At the end of 2020, George Lynch and Jeff Pilson released ‘Heavy Hitters’, a well meaning but not especially good covers album, on which the 80s legends took all manner of material and made it heavier. Not everything will withstand being made into a massive rock tune, and hearing the two ex-Dokken men cranking their way through Martha & The Vandellas’ ‘Nowhere To Run’ with distorted vocals was especially grim. Likewise, the world didn’t need Duran Duran’s perfect pop tune ‘Ordinary World’ reworked in a sub grunge mould, or the Joan Osborne hit ‘One of Us’ presented as an unimaginative hard rock trudge. However, the musicians clearly had fun mauling other peoples’ material, and three years later, decided to foist a second volume of covers upon everyone. Thankfully, ‘Heavy Hitters II’ is a massive improvement on its predecessor.
The End Machine’s 2019 debut for Frontiers Records presented almost an hour’s worth of classic sounding hard rock. Its sound was exactly as you’d expect from a couple of musicians associated with Dokken and the ex-vocalist from Lynch Mob. It’s higher octane tracks gave George Lynch every opportunity to hammer his fretboard, while the darker and slower workouts put bassist Jeff Pilson squarely in the spotlight. Most importantly, a lot of the numbers wielded huge choruses to great effect, often giving vocalist Robert Mason (ex-Cry of Love/Warrant) plenty to work with. In terms of melodic metal, it was a great disc – certainly much better than Dokken had managed in a few years.
In the hands of inspiring musicians looking to have a little fun, a covers album can be a wonderful thing. From Sandie Shaw’s ‘Reviewing The Situation’ in 1969 (an LP that was happy to boast the world’s first Led Zeppelin cover), to Bryan Ferry’s 1973 release ‘These Foolish Things’ and Powerman 5000’s ‘Copies, Clones & Replicants’, some of the best covers albums are ones that show artists unafraid to remake songs in their own image.
Over the years, dUg Pinnick has put his name to some fantastic albums. His long career with King’s X has afforded him a legendary status. Likewise, guitarist George Lynch has performed on some great material. Even at times when Dokken’s material didn’t hit the mark back in the 80s, Lynch’s lead guitar work was almost always terrific. In theory, a union between the two should have created hard rock gold, but unfortunately, the first two albums released by KXM – their supergroup with KoЯn’s Ray Luzier – were patchy affairs. 2017’s ‘Scatterbrain’ was an improvement on the 2014 debut, but still fell a little short in direct comparison to anything by King’s X at their very best. The bulk of this third album – their first for Frontiers Records – follows suit with another hit and miss collection of heavyweight rockers.