Every time I see a band release one of these all covers albums, I cringe. For the most part they all reek of cash grabs or contract fulfillment. Usually they are without any hint of originality or fun, which is sad because the songs should reflect that music that got them excited as kids. Sadly, The Covering, the collection from Stryper is just like the ones I mentioned. I was curious to see which songs the band chose since everyone knows Stryper for being a Christian hard rock group. Most of the songs they picked are typical of what a group of guys growing up in the early 80’s would have listened to. There are the Scorpions, Black Sabbath, KISS, Ozzy, Maiden, Judas Priest and Van Halen songs present. About the only “surprise” is the opener, a cover of Sweet’s “Set Me Free”. While the band does a nice job in retaining the spirit of the original here, it cannot be said of the others. It all starts to sound like background noise at your local bar with a well produced cover act on stage.
What is most disappointing about The Covering is the song selection. Too many of them were obvious choices or did not fit the bands ability. So I will do something a little different and go track by track and review and offer my suggestion for what they should have done.
“Set Me Free”, by The Sweet. I liked this one as it was a little different and also not the obvious song to pick from that bands catalog.
“Blackout”, by The Scorpions. Not a bad cover but not a good one either. With Michael Sweet’s high range, one of the Scorps’ slower songs like “Still In Love With You” may have been better. I know that it is a hit but “Blackout” is one of that bands biggest songs as well.
“Heaven and Hell”, by Black Sabbath. Great choice of a Dio era Sabbath song and no complaints about this one.
“Lights Out”, by UFO. Such a great song and Stryper does it justice. My only other choice for them would have been “Love To Love”.
“Carry On My Wayward Son”, by Kansas. This radio rock staple just comes across as so cover band. When I hear this I imagine drunk 50 year-old’s swaying in front of the stage and singing every other line as the struggle with consciousness. I think “Play the Game Tonight” would have been a lot more enjoyable.
“Highway Star”, by Deep Purple. This was a bad idea. Robert’s voice sounds way too clean for this and Oz Fox cannot play Blackmore. I may have gone with “Comin Home” or another song that had Coverdale on vocals.
“Shout It Out Loud”, by KISS. Not one of KISS’ best songs but we all have KISS songs that we love that we probably shouldn’t. The inherent obstacle with choosing a KISS song is that almost all of them are about sex and that does not jive with Stryper’s belief. So you have to go with a Paul song, especially since his vocals would work for Stryper. “Tomorrow” or maybe “100,000 years”
“Over the Mountain”, by Ozzy. This is just plain atrocious. Micheal’s vocals do not work and the guitar playing is horrendous. I would have stayed away from Ozzy because his stuff is so iconic and his vocals do not easily match up with Michael’s range. “Rock N Roll Rebel” would have been the best choice just on song title alone.
“The Trooper”, by Iron Maiden. As bad as you think the Ozzy track is, this is ten times worse. Just a really, really bad idea. It reeks of cover band at your corner sports bar so much that you actually feel bad. If anything they should have chosen one of Maiden’s poppier tracks to better ft them. “Can I Play with Madness” would have been so much better of a choice.
“Breaking the Law” by Judas Priest. Again sports bar cover band here as well. Just very very blah and with these choices of heavier bands it sounds like the band is in over there head. They seem a pace behind and it does not work. “Love Bites” or “Hot Rockin” if someone would have asked me.
“On Fire” by Van Halen. I do applaud the choice on this one. Not an obvious one but once again, the original vocals do not translate well to Stryper. God made only one Diamond Dave and we should all respect that. You figure that of all the bands, Stryper would know that. I really wish the band would have showed a little self deprecation and done “Runnin With The Devil” the high range would fit and the band would have gotten major points for it.
“Immigrant Song” by Led Zeppelin. Covering Zeppelin is a very tricky endeavor. They are such an iconic band and their stuff is so well known that any deviation is almost heresy. So this is a almost no-win situation and they did a good job here.
The album finishes up with the lone original track, “God”. I will let you guess what the subject matter is but sonically it is definitely classic Stryper
After the disc finishes playing I do not know how many people will be anxiously waiting to replay it. Only a handle full of the covers are decent and while the new song is good, it is not that good. With The Covering, Stryper showed everyone the bands that caused them to start playing. While I think every band has makes up this kind of list, this one should have been left in the jam room.