THE SONG REMAINS INSANE

SELECT Magazine: August, 1990
By Neil Perry


A mind-boggling fusion of reggae, Led Zep metal and Elvis songs is too much for the Presley Estate who're unlikely to let DREAD ZEPPELIN desecrate them on their debut LP. News hound dog NEIL PERRY gets the story.

The closest that Led Zeppelin and Elvis Presley ever got to joining forces was one star-studded night in the '70s when the Brit princes of rock 'n' roll were guests of honour at one of The King's stateside shows...until now, that is.

Formed last year -- or possibly in the late '50s, the band aren't sure -- Dread Zeppelin are a sextet of California musical misfits who, upon a foundation of rootsy Jamaican reggae, fuse some of the HM forerunners' finest moments with some timeless Elvis tunes.

Carl Jah Blowing A KissThey have to be heard to be believed, but the result is fantastic. 'Heartbreaker Hotel' anyone?

Dread Zeppelin are fronted by singer and self-proclaimed son-of-Elvis, Tortelvis. A gargantuan figure in patent leather pelvis-hugging jumpsuits, rhinestone belts and stick-on sideburns, he's a 16-stone nightmare cross between The King Vegas-style (ie fat) and Liberace. The rest of the band includes guitarists Carl Jah and Jah Paul Jones, bassist Put-Mon, drummer Fresh Cheese and -- wait for it -- bongo player Ed Zeppelin.

Another song, 'Black Dog', comes over like Bob Marley And The Wailers covering the Led Zep classic, with all the Page guitar licks spot-on. Tortelvis also croons through Presley's 'Hound Dog' with the mumbling, lip-curling appeal of the man himself.

Reactions from the ex-Zep camp have been promising, Robert Plant enthused over them on Rapido recently (he and Jason Bonham have Dread Zeppelin T-shirts) and Zep's legendary manager Peter Grant has dubbed the band "fun".

They have already released covers of Zep's 'Immigrant Song' and 'Whole Lotta Love' as singles in the US. The sleeve of the former features the Led Zep burning-airship logo in the background with a picture of Elvis and Bob Marley shaking hands in the foreground.

But the already recorded Dread Zeppelin LP, 'Un-Led-Ed', is providing a lot of work for an army of lawyers to get the songwriting go-aheads. The eleven tracks include 'Livin' Lovin' Maid', 'I Can't Quite You Babe', 'Bring It On Home' and 'Moby Dick', which presumably features a full-on Ed Zeppelin bongo solo. Live, Dread Zeppelin also cover such Presley favourites as 'My Way' and 'America The Beautiful', and have been known to mix Joni Mitchell's 'Woodstock' with Zep's 'The Lemon Song'. All to a reggae beat!

While permission from Robert Plant and Jimmy Page to use Zeppelin material seems likely, The Elvis Presley Estate is proving less forthcoming. Tortelvis, meanwhile, has been taking every opportunity to clear up the recent 'Is Elvis Alive?' rumour that swept through America.

"God rest his soul," he told one American paper, "he is dead. Mah Daddy is dead. Let's have a moment of silence for mah Daddy, Elvis Presley (pause). Thank you very much. I must tell the story the way it is; he is no longer with us."

He told another that Elvis had been "hanging out at Burger King for a while" but had since passed on.

So far only half of one song, 'Black Dog', has been cleared. But if all goes well the LP, on IRS Records, should be in the shops in August. Dread Zeppelin are set for a UK visit during the same month. They are currently in the States on a tour, dubbed Tour T'Elvis: A Bad Trip, and are receiving rave reviews from a U.S. press no doubt sick of brainless Zep rip-offs, like Kingdom Come.

Dread Zeppelin promise to be the freakiest journey down memory lane you'll ever experience...


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