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Music Review – Pat Boone: In A Metal Mood

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So, on several occasions previously, my Dad had mentioned that Pat Boone had recorded an album of metal covers. Well, today I finally got around to hunting down the album in the library, and I gave it a listen.

First – The Track List

  • You’ve Got Another Think Comin’ (Judas Priest)
  • Smoke on the Water (Deep Purple)
  • It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Want To Rock ‘n Roll) (AC/DC)
  • Panama (Van Halen)
  • No More Mr. Nice Guy (Alice Cooper)
  • Love Hurts (Nazareth)
  • Enter Sandman (Metallica)
  • Holy Diver (Dio)
  • Paradise City (Guns ‘n Roses)
  • The Wind Cries Mary (Jimi Hendrix)
  • Crazy Train (Ozzy Osbourne)
  • Stairway to Heaven (Led Zeppelin)

This album wasn’t done as straight up metal. Instead, the songs were re-arranged into a sort of combined Big Band & Jazz style. This worked okay for some of the songs, but others it didn’t. Now, I kind of skipped around a bit on the album, when a track didn’t sound that good to me. All that said:

What I couldn’t really get into and skipped:

Love Hurts, Panama, and Enter Sandman really didn’t do it for me, and No More Mr. Nice Guy was also kind of meh for me (but then again, I’m not that much of an Alice Cooper fan).

Some of this is due to the way the vocals worked in the original, compared with how it worked in a big-band form, like with Enter Sandman. I’m not sure how to adapt Metallica to Big Band though, or even if you can. The Thing That Should Not Be might work, but the subject matter would probably be something that Boone wouldn’t have been comfortable with. I’d almost think that going with a different artist would have been better, possibly even doing Aces High by Iron Maiden (as Dickinson’s soaring vocals could fit better with Big Band than James Hatfield’s growl). Fear of the Dark would probably work pretty well too.

Part of this was also due to the arrangement – Panama had a really pounding sound to it in the original, which made it a great driving song, which in turn fit with the subject matter of the song, and was why it was the music in the Intro cutscene for Gran Turismo 4. I really think that Dance The Night Away or Jump would have worked better for this album instead of Panama.

What I listened to all the way and didn’t quite work:

Paradise City didn’t work very well, partly because of Axl’s vocal style. The Big Band style works great for sustained notes, which unfortunately Paradise City doesn’t have a lot of. Instead the song uses a more rapid vocal style that, while it works great in metal and blues, and even in some more recent R&B, just doesn’t work in Big Band at all. Yes, the sustained notes are there, particularly in the chorus, but Boone practically has to engage in scat in order to make the delivery of the lyrics keep up with the music on the verses. Sweet Child of Mine by Guns & Roses would have been a much better choice.

Crazy Train had a few little problems, like the “choo choo” bit by the background vocalists, and some other stuff that I couldn’t put my finger on. Stairway to Heaven was okay, but I wouldn’t have minded if they’d made the album a little longer and found a way to adapt the song’s big middle guitar solo to saxaphone, like they did with the song’s ending guitar solo.

What Worked:

“You’ve Got Another Thing Coming” by Judas Priest was an excellent start to the album. Rob Halford’s vocal style works excellently with big band. While I admit I was a little surprised to see Judas Priest on here due to Halford’s sexuality being an open secret, it was a really good pick for the album.

“Smoke on the Water” by Deep Purple, and “The Wind Cries Mary” by Jimi Hendrix, while I wouldn’t describe those artists as being “metal”, have absolutely splendid versions on this album.

The cover of “It’s A Long Way To The Top” by AC/DC also turned out very well. However, the stand out track on the album was the cover of “Holy Diver” by Dio. While RJD’s own contribution to background vocals is unfortunately barely audible over the other female background vocalists, having him in there gives the performance something extra. The inclusion of Psalm 23 at the end of the track, while it wasn’t included in the “Holy Diver” album, wasn’t that bad either, considering that it’s essentially become the “Metal Psalm”. It’s definitely one of the best tracks on the album.

The Verdict:

I realize that I’m taking this album too seriously, but in spite of (or because of) the surrealism of mixing Pat Boone with metal, and my own enjoyment of big band and swing music, I thought this was a pretty decent album. I won’t say that this album will turn metal fans into Pat Boone fans. After his show on TBN (the Trinity Broadcasting Network), was canceled by the network because of Boone doing this project, Boone backpedaled from the album, and was rewarded by getting his show back.

Frankly, it’s unfortunate that he felt he had to do that, as in my book, because this album was a definite artistic gamble, but a good one. He tried something new, and did a decent job at it. The only problems I had with this album were related to song selection instead of performance or arrangement – with the exception of my nitpick about Stairway to Heaven. I would have liked to have listened to a second collection of metal songs by Boone, or even his take on other other genres of music, including, possibly, some older New Wave music. I could see “She Drives Me Crazy” by the Fine Young Cannibals” fitting in nicely with this format.

Hopefully, some other artist with a similar musical style to this album, like Michael Buble, will rise to the challenge of mixing metal with Big Band or Swing and making something amazing out of it.


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