Holiday Greetings From The Epic, Portrait And CBS Associated Family

December 21st, 2014

I meant to post this one up Christmastime last year. But between preparing a transcontinental move, packing up everything I owned to put into storage, selling my home, and dealing with an unexpected near mental collapse, I kind of got swamped.

holidays

Holiday Greetings From The Epic, Portrait And CBS Associated Family

This is the kind of relic you just don’t see anymore. I assume record labels still put stuff like this together from time to time, but they’re probably beamed across satellites and data lines to hard drives and then quickly wiped and forgotten after they’re limited use is exhausted. The fact that, at one point in time, a record label had to commit to vinyl something so meaningless and empty as canned celebrity holiday greetings really amazes me. I wonder how many of these silly useless records got made? I bet only a fraction of that number were ever used. What radio station would want to cue up a record just so their audience could hear a six second seasons greetings message from Gregory Hines?

Yeah, the line-up for this one is all over the place, I’ll just go ahead and list them all in alphabetical order:

  • Gregg Allman
  • Billy Always
  • Basia
  • Cheap Trick
  • Cherrelle
  • Alice Cooper
  • Gloria Estefan
  • Europe
  • The Fabulous Thunderbirds
  • The Godfathers
  • Gregory Hines
  • Insiders
  • Living Colour
  • Alexander O’Neal
  • Ozzy Osbourne
  • Quiet Riot
  • The Rave-Ups
  • REO Speedwagon
  • Rhythm Corps
  • Dan Siegel
  • Slammin’ Watusis
  • Henry Lee Summer
  • Survivor
  • Tony Terry
  • Til Tuesday
  • Luther Vandross
  • Gino Vanelli
  • Stevie Ray Vaughan
  • Weird Al Yankovic

There are some big names there, that’s for sure. You got your bonafide legends like Gregg Allman, Ozzy and Weird Al; you’re gone but not forgotten stars of the era such as Survivor, Europe and REO Speedwagon; and you even have a few memorable flashes in the pan like Til Tuesday and Quiet Riot.

But even for me, some of these acts go cross the Rubicon of obscurity and into the realm of pop culture oblivion. Bands that were such failures that they can’t even claim to be forgotten because that would imply someone heard of them in the first place.

Sure, some of them, like Cherrelle or Basia just worked outside of my areas of interest (easy-listening soul and jazz-pop, respectively), but who the hell are Billy Always, Insiders, The Godfathers or Henry Lee Summers? I did a courtesy tour of these artists’ tracks on YouTube to see if my memory would be jogged at all, but I’m completely drawing a blank – and honestly, usually for pretty good reasons. There was a reason why alternative music laid waste to the pop landscape of the late 80s and early 90s, and it was because of dramatically drab pap like this.

Although I will admit that Henry Lee Summers had a pretty remarkable mullet.

The messages themselves are sadly forgettable more often than not, with many just delivering bland “seasons greetings” messages and little else. Living Colour couldn’t even be bothered to do that. They just scream “we’re Living Colour” and leave it at that. I can’t imagine that was really useful to any DJs.

There are some bizarre highlights though. Of course Weird Al’s messages are suitably, well, weird, while Alice Cooper’s labored efforts to come off as “edgy” are enjoyable in their own ridiculous way. Stevie Ray delivers one of the few legit great moments on the album though, thanks to a brief little solo.

And Europe sing a traditional Swedish Christmas song! So there’s that.

 

Transcontinental Remixes

December 16th, 2014

I’ve bought so much music the past two weeks I don’t know what to do with it. I mean, besides listen to it. I know I should probably listen to it. But you know what I mean.

Busy times! Apparently Japanese people want to learn English before New Year’s. At least that’s what it feels like, as I am hella busy with work at the moment. There was also an election this past week, so everyone was talking about it.

And when I mean “it” I mean they were talking about the “big erection.” I heard how the “erection is mostly for show” and that “older people mostly care about the erection.”

Pronunciation is important people! Just last week I was trying to teach how to schedule meetings and one of my students kept saying “I have a slut available around 1pm.”

