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Customer Review

HALL OF FAMEon October 4, 2002
Encomium not only serves as an alternative tribute to Led Zeppelin, it provides a snapshot of the early 1990's music scene. With the exception of Duran Duran, everybody else was flavor of the month or on the rise.
Some are karaoke version remakes, with only a different vocal style. It's as if the cover artists are playing it safe, staying in a self-asserted comfort zone in deference to Led Zeppelin, so as not to alter the original too much. Hootie and the Blowfish do a near matching cover of the B-side "Hey Hey What Can I Do" and Darius Rucker's deeper voice does this song justice. Stone Temple Pilot's "Dancing Days" echoes the original, with Scott Weiland doing softer vocals in contrast to the rough as sandpaper intonations on his solo debut. Big Head Todd & The Monsters' "Tangerine", Duran Duran's "Thank You", Cracker's "Good Times Bad Times", and Helmet/David Yow's "Custard Pie" are further examples of this play-it-safe stance.
Of the differently styled songs, Sheryl Crow gives "D'yer Mak'er" a nice poppy feel and it's easily the best song here. 4 Non-Blonde's Linda Perry's vocals reflect Robert Plant's own soaring vocals on "Misty Mountain Hop," especially in the "baby baby baby" section. Blind Melon's "Out On The Tiles" is passable, with different styled guitars. Come to think of it, Shannon Hoon does have a high-pitched quasi-Robert Plant register, doesn't he? Henry Rollins' harder guitars and rougher voice gives "Four Sticks" a unique treatment. The harsh Melissa Etheridge/Janis Joplin-ish vocals of Never The Bride's lead singer gives "Going To California" a somewhat abrasive treatment, but it's tolerable. Hey, it began with a piano intro instead of guitar. I don't know how Zeppelin purists will take to this song. Finally, Robert Plant teams up with Tori Amos for a hushed, slowed down version of "Down By The Seaside," a contrast to the original on Physical Graffiti, but Tori shines through here, and this is my second favorite song here.
Interesting to note is that the songs are all the moderately well-known tracks: none of the real classic tracks like "Kashmir", "Whole Lotta Love", or the overplayed "Stairway To Heaven" are present. This is good--it's better to highlight other songs. (Runes) was the source of most of the songs, as seen below:
Led Zeppelin, 1
II, 1
III, 2
(Runes), 3
Houses Of The Holy, 2
Physical Graffiti, 2
non-album B-side, 1
A nice effort despite the play-it-safe motif pervading this album. For the next compilation, how about some more innovation?
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