In 1995 Hulk Hogan & The Wrestling Boot Band released an album called "Hulk Rules", a collection of 10 songs that ran the gamut from rap-rock to rock to yet even more rap-rock. It's a concept album, the concept being he rules. This fact is stated many times over the course of 29 minutes by The Hulkster (real name Terry Bollea), his wife Linda Bollea, his friends Jimmy "Mouth Of The South" Hart & J.J Maguire, and two uncredited backup singers.
I first heard this album in 2003 when my brother handed me a copy and commanded that I listen to it immediately. For a former Hulkamaniac like myself that first listen was quite the experience. It immediately raised many questions, the main one being "Why is Hulk Hogan rapping?" Sadly I had no answer. I still don't. To this day I remain baffled as to why this album was recorded, let alone recorded a decade after the height of Hulkamania. But I'm happy it was.
The overall consensus of this album is that it sucks. It has been labeled "a disaster", "a train wreck", and "a horrible assault on the eardrums". It has achieved cult classic status by being "so bad it's good". Personally that's a theory I disagree with. Eating a rancid egg salad sandwich is never good. Diarrhea isn't ironic. As such, I think these songs are interesting, in many different ways and for many different reasons. For example:
1) In "Hulk's The One" a woman sings about how Hulk's the only man for her. That woman is Hulk's real-life wife Linda. She doesn't call him Terry, she calls him Hulk. They are now divorced.
2) Hulk's voice doesn't appear on most of the tracks - the nameless backup singers do all the heavy lifting - but he's credited as playing bass on all of them. Apparently the people who made this album thought the public would buy it because of their interest in Hulk Hogan's bass-playing. I am an incredibly nerdy bass player and never once have I contemplated how Hulk Hogan would play such and such part.
3) In "Hulkster's Back" Hulk utters the line "Ooh, look at that new vein in my tricep!" In addition to being revolting, that's an odd thing to brag about. Do you know anyone who brags about their veins, let a single, solitary one? Well Hulk does. (Also, he rules.)
4) In "Hulkster's In The House" the 3rd verse is as follows:
We're rocking down the house
The band is playing loud
We're blowing off the roof
And we're gonna rock and roll.
For all you literary types, that stanza features the seldom used ABCD rhyme scheme.
5) In "Hulkster In Heaven" Hulkster laments that a young dead British boy will never see him wrestle in Wembley Stadium. Poor kid.
My point is that this is an unforgettable album. No one kinda remembers it. No one forgets it. Everyone who hears it has a strong opinion about it. As time goes by we seem to form more opinions about, opinions that grow stronger and stronger. I'm one of those people.
Which is why I was compelled to re-record it.
Without going into too much detail about my own life - this is about The Hulkster goddammit - I think all art is equal. To me the work of Hulk Hogan is the same as the work of Salvador Dali or Kate Bush or Oscar Wilde or Bobby Flay. To paraphrase Chris Rock, I'm not talking about quality, I'm talking about legitimacy. We watch "good" and "bad" TV with the same pair of eyes. We eat "good" and "bad" food with the same set of teeth. And we listen to "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" and "I Want To Be A Hulkamaniac" with the same pair of ears.
Which brings me to "Hulk Rules". For reasons only my shrink can explain, l once again started listening to it obsessively. In doing so I got to thinking about other ways these songs could be presented, different genres/instruments/chords/lyrics/sections that I felt could have or should have been there in the first place.
I wasn't trying to be disrespectful of these songs and the people who wrote them. No way, brother. Moreover, I'm sure there are people who love these songs as they are and see no need to redo them. (I urge all of you who have never heard it to go buy a copy and judge for yourself) But since I don't know the listening habits of Hulkamaniacs past and present I can't say for sure if they like Bob Marley or Minor Threat. I certainly hope that they're into other music than rap-rock, because I really tried to see if these songs had legs outside of that genre. And if they didn't then by God I was gonna try and give 'em some. They might be scarred and uneven but they'd be legs. Interesting ones, worthy of a leg drop.
It must be noted that I do not in any way, shape, or form own the publishing rights to these songs. I will not make a cent off of them, nor should I. That would be illegal, and I would very much not like to get sued or have 24 inch pythons wrapped around my throat. It is a completely unsanctioned, unauthorized, & unapproved recording, made purely for the fun of it. Again I cannot stress enough that you should go and purchase the original album immediately. Then listen to mine and see how I did. Hopefully you and the people who created it - Hulk, Jimmy, J.J, Linda Hogan, & the other two - will appreciate it for what it is: a love letter to those of us who forever love rock 'n wrestling. And you know, vitamins.
Actually, I have no real idea why I remade this album. But that makes sense. If I remain confused about the very existence of "Hulk Rules" I should also be confused about my proactive reaction to it. 'Cause it never stops being interesting. When Armageddon comes my brother and I will still be talking about it. I have written a lot about it and could write a lot more. A lot has already been written by others about it, and i'm sure they could write a lot more too. I see no end in sight.
But I can tell you what I do see. I see me watching Wrestlemania II on closed circuit TV at The San Diego Sports Arena. I see me desperately trying to stay awake so I can watch "Saturday Night's Main Event". I see my brother and I renting WWF matches on Betamax. I see me buying "The Wrestling Album" on cassette the day it comes out.
And mostly I remember sitting with my nose inches from the TV as Hulk takes on the bad guy. He is losing. My Dad is sitting on the couch and saying "I don't know Jess, Hulk might not pull through this time", and I am near tears. But then, a shaking of the head, a puffing of the cheeks, a wagging of the finger, an enormous roar of the crowd, a big ol' boot, and the winner of this bout and STILL Heavyweight Champion is Hulk Hogan. How did he do it? The answer is as simple now as it was then.
released October 15, 2018
Produced, arranged, & performed by Jesse Krakow
All songs written by Terry G. Bollea, Jimmy R. Hart, & John J. Maguire
Additional music & lyrics by Jesse Krakow.
Recorded September 2018 at Exploding Note in West Orange, NJ
Dedicated to Verne Gagne.
all rights reserved