Good Idea or Bad Idea? Jealous Butcher to Release Album of Indie Rock Led Zeppelin Covers Oct. 12

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All of these Pacific Northwest musicians dared to cover Led Zeppelin.
I'm on the fence about this new release from Jealous Butcher Records. On Oct. 12, the Portland label will release a double-disc compilation of 33 Led Zeppelin covers titled The Land of Ice and Snow. The bands featured on the album reads like a who's who list of Pacific Northwest indie musicians: There's Kind of Like Spitting, Laura Veirs, the Long Winters, Chris Walla, and M. Ward, just to name a few. Plus, the digital edition includes 18 additional songs by 18 additional bands. In short, it's a totally ambitious undertaking.

But let's be honest, here: for a band, covering any Led Zeppelin song is both ambitious and completely predictable. I mean, it's effing Led Zeppelin. What aspiring musician hasn't attempted "Stairway to Heaven" on their guitar? On the other hand, recording an actual Led Zeppelin cover is essentially asking for harsh critique: it's hard to live up to Plant and Page's legendary musicianship.

As for these particular covers--well, I've been listening to The Land of Ice and Snow on and off for a week now, and it's (predictably) a mixed bag. Kind of Like Spitting's cover of "Good Times Bad Times" impressively sounds like it could have been recorded in 1974. And Loch Lomond's softer, sweeter re-imagining of the driving, unmistakable opening strings on "Kashmir" actually works. But some songs--like Laura Veirs' cover of "The Ocean" and Chris Walla's "In the Evening"--just don't cut it for me. (Veirs' voice, which is lovely, is too sweet for anything on Houses of the Holy; Walla's cover just sounds--ugh--like more Death Cab.) Then again, Laura Gibson's lilting vocals on the Portland Cello Project's cover of "Dazed and Confused" are downright inspired.

I still can't decide if covering Led Zeppelin is ever a smart move. Anyone else care to weigh in?

 
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