April 24, 2008

CD Review: Get the Led Out! - Led Zeppelin Salute

There is no denying the earned esteem that Led Zeppelin built up during their career. There is no getting around the lasting influence they have had on the world of heavy music, be it rock, metal, or whatever. Their sound was firmly entrenched in blues-rock, but they pushed the boundaries with their experimentation and first rate song-writing. Their lives shows just took them to the next level. I have a special place in my heart for the band, although I have to claim ignorance to a lot of their output, I keep meaning to go back and fill in the holes. Anyway, even without my extensive Led Zeppelin experience, I have been exposed to much Zeppelin over the years by way of the radio. There are also countless collections of covers and tribute albums. So, with all that is already available, why should I care about Get the Led Out!? I mean, it doesn't even have a terribly good title.

Get the Led Out! is the brainchild of musician/composer/producer Brian Tarquin. His is a name I am unfamiliar with, but taking a quick look at his career, he has been involved in countless television shows, produced a number of collections, and released a number of solo albums. Yes, he has plenty of experience, and if the production quality is anything like what can be witnessed here, the man is quite good indeed.

What helps Tarquin's project stand out is that it is not just a series of straight up covers, no. This album repurposes Zep tunes to function without lyrics, working as rock instrumentals. Some are pretty close to their originals, while others offer up more experimentation and varying arrangements. While the album may not be necessary, it is not boring. Also, while Tarquin works primarily from the producer's chair, he does step into the recording booth to give his take on "Dazed and Confused." As for the rest of the cuts, Tarquin has brought together a collection of very talented guitarists, none of whom I am familiar with, save Randy Coven (Holy Mother, Yngwie Malmsteen, Steve Vai) and Leslie West (Mountain).

I cannot say there is anything particularly special about this album, and I doubt it will get all that many spins. Still, there is something that is definitely attractive about a number of the re-arranged takes that appear here.

The album begins with Chris Mahoney and "Whole Lotta Love." There is something about the calculated riff style employed, it has an odd sound that I like, combine with the smooth leads and you get a pretty snazzy sounding version.

Randy Coven and Leslie West team for "Moby Dick," which sticks pretty close to the original, save for the nice back and forth between Coven and West. This duo work quite well together and the result is a respectful cover that adds in that tasty back and forth of two talented guitar-slingers.

"Dazed and Confused" benefits from the sweeping dramatics of Brian Tarquin's talents. While it does not hold a candle to the original, there is no denying that Tarquin brings some nicely dramatic passages to the mix.

Greg Rapaport brings an added heavy crunch to "Immigrant Song." The gain is turned up and a touch of metal is introduced. It is not only in the riffs, but in the lead breaks with the speedy sweep picking. Not too shabby.

Think you know everything about "Kashmir"? Guess again. Stripping away the electric bombast, Martin Winch bring smooth acoustic guitar to the mix, providing something just a little bit different than the expected.

A couple others worth paying attention to are "D'yer Mak'er" and "All My Love" (mainly because I have a soft spot for this tune, always have).

As an added bonus, in addition to all of the instrumentals, there are four Jimmy Page rarities from the '68-'70 era. I cannot say I thought any of them were great songs, but Jimmy sounded excellent. There is a looseness to his playing that is very compelling. These songs will be a treat to any Page fan and will likely be worth the price of admission.

Bottomline. I cannot give this a full recommendation if based on nothing other than Zep saturation, but it is still definitely worth checking out for Zep fans and guitar fans alike. There is a lot to enjoy, and you will likely find yourself picking a few to add to your iPod.



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