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After the success of their much acclaimed “Master of Puppets” followed by the tragedy that struck the band in the form of Cliff Burton’s untimely demise, there were many speculations about how Metallica would fare without the greatness of the bass monster that was Cliff. After having recruited the services of another seasoned and now famous bassist, Jason Newsted from Arizona thrash metallers, Flotsam and Jetsam, they decided to enter the studio to professionally record five covers of bands that have had an unquestionable influence on them. It’s a very well known fact that thrash metal and more specifically the early bay area style derived most of its sound from the evergreen NWOBHM scene of the early eighties and Metallica were undoubtedly one of the first exponents of the scene to successfully blend the riff structures of Brit heavy metal with punkish overtones to give us what is known to the world as the well renowned sub genre of heavy metal called thrash!!
“Garage Days Re-revisited” as the name implies is a compilation of some re recorded tracks that Metallica used to jam out in their fledgling days(possibly when the band was still called Leather Charm) and they’ve done absolute justice. Before the release of the double disc Garage Inc. compilation, this was pretty much a collector’s item that was almost impossible to find at a record store. The production on this is crunchy and is better by leaps and bounds compared to the follow up “…And Justice for All”, the latter, although rich in songwriting and musicianship, drawing significant ire from the entire heavy metal fraternity for the bass not being loud enough and almost seemingly absent in the sound mix. Hetfield’s vocals were pretty much in a transition state, sounding slightly different from his vocal work on “Master of Puppets” whereas Ulrich does a steady job behind the drums, despite all the flak he’s continued to receive over the years for having very limited capabilities as a drummer. Kirk Hammett too nails some well timed solos while newbie Jason Newsted’s bass playing abilities are shown here.
As for the covers, they have been done extremely well and never sound like a mockery of the originals at any given point. “Helpless” is sped up faster with a slight difference in the bridge section as well as the chorus where “Helpless!!!” is not being uttered as many times as in the version by Diamond Head. Next up is the eerie doom/sludge heavy riff monger that sounds almost like the original with an incredible thrash break in the middle. The best track however is the cover of Killing Joke’s “The Wait”, where the explosive riffs and the synthesized vocals give the track a definite edge over the original. “Crash Course in Brain Surgery” has a good intro bass solo and some good speed metal moments while the penultimate Misfits cover is a holocaust of punk meets thrash with the most sadistic lyrics that only old school hardcore punk bands were capable of concocting.
Overall, a very good covers EP that shows a band ready to get back to its feet after the setback they received a year ago during the Sweden tour. They may have drifted into a rather mainstream territory with the advent of the 90s with a new producer and new ideas, but one can never rule out the fact that Metallica in their heydays were a very dominant force in heavy metal, and a band that many worshipped and to this day consider them one of the biggest influenced. It can be argued that if it wasn’t for them, bay area thrash would never have existed. Since these covers are present on the double disc compilation, as mentioned earlier, it’s advised to check that out just for the magical influences NWOBHM has had on this present day heavy metal legend.
After Cliff Burton’s tragic death in the hinterlands of northern Europe in 1986, Metallica regrouped themselves by pinching Flotsam & Jetsam bassist Jason Newsted and forging on whatever the future would hold for them. And as is well known, the floodgates of stardom would engulf the band in short order. But at the time, Metallica were merely a remarkably successful underground metal band, and to help Newsted find his sea legs, a mini album of cover versions was unleashed.
I’ll pause a moment to explain the odd title of this here record. First of all, at this point Metallica were still a largely grass-roots proposition with heavy ties to their fan base. Thus the idea of a big record company (or retailers) seizing a brief record from the band and taking the opportunity to gouge fans by selling it for full price was unacceptable to the (then) unimpeachable ethics of the band. So putting the suggested retail price in the title seemed to be a good deterrent against this happening. Also the band had issued this sort of “garage” item before; the B-side of the “Creeping Death” 12-inch single contained cover versions of tracks by Diamond Head and Blitzkrieg, and was titled “Garage Days Revisited.” Thus, being the band’s second such release, it was thusly dubbed “re-revisited.” Everyone cool with this? Okay…on we go.
