Them Crooked Vultures | DGC/Interscope
Led Zeppelin fans can finally rejoice now that a new album is finally out. The lineup is a little different. There's no Robert Plant or Jimmy Page. There's no new rock anthems like "Stairway to Heaven" or classics like "Black Dog." There aren't even any new regurgitated blues numbers from Muddy Waters or Willie Dixon. What we have in Them Crooked Vultures is the latest in Supergroup 101. TCV kinda sounds like Led Zep in lotsa places on the album. It's actually fun to listen for 'em. It's a great effort, but it ain't no Led Zep-and to be fair, TCV never claim to be Led Zeppelin. Dave Grohl of Nirvana/Foo Fighters at last establishes that he is the best rock drummer in the business. His work on this album ought to be sold to the U.S, military as "Shock and Awe II." John Paul Jones gets to relive his Zeppelin days; his bass playing lends purpose and he also serves as the official Minister of Inspiration. Josh Homme from Queens of the Stone Age is a big surprise. He one-ups Jimmy Page and is even a good replacement for Plant, albeit without the high-pitched vocal accoutrements. The songs give it all away: "Interlude With Ludes," "Elephants," and "Caligulove,"-can you tell these guys were having fun?
Thus the album is like taking all the world's greatest custom bike builders, locking them into a garage for a weekend and saying "build me a custom Road King ". The result is a collective work that naturally has signature trademarks from each contributor.
And how cool would it have been to be there, watching it all come together? Influences from their previous work are to be expected and it's not a bad thing here for these vulture dudes. It all works, sounds, and looks great. It's a nice album to take along for a ride because a rumbling exhaust tends to make the songs come alive. Maybe they planned it that way?
Flood | Moreland & Arbuckle | Telarc
Honestly, this CD sat around for a while because I assumed with a name like Moreland and Arbuckle, they was probably a re-born Seals and Crofts-type group. Revelation Number One: They're actually equal parts Muddy Waters, Savoy Brown, Yardbirds, and J Geils Band (when J Geils had the word "blues" in their name). Revelation Number Two: Moreland and Arbuckle are white and hail from Kansas. If they had nicknames like say, "Blind Man" and "Spanky," they'd have a shrine on Highway 49. These cats play the blues like nobody's business. The CD sounds like an old blues record-all that's missing is the surface noise and the tics and pops. Exhibit A: Little Walter's "Hate to See You Go" is the opening song and it comes at you like a smack upside the head. Exhibit B: "Legend of John Henry" is a full-blown hurricane and you'd best be hangin' on tight. Moreland plays a trick custom gen-u-wine cigar box guitar just like those blues cats that came up from the Mississippi delta on their way to Memphis and Chicago. Exhibit C: On "Don't Wake Me," you'd swear they've conjured up the ghost of Elmore James or sold their souls to the devil to gain a knowledge of the blues, just like Robert Johnson. And so it goes. This entire album is an all-you-can-eat blues buffet, best served with cold beer and pool tables. Amidst the Jonas Brothers and Lady Ga(g) Ga(g)s, who knew they still made music like this? No matter, you'll be glad they still do. Play this on your bike at maximum volume and Johnny Law will be pulling you over before the next off ramp, 'cause you'll be lost in some of the greatest road tunes this side of Memphis.
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