Rock & Roll with extra cheese (and some rather spicy sauce!)

When it comes to music, films, TV etc (entertainment in general I guess) I’m a rather odd specimen of a man – enjoying an eclectic mix of styles, genres, eras and volumes! I can watch everything from sci-fi blasts to detective dramas, comedies to quizzes, debates to debacles. I listen to music from so many eras covering pop, rock, dance, jazz, classical, electronic, metal, worship, atmospheric and more. In fact the only music I can’t appreciate is manufactured plastic rubbish that you know doesn’t mean anything to the person singing it.

One era and style I do particularly love is 80s Rock. I grew up listening to Bon Jovi, Whitesnake, Meatloaf and more and still love ramping up the volume to scream out the lyrics to some of the classic anthems from that time.

So when we saw an interview with Justin Lee Collins and Shane Ward on BBC breakfast talking about the West End musical “Rock of Ages” I immediately knew that this was something I *have* to go and see.

We’ve not made it to London (yet – it’s planned for sometime in the future though!) but when a film version was released my curiosity was definitely piqued.

Last weekend my wonderful wife, who has impeccable taste it must be said, chose for us to see the film when we had a chance to escape the kids for a day and grab a couple of hours in the midst of all the house hassles.

All I can say is WHAT A BLAST!

Now I’ll get the potentially offensive stuff out of the way first – although everything in this film is done to maximise the cheese factor and it’s all done in a humorous manner. The film definitely isn’t one for the kids, despite the 12A rating. There is a bit of bad language but there is a lot of suggestive and sexual innuendo in the film. Part of it is set in a “Gentlemans” club and features pole-dancers, there is a scene that involves strongly implied sex and there are other bits. BUT – none of it made me feel uncomfortable and it is all played for laughs.

That aside (and, as I say, it didn’t bother me at all) the film is a great romp from beginning to end. The storyline is a cheesy cliche wrapped up in a fairytale sugary syrup – girl meets boy and all the typical journey that tends to follow in those storylines. Think Grease or Dirty Dancing, set in the 80s scene with blue denim or black leather trousers and black T-shirts. You’re not getting a story that will change your life forever and that will bring about world peace to sound of whale song. You are getting a joy-filled, hugely funny, musically superb couple of hours that entertain and leave you with a huge smile on your face for days to come.

The music in the film, as with the storyline, differs slightly (and also significantly in parts) to the stage show but contains so many classics from that time including everything from Journey to Poison, Def Leppard to Bon Jovi, Pat Benatar to Styx and so many others and some of the mash-ups in the film are pure genius! By the end of the film there wasn’t a foot that wasn’t tapping, a head that wasn’t nodding and there weren’t many people who weren’t singing along.

The casting was probably the biggest surprise. Tom Cruises involvement had me a bit concerned, and the Mrs and I both raised eyebrows when the opening credits rolled and we saw Russell Brands name (not the biggest fans, but his involvement was a no-brainer really), however the whole cast are brilliant totally embracing the ham-it-up nature of the film and throwing themselves into their roles completely. The two stars of the show are newcomers and manage to stand their own ground surrounded by Cruise, Brand, Alec Baldwin, Catherine Zeta-Jones and others. What has been a huge surprise is the discovery that the actors all sing their own parts (they obviously did this seperate to the filming as you can tell they are miming at points, but they did record the vocals they are miming to!) and that includes Tom Cruise who manages to do a great version of “Paradise City” and “Wanted Dead or Alive”.

The film has so many highlights in it that I can’t do it justice to just pick a few. The funniest moment of all though has to be the scene between Brand and Baldwin – I am never going to be able to listen to the song they sing again without thinking of the film (I’ll say no more as I really do not want to spoil it for anyone!)

If you have a decent sense of humour, and don’t get easily offended, and you love the 80s then you really have GOT to see this film. It’s only made me even more desperate to see the stage show, and we’ve already said that we’ll be getting the Blu-Ray when it comes out!

And if you want to enjoy the original versions of the songs used in the film and the stage versions you can subscribe to my Spotify playlist – to which I may well add a few additional Eighties classics that didn’t quite make it into the show but definitely deserve a place there. Saying that, if all the classics were to be included in the film and the stage show you would be there for days!

