Melvins- Everybody Loves Sausages Review
Posted by Robert Cooper on 07.02.2013
Melvins are here with a very eclectic cover album where they play everything in between Venom and Queen, was it an awesome affair or was it a clunker of covers? 411's Robert Cooper is here to tell you the low down.
2. Best Friend
3. Black Betty
4. Set It On Fire
5. Station to Station
7. Female Trouble
8. Carpe Diem
9. Timothy Leary Lives
10. In Every Dream Home a Heartache
12. Art School
13. Heathen Earth
This review has been in the making for well over a month and a half, which is really sad, because I was really excited about listening to this, but every time I've sat down to do this, I've gotten sidetracked by one thing of another, so here I am, reviewing this here Melvins cover album entitled, 'Everybody Loves Sausages'. I guess a little preamble on Melvines (I often call them The Melvins, but I am wrong), they are from Washington, and have been around much longer than I thought they had. They had been around since the early-80s, which is nuts to me, and they were really influential to the grunge scene, which was also nuts to me. You can probably tell that I'm only aware of them in passing, but I've heard SO many good things about them, that I volunteered to review this album, and almost two months late here we are for an insanely eclectic time with King Buzzo and the gang, as I review, 'Everybody Loves Sausages'.
First track that we get is "Warhead", which was originally done by Venom, and this cover features Scott Kelly of Neurosis on vocals. Just to make sure they are doing a good job on this album, I am actually listening to the original song as well as the cover on this album. This song sounds pretty much like the original version, nothing too off about it, the original song is pretty awesome, so I guess this song gets the same treatment, it's awesome. It has a nice into to it, almost like a train leaving the station, with a slow build up. It also has a really good, sludgy riff to it, and Buzz sounds a lot like Cronos, but I think that was the intention. One thing that they did extra was add a section that was mostly bass driven, and was a pretty solid outro, and I dug the fact that though the song for the most part was similar, they did add one thing towards the end, and it does count in my book.
So from some heavy metal in Venom, we go to the opposite side of the coin in, "You're My Best Friend", which was originally done by Queen. For this song they get a guy named Caleb Benjamin to help out with vocals, and I can't seem to find anything about him, so if anyone else can find anything on him, let me know in the comments, I'm curious. Anyways, this is hilarious to listen to after the heavy Venom cover that came before it. This is so light and poppy, and for the most part, is similar to the original, though I must say that the keyboards do sound more like a Nintendo game than I remember in the original. But this was a pretty hilarious and unexpected cover that I really enjoyed, on to the next song. This next song I actually didn't know was an African-American work song, annd has folk roots to even earlier. Call me uncultured, but I had always associated it with Ram Jam, but regardless this song is a ton of fun, and actually was done in 2011 by Melvins for a VW Beetle commerical, but it lost in the contest to the version done by Blues Explosion. This was a really fast and catchy song, as we all knew it would be, and I feel they add their own flair to it. Not much more to say beyond that, fun and catchy. "Set It On Fire" was originally done by a band that I had never heard of before called, The Scientists, and this song is really the first song (besides Black Betty, which isn't necessarily by one artist) on this covers album to take the original song and make it more their own. The original was really dark and bass driven, and this new version is driven by the guitars and the vocals went from really brooding to much more upbeat, though the subject matter of the song is still kind of dark. This song also features Mark Arm of grunge band Mudhoney on vocals, and he does a really nice job of it, I like it when covers give a different spin on a song, and I love what they did with it. The last second distortion of "Set It On Fire" leads right into a cover of David Bowie's, "Station to Station", featuring J.G. Thirlwell of Foetus on vocals. This is another song that is different from the original, everything except for the beginning has been ramped up on the heaviness scale, making this much more of a metal cover of the song than a straight up rock one, which I like. Though that heaviness of the song had much less progression to it than the original did, but that's fine, it's a different take on the song, and it wasn't a bad one, either, I still do prefer the original, because it does have that progressive change to it, but this was a good listen, nonetheless.
