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Music / The Crimson Idol

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Long live the King of Mercy
"I just wanna be...I just wanna be...I just wanna be the Crimson Idol of a million eyes..."

The Crimson Idol is the fifth studio album by American heavy metal band WASP. Originally intended to be a solo record by frontman Blackie Lawless, but fans basically begged him to release it under the band's name (reforming it in the process.) It is a concept album and tells the story of a fictional rock star named Jonathan Aaron Steel.

A far cry from the band's first three albums, The Crimson Idol continues with the serious and heavier tone set by the previous album The Headless Children. It has received almost unanimous acclaim from the fans, and is considered to be Blackie's magnum opus.

A remastered edition of the album was released in 1998 and a bonus disc that included two more music tracks that were originally B-Sides to singles from the album, "Phantoms in the Mirror" and "The Eulogy" as well as a seventeen minute spoken word piece with minimal musical backing "The Story of Jonathan (Prologue to the Crimson Idol)" that had originally been released as a single as a coda to the album itself.

In 2017 a rerecorded version of the album was released, ReIdolized (The Soundtrack to The Crimson Idol) alongside an hour long film of the album's story that had been originally intended for the initial release. This version added six extra songs, extended others and made the album a double CD.

Tracklist (Original version)

  1. "The Titanic Overture" (3:31)
  2. "The Invisible Boy" (5:12)
  3. "Arena Of Pleasure" (4:59)
  4. "Chainsaw Charlie (Murders In The New Morgue)(7:42)
  5. "The Gypsy Meets The Boy" (4:15)
  6. "Doctor Rockter" (3:51)
  7. "I Am One" (5:25)
  8. "The Idol" (8:40)
  9. "Hold On To My Heart" (4:22)
  10. "The Great Misconceptions Of Me" (9:44)
  11. "The Story of Jonathan (Prologue to the Crimson Idol)" (16:35) (1998 Remaster only)

Tracklist (2017 ReIdolized (The Soundtrack to The Crimson Idol) version)

  1. "The Titanic Overture" (3:31)
  2. "The Invisible Boy" (4:18)
  3. "Arena of Pleasure" (6:05)
  4. "Chainsaw Charlie (Murders in the New Morgue)" (7:44)
  5. "The Gypsy Meets the Boy" (4:14)
  6. "Michael's Song" (1:52)
  7. "Miss You" (8:07)
  8. "Doctor Rockter" (4:02)
  9. "I Am One" (6:28)
  10. "The Idol" (6:44)
  11. "Hold On to My Heart" (4:14)
  12. "Hey Mama" (1:41)
  13. "The Lost Boy" (4:37)
  14. "The Peace" (5:59)
  15. "Show Time" (1:11)
  16. "The Great Misconceptions of Me" (9:59)

Personnel (Original version)

  • Blackie Lawless: vocals, guitar, keyboard, bass, arrangement, production.
  • Bob Kulick: guitar
  • Frank Banali: drums
  • Stet Howland: drums

Personnel (2017 ReIdolized (The Soundtrack to The Crimson Idol) version)

  • Blackie Lawless: vocals, guitar, keyboard, bass, arrangement, executive production.
  • Doug Blair: lead guitar, background vocals
  • Mike Duda: bass guitar
  • Mike Dupke: drums
  • Frankie Banali: drums (on "The Peace")

Tropes in the new morgue

  • Abusive Parents: Jonathan is constantly tortured mentally and physically by his parents.
  • Badass Boast:
    Charlie: Here from my Hollywood Tower I rule! I'm a lying motherfucker, the chainsaw's my tool!
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Said word for word - "Be careful what you wish for, it might come true." Jonathan gets everything he ever wanted - fame, money, success, women - but the one thing he wants most above all else, the approval of his parents, eludes him and he eventually commits suicide out of despair.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Chainsaw Charlie states outright that he's pretty much the most untrustworthy person you could ever hope to meet.
  • Chainsaw Good: We can hear several reving in "Chainsaw Charlie".
  • Concept Album: The story of Jonathan Aaron Steel. From birth to his suicide.
  • Cool Big Bro: Jonathan's older brother Michael (AKA "Little Red"), despite being the clear favourite of his parents, was stated to be the one person who was always nice to him, always encouraging Jonathan and doing his best to help Jonathan cope with their parent's abuse.
  • Creepy Monotone: Can be heard at the end of "Invisible Boy" and "Arena Of Pleasure".
  • Crucified Hero Shot: The album cover.
  • Dr. Feelgood: "Doctor Rockter" is a pretty typical version, supplying Jonathan with cocaine amongst other drugs.
  • Downer Ending: After one last - and failed - attempt to reconnect with the aforementioned parents, Jonathan - driven by despair - hangs himself on the strings of his guitar on the stage where his would-be final concert is about to take place.
  • Driven to Suicide: Jonathan himself at the end.
  • Epic Rocking: The 7:42 "Chainsaw Charlie (Murders in the New Morgue)" , the 8:40 "The Idol" and the 9:44 "The Great Misconceptions Of Me".
    • Also, while not a song, "The Story Of Jonathan" is the band's longest track, clocking in at 16:35.
  • Fantastic Drug: "Doctor Rockter" is about one that goes by the name of "Uncle Slam" (implied to be cocaine).
  • Gold Digger: One of the things fuelling Jonathan's despair is never knowing if a woman is really interested in him or just attracted to his fame and money making her one of these.
  • Jerkass: Jonathan's parents, his manager Alex Rodman and "Chainsaw" Charlie.
    Charlie: I'm a cocksucking asshole, that's what they call me.
  • Longest Song Goes Last: "The Great Misconceptions Of Me," at 9:44.
  • Long-Haired Pretty Boy: Jonathan has long, black, curly hair and is a pretty good looking guy.
  • Only Sane Man: Alex Rodman, "the best manager money can buy", finally calls Jonathan out on his hedonistic and debauched behaviour, threatening to leave him if he doesn't clean up his act. Unfortunately Jonathan's suicide means this never happens.
  • Parental Favoritism: Jonathan's parents, especially his father, favored his brother Michael and despised Jonathan. This only got worse when Michael is killed in a car accident by a drunk driver.
  • Power Ballad: "Hold On To My Heart".
  • The Unfavorite: See the Parental Favoritism entry above.
  • Tragedy: Pretty much so, due to the protagonist's desire to return to his parents' good graces - after they heartlessly disowned him time and time again - leading to a long trail of self-destruction fueled by drugs and hollow fame, culminating in his suicide.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: A big factor in Jonathan's decision to take his own life is that despite being a rock star, he was denied the one thing he longed for more than anything else - the approval and love of his parents.