Editor's note: Today we present a guest review from our friend Chad Baalman. A former writer for the Alton Telegraph, Baalman brings a love of classic rock 'n roll, metal and alternative to the mix. We have been looking for new voices and are willing to listen if you have something worth reading. Feel free to send your pitch here.
By Chad Baalman
From the first time you pick up Puddle of Mudd's newest release, Re:(disc)overed (for those of you who still buy CDs), it's clear this isn't your typical Puddle of Mudd album.
No album art showing a young boy with his pants around his ankles taking a leak behind the bushes (Come Clean, 2001). No running mascara (Volume 4: Songs in the Key of Love & Hate, 2009).
Nope. Just an old Victrola phonograph providing a fitting cover for -- what else? -- an album chock full of classic rock covers of tunes from the 1970s and '80s. This coming from a band that gave us "Control" in 2001. ("I love the way you look at me / I love the way you smack my ass / I love the dirty things you do / I have control of you.").
OK, so this isn't YOUR Puddle of Mudd on Re:(disc)overed. Call it your Mom's (or Grandma's) Puddle of Mudd. And there's nothing wrong with that.
Puddle of Mudd and lead vocalist Wes Scantlin hit the ground running with a revved up version of The Rolling Stones' 1971 classic "Gimme Shelter." But it didn't turn Mick Jagger and Keith Richards' masterpiece upside down. The offering still has that bluesy feel -- replete with female backing vocals.
That theme, for the most part, was carried out through the 11-track collection, which was produced by Bill Appleberry. The band tried to keep the integrity of the originals intact while putting its own, alternative/post-grunge/rock spin on them.
Scantlin tackles Neil Young's "Old Man" on the album's second track and did so with grace and class. There are a couple anxious moments in the rendition of Elton John's "Rocket Man," yet with Paul Phillips (guitar), Doug Ardito (bass) and Jeff Bowders (drums), they save it with a big chorus.
"For me, it was very important that I could identify in a lyrical sense," Scantlin said in the album's liner notes. "A lot of them really struck a nerve. "Old Man" by Neil Young and "Rocket Man" by Elton John definitely hit exceptionally close to home. As I've become an adult, I've realized that I have become my old man."
Puddle of Mudd's version of Free's "All Right Now,” nestled in the second half of the disc, is a hidden gem. Scantlin does Paul Rodgers proud with his raspy chants -- the band also covers the Rodgers-led Bad Company hit "Shooting Star" on the album -- and of course it wouldn't be a proper cover without the cowbell. No need for Will Ferrell on this one!
There are other highlights throughout the disc. The band dumps the clutch and kicks it into fourth gear with its version of Billy Squier's "Everybody Wants You." BC Jean steals the show and shows off her vocals when she teams up with Scantlin on "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around," a 1981 duet by Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty. "The Joker," originally performed by The Steve Miller Band, is upbeat and a nice change of pace.
Sure, there's a misstep or two. Kiss made Music From The Elder after all. If Scantlin went for a home run trying to follow Robert Plant on the Led Zeppelin’s "D'yer Maker," then he had to settle for a single to shallow right. Same with AC/DC's "T.N.T.," which got off on the wrong foot with the yells of "Hey, hey, hey!" instead of the late Bon Scott's "Oi, oi, oi," which makes it the vocal equivalent of one of those cheap foreign tool sets. Try as he might, Scantlin had to settle for par with this track.
"These are all classics that are perfect in every sense, so who are we to mess with that?" Phillips said in the liner notes. "We just wanted to represent them in their form and add a little of our sound."
The boys were able to give a tip of the cap to their heroes -- some of the top rock performers of all-time -- with proper covers and give them a hint of 2000s flair and Scantlin's swagger, but yet not run them through the sleaze machine of 2009 when they offered up "Spaceship": ("So let's get it over and just get naked / With sweat dripping down your little back.").
There’s nothing wrong with the sleaze machine, but this wasn’t the time or place and Puddle of Mudd was wise not to go there with Re:(disc)overed.
Puddle of Mudd - Re:(disc)overed track listing
Gimme Shelter (The Rolling Stones)
Old Man (Neil Young)
Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around (Stevie Nicks w/ Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers)
The Joker (Steve Miller Band)
Everybody Wants You (Billy Squier)
Rocket Man (Elton John)
All Right Now (Free)
Shooting Star (Bad Company)
D’yer Mak’er (Led Zeppelin)
Funk #49 (James Gang)
With A Little Help From My Friends (The Beatles) *
Cocaine (Eric Clapton/JJ Cale) *
* Bonus tracks may not be available on all versions