Rock And Roll Time Machine –
Rock And Roll Time Machine takes a journey back in time to feature a variety of songs that date back as far as the late ’60s.
In addition to appearing on the embedded YouTube playlist below, all songs featured on Rock And Roll Time Machine can be listened to individually by clicking on the hyper-linked song titles above each review.
ADAM WALDMAN – (Publisher, Hard Rock Daddy)
Welcome to the first edition of Rock And Roll Time Machine. This “new” feature is actually just a re-branding of Hard Rock Music Time Machine (which has been running for years on Hard Rock Daddy).
So, why the change?
Hard Rock Music Time Machine has evolved through the years, taken on different incarnations, and featured a number of different contributors. The one thing that always felt limiting about it (and Hard Rock Daddy for that matter) is the need to only share music that fell into the hard rock and metal categories.
Although my passion is mostly for hard rock and metal, there are a number of artists whose music I greatly admire that just didn’t have a natural fit on the site. With the newly branded Rock And Roll Time Machine, there is an opportunity to cast a wider net to share music that has deep meaning to me (and to our readers).
Beyond the scope of the artists that will be covered, there are other changes that come along with this re-branding…
For the moment, Rock And Roll Time Machine is going to be a twice monthly feature as opposed to the weekly Hard Rock Music Time Machine. This may increase over time depending on a few factors.
Hard Rock Music Time Machine was always limited to Hard Rock Daddy contributors. While I will continue to share my picks, as will Suzanne Bracken, we are now going to open this up to submissions from readers and artists.
Lastly, rather than sharing random songs from the past, each edition of Rock and Roll Time Machine will feature a theme. Once a month, the feature will be based on a variety of different criteria, and the other edition will travel back in time to a specific year.
We kick off this re-branded feature with some of our favorite cover songs…
KISS – “God Gave Rock And Roll To You II” (1991)
What better way to launch Rock And Roll Time Machine than with my favorite cover song about rock and roll. Serendipitously, it turns out to be a timely pick as well.
“God Gave Rock And Roll To You II” was originally recorded for the Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey soundtrack in 1991. It was just announced this week that the third installment in the series – Bill & Ted Face The Music – is now in pre-production.
Like many, I had no idea that “God Gave Rock And Roll To You II” was a cover song when I first heard it. Though the melody line is similar, Argent’s 1973 original version of the song lacks the anthemic feel that KISS delivered with their interpretation. The original sounds like a song that very much belongs in the ‘70s. The KISS version, on the other hand, is a timeless classic that has remained a staple in the band’s live set.
The song was also featured on KISS’ 1992 album, Revenge. What makes “God Gave Rock And Roll To You II” somewhat bittersweet is the fact that this is the last recording that featured Eric Carr before his passing. At the time of the recording, Carr was actually too sick to do the drum parts, so his last contribution to the band is limited to providing backing vocals. Thankfully, the backing vocals are a big part of what makes this song so special.
There are a few other aspects of this brilliant cover that helps to distinguish it from other KISS songs. Gene Simmons has stated that “it’s not just a cover song for a soundtrack, but a testament to Eric Carr, and I think a lot of people don’t realize that.”
This is one of the few songs where Simmons and Paul Stanley share lead vocals. It also has the distinction of being one of the few non-makeup year songs that remained in the set when the band went back to wearing makeup.
KISS may not have written “God Gave Rock And Roll To You II,” but they made it their own enough to justify slightly altering the title. With all due respect to Argent, the KISS version of this song is far superior to the original.
JUDAS PRIEST – “Diamonds And Rust” (1977)
When it comes to cover songs, it’s hard to think of a band that makes them their own more than Judas Priest. The beauty of what they did with “Diamonds And Rust” is taking a folk song and turning it into a heavy metal anthem that has stood the test of time for over four decades.
“Diamonds And Rust” was originally a Top 40 hit by Joan Baez in 1975. The lyrics tell the story of Baez’s relationship with Bob Dylan from a decade prior. Baez originally told Dylan that the song was about her ex-husband, but later revealed the truth that he was the inspiration.
