Cover versions. Common across all music genres but particularly frequent amongst rock and metal bands, either paying homage to those groups who influenced them in their early years, or giving a new slant to an old tune.
Oft time covers can be exceptional, giving a new lease of life to an old classic - Hayseed Dixie's rock-grass cover of Motorhead's 'Ace of Spades' being such a work of genius. Sometimes they can be dreadful, taking a cherished original and mangling it beyond all recognition - Judas Priest's cover of 'Johnny B. Goode' being one that springs to mind.
Occasionally they are so bizarre as to be entirely undefinable - who remembers "Three Little Pigs" by Green Jelly, for example?!
Over the years our hero Hugin has been known to slip the occasional cover song into his recorded works - without too much thought Nazgul can think of a variety of examples: a Kiss cover ('Beth') by B-Machina, Uruk Hai's rendition of 'March or Die' (Motorhead) and 'Hermodr A Helferd' (Burzum), Venom's 'Countess Bathory' (performed by both Hrossharsgrani and Elisabetha in instrumental and vocal versions), Bathory's 'Song To Hall Up High' (covered by Hrossharsgrani), and even an Enya cover, 'May It Be' by Uruk Hai (on "Northern Lights"). There are others of course, including Countess, but I'm sure you get the idea! Nazgul shall ponder the merits of a future Blog post dedicated to the subject...
The point of all of this rambling relates to the pair of extraordinary releases shown above, released under the Hrossharsgrani banner. Given a thousand years and an infinite amount of paper and ink Nazgul would never have come up with the idea of Hrossharsgrani covering a 1960's classic like The Animals 'House of the Rising Sun'. Well, would you? It's a notion inspired equally by madness and genius, recorded for fun aeons ago by Hugin and then hidden way in the vaults of W.A.R. Studios until earlier this year.
The two versions are slightly different to one another: the predominantly 'green' release being slightly the longer of the two versions, and staying closer to the original melody and theme of the song, whilst the 'white' version gives more freedom for the battle drums to run riot and the guitars/vocals to blaze their own path through the song in inimitable style.
Truly bizarre, the beginning of both versions is the same and is an absolute classic - the original delicate acoustic guitar introduction being sampled and faithfully repeated together with the original version of the first line of lyrics, cruelly truncated, to become "There is a house down in New Orleans / They call the rising sun / And....WOOOOAAARRRRRGGGGHHHHH!" This song really should find a place on a tribute compilation CD for the Animals, as it would surely cause the audience for such a recording to literally drop dead from either sheer terror or complete outrage!
Hugin himself maintains that this single is "terrible" (and that's the cleaned-up version of his opinion!) but there is a perverse kind of fun to be had with it. Over the years that Nazgul has been playing Hugin's recordings from the death-deck in his library, Mrs Nazgul has become accustomed to a wide variety of songs spewing forth into the Castle and has listened to them all with good grace. This demented tune, however, raised even her well-shaped eyebrow in a quizzical expression, and led to the Castle's monkey running for cover behind the suits of armour in the grand hall.
The only possible conclusion that can be drawn is that Hugin has definitely hit on something with this. Nazgul's just not quite sure what....