With a Led Zeppelin craze sweeping America once again, the fourth album from New Orleans' Zebra – the trio's first since 1986! – couldn't arrive at a better time. Singer, guitarist and keyboard player Randy Jackson has lost some of his soaring falsetto that helped lump Zebra into a slew of Zeppelin sound-alike bands in the Eighties – remember "Who's Behind the Door" and "Tell Me What You Want"? – but the music still has a cool classic-rock vibe to it. That's not surprising, considering that most of the 11 tracks on IV were written back in the Eighties, with the heavy boogie-woogie rocker "Free" dating all the way back to 1975.
IV is just about split down the middle between good-time rockers with a dash of Seventies spirit and introspective, more melodic acoustic pieces. Depending on your preference, either the upbeat "Arabian Nights" and "Light of My Love" or the laid-back "Who Am I" and "A World That Is Learning" might be your picks for top tracks. Then there's "Waiting to Die," an eight-minute epic that simmers with a dramatic saxophone performance and comes the closest Zebra has to progressive rock since its self-titled 1983 debut. There's even a hint of the blues in the song, which also features harmonic elements that hearken to Jackson's other band, The Sign (with ex-Strangeways singer Terry Brock, Kansas bassist Billy Greer, Blue Oyster Cult drummer Bobby Rondinelli, and Drive, She Said's keyboard player Mark Mangold).
That said, at times Jackson still sounds like a lower-register Robert Plant, which makes IV – boasting the band's original lineup – still sound like classic Zebra.