The Plasmatics may not fit on everyone’s list of great forgotten bands, and you’d have a hard time finding anyone who calls 1980’s New Hope for the Wretched a forgotten classic. But, New Hope is a driving metal album of pure shocking filth. It sounds like Motorhead fronted by a female singer, and not just any female singer. It’s Wendy fuckin’ O. Williams. She is the queen of shock rock. Frankly, I’m not even a fan of shock rock, or generally 80’s rock at all, but the Plasmatics play it loud, reckless, and frenzied, allowing the punk in me to take hold of the sound.
Snobs, which I generally consider myself when discussing music, turn their noses at the album because musically, it is juvenile. Originally, The Plasmatics were more known for their frantic and destructive live shows. Lead singer Wendy O’Williams (who once shot Ping-Pong balls out of her cooze in a porno movie) often appeared topless, destroyed cars and television sets with sledgehammers, and took a chainsaw to anything she could on stage. They were a band of shock value. It’s important to note that as a band, they were tight. They knew their instruments. It’s the lyrics that are lacking. They often seem like they were written by horny thirteen year old boys, but that is part of the charm. It is evident that New Hope for the Wretched is an album made by a band trying to capture the sound of their live shows. It doesn’t always work, I mean how can you capture a chainsaw ripping through a TV set on a slab of vinyl, but the music is raw, aggressive, and exhilarating.
The song “Butcher Baby” is probably the best known song off of the album, though I doubt any of the songs are that well known, because it features the sound of a chainsaw ripping through a guitar in lieu of the traditional guitar solo. For my money though, the two best songs on the album are “Tight Black Pants” and “Monkey Suit” which are the opening tracks of side A. Williams doesn’t sing her way through any song. She grunts and grumbles her way through lyrics which plays out perfectly in the proto-thrash metal of the album (this sound is perfectly exemplified by “Monkey Suit”).
If you have any interest in 80’s punk or heavy metal, than New Hope for the Wretched needs to be in your collection. The album has been repressed and is available for about $15, but you should be able to find an original copy of this album for about $25. If you’re lucky, you’ll even get the original poster of Wendy O’Williams with your album.