Review by Maria Glover for MPM
Beth Hart is an American singer, songwriter and musician from Los Angeles, who rose to fame in the late 90s.
The 2014 ‘Seesaw’ album with Joe Bonamassa was nominated for a Grammy Award, and gave Hart her first Blues Music Award nomination, and the 2018 collaboration ‘Black Coffee’ debuted at number 1 on the US Blues Album Chart.
Her 2019 release ‘War In My Mind’ became her highest-charting solo album in the European market.
Hart cites Otis Redding, Etta James and Led Zeppelin as influences so maybe it’s not surprising she has decided to pay homage to Zeppelin with this tribute album, indeed she has covered “Whole Lotta Love” previously back in 2005.
Intriguing eh? I thought so. I’m worried but excited, apprehensive yet keen to have a listen. Will I be disappointed? doubtful given Beth Hart’s talent and savvy. Here we go…
‘Whole Lotta Love’ has heaps of attitude and a soulful, raw vocal oozes angst. It’s a classy cover, much more polished than the original, more ethereal but not quite as atmospheric for me. That nostalgia cannot be recreated easily but this is a formidable effort and Hart should be very proud of it.
I was particularly concerned about ‘Kashmir’ as it’s my favourite go-to Led Zeppelin track but I needn’t have worried! That bluesy lilt is accompanied by the snarl and growl required to do the song justice, and what an undertaking to cover such an anthem.
Hart keeps the song quite true to the original but with a little more bass which I love. The instrumental is powerful and Hart’s vocals sublime. I’m totally in love with this slightly more modern take.
Hart’s vocal prowess is well demonstrated, switching between gentle and sweet to raucous and husky. The sugary vocals at the start of ‘Stairway To Heaven’ are delicious and the song is simple yet beautiful, though not quite as magical as the original for me, but we all remember the first time we heard that song. In ‘Dancing Days’ (part 1 and 2) there is such a rich velvety texture to the lyrics which make it powerful and emotive.
The powerhouse vocals on ‘Black Dog’ seize me by the throat and won’t let go. There is the same degree of grit as Plant’s vocal in a top drawer cover that honours a classic. The blues infusion is there for Hart fans and the bass booms in your chest. Perfect.
The keys in ‘No Quarter’ are not quite as “tinny” as the original but this is a track which has been given a breath of fresh air and could easily be a Bond theme. It’s huge and, on comparison, I do prefer this version despite the nostalgia for the original. You cannot recreate the 60s vibe in ‘Good Times Bad Times’ but this is a great song on its own even though less hippy or trippy than Zeppelin’s.
‘When The Levee Breaks’ and ‘Babe I’m Gonna Leave You’ are both shorter than the original, the first of the two a completely different vibe and too polished for me; a good song but a different song altogether. The latter has more anger than I think Plant could summon and a lush deep vocal. The instrumental is not quite as strong but it’s a great cover.
‘The Rain Song’ is another track which retains a lot of the style of the original, the focus on the instrumental, and being able to pick out each musician, no doubt made more difficult because of Hart’s stronger vocal.
I’m sorry but I’ve never been a fan of ‘The Crunge’ and this version is no different. We all have different tastes.
This album is a collection of some of the most iconic and much-loved Zeppelin tracks and is a thoroughly respectable, and at times exceptional, cover of an incomparable legend.
Whilst some tracks are kept very close to the original, others are given a fresh lease of life and modern facelift. Die-hard fans should give this a shot and it could be a good introduction to some of the classics to younger fans. Well worth anyone’s money! Ordering my copy next.
1. Whole Lotta Love
3. Stairway To Heaven
4. The Crunge
5. Dancing Days/When The Levee Breaks (Medley)
6. Black Dog
7. No Quarter / Babe I’m Gonna Leave You (Medley)
8. Good Times Bad Times
9. The Rain Song
Beth Hart and the Ocean of Souls (1993)
Screamin’ for My Supper (1999)
Leave the Light On (2003)
37 Days (2007)
My California (2010)
Don’t Explain with Joe Bonamassa (2011)
Bang Bang Boom Boom (2012)
Seesaw with Joe Bonamassa (2013)
Better Than Home (2015)
Fire on the Floor (2016)
Black Coffee with Joe Bonamassa (2018)
War in My Mind (2019)
A Tribute to Led Zeppelin (2022)
Photo Credit: © Greg Watermann