W.A.S.P.’s third full-length was probably one of the first ten records I bought with my own money. Drawn by the promise of the obtuse and gory nature of the band, the sleazy album cover proved too much to resist, even if I found the content a lot less shocking than I had hoped it would be. It is hard to believe that this album is thirty-five-years old this week. I was ten years old when this came out and probably not even aware of its existence until I was thirteen perhaps even fourteen.
Back in those days, money was a precious commodity. Earning pocket money by doing chores at the weekend around the house was a necessary evil. This restricting income when coupled with birthday, Easter or Christmas money was a means to get hold of whatever artwork grabbed my attention on my many trips to Music Zone or Intergames (the two main music shops in my hometown). I lost count of how many hours I spent in those two stores with no money to spend, planning my spending well in advance yet never sticking to the plan when I did have a few precious coins burning a hole in my pocket.
As a result of the lack of regular, significant funding for my music buying needs and there being no huge internet presence at the time I occasionally found myself with a record in my collection that in hindsight was not all that great. No bones about it, Inside The Electric Circus is one such record. An album that although I did not love end to end, I was kind of stuck with and so I just grew to love it with such a small collection of music to go at.
Now, this is also not a terrible record either. Some thirty-five years on from its release the songs remain relevant to some degree and despite there being some filler to overcome (Shoot From The Hip and The Rock Rolls On) on the whole the album is palatable if not lacking in some seasoning in some places. The album opening is superb though and would fill any metal fan with joy for what is to come if that menacing cabaret-style intro was to be believed. The fact is though that this album is just a much fun as the artwork suggests it will be. What it lacks in real menace, it more than makes up for in memorability and catchiness.
Tracks like Restless Gypsy are simple fares but stick in your head for days after the event and even the unadulterated sleaze of 9.5.-N.A.S.T.Y. and Sweet Cheetah still end up retained in the ears for a while after the circus leaves town once again. The covers are less of a high-point for me but they both fit the aesthetic of the record brilliantly and you cannot beat a bit o’ the Heep every now and again.
This was a step up from The Last Command though; more consistent and better written tracks adorn an album that was only eleven months on from its predecessor. Whilst I do not think W.A.S.P. have ever released a flawless album, they have also not been guilty of just releasing “collections of songs” as albums either. Inside The Electric Circus showcases that sleazy, cock-rock nature of the band well (even though its content was still well under my pervy teenager mentality expectations of the time) and is the last of such albums from the band who got more mature after this release.