When bands release cover albums, there are usually two reasons: filling up contractual obligations or total lack of inspiration or interest.
Of course, lots of bands do cover versions. In the early Sixties, it was almost compulsory as that was what they played live, and they often needed to fill up a whole forty minutes of music for an album to support the latest hit single, as our young musicians were grappling with writing their own songs, showing their influences was necessary. Plus, it boosted the coffers of some influential but financially abused early heroes. At first, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones covered lots of artists from the USA like Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry, Larry Williams, etc. Jolly fine most of them were, too. But there was always a smattering of originals included, certainly by the bands with any longevity.
But by October 1973, cover albums became an art form with David Bowie releasing Pin Ups, a collection of his favorite songs released to satisfy the rampant public demand for Bowie Product. In the same month, Bryan Ferry released These Foolish Things, allowing his love of classic standards to fly away from the more rock confines of Roxy Music. Both lovely albums.
For the last nearly fifty years, many others have jumped on the Covers Wagon. Some with fun results like Saxon’s recent release Inspirations, or Tesla’s Real to Reel. Some with disastrous releases, reeking of apathy or despair, often both. Ozzy Osbourne’s Under Cover should have been. Def Leppard’s Yeah! was equally awful.
So it’s a very rare thing to find one that is exemplary. Monster Magnet’s A Better Dystopia is one.
They were led by the band’s only founding member since their formation in 1989, Dave Wyndorf. Dave admitted that, at the start of the worldwide pandemic sweeping the world, it was hard to come up with inspiration for new songs. Plus, the difficulty of getting all the band together in one place with all the travel restrictions didn’t help. He decided that this was the time to put the band’s cover versions on display.
What a magnificent job they have done, too. Credit must go to Dave Wyndorf’s current Monsters, Garrett Sweeny on lead guitar, Phil Calvano on guitar, Bob Pantella on drums, and Alec Morton on bass, for putting in such an accomplished and brutal effort.
This is not a collection of your normal run of the mill rock standards. Not at all.
The vaults have been dredged for a collection of forgotten, obscure classics by bands that deserved far more recognition.
The opening rant of Dave Wyndorf doing Dave Diamond’s crazed monologue, The Diamond Mine, sets the tone before the band coming roaring in with Hawkwind’s admirable opener Born To Go. More gems quickly tumble out your speakers after this, all played with respect, ability and a Monster Magnet Twist.
There are many highlights for fans of Psychedelic, Stoner Rock. Including Learning To Die, originally by Dust, Death, a Pretty Things’ classic, and Motorcycle Straight to Hell from the cannon of Table Scraps. There are also worthy versions of songs by Pentagram, Jerusalem, Josefus, Cavemen, Morgen, and Poohbah to name but a few.
This album is a full-on display by Dave Wyndorf and his gang, with screaming guitars, and snarling, sneering vocals, complete with driving rhythms.
Not only is this a great album, it may also inspire a lot of people to search out and find the original artists.
A must-have for rock music enthusiasts.
The artwork alone is monumental.
Written by Mott The Dog from his Den on the Dark Side of Pattaya.