What can you say about The Melvins that hasn’t already been said. A band that always defies conventions, time and even logic. 2013 marks the thirtieth anniversary of one of the revered and influential bands within any scene that considers itself heavy, and they have chosen to mark that milestone with a largely collaborative covers album.
The fantastically named ‘Everybody Loves Sausages’ is their 34th album of their long and illustrious career (if you count the live albums) and unusually the band have chosen to do something they have done before. They have collaborated before on ‘Crybaby” album and their work with Jello Biafra (who makes an appearance on this album), and throughout their long history have covered songs, a highlight for me being their cover of ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ with 70’s teen idol Leif Garrett.
This being Buzz Osbourne and co though, they still manage to make things differently. The band choose artists as varied as Venom, Queen, Throbbing Gristle and Roxy Music and give them their own spin. The album chops and changes mood moving from Scott Kelly’s imperious vocals on a brutal March through Venom‘s ‘Warhead’ to the 8 bit sounding intro to Queen’s ‘Best Friend’ featuring clean vocals from Caleb Benjamin, a whole chunk of melody and stay quite true to the sound of the original (in a Melvins kind of way).
Things do get noisy again though, their cover of ‘Black Betty’ is one of many high points on the album, the track which had already featured on a split single with the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion a few years ago. It gets even better than that though, with JG Thirlwell of Foetus fame leading the band through an inspired cover of David Bowie’s ‘Station To Station’, a track of epic proportions. An amalgamation of three very different but very artistic minds with both Thirlwell and The Melvins leaving their own unique mark on a Bowie classic.
What follows isn’t too shabby either, a brilliant Kinks cover (‘Attitude’) keeps up the pace before after a couple of shorter tunes, there is a moment of true genius We get to the Roxy Music cover ‘In Every Dream Home A Heartache’ where none other than punk legend Jello Biafra doing a scarily good impression of Brian Ferry. Over-pronouncing every last syllable and letter of each word drawing out the song into a sprawling, creepy nine minute ode.
This album is just what The Melvins do, they have done something like this before, but this sounds like nothing they have done before. The closing tracks, cover of The Jam and Throbbing Gristle tunes, keep up the quality, but feel like a slight comedown after the mastery of Biafra. As a big fan of the band I was looking forward to this, and pretty sure that I would love it, but I never expected to be this blown away by the album.