I’m a sucker for a decent cover version and we’ve been spoiled recently. Even some of the big acts are getting in on the game, with the likes of Saxon releasing an album consisting of tracks that influenced them. Lord may not be as well known on these shores but they’re huge in their native Australia, being formerly known as Dungeon and with over a dozen albums to their names.
We featured opener “To the Moon and Back” recently, and Savage Garden themselves gave it a Twitter thumbs up. It’s a great cover and this “metalling up” pervades a large number of the songs on this release. There are 23 in total if you get the album on Bandcamp, the only place to get the full shebang. The CD and streaming services only have a selection (11 tracks), and in addition a Bandcamp purchase gets you two more covers by Lord Tim’s Blackened Angel project (“Madhouse” by Anthrax, and “Night People” by Dio) plus over two hours of Lord Time talking about the songs. Bargain!
Now, I talked about “metalling up” which is bound to be relevant to the likes of The Police’s “Message in a Bottle”, Kylie’s “On A Night Like This” and “The Sun Always Shines On TV” (A-Ha), but Lord have also covered a ton of metal songs on Undercovers as well. I’m happy to say that they hold up well, too. Some are obvious number and some are less likely candidates such as Maiden’s “Judas Be My Guide”. Not that it’s a bad track, it bloody isn’t, it’s just not one that jumps out in the big list of Maiden songs that get covered very often. Lord have done it justice, staying fairly faithful to the original (including the quick-fade on the final chords) but with a slightly rougher edge to it.
Much could be said of their other metallic covers – “Shattered” by Pantera, “Someone’s Crying” by Helloween, the aforementioned “Madhouse” and so on. If anything, they’re a little too close to the originals to stand out as “good” covers for my liking. I know, I know, but if your cover is too close to the source then you may as well listen to the source.
The live metal covers really show Lord’s strength and in fairness are the reason for this compilation in the first place. A good cover song always gets a crowd going, especially when they’re new to you as a band. You want to get them to warm to you, you want to say “hey, this is a song we love” and a cover is the natural way to tick both boxes. The two live songs on here are “Wild Child” (WASP) and “Creeping Death” (Metallica) and both are great recordings, really dragging you into the show.
The selling point of the album, though, is the “novelty” of pop/light rock songs being given a stainless steel makeover and in this Lord have definitely scored high. John Farnham is the only act featured twice, and neither is the only song anyone in the UK knows by him. They did have me wanting to check out more by him to see how they compared. Closer to my native Tyneside is “Message In A Bottle”, also covered by Machine Head many years ago. I actually think I prefer this version. Somehow they’ve managed to stay closer to the 1979 release than MH’s 1999 version in terms of vocals – but it’s more up-tempo music-wise. I always remember liking the rendition on The Burning Red but not as much as I’d hoped I would.
A-Ha have been covered by Reel Big Fish, but not with the song “The Sun Always Shines on T.V.” and this version starts off, for the first minute or so, like a shoutback to the 80s. And then the guitars and drums kick in and it gets all NWOBHM. Quality.
Overall, no real complaints. Lord know how to put a good song together and ooze their own sound into that of another artist. I’d have preferred more non-metal covers purely because I enjoyed the ones on show here more than the others. However, I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t enjoy just letting 1 hour and 44 minutes of music wash over me.
Undercovers is out on April 2nd