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JT’s Ultimate Mixtape: Def Leppard Covered

Def Leppard covers

Congratulations to the great Def Leppard on the well-deserved induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame tonight. A fantastic career, especially the first several albums. Their excellence should have been recognized long ago.

When I started building “JT’s Ultimate Mixtape: Def Leppard Covered,” I was initially disappointed by the lack of eclectic selections available. The deeper I got, though, some real gems popped up. Load these into your player and realize the brilliance of the newest Rock Hall of Famers. Some are straight-forward rockers, while others are countrified renditions, and there’s even an a cappella styling thrown into the mix.

JT’s Ultimate Mixtape: Def Leppard Covered

  • “Rock Brigade” by Bang Tango from The Ultimate Bang Tango: Rockers and Thieves
  • “Wasted” by Seven Witches from Passage to the Other Side
  • “Let It Rock” by Jason McMaster (Dangerous Toys) from Rock Anthems of the ’80s
  • “High ‘n’ Dry (Saturday Night) by The Gravel Pit from No One Here Gets in for Free: Rare & Unreleased. I’m not going to pull any punches here. This sounds slightly better than something my college band would have done in our dorm on our little tape deck.
  • “Bringin’ on the Heartbreak” by Mariah Carey from Charmbracelet. It was either this or a Jethro Tull-ish Jed Davis version.
  • “Photograph” by Malibu Storm from Malibu Storm
  • “Stagefright” by Matt Nathanson from Pyromattia
  • “Too Late for Love” by Crease from Only Human
  • “Rock of Ages” by Kelly Hansen (Foreigner) from Rock Of Ages: Hard Rock Hits Of The ’80s
  • “Action Not Words” by Charlie Bonnet III from JukeBox Bluesman
  • “Billy’s Got A Gun” by House of Heavy from House of Heavy
  • “Love Bites” by Lucky Uke from Lucky Uke
  • “Pour Some Sugar On Me” by Emm Gryner from Girl Versions. If you didn’t click play on the YouTube video at the top of this list, do it. Now. There are a lot of straight-forward covers of “Pour Some Sugar On Me” out there. There are also a lot of off-beat covers. Emm Gryner’s is hands-down the most hauntingly beautiful version of this song ever. Her voice is powerfully soulful. Before I heard her take, I also considered Bristol Love‘s saccharine version and Ely Jaffe‘s toned-down acoustic rendition.
  • “Hysteria” by Daniel Flores from British Metal Invasion: The Greatest Hits Vol. 2
  • “Two Steps Behind” by No Strings Attached from Even Closer. A cappella hair metal, folks. Except not metal at all. I wonder how much Aqua Net they go through in a week.
  • “When Love and Hate Collide” by Patrick Dilley from Southern Sessions Live
  • “Long Long Way To Go” by Lionel Richie from Just For You. The Def Leppard version, released in 2003, was their last song to appear on the UK Top 40 charts. Lionel Richie took his rendition to 20th on the US AC charts in 2004.

Of course, there are a ton of Def Leppard tribute albums available. I am not familiar with any of these personally, but I present them here in a handy-dandy list if you want to give them a spin:

Can’t get enough of the cover songs? The Writer’s Journey has you covered (pun fully intended). Click on these links to check out some strangely familiar songs…

What band should we tackle next?

JT’s Ultimate Mixtape: Mötley Crüe Covered

Motley Crue Covered

I thought about calling this “Crücial Covers” but that seemed a bit too on-the-nose.

Netflix released The Dirt on Friday. I’m not going to recommend that you watch it. I like Mötley Crüe for their music, not their lifestyle. And even then, there is some music by Mötley Crüe I will not listen to. I try to be discerning with the lyrical content, so that knocks out a lot of rock songs. But what is left is often brilliant.

