Motorhead

Playlist: Rock Duets

Sometimes a duet is the best thing in the world. Other times, it’s a disaster. But it always leaves memorable stories. There’s something about two huge musicians getting together to create music that’s thrilling and exciting. Pop music is full of countless duets, but they don’t seem as popular for rock music. They certainly exist; they’re just not as abundant as they are in pop music. So let’s look at some of the most notable and popular duets in rock music. For the purpose of this playlist, a duet is a song where both artists have an equal amount of time on the track.

“Close My Eyes Forever” – Lita Ford and Ozzy Osbourne

This is probably the most famous rock duet. The song, which apparently came about as an accident according to Sharon Osbourne, was the third single for Lita Ford’s self-titled debut album. With sappy lyrics and a blazing guitar solo, it’s no different from the many power ballads of the era. Ozzy’s haunting vocals do add an eerie touch to the song, but it’s still pretty cheesy. Though I love Osbourne, I never liked this song. It’s too slow for my tastes and is just corny. Then again, I’d be hard press to find one power ballad from the 80s I actually like. Still, this single stands out as one of the most notable duets in rock music.

“Love Interruption” – Jack White and Ruby Amanfu

The music world went a little nuts when Jack White announced a solo album only a year after the White Stripes ended. The debut single “Love Interruption” wasn’t what people expected. There were no roaring riffs and White screaming over screeching guitars. Instead, the song is mellow, subdued, and a bit cynical. Though White could’ve easily carried the song himself, the addition of Amanfu’s smoky vocals adds an understated sensuality to the song. Something about her voice adds a raspy, soulful nature that would’ve been missing otherwise. I actually think it’s one of the strongest tracks from Blunderbuss and serves as a reminder love isn’t always pretty.

“Dancing in the Street” – Mick Jagger and David Bowie

Two of music’s iconic artists, what could go wrong? To be fair, the cover itself isn’t that bad. There’s nothing particularly special about it, but it’s fun at least. Yet, the music video will go down in infamy. It’s unbelievably bad. Jagger exaggerates everything from his facial expressions to his seizure inducing dance moves. Bowie remains cool though it looked like he left the house in some wild pajamas. And don’t forget the scene where Jagger chugs down a soda while Bowie sings. It’s probably one of the worst videos of the 80s. Hell, even Family Guy said it was the gayest music video in history. Thinking about it, there are moments where the two singers get a little too close for comfort.

“State of Shock” – Michael Jackson and Mick Jagger

Mick Jagger shows up again for a better collaboration with Michael Jackson. Recorded for The Jackson’s album Victory, the song is a raucous and kind of spastic team up with the rocker. The song was originally meant to be a duet with Freddie Mercury for the Thriller album, but scheduling conflicts kept the two from working together. Jagger was called instead and it ended up being his biggest hit away from The Rolling Stones. It’s one of those unexpected hits from Jackson’s catalog, but it’s one of the finest examples of pop and rock colliding. Later on, Jackson said he Jagger sang off key, while Jagger called Jackson “lightweight.” Anyone else think the Freddie Mercury version would’ve been epic?

“Good Times” – INXS and Jimmy Barnes

When two talented vocalists come together, they often try to outshine each other. That’s not the case here. For their contribution to The Lost Boys soundtrack, INXS teamed up with singer/songwriter Jimmy Barnes on this cover of The Easybeats song. Michael Hutchences’ smoldering vocals pair exceptionally well with Barnes’ bluesy, rock-tinged voice. They actually work together to give listeners a thrilling experience. The two sharing vocal duties along with the high energy music supporting them, it’s everything you want a good rock rolling song to be. It has a similar good time vibe as Bob Seger’s “Old Time Rock and Roll.” Listening to Barnes’ vocals, you have to admit it’s reminiscent of rockers, like Robert Plant.

