Mixtape Monday, Volume 5: Under the Covers, Part 1

Hello!  And welcome to this week’s installment of Mixtape Monday, wherein I make a mix with a theme.  This weeks theme, as you might have guessed from the title, is cover songs.  There are a fuckload of metal covers out there, so this is definitely going to be a reocurring theme within this recurring series.  Hell, I could do at least three Mondays worth of mixtapes with nothing but Black Sabbath covers.  Enjoy!

1. “Celebrated Summer” by Anthrax (originally recorded by Hüsker Dü) (from Stomp 442 bonus tracks – 1995) – Two of Anthrax’s best-known songs are covers (“Anti-Social” and “Got the Time”), and those are both great covers of great songs (the band also recorded a version of “Anti-Social” with lyrics in French, and it’s every bit as good).  The thing about Anthrax covering songs  (and they’ve recorded a lot of covers) is that they often don’t really add much to the song, i.e., they tend to not make it their own.  Their covers  are usually just played straight, but sometimes I don’t mind that.  This song was recorded during the sessions for their pretty much universally-maligned album Stomp 442.  It’s the second album with John Bush on vocals, and the first without lead guitarist Dan Spitz, and it definitely explored a new direction for the band.  I can honestly understand why long-time Anthrax fans don’t like it, but I fucking love it.  Bush’s voice has a depth and power that really works well with the songs on Stomp 442, and it works just as well on this cover, which happens to be one of my favorite Hüsker Dü songs (the original version is available on 1986’s New Day Rising).  As and added bonus, bassist Frank Bello’s backing vocals are crystal clear on this song, and his voice is fantastic.

2. “Astronomy Domine” – Voivod (originally recorded by Pink Floyd) (from Nothingface – 1989) – This reminds me that I need to get around to writing more about Voivod, because goddamn are they ever amazing.  This song served as the introduction to Voivod for many people, as the video received moderately heavy rotation on MTV at the time.  I chose the version presented here over the Official Video Version, because the Official Video Version truncates the guitar solo, and the solo played here by the late, great Denis “Piggy” D’Amour (RIP) is without question one of my favorite guitar solos of all time (second only to Adrian Smith’s emontion-drenched solo in “Wasted Years” by Iron Fucking Maiden).  The original version of this song is available on Pink Floyd’s first album, 1967’s The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, which is also a beautiful piece of work.

3. “Remember Tomorrow” by Crowbar (originally recorded by Iron Maiden) (from Slave to the Power: The Iron Maiden Tribute – 2000) – I just found out this cover existed last week, and I’m glad I did.  It’s really fucking great, but then how could be anything but?  I’m not very good at mathematics, but even I can work out that if Crowbar = great band, and “Remember Tomorrow” = great song, therefore Crowbar covering “Remember Tomorrow” = really fucking great.  If you need more empirical evidence, note that Crowbar also did a cover of Gary Wright’s “Dreamweaver”, which is not necessarily a great song, but they made it fucking great as well.  The original version of this song is available on Iron Maiden’s self-titled 1980 debut, which you should already own.

4. “Media Blitz” by Brutal Truth (originally recorded by The Germs) (from Need to Control – 1994) – Brutal Truth has gotten some mention here previously, and will continue to be mentioned, because they are an amazing band.  This explosive version of “Media Blitz” features guest vocals from Mike IX Williams of New Orleans sludge metal kings Eyehategod.  His parts are the parts where you can almost understand the lyrics.  The original version of this song is available on 1979’s (GI), which is the only full-length album The Germs ever released, because Darby Crash.

5. “Nobody’s Fault” by Testament (originally recorded by Aerosmith) (from The New Order – 1988) – This cover is so fucking good.  The original version is available on Aerosmith’s 1976 album Rocks, which is probably Aerosmith’s heaviest album, and is a contender for best Aerosmith album (the only other real contender, in my opinion, is 1975’s Toys in the Attic).  I’m not knocking Aerosmith, but they sure did turn to shit.

