I think the ambitious endeavor of doing a Led Zeppelin tribute album is what are going to do about replacing/rectifying/resurrecting/reduplicating the sounds of Jimmy Page and John Bonham. So when Kind of Like Spitting opens up Jealous Butcher Records Presents: From the Land of Ice and Snow: The Songs of Led Zeppelin, I was impressed right away with their “Good Times Bad Times” for its cacophony of guitars and drums on the first minute and a half, the “good times” section of the song. The middle part of the track (the “bad times”) that meanders with its odd jumbles exemplifies the challenge of this two-disc (plus third disc worth as download only): not everything here remains consistently strong. Many of the tracks are experimental tributes, exploring the songs of Led Zeppelin from a wide-range of tacks. Thankfully, like “Good Times Bad Times,” the album often returns to strong form.
The eeriness of “Dazed and Confused” emerges on the Portland Cello Project’s version, with the strings being reminiscent of the way the oeuvre was treated on Jimmy Page and Robert Plant’s No Quarter. The drums of Adam Selzer’s “Poor Tom” set the stage for his talky version of the song even as an eclectic set of instruments bring out the voodoo blues of the song. Carcrashlander utilizes organ and keys for a soulful but electrified “Nobody’s Fault But Mine.” Kaia’s whimsical “Fool in the Rain” bounces on some tight snare, a kind of Elizabeth Mitchell-like tenderness in the vocal.
“Heartbreaker” doesn’t try to match the guitar or the drums word-for-word. Instead, Lackluster delivers fuzzed out guitars and over-the-top sonics on the drums/effects. Similarly, Knock Knock on “Moby Dick” inserts toy instruments for guitar solos and takes an electronic drum approach to the drum solo while also including spoken word readings from Melville’s novel.
Weinland’s bluesy country “Hey Hey What Can I Do” finds comfort in the track while giving a new feel. There’s a spacious, countryside, vacant highway feel to Chris Walla’s (Death Cab for Cutie) “In the Evening.”
Pellet Gun’s “Rock and Roll” is equal parts Michael Stipe talky bits, Talking Heads angularity, and fIREHOSE rhythm. The tight harmonies and gentle touch of Kelly Blair Bauman’s version of “Stairway to Heaven” brings a twangy ring to the classic track without reaching too far. A subdued vocal for “Misty Mountain Hop” means that Buellton can bring out the country jam of the song while leaving the yelps and high-pitched tones to Robert Plant. Meanwhile, Rebecca Gates’ breathy vocal on “Four Sticks” is spot on along with the tasteful arrangement by her band the Consortium.
M.Ward’s “Bron-Yr-Aur” has absolutely gorgeous guitars. Power of County’s “Down by the Seaside” is like Neil Young kicking up the track’s dust with some Valley twang. Parks & Recreation brings a indie rock Texmex border sound to “All My Love” that really works.
Wow & Flutter offer a weird electronic noise-stuffed version of “Heartbreaker,” with warped keys taking the place of guitar solos—until the second go round when the guitars show up for indie fuzz. “Ramble On” is a soul-funk, organ-led affair in the hands of Dan Blaker & the Crackers. Leigh Marble brings maracas along with pal Victor Nash’s trumpets so that “Immigrant Song” is crossing that Mexican border into Texas. The Mighty Ghosts of Heaven pick up “Over the Hills and Far Away” in a bluegrass vein which really works with the spirit of the song. Buzzy, fat beats meet you for the electronic version of “Wanton Song” by RemoteTreeChildren.
Jealous Butcher Records
Kelly Blair Bauman
Rebecca Gates & the Consortium
Mighty Ghosts of Heaven
Parks & Recreation
Portland Cello Project
Power of County
Wow & Flutter