Five Great Covers EPs you should check out

Some bands build their early careers on a well-placed cover, like Van Halen blasting right out of the gate with a redefining take on The Kinks’ “You Really Got Me.” Some bands make a point of avoiding covers altogether. And some love covers so much that at a certain point in their career they’ll release an entire album of the dang things. Buried somewhere in the middle of it all though is the covers EP. For many listeners a covers EP hits a certain sweet spot: enough tracks to feel like a little treat, not so many as to lose focus or have listeners impatiently drumming their fingers waiting for the next album of original material. A covers EP says “dude, listen to these songs that we loved when we were starting out” but it doesn’t say “and you must listen to everything I listened to in order to understand where I’m coming from.” There are countless covers EPs out there but these are my personal favorites. What are yours?

Skid Row – B Side Ourselves

Skid Row released this EP between their Slave To The Grind and Subhuman Race albums, and it stood out for me because in those pre-Spotify/YouTube/iTunes days you couldn’t simply command a song to appear in your ears: you had to either catch it on the radio or encounter its physical representation in the form of a CD or cassette. Wild, I know. So for me, this was the first time I’d heard a song by The Ramones, and although I was already a Jimi Hendrix fan by age 13 I hadn’t yet come across “Little Wing.” The Judas Priest cover features a guest appearance by the metal god Rob Halford himself, and there’s an energy throughout this disc which captures the power of Skid Row in this unique era, when they successfully survived the last days of rock’s hair metal era and before grunge temporarily put the boot in to bands like Skid Row. This was a band with the world at their feet and a song in their hearts.

“Psycho Therapy” (Ramones)

“C’mon and Love Me” (KISS)

“Delivering the Goods” (Judas Priest)

“What You’re Doing” (Rush)

“Little Wing” (The Jimi Hendrix Experience)

Metallica – The $5.98 E.P.: Garage Days Re-Revisited

This EP represented Metallica’s first release with Jason Newsted on bass following the tragic death of Cliff Burton, and the band chose to go back to their roots before diving in to new music. These tracks are all available on the band’s 1998 Garage Inc double album too, but for me they tell an entirely different story when heard in their original context instead of fitting in amongst other covers, B-sides and one-offs. If Garage Inc is the story of a band using their platform as The World’s Biggest Metal Band to shine a light on the songs that inspired them, Garage Days Re-Revisited tells a story of a band who was struggling to cope with the emotion of the situation, and who retreated to the comfort of the jam room and the songs that inspired them in their early days before life became so complicated. 

“Helpless” (Diamond Head)

“The Small Hours” (Holocaust)

“The Wait” (Killing Joke)

“Crash Course In Brain Surgery” (Budgie)

“Last Caress/Green Hell” (Misfits)

Stone Sour – Meanwhile In Burbank…

I get a feeling we’ll be seeing more of this as time goes on: covers EPs that feature songs released post-1990. While most of Stone Sour’s recent covers EP (the first of a trilogy) focuses on tracks from the 1980s, the inclusion of Alice In Chains’ “We Die Young” acknowledges AIC’s rightful place in the Great Heavy Rock Songbook. It’s interesting to note that this EP features songs by Judas Priest and KISS, just like Skid Row’s. And it’s also cool to see a band paying tribute to Metallica, who have done so much to share cool covers with the world.

“We Die Young” (Alice In Chains)

“Heading Out To The Highway” (Judas Priest)

“Love Gun” (KISS)

“Creeping Death” (Metallica)

“Children Of The Grave” (Black Sabbath)

Red Hot Chili Peppers – Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Covers EP

The Chili Peppers released this EP in 2012 as an iTunes-only digital download to celebrate their induction in the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame. The idea was to pay tribute to other bands who came before them in joining the ranks of the Hall. The tracks themselves date from between 1991 and 2011, with three guitarists represented: John Frusctiante, Dave Navarro and Josh Klinghoffer. 

“A Teenager in Love” (Dion and the Belmonts)

“Havana Affair” (The Ramones)

“Search and Destroy” (Iggy Pop and James Williamson of The Stooges)

“Everybody Knows This is Nowhere” (Neil Young)

“I Get Around” (The Beach Boys)

“Suffragette City” (David Bowie)

Rush – Feedback

Alright, this one is probably long enough to qualify as an album if you really wanna stretch it, but this eight-song release clocks in at just over 27 minutes. While most of the EPs covered (ha!) in this list feature songs from the ‘metal and onwards’ era, Rush’s reflects an earlier era, an era we now think of as ‘classic rock.’ Heck, it even includes two songs apiece by Buffalo Springfield and The Yardbirds, and you might as well count “Summertime Blues” as a The Who song too and at them to the ‘two songs by…’ list. What’s really great about Feedback is that it gives the listener a clear indication of where Rush derived their energy, yet it provides virtually no hints whatsoever as to how they developed such a progressive, iconic sound of their own.

“Summertime Blues” (Eddie Cochran/Jerry Capehart)

“Heart Full of Soul” (The Yardbirds)

“For What It’s Worth” (Buffalo Springfield)

“The Seeker” (The Who)

“Mr. Soul” (Buffalo Springfield)

“Seven and Seven Is” (Love)

“Shapes Of Things (The Yardbirds)

“Crossroads” (Robert Johnson, Cream)

New IK Multimedia SampleTank 3 Libraries

Okay, this is freaky because just the other day I sat down with my current drum sample library and started tweaking some sounds to try to get something closer to Neil Peart’s drum sound on Rush’s Snakes And Arrows album. And I was using IK Multimedia’s excellent T-Racks for EQ and compression. And now I open my email and boom: IK Multimedia releases Neil Peart Drums. Using Peart’s Snakes And Arrows kit. It’s a sign!!!

