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)

INTERVIEW: Stone Sour’s Corey Taylor

Photo by Travis Shinn

Photo by Travis Shinn

If you look in the current issue of Mixdown Magazine you’ll find my interview with Stone Sour’s Corey Taylor about the band’s new album, Hydrograd (released today). We had a great chat about the band’s incredible new album Hydrograd. But we talked about a lot more than could be fit into that article, so I thought you’d like to see some other highlights from the interview.

I Heart Guitar: One moment in the single Fabuless really made me laugh: the ‘motherfucker’ in the chorus. I have a running joke where I insert unnecessary motherfuckers in songs that really don’t deserve it. Steely Dan or the Beach Boys or something. 

Corey Taylor: [Laughs] Thats funny because I do that all the time when I’m in my car, singing. I’m always adding an unnecessary motherfucker to what I’m singing along to, where it just needs a little more, y’know? I mean I’m sure they would have gotten to the motherfucker eventually but they were too busy with the notes, so people like you and me provide the motherfucker for them.

That song is so eclectic. How did it come together? 

That song came together from Tooch (guitarist Christian Martucci) and Roy (Magora, drums) jamming together. It was one of those songs where when we heard the demo we were like ‘Holy shit.’ It took a little arranging because it was all in different spots – it originally had a totally different feel to it – but the riffs themselves all had a great vibe. I took it and did my magic on it and worked it in with the lyrics that were going on in my head and different melodies and stuff, and it came together really quickly. It was a matter of arranging the puzzle so that the song fuckin’ figured itself out.

The first few times you listen to it you don’t quite know what could happen next. 

Exactly. And that’s the cool thing. I feel like a lot of music doesn’t have that feeling any more, and you can anticipate what the next part is. With a lot of bands you can almost write the fuckin’ next riff in your head before you’ve even heard the song all of the way through for the first time. With this song it keeps you guessing right up until the last minute.

HydrogradSo this is the first record written with Christian Martucci and Johnny Chow. 

Working with those two, honestly, was so effortless. The great thing is it all starts with us just getting along. Really getting along. We all hang out, we all love hanging out and talking shit and joking, and we’re all such dorks that it doesn’t really matter. So writing together is the same thing. We just love what we do so much that we get excited when we hear what we’re doing with the music.

How’s the spine coming along after your operation? Has it affected your range? I was thinking about how when Frank Zappa got pushed off the stage and broke his neck, and after he got rebuilt his voice got lower.

Yeah, that didn’t happen to me. It’s really only a physical thing for me. I’m slowly but surely starting to get my mobility back, and that’s even after a year. It’s been pretty crazy. But luckily I didn’t lose any of my range – actually I got some back because I quit smoking over a year ago, and I’m starting to get my range back because of that. God, if I’d know that would happen I’d have quit ten fuckin’ years ago. But I’m still in the process of rehabbing all that shit, and I’m slowing but surely getting my body back. It’s a fucking pain in the ass but I’m getting there.

I don’t think people realise how physical singing is – how much of your whole body goes into it. 

Oh yeah. You can lose your chops really easily. And not only lose your chops but you can let your talent go to fuckin’ shit, and it can take you years to get that shit back. About six years ago I started to really try to keep myself in shape as much as possible, and as long as it’s worth it you just keep trying, keep going for it.

What guitars are you using at the moment? 

On the road I have three guitars that I’m using, really. I have a 2008 Gibson Firebird that has a couple of Seymour Duncan pickups in it. It has a nice chunky edge to it and a really killer clean tone. Those guitars have a great clean tone. I also have a 1987 Gibson SG out with me that smells like the dude who owned it chain-smoked around it for about 45 years! It’s got the colour, but unfortunately it’s also got the smell, so I named it Keith. So I’ve got that out with me and I’ll probably bring that down with me to Australia when we get down there. And I’ve also got a Framus and I’m thinking about working some magic with those guys. I actually have a Stevie Salas Idolmaker model that I’m using right now and they’re fuckin’ pretty dope, dude. I wanna have them use that base and make a custom for me but give it more of a hollowbody vibe, and put a couple of humbuckers in it and see what happens. I think that could be really fuckin’ cool, because it plays amazingly. It’s got such fuckin’ chunk to it. It’s really great. So those three I’m kinda rotating through, just feeling them out every night.

NAMM 2014: Fender Jim Root Jazzmaster

Jim RootFor a few years now, Slipknot/Stone Sour’s Jim Root has been appearing onstage with a Jazzmaster-based Fender kitted out with his preferred pickup combination of an EMG 81 in the bridge position and a 60 at the neck. Now, finally, you’ll be able to get your hands on one of your very own! The Fender Jim Root Jazzmaster is a very stripped-down take on what a Jazzmaster is: the pisition markers, chrome bridge, dual tone circuits and controls have been jettisoned, replaced by a hard-tail Stratocaster bridge, a master volume control and a 3-way pickup selector switch. The body is mahogany with a comfortable contoured neck heel, satin-finish maple neck with “modern C” profile and large headstock, compound-radius ebony fingerboard (12”-16”) with 22 jumbo frets, staggered deluxe locking tuners, black hardware and pickup bezels, and a Flat Black satin-nitro lacquer finish. Includes black tweed case with red plush interior, strap and strap locks, cable and polishing cloth.

