Friday, June 20, 2008

The Hellacopters – Head Off

Coming after the brilliant Rock’n’Roll Is Dead, a genius mix of pop and raw power, I was very disappointed to hear that 1) the band was breaking up and 2) their final release would be all covers.

While they have done some monster versions of other people’s songs in the past, I am so hooked on the songwriting prowess exhibited in their own releases that I was worried that it would be a let down.

Unfortunately, it is. Not that it’s a bad CD – I don’t know if that is actually possibly from this group – but most of the songs that they have chosen are just not up to par with their own tunes. Obviously, they chose numbers written by friends and bands that they admire (Peepshows, “Demons”, Gaza Strippers, BellRays, etc), but it is hard to measure up to the greatness that is the Hellacopters.

Of course, there are exceptions. From the aforementioned BellRays, the band chooses one of their soul-rock masterpieces, “Making Up for Lost Time”, and do it justice. “Midnight Angels”, originally by the Peepshows, is pretty similar to something that the ‘Copters would have done on their last album and is a pretty cool pop’n’roll tune. They claim that the Humpers’ “(I’m) Watching You” was an inspiration for “(Gotta Get Some Action) Now” but if so, they took that inspiration and ran with it because the two songs don’t even sound remotely similar. I always thought the inspiration for that was a rave-up on Hendrix’s “Crosstown Traffic” since the riffs are almost identical.

Another number that does sound like it could have come from this bands’ pen is the Maharajas’ “Another Turn” – more rockin’ pop with a true power-pop ending! I have never heard of this Swedish group but they sound pretty happening.

There is a uniquely odd gimmick to this release – though it is a CD, one side is a vinyl single! They cover “Straight Until Morning” by the fantastic Powder Monkeys. Unfortunately, the vinyl isn’t protected so mine was already a little scratched straight out of the box. Speaking of which, this comes in a CD sized box with a booklet (with very little in it except for some individual photos of the photo cover concept and lots of blank pages – check their website for song details), a button and a patch. Intricate packaging for their last effort!

Overall, this is a good release, but far from their best. I wish they could have left on a higher note, but beggars can’t be choosers – it’s still worth having! I’ll be looking for the members’ future projects, though!
(Once again, a big thanks to brother Lutz for getting this for me! You're the best, buddy!)
PS - just another note on this version. Normal playing in a CD player will scratch the vinyl side so make a copy of the song right away! Mine already skips!