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Enough Already! Cover Album Cop Out

Posted on Tuesday, June 29, 2010 at 12:01AM by Registered CommenterBrian Carvell | Comments24 Comments

I admit it! I am tired of the "album of cover songs" trend that bands have established over the past few years. Vince Neil's latest Tattoos & Tequila is just the most recent example of this, but off the top of my head, there is also Poison's Poison'd, Def Leppard's Yeah!, (Phil Lewis') L.A. Guns put out both Rips the Covers Off and Covered in Guns, and Stryper and Pretty Boy Floyd have both announced that their next efforts will be albums of cover songs. However, nothing tops the Kiss My Ass album put out by KISS a few years ago (an album that was simply other bands covering KISS classics...an example of KISS getting paid for doing next to nothing). In my opinion, a cover album is nothing more than a band taking a lazy approach to putting out a new product and it is always done under the guise of "paying tribute to the songs and music that influenced their careers."

Let's be honest...an album of covers is a cop out. The most difficult aspect of creating an album is removed from the equation, as there is no 'writing' involved. Now, this becomes a much more stream-lined approach to putting a product out. The bands simply have to walk into the studio and recreate works that others have already made famous. Sure, some artists will make some creative changes to the songs, but ultimately, the framework already exists. I am not against a band putting one or two cover songs on an album. In small doses, I think that it can definitely enhance an album. But, an entire album's worth of songs (or two in the case of L.A. Guns) not written by the band is just not something I am interested in, and I have to believe that overall, most fans agree with me. Sure, you may buy the album when it is released and you may initially think it is 'cool,' but after a month or so, do you really keep listening to it? How many of you listened to the Poison'd album this week? My guess is not many. Really, would you rather hear Grand Funk Railroad sing "We're An American Band" or Poison? To me the answer is clear, and that is most people want to hear songs performed by the bands that wrote them. In this regard, my hat goes off to RATT, who just put out an album of all original songs that were written in the true spirit of the songs that initially made them famous. They could have taken the easy route and recorded some classic rock songs, but instead they put some time and effort in and made an album that their fans will appreciate and enjoy. I will take Stephen Pearcy's goofy lyrics (i.e. "Rock steady/ your lost weekend/ I'm ready for big fun") over another re-recorded version of "Rock n Roll All Nite" any day.

So, what do you think? Are you sick of the cover album cop-out?

Reader Comments (24)

Yeah, cover albums are boring as hell.
It might seem like a neat solution for a band owing their record company one last album, but covers are a snooze.
June 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSnoot
I am also tired of the cover albums, but to be fair I think L.A. Guns - "Covered In Guns" is not an official release from the band but just another cheap compilation thrown together by Cleopatra records.
June 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRob Rocker
You've said it all !
June 29, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterdamnp78
I think Im in the minority on this one, but done well, I enjoy a good cover album. The best, most recent example I can think of is the Tesla Real To Reel two disc set. The covers they selected and the styles they used to record them totally rock! Hearing those boys singing some classics with their own spin is great. I'll agree that many fall flat...Poison'd & Def Leps definitely fall in that category.

When it comes to KISS, and the KISS My Ass disc, I am completely biased. Being a huge KISS fan, I have several KISS tribute discs...and always enjoy hearing alternative interpretations of their songs. Granted the KISS My Ass was KISS being self serving, but the connection of the artist on that disc to the band as fans was what made it interesting.

Ive listend to Vince Neils new cover disc, and I will shamefully admit that I enjoyed it. (dont tell anyone) :)

So I see your point, and I agree its been last year since I listened to Poison'd, but I often listen to the Tesla discs as well as some KISS cover discs.

Having said all that, yes it can be a cop out, with no new writing, and many of them suck, and it never takes the place of wanting to hear new music instead!
June 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDesign That Rocks
Cover albums, no. Occasional cover songs done creatively, sure. If you're going to play it note-for-note, don't bother...that's what the original is for. But if you're going to do even a slightly different arrangement, then I'll give it a chance. Case in point: Herman Rarebell's version of "Rock You Like A Hurricane" (which will be on the next ep of Hard Rock Nights). It's not the greatest cover in the world, and the original is way better, but he didn't just try to re-create the original. Also, Toad the Wet Sprocket's version of "Rock and Roll All Nite" is pretty awesome.

Tribute albums are a different story, even when it comes to the KISS disc you mentioned. I would rather hear a different arrangement still, but I do enjoy listening to tribute albums.

And then you have the parody cover bands, like Hayseed Dixie (for a good example) and Full Blown Cherry (for a not-so-great example). Hayseed Dixie are just fantastically hilarious and worth every second that you listen to them. Full Blown Cherry seems a bit forced, though.

