10 Worst Covers Albums of All Time
With Neil Diamond and Huey Lewis dropping albums comprised entirely of covers today, we pray they’re not following in the footsteps of these ear drum offenders.
Neil Diamond and Huey Lewis drop albums comprised entirely of covers today (sadly, they didn’t join forces for an alliance of mega-cheese proportions). We pray they’re not following in the footsteps of these 10 ear drum offenders, whose own cover projects were such obvious cash grabs, the registers should have been credited with a solo.
10. Ozzy Osbourne: Under Cover (2005)
Ozzy sounds right at home on the raging “Mississippi Queen,” and his screeching on a few other selections is good for at least a laugh, but a straightforward, overly mushy take on “In My Life” will leave you cramming bitten-off bat heads in your ears. Worse still, nine of the 13 tracks already appeared on the Prince of Darkness box set from earlier in 2005, and the Wizard of Ozz left off his classic version of “Born to Be Wild” with Miss Piggy! (Trust, us, it’s better than 99% of what made its way onto this disc.)
9. Duran Duran: Thank You (1995)
After their surprise comeback in 1993 in the midst of the alt-rock revolution, the Brits followed up that success by “thanking” their fans with, among other things, an ill-advised cover of Grandmaster Flash’s “White Lies.” We like to think the subjects actually covered here—influences as diverse as Bob Dylan, Elvis Costello and Public Enemy—actually hung out, picked up a case of Bud, put on this record, and laughed their asses off.
8. Bob Dylan: Dylan (1973)
We can’t place the blame on Bob for this one, as this odds n’ sods collection was released by Columbia without his blessing, following his jumping ship from the label in 1973. Consisting of outtakes from the New Morning and Self-Portrait sessions, only one of the nine tracks was a Dylan original (“Sarah Jane”), the rest being off-the-cuff covers. This is the lone Dylan album that’s never received a proper CD release in the U.S., and the reasons for that go beyond Dylan’s bitterness toward this cold sore on his catalog. Who in their right mind wants to hear him warble his way through “Can’t Help Falling in Love” and “Mr. Bojangles”? Not even his mother, we imagine.
7. Guns N’ Roses: The Spaghetti Incident? (1993)
1993: Fans are finally fatigued from the self-indulgent Use Your Illusion double albums, so what does Axl Rose do? Respond with another self-indulgent vanity project. At least he brought it all back home with natural-fit-for-GNR covers such as “Hair of the Dog,” the Misfits’ “Attitude” and the Stooges “Raw Power.” But the reworked doo-wop classic “Since I Don’t Have You” (which at least had a cool video with Gary Oldman as the devil) and a tacked-on-for-shock-value Charles Manson tune make this spaghetti go down like Ragu and dogshit.
6. Poison: Poison’d (2007)
Seven new tracks (recorded with a slumming Don Was) and a handful of tunes dating back 20 years (Score! You get to hear “Your Momma Don’t Dance” again!) make up this compilation that absolutely no one asked for. A surprisingly rockin’ version of Tom Petty’s “I Need to Know” is pretty much the only saving grace here, unless you like versions of the Who’s “Squeezebox” that make you want to push old people in front of cars.
5. Michael McDonald: Motown Two (2004)
First thing first: We love Michael McDonald. Both for his sense of humor (he willingly partook in a “yacht rock” celebration jam with Christopher Cross and the Roots on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon) and his indie street cred (he recorded vocals for a Grizzly Bear B-side). Hell, he even inadvertently provided the funniest scenes in The 40-Year-Old Virgin. We can let one Motown covers album slide as it made him a ton of dough, but Mike, c’mon…Motown Two? Don’t turn into Rod Stewart on us, pal.
4. Def Leppard: Yeah! (2006)
The fourth washed-up metal act on this list to go the covers-album route, the booming rockers sound about as limp as Rick Allen’s left arm (too soon?) on predictable covers such as David Essex’s “Rock On,” T. Rex’s “20th Century Boy” and Badfinger’s “No Matter What.” Def Lep die-hards may dig it, but let’s face it … they’re a dying breed for a reason. They’ll be armageddoning it before you know it.
3. Styx: Big Bang Theory (2005)
More accurate title: Big “Bang Your Head Against a Wall Until you Rupture Your Ear Drums” Theory. Wait, make that “reality.”
2. Rod Stewart: Thanks for the Memory – The Great American Songbook Vol. 6,743 (2005)
Okay, okay, this was actually only the fourth entry in this series, but Rod the Mod just unleashed a fifth one that’s made its way into the car stereos of cougars everywhere (with two other shitty covers album in between). What makes Vol. 4 the worst of the bunch? “Makin’ Whoopee,” a song that no one over the age of 35 should be allowed to sing, ever. Rod, for the love of all that’s holy, reunite with the Faces and make an honest-to-god rock album before another one of you croaks. Have all the kids you want, but the Reaper has his eye on you.
1. Three Hanks: Men With Broken Hearts (1996)
Seven years after singing “with” his dead father on “There’s a Tear in My Beer” (in a creepy video that actually predated Natalie Cole’s “Unforgettable”), Hank Williams Jr. desecrated his father’s grave once again, this time bringing in estranged son Shelton (a.k.a. Hank Wiiliams III) to join him in laying down vocals on a collection of Hank Sr. songs. The results were oh so tastefully spliced together with the original recordings to make it appear three generations were singing side by side. This sort of stunt was par for the course with Bocephus, and Hank III has made no bones about showing up for the paycheck. Thankfully, he made a name for himself a few years later playing far better covers in hardcore punk and psychobilly bands.