Dec 012017

Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.

Today we conclude our series of posts about The Yardbirds.

But wait!” you exclaim. “The headline says ‘Led Zeppelin‘. Aren’t we talking about the folk-rock ballad that originally appeared in 1970 on the softer acoustic second side of Led Zeppelin III?”

Indeed we are, and “Tangerine” has been mentioned once or twice before on these pages. But a recent re-release, widely anticipated by fans of Rock & Roll Hall of Famers, The Yardbirds, has re-opened the discussion about the songs’ origins. Is “Tangerine” really a Led Zeppelin song?

When it comes to songwriting credits, things aren’t always cut and dried with Jimmy Page. As it were, this particular instance follows suit. Around the time of last year’s “Stairway to Heaven” plagiarism lawsuit – won by Led Zeppelin – Rolling Stone cited 10 other Zep tunes with cloudy origins. The article mentioned “Dazed And Confused” – a song with ties to Page’s stint in The Yardbirds – but made no mention of “Tangerine” a song sharing similar ties. Both songs were the only two non-instrumental Led Zeppelin tracks to carry a songwriting credit attributed solely to Jimmy Page. The writing credit on “Dazed” was later amended in 2012 (singer-songwriter Jake Holmes was added as Page’s inspiration), but a cloud continues to hang over “Tangerine.”

Why the fuss? Cover Me readers might be interested in some of the forensics. Two years prior to the release of Led Zeppelin III, The Yardbirds, with Page as a member, recorded a demo for a song titled “Knowing That I’m Losing You” which was never officially released. Thirty-two years later, “Knowing” was scheduled to be included on The Yardbirds’ 2000 album Cumular Limit with other live and unreleased material, but the track was pulled. Seventeen years after that, Page, as producer, included an authorized re-mastered instrumental version, with the modified title “Knowing That I’m Losing You (Tangerine)” on the new Yardbirds ’68 compilation. Continue reading »

Oct 122010

Recording a tribute album is a tricky proposition. Taking on an iconic band like Led Zeppelin increases the risk significantly. And trying it with 39 tracks (51 if you include the digital bonus tracks)? That’s a lot of freakin’ songs. Some of Led Zeppelin’s songs are even covered more than once in this collection. This project is the brainchild of Rob Jones, who runs the Jealous Butcher record label (home of The Decemberists and M Ward among others), and has been over five years in the making.

I, like so many others, love Led Zeppelin. I have all of their albums, box sets, and various paraphernalia. Led Zeppelin soundtracked my teenage years, helped me realize how bad most ’80s hair bands were (thanks guys) and led me to discover other great musicians Led Zeppelin cited as influences. Because their musicianship and writing is so strong, any cover will instantly be compared to the iconic original. Therein lies the rub for an artist attempting a Led Zeppelin cover. Completely re-imagine a song and risk being torn apart by the purists; stay too faithful and be told that your cover pales in comparison to the original.  Some artists on The Land of Ice & Snow are faithful to the original, others…not so much. One of the few times being unfaithful is a good thing. Continue reading »