But yes, I agree, cover albums by bands are generally a bad idea.
June 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJT
I agree for the most part with every thing you said Allyson, but even though I'm not a huge fan of Kiss My Ass I will say at least the artists that participated put their own spin on the songs and not just straight up note for note copies like most cover albums are. To be honest I can't think of the last time I listened to Poison'd, Yeah, or either L.A. Guns album front to back, probably not since the first time I opened them.One or two covers on an album are o.k. if the band experiments with the arrangements a little,and put their own touch on the songs. But, a whole album of covers, definitely not worth my time, and yet I keep on buying them. Maybe I'm the dumb one.
June 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBrian Basher
I'm tired of it too. Remember when Cleopatra used to release those tribute albums and they would be remixed songs done industrial style. Those were a total ripoff. I remember when Cleopatra first started doing the covers thing, quite a few bands I interviewed said it was a quick way to make a fast buck. Can blame that for it. That Vince Neil one is disappointing. I interviewed him a couple times over the last few years and he told me has a lot of original material written. I guess he lied. lol.

Chuck Mydenrocks www.mydenrocks.blogspot.com
June 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterChuck
i also hate covers......
i want new music from artists....
not rehashed versions of songs that have been covered by every band in the world...
i will say this for the def leppard cover disc....
they did it to honor the musicians they listened to when they were young.....
as for the new ratt cd.....
ilove it.......classic ratt sound....
June 29, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterj haynes
I like some tracks on these cover albums, but generally not the whole thing. I will listen to an odd song or two off the albums, but rarely will I play the entire album after the first month or two of owning it (like I will with many other studio releases of original material). The other problem is that it delays getting a new album of new songs by another year (or two, or three, or five...).

The odd cover song is cool, but I've never really been into entire albums of cover songs. As was mentioned above, the KISS My Ass album is cool, but I don't really listen to it that often. I still prefer to listen to the original track or one of the dozen live versions I have.
June 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNIgel
Great comments to everyone - just great stuff here.

@ Brian...I didn't write this one. My friend Brian Carvell did. Just want him to have his credit :)

- Allyson
June 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAllyson
Agree with Brian, Ratt CD is great, all original. I loved Vince Neil's solo stuff and the 2 originals on the new CD. Would have been much better if it was all origina.
June 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJim - Columbus Ohio
It just shows a lack of imagination in the industry. It also shows how creative and innovative that TESLA is.

Who did the first unplugged tour and album - TESLA. Then everybody copied them, right down to song selection.

Who put their own style on really old and obscure cover songs, and recorded them analog like the old days, and had the creative idea to sell one CD and then give away the 2nd CD if you came to see them on tour - TESLA. Then everybody copied them, without the creativity.

Who continues to put out great new albums in the midst of everything - TESLA. Into The Now and Forever More are 2 of the best albums of the last decade, in any style.

Bottom line, if you are going to try to sell yourself as a working band, it is OK to play hits and some covers, but write some good quality new material too or you look like a cover band yourself. Hell, even Steven Adler is writing new material and playing it on tour this summer!
June 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenternirVrana
I don't categorically love or hate cover albums. Some are good, and some are bad. It does seem like a trendy money-grab kind of thing right now, which takes some of the fun out of it. But there have been some seriously good albums. 5-Man Acoustical Jam is brilliant, and for my money it's hard to beat the compilation 'Stairway to Heaven, Highway to Hell'.

In my mind, the key to making a cover song successful is to pick a good song that isn't very well known. That way you can put your own styling on it without everyone always comparing it to the original. 'Signs' is a great example of that, and Metallica has always picked great songs to cover.
June 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBryon
I really like the Def Lep one, but the Poison one was not that good. I had no idea that Vince's was cover, until I read about it a month ago. I was not happy. There are so many great writer's out there, but they COST money, I guess. Now Vince will use his cash for Lawyers.
June 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBrian L
NirVrana, I agree with you in regards to Tesla. Forever More is a fantastic album and I listen to it frequently. I'm not a fan of cover albums but Queensryche put one out a few years ago called Take Cover.It included an opera tune which I thought Geoff did a great job.
June 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKixKixass
I'm 36 and my 50 year old rock n roll junkie uncle says it best - F*ckin' Remakes !!!! Arghhhh !!! I agree with him most of the time, but there are rarities where the remake is better than the original - Metallica/Sabra Cadabra - Tesla/most of the Real to Reel stuff - Ra/Every Thing She Does ,etc...

But I think it boils down to these artists being fans just like us. They pick tunes they like to sing along to in the car and what you to enjoy listening to their experience. I'm sure that Vince picked songs that *gasp* he actually likes. Why not ? Why not share with the world songs that he likes and lets face it, if they aren't redone will just fade into infamy.

I had a bad remake, but I'm all for a good try at remaking a song, especially some obscure ones - Tesla doing Stealin' by Uriah Heap ? It keeps good music new and maybe turn some ears onto songs they normally wouldn't care for.
June 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTravis
I normally have no time for covers but my personal favorite covers album is Retraced by Jake E Lee.If you haven't heard it,check it out
June 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn
Vince only did it so that he can claim to be doing songs from his solo albums on his 'solo' tours.
June 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterChristian
And yes, I agree, the Tesla covers albums were stellar.
June 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterChristian
Wow - I thought I'd get skewered by the readers for my thoughts on this, but I guess most agree with me. Cool.

AND, I forgot to include this in my post, but the ultimate irony is that Steel Panther, a band created for the sake of playing covers, put out an album of all original material!
June 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBrian C.

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