Mötley Crüe is one of the most influential hard rock bands of the 1980s, and their music has stood the test of time. The true test of a great song, though, is whether it can stand up under the scrutiny of a different genre. There are plenty of tribute albums and cover versions that try to stay as true to the original as possible. To that, I ask, “Why bother?” If I want to hear “Too Young To Fall In Love” in the style of Mötley Crüe, then I will listen to the song by Mötley Crüe themselves. This mixtape is not for the traditionalist. It is eclectic and eccentric but not always electric.

JT’s Ultimate Mixtape: Mötley Crüe Covered

  • “Too Fast For Love” by Stone Sour from Straight Outta Burbank. This is one of the most straight-forward cover here. The original appears on Mötley Crüe’s debut record, Too Fast For Love.
  • “Live Wire” by Meghan Kabir. Meghan is an Afghan American singer/songwriter. This version was actually just released on Friday and was used in The Dirt. Her take on this Crüe classic is very ethereal.
  • “Public Enemy #1” by Spiders & Snakes from London Daze. Spiders & Snakes’ lead singer Lizzie Grey played in bands with Nikki Sixx during the 1970s, and co-wrote this song that appeared on the Crüe debut.
  • “Piece of Your Action” by These Idol Hands from Unbound. A little grungy, a little sleazy. These Idol Hands hail from the home of Dunder Mifflin Paper Company.
  • “On With The Show” by The Ataris from Let It Burn. Mötley goes emo/pop-punk.
  • “Looks That Kill” by Susan Hyatt from Pin-Ups & Trumpets. She’s the lead singer for Pillbox, but this trumpet-heavy rendition is anything but grungy.
  • “Too Young To Fall In Love” by Chelsea Lankes from Down For Whatever/Too Young To Fall In Love. This song presented the greatest challenge in picking a version. Lankes’ version is an electro-pop masterpiece, but Steve Taylor’s beautiful piano ballad from Got It Covered (Songs I Didn’t Write, Vol. 1) comes in a close second. But the options don’t stop there. Glorified High School delivers a haunting piano rendition.
  • “Home Sweet Home/Bittersweet Symphony” by Limp Bizkit from Greatest Hitz. Don’t @ me.
  • “Girls Girls Girls” by Richard Cheese. He is the greatest Vegas lounge singer doing rock and pop songs.
  • “Dr. Feelgood” by BulletBoys from Rocked & Ripped. A great song, but Marq Torien and company do little to make it their own. In this case, I would rather listen to the original recording.
  • “Kickstart My Heart” by The Booze Bros. from Two Fo The Show. A jazzed-up acoustic rendition of one of Mötley’s most popular songs.
  • “Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)” by Ben Lee from Family Album: A Compilation. I was introduced to this version in the late 1990s while working for WRFL at the University of Kentucky. I have never been able to track down the album, but the song is available on YouTube.
  • “Without You” by Clare Bowen & Sam Palladio from Nashville Outlaws: A Tribute to Mötley Crüe. A bunch of country artists doing Mötley songs sounds awful to me, but in a couple instances it really works. This is one of my least favorite Mötley Crüe songs, truly a cringe-worthy ballad from my favorite Mötley Crüe album, but the country version is bearable. Not great, mind you, but bearable.
  • “Hooligan’s Holiday” by John Corabi from Unplugged. Is this allowed? The original vocalist of the track, ousted after his one release with the band, recorded a stirring acoustic version of the best song on the album. There is also an acoustic rendition of “Loveshine” on this CD. Corabi has been quite busy lately with his new band The Dead Daisies, featuring the man-of-many-bands Doug Aldrich on guitar. They have released four studio albums, one live album, and four EPs since 2013.
  • “Afraid” by Aaron Lewis from Nashville Outlaws: A Tribute to Mötley Crüe. I’m breaking one of my rules here. Generally, I will not include two songs from the same tribute album, but Aaron Lewis’ southern-fried version of one of the only good songs from Generation Swine is simply fantastic.

If you prefer to just buy a pre-packaged tribute album rather than build your own, there are plenty of options out there. I don’t have any of these in my collection, so I cannot personally recommend any of them.

