Beth Hart takes on the Giants of Rock on her Led Zep tribute album
Recording an album of Led Zeppelin tunes has always seemed like an obvious move for Beth Hart. The Queen of modern blues certainly has the sass and swagger to carry off 'Black Dog' and 'Rock and Roll' and is possibly the only other female singer – aside from Ann Wilson – who has the power, tone, and ability to be able to take on such mammoth songs. So why exactly has it taken her this long to put a tribute to the original Giants of Rock? It would seem that she wasn't pissed off enough.
After years of working to keep her rage hidden, Beth Hart found that the pandemic and everything surrounding it was the perfect time to let the beast out of the cage. I'm not entirely sure that to deliver Lez Zep effectively you have to become the Hulk, but channeling her anger into some of the beefiest rock songs every committed to tape is certainly something that has to be right on the money – especially as a woman. In spite of our leaps towards gender equality, there is still enormous pressure on women in the industry and to take on Robert Plant's vocals will inevitably lead to false comparisons and naysayers. Any doubters and haters look away now: Hart nails it. She performs every song with ease and the album contains consistent top drawer vocals from one of the best female singers of all time.
There's a whole lotta songs that she could have picked for the album, there's a cross-section of identifiable Zep tunes (Stairway to Heaven, Black Dog, Whole Lotta Love and Kashmir) but then there are the outsiders, the songs that could easily be Beth Hart originals if you didn't know better. Hart doesn't go in for heavy rearrangements of the songs, except for adding orchestral parts. On occasion, these are a little overcooked, but more often than not they add elegance and beauty. 'Rain Song' is almost unrecognisable except for the key refrain. 'No Quarter' is an outstanding example of Hart taking a song, running with it, and making it her own. A midpoint segue into 'Babe I'm Gonna Leave You' is not only unexpected but brilliantly executed.
Getting pissed off once in a while has certainly had its benefits, and Beth Hart has certainly proved, once again, that she is at the top of her game.