As for the contents, they’re uniformly strong and a nice peek into some of the more obscure bands that informed the Metallica style. Newsted gives a very strong first accounting of himself, taking full advantage of the record’s rough and live sound job. Diamond Head’s “Helpless” actually is the opener and least impressive number, as it pretty much paces by uneventfully. James Hetfield’s crunchy rhythm guitars are just fine, but overall the band did a much better job earlier on that band’s immortal track “Am I Evil.” Holocaust’s “The Small Hours” is next, and this is massive. Slowed to a doomier pace than the original, Metallica really lock into some evil grooves here, and Hetfield’s vocals are particularly vicious. Similarly the odd choice of Killing Joke’s “The Wait” works out just brilliantly. The off-kilter pace of the original is replaced by a titanic Metallica chug, and the sinister lyrics suit our heroes just fine. Budgie are next up for abuse, and their seminal “Crash Course In Brain Surgery” is abused rather well. There’s no vivid transformation here, just a great early metal tune brought up to modern snuff by some of the genre’s best technicians. And then there’s the Misfits’ medley. New Jersey’s finest horror punks are honored with a savage rendering of both “Last Caress” and “Green Hell,” the first marked by it’s Ramones-like catchy chords, and the latter by it’s thrashing madness. The band (perhaps drunkenly) attempt to run through Iron Maiden’s “Run To The Hills” as the whole messy affair fades out.
A fun, fun record that’s long out of print in this form, it was also perhaps the last time (by my memory at least) that we’d ever witness Metallica let things hang this casually, or show such careful regards for their fans’ bank accounts. From here on in, a more professional, calculated, and ultimately more corporate Metallica would manifest itself. Wow. I still remember beating up a fellow high school student who’d stolen two of my Ride The Lightning era bootleg concert tapes, which were at time, band endorsed and perhaps even provided. Things do indeed, change.
Well, after the tragic death of Cliff Burton the band decided to soldier on. However, an attempt to bite the bullet and go into the studio quickly was a total failure, with only a formative version of "Blackened" being developed. And so, they decided to return to the old B-Side stand-by: covers.
The song opens with, predictably, a Diamond Head tune. "Helpless" in the original form from that bands "Lightning to the Nations" LP was one of the most Metallica-ish tracks on the album, combining a fast pace with the bands trademark complex structures. Metallica just shreds this one, putting the formidable pace of the original to shame, and blessedly replacing Harris's bleating (one of his most irritating vocals) with the balls out Hetfield bark. The band is top-notch, with a nice warm bass tone that really makes one wonder why they felt the need to practically omit him in the "Justice" sessions. The band lops of the strange galloping ending of the original tune also. I'm ambivalent because although Diamond Head did it well I don't know if it would suit Metallica's style. A nice Hammett solo or two to boot.
"The Small Hours" is probably one of the top four or five covers the band ever did (ooh, interesting list that'd be!). I believe this song was originally by Holocaust, a fairly popular NWOBHM band, and it certainly feels like it. Creepy, nightmarish intro (like an evil nursery rhyme!) followed by a riff that just floors it. Newsted and Ulrich just bash and propel this foggy little ditty along, with some nice heavy guitar work from the axemen. And I love that chorus. This sort of feels like Motorhead with better production.
Now we follow with the strangest cover on the album. Killing Joke is one of the best underground bands of all time, a seminal post-punk act and a huge influence on the Industrial scene. Oh, and much of the time they were as dark and heavy as any metal act. Tallica remains true to this spirit, with a sludgy guitar tone and heavily distorted vocals from Het. The lyrics are thus rendered practically unintelligible, but if you read the lyrics, you'll see this is dark dark subject matter, spiritual kin to the "Justice" songs perhaps. Oh, and the chorus is one of the most epic in the catalogue, a roar that just rises up into the sky, and of course soon falls back into the crushing riffery soon after. Another odd solo from Kirk.
"Crash Course in Brain Surgery" is a cut from Budgie, a seminal early metal act(heavy, and heavy early. We're talking 1970 here) with a genius for naming songs in such a way that they could make Frank Zappa proud. The song itself is a jumbling freight train of a tune, hopping around crazily with a sort of proto-thrash hop. The lyrics are off-kilter and James performs accordingly.