“Hunger Strike” – Temple of the Dog

Temple of the Dog started as a way for Chris Cornell and members of Pearl Jam to deal with the death of Mother Love Bone frontman Andrew Wood. Their debut album did exceptionally well with this song being their biggest hit single. The track features Chris Cornell and Eddie Vedder on vocal duties. When two of grunge’s most notable and talented vocalists get together for a song, you know it’s going to be good. And that’s exactly what you get with this powerful, emotionally driven tune. Both artists get time to share their unique vocal styles, Vedder being gruff and raspy and Cornell’s higher range. It results in a song that’s beautiful and haunting.

“Stand by Your Man” – Wendy O. Williams and Lemmy Kilmister

Ever wonder what it would sound like if two punks ripped apart the Tammy Wynette classic “Stand By your Man?” That’s what Wendy O. Williams and Lemmy Kilmister for a single in 1982. The song is almost unrecognizable with gritty, blazing guitars making a ruckus while the two scream out the lyrics over the noise. Oddly enough, it works. It’s one of those weird covers you would never expect two rock legends to even consider. They breathe new sinister life into the country classic that makes you want to head bang. O. Williams and Kilmister teamed up again for “Jailbait,” which appeared on the Plasmatics album Kommander of Kaos. Listening to these two, it’s clear they were truly one of a kind.

“I Ain’t No Nice Guy” – Motorhead and Ozzy Osbourne

When two of hard rock’s most iconic and legendary figures team up, you expect something epic beyond belief. That’s not the result of this duet featuring Lemmy Kilmister and the Prince of Darkness. Rather than getting together for a kickass track that would melt your face off, the two sing a ballad instead. It’s a slow, somber song made for radio airplay. It actually became a huge hit for Motorhead’s tenth album March or Die. It’s a decent song and features a slow burning solo from guitar hero Slash, but it won’t hit that sweet spot for most metalheads. It’s just so unexpected for the rockers. What’s even more surprising is seeing Ozzy with a five o’clock shadow in the video. Yikes.

“A Tout Le Monde” – Megadeth and Christina Scabbia

This song originally appeared on Megadeth’s sixth album Youthanasia and quickly became a staple for the band. At the time of its release, it garnered controversy for its music video. MTV banned it claiming it promoted suicide, which Dave Mustaine was quick to dismiss. The band re-recorded the song in 2007 for the album United Abominations with Christina Scabbia of Lacuna Coil. Aside from some slight alterations, like a faster pace, there;s not much difference aside from Scabbia singing an entire verse showing off her vocal chops. The song keeps its sentimentality intact along with its hard hitting sound and slightly aggressive mood. Many may prefer the original, but this re-recording is a great blend of old school and new school.

“Walk This Way” – Run DMC and Aerosmith

These days the world of rock and rap often combine for both awesome and questionable results. But back in the 80s, the two were seen as exclusive genres that should never cross paths. Run DMC and Aerosmith broke that barrier with this duet. When it was released in 1986 it blew everyone’s collective minds. Not only did Run DMC cover this classic rock track, they even got Steven Tyler and Joe Perry to join them. The song is still amazing to this day and remains one of the best mash-ups ever. It, of course, would go on to inspire other rock/rap collabs, such as Jay-z and Linkin Park (remember when that was a thing?)

“The One You Love to Hate” – Rob Halford and Bruce Dickinson

Two heavy metal giants, both who are considered the best vocalists in the genre, team up for this roaring track. Recorded for Halford’s debut album Ressurection, the song features Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson on vocals. You’d expect to be beyond amazing and the most bad ass thing you’ve ever heard. In reality, it’s okay. It feels more like a Dickinson track since his voice overpowers everything and Halford is stuck on back up duty. It’s a pretty standard metal song with soaring vocals, blazing guitars and a lot of aggression. It’s not bad; just not very remarkable.

