Monday, January 7, 2008

The Wrestling Album (Epic, 1985)

Y'know what I miss from my childhood?

Wrestling "Kayfabe". By definition:

In professional wrestling, kayfabe (pronounced [ˈkeɪfeɪb] KAY-fayb) refers to the portrayal of events within the industry as real, that is, the portrayal of professional wrestling as unstaged or worked. Referring to events or interviews as being a "work" means that the event/interview has been "kayfabed" or staged, and/or is part of a wrestling storyline while being passed off as legitimate. In relative terms, a wrestler breaking kayfabe during a show would be likened to an actor breaking character on camera.

Kayfabe is often seen as the suspension of disbelief that is used to create the non-wrestling aspects of promotions, such as feuds, storylines, and gimmicks, in a similar manner with other forms of entertainment such as soap opera or film. In the past, virtually all wrestlers adhered to kayfabe in public, even when outside the ring and off-camera, in order to preserve the illusion that the competition in pro wrestling was not staged. With the advent of the Internet Wrestling Community and the sports entertainment movement in pro wrestling, the maintenance of pro wrestling's backstage secrets are more difficult to keep than they were in earlier decades. Today, kayfabe is sometimes broken to advance storylines, to explain prolonged absences due to legitimate injury, as a tribute to a wrestler, or even for comedic effect"

When the major attractions abandoned the concept of "kayfabe", they lost the interest of this fan. Oh, there is an element of the concept that still exists, but it's all about posturing now, facading an image of toughness that all wrestlers do now. With the loss of kayfabe (caused primarily because of fans finding the behind the scenes info more accessible due to newer outlets such as the internet) and the popularity of the "heel" mentality (everyone wants to be or seems to be heels these days, IMO due to the popularity of acts such as Steve Austin), some of the things that endeared me to the "sport" have gone MIA.

No more are the days of "fun" gimmicks, or (and I'll freely admit finding joy in these) "stereotype" ludicrous they are more laughable than offensive. "Hillbilly" gimmicks, "wildman" gimmicks (like Moon Dog Spot or George "the Animal" Steele), and terrible stereotypes (like the many "head-hunters" and "Red Scare" gimmicks of the 1980s) are the staple of small indy organizations these days, mosty from the south, where many of these ideas had their start years ago....

Two of my favorite "wrasslers" of all time appear on this album, The Junk Yard Dog and Hillbilly Jim. And both of their contributions, "Grab Dem Cakes" and "Don't Go Messin' With a Country Boy", are incredibly terrible....yet, extremely catchy and....well, just plain fun.

From Wikipedia:

The Wrestling Album was an album released by the World Wrestling Federation in 1985. It featured mostly recent theme tunes of wrestlers on the roster at the time. The Derringer song "Real American" was originally intended for Mike Rotundo & Barry Windham, then known as The U.S. Express, but is best known as Hulk Hogan's theme song. Most of the songs were produced by Rick Derringer and David Wolff. Jim Steinman composed and produced "Hulk Hogan's Theme", which was used on the Hulk Hogan's Rock 'n Wrestling cartoon. Cyndi Lauper participated on the album as a backing vocalist on "Real American" and as producer of "Captain" Lou Albano's track under the pseudonym of "Mona Flambé".

The album was briefly reissued on CD by Koch Records, who briefly licensed the master rights from Epic/Sony in 1998.

  • The album's tracks are bridged with commentary from Vince McMahon, "Mean Gene" Okerlund, and Jesse "The Body" Ventura.
  • Three singles were issued from the album: "Land of 1,000 Dances" in a shortened version with overdubbed saxophones, "Grab Them Cakes", and "Don't Go Messin' with a Country Boy". All three singles were issued in picture sleeves and used "Captain Lou's History of Music/Captain Lou" as the B-side.
  • "Captain Lou" is a cover of a song originally recorded by NRBQ; Albano had made an appearance on the original recording.
  • Albano was credited with playing all of the instruments (kayfabe) on "Captain Lou's History of Music/Captain Lou". However, he is actually heard playing the main leitmotif from Grieg's "Morning" (from Peer Gynt Suite) on the "History of Music" portion of his track. (Albano had played some deliberately amateurish piano on an episode of Tuesday Night Titans a year earlier.)
  • The "WWF All Stars" band credited with playing on "Hulk Hogan's Theme" are most of the same musicians that have recorded for Jim Steinman (the song's producer and composer) during the Bat out of Hell and Bad for Good sessions.
  • As a possible nod to Steinam's involvement, Meat Loaf guest starred as a drummer in the "Land of 1,000 Dances" music video.[1]
  • Hulk Hogan claimed, as part of a 1985 WWF Magazine article on The Wrestling Album, to have played bass guitar on "Hulk Hogan's Theme" (Hogan had played bass in several bands prior to becoming a professional wrestler), but he is not actually credited as doing so in the album's liner notes.
  • In the same WWF Magazine article, The Iron Sheik is quoted as being genuinely upset with the fact that, because of the Ayatollah Khomeni's ban on music in Iran, no one in the Sheik's country of birth would be able to hear his contribution on "Land of 1,000 Dances".
  • Disco singer Vicki Sue Robinson is a guest vocalist on "Grab Them Cakes".
  • "Grab Them Cakes" made Junkyard Dog the only professional wrestler ever to appear on American Bandstand.
  • Roddy Piper's contribution to the album, "For Everybody", was credited as being produced solely by Derringer (kayfabe), in order to conform to the ongoing angle in the WWF between Piper on one side and anyone directly associated with Cyndi Lauper (including Dave Wolff) on the other. In actuality, Wolff was present for Piper's session.
  • Similarly, Cyndi Lauper's pseudonymous production credit as "Mona Flambé" may also be a Derringer/Wolff production with a kayfabe credit, although Lauper has produced most of her own albums under her own name. Lauper also appeared under the Mona Flambé guise on The Wrestling Album's cover, in the video for "Land of 1,000 Dances", and at the original Slammy Awards.
  • "For Everybody"'s original title, as may have been apparent to many older listeners, is "Fuck Everybody"[2]. The title and some of the lyrics had to be changed for Piper's version since the album was being marketed to the WWF's younger audience.
  • "Mean Gene" Okerlund had previously done an impromptu version of "Tutti Frutti" on Tuesday Night Titans with the show's house band, with Hulk Hogan sitting in on bass guitar.
  • Jimmy Hart's "Eat Your Heart Out, Rick Springfield" can be heard on the WWE SmackDown! vs. RAW 2006 videogame as the track serves as his theme music.
  • Despite being closely associated with Hulk Hogan for over twenty years, Real American was actually intended to be the theme song for the tag team of Mike Rotundo and Barry Windham, the US Express).
  • The March 2007 issue of WWE Magazine contained a list of "101 Things Every WWE Fan Should Do Before He Dies" and #63 is "Identify every WWE superstar on the cover of The Wrestling Album, WWE's original record release from 1985.
Track Listing:

  1. The Wrestlers - "Land of a Thousand Dances"
  2. Junkyard Dog - "Grab Them Cakes"
  3. Derringer - "Real American"
  4. Jimmy Hart - "Eat Your Heart Out, Rick Springfield"
  5. "Captain" Lou Albano and George "The Animal" Steele - "Captain Lou's History of Music/Captain Lou"
  6. WWF All Stars - "Hulk Hogan's Theme"
  7. "Rowdy" Roddy Piper - "For Everybody"
  8. "Mean" Gene Okerlund - "Tutti Frutti"
  9. Hillbilly Jim - "Don't Go Messin' with a Country Boy"
  10. Nikolai Volkoff - "Cara Mia"
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