The best is when their English is good enough so I can actually explain what they’re saying, then they get a laugh out of it too. While those kind of mistakes are fun, I do remember that these people can speak English far far better than I can speak Japanese, and that I can make my own pronunciation mistakes as well. For example, last week I was trying to say “you are good looking” in Japanese, but instead I ended up saying “you got a nice pussy.”

So yeah, mistakes happen.

Speaking of mistakes, I wrote about Seven Mary Three and Paw last week.

Björk
Bachelorette (RZA Remix)
Bachelorette (Mark Bell “Blue” Remix)
Bachelorette (Mark Bell “Zip” Remix)
Bachelorette (Mark Bell “Optimism” Remix)
My Snare
I got these mixes from a CD-single/VHS tape box set that I bought for about three bucks. That means that since I arrived in Tokyo I’ve bought CDs, LPs, VHS tapes and even a pair of cassette tapes. I know it’s just a matter of time before I go full dumbass and buy a freaking laserdisc or betamax tape. Sigh. Someone stop me before it’s too late.

Madonna
Bye Bye Baby (N.Y. Hip Hop Mix)
Bye Bye Baby (Madonna’s Night On The Club)
Bye Bye Baby (Tallahasee Pop)
Bye Bye Baby (Rick Does Madonna’s Dub)
I own over 60 Madonna singles now. Japan’s been a great place to find some of her lesser work, like this forgotten single from the Erotica album. I really love the effects they put on Madonna’s vocals for this tune. She sounds like she’s singing through a tin can, but in a cool way. I enjoy the club mix the most, although all the dance beats and effects layered onto it really make the vocals sound out of place.

Yellow Magic Orchestra
Firecracker (Main Mix)
Firecracker (Beats Mix)
Technopolis (The Readymade Darlin’ Of Discotheque Track Dub Version)
Okay, real talk. These remixes aren’t that great. But I was really committed to this “three continents of remixes in one post” idea that it got the better of me. Sorry.

Kinky Go
Gimme The Love (Vocal Version)
Gimme The Love (Instrumental)
Gimme The Love (Radio Version)
Special italo disco request for the Pope. Well, a dude named Pope. Not the pope. At least not yet.

Obscure Remixes for Social Justice

December 5th, 2014

I took a week or so off because the world was too horrible to write about music. But here we all a week later and yo shit’s still horrible so I guess I’ll just keep plugging away at this silly little site

But seriously, I’m not depressed.

The fact that I’m not depressed kind of worries me, but hey, gotta live I guess.

I also realized that I’ve posted nothing but wrestling albums, Prince and Madonna for like forever and that it’s time for me to mix that shit up a bit.

Franz Ferdinand
Take Me Out (Naum Gabo Remix)
Take Me Out (Daft Punk Remix)
One of the funniest things I’ve seen in recent history was in 2013 when several reputable news outlets reported on this Daft Punk remix like it was brand new when it was, in fact, from 2004. I love it when shit like that happens, because it shows that the majority of online “news” reporting done these days is just site after site ripping each other off in a quest for the most hits possible. Original research be damned.

Anyways, I guess I really couldn’t blame them all for covering it once they discovered it. It is a pretty solid remix after all. The “Naum Gabo” one ain’t half bad either. I got these both from a 12″ single.

Bjork
Hunter (μ-Ziq Remix)
All Is Full of Love (In Love With: Funkstorung Mix)
Apparently you can’t upload a file via FTP if it has the “μ” character in it. Things you learn.

Purple Motherfunker

November 18th, 2014

I went to a horribly bad “game music” concert last week and wrote about it over at Mostly-Retro. Read it and be flabbergasted at how badly an organization could fuck up something that seems like such a no-brainer.

Then get purple and funky with Prince.

Prince
Gett Off (Urge Mix)
Gett Off (Urge Dub)
Gett Off (Flutestramental)
Gett Off (Thrust Mix)
Gett Off (Thrust Dub)
Gett Off (Rosie’s Dub)
Gett Off (Urge Single Edit)
Gett Off (Purple Pump Mix)
Gett Off (Housestyle)
I want to buy every single Prince album. Every single one. And then rank all of his songs in order of horniness. Even modern day Jehovah’s Witness Prince is a tiny purple horndog. His new song “PRETZELBODYLOGIC” is about a threesome that was so hot the people involved can’t defend themselves from being robbed. At least, I think it is. I don’t know, maybe I’m taking the lyrics too literally – but it’s definitely about boning.

