Don’t Talk to Strangers, said the toughest man in the world…


By Shawn Robare

So I’m a little late to the 60th birthday celebration of Mr. T, but I want to rectify that today by sharing this trade advertisement for the Mr. T’s Commandments EP record that was released back in 1984…

7256579680_001263c6c1_b

I came across this while flipping through back issues of Billboard and was immediately struck by the Godzilla-sized version of Mr. T standing head and shoulders above the building-tops of what I’m assuming is the south side of Chicago (I’m not great with skylines, but that’s what’s referenced in track 3, The Toughest Man in the World.)  I love flipping through these old magazine back issues because it gives me a chance to find stuff I never knew existed, like this EP, and then I get a chance to seek this stuff out and experience it with a fresh perspective (like finding the movie The Quest.)  I was able to track down a copy of the album, a collection of pseudo-rap/r&b aimed at kids and containing 7 tracks of inspirational and educational warnings and thoughts, and give it a listen.  Man, I’m pretty sure at the age of 7, the gruffness in Mr. T’s voice would have easily deterred me from thinking twice about back-talking to my parents or mainlining heroin…

7256869052_79b6486aa7_o

The whole dichotomy between Mr. T’s brutish image and his gospel of walking the straight and narrow is interesting.  I know all the positive vibes are genuine, but the whole massive amount of bling deal and his roles as Clubber Lang and B.A. on the A-Team have always seemed a bit in opposition to his message.  It doesn’t help when he’s belting out lyrics like, “It’s a dog eat dog world, and you have to play the game…”, especially when they’re balanced by “…the toughest man in the world is the one that knows the right way to go…he’s the strongest guy, he don’t never hide…”  I’m not bashing on the T though, trust me I like my teeth just right where they are, in my head and not in a puddle of blood at my feet.  Anyway, adding to the novelty of this record is the rap-direction by the one and only Ice-T.  I have to assume that was a weird combo in the production booth…

On a personal level, I feel a rather weirdly deep connection to this album because even though I don’t remember ever owning or listening to it when I was a kid I did record myself singing a who slew of songs that are almost identical.  I guess it’s probably just a phase that some 80s kids went through.  I mean we had these sort of slogan based anti-everything-bad campaigns hammered into our heads from every direction.  I guess it’s pretty natural to make up songs about not taking drugs or talking to strangers.  Now I wish I still had the audio tapes from when I was a kid to compare them to this album, maybe I did have it and I’ve blocked it out…

7256869188_0c899ac46c_o

There is some pretty fun backing music/beats on the album.  Hints of Parliament, though subtle, and an overall old school hip hop feel.  If you’re interested in hearing this lost gem, head on over to the Lost Turntable and give it a listen.

  • http://www.memoriesoftoymorow.blogspot.com Michael

    WOW ! Thats great! I’m gonna head over and listen, the camo and spandex picture just screams 80′s :)

  • http://www.brandedinthe80s.com/ Shawn Robare

    Lost Turntable – No problem man, thanks for sharing the album!

  • http://www.lostturntable.com Lost Turntable

    Thanks for the mention/credit!