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The Cover Song Is A Doorway Into Your Act

My first introduction into Trivium and Bullet For My Valentine was from the Kerrang “Master of Puppets” 20 Year Anniversary album. My initial interest to hear the album was because Machine Head was covering “Battery”. So after they blew me away with their downtuned cover, along came Trivium with their cover of the title track and man what an undeniable job they did with it. Bullet For My Valentine didn’t set the world on fire with their cover of “Welcome Home (Sanitarium) however they did enough to get me interested in it.

By hearing those two cover songs, I started to seek out the actual original music of Trivium and BFMV.

Another record was “Maiden Heaven: A Tribute to Iron Maiden.” That one had Black Tide covering “Prowler”, Fightstar covering “Fear Of The Dark” and Madina Lake covering “Caught Somewhere In Time”.

Upon hearing those cover versions, I had to go and seek out more music from those bands.

So you see, as an artist trying to make it, those original songs that you create and release might be great, but it doesn’t get you the connection with the audience just yet. Sometimes a cover song does the job.

There is a reason why Jimi Hendrix connected with “Hey Joe” and “All Along The Watchtower”. “Hey Joe” didn’t do much for “The Leaves” in 1965, however it was The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s first hit single in 1966. “All Along the Watchtower” these days is well-known as a Hendrix psychedelic groove rock song instead of a Dylan folk song.

There is a reason why Van Halen connected with “You Really Got Me”. As good as the debut album is, the needed an introduction and “You Really Got Me” was the introduction.

There is a reason why Joan Jett and The Blackhearts connected in 1981 with “I Love Rock N Roll” that was penned by Alan Merrill and Jake Hooker from the British rock band Arrows and released in 1975.

There is a reason why “When the Levee Breaks” became so enduringly influential. It’s origins go back to 1929 when husband and wife singer-songwriters Kansas Joe McCoy & Memphis Minnie originally recorded it as a blues song about the Great Mississippi Flood.

“Hard TO Handle” was the breakthrough hit single for “The Black Crowes” in 1990 and it is a cover song from 1968, originally written by Otis Redding.

Quiet Riot went platinum in 1983, with “Cum On Feel The Noize” and it was a cover song from 1973. The thing is, the Slade version went straight to #1 in the United Kingdom and Ireland and was a top 10 single throughout parts of Europe. The Quiet Riot version reached the #5 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US.

“Black Magic Woman” is known as Carlos Santana’s flagship song, however it is also a cover from the Peter Green version of Fleetwood Mac. Actually, Carlos Santana’s Woodstock-era period made a career out of re-imagining other peoples’ songs.

Cover songs are not the enemy and on a lot of occasions, the cover song broke a band to the masses. It was the doorway to the other treasures that lay in waiting.

Recently bands like “Within Temptation” or the “Smith/Meyers” project have taken to re-interpreting cover songs.

Machine Head have always selected great cover songs from “Battery” to “Hallowed Be Thy Name” to “The Sentinel” to “Our Darkest Days/Bleeding.”

Find a great tune and get cranking on a kick-ass remake/re-imagining of it. You never know how it could connect as music has a way of making peculiar connections.

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