Garage Inc. (Elektra)
by Martin Popoff
Lovingly forged by fans for fans, Garage Inc. reaches right into the hockey-haired brain matter perched above patched jean jacket and scoops out the well-conceived wishlist, thereafter delivering it at levels damn near perfection. Garage Inc.‘s main victory is its completeness, Metallica giving up all of the old EPs and every last scrap o’ cover they’ve ever breathed (sigh, OK Trekkies, prove me wrong, send me those emails), adding eleven new tracks for a two-disc tour de force that is a blessed thing. And the booklet rules, explaining the history of each band, and their context within metal and Metallica, adding flotsam, jetsam, trivia, and tons of pics of both the covered and coverers. Disc two is the old material, pushing for the most part NWOBHM (New Wave of British Heavy Metal) tunes through a compressed, urgent, Hetfielded, uniquely Metallica pork grinder, most slight improvements on the original, except of course for Queen’s “Stone Cold Crazy.” The Motörhead tribute tracks (recorded live for Lemmy’s 50th birthday party) kinda lurch though, Hetfield blowing the vocals, and then leaving them way too quiet in the mix to the point of distraction.
Eleven new covers stomp all over disc one, ranging from non-events to the divinely sublime. Detroit Bob Seger’s “Turn The Page” is the single, and it’s the worst pick with the worst execution of the lot, while acoustic stumble “Tuesday’s Gone” (Skynyrd) arrives ill-conceived despite all the big shot guest stars. Sabbath’s “Sabbra Cadabra” lacks the tense drug-fueled wobble of the original, a lesser song due to Metallicization. The Misfits’ “Die, Die My Darling” is a blast, as is similar hooligan punk classic “Free Speech For The Dumb” from Discharge. BÖC’s “Astronomy” works simply through the love and those demonic “hey!”s. The highlights: the Mercyful Fate medley (electrocuted with a boot-swinging violence the Kingsters would find gauche) and the brilliance of “Whiskey In The Jar,” a radical metal-fleshing of Thin Lizzy’s once radical rock treatment of this traditional gem. THIS is the single, boys (update: now it’s the second single), one of the damn catchiest songs I’ve ever heard, and positively high-flight to heaven in Hetfield’s power chord hands. A religious vocal performance by James and a gorgeous reworking of Lizzy’s twin lead mastery, way beyond the original. All in all, flawed, uneven, but well-appointed beyond expectation.
(3300 Warner Blvd. Burbank, CA 91505-4964)