Cover albums by the dearly departed 

Dead men tell no tales, but they do put out new albums. Or at least their record companies do. But what’s unusual about these two new posthumous releases from Greg Allman, who passed away last May, and Motörhead frontman Lemmy Kilmister, who gave up the ghost two years ago, is that they’re virtually all cover songs.

Motörhead’s Under Cover is all previously released material, apart from a surprisingly faithful rendition of David Bowie’s “Heroes” that includes a close approximation of Robert Fripp’s signature guitar line. Lemmy’s rough-hewn vocals are, of course, unmistakably Lemmy, which places them two or three octaves below Rob Halford’s on the original version of Judas Priest’s “Breakin’ the Law,” while covers of The Sex Pistols’ “God Save the Queen” and The Ramones’ “Rockaway Beach” remind us of the band’s oft-forgotten punk cred.

Greg Allman’s Southern Blood is a more premeditated affair, recorded at Muscle Shoals over the course of nine days with producer Don Was. Highlights include soulfully subdued renditions of Lowell George’s “Willin’” and Jackson Browne’s “Song for Adam,” for which the L.A. singer-songwriter provided backing vocals. “Goin’ Goin’ Gone” supersedes Dylan’s original thanks to Allman’s achingly heartfelt vocals accompanied by perfectly placed pedal steel, slide-guitar and female backup singers.

The album’s one misstep is a version of “Once I Was” that lacks Tim Buckley’s emotional intensity while adding an entirely out-of-place sax solo. But that’s more than made up for by the album’s lone Allman original, “My Only True Friend,” with its Allman Brothers-style twin electric guitars and a recurring lyric — “I hope you’re haunted by the music of my soul, when I’m gone” — which, once heard, will no doubt ring true.


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