This seemed like a really good idea at the time. Pat Boone, the fifties' best-selling singer whose embrace of the Jesus Movement gave it legitimacy and a Hollywood address for pool-side baptisms, once more shares his popularity with a neglected, disreputable genre:  heavy metal. Controversy ensues as he dresses the part and is banned from a well-known Christian cable-TV station. Surely this is the breakthrough project that will unite the worlds of metal, big band, and CCM in a musical cloud of mutual understanding. The only trouble is, The Phantom Tollbooth's resident metal guy, Josh Spencer, never heard of Pat Boone! Reaching across genres and generations is trickier than I, and Pat Boone, thought. --Linda 

 

In a Metal Mood/No More Mr. Nice Guy 
Pat Boone 
Hip-O Records/MCA 
By Josh Spencer 
  
"I'm a direct descendant of Daniel Boone, and it may be in my genes to like to go where no one else has gone before, to explore new territory." (Pat Boone, explaining this album)  
  
Heh, heh. This album is funny stuff. By now, you've probably heard of it--Pat Boone, who's been making big-band and commercial jazz music for your parents and grandparents since the 50's (he was Elvis's rival once upon a time), has made a strange record of heavy metal cover songs! Personally, I'd never heard of the guy until this album came out, an album which sparked a small fire of controversy among TBN listeners (a Christian TV network with Pat Boone's show Gospel America). It seems several hundred Pharisees called up and got his show cancelled because of this album! Some people have no sense of humor. I think efforts have been made by others to get it back on, but I don't know how that's going (or went). Anyway, it's not important. On to the music, and what music it is!  
 
I should be up front. First of all, I'm a metal fan. I can't stand big-band or jazz music. My best friend gave me this album for my birthday; we popped it in and started the laughter. Boone covers Deep Purple, Van Halen, Alice Cooper, Judas Priest, Ozzy Osbourne, Jimi Hendrix, Metallica, Led Zeppelin, Guns 'N Roses, AC/DC, Dio and Nazareth with songs like "Smoke on the Water," "Panama," "No More Mr. Nice Guy," "You've Got Another Thing Comin'," "Crazy Train," "The Wind Cries Mary," "Enter Sandman," "Stairway to Heaven," "Paradise City," "It's a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock "N Roll)," "Holy Diver," and "Love Hurts" (respectively).  
 
Honestly, I have no idea how to review this thing musically--it's just hilarious. There are a lot of very skilled players on the album--44 to be exact, plus nine different background singers. The production is excellent.  Pat's singing occasionally sounds to me like Troy McClure from The Simpsons (the once big-time actor character), which makes me laugh even harder as I listen to him. I can just see him standing on a Las Vegas stage, legs spread apart, one hand holding the microphone, the other hand snapping his fingers slightly above his waist, with lots of R&B female background vocals. I was originally going to go through each song and compare them to the original, but just take my word for it: they're all really, really different sounding. 

Obviously, almost all of the guitars have been taken out and replaced with horns, piano, bass, and some strings. "Smoke on the Water" opens with its famous riff (played by Ritchie Blackmore himself) but quickly mellows into a jazzy tune that brings to mind old Pink Panther cartoons. There's also a solo in there somewhere, but that's it for the guitar.  
  
Likewise, "Panama" opens with lead guitar (played by Dweezil Zappa!) and it's the only song with it remaining in the background throughout. I think this is also the only song he changed the lyrics for, to avoid an obvious sexual reference (but don't quote me on that). 
  
"No More Mr. Nice Guy" made me laugh the most--it almost sounds like he's singing off-key (but that could just be because I'm used to metal and alternative vocals, not jazz singing). Regardless, this song caused me to realize what's true of all these songs: I can hear all of the lyrics clearly! And some of them are truly bad. More fuel for the laughter, though. 
  
"Enter Sandman" is done in an upbeat fashion--he sings the lines "Say your prayers, little one," and "Exit light, enter night," like they're happy and uplifting words! Weird, but anyone who knows the Metallica version will be rolling.  
  
I haven't heard the original Dio song, "Holy Diver," but it's an amazing sounding tune (Pat's version!) that inspires me to go and find that album. There's a really cool rhythm to this song, with a nice bass and string section at the beginning and end (finishing with a spoken Psalm 23:4). Ronnie James Dio helps out on vocals for this one. 
  
No doubt, every song on this album is some metal fan's favorite, but I don't have space to go into all of them. Someone might ask "Is this album suitable for Christians?" I actually think Pat tried to pick songs with some sort of spiritual overtones--just look at the titles. But I wouldn't spend too much time worrying about that. If you want a laugh with a couple of friends, need a gag gift for a party, or just want to hear the most unusual cover songs ever, check this out.  
 

  
 
Copyright© 1997 The Phantom Tollbooth