Kiss record, minus the snotty female vocals.
"Ready to Rock" is your simple rock and roll anthem. The song is dumb as dirt, but who ever said rock and roll was rocket science? The song would have been a hit had it been recorded by Twisted Sister in 1984. "Bump and Grind" is a heavy rocker with Ace Frehley credited with the guitar solo. The solo sounds like typical Ace. (Ace rules!)
"Legends Never Die" is a sweet and tender ballad, well as tender as you can be with Wendy’s punk-infused, raspy vocal approach. Still, she pulls it off rather well. Overall, I find W.O.W. to be a good album. It might not be the outrageous punk of The Plasmatics, but then again, I've always preferred more structured heavy metal to punk anyhow.
W.O.W. - Kommander of Kaos (Plasmatics Media) 1986
1. Hoy Hey (Live to Rock) (3:46)
2. Pedal to the Metal (3:29)
3. Goin' Wild (4:13)
4. Ain't None of Your Business [live] (5:35)
5. Party (3:37)
6. Jailbait (3:25)
7. Bad Girl (3:36)
8. Fight for the Right (3:11)
9. (Work That Muscle) F**k That Booty (3:31)
Wendy's first album under her own name was a stab at melodic heavy metal with an obvious commercial bend. However, as much a Gene Simmons might have thought that Wendy was an easy commodity for pop metal audiences, her crowd was always the guys and gals into the heavier and more chaotic styles of metal and punk. As such "Kommander of Kaos" is heavier, faster and sleazier than her '84 self titled album. Oddly enough, the album was actually recorded in 1984 but not released for two years. Williams covers Motörhead's "Jailbait", which is actually a pretty fair assessment of the style of the entire album. Straight forward heavy metal with some slight punk leanings, a healthy dose of speed and those gravely vocals of Wendy herself. Of course, much like her days in The Plasmatics, the lyrics are meant to shock. After all, Wendy was considered the Queen of Shock Rock back in the day. While there are the usual rock and roll party anthems like "Party", "Going Wild" and "Pedal to the Metal", a song like "(Work that Muscle) F**k That Booty" is meant to cause shock and outrage. I'm sure the song flipped the lids of the P.M.R.C. that had formed around this same time and was targeting Williams, along with many other bands. Likewise, the live version of "Ain't None of Your Business", a Gene Simmons penned song, has a bit of pre-song banter that was sure to set off a few people. Wendy was great at this. It was part of her outrageous stage persona. "Kommander of Kaos" is a like-able batch of straight forward heavy metal rockers. Though I like Wendy's solo debut, I think this style actually fits her voice and stage persona a bit more.
"It's My Life" and "Legends Never Die" from that W.O.W. disc were also recorded by King Kobra on their "King Kobra III" album.