The Almighty: Soul Destruction (expanded reissue)
With critics frothing over their debut album Blood, Fire & Love (also recently reissued) and fans forcing the live album Blood, Fire & Live into the charts, the pressure was on Scotland's (and in the case of singer/guitarist Ricky Warwick, Northern Ireland's) The Almighty to deliver the goods with album number two. Surprisingly Duran Duran guitarist Andy Taylor was the man tasked with producing follow up album Soul Destruction and if the record label, Polydor, presumed he'd knock the rough edges off the ramshackle rockers, they'd be right and wrong. There is an element of "smoothening" of The Almighty sound, but in truth it has as much to do with maturity developing in their songwriting, as it does the clipped guitar sound that brings more order to this set of songs. However in the excellent Malcolm Dome penned liner notes, Warwick reveals, that with the "encouragement" of lead guitarist Tantrum, he never picked up his six string once for this album. Tantrum, who didn't share the down and dirty Rock n Roll vision his band mates did, departed the band not long after, and that in itself possibly reveals the real reason behind an ever so slightly more polished approach. However that's not to suggest that Soul Destruction isn't a snarling, biting Rock n' Roll album, as likely to tear your face off as look at you, for it is. Andy Taylor suggests in the liner notes that The Almighty were the perfect combination of Thin Lizzy and AC/DC and if you added in Motorhead and Guns n' Roses then he'd be spot on.
The likes of "Crucify", "Free 'n' Easy" and "Love Religion" from this album would go on to become staples in the band's live set for years to come. However the less celebrated moments stand up equally well, "Bandaged Knees" an acoustic led rasper, "Praying To The Red Light" a mid-paced stomp of some distinction, while "Devil's Toy" adds a new dimension with its slide intro and pulsatingly throbbing vibe. Vocally Warwick is more assured than on the debut, his snarl more fiendish and the mischievous glint in his eye more readily apparent in his voice. Tantrum did want the band to head in the en vogue Bon Jovi/Def Leppard direction and with the benefit of hindsight, there is the merest hint of an eye on the American market but the very fact that he soon left the band proves that the hard hitting side of The Almighty wins through every time (that he never even spoke to Warwick, drummer Stumpy Monroe and bassist Floyd London on their final tour together, does however suggest division went much deeper).
As with the excellent reissue of Blood, Fire & Love, this revamped remaster comes complete with a bonus disc of b sides and the like - and a booklet with vintage magazine clips, adverts and single art from the day as well as those great liner notes featuring Monroe, Warwick and Andy Taylor. Here you'll find the obligatory 7" edits of "Free 'n' Easy" and "Devil's Toy" alongside a radio edit of "Little Lost Sometimes", while the live renditions of "Crucify", "Loaded" and BF&L track "Detroit" again prove what a force this band were in the live arena. "Hell To Pay" fares surprisingly well in an acoustic setting, however of most interest are the non-album cuts; "Bad Temptation" taking its cue from The Who as it builds into a power-punch of biting guitars and soaring melody, "Wild Road To Satisfaction", a more Motorhead "get those heads a-shaking" roar, while a slightly too faithful cover of the Sex Pistols "Bodies" shows another less expected influence on The Almighty sound, but totally expected influence on their ethos.
As the label, fans, magazines and band craved, Soul Destruction achieved chart success in the UK, reaching a very respectable #22, while the three singles lifted from it hit #35, #36 and #42. However it would also see the end of the first proper line-up of The Almighty and in many ways it feels like a watershed moment where the press went from seeing them as hopefuls to an established act. It maybe lacks the adrenaline rush of is predecessor, but Soul Destruction proved that The Almighty didn't do things by halves and as such, this now 24 year old album sounds as fresh, vibrant and threatening as it did way back in 1991.
2. Free 'N' Easy
3. Joy Bang One Time
4. Love Religion
5. Bandaged Knees
6. Praying To The Red Light
7. Sin Against The Light
8. LittleLost Sometimes
9. Devil's Toy
10. What More Do You Want
11. Hell To Pay
1. Free 'N' Easy (7-inch edit)
3. Hell To Pay (Acoustic)
4. Devil's Toy (7-inch edit)
5. Bad Temptation
6. Loaded (Live 1991)
7. Little Lost Sometimes (Radio edit)
8. Wild Road To Satisfaction
9. Crucify (Live 1991)
10. Detroit Rock City (Live 1991)
Added: February 21st 2015
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: The Almighty on Facebook
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