Cover versions can prove to be very tricky ground for any band. On the one hand, if you stick a blinder on your debut it may well end up eclipsing your entire career, plunging you hopelessly into the black hole of one hit wonder-land (� la Alien Ant Farm); whilst on the other, if you confine your tribute efforts to gigs and B-sides, the majority of fans may miss the chance to really pick apart the interpretations of your musical influences. Thankfully, Deftones are a band squarely in the latter of these two categories, who may have just played their trump card in the “non studio album” arena.
Officially entitled B-sides & Rarities, which granted does conjure up images of poorly produced bootleg versions and hiss-covered takes of the band’s earliest demos, this double disc package actually laughs in the face of such stereotypes of mediocrity.
The first disc is dedicated to the band’s ridiculously wide ranging collection of previous cover tunes, (which takes in Sade and The Smiths via Lynyrd Skynyrd) with some surprisingly well-executed “unplugged” efforts dotted in between.
Frontman Chino Moreno’s love for ’80s acts like The Smiths was never his best kept secret, and this has made an indelible mark on this release, with Mr Moreno’s very own tribute to Morrissey in the shape of Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want.
Although Duran Duran’s The Chauffeur is probably the least left-field choice, it is also the second biggest triumph of the album. The truly awesome gem on this LP, however, springs up as a blistering cover of Lynyrd Skynrd’s Simple Man. Moreno’s distorted yet ethereal vocals envelop one of the simplest but devastatingly effective tunes the Deftones have ever committed to tape.
Entertaining the cover versions may be, but the DVD is what allows this release to really come into its own, chronologically documenting all of the band’s videos with intermingled live excerpts and a newly constructed video montage of the brutal Engine Number 9.
Every one of the clips has a different director, which suggests the Deftones were either never happy with their videos, or wanted to keep reinventing themselves. Judging by the progression in their music over the course of this video library, my money is most certainly on the latter.
From the almost amateur, rough and ready approach to the clips for Bored and 7 Words to the breakthrough shark-baiting video for My Own Summer, the visual snippets make for a gripping watch. Despite the somewhat forgettable rapping, Back to School touches the rebel in all of us who dreamed of hijacking the school PA system for our own purposes, and the sweeping cinematic landscapes of the Californian desert that form the backdrop of Minerva are jaw-dropping.
Most B-side albums would make for a poor introduction to a lot of bands. However, with the inclusion of the Deftones’ video catalogue and the signature mark left on almost all of the cover versions, newcomers would do well to check out this rather splendidly presented package, while fans can chomp at the bit in anticipation of next year’s new studio album.