JT’s Ultimate Mixtape: Tom Petty Covered

Tom Petty best covers of his songs

Tom Petty was an iconic songwriter, with fans young and old. I love Tom Petty’s music, but his last album I really heard was Songs and Music from “She’s the One” from 1996. I have no doubt that I would love everything else he recorded in the past 20 years, but I never felt compelled to seek it out. Regardless of my own negligence of his recent craft, his impact on the world of music was huge. Artists from genres as diverse as country to horror punk have covered Tom Petty songs. Here are some of the best that I have tracked down.

JT’s Ultimate Mixtape: Tom Petty covered edition

JT’s Ultimate Mixtape: Aerosmith covered edition

Aerosmith covered

One of the greatest American rock bands of all time, Aerosmith raised the bar for hard rockers in the 1970s and shocked the music world with a massive comeback in the late 1980s. More than three years ago, I gave the band the “Ultimate Mixtape” treatment, picking my favorite song from each album released by the group.

Countless artists have offered up their renditions of the Bad Boys of Boston’s greatest hits. In this Ultimate Mixtape, I will attempt to collate some of the greatest and most interesting Aerosmith songs covered by other bands. I’m sticking only to officially released songs, and my personal preference is to avoid live versions. While tribute albums are fair game, only one song per tribute is allowed on this compilation. Further, no artists will be duplicated, and each song will only be represented once. So hit play on the YouTube videos below, click the links to buy some records, and rock out like you’ve never rocked out before!

JT’s Ultimate Mixtape: Aerosmith covered edition

Hollywood Vampires by Hollywood Vampires (2015)

hvamps

Hollywood Vampires
by Hollywood Vampires
UMe, 2015
48 minutes

An amazing lineup, great songs, and spot-on performances make the self-titled Hollywood Vampires record a must-have for hard rock fanatics. Of the fourteen tracks, eleven are cover songs or medleys, and they are fantastic. Alice Cooper is masterful as always as the main vocalist, while Johnny Depp and Tommy Henriksen are perfect on guitars. All of the cover songs pay tribute to friends of Cooper who have passed from this life, such as “My Generation” (The Who), “Five To One/Break On Through (To The Other Side)” (The Doors), and “Manic Depression” (Jimi Hendrix). The sultry harmonica-driven intro to Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” creeps into the hard rocker that everyone knows and loves. Cooper has been performing a medley of his own “School’s Out” and Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall” for years in concert; it is nice to finally have a studio version of that medley with original Alice Cooper members Neal Smith (drums) and Dennis Dunaway (bass).

The original compositions fit in perfectly with Alice Cooper’s style. “Raise the Dead” would have sounded great on any Alice Cooper album, and “Dead Drunk Friends” has one of the coolest swaggers ever recorded. Other guest stars on the album include Joe Walsh, Orianthi, Kip Winger, Slash, and Paul McCartney. Joe Perry of Aerosmith shows up for four songs, and Perry Farrell of Jane’s Addiction shares the mic on two tracks. The late Christopher Lee is featured as the narrator on “The Last Vampire,” the first cut on the album.

Hollywood Vampires could be the album of the year.

Check out the Hollywood Vampires’ “Raise The Dead”:

Tracklist: (h/t to Loudwire for providing this information)
1. The Last Vampire
Narration: Sir Christopher Lee
Keyboards and Sound Design: Johnny Depp, Bob Ezrin and Justin Cortelyou
2. Raise the Dead
(Johnny Depp, Bruce Witkin, Tommy Henriksen, Alice Cooper, Bob Ezrin, Rob Klonel)
Vocals: Alice Cooper
Guitars: Johnny Depp, Tommy Henriksen, Bruce Witkin
Drums: Glenn Sobel
Bass: Bruce Witkin
Background Vocals: Alice Cooper, Tommy Henriksen, Bob Ezrin
3. My Generation
Vocals: Alice Cooper
Guitars: Johnny Depp, Tommy Henriksen
Bass: Bruce Witkin
Drums: Zak Starkey
Background Vocals: Tommy Henriksen,
4. Whole Lotta Love
Vocals: Brian Johnson, Alice Cooper
Guitars: Joe Walsh, Johnny Depp, Orianthi, Tommy Henriksen, Bruce Witkin
Harmonica: Alice Cooper
Drums: Zak Starkey
Bass: Kip Winger
Programming: Tommy Henriksen
Backing Vocals: Alice Cooper, Tommy Henriksen
5. I Got a Line
Vocals: Alice Cooper, Perry Farrell
Guitars: Joe Walsh, Johnny Depp, Tommy Henriksen, Bruce Witkin
Drums: Abe Laboriel Jr.
Bass: Kip Winger
Background Vocals: Perry Farrell, Tommy Henriksen, Bob Ezrin
6. Five to One/Break on Through
Vocals: Alice Cooper
Guitars: Robby Krieger, Johnny Depp, Tommy Henriksen
Drums: Abe Laboriel Jr.
Farfisa: Charlie Judge
Bass: Bruce Witkin
7. One/Jump Into the Fire
Vocals: Alice Cooper, Perry Farrell
Guitars: Robby Krieger, Johnny Depp, Tommy Henriksen, Bruce Witkin
Drums: Dave Grohl
Bass: Bruce Witkin
Keyboard: Bob Ezrin, Bruce Witkin
Programming: Tommy Henriksen
8. Come and Get It
Vocals: Paul McCartney, Alice Cooper
Guitars: Joe Perry, Johnny Depp
Piano: Paul McCartney
Drums: Abe Laboriel Jr.
Bass: Paul McCartney
Background Vocals: Johnny Depp, Alice Cooper, Abe Laboriel Jr., Bob Ezrin
9. Jeepster
Vocals: Alice Cooper
Guitars: Joe Perry, Johnny Depp, Tommy Henriksen,
Drums: Glenn Sobel
Bass: Bruce Witkin
Programming: Tommy Henriksen
Background Vocals: Bob Ezrin
10. Cold Turkey
Vocals: Alice Cooper
Guitars: Joe Perry, Johnny Depp, Tommy Henriksen
Drums: Glenn Sobel
Bass: Bruce Witkin
Programming: Tommy Henriksen
Background Vocals: Alice Cooper, Tommy Henriksen
11. Manic Depression
Vocals: Alice Cooper
Guitars: Joe Walsh, Johnny Depp, Tommy Henriksen
Drums: Zak Starkey
Bass: Bruce Witkin
Piano: Bob Ezrin
12. Itchycoo Park
Vocals: Alice Cooper
Guitars: Johnny Depp, Tommy Henriksen
Drums: Glenn Sobel
Bass: Bruce Witkin
Programming: Tommy Henriksen
Background Vocals: Alice Cooper, Tommy Henriksen, Bob Ezrin
13. School’s Out/Another Brick in the Wall Pt. 2
Vocals: Alice Cooper, Brian Johnson
Guitar: Slash, Joe Perry, Johnny Depp, Tommy Henriksen, Bruce Witkin
Drums: Neal Smith
Bass: Dennis Dunaway
Background Vocals: Kip Winger, Bob Ezrin
14. Dead Drunk Friends
(Johnny Depp, Bruce Witkin, Tommy Henriksen, Alice Cooper, Bob Ezrin)
Vocals: Alice Cooper
Guitars: Johnny Depp, Bruce Witkin
Drums: Glenn Sobel
Programming: Tommy Henriksen
Bass: Bruce Witkin
Piano: Bruce Witkin, Bob Ezrin
Background Vocals: Alice Cooper, Johnny Depp, Tommy Henriksen, Bruce Witkin, Bob Ezrin

Learn more about UMe.

Learn more about Hollywood Vampires.

