For many years its been common practice for hard rock/metal bands to do “ironic” covers of songs. The earliest one I can think of off the top of my head is that iconic cover of “Summertime Blues” by Blue Cheer. From there, you have Judas Priest’s cover of the Joan Baez folk masterpiece, “Diamonds and Rust.” In the 80’s Exodus covered the WAR song “Low Rider” while Testament covered “Nobody’s Fault by Aerosmith. Moving into the 90’s we had bands like Scatterbrain covering “Mama Said Knock You Out”, Ugly Kid Joe who had a huge hit with the Harry Chapin classic “Cats In The Cradle” and even Lacuna Coil having a huge hit as well with the Depeche Mode classic, “Enjoy the Silence.” I’m sure there are many more I’m listing but one of the things you don’t hear a whole lot of is NON-METAL bands doing metal covers.
I always appreciated when metal bands did non-metal covers because I thought that not only did it show some humor but it also showed the band’s ability to actually work outside of the box. As a matter of fact, some of those metal bands loved those non metal songs but what about the other way around? There are some great non-metal artists out there that have done some amazing metal covers. I’m sure there are more out there but here are some of my favorite ones.
Do you have any that you’d like to add to the list? If so, please share them in the comments!
Johnny Cash – Rusty Cage (Soundgarden)
Ok, so I know that Soundgarden isn’t really “metal” per say but Soundgarden has always received a lot of cred in the metal world. This over from Johnny Cash is absolutely haunting and took it into a whole new realm. The Man In Black always had a great way of taking songs that weren’t his and making them his own.
Dan Reed – Holy Diver (Ronnie James Dio)
After the legendary Ronnie James Dio passed away, it seemed like every band ran out and learned a Dio classic to play live. I mean, every fucking band seemed to be covering “Heaven and Hell” so much that it seemed to really lack any kind of sincerity. When I heard Dan Reed’s mellow cover of the Dio classic “Holy Diver” I literally fell into tears. It was the single most moving thing I had ever heard and it was a cover from a guy who clearly had huge respect and admiration for the fallen great one.
Ryan Adams – Wasted Years (Iron Maiden)
Folksinger/songwriter has been a very vocal fan of heavy metal ever since his long gone days as the front man of Whiskeytown. Over the years, Ryan has been seen on stage sporting t-shirts from bands ranging from Ratt to Mayhem. As a matter of fact, Ryan is a huge collector of rare metal vinyl and is always tweeting and posting about his findings while out on the road. In addition to covering the Ratt classic, “Round and Round” a few years back, Ryan did a great cover of one of his favorite Iron Maiden songs, “Wasted Years.” I’d love to see him do more of these types of covers.
Pat Boone – Holy Driver (Ronnie James Dio)
Ok, so why two version of “Holy Diver?” Well, how can you NOT want to hear the crooning king himself, Pat Boone. Pat Boone’s “In a Metal Mood” just may be one of the greatest metal tribute albums of all time because it was done in a way that took these songs completely out of their original elements. I really thought Pat the man had a great time doing this song and being a doowop king himself, I know Ronnie loved this cover and even after his passing, this version just seems all that much more sweet.
The Cardigans – Iron Man (Black Sabbath)
I have not one fucking clue about The Cardigans other than they sang this really pretty awesomely annoying song called “Lovefool.” I just remember hearing this song on the radio once many years ago and a buddy of mine goes, “You know this band covered “Iron Man” by Black Sabbath, right?” I immediately sought out the album and… well… hm… you decide on this one.
Hellsongs – Run To The Hills
Hellsongs is a three piece acoustic band from Sweden who produce covers of famous rock and metal songs in a very different style that they call ‘lounge metal’. Yeah, I know it sounds ridiculous but I fucking love this band. Their schtick did get a little drawn out after a while but their album Hymns in the Key of 666 is something that you must check out for yourself.
Hayseed Dixie – Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheep (AC/DC)
Before the hipster bluegrass band doing metal, Steve N’ Seagulls, a little band called Hayseed Dixie released an album called a Hillbilly Tribute to AC/DC. Hell, even their name is a play on AC/DC, get it? Hayseed Dixie? Anyways, these guys were a fucking riot and their live shows were always a fucking hoot. Much like anything else like this, the schtick just got to be a little tired and boring but every now and then, it’s fun to go back and remember these idiots.
Tori Amos – Raining Blood (Slayer)
Tori Amos… doing Slayer… I mean, I don’t know that there’s anything else I can say about that.
Phish – Highway to Hell (AC/DC)
I’m sure when you hear the name “Phish”, the first things you think of are patchouli, tye dye shirts, hot hippie chicks, and granola. I’m sure the last think you would think of is Phish being a fan of hard rock and metal. Lead guitarist Trey Anastasio is a huge fan of AC/DC and Phish has been covering “Highway to Hell” for man years in their live repertoire. It may not have always been the greatest, note for note versions but hey, it’s the thought that counts.
Widespread Panic – Fairies Wear Boots (Black Sabbath)
Southern Jam Rockers Widespread Panic have always been a band known for their epic jams. For many years the band has been touring relentlessly doing their own brand of southern jam rock but much like Phish, Widespread Panic’s influences run much deeper than we can see on the surface. Widespread Panic’s version of the Black Sabbath classic “Fairies Wear Boots” is such a cool rendition and furthur proof of the deep seeded influence of metal music in many other genres.