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