Purchase Hollywood Vampires by Hollywood Vampires.

JT’s Ultimate Mixtape: Jimi Hendrix covers edition

Jimi Hendrix covers

Jimi Hendrix is one of the most innovative guitarists of all-time. Much of his music, which seemed otherworldly in the 1960s when first released, still seems futuristic today. It is timeless rock and roll, and his influence will forever be heard on rock radio.

Two of Hendrix’s well-known songs, “All Along the Watchtower” and “Hey Joe,” are actually cover songs. The left-handed axeman put his unmistakable stamp on both of them and the originals are all but forgotten; honestly, when is the last time you heard Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower”?

Not only did Hendrix take the music of other people and put his own spin on it, others have paid tribute to the fallen icon by covering his music over the past 45 years. Below are just a few of those covers. In creating this list, I have attempted to avoid “tribute albums,” focusing rather on bands who chose to include a Hendrix song on their own records. I have also limited each artist to only one cover song, so Stevie Ray Vaughan only appears once in the list. Further, each song is only represented once, so “Fire” does not appear 3,752 times.

Of course, none of them measure up to the greatness of Jimi Hendrix, but it is good to see such a diverse collection of artists offering up their versions of both classics and forgotten tracks and keeping the music of Hendrix alive for younger generations to discover.

JT’s Ultimate Mixtape: KISS covers edition

KISS COVERS ULTIMATE MIXTAPE

It is truly amazing the scope of KISS’ influence on pop music. Hard rock, bubblegum pop, rap, and country artists all devoured the music of KISS, and many paid tribute to “the hottest band in the world” by covering their songs. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but it is even more enjoyable when you can take another group’s song and make it your own. Below are some of the bands that have attempted to channel their inner Demon/Star Child/Spaceman/Cat through their own interpretations of KISS classics. For the purposes of this “Ultimate Mixtape,” I have decided to exclude songs that appear only on multi-band tribute albums devoted entirely to KISS. Also, to prevent a mixtape of twenty different versions of “Detroit Rock City,” each song may only appear once in the list.

JT’s Ultimate Mixtape: KISS covers edition

This is a very short list; what songs have I missed? What other versions of the songs above trump my selections?

Still hungry for more KISS covers? Check out these tribute albums:

Offbeat cover songs

Cover songs are a dime a dozen, and most of them can be thrown away pretty easily. Either they are so poorly performed, pale in comparison to the original, or are so faithful to the original to make them unnecessary. But when done well, cover songs can be thrilling. Think about Jimi Hendrix covering Bob Dylan’s “All Along The Watchtower.” Completely different arrangement and delivery, making it almost unrecognizable but still unforgettable.

A good recent example is this Krokus song from the new album, Dirty Dynamite. Listen to it carefully…do you recognize it at all?

So who did Krokus cover? Who was the original artist for this song?

That’s the Beatles, folks. They took that classic pop song and turned it into a sticky sweet 1980s ballad, complete with a crying guitar solo. I absolutely love Krokus’ version of this song.

How about Reggie Watts’ version of “Panama”…which is really nothing like the Van Halen song at all, but still pretty interesting.

Have you ever thought, “I wonder what ‘Stairway To Heaven’ would sound like if it had been performed by the Doors instead of Led Zeppelin?” Wonder no more, my friends…

Alex Skolnick, guitarist for metal band Testament, also has a jazz band that covers heavy metal songs. Check out “War Pigs” below:

If jazz isn’t your thing, how about flamenco guitar? Benjamin Woods did an album called Flametal of cover songs, like Ozzy Osbourne’s “Bark At The Moon”…

One more for this post, and then we’ll turn it over to the comments section…The Byrds singing “Friday,” a song originally written and recorded but never released by Bob Dylan. The song was made popular a few years ago by Rebecca Black.

So now it’s up to you…tell me some of your favorite offbeat cover songs in the comments, with a YouTube link if you can find one!

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