6. “Symptom of the Universe” by Helmet (originally recorded by Black Sabbath) (from The Jerky Boys soundtrack – 1995) – You might be able to argue that Helmet is not a metal band, but you can’t deny that Helmet is heavy (and this blog is, after all, called Stay Heavy, not Stay Metal)  Their first four albums, in particular, are genital-rattling heavy.  I finally got a chance to see Helmet live in 2005, when they were touring for their “comeback” album Size Matters.  That tour was notable for this long-time Anthrax fan because Frank Bello left Anthrax briefly in 2004-2005 to join Helmet, and I got to see Helmet live with Frank Fucking Bello on bass.  Granted, I would still love a chance to hear original bassist Henry Bogdan play Helmet songs live, but if it had to be anybody other than Bogdan, I’m glad it was Bello.  John Tempesta was also playing drums with Helmet at the time, and that was cool too, but really you could go see just about any metal or hard rock band on any given night, and there’s a decent chance that John Tempesta would be playing drums with them.  But I kid John Tempesta!  The original version of this song can be found on Black Sabbath’s excellent 1975 album Sabotage.

7. “The Small Hours” by Metallica (originally recorded by Holocaust) (from The 5.98 EP- Garage Days Re-Revisited – 1987) – The 5.98 EP… is notable in the Metallica discography for two reasons: firstly, it was the bands first release with Jason Newsted on bass, and second, it’s the most audible that James and Lars ever allowed Newsted’s bass to get on a Metallica recording.  It’s one of my favorite Metallica albums, and it was tough to choose one song from it, but “The Small Hours” is the one that I seem to come back to the most since the release of this tremendous piece of work.  I think it’s the plodding, trudging groove – I’m a sucker for that.  I know pretty much nothing about Holocaust, other than they rode out of England on the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM), and apparently this song originally appeared on an album called Live (Hot Curry & Wine), which was released in 1983, and which has an exceptionally odd title.  Note: today is the mighty Cliff Burton’s birthday (RIP), and I considered replacing this song with one of their covers with Cliff on bass (i.e., “Am I Evil?” or “Blitzkrieg”), but those songs have gotten a lot more play than this one.  I don’t think Cliff would disapprove.

8. “Anarchy In The U.K.” by Megadeth (originally recorded by the Sex Pistols) (from So Far, So Good… So What! – 1988) – Dave Mustaine won’t play this song live anymore, because as a born-again Christian, he’s afraid to sing the opening line (“I am an antichrist…”)  That’s a true story.  This was recorded when Dave knew how to properly channel his anger and aggression.  I placed it after Metallica in this mix just to piss Dave Mustaine off.  The original version is available on the Sex Pistols’ sole album, 1977’s Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols.  Personally, I think you can skip the original, but then I think the Sex Pistols are a load of bullshit, important only for the influence, not unlike Kiss.

9. “Lord Of This World” by Corrosion Of Conformity (originally recorded by Black Sabbath) (from Nativity In Black: A Tribute To Black Sabbath – 1994) – This is not my favorite version of Corrosion of Conformity (that version would be the one that recorded the stellar 1991 album Blind, the only C.O.C. album with Karl Agell on vocals), but they sure played the fuck out of this Sabbath song.  If you can get your hands on a copy of Nativity in Black: A Tribute to Black Sabbath, I recommend it.  It’s not 100% gold, but it’s pretty great for a tribute album.  The original version of this song can be found on Sabbath’s 1973 jam Master of Reality.

10. “Doctor Doctor” by Iron Maiden (originally recorded by U.F.O.) (from “Lord of the Flies” single – 1996) – This song is on the B-side of the second single (“Lord of the Flies”) from 1995’s The X Factor, which was the band’s first release with Blaze Bayley on vocals.  I will definitely be delving into the Blaze Bayley era of Iron Maiden sometime in the near future, because it deserves a delving, but for now, just enjoy this badass jam.  Fun fact: when Iron Maiden performs live, the original version of this song (from U.F.O.’s 1974 album Phenomenon) plays through the house PA before the band starts their show and blows your head clean off with heavy fucking metal.

11. “Dissident Aggressor” by Slayer (originally recorded by Judas Priest) (from South Of Heaven – 1988) – It’s Fuckin Slayer covering Judas Fucking Priest.  It fits in so perfectly in its position on South of Heaven that for several years I didn’t even realize it was a cover.  The original can be found on Priest’s third album, 1977’s Sin After Sin.

