WHAT'S ON: August 22, 1990
By Stan Vain

So let's get this straight. You are an alien, and Elvis Presley, that's the Elvis Presley, spoke to you before he died and told you to do this?

Please do not get the wrong idea about this. It ain't a story from the 'Sunday Sport' or the National Enquirer, although they would no doubt lap it up. This is the story of Dread Zeppelin, a band from America who specialise -- if that is the word -- in covering Led Zeppelin songs in a reggae style, with an Elvis impersonator as front-man!

Dread Zeppelin Group PhotoConfused? There is something amiss if you're not.

The best thing to do is to let the lead singer, Tortelvis, take up the plot.

"Actually the whole thing was pretty much Elvis Presley's idea. He came to me back in, I think it was 1977, a few months before he died, and he told me three simple things. He said, you gotta do Led Zeppelin music, reggae style, the way it's supposed to be done. You know I wasn't sure what he meant at the time, but recently I think we've got it figured out."

OK, that is all well and good, but how come Elvis picked you? (Eh! eh! Answer that one, then.)

"Well it was the fact that I resembled him so much. As far as we know, I was created by aliens and modeled after the most popular person to ever walk the earth -- which, of course, is Elvis. He figured I would be the best one to take over what he would have wanted to do."

Oh, of course! So Elvis would have been doing this had he lived? That is, he would be singing Led Zep songs in a reggae style?

"I really believe that he would have. He saw something in the Led Zeppelin music that was very good, and if he would have lived, he would have done it reggae style. Jimmy Page, I think, was quoted as saying that Led Zeppelin was originally going to be a reggae band but that John Bonham couldn't play the drums that style. I'm not sure if that is true?"

Hey, you there at the back, stop laughing. This is serious. Or at least, the Elvis estate is taking it all very seriously. They began to get very miffed when the band started to get noticed. It seemed at one point as though they might intervene and put a stop to the festivities.

"They're just worried about the image of Elvis, and they think that maybe I'm making fun of Elvis, which I'm not. I'm making fun of Elvis impersonators, not Elvis. He is actually my idol.

"We have to play these songs six nights a week and, if we didn't really respect the music, we couldn't do it. They just want to protect Elvis' image. I resemble Elvis in his later years and I don't think they like to see that, which I can understand. It was kinda sad in the end."

So maybe you should slim down then? (Got him this time.)

"This is something we've been thinking about; why not do Elvis' career in reverse? Although I'm having a little trouble sometimes, I'll walk by a doughnut shop, but I just can't resist it. That's kind of a problem there."

Enough!! Get serious for Chrissake! What is going to happen when people get bored with the joke? What about the time when all the journalists have had their fun and they don't want to know the band?

...Hey, if that's the kind of question you ask then you don't deserve Dread Zep, so keep outta their face. They're about fun. They probably realise this trip won't last too long. They've taken these icons, symbolic of the glum seriousness that is the music business, and they have had a little laugh at their expense. If anything, we should thank them with all our hearts.

And don't forget that the album, in itself, is not too bad. It skanks along in a solidly dubbish kind of way, with songs that are as reliable as Kenneth Baker and his cronies in a Government crisis: they may slither about a bit but, damn it, they always come to the rescue with that magnetic groove.

Some of the songs work very, very well -- amazingly well -- in a reggae style. You could almost believe they were meant to be done that way. Wait a minute, that's what Tortelvis said. So it was all true. Now that would be weird.

Dread Zeppelin's single 'Your Time Is Gonna Come/Heartbreaker (At the End of Lonely Street)', and LP 'Un-Led-Ed', are both out now on IRS. The band also plays live at the Marquee on August 24. If you don't go to this concert there must be something seriously normal about you.

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