Now This Is How You Do A Cover Album
Ah, the cover album. It is not rare for a band or artist to cover a song on a regular album, but it is much less often that said artist will make an entire cover album. Popular cover albums have included Guns N’ Roses’ The Spaghetti Incident?, Metallica’s Garage Inc., and Rage Against The Machine’s Renegades. I wouldn’t call any of these albums bad cover albums, but recently I found what has become my favorite cover album, and in my opinion a perfect example of what one should be. It is Cover Up by Ministry, an industrial metal band known widely for their songs “Jesus Built My Hotrod” and “N.W.O”.
So what makes this album an example of how covers should be done? I’ll be glad to tell you. Firstly, A cover album should consist of a wide variety of songs. For example, if Black Label Society does a cover album consisting of only Black Sabbath and Ozzy Osbourne songs, what’s the fucking point? Cover Up does an amazing job of representing different styles of music. “Supernaut” is an old Sabbath song that sounds like it could have been written by Ministry and I would have never known the wiser, but “Lay Lady Lay” and “What a Wonderful World”, by Bob Dylan and Louis Armstrong, respectively, really let Ministry get outside of their own signature sound.
Hand in hand with the last point, though artists should cover different genres of songs, they should make the songs their own. Though I like the song, I just can’t take Guns N’ Roses’ version of “Since I Can’t Have You” seriously with Axl Rose singing falsetto. In Cover Up, “What a Wondeful World” is probably my favorite song just in the way that Al Jourgensen treats it. The first half is sounds much like the original version, very melodic with a piano as the main instrument, while Jourgensen’s deep and raspy voice nicely reflects Armstrong’s. Then, aroud 3:40, the song transforms into what Ministry does best. Guitars on overdrive, a strong and fast beat driven by drums, and Jourgensen shifts back into his trademark shouting.
Finally, have a good number of songs that are at least somewhat popular (or have been in a previous era). People listen to cover albums to hear different takes on songs they like, not to hear songs that might as well be the original version because they’ve never heard of them before. On Cover Up, “Under My Thumb”, “Radar Love”, and “Roadhouse Blues” were new to me, though I’ve grown to love them, but the inclusion of songs like “Black Betty”, “Space Truckin’”, and “Mississippi Queen” made me know I would at least like parts of the album no matter what.
In closing, a good cover album can be a great thing, and a bad one can be a disaster. While Cover Up may not be for everyone, I would definitely suggest it for people who appreciate quality cover songs.