Of course in terms of horny Prince songs, “Gett Off” is kind of the king. A few weeks ago I featured “Get Off” (notice the singular “t”) which is a pretty sex-fueled little number, but it can hold a lubricated candle to it’s misspelled cousin here. For any other artist this would be the most sexual single of their career, but for Prince, who released tracks like “Let’s Pretend We’re Married,” “Do Me, Baby,” “Do It All Night” and “Little Red Corvette” (spoiler:  the title isn’t about a car) it might not even make the top 10.

So here we are with nine mixes of the track, because why the fuck not. The dubs and instrumental mixes are interesting, but I’m only including them for the sake of being a completionist. The “Urge” and “Thrust” mixes are good, and definitely worth repeated listens, but they’re not as intense as the original version as they strip out the hard and heavy industrial beat that made the that such a powerful tune. That’s why the “Purple Pump” remix is probably my favorite of the bunch, as it’s just an extended version of the original. Hot.

The first six mixes are taken from a 12″ promo single I scored in Chiba  few weeks back, while the remaining three are from a CD single.

Additional Prince incoming soon.

The Most Beautiful Blog Post In The World

November 10th, 2014

His name is Prince. And he is funky.

And from what I hear he’s rather finicky too. But “My name is Prince, and I am rather finicky” isn’t a good lyric.

Prince
The Most Beautiful Girl In The World (Beautiful)
The Most Beautiful Girl In The World (Staxowax)
The Most Beautiful Girl In The World (Mustang Mix)
The Most Beautiful Girl In The World (Flutestramental)
The Most Beautiful Girl In The World (Sexy Staxophone And Guitar)
The Most Beautiful Girl In The World (Mustang Instrumental)
I’m on a big Prince kick right now, thanks largely to his two new albums, well mostly just one of them. Because while Art Official Age is pretty good, PLECTRUMELECTRUM is fantastic, easily one of my favorite records of the year. Prince’s guitar work on the album is otherworldly, and it has some of his best songs in decades. “PRETZELBODYLOGIC” is the hottest song ever named after a baked bread product, that’s for sure. You should buy that record.

Prince’s two new albums are also noteworthy because they’re his first albums with Warner Bros. since 1996, and supposedly signal a new relationship between the artist and the label that will see the re-release of all his old albums complete with bonus tracks. First up on the docket will be Purple Rain, and oh my god a 3CD deluxe edition of that album just might kill me with awesome.

Although if they fuck that up I might kill someone.

Anyways, “The Most Beautiful Girl In The World.” These mixes are from a 1994 EP entitled The Beautiful Experience. As the title suggests, its nothing more than various mixes of “The Most Beautiful Girl In The World,” the six remixes I’m including above, as well as the single version.

Does the world really need six remixes of “The Most Beautiful Girl In The World?” Eh, probably not. But I’m in a Prince mood so here’s Prince. Expect more Prince soon. Prince.

Prince.

Piledriver: The Wrestling Album II

November 4th, 2014

Much belated, eagerly anticipated (by someone I suppose) here we are; my last post on wrestling music – until I waste my money on another dumb wrestling record.

 

piledriver

Piledriver: The Wrestling Album II (complete album download)
Piledriver: The Wrestling Album II, as the title suggests, is the second album of music released by the WWE (then WWF). It was originally released in 1987, about two years after the release of the original Wrestling Album. While the original Wrestling Album was kind of a comedy piece, with novelty tracks and skits taking up half of the LP, Piledriver is actually an attempt at a “serious” record – and is shockingly a far better record for it.

The original Wrestling Album was mostly the work of Rick Derringer, along with the occasional contribution by Jim Steinman and Cyndi Lauper, but on this album Derringer takes the backseat, only contributing to two tracks. The majority of the record was written by James A. Johnston, a composer and songwriter who is still creating music for the WWE to this day, so good on him for landing a steady gig.