"Attitude" is a cover of a song by, The Kinks, and this cover features Clem Burke of the band Blondie on it. This was a cover I actually liked a smidge more than the original, but that is mainly due to my metal sensibilities. The original was a pretty great track, it had a nice rock n' roll vibe to it, and a good driving beat, as well. This version turned up the speed and the tone, and made it more punk like than the original, but it still maintained the catchiness of it, overal, I dug it. The next song was, "Female Trouble", originally done by Divine, who was an actor, singer, and drag queen who did a lot of work with John Waters. This cover is pretty good, it has a great bass line to it, as does the original, but it really wasn't all that memorable of a song, but it was a good cover, regardless, it probably was just me who wasn't that blown away by it but, oh well. The song after that is, "Carpe Diem", originally by The Fugs, and I must say that this is the first song that I enjoyed the original much more than the cover. The cover wasn't bad at all, but the part where the song goes, "You can't outwalk the angel of death", in the original it stays the same tone, which is hilarious, because the tone is overly happy. In the Melvins version, the song gets a bit heavier there, which I think negates what really makes the original work as well. But still not a bad cover, just not as good as the original. Another song that I found to be a good cover of a decent song is, "Timothy Leary Lives", by Pop-O-Pies, both the original and cover are fast and fun, and pretty much that is it, though I must say that Pop-O-Pies seem like a hilarious band, just by their really short wiki.
The second really long song on this album covers, "Every Dreamhouse A Heartache", by Roxy Music, and I must say that the original song is quite sinister, yet beautiful, and this cover of it, featuring Jello Biafra of the Dead Kennedys on vocals, and former Melvins bassist Kevin Rutmanis on bass duties. This version is different from the original, most noticeably in the fact that it runs almost twice as long as the original. It also decides to keep going at a point where the original song stopped, faded out, and then faded in for another minute of jamming. The cover just forgoes the fading out and james for almost a whole 5 minutes later, and while it does go on for a bit longer than I'd like, I still liked the fact that they just kept on playing even after the original stopped, which is nice, it's not often you see a band almost double the runtime of the original song, and it still feels like an extension of the original. The next song is, "Romance" by hardcore punk band Tales of Terror, and I felt that they did the original a pretty good service. I liked the original quite a lot, more than I thought I would, because I honestly am not a huge punk guy, but I felt the song to be a good one, as was the cover, it kept the same sound and feel of the original, and just like all of the songs so far on this album, I have liked it. The penultimate track on this album is a cover of "Art School", by the British punk rock band, The Jam. The original is a lot of fun, old school punk rock at its' finest, and the cover of it, featuring Tom Hazelmyer of noise rock band, Halo of Flies. He is so much fun doing vocals and guitars on the song, he talks a lot more in the song than there was in the original, including the back and forth, "OY, HEY, OY, HEY" at the beginning that makes me just happy as a clam at the beginning, they also manages to jam another minute out of the 2 minute plus long song, and it's plenty of fun, as it was in the Roxy Music cover before. I think I might like this cover a little more than the original, but it is just by a slim margin, for sure. At the end of our journey comes a really odd cover in, "Heathen Earth", originally done by industrial band Throbbing Gristle. This is hard to really say anything more than I thought they did the original a good service, and while it was an odd outro for this album, seeing as none of the rest of the album was like this, I'd also like to say that it really fit their theme of having no theme, this album really had a different choice in terms of covers, but I enjoyed it. Rating cover albums is hard, because there is not much in terms of new material you can comment on, it's more or less how well they covered the song, or added/subtracted to the song that matters. If one has a problem with the original, you can't fault the cover artist, and luckily, I didn't run into that problem, but it is one I have run into before while listening to an album. This was really my first foray into a full Melvins album, and seeing their influences here, I must say that I am enticed to go listen to more of their studio work. But this was an enjoyable time on its' own, for sure!
The 411: This album was pretty solid in terms of how well the covers worked, as well as the performance on all of those covers, they ranged from good to great. But what makes it to where I can't but this over the score I did is because I don't feel that there was enough original work in this to make it anything more than just a really good listen. It is a very good listen, as I said, a fun one, and it is well worth your time, it's just a standard covers album, but you'll love it if you love Melvins, or just want a fun ride, pick this up.