With high profile tours and two well-received albums under their studded leather belts, Scottish rockers The Almighty found themselves at the pinnacle of the UK rock scene in the early ’90s. Not a week would go by without singer Ricky Warwick’s face peering moodily from the pages of Kerrang! or Metal Hammer. Leather jackets would be emblazoned with their skull & death wings logo at gigs, and hell, they even opened proceedings at Donington Monsters Of Rock ‘92. Their brand of dirty, biker rock n’ roll crossed rock genres and their shows would attract as many Poison t-shirts as it would Motorhead and Metallica.

But times they were a changin’ by the early ’90s, and the sound coming from Seattle was making waves across the world. An extensive tour with the up-and-coming Alice In Chains would inspire the band and take them in a heavier direction. Replacing original guitarist Tantrum with former Alice Cooper guitarist Pete Friesen would also mark a big change to the band’s sound and direction for album number 3.

 

With the onset of Grunge and having now found a new writing partner in Pete Friesen, Ricky Warwick and the boys relocated to a remote farm in Wales to write. Pete’s use of drop d tuning would inspire new ideas and a heavier sound that would take the band away from their punk roots.

 

‘The Almighty’s 3rd album ‘Powertrippin’ was released in April 1993 to rave reviews and would be their most successful release, reaching number 5 in the UK album charts. The first single ‘Addiction’ is the perfect example of where the band was heading. The one thing I remember from first hearing it is how heavy they sounded and how different the production values were compared to previous albums. Listening back now, to me those first two albums sound dated and ‘of their time’ (as many 80’s rock albums now do due to that drum sound). Whereas ‘Powertrippin’ sounds…. massive! This is due in part to producer Mark Dodson who obviously pushed the band hard in the studio and got the most out of them.

 

Don’t get me wrong, I love those first two albums, they had some great songs on there for sure, but to me, The Almighty had now come of age and morphed into the band I wanted them to be. ‘Powertrippin’ has a heavier, edgier sound that is more in tune with the times, yet still retains killer melodies and catchy anthemic choruses.

 

The following two singles continued the theme. ‘Over The Edge’ with its instantly familiar picked riff and gargantuan, anthemic chorus is pure The Almighty, a full-force, rock machine. Whereas ‘Out Of Season’ is a more subdued, moody affair that nods its head to what was coming out of Seattle, in particular Alice In Chains. ‘Sick and Wired’ could’ve been a single and the emotive ‘Jesus Loves You, But I Don’t’ surely should’ve been one. The title track is full of tribal beats and killer riffs, and that cool, effortless riff in ‘Instinct’ still gets me every time. Elsewhere, ‘Eye To Eye’ is a punchy closer, up there with the best. I can safely say there isn’t a bad track on ‘Powertrippin’ and it still sounds as fresh and vibrant today as it did in 1993.

Now of course, as this is a Cherry Red release, it’s been given the deluxe treatment. A bonus disc choc-a-bloc with rarities and curiosities from the era, makes this a worthwhile purchase for diehards and occasional fans alike. CD2 is a 16-track affair consisting of b sides, live tracks and demos. Most fans will probably have these tracks already, but it’s still great to have them collected in one pretty package.

 

Live tracks and covers versions from the ‘Liveblood’ EP are present and correct, including Neil Young’s ‘Fuckin Up’, The Sex Pistols ‘Bodies’ and their excellent version of ‘In A Rut’. Single b sides ‘Insomnia’ and ‘Blind’ are welcome additions and an acoustic version of ‘Hell To Pay’ sounds fantastic.

 

The demos are interesting as well, in that they show the progression of the songs from writing to finished product. ‘Out Of Season’ sounds like a completely different song in demo form, and is a great example of what a good producer can do for a band.

 

Also worth noting is the inclusion of ‘Soul Destruction’, the title track of the band’s second album, that was never actually recorded, so the inclusion of the previously unavailable demo is a nice throwback.

 

With extensive liner notes from the band and Malcome Dome, this 2-disc edition is a must have for fans of The Almighty and the perfect companion to the forthcoming ‘Welcome To Defiance (1994-2001)’ box set also available on Cherry Red records.

 

For me, ‘Powertrippin’ is the highlight of the band’s career, an album that came at a time when rock music was going through changes. Brit Rock was on the horizon, and with the likes of Terrorvision and The Wildhearts in the charts, the UK rock scene was very healthy and exciting. While The Almighty continued with a run of strong albums, I feel ‘Powertrippin’ remains a testament to how great and how powerful they were at the height of their career.

 

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Author: Ben Hughes

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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Author: Craggy Collyde

“We were on tour in Germany opening for Iron Maiden when Powertrippin’ crashed into the UK National Chart at #5. The Maiden boys held a party for us that night in their hotel to celebrate. We suddenly felt very validated, looking back I think we were “

Ricky Warwick

Although initially inspired by punk, when Scottish school friends Stump Monroe (drums), Floyd London (bass) and Ricky Warwick (guitar, vocals) joined forces with guitarist Tantrum in 1988, they chose a harder rocking, heavy metal sound. Snapped up by Polydor Records for 1989 debut “Blood, Fire & Love”, their more punk infused aggressive approach was a welcome relief from the glam orientated sounds imported from across the Atlantic. This was followed by “Soul Destruction” in 1991, and then “Powertrippin’” in 1993.

The Almighty demonstrated that British hard rock had plenty to offer at the beginning of the decade, and in 1991 The Almighty were special guests of Megadeth, a tour where Alice In Chains were the opening act. This tour highlighted which way the wind was blowing, away from hairspray bands in favour of something grungier from the Pacific Northwest of America. “Powertrippin’” was also the first album to feature guitarist Pete Friesen, replacing original member, Tantrum.

As well as the singles ‘Addiction’, ‘Over The Edge’ and ‘Out Of Season’, this expanded, deluxe reissue of “Powertrippin’” includes the B-Sides ‘Blind’, ‘Bodies’ (originally by the Sex Pistols), ‘Insomnia’, ‘In A Rut’ (originally by The Ruts) and ‘Fuckin’ Up’ (originally by Neil Young and Crazy Horse). Live versions of ‘Takin’ Hold’, ‘Jesus Loves You…But I Don’t’ and “Powertrippin’” illustrate what a powerful band The Almighty have always been on stage. The bonus disc also includes demo versions of ‘Free ‘N’ Easy’ and the title track from Soul Destruction: which was never officially recorded or appeared on the final album. Plus there’s even time for an acoustic take of Neil Young’s ‘Rockin’ In The Free World’!

This release features a fully illustrated booklet, complete with detailed liner notes from Malcolm Dome based on interviews with the band.

Disc One: Original Album

1. Addiction
2. Possession
3. Over The Edge
4. Jesus Loves You…But I Don’t
5. Sick & Wired
6. Powertrippin’
7. Takin’ Hold
8. Out Of Season
9. Life Blood
10. Instinct
11. Meathook
12. Eye To Eye

Disc Two: Bonus Tracks

1. Takin’ Hold (Live)
2. Jesus Loves You…But I Don’t (Live)
3. Powertrippin’ (Live)
4. Blind (B-Side)
5. Soul Destruction (Demo)
6. Addiction (Radio Edit)
7. Insomnia (B-Side)
8. Wild And Wonderful (Demo Version)
9. Fuckin’ Up (B-Side)
10. Out Of Season (Demo Version)
11. Bodies (B-Side)
12. Free ‘N’ Easy (Demo Version)
13. Rockin’ In The Free World (Acoustic Version)
14. Hell To Pay (Acoustic Version)
15. In A Rut (B-Side)
16. Out Of Season (Radio Edit)