Various Artists – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret Of The Ooze (The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

2 out of 5

Label: SBK Records

Produced by: Various

Though essentially repeating the same setup as the first TMNT soundtrack – several funk / soul / hip-hop artists (favoring SBK Records artists), led by a headliner (M.C. Hammer there, Vanilla Ice here), then completed with some John du Prez score entries – the album is also, unfortunately, a mirror of how the movie was the same but different from the prior entry: glossier, less original, and perhaps stupider. That latter term is a tough word to leverage at all legitimate artists, but a good chunk of the material here betrays the difference between the late 80s naivety of TMNT 1 and the neon-colored faux-‘tude of the forthcoming 90s of TMNT 2: previously, the funky beat and hook and a couple of bars of rhymes that described many of the songs was fun, danceable, but had a sense of personality behind it; now it’s Vanilla Ice: very much a made-by-committee sound.

There are highlights. Ya Kid K’s opener – notable as being written for the film, at least given the Turtles-y lyrics – is as densely grooving as any of TMNT 1’s hits; David Hartman’s (That’s Your) Consciousness is built off of a pretty bizarre use of chopped up instrumentation; and Magnificent VII offer up a dated reggae-ish pop familiar to the era that isn’t great, but breaks up the flow pretty well. Elsewhere, though, the magic is lost: where Vanilla Ice falls on your radar aside, his single here is very weaksauce – repetitive, and simple; I wouldn’t say it holds up (though kid me wasn’t a big fan, either). Fifth Platoon’s also-rans hip-hop kinda follows suit, and Spunkadelic can’t match their former 9.95 energy, though the vocal work on Creatures of Habit has oomph.

And then most frustratingly, the John du Prez compositions – as Orchestra on the Half-Shell – are limited to two, with ‘Cowabunga’ a fairly grating remix of TMNT 1 themes; only the Tokka and Rahzar track is worth it, and even that is sort of a miss – though a more amusing one – since it’s partially polka as a joke.