Vincent is fascinating for all sorts of reasons. His wild, greasy hair and leather jackets would become essential pieces of the rock and roll look. In nearly perpetual pain throughout his career, he took the stage surrounded by an entourage that hid the limp he acquired in a 1955 motorcycle wreck, a condition that worsened after a 1960 car wreck that killed his friend Eddie Cochran. His success in Europe, after the American hits ended, sadly established a pattern that too many first-generation rockers would have to follow. But the real reason this set matters is simply the music itself. It's cool, man. Hear it and you'll end up screaming, "Let's rock again!"

-- David Cantwell

Pat Boone
No More Mr. Nice Guy (In A Metal Mood)
(Hip-O)

This is one of those concept albums that make me want to track down every record exec even remotely involved with its conception or green-lighting, grab them by their suit lapels and shake them, hard, all the while screaming at the top of my lungs: "WHAT IN GOD'S NAME WERE YOU THINKING?"

Heavy metal, after all, is a genre that lives and dies by its bad-ass attitude, its voltage, velocity, and emotional oomph. The very attributes, in other words, that Pat Boone has spent an interminable career eschewing. Asking him to "do" metal, therefore, is the musical equivalent of asking a eunuch to grow cojones. To make matters worse, on No More Mr. Nice Guy Boone and his producer henchmen have taken metal's daffy three-cord anthems and attempted to stretch them across full-blown jazz and orchestral arrangements. The results are predictably threadbare. The only thing thinner is Boone's creaky old baritone.

While Boone's take on the Judas Priest boomer "You've Got Another Thing Comin'" starts hopefully enough, with a weaving sax solo and saucy back-up singers, once Mr. White Bucks opens his maw the whole thing collapses into unintended hilarity. His voice is stiff, utterly devoid of luster; his attempts to stretch a note come off like failed yodeling, and his stabs at ad-libbing fall flat. (Boone's outbursts -- "Oh baby," and "Uhn!" -- radiate all the spontaneity of Mr. Rogers conducting a conversational Ebonics group.)

The finger-snapping version of the Guns N' Roses classic "Paradise City" is equally unctuous, despite the brass and flash. The salsa beat and Latin jazz flourishes of Van Halen's "Panama" are a nice touch, but then Pat has to open his mouth and get all hip on us. The only song that transcends wretchedness is the Roy Oribson/Nazareth weeper "Love Hurts." Here, our milquetoast maven shows the rare good sense to perform his cover in its original state as a ballad.

I will give Boone bonus points for his rendition of "Enter Sandman." His offering is far more menacing than anything Metallica could ever produce: To hear some poor little kid repeat quasi-religious refrains after Boone is to understand Satan in one of his most insidious guises. This is the Muzak they pipe straight into Hell's shabbiest mall.

-- Steven Almond

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