As I said, this album is shockingly not horrible, although things do get off to a really weak start thanks to opener “Girls In Cars,” a schlocky piece of light rock by Robbie DuPree, the one-hit wonder best known for “Steal Away,” a song that in itself sounds remarkably like the far superior “What A Fool Believes.” This track was used as the intro music to the tag team Strike Force, but I can’t imagine how that worked. That would be like having your intro music by Peter Cetera.

After that we have the title track, performed by wrestler Koko B. Ware. This song is decidedly not horrible. In fact, I’m just going to come out and say it – I kind of like this tune. Yeah, it may be stupid, and Koko B. Ware would never be mistaken for Curtis Mayfield, or even Gregory Abbott for that matter, but he’s competent. And the song itself is actually pretty clever in comparing falling in love to a piledriver. I mean, what better wrestling metaphor could they have used? “Your love hit me like a suplex?” “She closelined me with her beauty?”

Next we have the theme music for the Honky Tonk Man. It’s an Elvis homage, which was kind of the Honky Tonk Man’s whole shtick, so that makes sense. It’s a horrible track, although to be honest my opinion of it might be skewed by the fact that I do, and always will, hate the Honky Tonk Man with every fiber in my being.

Motherfucker tried to hit Elizabeth with his guitar. Fuck that dude.

Things recover slightly as Rick Derringer makes an appearance for “Demolition,” which served as the theme music to Ax & Smash during the majority of their run in the WWE. Simple tune, thrash-inspired metal without much melody, but it’s fun enough. And it certainly fits as a wrestling entrance theme far more than “Girls In Cars.”

It’s followed by probably one of the more (in)famous tracks on the album, “Jive Soul Bro” by the “heel” manager Slick. I assume he recorded this before he became a born-again Christian. It’s pretty dumb, and it’s followed up by the equally dumb “Crank It Up” by fellow loudmouth manager Jimmy Hart. This is light years better than “Eat Your Heart Out Rick Springfield,” mostly because it sounds like a third-rate Rick Springfield rip-off with a heavy dropping of sleaze thrown on for good measure. It’s still not a good tune, mind you, but it’s listenable.

By far the strangest track on the album is Hillbilly Jim’s “Waking Up Alone,” a soft-rock country ballad that features guest vocals by a woman going by the name of Gertrude. I have no idea who that is, but she can certainly sing. Not a horrible tune, with Jim’s complete lack of vocal ability probably being the single thing that holds it back. You give this to 1980s-era Kenny Rogers and you’d probably have a minor country radio hit.

The same cannot be said for Vince McMahon’s “Stand Back.” Bad song. Bad music. Bad singing. Bad. It’s bad is what I’m saying. It’s the worst track on the album, and might be up there with some of the worst tracks on the first Wrestling Album, save for Captain Lou’s number, which as I mentioned before, is the worst song I’ve ever heard in my entire life. Thanks to it, Rick Derringer and “Mean” Gene Okerlund’s take on Derringer’s own “Rock And Roll Hoochie Koo” sounds downright amazing by comparison.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a wrestling album without an all-star number featuring the best and biggest WWE superstars. For the first album that track was The Wrestlers’ take on the classic “Land Of A Thousand Dances,” a cover that could be generously described as a sonic abortion.

This time around its an original tune entitled “If You Only Knew” and it’s…kinda funny.

I think all my praise of this record benefits greatly from lowered expectations thanks to the absolute horrid nature of the first album, but I really don’t think this song is all that bad. It’s definitely a better fit for The Wrestlers, a joke track about all the painful things they’re going to do to the song’s unnamed antagonist, than a cover tune of a 60s novelty track.

It also makes better use of the individual wrestlers, giving many of the biggest names of the time their own lines to sing, including the Million Dollar Man, the Honky Tonk Man, Slick, Jimmy Hart (giving his best vocal performance on any WWF album), Macho Man, Koko B. Ware, Junkyard Dog and Hulk Hogan.

Next week, no more wrestling.

Sorry.

Tokyo Hollywood

October 21st, 2014

In the middle of a busy week as my mom is currently in Tokyo visiting me. That’s the good kind of busy, but it is making it rather difficult to put the finishing touches on my last wrestling-related post. I’ll try to have it done next week. In the meantime, here’s some Madonna remixes. Because I don’t post enough of those, right?

