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Great White - Jack Russell's: Greatest Zeppelin II

More through the timing of their arrival, the presence of some cowboy hats and admittedly some decidedly ‘something’ in cheek lyrics, Great White were a band lumped in with a scene where musically they simply didn’t belong. More blues rock than cock rock, the band released a succession of albums steeped in a classic tradition that was confirmed by faithful cover versions of bands such as Mott The Hoople. However, not until their 1998 live album, Greatest Zeppelin - A Tribute To Led Zeppelin, did people really sit up and believe what the band had been saying all along, that they were a ‘genuine’ rock band.

Much water has travelled under the bridge since and the man who fronted the band back then now has a Great White all of his own. An album of recent acoustic reworking of Great White tunes was fun, if a little flawed and whether the smart money was really on Russell and his cohorts revisiting the idea of dedicating a whole album to Led Zeppelin or not, that’s exactly what we’ve got, although on this occasion the songs have been captured in the studio, not on stage.

23 years is a long time for any singer and anyone following his story will know that Jack hasn’t had the easiest ride across those years for a variety of reasons, but, while maybe not as powerful as it once was, on this showing his voice is still in good shape. Arguably, given the smoothness of what he provides here, in too good shape actually, with a feeling that I can’t shake off that the veteran singer isn’t quite confident enough to go all in on some of the vocals possibly my biggest complaint. And as niggles go, it isn’t a big one, the more relaxed style offering nice counterpoint to what has to be said, are some excellent performances from his band, Bobby Lochner  (lead guitar), Tony Montana  (rhythm guitar, keys), Dan McNay  (bass) and Dicki Fliszar (drums), who walk a fine line between reverence and individuality with no little skill. There’s no real suggestion that the intention with the likes of “No Quarter”, “Misty Mountain Hop” or “Trampled Underfoot” was to radically reinvent them and yet, the arrangements are loosened up somewhat without overstepping the mark, with, maybe unsurprisingly enough, the results sounding just a little more American than Zeppelin ever intended - the sway and sting of “Houses Of The Holy” possibly the best example.

Special mention must go to Bobby Lochner across the whole album, his display on lead guitar powerful, tasteful and smart enough to never step too far into the world of Jimmy Page, while never leaping too far away from his original frameworks. “Kashmir” is a fine illustration - after all, there’s no way of tackling this classic riff-a-thon without digging deep into Page’s groove and yet as the song opens up, so Lochner finds a few colours of his own to add. All the while Fliszar does a superb job following in John Bonham’s bass pedal steps, even if no one else could ever quite provide the natural flow and power of the much missed drummer, and with a cool rendition of “Moby Dick” Dicki really does get a chance to shine.

I suppose the main question I’m left with as this album spins isn’t, was it wise to take on “Stairway To Heaven”? (The answer being no, but they just about get away with it), or whether this offering is better than the original Great White’s live homage to Zeppelin? (It isn’t, but there’s not as much in it as I thought there’d be), but more, who is this album going to appeal to? I can’t see Zeppelin fans really giving two hoots for this effort and surely Great White fans would rather have new music from Russell at this stage? Or maybe not, after all, an acoustic ‘best of’ and a covers album are pretty safe options and it has to be said that with both, Jack Russell and his version of Great White have done well, without really blowing our socks off. However, that doesn’t stop Greatest Zeppelin II from being a load of fun not just for the band playing these songs, but also for anyone who cares to listen to them.

Track Listing
1. Whole Lotta Love
2. Good Times, Bad Times
3. Misty Mountain Hop
4. Dancin’ Days
5. No Quarter [CD ONLY]
6. Kashmir
7. Houses Of The Holy
8. Trampled Underfoot
9. Moby Dick [CD ONLY]
10. The Rover [CD ONLY]
11. Stairway To Heaven [CD ONLY]
12. Heartbreaker
13. Livin’ Lovin’ Maid [CD ONLY]
14. Communication Breakdown

Added: December 27th 2021
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Greatest Zeppelin II @ CleoRecs
Hits: 1012
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Great White - Jack Russell's: Greatest Zeppelin II
Posted by Michael Popke, SoT Staff Writer on 2021-12-28 02:23:17
My Score:

My SoT colleague, Steven Reid, asks the question that cuts to the core of this release: Who cares? Dare I say that even Great White fans have lost interest in Great White -- any version of Great White. Hell, I’m one of them. That said, giving this sequel to 1988’s live Great Zeppelin: A Tribute to Led Zeppelin the benefit of the doubt, the 14 tracks here are worth a listen. The band’s own sound meshes well with Zeppelin’s original bluesy vibe, and Jack Russell can still pass muster channeling Robert Plant. Plus, the record boasts crisp audio, cool packaging and some fine songs from the Zeppelin catalog (including “Kashmir,” “Good Times, Bad Times,” "Dancin' Days" and “Livin’ Lovin’ Maid”). So let's just go with this: A solid set of songs that may struggle to find to find an audience but nevertheless deserves to be heard at least once. Maybe that’s the best this formerly potent beast of a band can hope for now.

2004 Sea Of Tranquility
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