Desert Island Discs – 10 Covers Worth a Listen

In the past few years, it seems that everyone and his brother has cranked out a covers record. They’re an easy way to make a quick buck or get out an album as an excuse to go on tour. Most of them are absolutely awful, but every now and then, a band will take a […]

by Fred Phillips

In the past few years, it seems that everyone and his brother has cranked out a covers record. They’re an easy way to make a quick buck or get out an album as an excuse to go on tour. Most of them are absolutely awful, but every now and then, a band will take a cover song to a new level, at least equalling and sometimes surpassing the original. Here are 10 that, in my opinion, would be worth having burned on one of your Desert Island Discs.”Temple of the King,” Angel Dust, from Bleed. This is perhaps my favorite cover song ever, a new take on one of my favorite rock ballads ever. Angel Dust takes the all-acoustic Rainbow tune and adds some electric muscle to it without destroying the mystical tone of the original. This is how covers should be done.

“All the Young Dudes,” Bruce Dickinson, from Tattooed Millionaire. My second favorite cover tune ever. While it may not exactly be metal, for me, this is the definitive version of the song. Bowie fans will probably hate me for that, but I can’t get enough of it. Also check out Dickinson’s “Sabbath, Bloody Sabbath” on the first Nativity in Black Sabbath tribute for another excellent cover performance.

“Stone Cold Crazy,” Metallica, originally a Black Album B-side, later featured on Garage, Inc. I’ll give them one thing, Metallica does some pretty solid covers – or they used to before Garage, Inc., anyway. My initial pick for them was “Last Caress/Green Hell,” but then I remembered this Queen cover that seemed tailor-made for them. Also check out their cover of Diamondhead’s “Am I Evil?” and Budgie’s “Breadfan.” (As if I needed to tell anyone about those.)

“Dissident Aggressor,” Slayer, from South of Heaven. This is one of those cases where the cover makes it difficult for me to listen to the original. Every time I put on the Priest version, I find myself wanting to hear Slayer’s take on the song. There’s just more aggression in it. Slayer’s cover of “In a Gadda da Vida” is also a guilty pleasure of mine.

“Nobody’s Fault,” Testament, from The New Order. For those who know the esteem that I hold the Aerosmith original in, you’ll know it’s a high compliment that I actually like this song. In truth, I really like it. They put their own stamp on the song, but don’t radically alter it from the original. I’m also a big fan of Testament’s cover of “Sails of Charon.”

“Trouble,” Danzig, from Thrall/Demonsweatlive. OK, so it’s fitting that Danzig could work out an Elvis tune, since there’s plenty of Elvis in his voice (not to mention the sideburns) already. So, the lyrics here are slightly different than the ones Lieber and Stoller wrote for Elvis to sing, but this is still an excellent cover tune.

“Planet Caravan,” Pantera, from Far Beyond Driven. In truth, this song doesn’t vary much from the Sabbath original in any way other than sound quality. It’s still a great, trippy piece, and one of my favorite covers.

“No More Mr. Nice Guy,” Megadeth, originally from the Shocker soundtrack, later appeared on Hidden Treasures. Dave Mustaine plays it straight on this Alice Cooper cover, adding a little distortion, perhaps, but still playing the song note for note. Despite that, it still rocks. Also check out “Anarchy in the U.K.” (of course) from So Far, So Good, So What?

“Got the Time,” Anthrax, from Persistence of Time. A relatively innocuous Joe Jackson song gets a huge shot of steroids from the overdriven memorable riffing on the Anthrax version. It’s more or less a straight version of the song, but then again, it’s not. Try to get that riff out of your head.

“Cum on Feel the Noize,” Quiet Riot, from Metal Health. You’d know this one had to make the list. It’s probably the most well-known cover song in the history of metal, and is partially responsible for launching the whole popular 1980s hard rock scene. Still, for its overblown popularity, it’s a great rock song and a great cover.



  1. Commented by: jk666

    “Cross Eyed Mary” – Iron Maiden

    “The Green Manalishi” – Judas Priest

    “Diamonds and Rust” – Judas Priest

    “Gonna Get Close To You” – Queensryche

    “Highway Star” – Metal Church

    “Easy” – Faith No More (FNM has some great covers as B-Sides)

    “These Boots…” – Megadeth

    “The Sound of Silence” – Nevermore

    “The Thing That Should Not Be” – Primus (this is on Rhinoplasty, but pick up Miscellaneous Debris if you see it for even more quirky covers)

    “Astronomy Domine” – Voivod

  2. Commented by: Dan

    Death’s cover of Painkiller is pretty cool.

  3. Commented by: Apollyon

    Number one is Nevermore’s “Sound of Silence”.

  4. Commented by: gordeth

    My favorite is Bethlehem’s cover of “Where Eagles Dare”. The original is great but their version just flat out destroys.

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