Category Archives: Matt’s Top 25 Cover Songs
When we started our “best of” lists a while back, we never showed each other what our favorites were before we posted them. It wasn’t intentional nor was it a secret…it just ended up that we didn’t share our lists with anyone until it was time to post. Matt’s list of favorite albums and cover tunes was as much of a surprise to me as I am sure mine was to him. Despite being interested in many of the same bands, our musical tastes vary even though we are both huge fans of metal and everything under that umbrella. For the first time, we have actually picked the same favorite #1 on any of our lists. A few weeks ago, we both noticed that neither one of us posted this special cover that we both know each other likes a lot. Low and behold, it’s because it’s sitting at number one. -Reggie
Our thoughts after the jump.
Black Sabbath’s anti-Vietnam classic tune “Into the Void” has been covered numerous times by many different rock and metal bands, but out of the many that are out there, none seem to not only capture the essence of the song, but also elevate it to a ‘higher’ plane. Starting out with a low-key drum procession ushering vocalist Dave Wyndorf acting out the part of a paranoid infantryman in the jungles of Vietnam the slow build up of downtuned guitars begin to add a healthy dose of Jacob’s Ladder to the sound as it trips out into a bit of psychedelia. And then the song proper starts and Monster Magnet simply just own it slipping out here and there to embrace delusions of Charlie round the corner and the Tango sluts dancing in Hell.
While the original is a timeless classic that will never stale, Monster Magnet really went above and beyond the call of duty and injected such a huge amount of color and personality to the tune. When I listen to the Sabbath version I get imagery of the whole broad picture of Vietnam, but when Monster Magnet jam it out it all becomes much more intense and personal. I get the picture of a soldier directly in the bush gripping a rifle as he looks at his dead squadmates and is laughing maniacally as he prepares for his last stand vowing to take Charlie down with him, and maybe dreaming of some surfing afterwards. Enjoy!! Peace Love and Metal!!!
Monster Magnet Version:
Black Sabbath Version:
After I had heard that Djali Zwan cover of Iron Maiden’s “Number of the Beast” I didn’t think acoustic lightning could ever strike twice with an Iron Maiden tune. And wrong I was. It struck twice and harder the second time around when my ears caught onto alt-country star Ryan Adams’ take on Maiden’s “Wasted Years”. Unlike the other cover, the shift into a more somber and stripped mood didn’t completely change the meaning of the song or make it depressing. Ryan’s arrangement still gleams with the positivity of the original but this time around it takes on a more everyman feel to it, something that even my mother could connect with (she’s not the biggest metal head in the world 😉 ). There is loads of emotion and passion added to the song, and that’s a lot given how charged the original is. I really don’t have much else to say about this song other than it gives me chills each time I listen to it. Enjoy!!! Peace Love and Metal!!!!
Ryan Adams Version:
Original Iron Maiden Version:
If there is one band I really can’t stand, it’s The Police (though I will say Stewart Copeland is a sick drummer). Sting’s vocals I find beyond annoying and the amount that they rip-off Bob Marley riffs is staggering, but all to many popular bands with bad vocals and c/p-ed riffs to verbatim exist and they don’t annoy me as much as The Police. What really irks me about the band is underneath all of the crap I can’t stand, exist some wonderfully well written songs that have massive potential if only the obscuring rust were to be scraped away. So in turn, when a band does a cover of a Police song, I usually end up enjoying it immensely, cause ya know, good songwriting and all. Which brings me to my #4 favorite cover song, “Message in a Bottle”.
Robb Flynn and Co. simply just rock this song hard. Doing away with all the fluff, Machine Head bring “Message in a Bottle” to its core and the impact the song has is infinitely more powerful and meaningful. A song about desperation and need of help just doesn’t work with an upbeat light rock feel, but when you metal it up some the whole of the tune hits like a well-directed punch to the gut. I particularly enjoy that dreamy echo on the low-key guitars in the intro and how well the song just explodes into an outburst of emotion when the pre-chorus hits. Some damn fine cover work. Check it out! Enjoy!! Peace Love and Metal!!!!
