Monday, October 5, 2020

Thor "Only the Strong," "Christmas in Valhalla"


(Deadline, 1985/2014/2018) I love Thor. I am not even sure what he does and where his talents lie (I mean, I know he can bend steel and explode rubber water bags with his powerful lungs, but his voice is not particularly distinct, and I'm not sure if he is the driving creative force behind the music/compositions/arrangements ofhis different bands over the years).  But he dresses up, he's fun, he's game for anything, he never stops, and I love him. His "Keep the Dogs Away" album is the only thing I ever bought at Bleecker Bob's (when my band was on tour in NYC in the mid 90s) and other than his budget horror film "Rock n Roll Nightmare" I never really saw anything else he did until he became active again at the dawn of the 21st Century. But he apparently recorded seven albums in the 70s and 80s and Deadline/Cleopatra has been releasing his archival stuff as deluxe reissues, as well as unleashing seven new albums in the last five years (ad there were about a dozen albums released between the late 90s and the Deadline debut). "Only the Strong" is a 1985 concept album (loosely conceptual) about our hero in a post apocalyptic future (2045 to be precise, because it rhymes with "only the strong survive). This, I now have learned, was a massive hit in Canada, and the anthemic "Thunder in the Tundra" and "Knock 'em Down" are great rousing rockers. Yes, the band is kind of doing dumb, one-note 80s bar metal, but it should be noted that dumb, one note 80s bar metal is fucking awesome.  Bonus material includes demos but more importantly, a DVD of a joyous live show. Speaking of bringing Joy to the World: His Christmas LP! Which sounds like it was recorded in his bathroom uses a friend's boom box that has a sticky rewind button so you have to flip the tape over and fast forward. And it is stylistically all over the place, with a Lou Reed-style song, something akin to King Diamond, some late 80s Ozzy ballad vibes, and a smattering of spooky spoken word. There is also a one minute drum solo track predicated on Little Drummer Boy wordplay. All of it is kind of bad, in the special way Christmas albums with original music get to be bad and feel clever and good about themselves, with one rocking track feeling exactly like that scene in Melvin and Howard where Melvin insists they sing his inevitable future hit "Souped Up Santa Sleigh." So in other words, this is great!

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