The current pandemic has seen a rise in the number of covers hastily put together by well-meaning celebs (no, Wonder Woman, just, no), but for each time that ‘Imagine’ has been butchered, there is an album like this one. Don’t let the album title fool you for this is indeed a covers album, and Ellefson, the eponymous solo band of Megadeth bassist and co-founder David Ellefson, have produced a metal covers album that gives Metallica’s ‘Garage Inc’ a run for the money.
Ellefson forms the backbone of each track, with numerous names of the metal world dropping in to lend a hand on each track. Ellefson is David Ellefson on bass (natch), vocalist Thom Hazaert, guitarists Andy Martongelli and Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal, and drummer Paolo Caridi. Plenty of miles between the bunch of them, and judging by the names featured on ‘No Covers’ they have one almighty WhatsApp group chat going on. A handful of the artists appearing are; Charlie Benante (Anthrax), Eddie Ojeda (Twisted Sister), Brandon Yeagley (Crobot), Frank Hannon and Troy Lucketta (Tesla), Mark Slaughter, Jason McMaster (Dangerous Toys, ex-Watchtower, Evil United), Gus G, Doro Pesch, Dave McClain (Sacred Reich, Ex-Machine Head), Todd Kerns (Slash & The Conspirators), Andrew Freeman (Last In Line), Al Jourgensen (Ministry), Russ Parrish AKA Steel Panther’s Satchel (Fight), and more. Although an album by a supergroup mixed with special guests is not a new proposition, it’s the sheer exuberance that Ellefson and company display that makes ‘No Covers’ so damn enjoyable.
Opening with a paint-stripping performance of Priest’s ‘Freewheel Burning’, the album gets off to a flying start. Gus G on guitar, Dave McClain on drums – wow! A total killer way to kick the album off. A riotous version of ‘Tear It Loose’ from Twisted Fucking Sister is aided and abetted by having TS guitarist Eddie Ojeda on hand, and if you are going to get someone to help cover Motorhead’s ‘Love Me Like A Reptile’ then who better than Lemmy’s great friend Doro Pesch? This is a fun album, and it’s easy to imagine the players having a blast as they each put down their parts. Especially on the gonzo bass-heavy version of the Billy Idol classic ‘Rebel Yell’; the full-pelt Def Leppard tribute ‘Wasted’ with Tesla’s Frank Hannon helping out; DC’s ‘Riff Raff’ sounds as larger-than-life as it should considering Dave Lombardo is behind the kit, and on ‘Nailed To The Gun’ Russ Parrish proves why you write him off as a “comedy” player at your peril. Top honours on CD1 do however go to the razor-sharp blast through of the Cheap Trick nugget ‘Auf Wiedersehen’ which happens to feature the instantly recognisable growls of Uncle Al Jourgensen, as well as the always reliable Charlie Benante on drums. Over 1,000,000 views on YouTube already and deservedly so. Man, it is immense.
CD2 opens with another stellar David Ellefson bass performance, this time on a drum-tastic version of ‘LOVE Machine’ from W.A.S.P. – Blackie Lawless hasn’t sounded this good in years, but don’t tell him that. The Kingdom of Fife is represented by Ellefson taking on Nazareth’s version of ‘Love Hurts’ and Hazaert (along with Crobot’s Brandon Yeagley) do the just-gargled-with-windscreen-glass vocals of Dan McCafferty great justice. It’s a pretty straight-up version of a track that has been covered numerous times, and with the lush backing vocal harmonies, it works very well. ‘Sheer Heart Attack’ is another track that has been covered many times, and Ellefson along with Doro serve up a version overflowing with piss and vinegar. Charlie Benante doing again what Charlie Benante does so well: steal the fucking show.
Andrew Freeman from Last In Line knocks it out of the park on a version of Ozzy’s ‘Over The Mountains’ which should have the listener reaching to turn the volume dial skywards (as well as breaking out the air-drums). If ‘Auf Wiedersehen’ took the honours on CD1, then it’s the rollicking romp through Sweet’s ‘Sweet FA’ that seals the deal on CD2. If you have ever caught Todd Kerns taking lead vocals during a Slash, Myles Kennedy & The Conspirators gig, then you’ll know that the Canadian does possess a fine set of pipes, and here he totally nails it. A great tribute to a band that never really gets the recognition that they deserve (Guardians Of The Galaxy aside, obvs). Someone else who deserves more recognition would be Fast Eddie Clarke, and a fine tribute is paid to the Motorhead/Fastway legend with a ballsy, strutting version of Fastway’s ‘Say What You Will’.
If the plan was to take the listener out of the doom and gloom of 2020 and put a smile on their face, then Ellefson has succeeded, and how so. Crank this sucker up because it needs to be played loud. LOUDER!
Review – Dave