So where do you stand on Rock of Ages?
A bunch of ‘80s rock tunes crow-barred into an unfeasible story, with way too much hairspray and make up? Hmmm. But then it worked with Queensryche’s Operation Mindcrime… What could possibly go wrong?
With Def Leppard having re-recorded their classic song Rock of Ages (from Pyromania) and Hysteria’s Pour Some Sugar On Me, (see Mike Ladano’s blog) clearly this is a lucrative opportunity for these
millionaire poor impoverished ageing rock stars, who know a Good Thing when they see it and are keen as mustard to push it forward.
However, for many people who grew up with the music, the idea that heavy rock can be turned into musical theatre is about as appetising as the two word review of Spinal Tap’s Shark Sandwich album…
What next? The story of The Sex Pistols set to interpretive dance? U2 putting on a Spiderman musical?! What am I thinking? That’s just ridiculous…
Admittedly, the merger of Rock with Theatre is hardly new. When the first rockers in the UK emerged in the mid to late fifties as part of Larry Parne’s stable they were all considered to be part of the showbiz and entertainment world. However, as a result, the music’s attitude was diluted and rock n roll’s popularity faded. You only need to look at the charts in 1961 to see the evidence of this. It took four Liverpudlians to re-interpret the original RnB records brought to Liverpool Docks by American sailors for rock music to be revived. The Beatles recognised that their future lay not in playing other people’s tunes in variety shows, but writing their own songs: and the rest is history…
Bowie is probably the most successful example of an experiment between theatre and rock, because firstly he had great tunes and second because what he did was genuinely experimental. Even if that meant he was dressed in a ludicrous leotard.
More recent attempts have rather reeked of theatre looking to recreate the experience of live music with a theatrical twist. This is fine as far as it goes, but comparing the live experience of seeing We Will Rock You to The Sex Pistols at the 100 Club is like comparing The Three Tenors with an episode of The Sopranos.
This is not to say we should be taking ourselves too seriously (see my previous post on music snobbery). There is much to lampoon. Back in the day I grew my hair into what would now be described as a dreadful and failed attempt at a hideous mullet, but back in the eighties it was actually….still a failed attempt at a hideous mullet.
And whilst we worshipped the likes of Bon Jovi when we were younger, the passage of time has given us a different perspective of things. I’ll
deal with reflect upon Bon Jovi another time…
So good luck to the likes of Rock of Ages, We Will Rock You, Mamma Mia and Glee. May they continue to expose this music to the mainstream, and indulge in nostalgia. I think my mum might like it. *
For me, I’m going to ignore it, and hope it goes away…
* Actually, I think Cliff Richard would need to be in it for her to like it.
Record #59: Whitesnake – Here I Go Again (original version)
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