I have an admitted affection for cover albums. I know it seems lately they are the trendy thing to record, but I still look forward to hearing how artists reinterpret the songs of others. So when the latest CD from Swedish (now California) rockers Vains Of Jenna hit my desk, everything else got put on hold.
It’s something of a curiosity why the band would opt to make its third full length studio album a covers record, but I’m more than willing to follow them down the rabbit hole.
Kicking off the 15 track CD is a cover of Cee Lo Green’s recent hit, “Fuck You”. An interesting pick, and quite well done, with a refrain from Rod Stewart‘s “Maggie May” buried in the ride out.
The most intriguing part of cover or tribute albums is the song selections. And the album’s second track, Eddy Grant’s “Electric Avenue” is a unique choice. While I was never a fan of the original rendition, VOJ’s rocked up version is an enjoyable trip back in time.
Next up, the requisite Beatles number. In this case, “Get Back”. Nothing new here, but well done.
The band’s take on the Deep Purple classic, “Smoke On The Water” is a slowed down bluesy affair. Or shall we say, ‘smokey’. While you won’t get that iconic riff, you can almost imagine this is what the original version of the song might have sounded like before it was all cranked up.
The band jumps back to 1964 for their re-imagined version of The Zombies “She’s Not There”. Well they give it a modern flair with the guitar work, they keep the feel of the song intact.
In that same vein, VOJ moves forward one year for The Mama’s and Papa’s “California Dreamin'”.
When I queued up track eight I cringed. Does the world really need yet another cover of Mountain’s “Mississippi Queen”? I think not. This may well be the most over covered song in rock history next to “Black Betty” by Ram Jam. Vains Of Jenna, while they played it in rockin’ style, shot themselves in the foot by wasting studio time covering this track.
The Box Tops get the remake treatment on their hit, “The Letter.” Well done, but nothing spectacular.
On Bob Dylan‘s “Blowin’ In The Wind”, VOJ give the song their own unique twist, making this one of the more memorable songs on the album.
Ten Years After see their 1971 hit “I’d Love To Change The World”, off A Space In Time, covered quite successfully.
Neil Young’s 1979 return to the spotlight with his record Rust Never Sleeps yeilded the legendary anthem “Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)”, whichVains Of Jenna pays inspired homage to.
Covers of Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here” and Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Sound Of Silence” round out the album, along with the radio friendly version of track one “Forget You”.
In all, Reverse Tripped is an enjoyable and well performed infectious romp down memory lane. Musically it is fairly flawless. The weakness here is arguably the limited scope of the tracks the band took aim at. After listening to the first three or four songs you’re feeling pretty good about the eclectic path the band is taking, but then they sort of settle into a familiar groove, and settle for what feels like an uninspired setlist.
That said, everyone has their own idea of what they’d like to have heard covered, so you can’t really hold that against them now can you?
If you enjoy cover albums, all 15 tracks on Reverse Tripped are well played and solidly produced. It’s a worthwhile listen.
Catch the band on tour this summer: