Type O Negative's 10 Greatest Cover Songs | Revolver

Type O Negative's 10 Greatest Cover Songs

The Drab Four revealed their surprising range in these choice reworkings
typeonegative_credit_jeffkitts_dnu.jpg, Jeff Kitts
Type O Negative
photograph by Jeff Kitts

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Though Type O Negative called it a day in 2010 following the tragic demise of vocalist-bassist Peter Steele, the allure of Brooklyn's favorite goth-metal outfit has never faded. Type O are still deeply loved for their sludgy riffs, salacious lyrics and pitch-black humor — as well as their uncanny ability to blend hard rock and goth with elements of post-punk, alt-rock, industrial, shoegaze, ambient and even Sixties pop.

Type O's surprisingly broad taste in music was never more apparent than in their choice of cover songs. The band often opened their shows with tunes by other artists: Pink Floyd's "In the Flesh" was a regular set-opener on 1999's World Coming Down Tour, for example, while the Beatles' "Magical Mystery Tour" led off shows on 2007's Dead Again World Tour. Whether live or in the studio, when Steele and Co. approached a cover, the results were unmistakably Type O: dark, eerie and downright fascinating.

Here are 10 cases that showcase their dynamic work. 

10. "Pictures of Matchstick Men"

Howard Stern: Private Parts (The Album) (1997)
Type O teamed with the godfather of doom himself, Ozzy Osbourne, for their 1997 cover of U.K. outfit Status Quo's 1968 psychedelic classic "Pictures of Matchstick Men." The Ozzy/Type O take — which appeared on the soundtrack to Howard Stern's biographical comedy movie Private Parts — is a total crusher. But for an even more menacing rendition of the song, we recommend checking out the muddier, beefier demo version from the October Rust sessions (which is floating around online) that features Steele on lead vocals instead of the Prince of Darkness.

9. "Highway Star"

NASCAR: Crank It Up (2002)
When you think of Type O Negative, you probably don't think of fast cars — auto culture was never really part of their dark trip (Steele's Mad Max-style vehicle "The Beast," aside). But they definitely loved Deep Purple, and it shows on this track, which was originally recorded in 2002 for the NASCAR: Crank It Up compilation, and later included on 2006's The Best of Type O Negative. The jarring tempo changes are a not-entirely-welcome departure from Purple's pedal-to-the-metal original, but keyboardist Josh Silver clearly has a blast channeling his inner Jon Lord.

8. "Hey Pete"

The Origin of the Feces (1992)
Originally written by Sixties songwriter Billy Roberts, "Hey Joe" has been covered and reworked by dozens of artists, most notably Jimi Hendrix. Type O took their own crack at it for 1992's The Origin of the Feces, sticking closely to Hendrix's hit arrangement on this faux-live rendition (complete with wordless backing vocals attributed to the Bensonhoist Lesbian Choir), but substituting Steele's twisted fantasy about ax-murdering his flagrantly unfaithful girlfriend — "I really don't go for that shit," he grumbles — and then lamming it down to Brighton Beach on the D train.

7. "Santana Medley"

Symphony for the Devil (2006)
Released as a bonus single with their 2006 live DVD, Symphony for the Devil, this medley finds Type O having their evil way with three songs commonly associated with Carlos Santana: Willie Bobo's "Evil Ways," Tito Puente's "Oye Como Va" and Fleetwood Mac's "Black Magic Woman." The band removes the Latin funk that fired Santana's versions, replacing it with an alluringly gloomy vibe. Silver throws in a little piano jazz straight from hell's cocktail lounge. It's also a treat to hear guitarist Kenny Hickey handle the higher vocal leads here; his trade-offs with Steele really add to the fun.

6. "Day Tripper (Medley)"

World Coming Down (1999)
Peter Steele's love of the Beatles is palpable on this three-song medley. Not only did he choose tunes with three of the coolest riffs in the Fab Four catalog — along with "Day Tripper," the band covers "If I Needed Someone" and "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" — but he also selected ones that each represented a different Beatle. (Ringo Starr was the only Beatle left out.) The band's sludgy approach works well on the opening and closing songs of the medley, but their straightforward delivery of "If I Needed Someone" is breathtakingly beautiful in its own right.

5. "Paranoid"

The Origin of the Feces
Type O Negative's genius at rearranging songs really shines on this 1992 cover (their first track to feature drummer Johnny Kelly), in which they strap Black Sabbath's frantic cry for help to a medieval torture rack, slowly stretching it out but never quite breaking it. This elongated approach gives Hickey and Silver ample room to add layers of gothic atmosphere, and really allows Steele to sink his fangs into the song's poignant lyrics. And that "Iron Man" quote in the middle is pretty sweet, too!

4. "Angry Inch"

Life Is Killing Me (2003)
A welcome bit of comic relief amid 2003's deeply bleak Life Is Killing Me, the band's revved-up rendition of the gory "origin song" from the off-Broadway musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch not only rocks mightily, but Steele also delivers the song's lyrics (about a surgically truncated penis) with a punky sneer and a knowing wink. After all, as anyone who saw Steele's infamous 1995 Playgirl spread can tell you, the number of angry inches the singer was working with likely numbered in the double digits.

3. "Summer Breeze"

Bloody Kisses (1993)
Many listeners figured that the band's 1993 cover of Seals & Croft's 1972 soft-rock smash was intended as an ironic joke, but former Roadrunner VP of A&R Monte Conner says nothing could have been further from the truth. "Peter loved great pop songs from the '60s and '70s," he told Revolver in 2018. "He felt that the band could reinvent it and make it their own." And reinvent it they did on Bloody Kisses, creating an exquisite three-way tension between the blissful lyrics of the original, Steele's haunting vocal delivery, and the band's slow-grinding attack.

2. "Black Sabbath (From the Satanic Perspective)"

"My Girlfriend's Girlfriend" single (1996)
When Type O waxed Black Sabbath's career-opening dirge of the same name for the 1994 Sabs tribute album Nativity in Black, they played it predictably straight. But when the band released this revised version of the track two years later as part of the European single of "My Girlfriend's Girlfriend," it came with the unexpected inclusion of lyrics rewritten by Steele to give Satan equal time. Both humorous and chilling — and punctuated with a cry of "Your weak God cannot help you now" — Type O's take manages to out-blacken even Black Sabbath.

1."Cinnamon Girl"

October Rust (1996)
It was no big shock that 1996's October Rust LP was cleaner- and poppier-sounding than anything Type O had done before, given that 1993's Bloody Kisses had already been pointing in that direction. But the cover it contained of Neil Young's classic anthem was a definite surprise. The song's obsessive romantic visions meshed perfectly with Steele's worldview; but instead of going the easy route and having Steele deliver the melody in his sepulchral croak while the band bludgeoned the song's already heavy main riff to death, Type O came up with an atmospheric, danceable arrangement.