CD Review of Lez Zeppelin by Lez Zeppelin

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Lez Zeppelin
starstarhalf starno starno star Label: Emanation Records
Released: 2007
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Lez Zeppelin – an all-girl Zep cover band from New York – pulls off one hell of a parlor trick: they put cock rock on its back by recording an aggressive eight-song debut with the cooperation of original Zep studio hands Eddie Kramer and George Marino. They're a one-trick pony, but Lez Zeppelin's far more thought provoking and listenable than the last popular 1990s Zep derivative, the campy, reggae-infused Dread Zeppelin.

Semi-random thoughts Lez Zeppelin might provoke in thinking Led fans: Robert Plant sure sang like a girl, but not as well as frontwoman Sarah McLellan, whose vocals feature a backbone like Janis Joplin's and a joie de blues in the general ballpark of Bonnie Raitt. The middle-section orgasm of "Whole Lotta Love" sounds a lot less gross when McLellan screams it. You can't replace Jimmy Page, but you can decode enough of his stuff to pull off an adequate facsimile if you practice your balls – or whatever – off. When Lez Zeppelin finally decides to record some of their own music, it could make for some phenomenal stuff. There's only a small taste here: "Winter Sun," a mandolin-fused Lez instrumental original, sounds true to the acoustic Zep tradition. True enough that it's going to send more than a few Led completists scrambling to the computer to Google the title 14 ways and make sure it's not a B-side to some obscure import single they don't have.

It's an entertaining disc, faithful to the originals. The group actually makes "Kashmir" sound more interesting than the original, seemingly sped up slightly, with less droning on. While Lez's cover of "Rock and Roll" doesn't quite pack the punch of the original, their "Communication Breakdown" is spot-on. If you have brain cells – or hearing – left after playing the crusty old Led Zeppelin original over and over and over the first time around, Lez Zeppelin might make you rethink just what it was that Plant & Page accomplished. If nothing else, this record reminds us that blues rock is blues rock is blues rock: Zeppelin might have played the style, but they neither patented nor owned it, and after five billion repeats on classic rock radio, there is still room for fresh interpretations of Zep tunes. Another thought: if these hard-rockin' gals start a side project of Cream covers, what on earth would they call it? "Milk" would be hilarious, but fewer people would get it than get "Lez Zeppelin."

~Mojo Flucke, PhD