The obvious first question is, simply, Why? Why reissue Thor's Only The Strong, and subject us to Jon Mikl Thor's campy heavy metal, cheesy rock warrior, sideshow buffoonery. For that very reason.
Jon Mikl Thor went from accomplished bodybuilder winning numerous awards for his chiseled frame (and probably did it without steroids) to his rock warrior character with ease. He was merely picking up on the theater rock of the day, ala Alice Cooper, only Thor was venturing, eventually, into traditional metal. In some sense, he was a precursor to the big muscles, tiny dick, heavy metal that gave us Manowar and others.
Only The Strong is hardly original: classic Eighties metal combining Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, and (insert your Eighties metal band of choice here). To his credit, the metal wasn't total crap: he could sing, the guitar leads, though fairly generic, soared, and the arrangements were injected with enough heaviness and groove.
But Thor's gimmick was rather original. His on stage schtick included bending a steel rod with two hands while clenched in his teeth (whereas PR material erroneously suggests he bent a steel rod with his teeth) and blowing up and exploding rubber water bottles, not mere rubber balloons. If recollection serves me, Thor also invited one member of the audience to the stage where, in a display of strength and savagery, he ripped the unsuspecting dimwit's arms and legs off, chewed his eyes out, and puked into his dead skull. Just kidding.
So what's inside the super deluxe, muscle bound, steroid sized addition of Only The Strong? All kinds of cool shit from the Thor universe. Of course, there's the complete album. No, I don't know if it was remastered. There's also the The Edge of Hell EP where Thor is billed as Tritonz. Definitely not as cool as Thor. I wonder how long it took him to come up with that witty moniker? But I digress. There's a gaggle of, five exactly, demo tracks from 1981 to 1986. This is followed by two live recordings from London, fan favorites Lightning Strikes and and Thunder of the Tundra.
But the best part of this super sized, crush your head with Thor's 18 inch python biceps, deluxe edition is the additional DVD within. It's mostly grainy video recordings with dubious sound from live shows in the Eighties with Thor and his semi-muscular mates kicking out the hits. The bulk are from 1984, but two shows from New York City in 1982 and 1983 show the spectacle of Thor's steel bending might and torturing a water bottle to explode. It's campy, it's cheesy, and some will say it's pure crap. It's also some funny shit, like to post on Facebook or YouTube, LYAO, time wasting, tomfoolery. But seriously, not kidding now, it's a lens into heavy metal history and Thor's legacy as the heavy metal rock warrior he says he is. For what it's worth.
With all the camp and cheese, gimmickry and schtick, the reissue of Only The Strong is a lens into heavy metal history and Thor's legacy as the heavy metal rock warrior he created.
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