Hellacopters - Head Off!

This is the seventh and final album from Swedish rockers The Hellacopters. After 13 years, 7 albums and countless singles, EP's and compilation tracks the band have decided to call it a day. The decision to call it quits was taken after the recording and mixing of this album, which is that usually most dreaded of things… a covers album. This however, is far from a lazy cop out like some (most?) covers albums. A lot of love and hard work has gone into making this recording, the finest tribute to some of the bands favourite tunes possible. Much like the recent Wildhearts covers album the songs chosen are not obvious or even particularly well known choices. There's no huge hits covered here, more songs that should have been huge hits but - and as is so often the case - never got the audience that was deserved.

Kicking off with "Electrocute" (originally by The Demons) it sets the mood for the album with some fine rocking riffs and honky-tonk piano, kinda like a rocked up version of the Stones. "Midnight Angels" (The Peepshows) grabs you from the off and drags you into its wonderful melody and doesn't let go. Let's be honest, any song with a bunch of handclaps in the bridge is always gonna be a winner! The pace is moved up a gear on "I'm Watching You" which is another killer tune delivered with a sneer on the lips of Nicke Royale. The band show they can also slow things down and still deliver the goods on "No Salvation". It's always good to hear a New Bomb Turks song and the cover of "Veronica Mars" is absolutely spot on and could even rival the original, how many times can that be said about a cover? I'd never heard "Making Up For Lost Time" before but it's an absolutely fantastic tune that has that special something that makes you wanna replay the track as soon as it ends before continuing with the rest of the album. There's a foot-on-the-floor 100mph ride through "Throttle Bottom" (Gaza Strippers) in the closing stages of the album which would make Rick Sims proud before ending with a cover of The Royal Cream's "Darling Darling". For a band that's featured many members from the Scandinavian music scene over the years, it's perhaps fitting that there's an incestuous cover to end.

The band started off with a list of 50 tracks before narrowing them down to around 20; 12 of which are presented here. I can only hope that if the songs left over are of the same quality as these they get released somewhere down the line. This is by far the best covers album I've ever heard and it's a fitting swansong to a band who've worked harder than most during their time together. They formed through a love of music so it's only right that they leave us with a collection of songs that were a big part of the reason for the bands existence. Their farewell tour of Europe is scheduled for September with Scandinavian dates to be announced for October, don't miss the final opportunity to experience the band live. This really is an album that should be in everybody's collection and will make you want to seek out the originals, and isn't that the sole purpose of a covers album? As such, this album works perfectly on every level.


by John Baxter

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