If you don’t know who Pat Boone is, imagine a group of marketing executives around a table in the mid 1950’s panicking. Elvis has just hit the scene, and they need to find a way to make money off this new image of the bad boy rock-and-roll star. The problem: Elvis is deeply offensive with his dancing and all, so they need to find a marketable alternative. Pat Boone was the solution here.
A good Christian kid from Florida, Boone could be made to seem cool and make rock music in a safe way. What no one realized is that at this point in music history, rock was anything but safe. While Boone was the second-highest selling artist of the ’50s, before the ’70s ended he was known for his absurd attempts at making dangerous soulful music with no danger or soul. This didn’t stop him though, no way.
He continued to make between one and three albums almost every year. After a couple of years with no releases, the world was forever changed by his 1997 metal cover-album magnum opus, “In a Metal Mood: No More Mr. Nice Guy.”
From the bebop intro for “Panama” to the bebop intro for “Enter Sandma” to the bebop outro for “Stairway to Heaven,” Boone makes a one-note album and proceeds to hit that note incredibly poorly.
The album kicks off a cover of “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’” with a short guitar solo – perhaps the most metal this album gets – and quickly launches into Boone’s preacher-like voice unconvincingly claiming that he, like Judas Priest, is going to live it up. The juxtaposition of Boone’s shaky voice and his conviction to appear badass is something the greatest satirists could only strive for.
Perhaps the greatest moment on the album is when Boone croons the chorus of “It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Want to Rock and Roll)” blissfully unaware that what he’s doing could in no way be considered rock and roll. It’s in these bizarre contradictions that the genius of this album really shines. I could go on for hours with examples like how he dons a black tank top on the cover only to sing like a lounge singer in a tuxedo or how despite his refusal to be “Mr. Nice Guy” features prominently on the cover next to his welcoming grin as if he is unable to be anything besides a nice guy.
If you give this record a shot, I guarantee you’ll be laughing the entire time. From the faux cool-dude low-pitched “YEAH’s” to the absurdly jolly description of the woman in Stairway to Heaven, this album feels like something that slipped through the cracks from an alternate universe where big band adaptations of metal tunes are absolutely normal and require no explanation whatsoever.
Because of my love for absurdism, I have no choice but to strongly recommend this album.