Madonna
Hollywood (The Micronauts Remix)
Hollywood (Oakenfold Full Remix)
Hollywood (Calderone And Quayle Glam Mix)
Hollywood (Oakenfold 12″ Dub)
Continually shocked that I find 12″ Madonna singles that I don’t own. Guess I’m not the only person in Japan who likes to rock fierce.

Yeah, Madonna’s “Hollywood” isn’t her best single, but it’s certainly her best single off of American Life, an album that I maintain is one of the worst ever released by a major artist. I stand by that. Sorry. Anyways, if American Life does have a good track, it’s this one, and these are actually some pretty decent remixes of it. I think I posted the Oakenfold mix before, but this is a new recording and it sounds slightly better.

Enjoy, more wrestling next week. I know you’re all stoked.

The Wrestling Album – AKA The Worst Album Ever Recorded

October 14th, 2014

I got a few new followers it seems, so I’d like to let all of you know that I actually have another website called Mostly-Retro, where I ramble about all things music, movies and games (but mostly music). Check it out. Right now I’m writing about obscure grunge rock. I’m sure that appeals to someone either than me. Maybe.

Moving on. When I posted Hulk Hogan & Itch-Band a few weeks back I had a sneaking suspicion that it would catch on and gain some traction with the online wrestling community. However, I didn’t suspect that it would be the most popular thing I’ve written all year. Like, by a lot. My hits usually hover in the mid-to-high hundreds. That one garnered me a few thousand. And if I’m anything I’m a sucker for attention so, congratulations you all, you made me do this.

wwf

The Wrestling Album (Complete Album Download)
The Wrestling Album, released in 1985 and the he first WWF/WWE album. It was produced mostly by Rick Derringer with some assist by Cyndi Lauper, under the pseudonym of Mona Flambe. It features 10 tracks in total, and is a combination of wrestler theme music, oldies covers, a few comedic bits and original tunes. All singing duties on the album are performed by either wrestlers or other WWF personnel, with appearances by Junkyward Dog, Jimmy Hart, ‘Captain’ Lou Albano, and many others. The album is mostly known for its all-star single, a cover of “Land Of 1,000 Dances ?!!?” that features pretty much every wrestler the WWF had at the time.

Oh. And its the worst album I’ve ever heard in my entire life.

And that’s really saying something! Because A: I’ve listened to a lot of shitty albums and B: I actually like two tracks on this record. But it goes to show you just how damn bad the rest of it is.

But before I get to the dogshit, the good tracks. First up, Derrenger’s “Real American.” While it’s most famous for being Hulk Hogan’s theme music during the majority of his time in the WWF, here the song is billed as the theme music to the U.S. Express tag team. However, they bailed on the WWF not long after this album came out, so the song was re-purposed as the Hulkster’s theme music. Still a classic, I get goosebumps of nostalgia every time I play it. Not just that, I do think it’s an honest-to-goodness good song. Not many songs can be blatantly patriotic while avoiding sounding nationalistic, so good job on Derringer for pulling it off.

Trivia note: the backup vocals are by Cyndi Lauper!

The other good track is “Hulk Hogan’s Theme.” This served as the theme to Hulk’s cartoon and was, as the title suggests, was also Hulk’s theme song for about five minutes in 1984. This track was written by Jim Steinman of Meat Loaf fame, and would go on to be reworked as “Ravishing” by Bonnie Tyler. So yeah, it’s an alright tune.

Okay, now that I got that out of the way – everything else on this album is dogshit of the worst variety. “Mean” Gene Okerlund covers “Tutti Frutti” and it’s abysmal. Jimmy Hart drops the dis track “Eat Your Hart Out Rick Springfield” and – wait a second, “Hart?” Is Jimmy Hart asking Rick Springfield to eat…okay I’m gonna move on now before I get incredibly unfortunate mental pictures stuck in my head.

One of the stranger tracks on the album is “Rowdy” Roddy Piper covering the obscure Mike Angelo & The Idols’ track “Fuck Everybody” renamed to “For Everybody.” This, of course, completely changes the meaning of the song into complete nonsense, but that’s the least of its problems as Roddy can’t sing for shit. Seriously, he sounds like someone is pulling out his testicle hair with a pair of tweezers. There’s a reason why They Live didn’t have a musical number.

