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.