Westworld was recently re-introduced to the wider masses in a new format, packaged together nicely over a much grander scale this time around.
I’ll forgive you if you thought I was referring to the recent TV series Westworld, but it couldn’t possibly be any further from the truth. Westworld is a post-punk belter of an album from Theatre Of Hate.
The album, which was produced by Mick Jones of The Clash fame, entered the UK charts at a respectable No.17 when it was originally released back in 1982, with the lead single ‘Do You Believe In The West World’ becoming the band’s highest ever release at No.40.
The album has been given a new lease of life in a comprehensive deluxe 3 CD box set, which also offers radio sessions, remixes and an entire live concert. The opening track, ‘Do You Believe In The West World’, sets the general vibe for the next 56 minutes that the ten tracks total. It is a wonderful start to the album, akin to the sounds of ‘Stand and Deliver’ by Adam & The Ants.
Overall sounds range from hard-rock to more mellow offerings, such as ‘Love is a Ghost’, which floats along in an almost dream-like state, completely different in tempo, tone and style to the other songs. Beautiful would be the only fitting word to sum up this track.
Every single song has an experimental quality, which is a breath of fresh air, as many of their contemporaries during this time were releasing music that was the musical equivalent of basic meat-and-potatoes, yet Theatre Of Hate manage to pull a rabbit out of the hat time and time again, treating you to a wondrous show with infectious hooks, swagger and a visceral precision with its huge anthemic choruses.
Jones’ production gives the album a moody and almost dreamlike edge, allowing the music to breathe. The musicianship is fantastic, and it certainly makes you wonder why the band didn’t continue to release more music, with Westworld unfortunately being their one and only album release.
This re-mastered edition brings out the crystal-clear sounds of each instrument to the forefront, with Kirk Brandon’s wailing voice sending chills up your spine with each and every note he hits. Majestic guitar playing, thumping almost militaristic drums, funky danceable bass lines, haunting female backing vocals, spine-tingling piano, sexy saxophone playing – it’s all crammed in there, making for an enjoyable listening experience.
CD2 is a rare treat indeed, especially for the long-term fans and collectors out there, as it is loaded with a few hidden gems amongst the original material, which only begs the question of why were they left off the album in the first place? Granted the tracks are mostly live takes of their own material, but as they were mostly performed before the album was recorded and released, it seems like they missed an opportunity back in 1982 to have an interesting contrast on display. Quite a few of the tracks have jagged edges, but are definitely more than just filler, which sadly can’t be said for the several remixes towards the end of the disc, but you can’t win them all.
The band had been built on a steady, yet strong live reputation, which is clearly evident when you listen to CD3, which is a full live show taken from a 1982 performance in Vienna. The overall sound is quite condensed along with a constant hiss on the audio recording, yet you manage to capture a feel for the rawness of their live shows, easily creating mental imagery of any watching crowd being transformed into one distinct rallying voice.
Theatre Of Hate are quite an oddment in fairness. Westworld is certainly not everyone’s cup of tea, yet when I first listened to the album I was enthralled by their sound, their freshness, the quirkiness and overall sheer quality – not bad for an album that was released in the same year as I was born.
Young bands nowadays would be wise to take note and learn a thing or two. Theatre Of Hate still tour to this day, so it is my hope that this new deluxe version of their only studio album can be picked up and enjoyed by a new generation of music lovers. Personally, I’m over the moon that I stumbled across this powerhouse album. That said, perhaps only one word is really capable of summing up this new re-release from the band: Marmite.