When I was younger, I would have quite possibly donated an organ in exchange for some rare Metallica vinyl. Thankfully, these days despite still being a fan, I am slightly less keen to engage in a risky unethical exchange.
During many people’s lifetimes, they often come across certain albums of importance for many reasons. It could be an album that introduced them to a now favourite genre of music, something that opened their eyes or found inspirational or something that brings a deep emotional attachment.
This is an article I first wrote in 2010, but as it was so popular, I decided to update it with more examples and some better explanations. I used to teach students music video production and as part of an introduction lesson I got them to learn and identify the three main types of music video. I thought I’d share this with with those of you who are teaching a similar topic or you are interested in creating music videos for yourself.
I’ll get this off of my chest now, before I move on to the real reason I’m writing about this album. ‘Lulu’ the collaboration between Lou Reed and Metallica is the worst album I’ve ever heard. The reason I don’t like the album apart from the fact that it sounds awful, is just how pretentious it is. They’ve deliberately created this as a legacy project – in the vain hope that years down the line people will regard it as a work of genius. They could describe it as ‘artistic’ and a project of expression. However, the truly iconic examples of artistic works we’ve seen over time, weren’t created for the egotistical pursuit of legacy (at least most of them weren’t).
If you’ve read the About Me section of this website, you will note that I used to be in a metal band called Wasted. We were a bunch of Metallica wannabes at the time and to be honest, we sounded more like a cross between Venom and a bunch of pissed mates doing their best to be metal.
One cool thing we did was a Metallica medley at a bunch of gigs with a mixture of new and old songs including St. Anger (it had just come out). Recently the guitarist and singer dug out an old VHS tape of one of these gigs and hastily uploaded it to YouTube. I’m proud to say I’m about to post it here. I’m semi-relieved I didn’t suck as much on drums as I thought I did…
Looking around in any bookstore and you’ll see a large number of biographies of rock and metal stars. Of course many rock stars never quite got the chance to write about their life, meeting their maker much sooner than many would have wanted.
Joel McIver’s book is no ordinary book of another dead rock star. ‘To Live Is To Die’ is a book about Metallica’s Cliff Burton documenting his early family life and love of music right up until his untimely death in 1986. Right from the beginning it’s clear that this book is very well researched with interviews quoted from people associated with Metallica right from the very beginning of their existence. McIver even took the time to interview many people himself which is why this is a highly reliable and faithful account of Metallica’s genius bassist.
I was listening to Katherine Jenkin’s last album at about 2am last night. I’d heard she’d covered Evanescence’s ‘Bring Me to Life’ and I wanted to know if she killed it or not. To be honest, it wasn’t really killed it just sounded like the original with the band taken away. It’s a risky business trying to cover another track, particularly if it’s music from the last 10 years or incredibly well known. Some artists pull it off by completely changing the vibe and style of the track. Check out James Morrison’s cover of ‘Man in the Mirror’. On paper, it sounds like a vasectomy; in reality, it’s actually quite good and quite clever.
It’s no secret but my favourite band is Metallica. Listened to them for years and I know their music well. Today I had a browse around YouTube (always dangerous) for any covers of Metallica songs. There were some good ones from Disturbed and Nickelback (I know, I was shocked too), but they are just bands covering other bands. So, what happens when clueless record company execs try to be clever and force their talent show winners and social rejects to perform songs which quite frankly, they’ve probably never heard of?
I bring you the three of the most appalling pop covers of Metallica ever heard…
#3 – Avril Lavigne – Fuel
There are going to be some people who’ll moan and say that Avril Lavigne isn’t pop. She’s pop. When her lyrics are about boys, she sings out of tune (chorus of the song ‘Alice’) and she’s from the wrong half of North America (the Bryan Adams half), she’s pop. So here we have her cover of the song ‘Fuel’ performed at the MTV Icon award show. I love the way they’ve tuned the whole thing up a few keys so her emo neck doesn’t explode…
#2 – Aliqua – Nothing Else Matters
Whilst this lot can clearly sing, the instrumental arrangement makes the intro sound like music from Titanic. I’m afraid it’s a sinking ship from start to finish (oh ha ha). I’m sure I’ve seen these girls at the jewellery counter at John Lewis…
#1 – Stefanie Heinzmann – The Unforgiven
Hold me back! Hold me back! This cover version of the 1991 song ‘The Unforgiven’ is surely the most excruciating piece of musical sadomasochism ever recorded. The video has everything. Neon lights, ugly kids and the Man from Del Monte all around a wooden chair which presumably is their tribute to the original music video. Great. I would say I’m surprised that this was allowed to happen, but then I remember that Lars is in the band and probably thought this was ‘really cool’.
All I can say, is that it’s a pity their instruments weren’t plugged in on the second verse at 1:40. Have a listen and get ready for therapy.