Crowd of Full Pockets

Movie and Music Analysis from One Lacking Any Credentials to Provide It

“Hulk Hogan’s Theme” by WWF All-Stars and “Ravishing” by Bonnie Tyler

After a busy couple of years, Steinman really only released one thing in 1985, which I’m skipping. He wrote and produced “Hulk Hogan’s Theme” for The Wrestling Album, put out by the WWF (now WWE). The album was helmed by Rick Derringer, which probably explains Steinman’s connection, and is probably best-known at this point for unleashing “Real American,” which would eventually become Hulk Hogan’s entrance music during the Hulkamania era. Steinman would then add vocals to that song to create “Ravishing,” the opening song from Bonnie Tyler’s next album. I’m not going to say anything else about “Hulk Hogan’s Theme” specifically, because it is literally the same track just with synthesizers in place of vocals.

Presaging a future collaboration, Andrew Lloyd Weber also (at least according to Steinman) approached Steinman about writing lyrics for The Phantom of the Opera, but Steinman was already committed to do another Bonnie Tyler album, which became Secret Dreams and Forbidden Fire, released in 1986. Unfortunately, the commercial fortunes of their second collaboration were far worse than the first. Where Faster than the Speed of Night had peaked at number four on the Billboard 200 and “Total Eclipse of the Heart” had spent four weeks at the top of the Hot 100 singles chart, Secret Dreams and Forbidden Fire‘s peak chart position was 106 and its highest-charting single, the Desmond Child-written “If You Were a Woman (And I Was a Man),” peaked at number 77.

Steinman did write three songs for this album, though. One of them–“Holding out for a Hero”–had already been released on the Footloose score album, so I’ve already covered that one. That leaves “Ravishing” and the Tyler/Todd Rundgren duet “Loving You’s a Dirty Job but Somebody’s Got to Do It” as the two new Steinman compositions, and neither got anywhere. Critics were unhappy with the album in general, and Tyler would go through a commercial decline (though seemingly not a personal one–good for her) akin to what Meat Loaf had done in the ’80s for the next decade, similarly retreating to a UK-only audience until Steinman returned to the fold, a story for another day.

From the first notes of “Ravishing,” it’s clear that Steinman is still not practicing restraint. Roy Bittan’s bright piano joins a heavy electric guitar from Sid McGinnes and then a mix of electronic percussive sounds that can only be described as “thunderous” from Jim Bralower and Larry Fast that give way to a very ’80s synth strings and drum machine sound. By the time Bonnie Tyler’s vocal and Steve Buslowe’s bass join, the song is already so big and full that it almost feels superfluous. There is hardly a difference between verses and the chorus, with every instrument staying full-blast the entire song. There might be more guitar in this song than in any Steinman production to date, and that plus the overall volume of the track gives a feeling that it’s more of a “rock” song than we’ve heard from him in a long time, but it also means that you’ve heard everything the song does after the first thirty seconds.

The backing vocals have some differences from Steinman’s most recent work, as Holly Sherwood is absent for the first time since Bat out of Hell, replaced by Todd Rundgren (who is also credited with “background vocal arrangement), Curtis King, Cindy Mizelle, and Tawatha Agee. They sound a bit different, and I think Sherwood’s absence probably matters more than any of the additions, but it’s a pretty small difference.

One thing I will definitely say for this song, though, is that I think this sound suits Tyler’s voice much better. She has enough lung power to sound above the wall of instruments and the hoarseness of her voice doesn’t sound nearly as out of place in this much heavier rock arrangement. While I’ve never been the biggest fan of her voice, I feel like this song shows that she would have been far more at home in more of a heavy rock environment.

The lyrics just aren’t saying much. It’s still a pretty shocking move by 1986 standards to have a woman basically singing, “I like sex,” but this song doesn’t seem to have much else to say. It attempts to recreate some of the imagery from “Total Eclipse of the Heart” with “If the devil lost his fire/Could he count on you for sparks?” and “There’s a chance that we’ll be glowing in the dark tonight,” but they feel tacked on to the song rather than being the center of the song, so they just don’t have the resonance that they did before.

At first blush, reading reviews of Secret Dreams and Forbidden Fire that dismiss it using phrases like “pompous” and “preposterously loud” sound like typical critical Steinman reviews. But, at least with “Ravishing,” they have a bit of a point–it’s so big that it kind of swallows itself and nothing gets the room to breathe that Steinman so often gave his earlier work. I almost wonder if getting Rundgren back in the studio with him led him to try to replicate Bat out of Hell‘s overall sound more directly and he just couldn’t quite do it on his own. It’s a fun song with a good hook that sounds great at first but just rather overstays its welcome because it doesn’t do anything else, which is an odd problem for a Steinman song to have.


  • Before getting to it in this project, I had always thought of “Ravishing” as one of my favorite Steinman songs, but I realized as I was getting here that I hadn’t listened to it in years, and the flaws just really jump out to me so much more now than they did previously.
  • I had not actually listened to “Hulk Hogan’s Theme” in years, but listening back to it now, it actually works better as an arrangement of this song, because it just feels smaller without voices. It rather makes me wonder if Steinman really did intend it as an instrumental song rather than this version. That would also explain the weak lyrics–maybe they were a last-minute add-on.
  • I think Holly Sherwood gives some depth to the Dodd/Troyer/Sherwood trio that’s been the backing vocals so often. We will get to a lead vocal from her later, but there you can hear that she has some raspiness in her voice that I think helped those backing vocals. Her absence here seems to leave them a bit lifeless, even though four new vocalists replace her.
  • It’s not a Steinman song but it is interesting to me that “If You Were a Woman (And I Was a Man),” the closest thing this album has to a hit, has the same melody as another song Child would write the same year: “You Give Love a Bad Name” by Bon Jovi.






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