Glenn Danzig has been no stranger to throwing his listeners a curveball, the POWER FURY ORCHESTRA being one glaring example, his industrial-kissed fifth solo album “Blackacidevil” and the “Black Aria” series being others. Danzig is reportedly seeking to do a dark blues album with cowpunk maverick Hank, III in the future. Suffice it to say, Glenn Danzig does whatever feels right to him in the moment.
Right now, the moment finds Danzig releasing a covers album, “Skeletons”, one saluting a vast range of artists such as Elvis Presley, Everly Brothers, AEROSMITH, ZZ TOP, THE TROGGS and BLACK SABBATH. “Skeletons” is, frankly, subject to the ear of the beholder. Listeners will either be enthralled or mortified by these covers, but the glaring detriment to “Skeletons” is its bucket of slop cadence.
Glenn Danzig sang, played piano, guitar and bass on all tracks, as well as drums on half of album. He also brought along some of his familiar posse Tommy Victor (lead guitars, as well as guitar and bass parts), and Johnny Kelly (drums) to drop these tone-bombed nuggets in recording spurts from 2012 to 2015. For certain, there’s a concentrated effort on “Skeletons” to revisit the coarse and grimy airs of the MISFITS days, which could strike the fancy of Glenn Danzig’s fans as much as the skull face paint adorning him on the album’s cover.
Unfortunately, the sparse production betrays “Skeletons” more than makes its point. Danzig’s vocals echo dully like he’s singing in an unfinished basement with his band slogging on the furthest end. Danzig wields a grubby take on “Devil’s Angels” from the Roger Corman biker film with the same stripped and chunky sound as vintage MISFITS. The replication is made complete by bringing in the Dallas Arbiter Jumbo Fuzz Pedal used in the glory days of the MISFITS.
Danzig does a raw and choppy version of Elvis Presley’s “Let Yourself Go” (best-known from The King’s “’68 Comeback Special”) with the band humping and clopping behind him. They pull back the tempo on BLACK SABBATH’s immortal “N.I.B.”, which helps make the cover Danzig’s own, keeping the doom touches upon it while slavering between his baritones and altos. The cover of AEROSMITH’s “Lord of the Thighs” is likewise chunky, slightly slower and chaotic as the riffs rain and peal gorily.
“Action Woman” (THE LITTER) is one of the better covers on this album, the dirge-dusted, piano-led take on the Everly Brothers’s “Crying in the Rain” being the best. “Action Woman” rocks with a pounding rhythm and punky slam. Danzig gets into “Action Woman” at his fullest, hitting his pipes with more flair than on the preceding tracks. He also has a blast on “Girl Like You” by THE TROGGS, even if the track is a mess with its jumbled bass burps and riffs that are filthy for all the wrong reasons.
Perhaps the biggest surprise on “Skeletons” is Danzig’s take on ZZ TOP’s “Rough Boy”. Sorry to say, it’s a misfire. No matter how capable Danzig sings, the clumsy rhythm and aloof riffs unintentionally make it a farce. Likewise, the take on “Find Somebody” by THE YOUNG RASCALS sounds like it’s done half-asleep: even with its pop-driven groove giving it a small verve.
Glenn Danzig’s intention to honor his musical roots on “Skeletons” is noble in concept. Nonetheless, the album’s purposefully dirtied-up projection does it more disservice than veneration. Let fans decide what they’ll back, this or the Jerry Only-sung MISFITS covers album from 2003, “Project 1950”.