Every album needs a less-successful sequel (artistically and commercially) and the formerly-named WWF was no exception. This involves the most of the same artistic personnel (Dave Wolff and Rick Derringer) and some of the same musicians too. Sadly, Mona Flambé (Cyndi Lauper’s nom-de-Rock on “The Wrestling Album” complete with bad wig and southern accent) is a no-show.
Also missing is a lot of the charisma and fun of the 1st album. That’s not to say I hate this album; really, I don’t. I love it dearly. As is the case with most sequels, it feels a little like a cheap version of the first record. It’s even evident in the packaging. The first album was a gatefold design with numerous pictures, credits, etc. The second album was a regular record jacket with no inner sleeve and meager credit information. All that said, the album absolutely has it’s moments. Let’s run this one down, shall we?
The first tune is Strike Force’s theme, “Girls in Cars”. This was written by the guy who was becoming WWE’s music maven, Jim Johnston. The song was released as the first single from the album and did nothing. It makes sense, really. Robbie Dupree’s day (yes, I said “day”) was well behind him by this point. His only two hits (“Steal Away” and “Hot Rod Hearts”) were seven years-old and he wouldn’t have any more. The tune is very ‘80’s (of course) featuring throw-away lyrics and an abundance of Yamaha DX-7 synth. Dig the video…that doesn’t feature Strike Force at all:
Next up is “Piledriver”. This is another Jim Johnston vaguely bluesy thing. Koko B. Ware is the featured “vocalist” here. As a singer, he makes a fantastic professional wrestler. He is all warble and scream with very little pitch. Given that this isn’t the most difficult song, it speaks to his lack of ability. He’s a wrestler so all is forgiven on this end, of course. The video is PERFECTION!:
“Demolition” is up next and it’s a fairly hard-rocking thing. Rick Derringer and Jimmy Hart wrote this one and it’s pretty good for what it is. Derringer is a legitimate singer/guitar player and Jimmy Hart is the real thing too so this works well. It sounded great when Demolition would come to the ring too so that’s a plus. Here’s the video – such as it is:
How about a little “Honky Tonk Man”? Honky does the lead vocals here and he’s backed by “The Mouth of the South” Jimmy Hart. Hart also wrote this and it’s a cool little tune. Honky’s “very Tennessee” accent is what really makes this work, though he’s a relatively timid vocalist. He does sing in tune (there was no Autotune in 1987, kids, so he really did it). This wouldn’t be completely without the video so here ‘tis. It starts at 1:18:
Moving on to “Jive Soul Bro” featuring Slick. This is written by two of the same guys who wrote “Grab Them Cakes” recorded by Junkyard Dog f/ Vicki Sue Robinson on “The Wrestling Album”. Slick has more charisma in his index finger than most have in their entire bodies so he totally gets by on this. It’s a whole lot of fun and the best thing on this record. I LOVE this song!:
Next up is the legitimate tune, “Crank it Up”. Jimmy Hart wrote this one too with John McGuire. It’s a mindless party song with huge gang vocals in the chorus. Hart sings in a very “rock” style here and it works pretty well. Jimmy’s performance on “Eat Your Heart Out, Rick Springfield” makes his capabilities plain so that this would be good is no surprise at all. They even turned this song into an angle where The Young Stallions “stole” it from the Hart Foundation to make it there own:
“Waking Up Alone” is another Jim Johnston/Mike McConnell tune – this one featuring Hillbilly Jim and Gertrude (Elaine Goff) and it’s about life on the road. This is very much a Country tune turned power ballad. Gertrude actually sounds great. The Hillbilly one is pretty tone-deaf and he’s kind of more or less along for the ride. His solo parts are best forgotten. The talking part in the middle of the tune is truly riotous. All in all, a pretty nice ballad that wouldn’t be out of place on Nash Vegas radio these days:
For this album, Vince even gets in on the action. He wraps his vocal cords around “Stand Back”. It’s a fun little Rock thing and the bassist is clearly having too much fun throughout. As a vocalist, he absolutely isn’t one. He’s thin and uninteresting. Still, it’s fun hearing him work through this. Parts of it include belting and McMahon sounds best there. Jim Johnston wrote this all by himself and it immediately recalls the theme to “WWF Wrestling Spotlight”. Fun little tune and Vinnie Mac does a decent job on it. Here’s the clip from the 1987 Slammy Awards. It’s a RIOT!:
“Mean Gene” Okerlund is back for more – this time with Rick Derringer on “Rock & Roll Hoochie Coo”. This is, of course, a cover of Rick Derringer’s own tune from 1973, brought nicely into the ‘80’s. Gene and Rick are “doubled” here to make them sound bigger and tougher – a common trick used even today. The band absolutely nails this rocker and they have no apologies to make. Where “Tutti Fruitti” worked for Gene so well on the last album, though, he’s clearly out of his element here. This one is more about Derringer and his blazing guitar playing than it is about Gene. This video totally redeems it. It’s a SCREAM!:
Lastly, we get the inevitable gang sing-a-long, “If You Only Knew” (as in…”what I’m gonna do to you”). Jim Johnston wrote this one too. It’s got an oddly funky groove to it with huge Billy Squier drums. The high-larious lyrics are rapped by various wrestlers and this was a nice way to get everyone else involved. With songs like this, sometimes words fail. You just have to hear this so:
All in all, a decent record but, again, not as good as the first. In fact, none of their albums got near the first one in terms of quality and fun. This one is definitely worth the purchase if you can find it. Sadly, doing that, while not impossible, is harder than it should be. As is the case with the first record, this one is owned by Epic Records (now Sony Music Entertainment) and they’ve kept it out of print since shortly after release as it completely flopped commercially. It was originally released only as an LP and cassette (odd given the year). This was only ever issued as a CD in the U.K. and that, too, quickly fell out of print. There was a “Record Store Day” reissue a couple of years ago that featured both “Wrestling Albums” on red vinyl but those are done in a very limited run and go out of print immediately. Copies of this album in LP and cassette form surface fairly regularly on eBay so it’s not impossible to get. There is no digital download of this album either so eBay is about the only way to get it. Seek it out, though. It’s a lot of fun.