Thanks to Guitar Noize for the heads-up on this one!  Read More …

Cool Video Alert: Stone Sour – Children Of The Grave

House-of-Gold-Bones-Pt.-2Stone Sour have done it: they’ve covered the most perfect Black Sabbath song for them to possibly cover, Children Of The Grave from 1971’s Master of Reality. Check it out in the YouTube video below. There’s a soft spot in my twisted black heart for a good Black Sabbath cover, and I wrote an article about it for Gibson.com a while ago which you can see here. Particularly noteworthy is Type O Negative’s take on the song Black Sabbath, which they play even slower than the doomingly plodding original. Nobody but Type O could get away with a stunt like that. By the way, you can read my interview with Corey Taylor and Josh Rand here. We talked about Stone Sour’s House of Gold and Bones project and of course plenty of nerdy guitar stuff.  Read More …

INTERVIEW: Stone Sour’s Corey Taylor & Josh Rand

House-of-Gold-Bones-Pt.-2There comes a point in every band’s life when they start to long for something more. For some it’s an orchestral collaboration. For others it’s an elaborate narrative stage show. Maybe a film of some kind. Something that extends the creativity of the band beyond the regular album-tour-album-tour cycle. For Stone Sour that moment has come, and it’s manifested itself in the form of House Of Gold and Bones [Roadrunner], a two-part concept album and comic book project being portioned out over an extended timeframe. Musically it’s a logical progression from 2010’s brilliant Audio Secrecy but the project finds the band exploring even heavier territory, further narrowing the gap between Stone Sour and Slipknot, the band that shares two of its members (vocalist Corey Taylor and guitarist James Root). I caught up with Taylor and guitarist Josh Rand after the band’s Soundwave festival sideshow with Linkin Park. Read More …

Stone Sour hit the studio

Great to hear that Stone Sour have returned to the studio to record the follow-up to Audio Secrecy. I gave that album the ‘drag it out after about a year and see if it still holds up’ test last week, in fact, and found myself drawn to it pretty strongly (read my interview with guitarist Jim Root about it here). So I can’t wait to hear what they come up with next.

Here’s the press release.

STONE SOUR ENTER THE STUDIO TO RECORD FOURTH ALBUM

BAND RECORDING WITH PRODUCER DAVID BOTTRILL IN IOWA, USA

ALBUM TO BE RELEASED LATE 2012

Stone Sour, the Gold-certified, Grammy-nominated rock band, are proud to announce that they will begin recording their fourth album in March for longtime label Roadrunner Records. With most of thenew album already written, the band will soon head into Sound Farm Studios just outside of their native Des Moines, Iowa with producer David Bottrill (Tool, Muse, Staind). The album is expected in the Australian spring of 2012, two years after the band’s most recent long player Audio Secrecy, which debuted at No. 6 on the Billboard chart, No. 1 on the U.S. iTunes Rock Album chart, and scored the highest international debuts of the band’s career including Top 5 charts in Germany, Japan and Austria, and Top 10 in the U.K. and Australia.

Read More …

NAMM 2012: Squier Jim Root Telecaster and more!

Oh now this is neat! The Fender Jim Root Telecaster is an incredible instrument and it’s great to see a Squier equivalent.

PRESS RELEASE

SQUIER® BY FENDER® PROUDLY PRESENTS ALL-NEW SIGNATURE MODELS

Models honor pop-rock star Avril Lavigne, metal stalwart Jim Root, alt-rock bassist Mikey Way, and Biffy Clyro’s Simon Neil and James Johnston 

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (Jan. 9, 2012) – Squier is excited to introduce three new artist signature models, the Avril Lavigne Telecaster®, the Jim Root Telecaster®, and the Mikey Way Mustang® Bass. The three signature models promise star-like vibe and tone at incredible Squier value.

The new lavish, black-on-black Avril Lavigne Telecaster joins Lavigne’s chart-topping signature Tele, and features several striking touches, including a three-ply pickguard, knurled black flat-top volume control knob, a black headstock with die-cast turners, and a distinctive 12th-fret skull and crossbones logo.

Designed in cooperation with Slipknot/Stone Sour guitar speed demon Jim Root, the Jim Root Telecaster boasts several foreboding features, most notably an elegant satin-matte finish in black or white, starkly simple single-knob/single switch control layout, black die-cast tuners and other black hardware, and two pulverizing passive humbucking pickups with black covers.

Read More …

BOOK REVIEW: The Orange Flipbook


There’s simply no way to possibly dislike Orange. Their amps sound cool. Their amps look cool. Their amps are reliable. That’s pretty much all you need to know!

Or is it?

It turns out there’s much more to the story than that. One half of The Orange Flipbook, Building The Brand, takes you behind the scenes at Orange, right back to the very formation of the company as a recording studio and musical instrument store, through to later ventures such as music publishing and a record label, all the way up to the brand’s current resurgence in the eyes of the public and in the backlines of bands like Stone Sour and Rush (and innovations like the OPC).

Read More …