Sometimes you go through your old albums and run across one that leaves you scratching your head, wondering “why did I buy this?” This happened to me the other day when I stumbled upon my vinyl copy of Balaam and the Angel’s “Live Free or Die,” released in 1987.
I can vaguely remember being introduced to Balaam via my metal-loving fellow Wendy’s employee friend Tony, who I talk about in length, here
(part two is coming someday, I swear). Tony knew I didn’t care much for metal, but figured with my new wave/goth/alt. leanings, Balaam might be right up my alley.
Admittedly, they did carry some Cult-isms about themselves and wrote some catchy little melodies. I remember shocking Tony when I mentioned that the single, “I Love the Things You Do To Me,” sorta sounded like the Replacements. In fact, in retrospect it sounds like something off of “Don’t Tell A Soul,” a Replacements album that wouldn’t come out for another two years. Tony didn’t see it that way at all…after all, the Replacements “sucked hard” and this “rocked.” Okay, then.
I recall liking this quite a bit at the time, but I’m hard-pressed to explain why now. It’s really not that good, outside of the two singles posted here. Some of it dovetails into completely banal pseudo-pop metal a la Poison, complete with “oh, yeah”s and “uh!”s, but wrapped in a semi-pretentious goth sheen. It was also mastered VERY. LOUDLY. so even if you had the volume fairly low, you had to turn it down even lower to make anything out besides sonic sludge. However…
…Balaam did hit two homers with the singles. Both are more power pop than anything else, goth, metal or otherwise. Lyrically, meh, but your toes’ll tap a bit. This was one of the first albums I ever bought in the CD format, but that CD has been long lost in one of my several moves since 1987, so I grabbed these tunes off my still-virginish vinyl (and yes, they were on Virgin).
Balaam had an album and an EP before this release, and a couple of LPs since, but I’ll be damned if I ever heard ‘em.
Download ”I Love The Things You Do To Me”
Download ”I'll Show You Something Special”
Find out more about Balaam & the Angel at Balaam & the Angel.com.”Live Free or Die” peaked at #174 on Billboard’s Top 200 Albums chart.
Neither single charted.