REVIEW: Thor – Keep the Dogs Away (1977)

Here’s the third review from the The Toronto Musical Collectibles Record & CD Sale! For the last installment of this series, click here!

THOR – Keep the Dogs Away (1977 RCA)

From the snowy shores of Vancouver British Columbia came Jon Mikl Thor, cult favourite and man of remarkable physique!  Keep the Dogs Away is his second album, but the first to be billed simply as Thor.  (Prior to this, they were Thor and the Imps.)  It’s corny, cheesy, not too serious and occasionally fun.  According to Wikipedia, this thing even went gold!

I’ve certainly loved the title track for as long as I can remember.  I used to see this guy Thor on MuchMusic all the time.  Usually he’d be bending a steel bar in his mouth.  Sometimes, he’d blow up a hot water bottle with nothing but lung power.  In one mid-80’s Power Hour interview, I distinctly recall him explaining that he was wearing spikes before Motley Crue were (true) and that his spikes were bigger (also true).  That’s the level we’re at here, just so you have an idea.  Thor is now a B-movie thespian, and I remember seeing bits of one of his films, Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare (1987) on TV.

There’s nothing exceptional here in terms of vocals, musicianship or songwriting, but the tunes are entertaining enough.  You’ll find yourself able to sing along to “Sleeping Giant” and “Catch a Tiger”, with its simple “Yeah you know!” refrain.  “Catch a Tiger” distantly resembles Rising-era Rainbow.

“I’m So Proud” is just rock and roll, kinda lite and reminiscent perhaps of the lesser Gene Simmons’ solo album material.  Thor wouldn’t be influenced by Kiss just a little, would he?  “Tell Me Lies” might be Thor aping Alice Cooper.  I’m sure Alice was an influence on young Jon Mikl.

Side two commences with the cascading piano of the pompous but fun “Military Matters”.  What Thor does here cannot really be strictly called singing, but he sure is bellowing!  “Superhero” is comically bad, but…I seem to find myself humming along.  Is it the basic simplicity?  “Wasted” is of similar quality, although Thor’s not even trying to sing at this point.  “Rosie” isn’t much better, and then the album closes on “Thunder”, a resounding thud of mediocrity.

I don’t regret the $10 that I spent on this. I’d wanted “Keeps the Dogs Away” (the song) for a long time and now I have it on a physical product.  As far as I’m concerned, I have all the Thor I need now.

1/5 stars.  But almost in that “so bad it’s good” category.

Footnote about the credits:  I like that John Shand played guitar and six-string bass, an instrument used by both Spinal Tap and Aerosmith.   I also enjoy that, apparently, this album was recorded in 1943.

Thor bends steel bar in his mouth

18 comments

  1. Oooh, hope Thor doesn’t read this or you’ll feel the devastation of his musculation! I’m going to watch these vids when I get home, they look awesome!

    If the tunes are entertaining is 1 out of 5 not a bit harsh?

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    1. Maybe…it’s not an exact science…the Sesame Street theme song is entertaining to me but I wouldn’t rate it too high.

      Are you suggesting I change my rating to avoid a beat-down?

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      1. It might be an idea! Hahahaha I’ve just had a horrendous mental image of him blowing you up like a hot water bottle!

        It just depends what you mean by the rating. Maybe you should do a wee guide to your ratings and what they mean to you?

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        1. It’s so fluid, I’m not sure I want to commit myself to a system like that. But the songwriting and musicianship (and vocals) here are all below-par. I don’t Thor was winning any awards with this one.

          I could possibly rate this this one as high as a 2 if I were enjoying it enough, but definitely no higher than 2.

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        1. There ya go.

          The more I think about it, I’m very comfortable with a 1/5 star rating for Keep the Dogs Away. It’s a novelty, I don’t think it would be much more than that for any listener, aside from Thor’s mom.

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        2. You might not feel that way when Jon Mikl’s blowing the hot winds of Odin up your arse but… hey, it’s your call!

          1/5 it is then! I just wanted to have a chat about ratings cause everyone does it different. For me, a 1 is the lowest so I’d only rate something a 1 if it had absolutely nothing going for it but this sounded like it had some fun factor at least… but I understand where you’re coming from with it.

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        3. Yes, I do go down to 0/5. So it’s a full scale. I get what you’re saying. If it’s really suck-ass I’ll go negative, but ONLY in extreme cases like those sucky Kiss compilations!

          Thor’s am old man now…I could escape his clutches. Here’s his video from a decade ago, for Fubar Is A Super Rocker!

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  2. I watched chunks of all three of those videos and… well, honestly, they look like Chippendale casting call tryout videos. I’ve figured out his approach, you see: for years, he spent hours and hours in front of a full-length mirror in his bedroom, oiled, posing and flexing right after a workout. I mean, heh, we all do that. But THIS guy, he finally figures he’s got his moves down, gets a band and makes songs and then takes his act on stage! It’s… beautiful… just beautiful…

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