As many of you may or may not be aware of, Fearless Records has been releasing a series of compilations entitled Punk Goes.... It began back in 2000 with Metal. The album lived up to its name in that there were actually punk bands doing metal songs. As the series continued, the definition of punk changed to the point where it shouldn't have even been applied. In its ninth entry, Punk Goes Classic Rock contains 15 bands that no person in their right mind would consider punk. Personally, I have never heard of any of these performers before this comp.
I don't know if I am the best person to review this, admittedly, because I have an enormous amount of bias. I grew up with these songs. These are some of my favorite artists and have shaped who I am as a musician today in a significant way. Ever since these compilations have failed to include any punk bands (Vol. 2: Goes Pop), I have dismissed them as pure tripe. The only reason I even bothered to check this one out was because I had to hear what are now considered punk bands would do to my favorite songs. I had no idea music could be this bad.
The original tracks fit the moniker of classic rock for a reason. They were the soundtrack of a generation. They were revolutionary for their time. Many of them have survived for 40+ years and are still picked up by younger generations today. The original artists have sold millions of albums with these songs and have enjoyed long, prosperous careers. Many of the surviving musicians are still performing today. Every single one of these artists have one if not numerous Greatest Hits collections. The people that have unfortunately come together to form what may loosely be called bands will be lucky if they are remembered in a year. Unfortunately, many of them will be that lucky. They wouldn't be on this compilation if someone didn't give a shit about their bastardized performances at some point.
A majority of these songs could have been performed by the same group of people under different names. The vocals are a clear indication that labels are using castration. Those that are lucky enough to keep their nads are succumbed to Auto-Tuned vocals. I was always under the impression that a cover song was meant to be a tribute to the original that is given a twist to make it the artist's own. That is not the case here. For the most part, these songs are performed to a 'T' with a higher level of distortion and much, much shittier vocals. Somehow, all of the passion, the anger, the feeling that drove these songs to be written in the first place have been robbed. Instead, they are replaced with tepid, lackluster and all-around boring impersonations of what were once great songs.
Of the 15 tracks, there are three that stand out as less worse than the others. That isn't to say that these are any good, but they just didn't desecrate the memory of the originals as much as others. The first is We the Kings doing 38 Special's "Caught Up in You." I don't know anything about We the Kings, but based on this performance, it seems like they picked a song that properly showcases their style. It is a rather accurate rendition of a song that I would never call classic rock. The band's own poppiness carries well into this song and might be the only track that I would even recommend listening to. The Maine's version of Def Leppard's "Pour Some Sugar on Me" stays true to the original and manages to even have a decent energy level at some points. Still, there is nothing about the track that would ever make me prefer it to the original in any way, shape or form. I don't know who VersaEmerge is, but they need to ditch whoever is doing male vocals. That guy is just awful. The girl who sings manages to have a nice range and performs "Paint It, Black" well enough, but the song suffers so much from the additional vocals. That song already lost points in comparison to the Unseen's performance. Their version of "Paint It, Black" is one of the best renditions I have ever heard and I would take that over the original in most cases.
The remainder of contributions to this is completely forgettable or only memorable in that it is that bad. "Separate Ways" (A Skylit Drive), "Take Me Home Tonight" (Every Avenue), "More Than a Feeling" (Hit the Lights), "All Along the Watchtower" (Envy on the Coast) and "Bohemian Rhapsody" (Never Shout Never) are some of the worst things I've ever heard. The vocals for "Bohemian Rhapsody" actually make me wince in pain the entire time. That and "More Than a Feeling" tie for the record of shortest amount of time it took for me to hate a song. What Jimi Hendrix did with Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower" was nothing short of amazing. He truly understood the idea behind a good cover and made a song that was as much his own as it was Dylan's. What Envy on the Coast have done to that song is almost criminal. Any energy that Hendrix instilled is gone. Just because you can play what he did doesn't mean that you share his passion that made him legendary.
Really, you didn't need me to tell you how bad this thing is. If you have any familiarity with this series, then you already know what to expect. Any semblance of originality cannot be found here. If you have any positive connection to the original versions of these songs, you will hate this. If you do or have ever considered yourself a fan of punk, you will hate this. However, just like every other week when more and more shitty music is released upon the world, life goes on. Unfortunately, mine is slightly worse for having listened to this.