Machine Head Version:
Original Police Version:
Many a year ago Primus released a neat little EP called Rhinoplasty which contained various covers including an excellent versions of Metallica’s “The Thing That Should Not Be”, Jerry Reed’s “Amos Moses”, and Andy Partrige’s “Scissor Man”. There were also a couple live tracks (with the best version of “Bob’s Party Time Lounge” available) and a neat remix of the Primus classic “Too Many Puppies”. For a quick EP there was a lot of value in the package, but what really got me didn’t hit until about a year later when the technology of a CD ROM drive made its way into my household. I had randomly popped the CD into my computer to have something to listen to while I did some schoolwork and out of nowhere an autostart screen popped up with the Primus logo on it. Naturally I clicked on it. Along with a couple of other things there was an option for a bonus video, catch being, you needed a password to get to it. Having had lost my jewel case for the CD along with the inlay checking the liner notes for the password wasn’t an option. Forgetting about my school work I went and started calling up all my Primus fan buddies to see if they still had the inlay or knew the password. That worked to no avail. OK, option 2. I ran to the record store to see if I could snatch up a copy. No dice there either. And brute forcing the password didn’t work either.
Well, as you can see I was in a little predicament. There was no way I’d be able to get anything done until I sated this obsession to get to this golden bonus material. Luckily I decided to try forcing the sweet, golden, gooey bonus material by trying to find a way to circumvent the password. And, wow, that was easy. Simply browsing the CD in the explorer let me double-click a mysterious file called Devil. Ahhh, but this is back in 1998 and the native Windows 98 player doesn’t recognize the file type and to play it one needs the player on the disc. Want to talk about a frustrating moment. But giving up wasn’t going to happen. I don’t remember the exact steps I took to hack my way into getting the video player on the disc to work stand alone, but after hours of messing with ins and outs, I finally bypassed that damn password and my efforts paid off.
Contained behind that iron curtain was an awesome claymation video for Primus’ cover of “The Devil Went Down to Georgia”, a song I was pretty familiar with at the time as I had a friend whose parents were big into bluegrass and would always be on the stereo when I went to my buddy’s house. It may be the video combined with the effort I put into unlocking the damn thing, but Primus’ version simply just kicks more ass IMO. Les Claypool’s vocals fit the story so well as well as the tweaks made to the song like making the Devil’s fiddle solo more ominous and metal. Sooo, great cover, great video, was worth the effort in unlocking.
And funny story, the next day when I was telling my friends at school how I cracked the video, someone nearby overheard and said he had the CD and the password is ‘Violin’ 😉
Enjoy!! Peace Love and Metal!!!
Original Charlie Daniels Band Version:
Of all songs that I could have never imagined be turned into something of evil, Satan loving retro doomsters Ghost have been able to turn one of the Beatles happiest and most sun drenched songs into something that may now be played before a the sacrificial slaughter of kittens. With just some minor changes in tone and the addition of some organ sounds “Here Comes the Sun” takes on a whole new meaning, and I love it. I really don’t have much else to say other than the original is one of my favorite Beatles songs and Ghost are certainly one of my favorite bands to hit the scene in the past 5 years. This is a perfect example of how to make a cover staying true to the original while completely making the song your own. Enjoy!!! Peace Love and Metal!!!!!
Original Beatles Version:
One classic rock band I always felt were always grossly underrated were the gents in Uriah Heep. They did find a nice chunk of commercial success during the 1970s with their first wave of records including Salisbury, Return to Fantasy, and their most celebrated album Demons and Wizards. But somehow, probably due to the general public’s shift towards a more ‘modern’ sound that pervaded the 80s, the band kind of fell off the map even though they continued to release stellar records. Fortunately the countries of Northern Europe never gave up on the band and they continue to thrive selling out arena shows in that region allowing the band to continue producing records so us in other parts of the world could be graced by their proggy sounds.