Junkyard Dog, Hillbilly Jim’s , and Nikoli Volkoff all have songs too, but they’re just run-of-the-mill horrible and barely worth talking about. What is worth talking about, however, is “Captain Lou’s History Of Music/Captain Lou.” This is the worst song I’ve ever heard in my entire life. No question. The constant wailing by The Animal, the hideous carnivalesque music, the bland production (thanks to Cyndi Lauper) and, at the forefront of the shit, Captain Lou’s atrocious, hideous, craptastic singing. If you have any esteem for Captain Lou, wrestling, Cyndi Lauper or pretty much “the 80s” as a singular thing, you’ve been warned – this might destroy all of that.

As for the all-star rendition of “Land of 1,000 Dances ?!!?,” well, that’s just kind of cute. I mean, yes, its horrible and not a single wrestler who makes an appearance on the track can actually sing, but none of them are really trying to. It’s just a joke track, a novelty number and nothing more. Yeah, the joke is horrible and the novelty wears off after about one minute, but it’s a hard song to outright hate. Or maybe my hatred for it is just dulled because, when compared to the sonic manure that makes up the rest of the record, it’s downright Grammy-worthy.

The WWF certainly thought the track was noteworthy. It was the only song from the album to get a video, and they even released it as a 12″ single, complete with an extended version and an instrumental. Now, I know what you’re thinking, what idiot would be dumb enough to buy that?

Yo.

The Wrestlers
Land Of 1,000 Dances (Dance Version)
Land Of 1,000 Dances (Instrumental Version)
So if you were listening to the album version of this track and thought, “you know what? This needs to be about two minutes longer and end with a wicked drum solo,” then you are in luck. As for the instrumental, you should download it just so when people ask you “what’s the dumbest, most pointless song in your MP3 collection? you have an easy answer.

Enjoy the horribleness. One more wrestling album coming soon.

It’s slightly better than this one.

Slightly.

Tracks From A Tiny Guns N’ Roses CD

October 5th, 2014

Well then, that stupid Hulk Hogan post is now the most popular thing I’ve written all year. I suspected that might go viral just from its idiocy and rarity, but I had no idea it would blow up so big. So to anyone who read that post and decided to check out what this blog is all about, thanks! Before I disappoint you with a series of Madonna singles in the coming weeks, stick around, I promise more wrestling stupidity later this week.

Until then, how about some G N’F’n R?

Guns N’ Roses
Live And Let Die (Live)
Shadow Of Your Love
Coma (Live)
It’s amazing the shit you can find in a discount record bin.

The first two of these GNR tracks are from a CD-single of “Live And Let Die.” Not just that, they’re from a 3-inch CD single that came packaged tiny “longbox” style. Seriously, check this thing out.

003

It’s hard to see, but it comes with instructions on how to snap the bottom half off and make it more compact.

007

Like anyone in Japan would ever do such a thing. You have no idea how well the Japanese people treat their media. You go to a used bookstore or CD store and all that shit looks brand freaking new. It’s insane. It’s great when you find one a little banged up though, because when you do it’s mad discounted. However, such instances are few and far between. Shit, when I buy game music here it usually comes complete with the original sticker sheets. I don’t know how anyone could buy a CD that came with stickers and NOT USE THE STICKERS. Madness.

What was I talking about? Oh yeah, GNR. So, I did some digging and I really can’t find if those two tracks were ever put on any other official GNR release. The live version of “Live And Let Die” is not on the Live Era album, and I don’t think it’s on any of their EPs either. If Axl’s opening rant is to be believed, this recording was filmed for the VMAs. I think I have a vague recollection of that happening, so that sounds about right.

As for “Shadow Of Your Love,” that tune pre-dates GNR by several years. It’s actually a Hollywood Rose track, Hollywood Rose being the proto-GNR group that Axl formed in 1983. While many Hollywood Rose-era tracks would be re-worked or re-recorded for inclusion on several official GNR official releases, “Shadow Of Your Love” wasn’t one of them.

It should be pointed out that “Shadow Of Your Love” is not a particularly good song.

