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CD REVIEW: THE ALMIGHTY – Re-F**kin’-issues [Blood, Fire & Love/Soul Destruction]

| 6 February 2015 | Reply

CD REVIEW: THE ALMIGHTY – Re-F**kin’-issues [Blood, Fire & Love/Soul Destruction]
6 February, 2015
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar
8 ½ /10 [Blood…]; 9/10 [Soul…]


The Almighty burst out of Scotland in 1989 like barbarians hungry for the blood of their enemies, their greasy, gasoline-fumed biker rock straddling the divide that separated the great punk:metal divide.

With debut album Blood, Fire & Love the band writ their manifesto large across the rock n’ roll firmament: railing against authority, religion, and whatever else ya got, they were more of a gang than a band, and they sound like it.

Live favourites Resurrection Mutha, Wild & Wonderful, the title track, Power, Destroyed and the irrepressibly cheeky Full Force Lovin’ Machine are all favourites to this day and remastered here, sound better than ever.

Also present here is its follow-up live album – cannily titled Blood, Fire & Live and released in 1990, it features seven of the eleven album tracks and culminates in a fiery, raw cover of BTO’s You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ yet – a prophetic choice indeed.

A third disc of demos, B-sides and live radio sessions seals the deal, alongside extensive booklet notes (with input from band members Ricky Warwick – now with Black Star Riders after a stint fronting Thin Lizzy – and drummer Stumpy Monroe – now a respected tour manager) explaining the history of the band and the gestation of this record.

This impressive package showing great evidence of a band who hit the ground running with a classic debut album, neither asking for or granting quarter to anyone in their path. That there’s some repetition (Destroyed and Power each appear five times across the three discs) is countered by the difference between the versions, and the presence of hard-to-find obscurities like Good God Almighty and Thunderbird.

If Blood, Fire & Love soundtracked barbarian Celtic hordes pillaging villages across the border, 1991’s follow-up Soul Destruction is even more cohesive. Two years of touring on the back of their successful debut imbued the band with a rare confidence and they gelled as a unit to the nth degree.

Successful though their debut had been, it hadn’t made much of an impact on the charts, so Polydor sent the lads into the studio with former Duran Duran guitarist Andy Taylor – potentially an odd pairing, but one which paid off in spades. For his part, Taylor says in the booklet notes that he “always liked the band…I went for The Almighty because I appreciated what they were doing.”

Having been full-time musicians since the debut album release afforded The Almighty the opportunity to – as Monroe puts it – “spend a lot of time on the songs, taking them apart and rebuilding them.” With a little input from their producer, himself an extremely successful songwriter in his own right, and the results speak for themselves.

Crucify, Free ‘n’ Easy, Joy Bang One Time, Love Religion, Sin Against The Light, Hell To Pay – Soul Destruction is a killer album which turns the dials on every aspect of The Almighty up to the red line. It’s a more melodic and polished album than Blood…, but not to the detriment of the bands roots. There’s just some rough edges sanded down and more range on show – in Little Lost Sometimes The Almighty deliver their first real ballad, showing Tantrum & Warwick’s songwriting in an entirely new light.

Warwick explains that he was persuaded not to play guitar at all on the record due to a crisis of confidence and some over-indulging in recreational substances, but if anything his extra focus on the vocals result in another great record for the band.

A second disc of bonus tracks is added to this re-f**kin’ issue, with single edits, an excellent acoustic version of Hell To Play that’ll tease you into wondering how an entire acoustic album from the band would have sounded (fantastic, no doubt), some live tracks and extras including Bad Temptation, Wild Road To Satisfaction and Sex Pistols cover Bodies.

As the first two instalments in the band’s extensive Re-F**kin’-Issues campaign, Blood, Fire & Love and Soul Destruction showcase the formative years of an important band – an essential band. The Almighty took elements of all that had gone before them – from AC/DC to Motorhead, from The Undertones to The Sex Pistols and Thin Lizzy to Judas Priest – and created a unique persona for themselves that make listening to them now, some 25 years later, still such a joy. Essential.

Category: CD Reviews

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