“Wild are the MASTERS of the new SUPER BAD METAL GROOVE” - sticker on the cover of Wild 1
Alright, so I realise that I may be the only one — including the members of The Wild themselves — who thought this album was brilliant and visionary, but I am convinced that history will ultimately prove me right. I have been extolling the cyber-glitter virtues of this record since it was first released 28 years ago, and will most likely continue to do so until everybody else fucking gets it, man.
Here’s what happened. The Wild’s keyboard player was Dizzy Reed, and The Wild disappeared from rock’n’roll in the blink of an eye because Axl Rose scooped him right outta rehearsal to join his nu-fangled, Izzy-less Super Guns in ’90-or-so. I know, and you certainly know, that the last band in the world that needed a fucking keyboard player was Guns N’ Roses, and along with the goddamn horn section and the back-up singers and “Get in the Ring” and the dolphin videos, Dizzy’s entrance was a portent of the devastating mother-of-all Flash Metal Suicides to come, Chinese Democracy. And although I am sure Dizzy is happy with his decision, because lord knows, if you can squeeze a house and a motorcycle and a sportscar out of a maniac like Axl, than I suppose you really oughta, but I still think that if the Wild had a chance to deliver a second, killing blow on the rock world, then they might’ve been one of the biggest goddamn bands on the planet. The Wild, Chemlab, and Shotgun Messiah, glamdustrial’s unholy trinity. We would all have wires in the back of our heads now, and we would never grow old or lose our hair, because technology would be stronger than death. Zodiac Mindwarp would not just be a cult figure, he’d be a cult leader, and they would’ve had the sense to drop down on the other side of Mars, where all the really cool parties are happening.
This doesn’t mean that I blame Axl Rose for killing rock’n’roll, though. Kurt Cobain killed rock’n’roll. I’m just blaming Axl for killing the Wild.
Anyway, The Wild was formed in 1982 by the mysterious Johnny X. They were originally called Johnny and the Jaguars but after the name change they got signed to Columbia and in ’88, Wild 1 was released. The world scratched its collective head and Dizzy sweated it out for a couple years, until Mr Rose came calling. The rest of the band tried to keep things rolling but then Johnny X went to prison on some drug charge. Il est fini.
That’s not the important part, tho. The important part is the album. Wild 1 is, quite simply, exactly what would happen if Zodiac Mindwarp joined Sigue Sigue Sputnik. It is sex-disco played by sleaze metal bikers-from-Hell. It is the thump and bleep of a cyber-erotic beatbox welded onto the back of a crazy motorcycle with a gas tank fulla blood and glitter. It was obviously too far ahead of it’s time for ’88 flash rockers to wrap their boozy brains around, and probably still is, but I tell you this much – it took big balls to release a cyberpunk cock rock record in 1988, and even if it didn’t exactly set the world on fire, Johnny X and the fellas have nothing to regret about this one, man. Because this record is a monster.
Of course, it’s not like it came of out nowhere. Anything on Wild 1 isn’t really all that different from the “extended remix”Zodiac Mindwarp or Sputnik singles that came out in ’86 and ’87, and Pop Will Eat Itself were already riding high in the UK with their Box Frenzy album, which had the same idea (“Grab a beatbox and a add a garage racket”, as PWEI explained in Box Frenzy’s title song), and another UK band, Lightning, were also playing ‘beatbox rock’, only their version ripped off the Clash, not Zodiac. Drug Free America added danceable beats to grinding apocalypse rock, as did World Domination Enterprises, Slab, Foetus/Wiseblood, Swans, and a slew of others. So, you know, it was around. None of ‘em played the stuff with the wild arrogance and swaggering confidence of The Wild, however. The Wild not only sounded like they invented this new noise, they sounded like it already made them a million dollars.
And it wasn’t just the futue-now sound that the Wild were peddling either, it was a whole post-apocalyptic sex, drugs n’ death cyber-fantasy, complete with an over the top murder-glam look that had the helldesert sleazebeast Mad Max-in-an-S&M-dungeon look down cold, man. Leather, spikes, bulletbelts, jet-black dreadlocks down to their waists, full, Zodiac-like chest tattoos, skulls, chains, handcuffs, mirrored shades, the fuckin’ works, man. These were not just bad asses, man, they were KING HELL SUPERDADDY CADILLAC BAD ASSES FROM HELL. And I know, it’s hard to remember these days, when bands hit the stage in their day-job gear, but in 1988, that meant something, man. Wrathchild looked like plumbers in comparison to these dudes. Nitro looked like their disheveled roadies. The Wild took their look all the way, man. No idea what their shows were like, but I’m sure it was a seriously eye-popping, ear-shredding spectacle.
Anyway, I don’t think Dizzy Reed cares about any of this anymore, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. Wild 1 is a glimpse into a work that almost was, and it’s pretty goddamn magical. Last I head Johnny X was trying to get the band back together so maybe the future will finally arrive soon.
Next week: a non-Twisted Sister