“Great Zeppelin: A Tribute To Led Zeppelin” by Great White

Artist: Great White
Title: “Great Zeppelin – A Tribute To Led Zeppelin”
Label: Deadline Records
Release Date: 3/16/1999
Genre: Hard Rock
Rating: 4/5

Thanks to all of the reunion discussions and anniversary releases that have been surrounding the legendary Led Zeppelin of late, I was moved to dig through my CD collection and give this gem of a live recording by eighties Blues Rock masters Great White another listen. In the bands earliest days they were one of the many groups who would earn their salt by doing Led Zeppelin covers as a part of their set and these songs were intermingled with their own originals. There aren’t many bands from this time period that can say different because that is very simply the thing that you did as an up and comer back in the day. The critical difference that is very clearly presented here is that Great White was able to pull it off with dead on clarity and resemblance to the original group in terms of the vocals and the instrumentation in the live sense. The concert presented on this CD was recorded in front of a sold out Galaxy Concert Theatre in California on 12/96 and it captures every moment so well that if you played it at the proper volume you would feel as though you were there yourself or that they band was in your home. The key appeal of this release as opposed to the many that would eventually follow it was that Great White sticks so close to the originals and there is very little deviation from that which we all know from the original studio recordings. While Plant’s own voice is unique on its own there are times were Jack Russell gets the note and phrasing so perfectly that if you closed your eyes you would think that it was Plant. Since this is an audio and not a video you really don’t need to close your eyes at all so keep them opened and enjoy yourself. The guitar playing of Mark Kendall is spot on as is the same case with all of the other members and together they deliver a lot of numbers that Led Zeppelin did not always deliver in concert themselves when they toured.

As far as the song selection there is very little that one could find any fault with and it begins with an unexpected “In The Light” which totally sets up the mood for the concert that is about to unfold. Russell doesn’t work his way up to sounding like Plant but instead does so from the beginning and by the time they hit “Since I’ve Been Loving You” he has you hooked. I give him credit for this since its hard enough to do one song that Plant does as opposed to handling a full set of the stuff. Other highlights include “Thank You” and “When The Levee Breaks” (two of the greatest songs of all time in my opinion outside of the bands signature tune), and “Tangerine” and “No Quarter” which just sound incredible under Great White’s care. I admit to being a little leery of “All Of My Love” since I am fussy about that tune in other bands hands and “D’yer Maker” is the same but this is my own view. The whole concert ends with a show stopping rendition of “Stairway To Heaven” and judging by the audience’s reaction you could tell that they witnessed one totally amazing show from a band that made sure to give the material the proper respect and care. There is a booklet included that lines out the tunes and the players but little explanation as to what prompted the project to be undertaken is explained and I think I would have liked to know a little more about that. The cover art is striking and features a re-worked rendition of Led Zeppelin’s own debut album as the image of the blimp now has a Great White shark as part of it. It really stands out when it comes down to it in the visual sense but the most important fact is that the music on the inside stands out as well. This is a great statement not only to the legendary greatness of Led Zeppelin songs but also to the talents of the band Great White. If you have never heard this release then I suggest you snare a copy if you can find one.

Track Listing:
1. In The Light
2. Living Loving Maid (She’s Just A Woman)
3. Ramble On
4. Since I’ve Been Loving You
5. No Quarter
6. Tangerine
7. Going To California
8. Thank You
9. D’yer Maker
10. All My Love
11. Immigrant Song
12. When The Levee Breaks
13. The Rover
14. Stairway To Heaven

Official Website: http://www.greatwhiterocks.com/

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