Most of the time when I hear Led Zeppelin covers, it’s usually just hard rock and heavy metal bands recreating the songs, although they covered folk, country, soul, and funk along the way as well. One can’t deny their influence on countless artists (Heart, Tori Amos, The Black Crowes) and a generation of fans who appreciated the hammer of the Gods, but I think because of the power and myths of their music, people stay away for whatever reason. Guitarist Teddy Presberg decided to show his love of the band by creating The Resistance Organ Trio with Leclare Stevenson (organ, bass, and piano) and drummer Kyle Honeycutt to show people how LZ’s music can be reinterpreted, and without vocals.
The Resistance Organ Trio Does Led Zeppelin (Outright) adds a little… I was going to say the trio adds elements of soul, funk, and gospel to Led Zeppelin’s music, but I think what they’re doing is playing the role of the music doctor by extracting it from the original songs, and reveal to people what they’ve really been hearing all these years. “Your Time Is Gonan Come” is known for its church organ vibe courtesy of John Paul Jones, and here it remains in the church. With the vocals being replaced by Presberg’s guitar, you hear him play not only the vocal melody but add his own brilliant solo to it, not as a means to upstage Jimmy Page but to just add a new perspective, as any musician would. “What Is And What Should Never Be” gets into a blues/jazz motif wit ha major boost from Stevenson taking it deep into Jimmy Smith territory. Bonus points for the panning at the end of the song where guitar is on the left, complimented by Stevenson on the right, bouncing back and forth. In “The Immigrant Song” (free download), I liked how the ending of the song is extended and explored, which is what Zeppelin did when they performed the song. The thing I felt was lacking was the intense bass riffs played by Jones, for me one of the best bass riffs Zeppelin ever made.
As a lifelong fan of LZ, I love everything they did. The uptempo tracks are performed honorable to the originals, but Presberg and friends take the slower and mellower songs and really go on the voyages LZ’s songs did on their own. I would have loved to have heard a medley that finally united “Since I’ve Been Loving You” and “Tea For One” in some fashion, but maybe they could do that in a live setting. As it stands, The Resistance Organ Trio Does Led Zeppelin is a tribute album that will hopefully make people listen to LZ’s songs in an all new light, or maybe notice things that have existed but not have been highlighted until they heard this. It would be interesting if someone’s first exposure to the work of LZ was with this tribute. In turn, the album shows the continued progression of Presberg as a musician, and also shows Stevenson and Honeycutt as musicians that should be recognized for their talents as well. The name of the trio is meant to focus on the organ, which you can interpret as is or as a metaphor, so Stevenson may a primary focus but listen to the trio as a collective with individual talents. If the “organ” did Led Zeppelin as if LZ was a passionate woman who was confident of all of her capabilities, then it did it until it was content, although I’d like to think she would want a lot more. Musically, LZ’s last musical words was “I’m Gonna Crawl” so Presberg, Honeycutt, Stevenson: you know what to do. Boogie chillens.
(The album will be released digitally on September 17th, CD version two weeks later.)