Ben Shragge

Ben Shragge is a native son of Hamilton, Ontario. He has written an acclaimed article about crunk, album reviews for a rock and roll webzine, and an M.A. thesis you probably aren’t going to read. He thinks more bands should perform covers, because all the best songs have already been written. He has put together such unreleased, available-only-on-his-iTunes cover albums as Gathered in their Masses: Celebrating the (Black) Sabbath, The Off-White Album: Beatles Beaten Black, and Surrogate Bands: In the Flesh of Floyd. He tweets @BenShragge.

Trekkies, Hessians and absurdists, the day you didn’t know you’d been waiting for has arrived: William Shatner is working on a metal covers album! L.A. Weekly reports that Mike Inez (Alice in Chains), Zakk Wylde (Black Label Society) and Peter Frampton (Peter Frampton) will be manning the bridge. Other probable guest stars include Steve Howe (Yes), Ian Paice (Deep Purple), Brian May (Queen), Bootsy Collins (Parliament-Funkadelic) and the ghost of Ricardo Montalban (we wish).

Apparently all the songs are to have a “space” or “flying in space” theme. They will include “Space Odyssey” (The Byrds), “Iron Man” (Black Sabbath), “Learn to Fly” (Foo Fighters), “She Blinded Me with Science” (Thomas Dolby) and, inexplicably, “Bohemian Rhapsody” (Queen). Continue reading »

In their concert film Rattle and Hum, Bono introduces U2‘s live cover of “Helter Skelter” by declaiming, “This is a song Charles Manson stole from the Beatles. We’re stealing it back.” Fighting words!

“Sweet Dreams” is a song Marilyn Manson stole from Eurythmics. At a recent New York concert, the adorably-titled rock/soul group Fitz and the Tantrums (the singer is named Michael Fitzpatrick) steal it back. They come armed with a jauntily-hatted saxman, a sexy dancer/hypewoman/tambourinist and a frontman with a haircut that could slice butter. Do they succeed? Judge for yourself below. Continue reading »

Nu-metal is dead, but the balls-to-the-wall chorus of Drowning Pool’s “Bodies” will live on forever. In case you can’t remember, it goes something like this: “LET THE BODIES HIT THE FLOOR! LET THE BODIES HIT THE FLOOR! LET THE BODIES HIT THE AAARGH!”

With those five words (six if “the” is counted twice, seven if you count “aaargh”), nu-metal was finished as a genre. What could Mudvayne or Limp Bizkit possibly add? Had he ever read Shakespeare (unlikely), Fred Durst may well have paraphrased Macbeth: “From this instant / there’s nothing serious in mortality: / All is but toys: renown and grace is dead; / The wine of nu-metal is drawn.” Continue reading »

Christmas is a festival of light and joy. As such, those into darkness and sorrow often feel excluded. Party-planners may find themselves asking, “How do I get my congenitally unmerry guest into the holiday spirit?”

We reply: add the following five Christmas carols to your playlist, and even the grinch laid out on the couch will stand up and sing – or at least sit up and nod before collapsing into a ball of self-pity. Continue reading »

On her second release, singer/songwriter/pianist Diane Birch unites with neo-soul outfit The Phenomenal Handclap Band for The Velveteen Age, a seven-track cover collection of dark eighties/early nineties cult hits. Album cover aside, however, little here suggests the tunes’ stygian origins. Exuberance, not melancholy, is the dominant atmosphere.

To say Diane Birch and The Phenomenal Handclap Band reimagine gothic rock as pop would be misleading. Classics of the genre like the Sisters of Mercy’s “This Corrosion” and Siouxsie and the Banshees’ “Kiss Them for Me” were rousing pop songs from the start. Rather, Diane Birch and The Phenomenal Handclap Band reimagine these songs as seventies pop, complete with Motown and doo-wop flourishes. On “This Corrosion,” Sisters’ singer Andrew Eldritch self-consciously refers to his outsider rock as “selling the don’t belong.” By giving the dark side of the eighties/early nineties a retro feel, Diane Birch and The Phenomenal Handclap Band repackage that same “don’t belong” for a new audience. Continue reading »

Full Albums features covers of every track off a classic album. Got an idea for a future pick? Leave a note in the comments!

From the political science of “War Pigs” to the applied pharmacology of “Fairies Wear Boots,” Black Sabbath‘s Paranoid features seven of the most iconic heavy metal songs of all time…and an instrumental ditty with the evocative title “Rat Salad.” Ozzy Osbourne‘s original wail forever eclipses his latter-day cries of “Shaaaaroooon.” Tony Iommi is the Lennon/McCartney of doom-laden riffs. Geezer Butler and Bill Ward make a mean rhythm section and an even meaner rat salad. And as the following covers demonstrate, the quartet’s hard rock mastery sounds good in any genre. Continue reading »

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