Waysted – Heroes Die Young: Waysted Volume 2 (2000-2007, 5CD Box)

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Does the name say it all? Will the album title reveal some dark inner truth? In the fallout between bass player Pete Way leaving the UFO mothership, he formed two bands using a play on his surname, alongside a short stint with Ozzy Osbourne making mischief both on and offstage. Fastway happened too quickly and he was in and out without leaving a goodbye, Waysted came, stuck around, had their moments both of indifference and cult fandom, and split. A reformed version of the band produced two rather nifty rocking albums earlier this millennium, but they lived by their name and ultimately bit the dust, Pete Way now deceased, the band presumably to never rise again.

Save that is on record. Presumably, Cherry Red’s Waysted Volume 1 collects the original vinyl recordings the band made spearheaded by Way, alongside Scottish vocalist Fin Muir, alongside various alumni, many of whom were also former UFO members passing through. Hard-come-sleaze rock might be appropriate to define them, a poor man’s Ratt or L.A. Guns, supporting the likes of Iron Maiden on tour. Seemingly dissolved, but always coming up smelling of roses, Way started making headlines again, looking good photogenically, and promising much with a new line-up featuring future Tyketto singer Danny Vaughn, brought in by a returning guitarist in Paul Chapman, who also had previous form with UFO and Lone Star. 1986’s Save Your Prayers was a sturdy hard rocking album, metal with melody, and some good songs. The band imploded somewhere on tour in the USA, Chapman having bailed/been thrown out, whichever suits your personal agenda.

If memory serves me right, it was Chapman who was responsible for Wilderness Of Mirrors, the first album in this new Waysted Volume 2 collection. Originally appearing on the Zoom Club record label, as did Lone Star demos under the title Riding High (featuring prototypes for future UFO numbers). Again, I think I’m right in writing, Chapman claimed the Wilderness Of Mirrors highlighted songs from Save Your Prayers in their purer, rawer form. This being my first opportunity to listen to that album, I can see what he means, but also both the pros and cons of the eventual studio release, as produced by Simon Hanhart.

The bulk of Save Your Prayers’ tracks can be found on Wilderness Of Mirrors, they lack the sonic boom that drew attention to the official 1986 release. Rowdier, they suit the previous Waysted style not one seemingly being built to go places, despite the reality Chapman was bringing most of the songs to the table. The pacing is different on certain songs, ‘Walls Fall Down’ is faster, ‘Singing To The Night’ has less swing. Other songs have different titles and variations, ‘Terror City’ became ‘When Hell Comes Home’, etc. In the sleeve notes produced from the 2000 release, Chapman explains the demos focussed on getting the songs down and putting over a good impression of new singer Tyketto. It was not until 1999 he returned to the recordings and added the solos you hear on this record, in not more than a couple of takes.

Come to Wilderness Of Mirrors to appreciate what Paul Chapman could bring to the table, practically winging it. Far too underappreciated, both as songwriter and soloist, here you’ll find him wailing away, adding effective slide here and there, and throwing inventive runs not present on the official release. Honestly, there’s not too great a difference between the two, and it’s good to hear the differences. You also get a bonus demo track in a cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s ‘Fortunate Son’, here it’s Way’s pumping root bass and John Dee’s belting drums that give it muscle.

A plan was hatched to reform the band, helmed by Way and Chapman, and on locating Fin (now in Milton Keynes after being out in Spain), brought him back into the fold. The aptly titled Back From The Dead is the second album in this collection and opens with ‘The Alternativita’ an evocatively mesmeric rocker that is a tribute to the matador, no matter your thoughts on the blood sport it’s hard not to feel empowered as Fin calls out the names of famous bullfighters amidst shrieking guitars.

That those guitars are played by one Chris George is par for the course in the career-sliding games Waysted too often played. Apparently, they’d gone over to the USA to make the original recordings but Chapman, having been produced by the likes of George Martin and Roy Thomas Baker felt more work was more needed, the other two felt differently. They wiped Chapman’s guitars, and George being known to Fin he was brought in to add new guitars. Don’t get me wrong, they’re good (though I gather there might also be a version Chapman let out with him on guitar, if only online). Original drumming recorded by Scott Phillips was kept on most of the tracks, Paul Haslin on board for three more.