“Don’t Fear the Reaper” – HIM and Sanna-June Hyde

On HIM’s debut album, the band provided a haunting rendition of the Blue Oyster Cult classic. This version brings out all the darkness and grim view that’s implied in the lyrics. And frontman Ville Valo’s baritone vocals provide are a perfect match. Adding some brightness to the track is Finnish actor Sanna-June Hyde. She provided guest vocals for this track and “For You” early in her career. She’s not necessarily the best singer but her voice surprisingly well with Valo’s. There’s also something eerie about their voices. Still one of the best covers of this song.

“Under Pressure” – Queen and David Bowie

The thought of Queen and David Bowie doing a song together sounds like a dream. This amazing collaboration resulted in one of the best songs of the 80s. It’s an undeniable classic; pairing Bowie’s mellow vocals with Freddie Mercury’s dramatic bravado leads to a beautiful sonic experience. And try not to get chills during the bridge when Mercury pleads “Why can’t we give love/give love/give love?” The song became a huge hit for both artists and remains their most notable. Of course, the riff would be stolen by Vanilla Ice in the 90s, who claimed it wasn’t the same song.

Which is your favorite rock duet? Which ones did I miss? Let me know in the comments!

Playlist: Horror Movie Fest

Pull out the costumes, stock up on candy, and break out the scary movies. Halloween is upon us! Of course horror movies are big this time of year, but they also find themselves in several songs. Whether directly about scary movies or just inspired by them, several musicians have channeled their love for the terrifying genre into their music. And no, I’m not just talking about Rob Zombie. While you’re looking through Netflix for the best horror movies out there, here’s a playlist of songs about horror movies.

“Living Dead Girl” – Rob Zombie

You could fill this entire playlist with tracks from the Zombie man, but not only is this one of his best songs, it’s also packed with horror references. The title is taken from a 1982 Jean Rollins film of the same name and the video is a take on the silent horror film The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari. There are also various samples taken from movies, such as Lady Frankenstein and Daughters of Darkness. At least you can always count on this man for great horror inspired songs…not so much for movies though.

“Eyes Without a Face” – Billy Idol

One of my favorite Idol songs, this one gets its title from the French film Les yeux sans visage aka Eyes Without a Face. Though it starts out as one of the punk rockers more mellow tracks, it still packs a punch with a searing riff from Steve Stevens during the bridge. It’s a ballad where Idol manages to sound haunting, yet longing for his lover. It’s still one of his best tracks and to think it was inspired from this little horror gem. Go watch that movie if you haven’t by the way. It’s unsettling and impressive for a movie of its time.

“Hellraiser” – Motorhead

This song has an interesting history. It was first recorded by Ozzy Osbourne in 1991 for the album No More Tears. It was then re-recorded by Motorhead the following year and repurposed it for the film Hellraiser 3: Hell on Earth.  Just from listening to the lyrics you can tell producers latched onto the song for the title alone. It doesn’t actually have much to do with the movie, aside from Pinhead appearing in the video. The closest the song comes is during the second verse that talks about waking up in another place and doing something bad for your health, which are themes related to the franchise. But I guess we can let it slide since it is a kick ass song anyway.

“Chain Saw” – The Ramones

The Ramones have shown their love for horror films with tracks like “Pet Sematary,” but this one was influenced by the iconic Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Roaring to life with a buzzing chainsaw, the music is upbeat and is made for moshing. You almost forget about the gruesomeness happening in the lyrics as Joey Ramone sings “Texas chain saw massacre/They took my baby away from me/But she’ll never get out of there.” It also shows how the band had the talent to turn anything into a kick ass punk tune.

“Nosferatu” – Blue Oyster Cult

Before Stephanie Meyers gave us sappy, emo vampires, there was the original Dracula. That then spawned the legendary silent film Nosferatu, which BOC recounts in this haunting song. The lyrics tell the story of a lady doomed to fall in love with the vampire only to end with his demise by sunlight. It’s not the only song out there about the famous creature of the night, but it does stay pretty faithful to the nature of the film.