12. “Summer Breeze” by Type O Negative (originally recorded by Seals & Crofts) (from Bloody Kisses – 1993) – Type O Negative was a band ahead of its time, and the loss of vocalist/bassist Peter Steele in 2010 (RIP) was all the more tragic in that Steele had essentially started a new chapter in the story of this phenomenal band.  Bloody Kisses was the first Type O album I heard, and I only bought it because I knew they were opening for Pantera on the Far Beyon Driven tour, and I wanted to familiarize myself with them a bit.  I’m definitely glad I did, and I’m also glad I got a chance to see them live, even if my age and my upbringing conspired to make me unable to appreciate their live show to the fullest possible extent.  There are so many great songs on that album, and the band did a lot of other awesome covers (including a live version of Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid” which is more than twice as long as the original), but this song holds a special place in my memory, taking me back to a very specific time and place in the neighborhood where I grew up.  It’s clearly tongue in cheek, as a lot of Type O Negative songs are, but it’s still a little slice of perfection.  The original is much less enjoyable, but can be found on Seals & Crofts’ 1972 album Summer Breeze, if you feel the need to check it out.  A more enjoyable way to hear it is to watch the Freaks and Geeks  episode “Dead Dogs and Gym Teachers”.  That way everybody wins.

13. “Oven” by Pig Destroyer (originally recorded by Melvins) (from Explosions in Ward 6 – 1998) – Pig Destroyer formed in the Washington, DC area in 1997 in order to bring back (in the words of guitarist Scott Hull)  what “grindcore should be”.  They do a pretty sweet job.  They’re worth checking out, and they keep evolving into an increasingly ferocious motherfucker of a beast of a band, but as this song shows, they were already pretty goddamn ferocious at the time of their debut.  As you listen to this song, keep this in mind: when this was recorded, Pig Destoryer consisted of a vocalist, a guitarist, and a drummer.  THERE IS NO BASS ON THIS SONG.  That’s some real shit, right there.  The original version, which is also fucking rad (as it is a Melvins song), can be found on 1989’s Ozma, which features no hits, but which does feature covers of The Cars, Mudhoney, and Kiss.  Note: I believe that Kiss covers are always superior to Kiss originals, but that’s a topic for another time.

14. “Who Sets the Rules” by Napalm Death (originally recorded by Sick of It All) (from Our Impact Will Be Felt: A Tribute to Sick of It All (2007) – Sick of It All is the first hardcore band I ever heard, and Napalm Death is the first grindcore band I ever heard, so this marriage of ‘cores makes my nether regions all tingly.  The original version, which you should definitely seek out, can be found on 1994’s Scratch the Surface, which is the first Sick of It All album I ever heard (and which I still think is their best album).  “Fly by night – scenester! Fly by night – hipster!”  God damn that’s some good shit!

15. “Planet Caravan” by Pantera (originally recorded by Black Sabbath) (from Far Beyond Driven – 1994) – Pantera often gets dismissed by metal purists (by which I mean snobby assholes), who derisively throw terms like “jock metal” and “redneck metal” at the band, all the while failing to see the important role that Pantera played in keeping heavy metal alive in the vehemently anti-metal 1990s.  Far Beyond Driven debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 in the age of Snoop Dogg and Pearl Jam, for fuck’s sake!  To be clear: I realize that metal was never actually near death in the 90s, as the underground was very much alive with death metal, grindcore, and black metal, to name but a few subgenres, but to a lot of people, Pantera was the face of metal in the 90s, and for many more, Pantera was their gateway into heavy metal, and for that reason, if for no other, they should be more widely respected.  Even their first three albums, when they were a full-on Kiss-inspired glam metal band, are good for what they are (I don’t listen to them, but the songs are well-performed), and Phil Anselmo’s debut with the band, 1988’s Power Metal, was heavier, and hinted at what was to come (nevermind the cringe-worthy album closer “P*S*T*88” – I, for one, like to pretend that song never happened).  Everything after that is fucking legendary.  Long live Pantera, and RIP Dimebag Darrell.

As for this song, it’s fucking dope.  I heard this version of this amazingly trippy song about a year before I heard Black Sabbath’s original, from their 1970 masterpiece Paranoid.  Both versions are awe-inspiring.

That’s all for this week’s edition of Mixtape Monday.  Thanks for reading.  Stay tuned for more heaviness, and while you stay tuned, be sure to stay heavy.

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