Cover Albums: Should they be covered, or just plain buried?

Without dwelling too much on the mess that Record Store Day 2011 was, I’d like to mention that the really cool stuff was the popular bands that did COVER tunes.

The Deftones, The Foo Fighters, Green Day, Jenny & Johnny, My Chemical Romance, Mastadon, and even (sorta) Sonic Youth got in on the action.

Sorry, don’t get me wrong, I love covers from ‘hot’ bands, but there are things that are over 6 years old that really rock better than these and I’m gonna ‘fill your head’ right now.

The Ramones~Acid Eaters was so anticipated for me, for they are probably one of the 5 top bands in the world for me. Acid Eaters was NOT a great album. When The Ramones felt the urge during a concert, they would throw in a cover song and not very often. This is what the magic was all about and this is where it should have stayed. Even help from Pete Townshend couldn’t really save this from being mediocre…but it is what it is.

The Hotrats~Turn Ons is really highly recommended. It (at the time) came on a gorgeous 180 gram ORANGE VINYL and was really creative. The covers were all well thought out before hand. It’s actually the 2 guys from U.K.’s Supergrass , and their cover of the classic Roxy Music top 40 hit from 1975 (Love Is The Drug) is fantastic. The other killer cover is a version of The Beastie Boys ‘You Gotta Fight For Your Right (To Party) done exactly like it was off of The Who Sell Out album of 1967. Even the reference to the parents in The Who’s “Tattoo” song are similar.
I-N-C-R-E-D-I-B-L-E!!!

The other forgotten covers album that is real good is the Canadian band RUSH. You know, I don’t really care all that much for RUSH (or Supergrass for that matter), but the RUSH covers album called ‘Feedback’ is absolutely awesome. It sticks to 60’s covers where the band started their roots probably playing these songs 6 times per night which is why they probably sound so intense and fresh.

Green Day aka The Foxboro Hut Tubs~Stop Drop And Roll. There is nothing really to say about this one. There ain’t a bad song on it. And here is why, it’s simple. Green Day (Billie Joe Armstrong in particular), was born and bred in Berkeley, CA. Case closed. To have that much influence on Bay Area 60’s stuff and all the L.A. and British Invasion stuff….how can he miss???? Incidentally, this IS NOT a covers album. If you’ve had your ears open to The Yardbirds, The Who and The Kinks….then you can call this a covers album. These 3 bands’ riffs, styles, and arrangements are all over it and very easy to recognize, And guess what? The same goes for Green Day’s Grammy winning “American Idiot” album. Those 3 bands are all over that one too. In a nutshell, I can’t think of a more deserving rock and roll album winning across-the-board Grammy awards for about 20 years. Maybe since Metallica or Guns N’ Roses won? “Dookie”, the break-through album from Green Day was no FLUKE now was it?

Another band that must be mentioned here are New York’s The Smithereens. So far they have done 4 covers albums (if you include an album of Rock ‘N’ Roll Christmas Rockers).
In a super gutsy move, the have covered The Beatles twice. I’d be a fool to try to be a rock critic here and say this is missing or that is missing but it’s just The Smithereens having fun doing old Beatles songs. 5 Stars for spirit, baby. The first one was called “Meet The Smithereens” and copied the exact U.S. Capitol debut of the ‘Meet The Beatles” ablum. The second one was called The Smithereens sing Beatles B-Sides And Rarities. NICE JOB GUYS!
Incidentally, for vinyl maniacs like me, these 2 LP’s are available as a 2-Record Set on 180 gram awesome vinyl for like $22.00 from the band’s website GREAT PRICE!!!
The other covers album The Smithereens did was a compilation of The Who’s songs from “Tommy.” It does not have every song, but the typical ones you would expect (dare I say HITS?) are on there. Obviously, The Smithereens are influenced by the 4 B’s (Beatnik, British Invasion, The Byrds & The Beatles.) I’d say that The Beatles especially were top of the list, but , I always felt that when these 4 guys got together to play live that the sound you got was closer to that of The Who. That’s a good thing and they did cover The Who’s lesser known (and my top 5 songs by them) track called “The Seeker” live a lot. I knew the “Tommy” covers CD was really gonna click and it did. So if you ask me which to purchase, The Beatles covers or The Who covers, I’d say get the vinyl of The Beatles AND the CD of “Tommy.” I think I just gave you the answer on what works better without being critical, OK? Long live The Smithereens and Pat DiNizio is like the coolest human being out there…and their Christmas CD ROCKS HARD!!! In a nutshell, you can never go wrong with The Smithereens.

7 other cover albums that come to mind are:
Of course, Metallica’s Garage Days Re-visited series; which are awesome.

Guns N’ Roses~The Spaghetti Incident? which some would bury; but guess what? It blows away the new Chinese Democracy LP (now THAT should be buried). Good luck finding a copy of this on ORANGE VINYL from Holland. 5 years ago they couldn’t sell them for a dollar. Now they go for $250.00 sealed.

Albert King’s ELVIS covers LP called, “King Does The King’s Things” from the early 70’s should be buried for sure….even Hound Dog & Smiley Lewis’ One Night Of  Sin’ couldn’t save it….it was too loungey?

Shelby Lynne’s 2008, ‘Just A Little Lovin’ which is pretty much a covers album of Dusty Springfield and it is really good, but really overlooked by everyone…Dusty was awesome, man…and there’s a great cover of The Young Rascals’ “How Can I Be Sure”? And don’t miss the fantastic “Willie And Laura Mae Jones” where Shelby plays some ripping acoustic slide guitar to the song originally rocked by Tony Joe White in 1968 on his classic Black & White LP available HERE on vinyl.com for a real cheap price as a high quality reissue.

Booker T.& The MG’s~McLemore Avenue ( a straight song list from The Beatles Abbey Road album, and better than the Albert King covers.)

Aaron Neville did one about 6 years ago, I heard it was awesome.

Sarah Vaughan Sings Beatle Ballads (Atlantic 1971), it’s forgotten but it holds up real well now. Many songs ended up on weird Beatles Jazz Covers compilation LP’s.

Hah, let’s just forget The Chipmunks Sing The Beatles (even though it got tons of airplay and sold well in ’65.)

Let’s not forget the hottest ‘punk cover’ band in the world: “Me First & The Gimme Gimme’s” who have put out about 10 singles/EP’s and about 8 LP’s (each with a different theme ie: Country, Show-Tunes, Soul, etc. etc.)

And there you go! Maybe we shouldn’t bury any covers albums after all?
They are what they are….but always interesting!!!

And let’s not forget Ozzy Osbourne! Instead of putting out the same songs on his box set, he did about 1 half of covers and recorded a whole disc of his favorite 60’s covers, nice job Oz, too bad Record Store Day 2011 was a mess and YOU were the ambASSador.

STAY TUNED!

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