Picks and Pans Review: Encomium: a Tribute to Led Zeppelin

updated 05/15/1995 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/15/1995 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Various Artists

It takes a brave artist to cover a Led Zeppelin song. Widely regarded as the apotheosis of the heavy metal-hard rock Zeitgeist, the legendary British band patented a sound that has often been imitated but never duplicated. Since trying to beat Zep at its own game is a fool's errand at best, most of the artists on this inevitable tribute album aim for respectful approximations of classic tunes. So we get faithful versions of "Thank You" (Duran Duran), "Dancing Days" (Stone Temple Pilots), "Misty Mountain Hop" (4 Non Blondes) and the obscure B-side "Hey Hey What Can I Do" (Hootie & the Blowfish). Zeppelin vocalist Robert Plant even joins Tori Amos for a moody duet on "Down by the Seaside." A couple of the so-called alternative acts attempt to put a personal spin on their efforts and fall flat—cock an ear to Helmet and David Yow's lurching "Custard Pie" and the Rollins Band's angst-injected "Four Sticks," and see if they don't make you appreciate the mainstreamers' fidelity tc the originals. Overall, though, Encomium is a benign novelty, a harmless nostalgia trip that will have you remembering how many great songs Led Zeppelin left us. Just be thankful no one attempted "Stairway to Heaven." Now that would be sacrilege. (Atlantic)

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