Heavy Metal Blunder

  By VennerRoad, 1st May 2016

In 1977, Thor released their debut album; it will shortly be re-issued.

Keep The Dogs Away.

Thor may be the God of Thunder, but he is also a real person. Jon Mikl Thor was a Canadian bodybuilding champion, winning an impressive array of titles between 1969 and 1974. A multi-talented individual, he decided to give up the rigours of bodybuilding for music, rock, obviously. Although not an unqualified success, he was certainly not a commercial failure. His debut album with his eponymous band was released in 1977 in his native Canada, and a year later in the rest of the world.

Now, this album is being re-released by Cleopatra Records of California, complete with bonus tracks. So what does Keep The Dogs Away have to offer? Sadly, not a lot, the original, anyway.

The first thing one notices about this ten track album is that all the songs are on the short side, the longest is Catch A Tiger at 4 minutes 38 seconds, so no extended soloing here. The second thing is that Mr Thor’s name does not appear on any of the credits, in fact neither do any of the other band members’.

By this time it was already an unwritten principle if not a law that any artist who wanted to be taken seriously had to write some if not the bulk of his own material; that applied to bands as much as to solo performers of both sexes. Even covers would generally be original arrangements. For example, the 1968 debut album by Deep Purple included four covers and four originals (leaving aside the controversy over Mandrake Root).

So again, what does Keep The Dogs Away have to offer? The first track starts off sounding a bit like Thin Lizzy, but it never really develops beyond the opening riff. The second track, Sleeping Giant, proves that somebody has done his homework on Norse mythology, but gimmicks are a poor substitute for strong music. The aforementioned Catch A Tiger is arguably the strongest track on the album, melodically, but with I’m So Proud we are back to gimmicks, this time parodying the man himself, and Tell Me Lies is more of the same. Sadly, the second half of the album is no improvement, although rather than being about old tyme superheroes, Superhero might just be interpreted as a cynical commentary on the new breed, the type that comes to us not through books and epic poems but through our TV sets. That and the commercialism that goes hand in hand with this type of entertainment.

If you like or want to try out this type of music, then by all means buy the album, but Canada had a lot better to offer at this time including Bachman-Turner Overdrive, April Wine, and for thinkers, Rush.

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