Thursday, August 16, 2007

On the turntable--Iron Horse, Whole Lotta Bluegrass

I just picked up this interesting little piece the other day--Iron Horse's 2004 release Whole Lotta Bluegrass: A Bluegrass Tribute to Led Zeppelin. Iron Horse, a veteran bluegrass outfit based out of Muscle Shoals, Alabama, is known for its cross-genre recording and has also produced Fade to Bluegrass: A Bluegrass Tribute to Metallica, among other similar releases.

I was pleasantly pleased with the the ten song effort. I am appreciative of bluegrass, but hardly an expert on the music, and I love Led Zeppelin, so it seemed like a could fit, particularly considering Jimmy Page's assertion that rock and roll is little more than folk music with distortion and amplifiers.

All I can say is that until you've heard "gonna give you love, every inch of my love" in four-part harmony, you've never really heard it. Ironically, the best song on the CD is "Rock 'n' Roll" which makes me want to start clogging to the fiery banjo and mandolin work. Less surprising is the smooth sounding "Bron-Y-Aur Stomp," already a folksy song, which could just as easily been written in the Tennessee hills as a Welsh farmhouse. Additionally, "Ramble On" translates remarkably as a bluegrass ballad.

Other songs like "Kashmir," "Dazed and Confused," and the "Immigrant Song" don't quite come off as well and I question their presence on the album compared to some more logical acoustic Zep classics. Basically, they come off sounding pretentious--of course, they were pretentious to begin with, so I can't fault them too much.

Nevertheless, if you dig bluegrass, dig Zeppelin, or want to hear songs about characters from the Lord of the Rings in four part-harmony, this CD is for you.

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