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No Cover – Ellefson

When not on tour or recording with Megadeth, and when he’s not expanding his successful coffee company, and when he’s not helping the kids with his Youth Music Foundation, David Ellefson really starts having fun. With his solo project appropriately named Ellefson, David teams with vocalist Thom Hazaert to give the world another welcomed punch in the gut.

This record of 19 cover tunes from some of the great artists in rock and metal history was done while David and Thom were assembling the next Ellefson record of original material. What started as a small little interim side project quickly turned into a wealth of beloved songs and a 2-CD package. This gigantic collection of great cover songs is evidence that these guys are hardcore fans, too.

The first thing that jumped out at me was the tracklist for this record. Songs like Def Leppard’s “Wasted,” Cheap Trick’s “Auf Wiedersehen,” Fight’s “Nailed To The Gun,” and Bachman-Turner Overdrive’s “Not Fragile” only resonate with fans that have ventured deep into the catalogs of these artists. It’s beyond refreshing to see “Auf Wiedersehen” instead of “Surrender.” It’s refreshing to see “Wasted” instead of “Pour Some Sugar On Me.” This is not your mama’s set of hits; this is a set of great deep cuts chosen by hardcore fans of these bands. For me, that gave this record all kinds of integrity before the first note was even played. 

Now, not everything is a deep cut. I must admit I was slightly disappointed to see “Love Hurts” from the phenomenal Hair Of The Dog record from Nazareth. I would give my youngest child’s left arm (sorry Bridget) to hear these guys do “Changin’ Times” from that record. And I can almost hear Hazaert’s gravel tone just annihilating Kiss’ “God Of Thunder,” but instead we get the more popular “Beth” from the classic Destroyer record. But these guys have a desire to step out of their comfort zones, and I can appreciate that. With Hazaert’s harsh tone and Ellefson’s iconic status in the thrash metal realm, it would be easy to stick close to that heavier path. The band chose to give the record more shape while trying their hand at a few things that might be unexpected and challenging, and they do a more than respectable job with them, too. Hearing Hazaert sing his way through “Love Hurts” and “Beth” especially, I couldn’t help but place him on a list of some of the most versatile singers I’ve heard.

Photo by Melody Myers

Thom Hazaert isn’t Rob Halford or Freddie Mercury -- but when he dons those hats, he owns it and keeps it real. Whether he’s crooning softly on “Beth” or channeling a boisterous Freddie Mercury on “Sheer Heart Attack,” Hazaert makes it all work. His tone is more Lemmy than Freddie, but somehow he puts his own twist on this stuff, and it all works amazingly well. Also, it’s very rare to hear a heavy, gritty singer that annunciates as clearly as Hazaert. You can understand every word in these songs, and it never once sounds awkward or stiff. It also doesn’t hurt that the production value on this thing is way beyond your average record. Take one listen to everything that’s going on in “Beth” and you’ll be flabbergasted, I promise.

I think the best thing about this record is the mark that it can leave on some younger listeners, or listeners that never did their homework. I grew up with BTO’s Not Fragile record, and when everyone fell in love with the radio hits of “Roll On Down The Highway” and “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet,” I was experiencing the title track. I still think it’s one of the heaviest songs that has ever punished my ears. Needless to say, Ellefson totally hits the target here. Make sure you're buckled in when you get to that one.
The first Fastway record was permanently affixed to my turntable when it came out, but somehow there are many hard rock fans that aren’t familiar with the record. Ellefson gives us “Say What You Will” and another chance for listeners to make that great discovery. My jaw crashed to the floor when I saw Fight’s “Nailed To The Gun” here. Hell, I know Judas Priest fans that don’t even know about the Fight record that Rob Halford did during his time away from Priest in the 90’s. Yeah… this No Cover record is doing the hard rock and metal crowd a huge service by bringing this stuff back into the spotlight.

I’m definitely ready for the new Ellefson album of original material, but I really can’t think of a cooler way to keep me waiting. We got a teaser of new original material by way of a single called “Simple Truth” earlier in the year, and now this huge set of fun cover songs. From the sound of what’s coming out of the Ellefson camp with these releases, I have a feeling that that new album of originals is going to be well worth the wait.

1. "Freewheel Burning" (Judas Priest) ft. Jason McMaster, Gus G, Andy James, Dave McClain
2. "Tear It Loose" (Twisted Sister) ft. Eddie Ojeda, Dave McClain
3. "Love Me Like A Reptile" (Motorhead) ft. Doro Pesch, Greg Handevidt, Chuck Behler
4. "Holiday In Cambodia" (Dead Kennedys) ft. Charlie Benante
5. "Rebel Yell" (Billy Idol)
6. "Wasted" (Def Leppard) ft. Frank Hannon, Jacob Bunton, Dave McClain, Bumblefoot
7. "Riff Raff" (AC/DC) ft. Jason McMaster, Dave Lombardo
8. "Nailed To The Gun" (Fight) ft. Andrew Freeman, Russ Parrish, Jimmy DeGrasso
9. "Not Fragile" (Bachman-Turner Overdrive) ft. John Aquilino
10. "Auf Wiedersehen" (Cheap Trick) ft. Al Jourgensen, Brandon Yeagley, Charlie Benante
11. "LOVE Machine" (W.A.S.P.) ft. Dirk Verbeuren, Dave Alvin
12. "Love Hurts" (Nazareth) ft. Brandon Yeagley, Chuck Behler, Tyson Leslie
13. "Eat The Rich" (Krokus) ft. Dead By Wednesday
14. "Sheer Heart Attack" (Queen) ft. Bumblefoot, Doro Pesch, Charlie Benante
15. "Over The Mountain" (Ozzy Osbourne)
16. "Sweet FA" (Sweet) ft. Todd Kerns, Bumblefoot, Shani Kimelman
17. "Beth" (Kiss) ft. Tyson Leslie
18. "Say What You Will" (Fastway) ft. Troy Lucketta, Mark Slaughter
19. "Downed" (Cheap Trick)



Talking To DE/TH:
David Ellefson & Thom Hazaert Cover No Cover

I hope all of you have taken the time to listen to Ellefson's latest album of cover tunes, entitled No Cover. In the conversation below, bassist David Ellefson and singer Thom Hazaert take time to talk about the record, the bands they cover, and the powerful list of friends they had working on the record with them. Hit the play button, sit back with your favorite beverage, and hang out with two of the nicest guys in the biz as they discuss No Cover and more.

You can catch Ellefson on the road playing cuts from No Cover on the following dates:

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