Friday, November 8, 2013
Oh man, I was such a fucking dork back in '85! I can vividly remember my retarded anticipation for the "Slammies" on MTV. For the unenlightened, it was a cheesy self-aggrandizing awards show in which the WWF's finest bestowed trophies upon themselves in between painfully choreographed segments of hilarity and mayhem. MTV and WWF? How did that dubious relationship come about you ask? We can all thank Cyndi Lauper featuring Captain Lou Albano in her über-popular "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" and "Goonies" videos (among others) for bringing the existence of the WWF to MTV execs and... man, this book just writes itself! Coinciding with the one-shot primetime special was the release of The Wrestling Album, featuring mostly cover tunes sung by the then-stars of the wrestling world, helmed by ex-McCoy Rick Derringer who must have just been slumming for coke money. But who am I to judge, I instantly bought the cassette (in true 80's style packaged in a LP-sized cardboard sleeve) and y'know what? 25+ years later it's still laughably listenable. "Mean" Gene Okerlund, Vince McMahon and Jesse "The Body" Ventura provide some pretty humorous commentary to open the record and segue from song to song - it's the typical antagonistic banter that became standard play-by-play on Saturday afternoon's wrestling shows. The music begins with the ensemble "Land Of 1,000 Dances?!!?" - a lot funnier to listen to if you've seen the video - Roddy Piper ends up trashing the set at the end amidst other chaos. Junk Yard Dog's "Grab Them Cakes" (showcasing aged disco queen Vicki Sue Robinson on back up vocals) reeks so strongly of 80's cheese it's hard to get out of your head. Derringer solos on "Real American" which according to the commentary is an homage to the forgettable tag-team duo U.S. Express. It is just as tacky as any number of the zillion pro-USA country music anthems out there today but I'll give Derringer historical credit and just assume he wrote it while watching the montage scene Rocky IV. Jimmy "The Mouth Of The South" Hart contributes a pretty funny track regarding his girlfriend's affinity for Rick Springfield - one of the few artists on the album who actually seems like he may have some inkling of musical talent. Captain Lou's "History Of Music" is a low point on the album, a typical ranting effort by the bloated manager which is as silly as it is stupid. Flipping over to side B, the "WWF All Star" studio musicians present us with the instrumental "Hulk Hogan's Theme" (dorks younger then me will recognize this as the theme to the surely-agonizing Saturday morning Hulk Hogan's Rock 'N' Wrestling cartoon) followed by the LP's best track, "Rowdy" Roddy Piper's "For Everybody." A relatively rowdy (ha!) G-rated cover of Mike Angelo & The Idols' explicit 1984 single "The World May Not Like Me", Piper stutters and spits his way through the lyrics with the same aplomb that made him one of the smarter stars in wrestling (and fucking awesome in They Live but I digress). Gene Okerlund grooves through "Tutti Frutti" with a panache that brings to mind Val Kilmer in Top Secret! and token hick wrestler Hillbilly Jim drawls through (surprise!) "Don't Go Messin' With A Country Boy." For what it's worth his version is somewhat listenable aside from the fact that I absolutely detest country music. Wrapping it all up is perrennial 80's bad guy Nikolai Volkoff caterwauling "Cara Mia" which degrades into a shoddy version of the Soviet National Anthem. Ventura, McMahon and Okerlund throw him out and declare the entire recording a failure at which point Ventura begs the others two to duet with him. As they flee we are left with the eventual governor of Minnesota whining "It's my turn to sing!!!" You couldn't make this shit up folks. Enjoy.