Judas Priest originally recorded “Diamonds And Rust” with the intention of including it on 1976’s Sad Wings Of Destiny, but it ended up on 1977’s Sin After Sin instead.
Though any song featuring Rob Halford’s vocals is instantly recognizable as Priest, what I’ve always found interesting about the galloping rhythm of their version of “Diamonds And Rust” is that it has an Iron Maiden vibe to it.
Lyrically, the song paints a vivid mental picture (which is common for folk songs). On a personal level, the lyrics have always connected with me because of my appreciation for nostalgia and the location mentioned (“the crummy hotel over Washington Square”).
Although it’s not likely for many Judas Priest fans to have a great appreciation for folk music, I would strongly suggest checking out Baez’s original version of the song. There’s a beauty to it that gives the story a more melancholic feel, unlike Priest’s, which feels more angst-ridden and aggressive.
To her credit, Baez loved what Priest did with the song. Check out the full story here.
ELTON JOHN – “Pinball Wizard – Tommy Soundtrack” (1975)
Elton John is, unquestionably, a music legend of our time. He has had over 50 Top 10 hits in a career spanning over five decades (not to mention his massive success scoring soundtracks and musicals). More than one generation has a deep love and appreciation for John’s music, from his early singer-songwriter masterpieces to his adult contemporary works.
Aside from the music, his philanthropic efforts on behalf of AIDS research have raised hundreds of millions of dollars for HIV prevention, education and care. He will be remembered for all of the above and so much more, but for a brief period in the mid-1970s, EJ was not only cool, but a bonafide rock star.
As a kid, I remember hearing that the film adaptation of the Who’s rock opera Tommy was in production. For me, the most exciting news was that EJ would be playing the role of the Pinball Wizard. My friends and I all ran out to get the double album (a pricey purchase for a kid in those days) and anxiously awaited the movie’s release.
EJ’s version of “Pinball Wizard” is as glam, energetic and fun as the man himself.
In the film, he is wearing giant red Doc Marten inspired boots, oversized glasses and sequined suspenders. But it’s the music itself that truly shines. Elton and his band took this song to another dimension, from an otherwise good song, to a truly great one. Although the members of the Who stand behind him in the film (presumably as the backing band), it was actually Elton’s stellar band performing this song.
We all knew and appreciated this fabulous band, and there is no doubt whatsoever that it was Davey Johnstone’s guitars, Nigel Olsson’s drumming, Dee Murray’s bass and, of course, Elton’s piano that really made this version rock. In my opinion, it’s much better than the original.
It remains the only cover of a Who song to reach the top 10. This song is a fine example of EJ’s band at their ‘70s hard rock best. It will surely make you long for rock star Elton and the great decade that was the ‘70s.
CHRIS CORNELL – “Stay With Me Baby – VINYL (HBO) Soundtrack” (2016)
As we approach the anniversary of the death of Chris Cornell, the pain has not subsided. I’m still grieving, as are many other fans. He is irreplaceable and missed daily. Jerry Cantrell put it best when he said “It’s never going to make sense. It’s never going to feel right. And it’s always going to hurt.”
That said, I look for comfort in the incredible body of work that he left us. A close second to my love of hard rock is my love of soul music. Cornell was not only versatile, but was so open to many genres, embracing them effortlessly. Such is the case with “Stay With Me Baby.”
Cornell’s performance of “Stay With Me Baby” is flawless. I am forever grateful for his cover of this classic soul song, originally recorded by Lorraine Ellison in 1966. It has been recorded by artists as diverse as David Essex, Bette Midler, Duffy, and Janis Joplin. It was English rock legend Terry Reid’s version (Cornell’s favorite) that inspired him record it for the short-lived HBO series, VINYL (about the 1970s music scene in New York).
Cornell’s heartfelt, anguished, soulful performance of this song, begging his lover not to leave is all the more heartbreaking in the context of his untimely death. We all wish that he would have stayed so much longer with us.
This, along with his last release before his passing (“The Promise”) and his first posthumous release (“You Never Knew My Mind” – an adaptation of Johnny Cash’s poem), are proof positive that he was still at the top of his game until the very end.
Interested in contributing to a future edition of Rock And Roll Time Machine?
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