Various Artists

From The Land Of Ice And Snow: The Songs Of Led Zeppelin

 

Is it a bad sign that Death Cab For Cutie’s Chris Walla is among the highlights of this 33-song, two-disc Led Zeppelin tribute album? It’s not as though he’s ever given us a reason to believe he’d even own a Zeppelin record. But apparently, he does, and it’s In Through The Out Door. Walla’s reinvented “In The Evening” as a melancholy indie ballad, trading the majestic stomp and mesmerizing, “Kashmir”-flavored riff of Zeppelin’s version for a more subdued approach that doesn’t sound a thing like the original. Most highlights on From The Land Of Ice And Snow, in fact, don’t sound a thing like the original, whether it’s Pellet Gun taking a post-King Missile spoken-word-with-noise-guitar approach to “Rock And Roll” or the Portland Cello Project sounding pretty much exactly like what anyone with half a brain would think a Portland Cello Project would sound like on “Dazed And Confused” (at least until you hit the solo, which sounds exactly like the devil on that Charlie Daniels song). And maybe that’s the point.

There may not be much chance of anyone this side of Jack White doing what Led Zeppelin would have done to these songs any better than Led Zeppelin did it. But there’s always room for reinvention. Hell, that’s what Led Zeppelin did to all their favorite source material (uncredited or not). If someone reading lines from Herman Melville’s Moby Dick on a madcap ride through Zeppelin’s “Moby Dick” that features lead breaks played on banjo, kazoo and a wheezing harmonica that couldn’t sound less like the blues (the way Knock The Knock do) is guaranteed to leave the average Zeppelin purist in the cold, well, so would any tribute worth its weight in dragon pants. Anyhow, a purist wouldn’t make it past the punk-rock howling at the end of “Good Times Bad Times,” the Kind Of Like Spitting track that kicks things off.

From The Land Of Ice And Snowisn’t for purists. It’s for those who view Led Zeppelin not as sacred cows but as part of an ongoing call-and-response between the present and the past. There are 17 bonus tracks, by the way, available only as digital downloads, bringing the total of tributes to 50.


Jealous Butcher http://www.jealousbutcher.com

Portland Cello Project’s “Dazed And Confused”