It has been five years since Glenn Danzig’s last album, Deth Red Sabaoth, was released, but Danzig has been waiting a lot longer to release his latest endeavor, the album full of cover tunes he’s dubbed Skeletons. According to Danzig, Skeletons has been a work in progress since 1979.
Skeletons isn’t your typical Danzig album, and yet, it is typically Danzig. How is that possible? Covering such diverse acts as ZZ Top, Aerosmith, The Troggs, and Elvis Presley, Danzig somehow makes each and every cover tune distinctly his. In other words, he makes each song distinctly “Danzig.”
Skeletons was recorded slowly, across seven years, in Los Angeles. Danzig talks about what Skeletons and the songs on it mean to him.
“These are my skeletons. You may or may not know that I dig these songs. You could say that some of this music is the actual basis and skeleton of what I listened to growing up — ultimately informing the kind of music I like. It’s the foundation. If you took Elvis and Sabbath out of my life, I probably wouldn’t be the Glenn Danzig you know! I’m glad both sides are represented on this record.”
The new Danzig album opens with “Devil’s Angels,” a song from the movie of the same name. From the first word Danzig sings, it’s almost like the listener is thrust back in time, hearing Misfits-era Danzig. The song originally appeared in the 1967 film, Devil’s Angels, about a biker gang starring John Cassavetes.
From “Devil’s Angels,” the listener is pushed straight into another cover tune from a film. This time, the movie is Satan’s Sadists, another biker picture, this one from 1969, that starred Russ Tamblyn. The song is simply titled, “Satan.” This track is much slower than the first track, and puts Danzig’s ability to grab a blues ballad by the neck and not let it go.
The third song on Danzig’s Skeletons is “Let Yourself Go.” This is what we’ve been waiting for, Danzig singing Elvis Presley, and “Let Yourself Go” doesn’t disappoint. Of course, if you’re a fan of the original Presley version, you’ll probably not recognize this rendition. Although Glenn’s vocals are practically spot-on for Elvis, the smooth crunch of the backing guitar is lacking in the original.
“N.I.B.” is a metal standard. This version of it is pretty straightforward. The song isn’t taken in some crazy new direction and Danzig’s cover of the tune is probably closer to the Sabbath version than any other you’ve heard.
When you think of Danzig, you probably don’t group him or his bands in the same sentence as Aerosmith. But their song, “Lord of the Thighs,” appears here. Whereas “N.I.B.” might seem like an obvious track for a Black Sabbath cover, “Lord of the Thighs” seems extremely abstract for an Aerosmith one.
“Action Woman” by The Litter is another abstract choice for a cover tune, and yet, the abstract choices usually make the best covers. If a listener isn’t overly familiar with the original version of a song, then the cover of it imprints itself as the original. “Action Woman” is a perfect cover for Danzig. Between the lyrics and soulful edge in the harmony, the song really lends itself to Danzig’s style and tone.
ZZ Top is another band that wouldn’t seem to mesh with Danzig, but here’s another unlikely cover in “Rough Boy.” Upon first listen, one might recoil from the consistent guitar harmonics played throughout the track, but the control in Danzig’s voice makes it worth listening to.
“With a Girl Like You” is a song by The Troggs, and the cover is beyond strange, and yet one of the best songs on the album. There’s an odd sense of fun in this song, reminding you of when The Misfits sang about eating brains and having 20 eyes. Glen Danzig has a sense of humor, and this song proves it.
Rounding out the album is “Find Somebody” by The Young Rascals, and “Crying in the Rain,” an Everly Brothers tune.
Skeletons may seem a bit under produced, but that may be exactly what Danzig was going for. Skeletons. The bare bones. Like it or not, Danzig fans finally have a Danzig cover album.
[Image Via Danzig Official Website.]