Please--No More, Mr. Nice Guy!

Pat Boone
Pat Boone in a Metal Mood: No More Mr. Nice Guy
(Hip-O/MCA)

Pat Boone is back in black, and God help us all. When a recording that's so wrong in so many ways returns Pat Boone--Pat Boone--to the pop charts after 34 years in celebrity-golf-tournament exile, it's time to cross yourself and run.

Boone last charted in December 1962, when his version of "White Christmas" shimmied to No. 12, then fell away like needles from a long-dead evergreen. Since then, Pat's been a fixture on the Christian Broadcast Network. He also provided a memorable cameo for the 1989 documentary Roger & Me, when he sat backstage in a Ward Cleaver sweater and reminisced about his glory days as a pitchman for General Motors ("See the USA, in your Chevrolet"). This was right after Pat played for a Flint, Michigan, audience loaded with autoworkers GM had callously laid off a few days before. Ever the wonder dork, Boone was the butt of a joke he didn't even get.

The same goes now with Pat Boone in a Metal Mood, where, and this is true, Boone sings lounge-lizard versions of 12 heavy-metal anthems. Damn it, stop laughing. People are buying this recording on a lark--way, way too many people. Metal Mood jumped on the Billboard ladder last week at 125, but this slab of doo-doo (that's Pat speak) is sure to climb a dozen rungs, what with Boone's recent televised appearances as a guest on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno (where he performed a cover of Metallica's 1991 hit "Enter Sandman") and a presenter at the American Music Awards (where he swaggered out in clip-on earrings, a leather vest, gold chains and rub-on tattoos. Rub-on tattoos? Hell--Pat Boone is a rub-on tattoo).

The worst thing about this album--no, that's too elusive. One of the most offensively stupid things about this album is that Pat Boone is serious. Sure, this churchgoing golf boy sees the irony in doing a schmaltzy cover of Alice Cooper's "No More Mr. Nice Guy," but only because it blinks in neon. Otherwise, Pat doesn't view himself as a novelty. In his mind, he's a pioneer, bringing metal to the masses.

"I'm a direct descendant of Daniel Boone, and it may be in my genes to like to explore new territory," Pat writes in Metal Mood's rambling, vacuous liner notes. "And me doing metal is definitely new territory."

Fine, Pat, but that doesn't mean you had to go there. Let's not start a trend here. No Patapalooza. No rave collection (Pat Boone: Up All Night). And definitely no Boone N the Hood. Just stop the madness, Pat. Right here, right now.

Forty years ago, when Boone was still a schoolteacher in Nashville, he sanitized early rock 'n' roll classics by Fats Domino and Little Richard--slowed 'em down, cleaned 'em up, and scored hits with white-bread versions of "Ain't That a Shame" and "Tutti Frutti" (Little Richard got pissed off and sang "Long Tall Sally" super fast, just to trip Pat up. It worked. Boone's mushy cover flopped like a fish). On Metal Mood, Pat covers Ozzy Osbourne, Deep Purple and Judas Priest.

It's hard to say which is more odious--Boone turning good black music bad, or Boone making bad white music even worse.

Metal Mood was co-produced by Richard Carpenter look-alike Mike Curb, a pre-PMRC advocate of a music industry content rating system. Remarkably, though, only one lyric is censored/altered. When Boone gets to the "Yeah, we're gettin' a little bit hot tonight" spoken-word interlude in his salsa version of Van Halen's "Panama," he changes "Think I'll reach down, between my legs, and ease the seat back" to "Think I'll fasten my seat belt." Buckle up, little buckaroo.

Welcome to Pat's nightmare, where the soundtrack also includes big-band versions of "Smoke on the Water," "Holy Diver," "Paradise City" (Guns N' Roses) and a torturous version of Ozzy's "Crazy Train," with back-up singers that harmonize "That crazy, crazy train! Whoo! Whoo!" It may sound funny, but really, the humor wears out six seconds into each song. Then it's just pain--like a trip to the dentist where you get one whiff of nitrous followed by five minutes of slow drilling. Whoo, whoo!

 
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