Anyways, while the track never made it to a GNR album proper, various versions have seen the light of day over the years. A faux-live take (with crowd overdubs) was recorded for the Live Like Suicide EP, cut, and then included on the Japanese-only Live From The Jungle EP. A demo by the original(ish) Hollywood Rose line-up was also recorded back in the 80s, which was released a few years ago by Cleopatra Records, much to the chagrin of Axl. As far as I know, this is the only studio version of the track recorded by GNR that doesn’t feature the crowd overdubs.

I would also like to point out once more that it is not a very good song.

As for the live version of “Coma,” that’s from the Japanese edition of Live Era. I actually don’t own the Japanese edition of Live Era, I just snagged this MP3 off of…somewhere eons ago.

Hulk Hogan & Itch Band

October 1st, 2014

001

Hulk Hogan & Itch-Band
Itch Ban
Night Home
You’ve Got To Leave
Axboomba

From 1972 to 1976, Telly Savalas, better known as TV’s Kojack, released four albums. All of them are generally regarded as being horrible mistakes that should have never existed in this reality or another. Today they are forgotten, and justly so. However, I remember reading once that, when asked years later, why he released not one, but FOUR horribly hideous albums, Savalas replied simply, “they let me.”

I feel that a similar explanation probably lies behind Hulk Hogan & Itch-Band, the Hulkster’s 1983 self-titled EP that was released only in Japan. He must have said to someone “I want to release an album” and that someone had enough power somewhere to let that happen. That person must be put on trial for crimes against humanity.

The album was recorded and released during the tail end of Hulk’s run in the New Japan Pro Wrestling League, where Hogan was so damn popular that his nickname was simply “Ichiban” which means “Number One.” I guess that partially explains why Hogan’s band name is “Itch-Band,” but why they just didn’t go with “Ichiband” is beyond me.

004

There are four songs on Hulk Hogan & Itch-Band. The first is “Itch Ban,” a self-aggrandizing boast track where Hogan exalts the power of his wrestling skills; his massive wealth; and even his cameo appearance in Rocky III, all to a disco-funk beat and a chant-like chorus of “Ichiban is Hogan San! Hogan is our Champion! Ichiban Is Hogan San! Hogan is number one!”

And it must be said, right up front, that Hogan’s singing voice is one of the most atrociously awful singing voices I have ever had the extreme displeasure of hearing in my entire life. It is so horrific that I didn’t actually recognize it as his voice the first time I listened to the record. I guess I expected Hogan to sing like he talks, all deep and gutteral and “what’s you gonna do brother!” But instead he sings in this bizarre high-pitch with a strange accent that sounds like…I don’t even know how to describe it….like a mentally handicapped Hanna-Barbara cartoon villain? You know how the bad guys in cartoons always make that “bwa ha ha” laugh? That’s Hogan’s singing voice…maybe with a touch of Jimmy Hart thrown in for good measure.  It’s something that has to be experienced, it escapes words.

028

After that nightmare abortion from hell we’re treated to “Night Home” a quiet instrumental number where Hogan gets to showcase his…surprisingly decent bass skills. That’s right, Hogan plays bass, and he’s not that bad! Who knew? Actually, as a whole the music on Hulk Hogan & Itch-Band isn’t horrible – it’s just Hogan’s singing voice and the ridiculous lyrics that sink it, both of which return after that instrumental interlude.

First, we’re treated to “You’ve Got To Leave,” where Hogan laments his upcoming departure back to the states, followed by “Axboomba,” an ode to Hogan’s then-finishing move of a running arm lariat (and totally not as cool as the flying leg drop). Throughout both Hogan’s vocals rest somewhere between the sound of nails on a chalk board and the howls of a cat in heat in terms of annoyance and auditory displeasure.

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Hulk Hogan & Itch-Band might be one of the worst records I’ve ever bought. Although musically benign, Hogan’s horrific howling, matched up with some inane self-important lyrics, truly outshine any talent that was put into the music. Beyond hideous from start to finish, its only saving grace is that, with a brief four tracks and a running time under 12 minutes, it manages to stay firmly in so-bad-it’s-entertaining territory simply because of its brevity.

But it’s still better than WWF’s Wrestling Album. At least it doesn’t have Mean Gene singing “Tutti Frutti.”