The Omega Man as a lounge singer is already a strange concept but imagine that last man on earth is Jim Peterik (of Survivor, 38 Special, etc.) and you’re getting close to understanding how his latest solo record The Songs comes across as a bizarre affair. If you’re not familiar with Peterik, then you’re actually just not familiar with his name. His tunes are pretty much synonymous with ‘80s hard rock action moments, especially those starring Sylvester Stallone. If that’s still not ringing any bells, “Eye of the Tiger” is Peterik and if you still don’t know what I’m talking about, then welcome to Western civilization. The Songs is an apt title for Peterik’s latest solo effort as it takes a slew of his best known radio hits (and there are a lot of them), strips them down, and re-imagines them with a team of hired guns in Nashville. Instantly recognizable ‘80s hard rock anthems are jarringly presented as loungey piano pieces, acoustic pop, light country, and even swelling orchestral lusciousness.
We’re introduced with light organ steps punctuated by an occasional heavy fall on an isolated, lonely rendition of “Vehicle” originally performed by Peterik’s band The Ides of March. This sort of sets the tone for the record but ultimately there’s too much variation to think so with confidence; especially when followed by two familiar Survivor tracks: “Is This Love” as stripped down light acoustic country complete with pedal steel guitar and “Eye of the Tiger” as…bluegrass?
As Peterik deconstructs and reconstructs an array of hits, it becomes strikingly clear that these are actually carefully crafted tunes. “Eye of the Tiger” may have lost meaning in a seemingly endless stream of parodies so hearing it re-born in a gust of fiddles and banjos with Peterik’s soulful, commanding vocals is stunning. No matter the arrangement or the genre, this is pretty much a constant reaction throughout the duration of The Songs. This may be most evident on a swelling version of Peterik’s collaboration with The Beach Boys “That’s Why God Made the Radio.”
Scrutinizing walks down memory lane aside, Peterik also released a brand new track directly inspired by the 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting entitled “We All Bleed Red.” Unlike the often stripped approach to The Songs, “We All Bleed Red” brings back the full ‘80s action anthem qualities that built the majority of Peterik’s success. Despite an unbridled lament for the victims of the tragedy, the track is bursting with the fist-in-the-air optimism that is Peterik’s signature.