For many years, Metallica's 1987 EP Garage Days Re-Revisited was the most sought-after item in their catalog; it was constantly bootlegged in the '90s, and often supplemented by a host of covers Metallica had released on singles and compilations throughout the years.
By 1998, the band had understandably grown frustrated with this situation and decided to confront the problem head-on by reissuing all these rarities.
Savvy businessmen that they are, they also realized they needed to give hardcore fans who already owned all the covers a reason to purchase the new set -- hence, the expansion of the Garage Days EP to the double-disc blowout Garage, Inc.
The second disc's rarities are balanced by the first disc's new covers, the bulk of which were recorded following the Reload tour.
It shouldn't come as a surprise that these covers recall the blooze 'n' boogie heavy rock of the Loads, but what is a surprise is that Metallica seems to have found their footing in this style through other people's songs.
Whether it's Bob Seger, Blue Öyster Cult, Thin Lizzy, Nick Cave, or the all-star jam on Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Tuesday's Gone," the band effortlessly makes the songs seem like their own, through a bizarre mix of respect and ballsy irreverence.
Sure, it may not be nearly as raw as early Metallica, but it is a better listen than either of the Load records.
And if raw is what you want, the equally diverse disc two provides all the thrills you could hope for.
At one time, it might have seemed a little odd that Metallica would cover Budgie, Diamond Head, the Misfits, and Queen, but if Garage, Inc.
Proves anything, it's that the group's musical instincts, risks, and sense of humor have made them the greatest metal band of the '80s and '90s.
"It was a fun summer," remembers Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich, casting his mind back to 1987.
"We played every day, drank beer, went to shows, watched Deep Purple videos, and that was kind of it." But as any Metallica fan can tell you, that wasn't all the world's premier thrash band was up to 31 years ago this summer.