DREAD ZEPPELIN 'Un-Led-Ed'
KERRANG! Magazine: July 28, 1990
By Neil Jeffries
Unaccustomed as I am to standing in for megastars, it gives me immense pleasure to be able to say: 'Heeeeere's... er me."
'Mr. Robert Plant's byline is unable to appear at the end of this review because he's bottled out. He did promise to review this for us you see, but it's my sad duty to report that as a journo...he can't hack it. Deadline was yesterday, Robert. You what? You lost the tape?!? Hey (hey, what can I do?), you expect us to believe that old chestnut? Ah well, here goes...'
That ol' Percy was even moved to agree says more than I ever could about the validity of this record. That the voice of Led Zeppelin admits this band have come up with an arrangement of 'Your Time Is Gonna Come' to beat Zep's own says more than I ever could about their musical strength. Now if we could just get him to concede every track on this LP is better than 'D'Yer Mak'er' off 'Houses Of The Holy' -- Oops!
But enough of the justifications. 'Un-Led-Ed' can stand on its own 10 feet (12 if you count Charlie) as more than a mere collection of cover versions, far more than 10 Zep songs played to a reggae beat. Reggae is as diverse a musical genre as rock and so each track here gets a subtly different treatment. Each one is more than reworked...each one is reborn. Okay, so I do prefer the originals in most cases, but slot this into your collection after Zep's 'Coda' and it'll sit there ready to match another mood just as sure as 'Led Zeppelin III' matches a different mood to 'Presence'.
Tortelvis is also far more than another cheesy Saturday night chicken-in-a-basket disco Elvis impersonator. Anyone can do the voice, only Tortelvis can bring it to life and make you wonder if he really is related -- while you wipe away the tears of laughter from your eyes...
And there's the rub. The strongest element to 'Un-Led-Ed' has to be its humour. I first heard this on import months ago, but I'm still hearing new gags. Nothing cheap either: it's all very clever and very funny.
Like the snippet in 'Black Dog': 'Ladies an' gennelmen, direct from Kingston (wherever that is)...Ed Zeppelin...' before their percussionist launches into a heavy patois 'Custard Pie' rap.
Or guitarist Carl Jah's guitar solo in 'Heartbreaker Hotel' which starts out mirroring Pagey's original then escalates into a high-pitched spiral before ending in a thunderous detonation and the sound of breaking glass. This boy can play! It's in him and it's gonna come out...
Or 'Bring It On Home' where Tortelvis breaks down and sobs like a baby, calling to Charlie: 'Give me the towel...'
But I'll be here all night at this rate. The bottom line? Just buy it. This is the greatest covers album of all time. Oh, by the way Robert, we've just asked Elvis himself to review the next LP. We've just found him alive and well, but asleep in our pictures library...
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