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Beyond the Valley of 1984

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Album Review

After the jackhammer, metal-tinged punk rock of their debut album New Hope for the Wretched, the Plasmatics got a lot more ambitious with their second long-player, 1981's Beyond the Valley of 1984. Opening with the arty gloom 'n' doom of the opening cut "Incantation," in which Wendy O. Williams and her bandmates chant in Latin (or something that sounds like it) over a plodding minor-key synthesizer line, Beyond the Valley of 1984 aims to sound bigger, more expansive and more "important" than the purposefully trashy debut, though as a consequence it also sounds a good bit more pretentious, especially when Williams launches a rant against cops, government and the press on the final cut "A Pig Is a Pig" (the latter target rather ironic, given the way the band courted media attention). The album also includes an oddball girl group homage, "Summer Nite," about Williams losing the man of her dreams at a rock show (the Angels, of "My Boyfriend's Back" fame, add backing vocals), and an eight-minute instrumental, "Plasma Jam," which wears out its welcome at the half-way mark. However, the band does sound noticeably tighter and more potent on this disc; Richie Stotts and Wes Beech's guitar work is strong enough to pull off the metal-influenced leads they were straining for on New Hope, and the addition of former Alice Cooper skinsman Neal Smith on drums was an inspired choice, with his solid, muscular hard rock chops a genuine improvement over Stu Deutsch's work on the debut (and imagine what a record this could have been if the Billion Dollar Babies had all been hired as Wendy O.'s backing band?)). And Williams' vocals are much improved, having developed a welcome touch of nuance in the year separating the two LPs, though she still barks more than she sings. Beyond the Valley of 1984 sounds like the soundtrack to a show which leaves you without the excitement of watching the band blow things up, but it does reveal a more distinct musical personality than the group's earliest recordings, and suggests they could have won a following with the thrash metal crowd if they'd emerged a few years later.

Customer Reviews

Harcore at its best !

As a regular kid in high school in eastern Long Island I remember having my epiphany in the late 70's when I first the Sex Pistols on WUSB (from Stony Brook University). And when I heard the Plasmatics for the first time it was like an orgasm ! I was the only kid in my grade that listented to Punk Rock and most of my friends (top40 nerds) thought i was just going through a rebelious stage ... WTF?

Three decades later i'm listening to Punk ! Problem is most Punk Rock since just fails to compare to the intensity of the Plasmatics. They were ground breaking and yet they never got the credit they deserve.

plasmatics beyond the valley of 1984

Wendy O is the sheet. definitley a punk rock classic.

W.O.W. 1984!

This was the lp were they came over a little more towards Metal ,I think Headbanger says it all, the music is tight great band and who could ask for a better drummer than Alice Coopers Neal Smith.I love Wendy an Richie they went together so well ,the songs really rocked with some rebellion.Please try some of the songs -Headbanger -Masterplan-Pig is a pig-Living Dead you won't be sorry !


Formed: 1979 in New York, NY

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s, '80s

At a time (the late '70s and early '80s) and a place (the New York punk scene) where shocking the audience was often the order of the day, few bands had a greater gift for cultivating outrage than the Plasmatics. During the group's heyday, a Plasmatics show could include anything from lead singer Wendy O. Williams covered in shaving cream and electrical tape while brandishing a chain saw as blue-haired Richie Stotts attacked his guitar in drag, to the destruction of televisions, electric guitars,...
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