While the Almighty’s ‘Soul Destruction’ (the final album released with original guitarist Tantrum) ensured them some regular airtime on MTV, it was the grungier direction of ‘Powertrippin’’, with new guitarist Pete Friesen, which showed that the band had more routes to take. After leaving Polydor records in 1993, the band would release a run of hard and fast, punk-inspired material that would make them one of the most beloved bands of the new golden era of British rock music. It is this part of the Almighty’s output that will be available in ‘Welcome to Defiance: The Complete Recordings (1994 – 2001)’, released in March through Cherry Red Records.
I recently watched an old interview with Lemmy where he was asked about Motorhead’s influence on others. Whilst dismissive of bands that had taken only the fast aspects of it, he specifically mentioned the Almighty for having taken the best parts of it. It reminded me of the story I once heard Ricky Warwick tell at an acoustic gig in Brighton several years ago, about the first time he met Lemmy. A funny story which I won’t re-tell here but surely you can find on YouTube.
At that time, Ricky was playing mostly as a solo acoustic artist and when asked about reforming the Almighty he quickly dismissed the idea. The Almighty, evidently, was part of the past and not the future. Fast forward to now, and not only is he continuing to head an ever more successful solo career (the new album ‘When Life was Hard and Fast’ is released this month), but he is also fronting the hugely popular Black Star Riders, which evolved from the reformed Thin Lizzy.
What does remain of the Almighty, though, is a wild and wonderful back catalogue, much of which is included in this 7-disc collection.
In 1994, the same year that Therapy? released ‘Troublegum’, and a year after ‘Earth Vs the Wildhearts’ was born, the Almighty released the hard-hitting album ‘Crank’, ripping a hole in the universe and adding to what was a glorious time for British and Irish rock music. Songs such as ‘Jonestown Mind’ and ‘Wrench’ would register among some of the greatest material the band would ever produce. Notably, the artwork on the album was provided by Jamie Reid, most famous for his ‘Never Mind the Bollocks’ cover. ‘Crank’ was followed up in 1996 by the excellent ‘Just Add Life’ and the popular singles ‘All Sussed Out’ and ‘Do You Understand’. The album would ultimately signal the end of the most creative and stable period for the band.
The Almighty went on to release two more strong albums, though. First was the self-titled offering in 2000, Floyd London having left the band before release and Friesen having already been replaced by Nick Parsons on guitar. ‘Psycho-Narco’, the bands final album to date, was released a year later. Both albums certainly have their moments, and it’s interesting listening back to them now alongside their other releases, hearing the way that the Almighty developed from album to album.
Also in this new collection is the live album Crank and Deceit, recorded in 1995 in Japan, a collection of B-sides and remixes, and a series of live B-sides and sessions, all recorded between 1994 and 1996. All this in addition to a booklet with the details for each disc, making for one excellent collection of the Almighty’s later period.
For Ricky Warwick the Almighty may well be the past (and who could blame him with his current activities) but, as this collection shows, it is certainly one hell of a legacy.
Author: Craggy Collyde