Various Artists - Variations


Variations, by Joe Bad X, is one album from a trilogy, which also includes String Theory and Postmodern Cave Art. This collection of acoustic guitar interpretations draws from many different musical genres, attempting to create unity from a diversity of styles.

Opening with the gentle country blues fingerpicking style of Mississippi John Hurt, this album includes covers by artists ranging from gothic alternative group Love and Rockets, to the classic rock of the Who and Led Zeppelin, and the classical metal of Ozzy Osbourne. 

With rock and other styles distilled into simple and pure vocal and acoustic guitar arrangements, and instrumentation perhaps more typically associated with that of a folksinger, this collection seeks to challenge musical stereotypes, and at the same time preserve the essence of the original  songs.


1. Pay Day (Hurt) – Since,I recorded this before the age of the internet, I couldn't find lyrics anywhere, so I did it as I heard it, and unknowingly changing one line from ‘keep my skillet greasy' to ‘keep my kick up easy'. Oh well, this is how folk music is done, it changes a little each time the song passes on….

2. Behind Blue Eyes (Townshend) – A powerful Who ballad, written from the point of view of the villain.

3. Cuckoo Cocoon (Banks/Collins/Gabriel/Hackett/Rutherford) – This is a Genesis song, from back when Peter Gabriel sang for them.

4. Revelation [Mother Earth] (Daisley/Osbourne/Rhoads) – This song has a classical feel. After hearing this, I think most people would be shocked that it's an Ozzy Osbourne song. It's a pro-environment song of course. Just a beautiful song, I think.

5. Going to California (Page/Plant) – A Led Zeppelin cover, but without only guitar and no mandolin.  

6. My Time (Avery/Farrell/Navarro/Perkins) – A Jane's Addiction song—if I could play harmonica I would have done that on this track (need to get one one of these days). At the end I tagged on my favorite part of another Jane's Addiction song. (‘Trip Away').

7. Relay (Townshend) – A Who cover with kind of a chugging rhythm.

8. Private Future (Ash/Haskins/J.) – This original version of this song is by Love and Rockets, one of the godfathers of gothic alternative rock.

9. The Gnome, Scarecrow (Barrett) – This is Pink Floyd from back in the 1960s, when Syd Barrett was the singer and songwriter, before schizophrenia set in and he left the band. This is one of several tracks where I actually combine 2 complete songs into one arrangement ('The Gnome' and 'Scarecrow' are combined here).

10. Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town (Abbruzzese/Ament/Gossard/McCready/Vedder) – This is a Pearl Jam cover, that I kind of tried to do with a bit of a Country feel.

11. Love Alive (Wilson/Wilson/Fisher) – This is a cover by the band, Heart. I've always loved this song, so I learned it. One line is 'Ever since I was a baby girl….'—since I couldn't change it to ‘boy' without destroying the rhyme, I tried to sing it as if I was singing it to a girl, 'Ever since I was a baby, girl….'.

12. Gallows Pole (Traditional) – This is a traditional English folk song, also later done by Leadbelly, and then Led Zeppelin, whose arrangement I generally followed. 

13. Sympathy for the Devil (Jagger/Richards) – This is a Rolling Stones cover, although I got the idea for this by hearing a cover of this on a Jane's Addiction record.

14. Jack-in-the-Green (Anderson) – This is a Jethro Tull cover. Since I couldn't do a flute part, I whistled a part instead….


  • 1  Pay Day (Hurt)
  • 2  Behind Blue Eyes (Townshend)
  • 3  Cuckoo Cocoon (Banks/Collins/Gabriel/Hackett/Rutherford)
  • 4  Revelation [Mother Earth] (Daisley/Osbourne/Rhoads)
  • 5  Going to California (Page/Plant)
  • 6  Relay (Townshend)
  • 7  My Time (Avery/Farrell/Navarro/Perkins)
  • 8  Private Future (Ash/Haskins/J.)
  • 9  The Gnome, Scarecrow (Barrett)
  • 10  Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town (Abbruzzese/Ament/Gossard/McCready/Vedder)
  • 11  Love Alive (Wilson/Wilson/Fisher)
  • 12  Gallows Pole (Traditional)
  • 13  Sympathy for the Devil (Jagger/Richards)
  • 14  Jack-in-the-Green (Anderson)