This isn’t the first time I’ve reviewed Ninja Sex Party and I strongly urge you to check out those reviews first before you continue, which you can do by clicking here, here, here, here, here and here respectively. Those links should be in chronological order of release, so check them out and of course enjoy. Hopefully you’ll already be familiar with Ninja Sex party by now, but in case you aren’t NSP are an American comedy rock duo made up of Dan Avidan (also known as Danny Sexbang) and Brian Wecht (also known as Ninja Brian). Ninja Sex Party are known for their comedy based rock or synthpop music, however these Under the Covers albums deviate from their usual style, firstly because they they are not original songs, but also because they are more serious, covering a variety of notable songs from the 70s and 80s. Ninja Sex Party are backed up for the fourth time by Canadian rock band TWRP (formerly Tupper Ware Remix Party). Also for those in the know, Danny Sexbang and Ninja Brian are two thirds of the trio, Starbomb, a video game based musical group, which includes Arin Hanson (also known as Egoraptor), who have to date released three albums which you can check out by clicking here, here and here. So that seems a good enough intro, without further ado let’s move onto my review of Ninja Sex Party’s seventh album, Ninja Sex Party – Under the Covers Volume III which was released on November 15th 2019.
‘We Built This City’ is a cover of a song by the same name by the band Starship and you can hear the original here. Obviously the original is a classic, I mean it’s one of those songs like ‘Bad to the Bone’ and ‘Eye of the Tiger’ that are firmly entrenched in the cultural hive mind. I was in fact a little worried about this track because of how nostalgic and familiar the song is but NSP really did justice to the track. It fits with Dan’s voice very well, and the updated instrumental sections really bring new life to an old track. I won’t go as far as to say that it’s better than the original because that wouldn’t be honest, but I can say that it’s a great track, that’s easily on the same level as the original.
‘Photograph’ is a cover of a song by the same name by the band Def Leppard and you can hear the original here. So somehow I missed this the song, despite being a 90’s child, I love the music of the 70’s and 80s, but I honestly don’t think I’ve ever heard this track, which is strange because there are a good few entries on Def Leppard’s discography that I do like. So this was very likely my first time hearing it, and I enjoyed it, I can easily see why NSP decided to cover it. As I kind of expected because I wasn’t familiar with the original, but I much prefer the NSP cover, Dan rocks this track, and it’s in this track that you begin to clearly see how much Dan’s voice has grown and changed since he the first NSP album.
‘Down Under’ is a cover of a song by the same name by the band Men at Work and you can hear the original here. One of my favourite songs of the 80’s and my second favourite Men at Work song after ‘Overkill’, so I’m curious to hear how NSP will tackle this Australian rock classic. I do love the original so much that clinking opening is instantly recognisable, like a nicer Pavlovian response, it just makes he happy. The NSP version pays homage but is a little different, for a start no clinking, it’s almost more reggae styled to begin with, however this is a song that easily fits into Dan’s vocal range, and it works, I still like the original better but the NSP cover is still good, I’ll definitely be listening to it again at the very least.
‘Sledgehammer’ is a cover of a song by the same name by the artist Peter Gabriel and you can hear the original here. Another song that I have really strong feelings for, it’s just one of those awesome songs but unlike some of the others on this list, it perhaps doesn’t get as much broad, mainstream love. Also I don’t know how I could, but I completely forgot about how strange this video was for this track. As for NSP’s cover, it really works for me, it captures the energy of the track perfectly, and I think part of the fun of these covers as a whole is seeing how Dan tackles it vocal and he did it justice, in particular the actual ‘Sledgehammer’ line, which in my opinion could have made or broke this particular cover.
‘Glory of Love’ is a cover of a song by the same name by the artist Peter Cetera and you can hear the original here. It bodes really well for the cover when I listened to the original that I thought, oh yeah I could easily hear them doing this and I wasn’t wrong, they did a phenomenal version of the original, and without pandering to a group I obviously like, I think their version was better than the original, and they managed to do so mostly on the merits of Dan’s voice, because unlike some of the other tracks, it wasn’t better because of better recording equipment and instruments than the original artists might have had access to at the time.
