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Classic Album Review : Raven ‘Wiped Out’

Classic Album Review : Raven ‘Wiped Out’
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Raven – ‘Wiped Out’ (DISS0128CDD)

Originally released on Neat Records, NEAT 1004, summer 1982

“Das beste Album von Raven?” You don’t need to be a cunning linguist to work out that in his 9.5/10 review of ‘Wiped Out’ in this July’s issue of Rock Hard Wolfram Küper was making a case that Raven’s second album is the band’s finest, in the face of the accepted wisdom that their debut ‘Rock Until You Drop’ is the most deserving of that accolade.

Originally released in the summer of 1982, ‘Wiped Out’ followed its predecessor by just eight or so months. Unlike ‘Rock Until You Drop’ though, ‘Wiped Out’ was recorded over a period of six or seven days, whereas Raven’s debut had been stitched together over the best part of a year, with tracks being recorded as and when. This gave ‘Wiped Out’ a more cohesive, more structured feel without blunting what was pretty much a live-in-the-studio onslaught from brothers John (bass / vocals) and Mark (guitars) Gallagher, and drummer Rob ‘Wacko’ Hunter. The trio steamrollered through twelve tracks in fifty-two minutes: subtlety was not their raison d’être back then, and as a result ‘Wiped Out’ is an unrelenting sprint of pounding drums, guitar histrionics and John Gallagher’s glass-shattering vocals. It’s little wonder that Raven have been rightly recognised as one of the founders of speed / thrash metal.

The album received mixed messages at the hands of the critics. At Sounds, Geoff Barton had become enamoured with Neat’s operation and the label’s first three full-length releases (the ‘Lead Weight’ compilation cassette, ‘Rock Until You Drop’ and Venom’s ‘Welcome To Hell’) had all copped five-out-of-five star reviews. But with Barton now more involved with Kerrang! ‘Wiped Out’ (together with Fist’s ‘Back With A Vengeance’) fell to David Roberts who claimed that “Raven’s second offering doesn’t live up to the potential of their mayhemic debut,” and awarded it just two stars. Over at Kerrang!, however, Chris Welch viewed the album quite differently: “their first album got a five star review from Geoff Barton… [‘Wiped Out’] certainly deserves a fresh cluster of stars for its sustained attack, enthusiasm and musical muscle power. How Rob can keep up those off beats on his snare drum up without cracking every bone in his wrist is a cause for wonderment.” 

Unlike ‘Rock Until You Drop’, ‘Wiped Out’ came in an understated (albeit flaming red) cover, and no singles were drawn from it. Instead, the three session out-takes ‘Crash, Bang, Wallop’, ‘Run Them Down’ and ‘Rock Hard’ (which featured Mark on lead vocals) were issued as the ‘Crash Bang Wallop’ EP (with album track ‘Firepower’ added to make up the running order).

“Since that album was suitably apocalyptic we had the idea of an atomic bomb cover,” recalls John Gallagher. “Dave Wood [Neat Records’ owner] was unusually animated and put his foot down – ‘nope, can’t do that… Disgusting… Poor taste’ etc etc – and so Rob and I ended up in a room with the ultimatum ‘you have two hours to come up with something’! So I came up with the ’crossed flash’ logo, and the in-house Neat graphic artist added the ‘Wiped out’ cheeseball lettering. Fortunately, we already had the back cover sorted so, well, it was what it was…”

The other thing about ‘Wiped Out’ was that there was no title track; the song ‘Wiped Out’ had already been released as the B-side to the band’s first single ‘Don’t Need Your Money’ back in August 1980. “The title,” John laughs. “Well, it just fitted the album. One listen and you WERE wiped out! It also seemed suitably perverse to name it after a track that wasn’t actually on the album.

“Looking back at the album now, it was an incredibly productive time for us and I love the craziness of it. All those songs plus the ‘Crash, Bang, Wallop’ ones recorded in about six days, with a few literally written on the spot! The mix could have been better, but it’s all there. I love the songs and in my opinion the playing is out of this world. Not everyone ‘got it’ at the time but we didn’t care: we’d completed our mission to put the live show into the studio! I actually listened to it the other day for the first time in a long while and feel we need to revisit a song or two for our upcoming live dates.”

The Dissonance release includes the ‘Crash, Bang, Wallop’ EP material as well as an outtake version of the acoustic instrumental ‘20/21’.