“Human Fly” – The Cramps

With a slick rockabilly, punk rock infused sound, Cramps frontman Lux Interior hisses, stutters, and buzzes his way through this track inspired by the Vincent Price film The Fly. The simple guitar groove creates this b-movie creature creepiness to it – it would be perfect in a 50’s horror film – perfectly cementing the mood for the cool track. If you’ve seen the movie, especially the 1986 remake, you know that this fly in the song doesn’t sound as chilling as the bastardize experiment.

“Fright Night” – J. Geils Band

Acting as the lead track for this excellent vampire flick, the song is a bit hokey. Think of other “spooky” tracks like “Monster Mash” for an idea. The lyrics describe the antagonist as a liar, a gigolo, “a man of many faces,” while trembling synth tries to create a spooky, creepy riff. Yeah, it’s kind of cheesy, especially with the hook simply shouting “Fright night! Whose it gonna be tonight?” but it grows on you after a while and kind of fits the b-movie mood.

“Freddy Krueger” – S.O.D.

This is a pretty straight forward thrash metal track describing the grotesque manipulator of nightmares, Freddy Krueger. The horror icon is described as having flex metal knuckles and maggots crawling throughout his skin and the chorus features gang vocals shouting “he comes for you/what will you do.” With this track it’s plain and simple that you don’t want to mess with Freddy, no matter how many shitty sequels he has. If you’re looking for another Freddy inspired track, you can check out Dokken’s “Dream Warriors,” but it’s kind of crappy.

“He’s Back (The Man Behind the Mask)” – Alice Cooper

Moving from Freddy to Jason, this song isn’t what I would call one of his best. If anything it’s kind of schlocky, but that just means it’s perfect for a Friday the 13th movie. Recorded for the film Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives, Cooper lays out the basic premise of the film: Jason comes back to life and starts killing foolish teens. The song even makes sure to use the killer’s infamous “ki-ki-ki-ma-ma-ma” echo. Oddly enough, the track is very New Wave in nature making it stand out from Cooper’s other songs. Apparently, Children of Bodom covered this song, but it was never released. I bet their version is pretty killer.

“I Walked with a Zombie” – Wednesday 13

Similar to Rob Zombie, Wednesday 13 is another rock artist who bases his work around his love of horror movies. This was inspired by the 1943 flick of the same name. The lyrics even loosely follow the story of a woman who enters a trance like state and is taken to a mysterious island where she tries to find a cure. The video itself features scenes from the famous zombie film Night of the Living Dead. 13 has a ton of songs based on horror movies, but with the upbeat music and the catchy hook, this is his most popular.

“Night of the Living Dead” – The Misfits

There’s something about punk rock and horror that mesh so well together and The Misfits always know how to do it best. Released on their debut album Walk Among Us, the song loosely follows the plot of the movie by talking about not knowing who’s a zombie and seeing them rip apart your loved ones. It’s short, sweet, and sure to give you your zombie fix.

“Evil Dead” – Death

This death metal band pays homage to the first film in the Evil Dead franchise with this chaotic song. Guitars grind and thrash while singer Chuck Schuldiner screams and rages about “spirits within causing terror” and voices speaking out. The lyrics are pretty sparse with vague references to the movie. The only way you know it’s about the horror film is the chorus that yells “evil dead!” over and over again. This isn’t the only time a rock band would use Evil Dead as an influence and I’m sure it won’t be the last.

“Psycho Killer” – Talking Heads

The lyrics for this track were largely inspired by Norman Bates from the Hitchcock classic Psycho. Here, David Byrne explores the fractured and shattered mind of a serial killer. How he came up with the song is kind of strange. According to Bryne, this was his attempt at making an Alice Cooper song except in the style of Randy Newman. He felt the result was pretty silly, but it proved to be another hit for the band. Though it’s a great song, I prefer Cage the Elephant’s cover.