The Spotify playlist can be found here:

Music Review: “Dubbed and Freq’d” TobyMac (and others)

Title:Dubbed and Freq’d (a remix project)
Artist: TobyMac (and others)
Genre: Rock/Hip-Hop/Dance

iTunes / YouTube / Spotify


  1. Made to Love (Telemitry Remix)
  2. No Ordinary Love (G-Man Remix)
  3. Showstopper (Capital Kings Remix)
  4. City on Our Knees (Golden Snax Remix)
  5. Tonight (Capital Kings Remix)
  6. Hold On (Telemitry Remix)
  7. Get Back Up (Broke Remix)
  8. Boomin (UTB Remix) (Featuring Shonlock)
  9. Lose My Soul (Shoc Remix)
  10. Captured (KP Remix)
  11. Ignition (Hot Wired Remix)
  12. Start Somewhere (X-Zach’d Remix)

Review: Taking well-known, and well-loved songs, and submitting them for a remix treatment can be a risky prospect. There are those who cherish the originals and cannot bear to hear any other version than the definitive first one. There are remixes that can miss the meaning and heart of a track, leaving an incoherent mess that doesn’t flow. There are remixes that are nothing more than ramping up the drums’n’bass, adding a techno beat and looping the odd lyric.

Then there are remixes that make you sit bolt upright and re-assess the songs you know so well and hear them in a new way, maybe even picking up on the significance of lyrics that you know but never fully grasped.

For TobyMac fans a remix project is an exciting prospect, especially following the previous remixes of the “Momentum” and some of the “Portable Sounds” albums.

“Dubbed and Freq’d” takes tracks from “Portable Sounds” along with “Tonight” and hands them over to a bunch of folks to work their magic.

Now I must confess to being rather nervous as to what people would do to some of the tracks, especially as “Tonight” is a personal anthem of mine and “City On Our Knees” really stirs my heart… but there was still that excitement – especially as it is a new TobyMac release (although I really am getting desperate for a new full-on album – which I’ve just found out is coming out in August!!!!)

Kicking off with the classic “Made To Love”, mixed by Telemitry, you’re greeted by the familiar tune that’s become a popular concert anthem coupled with some nifty electronica and, yes, some added D’n’B – but that’s not a bad thing. It’s not overdone, and it doesn’t overpower the track. It’s a fresh twist that cleanses and refreshes the palate ahead of the audio feast that lies ahead.

“No Ordinary Love” has been given the Red Bull treatment, with an added dose of steroids. The track is faster, more clubby, and I honestly couldn’t tell you wether I prefer the original or this one. It’s seriously good and the vocal treatment, and added little riffs, elevate this song to a “No Ordinary Love 2.0”

The crowd-bouncer “Showstopper” is given a bit of spit-and-polish, but not as extensive an overhaul as several of the other tracks. It would be great at concerts though, just giving a new and exciting face-lift to really keep the fans on their toes.

The first of the big tests comes in track 4, “City On Our Knees”. It took a little while to grow on me as I’m afraid I fall into the “cherish” category with some songs, and yet this is a genius piece of work. Stripped back in many areas, and giving the vocals a real emphasis, this is ideal for a chillout session and also as a bit of a prayer-time backing. Yes there’s the ever-present D’n’B which won’t be to everyones tastes, but for a different twist on prayer music this really would work well – especially with youth or the young adults.

Without the vocals of Skillets John Cooper, the Capital Kings remix of “Tonight” probably represents my least favourite of the new mixes. It’s not that it’s bad, or even that it’s different to the original – it’s just lacking the added depth that came with the additional vocals from the Skillet frontman. It’s a good track that deserves its place on the collection, but it is the weakest in my opinion. Add in the original vocals, and return the punch that the original had in the chorus, and I really think this would be a masterpiece.

I’m not going to go through each of the remaining tracks individually in detail as the first 5 really do give a good sample of what to expect. So here’s a quick run through of some of them:

“Boomin'” – a chilled out, laid back version that almost contradicts the “Boomin’ out your stereo system” chorus but works in a really surprising way.

“Lose My Soul” kicks off with some sweet piano and is almost a ballad – one to add to a chill playlist!

“Start Somewhere” is full of swoops, sweeps and synths to begin with before kicking into an almost random mix of higher-tempo bits, alvin & the chipmunks lyrics in part and a staccato backing that ties in nicely with the whole “shots we’ve fired” vibe. Can’t help but think there’s a musical elephant in parts of it as well (take a listen and you’ll see what I mean :-D)

Would I recommend this? Oh Yeah! You can’t go wrong with this. Yeah some of the tracks don’t fully work, but your mileage may vary… at the end of the day this is another cracking remix project and deserves a place on your rotation!

Score: 4.5/5