Jul 122010

Full Albums features covers of every track off a classic album. Got an idea for a future pick? Leave a note in the comments!

Releasing your record with no identifying information whatsoever seems like a truly dumb idea. In the days before the Internet, how would anyone know who was behind it? When Led Zeppelin released their untitled/self-titled/titled-with-symbols fourth record, Atlantic Records called it “professional suicide.” Apparently 37 million people disagreed. It spawned enduring classics “Black Dog,” “Rock and Roll,” and of course the Wayne’s World-despised “Stairway to Heaven.”

Zeppelin covers can be tricky, since many artists try to mimic Jimmy Page’s every note (and, naturally, fail). For that reason only one of the covers below would even count as rock. Otherwise, there’s gothic cello, Cuban salsa, and – why not – another dose of Tuvan throat singing.

Paul Shaffer w/ George Clinton – Black Dog

“Hit me with the dog, ya’all,” Clinton growls at song’s intro as Shaffer (of David Letterman bandleader/sycophant fame) turns Page’s epic guitar riff into a swirling organ assault.

Rasputina – Rock and Roll

There’s a beautiful irony in a gothic cello trio claiming it’s been a long time since they rocked and rolled. Long time like…forever?

The Lovemongers – The Battle of Evermore

Never heard of the Lovemongers? How about Heart? There you do. The Lovemongers was a short-lived acoustic side project by the Wilson sisters, Heart’s two frontwomen. They performed this cover at an early Bridge School show, the country moan perfect for the Neil Young-curated benefit.

RDM w/ Rodrigo y Gabriela – Stairway to Heaven

Rhythms Del Mundo is a collective of Cuban musicians that join forces with major Western stars to release charity albums. Their incredible Classics discs put Latin rhythms behind covers from everyone from The Killers to Amy Winehouse. Rod y Gab released a flamenco cover of this song on their terrific self-titled disc, but it swings a little harder with a salsa band behind it.

Bruce Lash – Misty Mountain Hop

The Latin continues with Bruce Lash, a bossa nova cover man who seems somewhat more sincere than peer strange-genre cover man Richard Cheese. His stuff sounds better too.

Sones de México Ensemble Chicago – Four Sticks

When compiling this collection I had no intent on making a Latin theme, but one seems to have emerged. Funny how hard-rock songs by four Brits taste so good with some south-of-the-border spice.

Jake Shimabukuro – Going to California

Most known for his five-million-views-and-counting Central Park cover of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” Shimabukuro takes on the ukulele mantel of fellow Hawaiian Israel Kamakawiwoʻole on this gorgeous instrumental.

Yat-Kha – When the Levee Breaks

Less gorgeous is Yat-Kha. We heard their “Love Will Tear Us Apart” last week and this Tuvan-metal hybrids return with an even stranger take on Zeppelin. They combine guitar with traditional Tuvan folk instruments and – of course – plenty of ugly-beautiful throat singing.

Are you not one of the 37 million people who own the original? Pick it up at Amazon, iTunes, or your local record store.

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  10 Responses to “Full Albums: Led Zeppelin IV”

Comments (7) Pingbacks (3)
  1. I am SO looking forward to sitting down and listening to this… ugly-beautiful throat singing and all!

  2. Hello Ray. Thanks for including us in your compilation. The “Four Sticks” arrangement is mine. I really enjoyed hearing other artist’s covers of the rest of the album. Your readers can find live footage of our live performance of “Four Sticks” and behind the scenes coverage of how the song was made in our YouTube page (look under the Gearwire Interviews playlist for the behind the scenes stuff): youtube.com/sonesdemexico. This has certainly been one of the most popular songs we have recorded.

  3. Nice!
    We must be on the same wavelength…

    FYI Bruce Lash & Yat Khan are my shiznit!

  4. You chose a flamenco-influenced semi-instrumental cover of “Stairway to Heaven” over Frank Zappa’s version with the horn section doing the guitar solo?!

  5. Mate,
    Stairway to Heaven… The Leningrad Cowboys with the Red Army Choir
    Top of the toppermost!

  6. Mojo Nixon does a pretty scuzzy cover of “When The Levee Breaks” – Worth searching out. Bongwater did “Four Sticks” on “Double Bummer”.

  7. That Paul Shaffer and George Clinton cover of Black Dog is freakin’ awesome. The organ is devastating, and it’s impossible to ever complain about George Clinton lending a hand to any song.

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