Thor - "An-Thor-Logy: 1976-1985"
(Smog Veil Records 2005, SV58DVD)
From Aural Innovations #32 (November 2005)
Prior to his leap into the rock world, Jon Mikl Thor introduced himself on the world as a bodybuilder, having won Mr Canada and Mr USA titles. Taking advantage of his beefcake physique, Jon created Thor the Rock Warrior, incorporating theatrics into his rock shows. He also appeared in a number of B movies, one of which - Rock 'n' Roll Nightmare - he wrote, produced, starred in and scored. Released in conjunction with the new Thor studio album, Thor Against the World (see review this issue), is An-Thor-Logy, a new DVD retrospective covering the first decade of Thor's career (1976-1985), featuring live footage, music videos, interviews and television appearances.
The DVD begins by running through a collage of 70's clips and Thor describing his beginnings and how he wanted to create a comic book hero on stage. The live show antics are circus-like in the theatrics department, with Thor bending steel bars between his teeth, having bricks broken on his chest with a sledge hammer and more. The DVD really paints the whole picture, even including a 1976 appearance on the Merv Griffin show with Thor performing The Sweet's "Action" in totally over-the-top glitzy garb. Note that this was Merv's house band backing Thor. Straaaaange! We then go through the years with a series of music videos from Thor's glam rock phase, having recorded the videos on his own in the pre-MTV days. The glam stuff is pretty wild, coming across as a hip shaking Norse god version of Bowie or Ian Hunter. But as we get into the early 80's we see Thor evolving into the heavy metal style that has characterized his music to this day, which is also when the music really started to get good and more aptly fit the image Thor had created.
As Rockumentaries go, An-Thor-Logy is very well done, being packed with the mixture of live performances, interviews and assorted clips you would expect, and with Thor reminiscing throughout we really get the full scoop. Thor appeared on all kinds of wild television shows, demonstrating his willingness and ability to promote himself in any way possible (the Chevy and Kromer commercials are hysterical). He's over-the-top with the theatrics and sometimes it just seems silly, but as a child of the 70's myself who grew up with Alice Cooper, Bowie and others who incorporated wild theatrics into their shows this is all par for the course to me. Thor has great backing bands, the songs are good, and he ROCKS. Check it out for the background history on one of rock's true survivors.
For more information you can visit the Thor web site at: http://www.thorcentral.com.
Visit the Smog Veil Records web site at: http://www.smogveil.com.
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz