Danzig ‘Skeletons’ Review: Some diamonds in the rough amidst a few misfires.
Punk/Metal icon Glenn Danzig has been teasing the release of his covers album Skeletons for years, and now it’s finally here.
It’s a curious album: many tracks show songs which obviously influenced the frontman’s formative years (Black Sabbath’s N.I.B, Elvis Presley’s Let Yourself Go), while others are both wonderfully obscure (60’s biker movie theme Devils’ Angels) and thoroughly unexpected (ZZ Top’s power ballad Rough Boy).
Angel’s is a blast, with Danzig’s doo-wop vocals and his band’s punk delivery channeling vintage Misfits. The melodramatic Satan (another biker movie song) is cut from a similar cloth, while the dark blues of Let Yourself Go recalls his work in Samhain.
It’s Danzig’s most punk effort since his early years, which translates to a brutal Stooges-esque rendition of The Litter’s garage rock tune Action Woman.
But not every Danzig-ized cover succeeds: While the band’s high energy take on the The Troggs With A Girl Like You is infectious, the out of tune backing vocals deeply distract.
And the less said about their tone-deaf, sloppy rendition of Aerosmith’s Lord of The Thighs the better-except to press the skip button. The original version is far from that band’s best, but this does nothing to elevate it (why this wasn’t axed to make way for his duet with The Runaways Cherie Curry on Some Velvet Morning is a mystery).
The tin can production (which has plagued most of his self-produced 21st century catalogue) certainly doesn’t help. Given the long wait for Skeletons, it often sounds rushed. I couldn’t help but wonder how much more resonant and atmospheric these songs would’ve been under the watchful eye of former producer Rick Rubin.
Muddy mixes obscure the rhythm section of bassist Steve Zing and drummer Johnny Kelly, with Danzig’s bleating vocals overpowering the sound mix, save for Prong guitarist Tommy Victor’s pinch harmonics.
But quibbling aside, one can’t deny Skeletons‘ charms, particularly in the ballad department. Hardcore Danzig fans know that despite the macho posturing, he has a way with a tender tune and Rough Boy is a definite standout. His soaring croon on that track is one of his most emotive to date (Note to self: I’d love to hear his take on Del Shannon’s Runaway).
Likewise, his melancholic Gothic take on the last track, The Everly Brother’s Crying In The Rain, featuring ominous piano and Phil Spector dynamics is a keeper: it also winds up being the best produced song on the album.
In the end Skeletons will mainly appeal to Danzig diehards who can overlook its flaws in favor of its highlights-which will tide them over until either his Elvis EP or next original album comes out, whenever he deems fit to release them.