"Butchering the Beatles: A Headbashing Tribute" (Restless; 2006)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Although I certainly understand and respect their place in history, I've never been a huge Beatles fan. I mean, I'm not going to change the channel when one of their songs is played on the radio, but I don't own a single Beatles album in my collection, either. (I'm not sure whether I should have admitted that or not but, too late, the damage is done).

This all-star tribute to the Beatles, however, is packed with more hard rock / heavy metal power than any Wacken Open Air Festival. And, for the most part, "Butchering the Beatles" is exactly what you'd expect it to be: hard rock and heavy metal versions of songs originally written and recorded by the Beatles.

Does it work? Of course it does! First, the Beatles are perhaps the world's premier rock'n'roll songwriters. While they certainly never intended the songs on this disc to sound like this, the fact that these songs still sound good when amped up by some of heavy music's biggest guns, is as much a testament to the original tunes as it is to the talent that's performing them here. And let's not forget producer Bob Kulick, who's one of the best at putting together tribute albums such as this.

I guess the best way to review this album is to do it track-by-track and with a lot of name-dropping. So here goes:

1. "Hey Bulldog" - Alice Cooper, vox; Steve Vai, guitars; Duff McKagen (Velvet Revolver / Guns N Roses), bass; Mikkey Dee (Motorhead), drums. Raunchy and raucous. A great star to the CD.

2. "Back In The USSR" - Lemmy Kilmister (Motorhead), vox/bass; John5 (Marilyn Manson / Rob Zombie), guitars; Eric Singer (Kiss / Alice Cooper), drums. With Lemmy on vocals, even the birthday song could become a heavy metal classic. This track is respectful of the original while the musicians here make it their own.

3. "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" - Geoff Tate (Queensryche), vox; Michael Wilton (Queensryche), guitar; Craig Goldy (Dio), guitar; Rudy Sarzo (Dio), bass; Simon Wright (Dio), drums; Scott Warren (Dio), keys. More or less a straight-forward rendition of the original with wilder solos.

4. "Tomorrow Never Knows" - Billy Idol, vox; Steve Stevens (Billy Idol), guitars; Blasko (Ozzy Osbourne), bass; Brian Tichy (Billy Idol), drums. Billy Idol gives this song his typically sharp edge while Steve Stevens psyches up the guitar.

5. "Magical Mystery Tour" - Jeff Scott Soto (Yngwie Malmsteen / Soul Sirkus), vox; Yngwie Malmsteen (Rising Force / Alcatrazz), lead guitar; Bob Kulick, (Meat Loaf / Paul Stanley Band), rhythm guitar; Jeff Pilson (Dokken / Foreigner), bass; Frankie Banali (Wasp / Quiet Riot), drums. Another track in which the guitar is king (especially with Malmsteen and Kulick contributing). Would sound great on an arena tour.

6. "Revolution" - Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top), vox / guitar; Vivian Campbell (Def Leppard), guitar; Mike Porcaro (Toto), bass; Gregg Bisonnette (David Lee Roth / Ringo Starr Band), drums; Joseph Fazzio (Superjoint Ritual), drums. "Revolution" with a Southern twang. What more can I say?

7. "Day Tripper" - Jack Blades (Night Ranger / Damn Yankees), vox; Tommy Shaw (Styx / Damn Yankees), vox; Doug Aldrich (Whitesnake / Dio), guitars; Marco Mendoza (Whitesnake / Thin Lizzy), bass; Virgil Donati (Steve Vai / Soul Sirkus / Planet X), drums. Guitars again take the forefront here (with Blades and Shaw shining as well). Another respectful but slightly different cover.

8. "I Feel Fine" - John Bush (Anthrax), vox; Stephen Carpenter (Deftones), guitar; Mike Inez (Ozzy Osbourne / Alice In Chains), bass; John Tempesta (The Cult / Testament), drums. A menacing version of this tune.

9. "Taxman" - Doug Pinnick (Kings X), vox; Steve Lukather (Toto), guitar; Tony Levin (John Lennon / Peter Gabriel), bass; Steve Ferrone (Eric Clapton / Tom Petty), drums. Funkier than the original and groovier than you'd imagine.

10. "I Saw Her Standing There" - John Corabi (Motley Crue), vox; Phil Campbell (Motorhead), guitar; C.C. Deville (Poison), guitar; Chris Chaney (Jane's Addiction), bass; Kenny Aronoff (Smashing Pumpkins / Jon Bon Jovi), drums. A lively, hard-rocking version of the already lively Beatles song. This one sounds like it was really fun to record.

11. "Hey Jude" - Tim "Ripper" Owens (Judas Priest / Iced Earth), vox; George Lynch (Dokken / Lynch Mob), guitar; Bob Kulick (Meat Loaf / Paul Stanley Band), rhythm guitar; Tim Bogert (Vanilla Fudge / Beck / Bogert & Appice), bass; Chris Slade (AC/DC), drums. Ripper's soaring vocals give this track all the soul of the original and, when the metal guitars kick in and Ripper steps it up a notch, you must might get goosebumps.

12. "Drive My Car" - Kip Winger (Winger), vox; Bruce Kulick (Kiss / Grand Funk), guitar; Tony Franklin (The Firm / Whitesnake), bass; Aynsley Dunbar (Whitesnake / Journey), drums. Another nearly straight-on cover with awesome guitar work.

Bottom line here is easy: Anybody who's a fan of any of the artists who perform on "Butchering the Beatles" will find plenty to enjoy here. Of course, there will be those Beatles purists who bitch about what's been done to their beloved classics. I guess I'd feel the same if the Beatles covered Motorhead.

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.


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Copyright 2006 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 04 Oct 2018 19:54:49 -0400 .