Last up a pair of Misfits tunes, one being boppy Beach Boys-on-acid tune "Last Caress", the other a brutal punk-metal composition going by the name "Green Hell". While the Misfits version was slower and actually somewhat threatening, the Tallica version makes it sound like killing babies is a jolly old time. "Green Hell" is just nuts. James is as close to death vocals as he ever got, a genuinely chilling caveman growl over another vicious tune. We follow with a hilariously out of tune "Run to the Hills" fade-out and the EP is done.
Some interesting notes on this one: This EP was a big seller upon release, and the "Garage Inc." compilation it was included in is probably the biggest selling covers album ever. The title of this one(the $5.98 EP) was to prevent retailers from upping the price and screwing the kids over, proving once more that Tallica is/was(depends who you ask) one of the most fan-friendly acts ever.
All and all, a great but not terribly important piece of the Tallica discography.
Stand-Outs: On a five track EP... "The Small Hours", "Helpless", "The Wait"
I bought this vinyl from a friend for 10 dollars (Canadian), not telling him how hard it is it find. Well, I certainly ripped him off! This, to me, is Metallica at their absolute peak, with the sole exception of Cliff missing in action. There are 5 cover songs, each is very well executed. The production is not that bad, considering it was recorded in a garage, and I think that hearing the guys cheering/swearing after the song is done is cool and adds to the atmosphere. Helpless has some great riffs and Hetfield's voice is in top form. A great beat to be found not only on this song, but the rest of the album as well. The Small Hours has a really cool high intro part, then into more riffs. This song is not as fast as the rest, but is still great. (Flips vinyl over) - the other 3 songs are (almost) just as good. The Wait reminds me a bit of Helpless, which is definitely a good thing, as it has the same idea of cool riffs and a great beat. Crash Course in Brain Surgery has the most headbangable beat on the album, with a nice bass intro and some pretty well done vocals by James. The last song, Last Caress/Green Hell is probably the only low point for me, as I am not a fan of punk music and this song does not really fit in with the rest of the album at all.
Great album!!! Buy it if you can find it!!
This was Metallica's first recording without the very missed Cliff Burton. Metallica wanted to show to the world that they still had it, and that newcomer Jason Curtis Newsted actually was a great bassist. The EP got a warm reception , and is now a vital piece in the history of Metallica. All five songs are covers, and mostly good ones too.
The first song is Helpless, originally recorded by Diamond Head. Metallica have over the years recorded FOUR Diamond Head songs, and this is, as with the others, a cool cover indeed. Both the riffing and the drumming are frantic, and overall a very aggressive song. A bit too long, though, perhaps. Next up is The Small Hours. This is maybe the best cover song on the EP, and a fucking blast to play on the guitar! It begins calm, and builds up eventually. The main riff is a real chugga chugga one, and cool. A few minutes later the song speeds up seriously. And the fast riff found is so badass it's hard not to bang your head into whatever (or whoever!) is standing next to you. Total fucking ownage.
The Wait is the worst of the covers. It's a good one, but nothing about it stands out. A somewhat boring vocal delivery (because of the stupid vocal lines, of course. Hetfield can't be blamed on this one), and sub-standard riffs. The chorus simply repeats "The waaaaaaiiiiiiit! The waaaaiiiiiiiit!" all the time, making it possibly the most worthless chorus of all time. Still, I don't mind hearing the song once in a while. It IS Metallica, after all. Crash Course in Brain Surgery is a funny song. It sounds like the band was drunk when they recorded it, with all the shouting and yelling in a couple of places. The lyrics are fun too, so it fits very nice. It's midpaced, with a memorable main riff, and good vocals.
The last song(s) is Last Caress/Green Hell, two songs thrown into one. The Last Caress-part is superb. "I've got something to say! I killed your baby today!" Nice lyrics indeed, hehe. The riff is supercool, and in usual Metalli-style, damn memorable (well, so this isn't their riff, but so what!?). Then the Green Hell-part kicks in, and it's a blast as well. It's fast, attitude-filled and punkish (not strange since The Misfits wrote the song). Ending the track is a piss-take on Run to the Hills by Iron Maiden. Ulrich always played the intro to Run to the Hills on rehearsals, and in the end Metallica decided to record a short, out of key version at the end of the EP. A cool detail.
It's damn hard finding a copy of this EP nowadays, but luckily it is included on the massive Garage Inc. double album. Buy that one, since it full of other great cover songs as well.