Somebody kept slipping this thing into the carousel at work before I found out what it was. I’d assumed wrasslin’ music was sweathogs on skateboards, remedial at best. But each instrumental kept stepping right up to speak its piece and vamoose. Succinct album tracks! Rare for any kind of music these days. Although, when I first watched WWF’s RAW, “entrance themes” spun their wheels while Superstars keg-walked into the ring. But once in, blurry hulks were branded with sonic distinction. Dee-tails, hard-foraged from cliché— fairly often, composer James Johnston has gnawed ’em on out, like we all gotta do.
On Full Metal (1995), the Undertaker’s coppin’ Chopin’s “Funeral March” as his theme, but by 1997’s The Music, Volume 2, he’s droppin’ science like Mary Shelley, and by Volume 3 he’s beyond words. His ex-Valkyries veer into new catacombs of Holy Purpose, retrieving lost souls of tired characters for Johnston’s, er, the Undertaker’s overhauling ministrations. Sable’s another success story— on Vol. 2, she’s a seether, playing call-and-
response with the whip. On 3, Shee is now cat and cat-o’-nine, hear her roar! With sleigh bells to boot.
Johnston’s really learned how to uncover his tracks. The Undertaker’s Frankenspeak gets blunderbussed by Stonecold Steve Austin, but later on Vol. 2, tarpit reject Mankind’s “Ode to Sigmund Freud” spills into an abyss of bliss under Dude Love’s disco heaven. Even better, Vol. 3‘s Undervals surge into Edge’s techno-hummingbird taunts, bouncing off X-Pac’s banshee teens. Then finally Dude Love unabashedly marches Falsettos down the Great White Polyester Way once more (followed by many manly-rockin’ tracks, natch). Even Austin gets to solo on (well-timed!) broken glass. I love the sound.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on March 23, 1999