Ultimate Interviews

Ultimate Interviews

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Led Blimpie CD Review

Last August, I had the great honor of interviewing a group of guys who truly were taking a bite out of the Led Zeppelin tribute band competition. Their love for the music, and sense of humor, made them put their own special twist on the logos, album covers and symbols that Zeppelin created, which set them apart from any other band. You can read that interview here: Led Blimpie-2013

Calling New York home, and naming their band after a favorite eatery...Led Blimpie has just released their new CD: Led Blimpie: a tribute to Led Zeppelin from Hell's Kitchen. 

Thor Fields, Blimpie's guitarist generously forwarded me a copy of the CD, along with liner notes. I had a great time listening to it, became a regular on my phone and I really enjoyed the appearance of the packaging. I was excited to have been given the opportunity to review their album.

Cover design: The Rev.William Marshall

First thing that I have to mention is the packaging. The sleek design is anything but boring and dull. Both the disc and the digipack are beautifully adorned with the Led Blimpie artwork. Similar to Zep's original artwork, but with a comedic twist. Bright colors, the band member's own take on the famous Led Zep IV symbols, a slightly altered Icarus figure, it really is something to look at. The cover was designed by The Rev. William Marshall.

As you open up the package, you see the Led Zeppelin album covers, but with a Led Blimpie twist. It was a really nice touch, to have the albums represented in this production. I'd like to mention Line Art by Rich Miller, and the excellent layout courtesy of Odin Meadows. Truly a fantastic job.

Courtesy: Led Blimpie
Photo by: Shade Rupe
One more flip, and the iconic buildings in New York that were used on the original 'Physical Graffiti' album sets the backdrop for Thor and a blimpie. Zeppelin fans are familiar with the two buildings that are located at 96 and 98 St. Mark's Place in New York City. Not only do they adorn Zeppelin's album, but they are also featured in The Rolling Stones video for 'Waiting on a Friend'.

Courtesy: Led Blimpie
They even made sure to give the disc itself a face-lift à la Led Zeppelin III. Gone are the random images connected with aviation and flight, and replaced with ingredients for the beloved sandwich.

The back cover, resembles the back of Led Zeppelin I, but with the members each holding a 'blimpie'. It also includes the track listing, a great variety, some surprises, more on that later.

Photo by: Bjorn Bolinder
I enjoyed the images chosen for this cd. It was a great way for a tribute band to pay tribute to their musical heroes.

After appreciating what went into the packaging, we move on to the music contained on the disc itself.

What's interesting to note, is that they simply did not go in a studio and record Zeppelin tracks. Instead, they reproduced the way Jimmy worked with analog, but in a modern day way. The result is an amazing album of familiar and beloved Led Zeppelin tracks, alongside the heart and soul of four guys who love the music, playing it the best they can.

Recorded at 30 Below,NYC & Sierra Sound NYC
Bron-Yr-Aur recorded at Stimulent Sound by Mike Degen
Additional Engineering - 30 Below Brent McLachlan
Special thanks to: David Popeck
Engineered and Mixed by Freddie Katz
Mastered by Mark Dann
Produced by Thor Fields and Freddie Katz

What follows is this listener's review of the album, track by track. I had a great time listening to it a few times to really get a feel for the music. So without further ado...I give to you Led Zeppelin~Ultimate Fan Page's review of 'Led Blimpie - A Tribute to Led Zeppelin from Hell's Kitchen.'

Track by Track:

Black Dog
Kicking off the album, reminiscent of Led Zeppelin IV.  Not only a good song choice to start off an album musically, but vocally as well. Jon's vocals come on strong and keep you there, right until the end. The four instruments (yes vocals included), combine to produce a recreation of a Zeppelin classic. As Thor described in the liner notes, the way the guitars were recorded is quite interesting. The left guitar live with the band, right and middle guitar straight into the mic channel of the mixing board. All which Thor describes as "Very unconventional - Very Jimmy Page." The result is a great sounding opening track for the album.

Battle Of Evermore
Not one of the most popular songs in any Led Zeppelin tribute band's setlist. But fortunately for the listener, Led Blimpie pulls it off. It's an amazing version of the only Zeppelin song that had a guest singer. While Sandy Denny's haunting vocal can't be duplicated, guest vocalist Julie Reyburn takes the song to a fresh, new level. Julie and Jon's voices compliment each other beautifully. They sound great together, and they really did put out a fantastic version of this song. Personally, one of my favorites on the album. Definitely was on repeat a few times. I learned that while recording her vocals, Julie was in fact eight months pregnant. Jon was also new to the band at this time, had not played live with the other guys, although  you would never know it.

After the soothing harmonies of 'Battle of Evermore', the band comes back, not with a shove..but with a full blown push. This was always one Zep song, that I couldn't wait for the guitar solo. At first when I read the track listing, I was thinking to myself, ok, will they be able to pull off that epic solo. Well, there is no disappointment here. Drums, bass, vocals, guitar, all carry the song to that middle point. Once there, Thor's playing knocks it out of the park.There's no question that he studied Jimmy Page's recordings and playing techniques. Soon after, drums, bass and vocals return and finish off the song on a strong note.

Out On The Tiles
Another pleasant surprise to see this song make it on the album. It really sounds like the guys are having a lot of fun playing this track. It strays a bit from the 'original' arrangement, but you know what, it's ok..it works perfectly. It demonstrates how they add their own style and techniques. Instead of just copying the song, they make it their own. One thing I really liked, was the addition of the solo towards the end of the song. According to the liner notes, it was Joe's idea to keep the song going towards the end. A great suggestion and it added that little extra punch at the end. Another one of my favorites.

This song is always a fan favorite. So many love to watch Jimmy play this number and be transported to another place. While listening to this CD, I felt the same. The song itself is a beautiful composition. When you hear Thor's version, you really can hear through the playing, how much he enjoys Zeppelin's music, playing their music and the admiration he has for Page. It is placed perfectly on the album. You can take a breather, enjoy an amazing acoustic number, saving your energy for what is still yet to come. Thor described how the track employed reverse-reverb recording. Much like the way Jimmy did with the Yardbirds. A nice addition to the album, surrounded by some heavier songs. Great job Thor!

Communication Breakdown
At first listen, it reminded me of some of the rock bands back in the '90s. Jon has that voice that could stand up against the likes of Sebastian Bach, Axl Rose and Vince Neil. But, this is no 'hair band' version of a Zep classic. Led Blimpie delivers a solid, rocking version, complete with a slightly modified ending. Speaking of which, that has impressed me, on a few songs, how they didn't just record "exact" versions. They decided to alter the songs slightly and add their own endings.They made these songs their own and did a great job.
You can watch the official video for this track:


The Rover
I've heard some say this is either a song they like, or don't like. I've always liked it, so when I first saw it on the track listing, I was excited to hear Led Blimpie's take on this 'Physical Graffiti' gem. Their version has a slightly increased tempo compared to Zep's version. But it works, and very well at that. Jon's vocals are strong while he enunciates the lyrics. It's hard to resist singing along "..if we can just join hands". Another home-run in this listener's opinion. The whole band is tight and that comes through not only on this song, but the whole album.

Going To California
The song finds its home after the heavy hitting 'Rover', 'Going to California' takes the listener to a peaceful new place. The acoustics are beautifully arranged and executed. I appreciated that Jon didn't set out to sing or sound like Robert Plant. Instead, he delivers a wonderful, controlled vocal throughout the song. When he has to, he raises the bar a bit, but without straining. It's mellow, relaxing and a great representation of a Zeppelin classic.

When The Levee Breaks
It's hard not to think of John Bonham when  you hear 'Levee'. The thundering drums that begin, shortly followed by the harmonica. Well folks, let me say, Matt  kicks off the song in true Bonham fashion. Followed closely behind by Jon's blistering, gritty sounding harmonica. The tune begins to mesh and come together with the addition of the guitar and bass. The liner notes describe how Thor used the doubleneck to record the main guitar track. Impressively, Jon learned the harmonica just for this song, and Levee marks the first time his playing was recorded. The decision to use this as a closing track on the album was a good one. I also have to mention that my teenage son said this was his favorite on the album. Where 'Black Dog' started us on the journey, 'When The Levee Breaks' takes us back home.

Photo courtesy: Led Blimpie

Where most tribute bands get out on stage and perform all the Zeppelin classics, Led Blimpie takes it one step further, to actually record a handful of them and release them to their fans. I made sure to give it some quality listening time before writing this review. Many times on repeat and I was hooked. The quality of the recording itself, produced perfectly makes it even more enjoyable to listen to. It truly is an album that will grow on you after more than one listen. A great job by four guys who love the music of Led Zeppelin.

Special thanks to Thor Fields for providing the CD, pictures and video.

Thanks to Led Blimpie for an amazing CD.

To purchase the CD:

You can learn more about Led Blimpie on:
Official Led Blimpie Website
Official Led Blimpie Facebook
Official Led Blimpie Twitter
Download Led Blimpie from iTunes
Official Led Blimpie YouTube Channel

Follow us:
Official LedZepUFP Facebook Page
Official LedZepUFP Twitter
Official LedZepUFP Tumblr


No comments:

Post a Comment