Courtesy: Napalm Records
Covers collections are among the most peculiar releases that musical acts of any genre can release during their careers. Unlike singles compilations, which in their own way, actually serve a purpose – that purpose being that they could lead new audiences to pick up an act’s albums in whole – covers compilations serve little if any purpose. They are just collections of songs that acts put together to “pay tribute” to other acts and make money in the process. They are really just space fillers that acts use in order to satisfy contractual obligations for album release numbers. Keeping that in mind, one can’t help but wonder why respected and talented musicians, such as Bobby Blitz (Overkill), Mike Portnoy (ex-Dream Theater, The Winery Dogs, Transatlantic, Sons of Apollo, Liquid Tension Experiment, etc.), Phil Demmel (ex-Machine Head, Vio-lence) and Mark Menghi (Metal Allegiance) would come together just to create a compilation of cover songs for what is right now its first and only release. The 10-song compilation, titled American Made, is scheduled for release Friday through Napalm Records. It does delve into music from some notable bands who have come before this hard rock supergroup dubbed BPMD. That dichotomy of the bands whose music is covered versus the band performing said songs does make for at least some interest at best. This item will be addressed a little later. The specific arrangements of said songs is certain to be its own discussion point. They will be discussed later, too. Each item noted here is important in its own right to the whole of this compilation. All things considered, American Made proves itself to be a record that while worth hearing at least once, is sadly anything but memorable.
Hard rock super group BPMD’s debut recording American Made is a recording that is worth hearing at least once, but sadly not much more than that. One of the record’s only saving graces is the contrast of the bands whose works are covered to the band performing said covers. The bands whose works are covered throughout this roughly 37-minute collection include, but are not limited to Aerosmith, Ted Nugent, Lynyrd Skynyrd, ZZ Top, and Grand Funk Railroad. Even Mountain gets its own recognition here. Simply put, the bands whose works are covered here are in a realm that is completely opposite of the bands from which BPMD’s members have come. Blitz is front man of the veteran thrash metal outfit Overkill. Portnoy spent the majority of his professional career keeping time for the famed prog-metal outfit Dream Theater. Even the other projects in which he has taken part have been in genres directly opposite of that of the covered bands. Much the same can be said of Demmel and Menghi. Considering the contrast of the resumes of BPMD’s members and the bands that they cover here, that in itself is worth at least engagement for audiences. It shows that the band was willing to go out on a limb and do something different than what they normally do in their dayjobs. One could also argue that maybe it is a display of the acts that influenced the band’s members. If that’s that case, then the group has definitely gone far from those influences over the years, again making for its own share of discussion for listeners. To that end, that contrast of the band’s collective background and the bands that this group covered does at best a little bit for the collection. Directly tied to those discussions is the discussion on the collection’s one unavoidable negative, the very fact that it is a covers collection.
It has already been noted here that the members of BPMD have decidedly outstanding resumes. So to that end, it is just baffling that considering the band members’ pedigrees, the group’s first impression of sorts would be a collection of songs that have been covered time and again by so many other acts. These men are elite figures within the hard rock and metal communities. It made audiences hope for something original right out of the gate so to speak. Instead, the group opted to essentially phone it in and put out a covers compilation. Had the group gone that route of releasing a debut loaded with original content first and then this record later, it would have made the compilation easier to accept. What’s more, unlike the case of Fozzy, which also started off with a collection of covers so long ago, it has to be assumed that BPMD is just a one-off project for its members. At least in the case of a band, such as Fozzy, it was known that said band’s debut was just the beginning for that act. This knowledge detracts from the draw of American Made. It essentially makes the compilation come across as little more than a cash grab for the band and nothing more. Keeping that in mind, this unavoidable aspect of American Made makes it difficult to call this record memorable. While this aspect cannot be ignored, it does not make the album a complete failure for the group. BPMD’s take on the record’s songs makes for its own share of engagement.
One of the most interesting updates that the band features in American Made is that of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s ‘Saturday Night Special.’ BPMD’s update does largely stay true to its source material by and large. The amped up re-imagining also gives the song a new identity and feel, needless to say. It gives the song more of a 1980s hair metal type of sense. Whether fans love or hate this one will be left to them, but it is definitely an interesting take, needless to say. BPMD’s update of Aerosmith’s ‘Toys in the Attic’ is another key addition to the collection. As with the band’s cover of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s ‘Saturday Night Special,’ this cover also stays largely true to its source material. It just once again gives the cover an amped up remake. The song even goes so far as to include Joe Perry’s guitar solo from the original work. It’s just weird hearing Bobby Blitz’s gritty vocals and the full-on hard rock re-imagining here. That aside, this update actually works almost as well as the original. BPMD’s cover of Grand Funk Railroad’s ‘American Band’ is another important addition to this compilation. The band’s take once more does strive to stay true to its source material, and it is certain in its own right to create a lot of discussion among listeners. That’s because while it does stay true to the source material, it seems to have trouble balancing its attempt to echo the song’s classic rock sound and the band members’ own hard rock and metal leanings. It is definitely going to have listeners talking. That is not to say that the song is a total loss or that any of the compilation’s works are losses. The songs will certainly leave listeners talking, though. Between the discussions insured through the musical updates and the very lineup of featured bands, which could actually lead some listeners to embark on musical journeys into catalogs of bands to which they otherwise might not have listened, the compilation proves itself worth hearing at least once. To that end, the compilation is not a total failure. However, one cannot ignore the fact that considering the resume of each of BPMD’s members, this just seems like little more than a cash grab. To that end American Made makes itself worth hearing at least once, but anything but an American classic itself
BPMD’s covers collection American Made is a headscratcher of a record. The first release from the hard rock super group, it will potentially lead some listeners to take their own journeys into the catalogs of the record’s featured bands. The songs that are covered here play even more into that potential musical journey of discovery, as the covers will definitely lead to lots of discussion among audiences. For all of the positives that the record’s featured bands and songs generate, one still cannot ignore the very issue that the band’s members are among the music industry’s elite figures. To that end, coming together for potentially just one record and making said record a covers collection will leave a somewhat bitter taste in many listeners’ mouths, so to speak. It leaves one feeling like this was just a rushed, phoned in work that was little more than a cash grab for the band’s members. Keeping all of this in mind, the record proves itself worth hearing at least once, but sadly not much more than that. American Made is scheduled for release Friday through Napalm Records. More information on American Made is available along with all of BPMD’s latest news at:
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