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.
Buy Powertrippin’ Here
Author: Ben Hughes