In case you guys haven’t noticed Classic Albums has kind of stopped being a regular weekly column. The reason for that is I didn’t want it to become forced and put pressure on myself to churn something out every single week and run the risk of tainting the memories. That’s not fair to you, me, or the bands whose albums we grew up living and dying for. The other reason is that I do what the fuck I want when the fuck I want, much like the band who’s the subject of this week’s: WARRIOR SOUL and their third album Salutations From the Ghetto Nation. Listen, as much as I fell in love with WARRIOR SOUL on a summer day in 1990 (thanks, Steve!) the raw, unbridled anger and “Fuck you!” punk attitude of this one struck the deepest chord within me.
It was late one night in 1992 when Russell and I were just hanging out, around 11:40 PM when he uttered those magic words that would always spring us into action faster than James Bond or Indiana Jones: “Wanna go to Tower (Records)?” We’d hop in the ’89 Sentra and break 27 different kinds of speeding laws just to get there at 11:58 (Man, did they hate us!). On this particular night I was there for one thing and one thing only…the new WARRIOR SOUL which Steve had told me was out. As soon as I got home I popped the tape in and the bass intro to “Love Destruction” started before the whole song came crashing in like an old baseball stadium being imploded, singer Kory Clarke sounding like a man with rattlesnake venom and acid both his blood and on his tongue. Pissed off doesn’t even begin to describe the song, or most of the album for that matter. Guitarist John Ricco lets the massive chords ring out, and bassist Pete McClanahan and drummer Mark Evans pummel their instruments like Mike Tyson used to do to opposing fighters. “Blown” continues the angry tirade against the 1% before “Shine Like It” takes more of a stealth approach, kind of like a tap on the shoulder and when you turn around you get your throat cut on the chorus.
One thing about John Ricco, his guitar sound was unlike any other. And on “Dimension” it takes on such a sinister, dark alleyway tone. In complete contrast the next two “Punk and Belligerent” and “Ass-Kickin’ are in-your-face NYC punk songs straight from the hallowed halls of CBGB to close out side one. Flip the tape over and you get the angriest and most anti-Government tune in “The Party”…you can guess which one it’s aimed at. From here we go to a place of beauty in one of my all-time favorite WARRIOR SOUL numbers, “The Golden Shore”, reminding everyone that for all his anger and venom Kory Clarke can fucking SING his ass off on a gorgeous melody. After nearly a seven-minute reverie we are thrust back into the heavy with “Trip Rider” featuring Ricco’s best solo not only on this record but one of his best period. We take one more dip in the punk pool for “I Love You” a tongue-in-cheek ditty complete with fake misogyny that is undeniably catchy. I would drive around cracking up to the lyrics in this one thinking, “He can’t mean it!”
The record ends with a pair of songs that have never left me since I first bought it. “The Fallen” is the soundtrack to what our world will look like after the meteor comes and wipes most of us out (something that can’t happen fast enough) or we blow ourselves to bits. When it crescendos on the hook I feel it all the way down to my toes. Many times riding the train from Philly back home to Long Island this one would come on and it would be all I could do not to scream it at the top of my lungs for all to hear. On “Ghetto Nation” we see the world through the eyes of the downtrodden man who has run afoul of our broken legal system time and again. Even before I made my share of mistakes in life the sheer rawness of it and the conviction with which Kory screams, “Salutations from the Ghetto Nation!!” felt like a punch to the gut and an adrenaline shot to the heart at the same time. Easily a Top 3 song for me to this day and one of the best album closers I’ve ever heard.
WARRIOR SOUL has been a big part of my life from the time I was 17 and they will continue to be until I take my last breath, middle finger raised high. I imagine Kory wouldn’t want me to go out any other way. The fact they weren’t megastars here in the U.S. only serves as a reminder of just how fucked the rock and metal scene is here. Good news though, Mr. Clarke still rocks on all over the world. I was lucky enough to have a drink with him in 1995 and I also interviewed him not too long ago. Be sure to check back soon for my review of his upcoming solo album Payback’s a Bitch (September 22). ~dc