‘Always Something There to Remind Me’ is a cover of a song by the same name by the artist Lou Johnson and you can hear the original here. This was another song, I personally had never heard before, but It was good, it has a nice energy to it, and I’m curious to see what NSP do with it. I think they did a serviceable version of the original, there wasn’t much difference overall, which isn’t a complaint, but does make it harder for me to review, all I can really say is that it’s good, and I enjoyed it.
‘Closer to the Heart’ is a cover of a song by the same name by the band Rush and you can hear the original here. Much like Dan I am a fan of Rush, so I was glad they did another cover of their discography. I mentioned up top, some of the improvement of the cover compared to the original is that it’s recorded on newer, better equipment, this song does have that working for it, but I think this one is good completely on its own merit as well. Again, Dan’s voice works really well with the track, and he really gives it his all, with this one, perhaps because of his personal affinity for Rush, or maybe I’m just more inclined to read into it because I know he likes the band, but either way NSP does a great job with this track, easily as good, if not better than the original.
‘Nights on Broadway’ is a cover of a song by the same name by the band Bee Gees and you can hear the original here. Such a classic tune, not perhaps the most iconic Bee Gees track but a strong contender, and very much in the style tonally to NSP’s actual music, obvious minus, the dinosaurs, lasers and sex stuff. And overall, NSP managed to produce a faithful rendition, it’s probably one of the closest tracks to the original on the full album, and It works really well.
‘Owner of a Lonely Heart’ is a cover of a song by the same name by the band Yes and you can hear the original here. I think that this is probably my favourite of the tracks on the album, possibly sharing that spot with ‘Don’t Fear the Reaper’, but either way, I really enjoy it and hope that NSP can do something interesting with it. I listened to this one the most out of the NSP covers because I couldn’t make my mind up, it’s certainly good, and it’s another rather faithful rendition of it, which makes me think Dan’s just getting better at matching the original in terms of vocals, which is a good thing, but much like earlier I won’t say it surpassed the original, instead I will say it did a good job and I enjoyed listening to it.
‘When You Were Mine’ is a cover of a song by the same name by the artist Prince and you can hear the original here. I never really considered myself a Prince fan, although I like his songs, so unlike a few other entries on this list, I didn’t go in, listening to the cover with any preconceptions. I think that’s probably the best way to listen to this album, because I found myself really enjoying this track, and at least some of that was because the original wasn’t looming over it. I think I liked Dan’s vocals in this one the most out of all the entries to this album, something about it just really worked for me.
‘Safety Dance’ is a cover of a song by the same name by the band Men Without Hats and you can hear the original here. Obviously such a recognisable song, and in this one NSP take a slightly different track, more electronic than the original, and that works, although I don’t think Dan’s vocals are particularly strong in this one, perhaps the weakest of the album, still a decent track but not the best they could have done, especially for this song in particular.
‘I Won’t Back Down’ is a cover of a song by the same name by the artist Tom Petty and you can hear the original here. Is another entry on this list where I feel very strongly about the original, but I feel like it’s exactly the type of song Dan could do justice too. Instantly I’m impressed, crystal clear instrumentals, and this song works incredibly well with Dan’s voice, easily one of the stronger entries on this album. Ninja Sex Party have really come so far in terms of their music, they aren’t just a comedy band anymore, and even their comedy music is increasingly and obvously becoming more complex, more developed and it just shows that they have long since made the leap from having fun to following their passion.
‘Don’t Fear the Reaper’ is a cover of a song by the same name by the band Blue Öyster Cult and you can hear the original here. I unapologetically adore the original, I even got into trouble for playing it on hospital radio, evidently the context of the song momentarily escaped me. But it’s such a powerful song, and the Ninja Sex Party cover was superb, I think it was my favourite cover of the entire album, and an excellent closer to what has been a good album, and another great contribution to the NSP discography.
So that’s what I thought of Ninja Sex Party’s latest album ‘Under the Covers Volume III’ and if you want to check that out for yourself then head on over to Bandcamp. If you would like to keep up to date with NSP then check them out on Facebook, Twitter or their personal website. Also if you want to see the music videos for the various NSP tracks as well as behind the scenes stuff then check out their YouTube channel.
First Published on: https://offtherecordblog.org/