Although not totally in line with the usual Helloween style, lacking the originality observed in other albums, it is fun to experience unique interpretation of famous songs. Can you ever think of Abba in Power Metal? What about Beatles? Interestingly, Abba’s “Lay all your love on me” and Beatles’ “all my loving” are better than Scorpions’ “He’s a woman She’s a man”.It would be a 5-star album if it were not really like a jukebox — every song looks like from a different album, arranged by an amateur…
Metal Album Reviews[RSS]
Don’t get me wrong-Helloween are one of my favorite bands, but this is just plain hysterical! As great as it is (I don’t own it, but I listened to it at a friend’s house), it just seems totally wack that Helloween would cover songs by Abba, The Beatles, and David Bowie. But what’s even more wack is that they were pulled off PERFECTLY! Helloween fans would definetely crack up over this album!
After producing the definitive speed/thrash/pop metal blend in the late 80s, Helloween disappeared into Self-Indulgence Land in the early 90s, taking the best part of 10 years to rediscover the sound their original fans appreciated so much.And to celebrate, they unleashed their unique sound on some of their favourite pop and rock songs of the past few decades. “Metal Jukebox” is an eclectic little collection, to say the least. The Scorpions’ “He’s A Woman-She’s a Man” and Faith No More’s “From Out Of Nowhere” are the two closest tracks to what Helloween are normally about. They stomp along as solid rocking, good fun tracks. From there, the album steps into, well, space.David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” is given a faithful, respectful treatment here. No one does Bowie better than Bowie, but this is about as good as you’ll ever hear this song done by anyone else. Andi Deris’ voice is not a match for Bowie’s but he gives it his best shot without sounding strained. Also having a few decades advantage over the original, in which time production techniques have improved markedly, Markus Grosskopf’s wandering basslines bubble their way higher into the mix than on the old classic.ABBA’s “Lay All Your Love On Me” and The Beatles’ “All My Loving” are perhaps the furthest removed from the originals, and both are pulled off with great effect- the feel of the originals is kept, while simultaneously being given a kick in the arse. Yep, Helloween still have that ear for great pop tunes, even if they didn’t write ‘em. And it also shows Paul and John, and Benny and Bjorn, could well have been closet headbangers – these songs translate to a metalled-up sound extremely well.There are a few more straight rockers, like a fairly decent cover of Jethro Tull’s “Locomotive Breath”, and “White Room” by Cream, but it is the lesser-known songs which really make this album. The instrumental “Hocus Pocus” by, er… Focus allows Helloween’s impressive guitar duo to really let strip, with solid riffing and good old fashioned guitar solos, so often neglected these days. There are a few other little known gems hidden away here which really set this album up. It could easily have been an exercise in metallic karaoke self-parody, or an utter sycophantic tribute album. It’s not. It’s a well-established metal band showcasing what they can do and where they came from, and having a lot of fun while they do it.
At first, I didn’t get this CD. I mean, come on… Abba? David Bowie? The Beatles? Shoot, why isn’t Manfred Mann covered?
But then something happened… I played the CD again, and again, and yet again… Then, I couldn’t STOP playing it. The bottom line? An amazing CD… Sure, this may seem like a waste because they did someone else’s work. But when they crank out that Beatles’ number as if it were written by Helloween themselves and NOT a re-incarnation of the Beatles, you just start head banging…
With a name like Metal Jukebox, you can be forgiven for expecting Helloween’s first covers album to be a collection of tributes to bands like Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, and Black Sabbath. Of course, since this is Helloween we’re talking about, the songs the band covers here are an odd assortment that I don’t think anyone saw coming. Here’s what you get:
1. He’s a Woman, She’s a Man (Scorpions) – This is one of my least favorite Scorpions songs, but it seems like the perfect choice for an unpredictable band like Helloween. I like that they put the Scorpions song first. Without the Scorpions, I doubt there would have been a Helloween in the first place. Then where would the entire power metal genre have been?
2. Locomotive Breath (Jethro Tull) – If you’re going to do Tull, make it a rocker. Locomotive Breath is the perfect choice for a metal band.
3. Lay All Your Love on Me (Abba) – What’s with power metal bands and Abba, anyway? Tad Morose and Rob Rock have also covered Abba, and like Helloween’s choice, the songs always end up rocking way more than you think is possible.
4. Space Oddity (David Bowie) – Andi Deris just owns this one. He’s vamping on Bowie in a big way.
5. From Out of Nowhere (Faith No More) – I’ll give the band credit here. Covering Faith No More is no mean feat, and they do a pretty decent job. Still, Helloween’s version is a little too shiny and happy for my tastes.
6. All My Loving (the Beatles) – Helloween covering the Beatles is as goofy and perfectly appropriate as you can imagine. It makes you wish they had done a whole Beatles album.
7. Hocus Pocus (Focus) – This killer instrumental cover lets the musicians in the band go crazy, and the results are a lot of fun.
8. Faith Healer (Alex Harvey Band) – I have to confess that I’ve never heard the original. I’m not that impressed though. The song takes 7+ minutes to work its way up to a climax that never happens.
9. Juggernaut (Mahogany Rush) – This is one of my favorite tracks on the album. It’s just a good, fast song that’s ideal for Helloween’s speedy power metal sound.
10. White Room (Cream) – The guys do a good job on this one, but honestly nothing is going to top Demons & Wizards’ version.
11. Mexican (Babe Ruth) – Here’s another one that I hadn’t heard before. If Helloween’s cover is any indication, I need to remedy that situation soon.
Metal Jukebox is somewhat uneven, but it’s still a lot of fun. Compared to some of the covers that Gamma Ray has done (and is there any way NOT to compare the two bands), Helloween comes up a bit short. But the song selection and the band’s obvious enjoyment of the originals makes it easier to look past the relative “non-metal-ness” of the songs on Metal Jukebox. As fun as it may be, Metal Jukebox is really only for serious Helloween fans.
NOTE: The Japanese import version of Metal Jukebox features a cover of Deep Purple’s Rat Bat Blue (another oddball choice) as a bonus track.