Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Metallica - Garage Days Re-Revisited (1987)

In September 1986, Cliff Burton died in a bus accident, and Metallica's future was uncertain. Eventually, they decided to move forward. After recruiting Jason Newsted, from Flotsam and Jetsam, they proceeded to record an E.P. of cover songs. They claimed that this was a way to "break him in", even though he'd already toured with them for several months. It's more likely that they simply weren't ready to write new songs, and this was a good way to let their fans know that they were still alive and kicking. In any event, Garage Days Re-Revisited was released in August 1987.

Of course, there's the obligatory Diamond Head cover, to start things out. "Helpless", much like "Am I Evil?", is a bit more enjoyable than the original version just for the fact that it has more of an aggressive edge. The overall sound here is more organic than previous albums, though somewhat bass-heavy. In a sense, the production is more in line with the covers found on the Creeping Death E.P. and lack the crispness of Ride the Lightning and Master of Puppets.

Not being terribly familiar with the next three songs, I had to seek them out for comparison. After giving them a listen, it's clear to see that Metallica did the same as always, really making the songs their own. In most cases, I prefer their versions, and I believe that would still hold true even if I'd heard the originals first.

As for "Last Caress / Green Hell", they certainly made the first half more aggressive than the Misfits version. Thankfully, James didn't really attempt to sing like Glenn Danzig (as he would later fail at), so the track isn't ruined. The second half is a little faster, but the feeling is much different from the original. It's at this point that one can really notice that James has, finally, become quite confident in his vocal abilities. Unfortunately, only a couple years later he'd decide to try going beyond his abilities. The track ends with a bit of a joke, pathetically covering the first few seconds of Iron Maiden's "Run to the Hills" as a joke.

All in all, Garage Days Re-Revisited isn't exactly essential, but it's a fun and enjoyable release. It offers a different perspective on the band and is actually more consistently pleasing than Master of Puppets. I was lucky enough to find the cassette in a used music shop, for about $4, but then had to cough up nearly ten times that amount, when I wanted it on CD. Since then, these tracks have been re-released, with many other covers songs, on a two-disc compilation, so it shouldn't be difficult to give them a listen.