Hard Rock Music Time Machine – 4/28/16 – HARD ROCK COVER SONGS
Each Thursday, Hard Rock Music Time Machine takes a journey back in time to feature a variety of songs that date back as far as the ’70s, the ’80s (the glory days of hard rock), hidden gems of the ’90s and hard rock/metal songs of the new millennium (as recent as a few years ago).
Whenever possible, it will also contain interviews from featured artists discussing the inspiration and meaning behind their songs. On the last Thursday of each month, we will be doing special themes that feature songs based on specific categories or years.
Today’s Hard Rock Cover Songs theme may surprise you a bit when you learn that songs that you may have thought of as originals are actually covers.
In addition to appearing on the embedded YouTube playlist below, all songs featured on Hard Rock Music Time Machine can be listened to individually by clicking on the hyper-linked song titles above each review.
ADAM WALDMAN – (Publisher, Hard Rock Daddy)
ACE FREHLEY – “New York Groove” (1978)
In 1978, the self-proclaimed “hottest band in the world” (KISS), made history by simultaneously releasing solo albums by each of the four members on the same day. You’d be hard-pressed to find people who don’t think that Ace Frehley’s album was the best of the bunch. Nearly four decades after its release, “New York Groove” (the most popular song on the album) still gets airplay.
Up until a few years ago, I thought that the song was written by Ace, but I was wrong. Written by famed English singer/songwriter Russ Ballard, this song was originally recorded by a British glam band named Hello in 1975.
The best cover songs are the ones where the artist not only makes it their own, but makes you forget about the original. “New York Groove” may be a cover, but from the music to the lyrics, it is quintessential Ace. You’d never know that the song wasn’t written by the native New Yorker.
KISS – “God Gave Rock And Roll To You II” (1991)
Russ Ballard is known mostly for his songwriting in the rock world, but he was also the lead singer of British band Argent back in the day. The original version of “God Gave Rock and Roll to You” was written by Ballard in 1971, but did not appear on an Argent album until 1973. In 1977, the song (with modified lyrics) was covered by Petra (a Christian rock band). In 1991, KISS added their own slight alteration to Petra’s version and made the title a bit more unique by adding “II” to the end of it. The KISS version appeared in the movie Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey (a sequel to Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure).
The song has been covered since, but the only version that most people know is the one that KISS made their own in 1991. It’s somewhat ironic that the words that they sang so passionately 25 years ago seem to no longer apply (at least in the case of Gene Simmons, who has infamously declared the death of rock and roll). Either way, KISS deserves credit for taking Ballard’s song and turning it into a cover song for the ages.
ANDY CHEUNG – HRD Music Scout
MACHINE HEAD – “Hallowed Be Thy Name” (2007)
One of the best cover songs in modern metal is Machine Head’s “Hallowed Be Thy Name,” which as we all know, was originally written and performed by the almighty Iron Maiden on their 1982 album, The Number of The Beast. Machine Head’s version of this song appears as a bonus track on their 2007 album, The Blackening. Disregarding the vocal style of Bruce Dickinson, Rob Flynn does the song’s vocals justice with his own brand of signature singing, while at the same time, honoring the integrity of the song. Great guitar work and a strong rhythm section rounds out the musical talent behind this band as they take a classic metal song and transform it into a thrashy, heavier version of itself.
SOCIAL DISTORTION – “Ring Of Fire” (1990)
Being a huge fan of punk rock and old school hardcore, I cannot forget one of the best covers by a band in this genre. Social Distortion covers this Johnny Cash classic on their 1990 eponymous album. A main staple in their live shows, Mike Ness and the guys in Social D capture the feel and intensity of Cash’s classic love song. Social Distortion has evolved over the years from its original Orange County California punk rock sound and attitude to a more mature, refined, rockabilly/country rock feel (with a little punk rock thrown in for the sake of nostalgia). Their cover of “Ring of Fire” exemplifies the transition that this band has made over the years. I won’t lie; whenever they play this song live, it makes me want to jump back into the pit for old time’s sake.
ROB DELL’AQUILA – HRD Music Scout
AT VANCE – “Logical Song” (2000)
German power metal band At Vance closed out their sophomore album, Heart Of Steel, with this driving, neoclassical cover of a Supertramp classic. Oliver Hartmann’s soaring vocals and Olaf Lenk’s crushing riffs bring a welcome new dimension to an old favorite. Also check out their crushing, yet still yearnful, version of ABBA’s “SOS” from the same album, and their cover of ABBA’s “The Winner Takes It All” from their follow-up album, Dragonchaser.
AXEL RUDI PELL – “Fool’s Game” (2007)
German power metal veterans Axel Rudi Pell released this pounding version of Michael Bolton’s song on their 2007 album, Diamonds Unlocked. The whole point of the album was to cover non-metal artists with the band’s signature sound, and they really delivered. From the same album, be sure to also check out covers of U-2’s “Beautiful Day” and Phil Collins’ “In The Air Tonight.”
CHRIS HERZEGOVITCH – HRD Music Scout
LEO MORACCHIOLI – “Black Knight” (2014)
Deep Purple’s legendary “Black Knight” gets supercharged in a cover by Leo Moracchioli, a one-man show from Norway who records, mixes, masters, films and edits the covers and videos. This tribute is a high quality update that is true to the original.
REDEPMTION – “Edge Of The Blade” (2011)
“Edge of the Blade” is the one of the few Journey tracks that would be considered heavy enough to earn a label of “hard rock.” Prog metal masters Redemption inject horsepower and grit, vaulting this tune into the heavy metal sphere. The cover is technically excellent, and respectful to the original, especially the work by Bernie Versailles on guitars and Chris Quirarte on the drums (covering Neil Schon and Steve Smith). This track is from their 2011 album This Mortal Coil, on a bonus disc featuring covers of the band’s favorites.