THE PROTOMEN – The Cover Up (2015)
Apart from their music, little is known about THE PROTOMEN other than that the band is based in Nashville, Tennessee. Their stage names are largely references to pop culture films, song titles, and fictional characters.
“The Cover Up” is their just released new album and my first approach to the band – they already have 3 full records and some singles – but judging the quality on offer here, I will keep an eye on this really awesome combo.
Seems The Protomen made a name for themselves by truly impressive live theatrical stage shows, while their musical work is inspired by the first six NES Mega Man video games, developing the storyline featured in the games, manga and anime; however, heavily altering their histories and functions.
But The Protomen are not ‘anime music’. This is a band with a classic rock / FM hard rock foundation with ’80s inspiration, and they are terrific musicians if you ask me.
“The Cover Up” serves to further bridge the gap between their previous album and the next to be released this year.
It’s a covers album of some of the greatest songs from 25 years ago, and if you need a proof of The Protomen’s ’80s freakness, “The Cover Up” only will be available on cassette and vinyl – both including a digital download code – but not on CD.
The band performs these songs at their live shows, and in “The Cover Up” they give a studio polish to them weaving a narrative between these disassociated tracks to create a soundtrack for a fictional film…
The Protomen say their most definitive musical influences are soundtrack movies. In fact, when a new member joins the band, there’s a list of mandatory films to watch. This list includes stylistic ’80s movies like The Lost Boys, Streets of Fire or Eddie and the Cruisers, but also less expected films like The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
The influence of the cultural experience of ’80s cinema is at the core of “The Cover Up” – subtitled ‘Original Motion Picture Soundtrack’.
Out of the eleven songs (plus short interludes), four were lifted straight from movie soundtracks including Rocky IV, Highlander, Top Gun, and the aforementioned The Lost Boys – not to mention their rendition of “In The Air Tonight” famously featured in the feature-length Miami Vice pilot.
Throughout the album, The Protomen seamlessly jump genres from commercial mainstream poppy AOR to new wave to hard rock without the listener ever feeling jilted by the shift.
In the band’s capable hands, their versions of these tracks defy genre and embody the era itself. “The Cover Up” also features four non-musical segues with actors and sound effects suggesting clips from a film that never was – suggesting an underlying story, borrowing heavily from ’80s cinema tropes, and even referencing a classic line or two along the way.
The Protomen haven’t simply covered these tracks; they’ve added to each individual songs’ narrative. While some, like Queen’s “Princes of the Universe” are a relatively direct cover, the Western flavor added to “No Easy Way Out” is a truly unique flavor for Robert Tepper’s original.
In a fun twist, their version of “I Still Believe (Great Design)” is more influenced by the cover from The Lost Boys‘ soundtrack than The Call’s original, as evidence by the saxophone introduced by Tim Cappello for the film.
There’s a crazy version of Iron Maiden’s “The Trooper” and a terrific take on Styx’s classic “Mr. Roboto”, both truly good adding even more mash-up diversity to this enjoyable album.
Their rendition of “I Drove All Night” (written and composed by AOR masters Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly) takes what was a decent Cyndi Lauper song and a Celine Dion mega-hit and gives it a full-on rebirth as a rock love power ballad for the ages.
Whether you’re a fan of The Protomen, ’80s films, FM melodic hard rock, any of the bands covered, or any of the soundtracks or films that inspired this album, you’re likely to fall in love with this record.
It’s a one-of-a-kind experience that could only have been birthed from the cyber future machinations of The Protomen.
“The Cover Up” was recommended to this blog by a reader like you, and I am glad he did it!
01 – Pick Up (instrumental intro)
02 – Because the Night (Patti Smith)
03 – Princes of the Universe (Queen / Highlander OST)
04 – Mr. Roboto (Styx)
05 – No Easy Way Out (Robert Tepper / Rocky IV OST)
06 – Last Stop (instrumental)
07 – In The Air Tonight (Phil Collins / Miami Vice OST)
08 – I Drove All Night (Cyndi Lauper)
09 – Total Eclipse of the Heart (Bonnie Tyler)
10 – Hunted (instrumental)
11 – The Trooper (Iron Maiden)
12 – I Still Believe – Great Design (The Lost Boys OST)
13 – Results (instrumental)
14 – Danger Zone (Kenny Loggins / Top Gun OST)
15 – Silent Running (Mike & The Mechanics)
Raul Panther III – vocals, multi-instruments
Commander B. Hawkins Jr. – synths, vocoder, percussions
TURBO LOVER – vocals, guitar
Sir Robert Bakker – guitar
Ringo Segundo – guitar
Murphy Weller – bass
Reanimator – drums
The Gambler – choir, vocals
K.I.L.R.O.Y. – fist pumps, hand claps, armorer
BUY IT !