Ten songs you need to know by WASP

Blackie Lawless holding a pair of skulls
(Image credit: George Chin/IconicPix)

WASP formed in 1982 and set themselves up for ridicule almost immediately. Frontman Blackie Lawless had spent the briefest amount of time in the New York Dolls as they disintegrated, but it was the meat-chucking, the circular-saw-codpiece-sporting and the fornicating-like-a-beast that got people talking.

Then there was guitarist Chris Holmes, whose infamous drunken swimming pool interview for Penelope Spheeris's classic documentary The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years may be the only occasion in music history where a single film cameo has eclipsed an entire career. 

Cut to 2022 and WASP are still on the road, celebrating the 40th anniversary of their formation with yet another tour. Holmes may be long-gone, but Lawless is still out front, and still performing songs whose quality has frequently – and unfairly – been overshadowed by those early antics. Here are the 10 you need to know.  


Animal (Fuck Like A Beast) (1984)

The track that kicked it all off, a sweaty, sticky, just-the-right-side-of-dubious 80s shock-rock classic. Despite that provocative subtitle, Lawless only drops the F-bomb twice in the whole song.

I Wanna Be Somebody (1984)

An exhilarating drum barrage introduces the track that kicks off WASP’s debut album. ‘I wanna be somebody, be somebody soon,’ Lawless rasps, like the world’s most unlikely self-help guru.

Blind In Texas (1985)

On second album The Last Command the rough edges were smoothed out, although the fuck-you attitude remained. This uproarious pub crawl around the Lone Star State found our hero getting into it with a bunch of good ol’ boys who presumably didn’t very much like men whose arses hung out of their Spandex.

Widowmaker (1985)

WASP turn up the menace on this striking second-album deep cut: a lone bass rumbles, drums roll like thunderheads, and Lawless plays the part of a vengeful God-spirit wandering roaming desolate plains.

Inside The Electric Circus (1987)

The controversy was taking its toll by the time of WASP’s third album, but Inside The Electric Circus’s title track remains a classic, with Lawless the ringmaster beckoning the innocent into his weird world with a wicked gleam in his eye.

The Heretic (The Lost Child) (1989)

The Headless Children found Lawless largely ditching the dumb-ass hard rock shtick and locating his social conscience. The majestic opening track is urgent and surprising, showing what a tremendous songwriter he really is.

The Real Me (1989)

Fans of The Who baulked at a bunch of LA longhairs hijacking this Quadrophenia classic, but Pete Townshend devotee Lawless brought some hard-rock energy to its tale of teenage angst and mental illness.

The Idol (1992)

Speaking of The Who, 1992’s The Crimson Idol was Lawless’s attempt to deliver his own Tommy. He didn’t quite pull it off, but the epic eight-minute semi-title track shows just how close he got.

Take Me Up (2007)

Every WASP record of the past 20 years contains least one late-period classic. In the case of their thirteenth studio album, 2007’s mis-titled Dominator it was Take Me Up, a billowing anthem that found Lawless at his most plaintive.

Miss You (2015)

Babylon (2009) and Golgotha (2015) were the work of a born-again Blackie Lawless in every sense. Thankfully there was little proselytising, but there were some moments of honest-to-god brilliance, not least this seven-minute hard-rock hymnal that explored personal loss and regained faith.

Dave Everley

Dave Everley has been writing about and occasionally humming along to music since the early 90s. During that time, he has been Deputy Editor on Kerrang! and Classic Rock, Associate Editor on Q magazine and staff writer/tea boy on Raw, not necessarily in that order. He has written for Metal Hammer, Louder, Prog, the Observer, Select, Mojo, the Evening Standard and the totally legendary Ultrakill. He is still waiting for Billy Gibbons to send him a bottle of hot sauce he was promised several years ago.

With contributions from