Cover Classics takes a closer look at all-cover albums of the past, their genesis, and their legacy.
We’ve seen a few different motivations for forming supergroups, but another one is to gather together to pay homage to others. One recent example: the Sylvain Sylvain tribute by Halloween Jack, made up of Gilby Clarke (formally of Guns N’ Roses), Eric Dover (of Jellyfish), Stephen Perkins (of Jane’s Addiction), Dan Shulman (formerly of Garbage), and Steve Stevens (guitarist for Billy Idol)).
Hollywood Vampires is made up of Alice Cooper, Johnny Depp (super in a different way, but showing off his musical skills here), and Joe Perry (of Aerosmith). Although they have since worked on originals, their self-titled first album is (mostly) a cover album where the songs are chosen to pay tribute to rockers who “died from excess” in the 1970s. The irony of this is that the band is named after the drinking club for celebrities formed by Cooper in the ’70s.
Throughout their time playing together, the band has had guest features from other big stars, actors and musicians alike. They have postponed their European Tour twice now due to the pandemic, but hopefully fans will get a chance to rock out when the world settles down a bit more.
Hollywood Vampires starts out with a dramatic reading by Christopher Lee from the book Dracula. The album then continues with an original that references rock songs of the greats with mentions of “paint it black” and “the reaper.”
Hollywood Vampires – My Generation (The Who cover)
The first cover on the album was well chosen to be a crowd-pleaser and is probably the most well-recognized song present. Who doesn’t want to hear this group jam out to “My Generation?” There isn’t anything fancy happening here; it’s a cover that respects the original. However, it certainly gets our attention. This song turns out to be a supergroup favorite. It does seem like a song that you’d want to rock out to with your friends, no matter how famous you are. Check out The Dead Daisies version and the Jaded Hearts Club version too.
Hollywood Vampires (featuring Paul McCartney) – Come and Get It (Badfinger cover)
Now we see another supergroup be starstruck by a Paul McCartney collaboration. Watching this montage, I’m just like “Johnny Depp, why are you not schmoozing with him?!” Paul McCartney actually wrote this song and coached Badfinger through the production. In this version he gives a little more edge than he recommended to his protégés, resulting in a harder sound; it’s definitely a rock-ified version from the more upbeat original. This one comes off more as “take it or leave it, I don’t care.” The band members of the Hollywood Vampires have the confidence of their previous achievements, whereas The Iveys-turned-Badfinger had more to prove as the first group that the Beatles signed for their Apple label.
Hollywood Vampires – Seven and Seven Is (Love cover)
Although Love may be a lesser known band, rock stars are drawn to covering this tune; among others, the Ramones, Alice Cooper alone, and Rush have put their own spin on it. This song requires serious drum chops, so who better than drummer Matt Sorum, who is “super” in his own right as a former member of Guns ‘N Roses and a member of another supergroup, Velvet Revolver with Dave Kushner (formerly of Wasted Youth), Duff McKagan (of Guns ‘N Roses), Slash (of Guns N’ Roses), and Scott Weiland (formerly of Stone Temple Pilots). Despite the high energy, the band takes some time to just groove at the end of this song, resting after the frantic tempo at the start, closing with a slow groove to finish.
The album also ends with an original song both in the basic and deluxe versions of the album. The final song on the deluxe version was written by Depp, inspired by his step-father, and later on in Hollywood Vampires’ discography, Depp was heavily involved in the songwriting. We can see this as another creative outlet motivation for joining a supergroup, this time switching mediums altogether.
Hollywood Vampires Tracklisting:
- The Last Vampire (original)
- Raise the Dead (origina)
- My Generation (The Who cover)
- Whole Lotta Love (Led Zeppelin cover)
- I Got a Line on You (Spirit cover)
- Five to One / Break On Through (To the Other Side) (The Doors cover)
- One / Jump into the Fire (Harry Nilsson cover)
- Come and Get It (Badfinger cover)
- Jeepster (T.Rex cover)
- Cold Turkey (Plastic Ono Band cover)
- Manic Depression (The Jimi Hendrix Experience cover)
- Itchycoo Park (Small Faces cover)
- School’s Out / Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2) (Alice Cooper / Pink Floyd cover)
- My Dead Drunk Friends (original)
- I’m a Boy (bonus track) (The Who cover)
- Seven and Seven Is (bonus track) (Love cover)
- As Bad as I Am (bonus track) (original)