Personnel: The Pile Drivers (background vocals).
Photographers: Bill Otten; Len McAlister.
Every professional wrestler has a gimmick, and Exotic Adrian Street was most certainly no exception. A Welsh grappler who won his first match in 1956, Street was a journeyman fighter until he became a hit on the U.K. wrestling circuit when he remodeled himself into "Exotic Adrian Street." Exotic Adrian was a brutal but effeminate character who wore his hair in pigtails, donned glitter and sequins before he entered the ring, and sometimes caught his opponents off guard by trying to kiss them or grab their backsides. There was nothing subtle or tasteful about Street's character, but it made him a star in the U.K., and eventually allowed him to move on to the more lucrative fields of American pro wrestling. Street had moonlit as a singer in his early days, and in the '80s he decided to cash in on his success by cutting a few songs written to celebrate his outrageous character. Originally released in 1986, Shake, Wrestle 'n' Roll collected Street's oddball tunes into one LP, and if it's often a bit shaky as music, there's no arguing it's entertaining, especially for wrestling fans who aren't troubled by less than politically correct humor. Street isn't a great singer, but he's not awful -- imagine a less tuneful version of Dave Faulkner of the Hoodoo Gurus -- and he's certainly game, having fun playing with his "Exotic" sexual ambiguity along with his capacity for both violence and undercooked meat. In 2016, Street's "sissy" act would not go over well (and for good reasons), but on tunes like "Something Very Strange About a Cowboy" and "Imagine What I Could Do to You," he's clearly playing on that which lurks on the other side of machismo, tweaking the assumptions of an audience that looks for "manly" entertainment. These tunes were clearly recorded on the cheap, with clanky drum machines and undernourished production, but Street's instincts as a showman ultimately carry the day. Shake, Wrestle 'n' Roll may be low humor, but it's low humor with style and enthusiasm, and fans of vintage pro wrestling and eccentric British comedy will want to give it a listen. ~ Mark Deming