“I got into Elvis because I hated going to school, so I would play hooky a lot or cut school, and I’d stay home and watch old movies,” he recently told Rolling Stone. “I remember one day watching Jailhouse Rock. And just going, ‘Whoa.’ By the end of the movie, I was like, ‘This guy’s cool. This is what I want to do’.” He recently paid tribute to his hero by releasing an album of Elvis covers, aptly titled Danzig Sings Elvis.
Danzig first came to prominence in the ‘80s as the frontman and founder of the Misfits. He then went on to lead the band that bears his name, Danzig. With this group, he scored a series of hard rock hits in the ‘80s and ‘90s and was just as famous for his well-greased pecs as his music.
There’s nothing particularly punk or metal about the new record. It’s a collection of root-music-style covers one would usually attribute to the likes of Steve Earle or Marty Stuart. At times, it feels like Danzig is auditioning for an Elvis tribute act. He does his best to channel Elvis’ baritone-heavy vocal style. Danzig mostly eschews Elvis’ greatest hits and instead plays some deeper cuts. Given that Elvis released many covers throughout his career, a better name for this album might have been Danzig Sings Songs Elvis Covered. Although uneven at times, the record serves as a solid tribute to the man who inspired countless artists across the rock n’ roll spectrum.
Here are some of the highlights:
Danzig – Loving Arms (Kris Kristofferson and Rita Coolidge cover)
In 1973, Kris Kristofferson and Rita Coolidge scored a hit with this quiet, soft-rock breakup ballad “Loving Arms.” Since then, it has been covered by a wide range of artists, including Dobie Gray, Etta James, Olivia Newton-John, David Hasselhoff, and the Dixie Chicks. Elvis covered it too, making it fair game for this project. It’s not the type of track you would ever expect Danzig to perform, which is perhaps why it works so well. Danzig plays it as a stripped-down, dark country rocker, and he sings as if he’s channelling Johnny Cash rather than Elvis.
Danzig – One Night (Smiley Lewis Cover)
This is Elvis’ biggest song to appear on the album. “One Night” was first a minor hit for Smiley Lewis in 1956. The original contains the not-so-safe-for-white-audiences refrain “One night of sin is what I’m now paying for.” Though Elvis covered that version too, when he released it as a single he changed the words to “One night with you is what I’m now praying for.” Danzig keeps the lyrics clean too and mostly sings it like the King as well.
Danzig – Fever (Little Willie John cover)
Slow, romantic, and jazzy: three words one does not normally associate with Danzig. Yet he somehow pulls it off with this take on the standard “Fever.” The song was a hit for R&B singer Little Willie John in 1956 and then famously redone by Peggy Lee in 1958. Elvis included the song on his first post-Army album Elvis is Back! The lyrics “what a lovely way to burn,” fits in well with the Danzig songbook too.
Danzig – The Girl of My Best Friend (Charlie Blackwell cover)
This song is a ‘50s teenage ditty about the perils of being in love with your best friend’s girl (a common rock n’ roll theme if there ever was one). It was first recorded in 1959 by Charlie Blackwell. When Elvis covered it for Elvis is Back!, he ensured Blackwell would forever be a footnote in music history. Danzig adds a bit of distortion to the guitar and sings in a dark, brooding tone, making it the most Danzig-esque track on the album.
Danzig Sings Elvis Track List:
- Is It So Strange
- One Night
- Lonely Blue Boy
- First In Line
- Baby Let’s Play House
- Love Me
- Pocket Full Of Rainbows
- When It Rains It Really Pours
- Always On My Mind
- Loving Arms
- Like A Baby
- Girl Of My Best Friend
- Young And Beautiful
Click here to listen to more Elvis covers.