On August 21, 1987, Metallica released The $5.98 E.P. – Garage Days Re-Revisited.
Following the death of Cliff Burton and the introduction of Jason Newsted into the band, Metallica felt an E.P. of covers would satiate the fan base while they recalibrated their efforts towards their next studio effort.
It is also worth noting that James Hetfield was recovering from a broken arm and some of the riffs on the E.P. surely helped with the process.
Without a doubt, “Helpless” is my favourite cover song that Metallica has recorded. The opening drum work from Lars Ulrich sets the pace for the rest of the track and you can really feel the energy from the rest of the band behind him as they settle into their performances.
The song does become a little self-indulgent in the middle section and hints at the direction of the next record.
While I do prefer the abridged live version the band adopted in the mid-’90s, there are plenty of strong arrangements to be found on a full listen-through.
For fun give a search on YouTube for Metallica’s acoustic rendition of the song.
The Small Hours
“Hours” represents the most experimental we would see the band on the E.P.
Keep your ears open to hear some interesting sounds in the full one-minute build-up to the start of the vocals. At seven minutes, the most exciting part of the track is the pre-solo section. Hammet’s work on this song is the weakest on the album. The key he chose to solo in is high-pitched and takes away from what Hetfield is playing underneath it which kills any momentum that was brewing.
After listening to this one you may also feel that “Hours” have passed
Metallica added their distinctive touch to all the songs on the E.P. but “the wait” has the sound and feel of an authentic “Tallica track. The build-up at the beginning of the song and pre/post solo riffs are some of the strongest sections on the release.
I do feel the vocal effect was a tad overdone, but the song’s strengths far outweigh any shortcomings that are found.
Crash Course in Brain Surgery
“Crash” is my least favourite cut on the E.P. Hetfield’s vocals on the track seem to be out of his range and you can hear him struggling to reach the higher register.
It is not all doom and gloom though as Newsted had the opportunity to display his frantic and crisp playing style. I usually skip this one post-opening bass riff.
Last Caress/Green Hell
The E.P. closes with a mini medley of Misfits tunes. While “Caress” (performed 806 times) is arguably the most popular of all the Metallica cover songs, “Hell” (performed 11 times) has fallen into obscurity.
Both songs represent how strong the early songwriting of Glenn Danzig was and it is easy to see why Metallica chose to cover them.
“Caress” is the happier sounding of the songs (musically), but I find “Hell” to be the musically stronger of the pair and I would love to hear the boys dust it off for a performance at some point.