Led Zeppelin is without question one of the biggest rock bands of all time. In their heyday of the 70's, about the only thing they could do to be any better in the eyes of their fans was to actually write a song about them. So for their fifth album, Houses of the Holy, they wrote "The Ocean" about the sea of fans at their concerts. “The Ocean” is one of Led Zeppelin’s best loved songs and the main guitar riff is one of the most recognizable of their catalog. The mixed-metered groove (measures of 4/4 and 7/8), the a cappella vocal breakdown and the doo wop ending make this classic rock song even more creative and fun to sing along with. As an added bonus, if you listen closely to the beginning you’ll even be able to hear a few words from legendary drummer John Bonham before he counts off.
This week Jealous Butcher Records put out From The Land of Ice and Snow: The Songs of Led Zeppelin and it is huge! This 50 band, 3 album (2 physical and 1 digital) tribute record is comprised of some impressive indie bands all hailing from the Northwest and it has been 6 years in the making. While the majority of the bands may be unfamiliar to most, there are some heavyweights like M. Ward, Laura Veirs and Chris Walla from Death Cab For Cutie to anchor this ambitious labor of love. My personal favorite is Laura Veirs’ take on “The Ocean.” With a little help from Tucker Martine’s side project Mount Analog, Laura turns out a faithful rendition of “The Ocean” with enough character and individuality to differentiate it from the original. The cool, smaller guitar sound, Laura’s unique voice and the party feel in the outro make this track a standout and worthy of repeated listens. I’ve always thought that females sound better than males when covering Led Zeppelin because of that signature, sexy tone of Robert Plant’s voice and Laura does a great job in helping to prove my point. If you’re covering one of the most iconic bands in musical history, you need to make sure to capture all the passion, power and soul or you’ll become the musical equivalent of a 4th grader stumbling through the Gettysburg Address at a PTA meeting. There's no worries of that happening here as Laura nails “The Ocean” perfectly and definitely sits atop the snowcaps of this mountainous release.