Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - Coming Out of Their Shells (Cover Artwork)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Coming Out of Their ShellsComing Out of Their Shells (1990)
Pizza Hut

Reviewer Rating: 1.5
User Rating:

Contributed by: JohnGentileJohnGentile
(others by this writer | submit your own)

With the dawn of 1990, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles seemed poised to take over the collective pop culture consciousness. Although they had begun their career in the late '70s by fighting crime and brutally killing criminals with medieval weaponry (as told in the biographical work of Eastman and.

With the dawn of 1990, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles seemed poised to take over the collective pop culture consciousness. Although they had begun their career in the late '70s by fighting crime and brutally killing criminals with medieval weaponry (as told in the biographical work of Eastman and Laird), by the mid-'80s, they realized that a kinder, more gentler approach was necessary to captivate the hearts of many. Where they had formerly disemboweled purse-snatchers with razor-sharp sais, now they wrapped criminals in ropes in order to incapacitate. Where they once brutally impaled would-be rapists with katanas, now they sliced off the head of a fire hydrant and knocked the attackers out, allowing them to be handily arrested by the police.

Such an approach worked, and paved the way for the Turtles to star in their own movies and cartoons which allowed them to create a merchandising empire. By the time 1990 had rolled around, their nemesis Shredder had been defeated by being mashed in a garbage truck, as seen in the first TMNT movie, and the Turtles had become a global phenomenon. With most forms of media locked up, the Turtles turned to music to expand both their brand and message.

Embarking on the Coming out of Their Shells Tour, the Turtles toured as a live rock and roll act and played dates across the USA. To help promote the tour, they released the Coming Out of Their Shells album in conjunction with Pizza Hut. Available with the purchase of any large one-topping pizza and collectors' cup (singular), the album was the first–and last–time the TMNT would allow an unfettered look into their personal sides.

Unfortunately, what could have been an intimate portrait that revealed the innermost thoughts of permanent outcasts turned out to be another overproduced, long-winded '80s pop album. The album covers being a teenager, pizza, ninjas, and multiple permutations of those elements. Leonardo, the oldest brother, opens the album with the self-titled song. While the hook "coming out of their shells" has a great deal of metaphorical promise, unfortunately, the leader of the TMNT basically confines himself to the refrain, shielding his thoughts with what is, at best, a semi-catchy refrain.

This continues throughout the album on tracks like "Walk Straight", a tune designed to keep youngsters out of a life of crime. Where Johnny Cash would have told the story of a good man who resulted to crime in a series of bad choices, and allowed the listener to realize the message without any direct reference, the Turtles simply demand that the listener not turn to evil ways. Where Ice Cube would have argued that most crime is the result of exterior forces, the Turtles offer no compassion for those that are forced to break the law.

To be fair, there are some fun beats–if not substance–on the release. On "Cowabunga", Michelangelo, the fun-loving brother raps about how music saved him from a life of crime through rhyme styles developed by the Sugarhill Gang and similar artists. "Pizza Power" opens with remarkable bombast and quickly warps into a Prince-style club jam.

But, no matter how strong the material might have been, the thick '80s production, which would have been passé even when the album was released, kill any sense of feeling or urgency the album might have had. The guitars are too filtered. The drums are obviously programmed. And worst of all, the vocals are so polished that it is difficult to tell one brother apart from another, despite their obviously different accents as seen in both their cartoons and movies.

Interestingly, there is a parallel between the TMNT and another New York group: Bad Brains. Both groups emigrated to the mean streets of NYC–Bad Brains from D.C., and the Turtles from the sewer. Both refrain from eating meat–Bad Brains were devout vegetarians and the Turtles feasted exclusively on pizza. Like Bad Brains, the TMNT preached positivity and doing the right thing. H.R. frequently praised his bearded messiah, Haile Selassie, while the Turtles listened to the lessons of their mentor, the bearded Splinter the Ninja Rat. Unfortunately, while Bad Brains' excursions into heavy metal, funk, and even hip-hop were often more successful than not, the Turtles' foray into those genres bred nothing but mediocrity.

