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: 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.