With Hayseed Dixie’s upcoming studio album ‘Hair Down To My Grass’ (due January 12), I questioned their ability to do each song well, as there are some big songs on offer with an eclectic mix of genres being transposed into their own ‘Rockgrass’ genre. Too, there is no percussionist in Hayseed Dixie, and with some heavy songs I again questioned whether maybe other songs may have been best suited to their expertise. However, being a big Weird Al Yankovic fan, I was looking forward to an album of covers that were taken out of their original genre and all bunched into one, despite the fact they handle the changing of the music over the lyrics in this instance. So as it is a collection of very different songs, I decided to take us through the album discussing each track, instead of an overview. Read on for more.
Don’t Stop Believin’
Initially released in 1981 by Journey, this song had resurgence in 2009-2010 due to X Factor and Glee covering the track with many other artists following suit. I note there are covers by artists in other genres but no well-known country-based versions so one was always coming by someone; I’m just surprised it took this long. The song has a good introduction and is close to the original version but obviously with different styles of instruments. The vocals are also good, Hayseed Dixie’s cover is not as ‘powerful’ as the original but you still find yourself bopping & singing along when there’s no one home… this cover of this song is catchy AF. Kudos to Hayseed Dixie for this one.
We’re Not Gonna Take It
This song was originally by Twisted Sister. I have to admit I was not familiar with the song at first by name, but YouTube’d it and realised I had actually heard it before and knew of it, though not well. Hayseed Dixie’s version is very different to the original, it’s a lot less heavy & more orchestral which is mainly why I didn’t recognise it. It’s very contrasting to Twisted Sister’s original, but ultimately very good. With no percussionist in Hayseed Dixie it was always going to be hard to try and copy the original as close as possible which is probably why they switched it right up and they have re-modelled it well and I would happily listen to this song over and over again. One could say they’ve turned it from a ‘hair metal’ song to a ‘power ballad’. This is without doubt one of my favourite songs on the album.
Summer of 69
Originally made famous by Bryan Adams and sung to death on karaoke if given the chance by anyone who has had a few too many beers, Hayseed Dixie have given us their take on the classic with this well-rounded acoustic cover. The banjo played throughout certainly adds to the sound and I’d go as far to say that the different instruments really compliment this song or it could be that the song compliments the instruments well… either way it’s a good cover, certainly not the worst I’ve ever heard, but take the banjo out and it would then just be a middle-of-the-road and run-of-the-mill cover that anyone on YouTube could have done.
Pour Some Sugar on Me
Originally by Def Leppard and once more without percussion I questioned the ability of Hayseed Dixie to cover this song, they needed to do something different, and did. Much like “We’re Not Gonna Take It” they’ve refrained from just playing their instruments harder and louder and hoping for the best, they’ve thought this through and ultimately they’ve done a really good job of it. If you’ve not heard the original, just imagine a basic riff akin to that of “We Will Rock You” by Queen and you’re not far off. Then you listen to this and you just can’t hear how they could possibly be the same song! I like it, a good and different cover of a song not many people would choose to cover.
Dude (Looks Like a Lady)
Originally by Aerosmith, I do know this song, so I was expecting a some form of electronic distortion sounds like the original but alas no! They make a good start to the song but a lack of percussionist in the band makes it an interesting cover. It’s quite ‘swing-y’ which is somewhat juxtaposed to the original but I like it. The banjo elements in this are more subtle than other songs, which is a good thing otherwise I think the rest of it would have got lost in the mix. Up there with one of the best covers of this song.
Livin’ On a Prayer
As everyone knows, this is originally from Bon Jovi. Hayseed Dixie’s cover is different to most, the vocals are more reserved than other covers I’ve heard which makes it more pleasing to listen to rather than have someone screaming down the mic at you. I’m more used to this being sung by some clown on a bar’s karaoke machine and because of that I wasn’t really looking forward to listening to this one but it surprised me, it’s not actually too bad to listen to, the vocals are smooth and the instrumentals compliment the song well. There’s nothing outstanding about this cover but also at the same time it’s a breath of fresh air as covers of this particular song go.
Wind der Veränderung
The German spelling of the title gives us nothing, but upon listening I can tell it’s a cover of “Wind of Change” by the Scorpions which if you’ve not heard the original, the only way I can really describe it is that it’s a “beautiful power-ballad”. Hayseed Dixie have given us a very good and a different take on the song. I’ve heard many versions by different artists and orchestras because, honestly, I love it, but I’ve not heard it in German before, even the original was in English despite the Scorpions being a German band.
Truthfully, I wouldn’t prefer this version over, say, the version the scorpions did with the London Symphony Orchestra, but if you know German or are learning German, then go for it! If you don’t know and aren’t learning German then it will just be background music and you’ll probably end up skipping this track.
We Are The Road Crew
Originally by Motorhead, and as you would expect, it’s usually quite a heavy song. After listening to the original and Hayseed Dixie’s cover, I can’t give you much other than it’s a good cover, obviously not as heavy as the original, but still just as catchy. This track is where Hayseed Dixie get to show off their prowess on their given instruments.
Right, off the bat I have to tell you that I LOVE Pink Floyd and ‘Comfortably Numb’ is, to me, one of their best ever songs. I am aware there have been a few covers of this particular song, the most mainstream being the diabolical version by the Scissor Sisters… but I’ll not go off on that tangent here, that’s for another time and place…
Being such a massive Pink Floyd fan, I was VERY apprehensive about hearing Hayseed Dixie’s cover. The introduction didn’t get off on such a good footing with me, it’s not what I’m used to, but I thought I’d roll with it and listen on. The vocals of this cover are good, they haven’t messed about with them too much, granted the tempo is a little quicker than the original which I’m again unsure about, the song is ok overall up until about 1:50 in when they turn it into a barn hoedown shindig with fast bluegrassy music and the such which I felt like crying at.
According to Wikipedia “Bluegrass country band Hayseed Dixie, who began their career recording and performing rock and metal covers, regularly finish their live sets with this song. However, they have never recorded it for official release.” So it was probably going to happen sometime, it just happened to be now. I am surprised it’s the penultimate song on the album and not the final song given that they finish live shows with it, one would expect it to be the last song. Hayseed Dixie have made this cover their own, and someone else they might like it, me personally, I do not, though given the option of this one or the Scissor Sisters cover, I’d choose this one.
Don’t Fear The Reaper
As made famous by Blue Oyster Cult, I am a fan of this song in general and I enjoy both the original and cover versions. Another of my favourite bands Big Country covered this song on their album “Under Cover” and I really like their version, as well as the rendition by His Infernal Majesty (HIM) which is a very heavy-metal focussed cover but just as good. Hayseed Dixie’s version doesn’t disappoint, the composition is very good and except for the change in instruments, there’s not much to note. Overall this is a very good ending to the album, it almost makes up for their rendition of “Comfortably Numb”. ‘Don’t Fear The Reaper’ is, as I said, close to the original, but distant enough in sufficient ways to be respected as a good cover version.
Eye of the Tiger & The Final Countdown
Made famous by Survivor and Europe respectively, both songs feature on this album, but both can be grouped in the “very much unremarkable” category as far as cover versions go. The composition of both is predictable, and while I’ve heard worse covers of both songs, I’ve also heard better.