The Turtles are perpetually outsiders, never accepted by their surroundings, nor able to fit in anywhere else, despite that they dedicate most of their days to helping those who would shun them. What could have been a look into the psyche of the noble outsider, along the lines of Damaged or Zen Arcade, winds up being little more than '80s fluff production. This album isn't so much from the half-shell as it is half-baked.


People who liked this also liked:
The Lawrence Arms - Oh! Calcutta!The Gaslight Anthem - Sink or SwimOperation Ivy - Operation IvyThe Gaslight Anthem - The '59 SoundAgainst Me! - is Reinventing Axl RoseAlkaline Trio - GoddamnitJawbreaker - 24 Hour Revenge TherapyDescendents - Milo Goes To CollegeFake Problems - It's Great to Be AliveBanner Pilot - Collapser

Please login or register to post comments.What are the benefits of having a Punknews.org account?
  • Share your opinion by posting comments on the stories that interest you
  • Rate music and bands and help shape the weekly top ten
  • Let Punknews.org use your ratings to help you find bands and albums you might like
  • Customize features on the site to get the news the way you want.
Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
blumtastic (June 9, 2011)

this is the best thing. ever. a true work of genius. (the review not the album)

NeckTattoo (May 24, 2011)

haha. nice job on this.

sumwon (May 23, 2011)

Good review. Stern, but fair.

ozmanx (May 23, 2011)

I was 5 at the time and had pretty much every single TMNT toy around. Good times.

Slazey (May 23, 2011)

Awesome review *doffs hat*.

FLHC (May 23, 2011)

I wasn't alive yet

robalobadob (May 22, 2011)

When I was kid, I went to that tour with my cousins. It was incredible. The merch table had toy versions of all of their weapons. I (my parents) bought light up sais, that I played with for hours afterward until they broke when hit by my cousins nunchuks...

Those were the best days of my life.

coldwaraaron (May 22, 2011)

This album review is fantastic. Just like the turtles.

BluthCo (May 22, 2011)

Best one-album wonder ever.

holy_balls (May 21, 2011)

i used to have the VHS tape of this. VHS!

Hey_Asshole (May 20, 2011)

Also, "Tubin'" and "No Treaties" were the best.

Hey_Asshole (May 20, 2011)

I actually saw this live back in 1990 when they did the tour. I was five years old, and goddamn if it was not awesome. Like most five year olds in 1990, I was stoked for TMNT. Not only did I get to see it live, but I also owned both the videos (actual show and fake behind the scene documentary) and the cassette soundtrack.

In hindsight, this shit was terrible. But, it was totally awesome at the time.

pinkerton (May 20, 2011)

GREAT review!

The TMNT movie soundtrack did have some substance....

there was a rap track that described the entire movie called T-U-R-T-L-E Power

greg0rb (May 20, 2011)

I loved the shit out of the movie soundtracks, but I don't remember ever hearing this!

tenwestchaser (May 20, 2011)

This review was genius. The idea and exuction both. DrGunn, I agree. ChexQuest was fucking sweet. No pun intended. Plus it was built off the original Doom engine.

Cheesetits (May 20, 2011)

Awesome. Although I remember owning the cassette soundtrack to the live action movie, which I remember being heavy on the 90's dance music.

DrGunn (May 20, 2011)

that chex computer game was awesome.

Skibz777 (May 20, 2011)

The fact that Pizza Hut at one time operated something close to a record label is the most mind-blowing food product crossover since specially-marked boxes of Chex came with their own computer games in '96.

jmargs13 (May 20, 2011)

so glad this was reviewed. i've still got it on cassette

jimmynorville (May 20, 2011)

haha, their record label is Pizza Hut.

Ragdoll (May 20, 2011)

I dunno, I gotta give credit to the artists (I mean the actual recording artists, not the fictional turtles). These guys had to know that what they were recording was absolutely meaningless in the pop culture landscape, even back then during the height of the Turtles craze, yet they still manage to push out an utterly sincere performance despite the fact that it's over-produced and loaded with cheesy pastiche.

I'm sure in more than one instance ("April Ballad"), the artist put his or her whole heart into their track before going home and killing themselves.

eatdogs (May 20, 2011)

anybody remember those ninja turtle cream pies you could purchase at the stores??? i think they were microwavable and green. i just remember them lookin' really gross...

littletinyfish (May 20, 2011)

"April Ballad" was always such an album killer. It made the boys hate the girls coz slow and boring.

I still remember the lyrics from Walk Straight some 20 years later. How's that for catchy?

LosPeptobismol (May 20, 2011)

I was so stoked on this when it came out and I still have the cassette. Fuck yeah "Tubin'."

My biggest complaint about this album is that it doesn't include Shredder's rap song from the tour video. It goes, "I hate music! I think it's the worst!" And he smashes some records.

paulsilence (May 20, 2011)

Best of the 90s.

thisguywithtwothumbs (May 20, 2011)

Is this on Netflix?

timorous_me (May 20, 2011)

Look! It's Raph!
Yeah, a little too Raph.

smelltheglove (May 20, 2011)

Leonardo picking up change still gets me every time

eatdogs (May 20, 2011)

oh, and despite the zany quips most punknews readers will post on here, i'd like to say that this was a very well written review...

eatdogs (May 20, 2011)

i have the this on video tape. it was an entire show from one of their tour stops. i always wondered why they looked so different from the movies. i guess their costumes were cheaper and easier for them to move inside of...

oh, and i remember watching the angry videogame nerd and the nostalgia critic do a two-person review over the "documentary" of this tour. it was a lil' funny...

jwinston (May 20, 2011)

Can we get a review of Wrestlemania: The Album already?!? Bret The Hitman Hart is scene as fuck, neon tights and pink sunglasses, he inspired every band on the Warped tour.

victim (May 20, 2011)

Holy crap. I was like, there's a band called TMNT? Took me until he mentioned the Pizza Hut world tour to figure it out

MilesQToast (May 20, 2011)

I just busted this out a few months ago. I still got chills during "we're the turtles, you can count on us..."
::wipes tear::...I know I can guys. I know I can.

mclz (May 20, 2011)

This was my 1st concert in NYC.

Mattthevegan (May 20, 2011)

I found this cassette in my parents' house about a year ago and put it on just to see how bad it was. I can't believe I ever listed to it as a kid, I freaking loved it when I was in 4th grade or so.

5 stars for nostalgia!

eazyd2 (May 20, 2011)

god damn skibz i wish it hadn't taken me 26 minutes to write my comment.

eazyd2 (May 20, 2011)

um the turles didn't refrain from eating meat. their favourite pizza was pepperoni. and michaelangelo also loved anchovies.

colin (May 20, 2011)

hahahaha what the fuck

also this ruled when it came out. but i was 8, so go figure.

Skibz777 (May 20, 2011)

My respect for this site has increased remarkably. Kudos to you all.

EXCEPT.....the Turtles do not "refrain from eating meat". They loved pepperoni pizza. It's even mentioned in "Turtle Power" ("These ninjas are into pepperoni and cheese"), and MC Hammer never lies, except on tax returns. Remember, punks and nerds aren't mutually exclusive groups...we'll be here to catch this stuff.

junknews (May 20, 2011)

if we all give this 5 star ratings, then hopefully it will be listed on the top 20 list at the end of the year.

johngentile (May 20, 2011)

Oh, I wrote it. Alls I can say i that I am not the gate keeper for reviews. I just send them to the toll man and hope he selects them.

Dante3000 (May 20, 2011)

John, I love you like a brother but seriously? Did you write this? And did we publish this? I'm so confused.

Exclusive Streams


Newest Reviews

Punknews.org Team

Managing Editor

Adam White

Contributing Editors

Kira Wisniewski Brittany Strummer Armando Olivas John Flynn Chris Moran John Gentile Mark Little

Copy Editor

Adam Eisenberg Britt Reiser

Podcast Producer

Greg Simpson


Aubin Paul

ISSN 1710-5366

© Copyright 1999-2013 Punknews.org

Terms of Use Privacy Policy Contact Us About Punknews.org

Other Places to Go