If Save Your Prayers was the moment, had the stars aligned, Waysted could’ve made inroads on the AOR/MTV circuit, on paper it looked like they might be returning to their more basic three chord rock. Only, when you listen to Back From The Dead there’s a maturity apparent in the songwriting right from the start, ‘Dreams’ sings of the optimism of youth, failures along the way but not giving in, Way applying the double note chording he’d patented back on UFO’s ‘Cherry’; there’s social bemusement on ‘Breakfast Show’, and delightful down and out love expressed on ‘I’m Gonna Love Ya’, Fin blowing harp over a tune that is for all intents and purposes country rock performed by heavy rocking inner-city reprobates, while singing about a long-lasting devotion to the woman in his life; ‘Lost In Cleveland’ ends the album but sums up the inevitable problems that always seemed to face the individuals of this band, and how if they’d had strong management with money invested in them they’d not have syphoned all of it for drink and drugs, this too, like ‘Love Ya’ has a somewhat southern rock flavour, vary paced and casually inventively arranged, it was one of the numbers Chapman had co-written.

There are also straight rockers here, and not being averse to offbeat covers (Jefferson Airplane’s ‘Somebody To Love’ had appeared on debut album Vices), they unleashed a frigging amazing version of The Everly Brothers’ ‘The Price Of Love’ – it’s unrelenting, the passion with which it’s performed played out like bounty hunters on a do or die mission.

Back From The Dead continues to be a much-played album in this household. Not having heard the previous incarnation of the band with Fin, but believed reviews comparing him to a poor man’s Rod Stewart and the like. I began researching their past material, and while there’s some good songs, I remain convinced the more mature version was what I’d become a fan of. During the next year or so, me and my better-half caught them live three times, all at venues no longer in existence. First time round, the wife remarked how Pete Way oozed a rock star personality, my comments were a worried note that he was spending a lot of time at the bar before the show.

Live was where the next two CDs in this collection come from. Boot From The Dead features – presumably mixing desk – recording of four numbers performed at The Mean Fiddler in London, in 2005 featuring the Way, Muir, George and Haslin line-up. You’ll need to turn the volume up, with early classic ‘Love Loaded’ coming across best. Two more tracks fill it out, featuring Chapman on guitar, from a Japanese edition of Back From The Dead, and they’re covers of the title tracks to the first two UFO albums he played on, a bit basic with bare production but Muir delivers convincing vocals and in places ‘No Place To Run’ benefits from subtle differences to its studio original.

Organized Chaos…Live was recorded live at The Barfly in Glasgow, later in 2005, and they come on stage to the strains of The Sensational Alex Harvey Band’s ‘Faith Healer’, as had a triumphant UFO during their Walk On Water reunion tour – Harvey’s cynicism and wry observation more apparent with the maturing records latter day Waysted recorded. Mixed and mastered by Robin George, you still need the volume up, and we get some repeats of tunes heard on Boot From The Dead, like opening rocker ‘Toys With The Passion’, classic ballad ‘Heaven Tonight’, and tracks from Back From The Dead, plus ‘Rock ’N’ Roll Medley’ that’s what it says on the tin, and totally uncensored, fun a couple of times but not intended for repeated listening me thinks, and Fin’s call out during band introductions “The legend, Pete Way… He’s still alive!” a little sad to hear in retrospect now.

I saw them do the melody second time I saw them live, the bit featuring ‘Radar Love’ coming over particularly well. That gig featured Chris George, but because he was making more money being endorsed (by Marshall or Ibanez?) he often missed gigs. He was good, but to be honest the first time I saw them with The Handsome Beasts’ Alan Smith subbing on guitar, where they tended to play mostly the earlier stuff, was the best as far as we were concerned. Third time round, we’d convinced friends to come along, and Robin George was on guitar, so I was looking to be impressed; sadly, they were pissed, and George often stood on stage looking as if he hadn’t a clue what to play. On all three occasions, drummer Haslin always kept it all together.