PRESS RELEASE: IK Multimedia is pleased to announce the availability of 3 exciting new exclusive sound libraries for SampleTank 3 for Mac/PC: the Neil Peart Drums, Billy Cobham Drums and American Acoustic Guitar collections.

Read More …

Cool New Stuff From PRS

PRS

PRS Guitars has announced a few very cool new instruments recently: the S2 Vela and the  SE Alex Lifeson Thinline Angelus. PRS says “Anchored by PRS playability and craftsmanship, the Vela is perfect for players who want PRS build quality and reliability with a fresh aesthetic. The Vela is the maiden voyage into an offset body shape for PRS and is both elegant and edgy. Loaded with a PRS-designed Starla humbucker in the bridge and the newly designed PRS Type-D single coil in the neck, the Vela has a bright, punchy tone that sounds great plugged into your pedalboard or straight into an amp. A coil-tap on the tone control allows the Starla pickup to split into single coils and explore a whole new range of tones. The newly designed plate-style bridge holds two brass saddles specifically designed for great sustain and perfect intonation so both rhythm and lead tones sound great no matter where you are on the fretboard.” More info and pics here. Read More …

Rush’s Vapor Trails Gets Much-Needed Remix

Rush_VaporTrails_Remix_Cover-800x800Rush’s Vapor Trails is a great album …but it kinda sounds like crap. Harsh, abrasive, cluttered… it’s a real shame that the mix let it down so badly, because the material and the performances deserve to be heard in their best light, and they’re just …not. But David Bottrill to the rescue! He’s given the album the remix treatment, better framing the sonic nuances of the band as they returned to recording after a rough few years on the personal front. The new version will be available either separately or within the new RUSH: THE STUDIO ALBUMS 1989-2007 boxed set. They’re both due for release on October 1 in the USA and October 4 here in Australia. Here’s the press release: Read More …

New Fender Custom Shop Goodies

Fender Custom Shop Geddy Lee Jazz Bass

It’s always fun seeing what the Fender Custom Shop comes out with throughout the year. It seems that every few months there’s another interesting reissue, unique reimagining or ‘I can’t believe they’re making that!’ artist model. It just so happens that with this newest round of offerings the Custom Shop has made two instruments that have tipped my ‘Oh awesome‘ trigger, as well as two that are simply cool. The two that are currently making me pawn my kidneys are the Limited Geddy Lee 1972 Jazz Bass and the Closet Classic™ Rosewood Telecaster. Are you kidding me? Geddy Lee’s Moving Pictures bass and George Harrison’s Let It Be rooftop-gig Telecaster? Shut up and be owned by me already!!! Anyway, here’s the press release with plenty of info about each model. Read More …

Alex Lifeson & Mojotone Introduce The Lerxst Omega

Lerxst Omega

Okay, so the Marshall Silver Jubilee is one of the coolest amps ever, right? And you don’t see them on the used market very often because when someone finds one they tend to not let it go. Alex Lifeson used one on the recording of Rush’s Clockwork Angels album, and he wanted to take that sound on the road. I guess either he didn’t want to risk the original amp, or maybe it was a rental or something. Mojotone to the rescue! Mojotone tech Steve Snyder created an amp for Alex based on the Silver Jubilee but with some refinements, and Alex responded,

“I am so blown away by the fantastic job you and your colleagues have done creating the Lerxst amp for me. We pulled the Marshall last night after A/B-ing the two. The tonal character is quite similar but the response of the Lerxst has greater immediacy, sustain and grip. It sounds so good!”

So he had them build another for backup. And now you’ll be able to buy your own! Read More …

CD REVIEW: Rush – Clockwork Angels


The release of a new Rush album is always cause for celebration among Our People. Progressive, melodic, virtuosic, energetic, verbose, thoughtful – Rush is music for those of us who like to ponder, think, analyse, and discuss as well as rock out. And Clockwork Angels gives fans more fodder for discussion and immersion than any Rush release to date. It’s their first concept release since side one of Hemispheres and it goes all out, with an accompanying novel to be released later this year. It tells a tale of a steampunk world, oppressive leadership, a surreal carnival, flying ocean liners dashed by deceptive lights on the horizon – it’s almost like a Terry Gilliam film has been teased into a musical rather than visual narrative. And it matters: when you take the lyrical and thematic content on board, Clockwork Angels is an immersive experience. And yet that’s not the reason why this is being called the best Rush album since Moving Pictures by so many fans. The reason is, it’s simply good music. Thought Vapor Trails and Test For Echo sounded urgent and energetic? They’re almost naps compared to the power of Clockwork Angels.

Read More …

Happy Rush Day, Australia!

Today Rush’s new album Clockwork Angels is released in Australia (most other countries have to wait until Monday). It’s utterly, absolutely killer. Lots of people are saying it’s their best since Moving Pictures, and it certainly has its own magical vibe. I guess the closest thing I can compare it to is stuff like the title track of Test For Echo, but there’s a lot more going on than just that. If you’re in Australia, you can get it now (try the link to the right of this article). If you’re in the rest of the world you’ll only have to wait a few more days!

One more thing:

BRING RUSH TO AUSTRALIA!!!