Whole Lotta Blues: Songs of Led Zeppelin

(House of Blues)

First Appeared at The Music Box, January 2000, Volume 7, #1

Written by John Metzger


Whole Lotta Blues is the final album in the House of Blues label's "This Ain't No Tribute" series. The concept behind this sequence of releases was to showcase a variety of blues artists by pairing them with rock 'n roll compositions by an array of classic performers, including the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, and Bob Dylan. As with any of these multi-artist collections, sometimes the idea works, and sometimes it doesn't. Yet, this entire series has really been a notch above the average run-of-the-mill project.

Whole Lotta Blues caps off this set with a bang instead of a whimper and rivals Paint It Blue (the Rolling Stones edition) for the best album in this collection. As is evident from the title, this release is a salute to the music of Led Zeppelin. They, of course, borrowed heavily (some would even say stole) from blues legends like Willie Dixon and Jimmy Reed. However, Led Zeppelin also put their own twist on the genre, revving it up with a fiery intensity that dared to dance with the devil.

The artists inhabiting Whole Lotta Blues turn the tables a bit on pile-driving, Led Zeppelin tunes like Whole Lotta Love and Good Times Bad Times, allowing the blues hidden deep within the songs to breathe. In addition, some of the band's more traditional slow blues grooves, like I Can't Quit You, Baby and Since I've Been Loving You, are given new vitality by Otis Rush and Otis Clay, respectively. Of course, there's also Magic Slim's Delta-blues romp through When the Levee Breaks and Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown's adventurous, jazz-tinged take on Rock 'n' Roll.

There was always a primal urgency scattered throughout the music of Led Zeppelin, and Whole Lotta Blues succeeds in capturing the essence of this, while offering some new and different twists on old familiar songs. This album is a must, not just for Zeppelin fans, but also for blues enthusiasts. starstarstarstar

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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!


Copyright 1999 The Music Box