Being Finnish and incorporating elements of heroism, pub style sing-a-longs, and fantasy into their music it’s pretty obvious that the popularity of Uriah Heep in Ensiferum’s region played a nice part in helping shape the bands sound. And as most bands do with the artists that influenced them, a cover was sure to be done. Taking one of Uriah Heep’s biggest hits, Ensiferum transformed the folk ballad about the Lady of Death (depending on how you want to interpret the lyrics, as the clever way they are written, different cultures will find many different meanings to the song) into one hell of a raging metal song. Keeping that original feel of “Lady in Black” in tact along with all of its infectious harmonies and memorable progressions, the extra punch of metal transforms a somber yet punchy little ditty into a song of raging heroism. Enjoy (and check out some Uriah Heep if you dig on some classic rock and haven’t done so already, you won’t be disappointed)!!! Peace Love and Metal!!!!
Original Uriah Heep Version:
Every once in a while a band covers a song then ends up sounding like the original artist traveled forward in time, heard a band, and went back to his time and wrote a song and made it a hit just so the future band could cover it and really make it their own. Such is the case with The Revolting Cocks take on the Rod Stewart mega-hit “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy”. The tongue in cheek side project composed of members of Ministry and Front 242 transform the extremely promiscuous for its time song into one of the dirtiest, filthiest, and most depraved covers ever. Rod Stewart’s true intentions with this song were so ahead of its time that he knew he needed another 20 years for people to accept the real get freaky message he originally intended. The tonal change from happy-go-lucky rock which may have inspired some couples to leave the lights on and maybe even engage in oh so famous 69 if they were feeling really adventurous switches to the back alley of a seedy red light district area where things being done with fists, multiple participants, various body fluids, and a plethora of other things I dare not write are being performed. So, without further ado, grab a partner, git nekid, and get filthier than you’ve ever been in your life, just remember to ask if they think you’re sexy 😉 Enjoy!! Peace Love and Metal!!!
On a side note: when going to grab the posting vids, I saw that that show Glee had done a cover of “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy”… Does anyone else think that a group of underage high school kids performing this song is kinda, umm, odd. Maybe NAMBLA has stock in the show. Anywho, just a random thought.
Revolting Cocks Version:
Original Rod Stewart Version:
When I grabbed my copy of Unto the Locust one big surprise other than how absolutely solid the album is was the fact that their choice of cover song bonus tracks included a Rush cover. In case you didn’t know, Rush is one of my Top 1% favorite bands and Machine Head have a pretty damn good track record of making some fine covers, so naturally I was really excited to hear the Machine Head rendition of the kick ass tune “Witch Hunt” off of Rush’s landmark album Moving Pictures. Needless to say I was really impressed with the metal version of the synth heavy song.
Robb Flynn’s vocals work great with the song and somehow make the song sound more ominous and the guitar tone chosen really gives the tune a nice extra metal punch and a cool doom metal feel. I also love how all the synth sections are translated into the 2nd guitar parts and Adam Duce’s awesome work replicating Geddy Lee’s bass lines staying true to the original yet adding a heavy metal attitude to the low-end. Check the songs out and let us know what you thought. Enjoy!! Peace Love and Metal!!!
Machine Head Version:
Original Rush Version:
The first time I heard this cover of one of Iron Maiden’s most celebrated songs, “The Number of the Beast”, it kinda of creeped up on me and caught me off guard. Me and a couple of buddies had rented a movie called Spun from the video shop (remember those?) and not to long after popping it in my ears and brain got a bit confused. I heard the moody acoustic guitars setting the rather depressing tone for the movie, but within a few seconds of the lyrics kicking I started saying this sounds really familiar. Didn’t take me long to catch on that the tune was an acoustic cover. And I don’t know if it was the context of the movie, which is about crystal meth addiction, or just an awesome job rearranging the song, but the lyrics of “The Number of the Beast” take on a whole new meaning in this cover. In the original Iron Maiden version they have a very literal feel to them as images of demons and monsters course through the mind. But here the demons that show themselves are grounded in real life alluding to the number of the beast being drug addiction.
If you have yet to see Spun, do check it out, it’s one hell of a mindrape of a movie filled with wacked out, yet sobering scenes and some terrific acting from Mickey Rourke, Jason Schwarzman, and Brittney Murphy (Trailer). Check out the cover and the original and let us know what you think of this take on The Number of the Beast. Peace Love and Metal!!!!
Djali Zwan version:
Original Iron Maiden Version: