Classic Rock Magazine Article

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As far as comebacks go The Almighty's recent resurrection must count for something as far as homegrown musical talent goes. Spawned from the nascent hard rock scene of the late 80s, this bunch of Glasgow-based upstarts found themselves part of a British scene that boasted such diverse acts as The Little Angels, The Quireboys and Thunder, but always cultivated a harder, tougher sound than many of their contemporaries.
Tattooed and bristling with an attitude more akin to Motorhead at their gnarliest, The Almighty formed in 1988 and signed to Polydor, with guitarist/singer Ricky Warwick and drummer Stumpy Monroe at the band's heart, along with bassist Floyd London and guitarist Tantrum.
Understandably Warwick looks back on those naive days with great affection: "The whole thing was a fuckin' laugh! Me and Stumpy were in a pub one night and I said I had an idea for a band. We planned it and we booked a gig in Glasgow. We had Marshall stacks borrowed from our friends, got totally hammered before we went on stage and covered ourselves in talcum powder, because it seemed like a good idea at the time! 22 people were at the gig. A year later we were in Abbey Road Studios recording our first album."

In a world where the size of your hair mattered a lot more than the passion and power of your music, The Almighty were one of the few bands that actually walked it like they talked it, and in 1989 the overblown 'Blood, Fire & Love' album proved to be one of the highlights for British rock. It was a huge-sounding release sporting more than a handful of shamelessly chest-beating anthems. Ricky and his cohorts rocked and raged through the ludicrous highlights of 'Full Force Lovin' Machine', the massive title track and potential hit single 'Wild & Wonderful', which did actually make a modest dent in the Top 50.
'Blood, Fire & Live' - you guessed it, a live album - followed but it was with 1991's 'Soul Destruction' (produced by ex-Duranie Andy Taylor) that the band actually hit commercial pay dirt as 'Devil's Toy', Free 'N' Easy' and 'Little Lost Sometimes' all made appearances in the singles charts - in spite of some of the worst promo videos ever recorded. Despite the obvious whiff of success, however, they were actually being torn apart internally thanks to the booze-fuelled antics of Tantrum, who was eventually chucked out of the band and replaced by Canadian guitarist Pete Friesen, who they nicked from Alice Cooper.

With the band saved from the edge, 1993's grunge-flavoured 'Powertrippin'' had some critics calling foul because of its apparent bandwagon jumping, while the punters happily propelled it to No.Five in the album charts. "I think the press are a lot more guilty of following trends," insists Stumpy, somewhat predictably. "Of course you might say the image has changed because we're wearing different clothes for different albums, and of course the albums sound different because they're two years apart, but time goes on."
Most other bands would opt to make themselves even more commercially appealing but in typically perverse fashion The Almighty just became aggressive. The result was 1994's drop-forged 'Crank', which emerged on Chrysalis after problems with Polydor. The band rapidly returned with 1996's 'Just Add Life' and then things went horribly wrong.
"We spent a whole year dealing with Chrysalis, trying to get people on our side so when the album came out they would be working for us to make the record successful. But EMI bought Chrysalis, basically closed it down and fired everyone," says Stumpy with a weary grin.
"The day we delivered the album 35 people on the label got laid off. We went in and said, 'Here's a new album' and they said, 'Sorry there's no one to look after it.'" For a bunch of hardmen the band's reaction was astonishing - they simply quit.
Warwick went off to form the deliberately uncommercially monikered (sic), to many The Almighty by just another (very silly) name, only to be haunted by the restless ghost of his former outfit. At gigs people would be more interested in The Almighty than his new venture. It became obvious what he had to do.

The eponymous comeback also features London, and ex-Whatever guitarist Nick Parsons taking Friesen's place. "Obviously things are a bit different because we have a new guitar player in Nick who has contributed a lot to the writing of this album," smiles Warwick. "We gave him a free rein to bring in his ideas which we felt fitted in really well with what the band is about."
To their credit, the band haven't attempted to emulate the current trend for down-tuned shouty angst. Nevertheless says Warwick: "Any kid out there who is into heavy metal or rock 'n' roll will get into it, I'm sure. There's something there for everybody. We know what we're comfortable with now and I think that people will respect that."

Essi Berelian

This article originally appeared in the August 2000 edition of CLASSIC ROCK magazine

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