In 2007 came the final CD in this collection, The Harsh Reality, produced by Tygers Of Pan Tang and Penetration guitarist Fred Purser. Again, in the studio, they delivered. “The most pleasing, refreshing and creative piece of work we have ever done…This is the definitive Waysted line up. So there,” Fin claimed. Song wise, sure, it’s up there with Back From The Dead, albeit often more direct in its rock approach, but there are cracks between the lines too… While Way is credited as playing bass, it’s suggested his roadie played on some of the tracks, and would do so live, the legend that was our Pete had begun a series of what would become a series of health issues, initially his hands ceasing up, possibly with rheumatism.

Certainly George, having had input to the writing also, shines best here, with some scintillating fretwork appearing between the cracks on thumping rockers like ‘Samaritan Man’, and Rockin’ The Cliché’, and rowdy choruses aplenty also present on those as with opener with ‘Propaganda’. ‘It Wasn’t Me’ and ‘Keeping It Sweet’ are Glaswegian kitchen sink dramas with a tip of the hat to Alex Harvey humour and possibly Frankie Miller’s appearance in the TV movie Just A Boy’s Game.

Fin and Stray guitarist Del Bromham had done the session for the minute or so of Mike D’Abo’s ‘Handbags And Gladrags’, used as opening theme for The Office hit TV series, but it was The Stereophonics’ who chanced their arm and released their cover as a hit single. Setting the record straight, Waysted’s cover crushes in style. Those deeper emotional stances found in songs like ‘Song For Steve’ and the perfect companion to Back From The Dead’s ‘I’m Gonna Love Ya’ in the truly bittersweet ‘Can’t Live Without Some Pain’. Somewhere in the middle is the title track, that rocks in all the right ways and goes off at assorted aurally interesting tangents, not least a certain Celtic influence, that for all its power, its lyrics prove it to be a song about global warming somehow feels rather apt that this collection sees light of day again now.

Back From The Dead and The Harsh Reality are underrated great records, that will be played regularly in this house. Wilderness Of Mirrors is worthy of release, and the live CD’s give value for money as part of this well-presented box set.

  • Review by Paul H Birch.
  • Heroes Die Young: Waysted Volume Two 2000-2007 is released via Cherry Red Records and is available here.

Track list:

Disc 1: Wilderness Of Mirrors

  1. Walls Fall Down
  2. Fire Under The Wheels
  3. Heroes Die Young
  4. Singing To The Night
  5. Out Of Control
  6. Wild Night
  7. Terror City
  8. Black And Blue
  9. Fortunate Son
  10. So Long

Disc 2: Back From The Dead

  1. The Alternativa
  2. Garden Of Eden
  3. Dreams
  4. Must B More 2 It Than This
  5. The Price Of Love
  6. Breakfast Show
  7. I’m Gonna Love Ya
  8. Lost In Cleveland

Disc 3: Boot From The Dead

  1. Toy With The Passion
  2. Love Loaded
  3. Night Of The Wolf
  4. Garden Of Eden
  5. The Wild The Willing And The Innocent
  6. No Place To Run

Disc 4: Organized Chaos Live

  1. Toy With The Passion
  2. Won’t Get Out Alive
  3. Hang ’Em High
  4. The Alternativa
  5. Dead On Your Legs
  6. Heaven Tonight
  7. Love Loaded
  8. Must Be More 2 It Than This
  9. Night Of The Wolf

Disc 5: The Harsh Reality

  1. Propaganda
  2. Samaritan Man
  3. Rockin’ The Cliché
  4. Keepin’ It Sweet
  5. Long Time Dead
  6. Out Of Control
  7. It Wasn’t Me
  8. Song For Steve
  9. The Harsh Reality
  10. Handbags And Gladrags
  11. Can’t Live Without Some Pain