Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Ian Gillian & Tony Iommi "WhoCares," V/A "Remachined: A Tribute to Deep Purple's Machine Head"

(Eagle Rock) I dunno...sometimes I can listen to classic rock icons/dinosaurs play and sing all day, and pretty much everyone ever in Purple or Sabbath was intensely talented. But sometimes it feels like these are lofty gods whose hubris blinds their senses. Which is odd to say in response to a charity record, which one could argue involves humility and empathy by definition. Gillian and Iommi collabo-ed with Jason Newsted, Jon Lord and Niko McBrain for a charity single that has now been repackaged with rarities by G & I, bloating two songs into two discs. The problem is that much of this is recent, excessive, absurd, not great material. Then again, with metal gods excessiveness and absurdity often are greatness, and while I say I don't like most of this, the wailing vocals and guitars and melodramatic music by these guys (and friends, including Glenn Hughes and Dio, singing "Smoke on the Water" live!) is inherently awesome, even when it's not ostensible enjoyable. It's amazing how often Spinal Tap seems like a book of proverbs in real live rock, because much of this is great without being actually good. There are some genuinely bad things, including an inferior Sabbath track or two, and an absurd Hughes/Iommi song called "Let it Down Easy" that Sammy Hagar would have passed on. But a ten minute Deep Purple studio jam from the 90s, a silly Marvn Gaye cover done when Gillian's first band had a reunion, and Gillian singing New Orleans style with Dr. John bring way more smiles than grimaces. The Deep Purple tribute record is more solid, but considering that "Machine Head" is something you could listen to every day forever without getting sick of it, I'm not sure when you would put this on. The probles with covering perfect songs are demonstrated by the two versions of "Smoke on the Water." Santana is too reverent, Flaming Lips are too flippant, and both just make the original sound better without adding anything to the conversation. A live "Highway Star" by Chickenfoot and a muscular "Space Truckin' by" Iron Maiden are both enjoyable, and demonstrate the love these guys feel for the source material. Gelnn Hughes shows off some impressive pipes, Black Label Society get dirty, Metallica does OK, Both Steve Vai and Steve Stevens do what Steve Vai and Steve Stevens do, and members of Def Leppard, G&R, , Papa Roach, Cold Chisel, Black Country Communion, and Red Hot Chili Peppers contribute, so this comp not lacking for stars. Or highways.

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