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Theatre of Hate–Westworld – Cherry Red Records (label)

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In the crazy creative world of the early 1980s, there were times when several genres merged to great effect. For example, the likes of Japan developed a unique New Wave sound, using the best elements of 70s Glam with the fresher New Romantic. Other bands came and went almost as quickly as David Sylvian’s Japan, but didn’t leave the same influential soundtrack. Perhaps harshly, Theatre of Hate can be put in that latter bracket. Westworld was their only album and combined raw punk elements with a more produced, expansive, slightly self-indulgent sound.
Formed after the demise of The Pack, Theatre of Hate featured the unique vocal of Kirk Brandon, alongside Stan Stammers (bass), guitarist Steve Guthrie, drummer Luke Rendle and, as if to typify the era, saxophonist John Lennard. Westworld was the band’s only album, with the follow-up never seeing the light of day before Brandon went on to form the poppier, but just as angry sounding, Spear of Destiny.
At the time, the album was seen by some fans as a disappointment. Produced by The Clash’s Mick Jones, it came after several independent singles that had created a buzz, as well as raucous live shows. The album though lacked some of that early spark, with perhaps some of that aforementioned self-indulgence proving a little overbearing. While the likes of the superb semi-title track Do You Believe in The Westworld and The Wake have an energy and verve, in places the album just trudges along. The New Trail of Tears sounds like an undeveloped b-side, while Freaks is at times just uncomfortable.
Included in this deluxe release is a re-recording of one of those earlier singles that didn’t make the album, and Original Sin has Brandon sounding his emotional best. Other songs from the pre-Westworld release appear in the live recording from Vienna, including Incinerator but that CD is more for pure fans. Elsewhere there is a slightly weird version of Do You Believe in the Westworld, taken from Top of the Pops and introduced by John Peel, whose radio show the band appeared on. Some of those versions from the Peel sessions are also included. Theatre of Hate are back touring and for those suffering that wave of nostalgia sparked by the return this is a perfect collection.

More from this weeks featured online review – Music News

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