Honorable Mention

“Black Sabbath” – Black Sabbath

Even though both the title of the song and the band were taken from the 1969 horror film of the same name, the lyrics have nothing to do with the movie. But you have to give a nod to the movie that would give birth to the best heavy metal band in music history. Also, the song is just fucking terrifying. The lyrics are actually based on a supernatural experience Geezer Butler had. According to him, after painting his apartment black, hanging up several crosses, and reading a book on witchcraft before going to bed, a black figure appeared at the end of his bed. When he went to get the book he discovered it was gone. This remains one of the band’s strongest tracks and the one that gave them their Satanist connections though they were unfounded.

There are a lot of horror inspired songs out there, so which ones did I miss? Let me know in the comments!

Fix: The Ministry Movie (2011)

fix_poster_9-1Release Year: 2011

Rating: 8/10

Ministry is a notable band, especially when it comes to industrial music, which they helped to popularize. But like any long lasting group they’ve had their share of problems, which are captured on this film. If you were looking for a history of the band or footage of them having fun backstage before rocking out live you’re in for a surprise. While it does show the guys backstage this film digs into the crazy, unbelievable mind of Al Jourgensen.

Right from the beginning, the movie makes it clear this won’t be a happy story when then drummer Reynolds Washam talks about the “rock star” treatment that was missing from their 1996 SpincTour. It then cuts to a clip of Al Jourgensen in a viking helmet screaming his lungs out. From there, several artists, such as Trent Reznor, Lenny Kilmister, and Maynard Keenan, talk about how Ministry has influenced their own musical endeavors. There are even some bits from the band’s record label at the time and how they were signed and what they thought of the music. Somewhere between these interviews and various clips of the band on stage, it turns into a showcase for how crazy Jourgensen is.

The frontman isn’t shy about expressing his displeasure with touring. He goes on about the people who want to use and abuse you and that the best part about making music is the actual recording of it. He also talks about why record companies suck and how life on the road is tough, especially when you’re sharing a bus with five other guys. He said the same thing about touring in his book that came out last year and as a fan it’s a little heartbreaking to hear. You always want to think the band you’re seeing live is having a good time and when you learn they’re not, you just wonder why they keep going. It’s the same thing with Jourgensen. Throughout the film he’ll address the fans as idiots and various other names making you wonder why he even tours anymore. But this isn’t the most shocking footage. That comes when Al’s drug use is highlighted.

Anyone who has followed the band knows Jourgesen doesn’t hide his substance issues and the same goes for this film. Not only does he openly talk about why he does it, he even shoots up several times in front of the camera. Nothing is left to the imagination as he burns a spoon for another hit of heroin. Spliced between these clips are shots of Dave Navarro and Casey Chaos talking about their behavior on drugs, which is parallel to the way Jourgensen acts. Another thing you learn about the frontman is he is super paranoid. There are shots of him backstage trying on bullet proof vests because he thinks someone is out to get him. There’s even a point where he explains why he wears a top hat (so no one can aim for his skull) and how he has one for everyone in the band. Again, it makes you question whether he should continue to play live if he thinks someone is going to assassinate him.

There are several points in the film that become uncomfortable. Most of them are the shooting up scenes already mentioned, but another one shows Al sticking his dick in a cooked chicken. Try to process that for a minute. It’s not the first or the last time his junk makes an appearance. There’s also a scene where he talks about how groupies are supposed to be handled that’s kind of disgusting. After you’ve seen yet another clip of Jourgensen taking drugs you begin to wonder if the real point of the film was to show the disintegration of the rock star. Whatever the point it’s something you won’t forget anytime soon.

Overall, the film gets 8/10. There’s no doubt the movie is interesting. There are some light-hearted scenes of the guys goofing around backstage, but the entire thing is tinted by Jourgensen’s issues. He comes off as a crazy guy who should be standing on the corner talking about the end of the world most of the time. He’s paranoid, superstitious, and full of drug problems (at least he was in this film). Hearing him talk about touring and his reasons for not doing certain songs is disheartening for fans and leaves you wondering why he even bothers to continue if he hates it so much. It’s an eye opening film that takes you into the mind of the Ministry frontman.