Bri Blahg… Them Crooked Vultures Hammer The Clods

10 11 2009

by Brian Phillips (@BrianBlahg)

Them Crooked Vultures debut drops November 17

A couple of decades back the old Polydor record label signed a band called Kingdom Come. When clever FM dj’s of the day played Kingdom Come’s single “Get It On” they sometimes wouldn’t say who the band was, or broadly hint that it was Led Zeppelin in disguise. The phones would ring off the wall. “Dude was that new Led Zepp?” Listening to the song now it all seems ridiculous. Yes they sounded like Led Zeppelin, but only in a two-dimensional, cardboard cutout way. What they lacked of course were chops, good songs, and any sense of mystery and magic. They were a cheap tribute band body snatching wasteoids who never left the parking lot of life’s proverbial War Memorial Coliseum.

Of course there were other dicks doing their “Hammer Of The Gods” routine too. Whitesnake comes to mind and the hideous Great White. There was for many years a decent living to be made picking through Led Zeppelin’s carcass, as long as you could fit your bloated ass into some leather pants and weren’t allergic to Aqua Net. Squeeze my lemon indeed. They squeezed that piece of fruit dry.

While all this was going on Robert Plant enjoyed a solid solo career. Jimmy Page formed the dull Firm with Bad Company’s Paul Rodgers, made a dimwitted record with Whitesnake front man David Coverdale, and then reunited with Plant as Page/Plant. John Paul Jones meanwhile faded to the background, but never obscurity. The multi-instrumentalist and arranger lent his immense talents to everyone from R.E.M. to The Butthole Surfers (and, if his Wikipedia is to be believed, poodle metal band Cinderella).

Another of the many projects with a John Paul Jones credit was The Foo Fighters’ 2005 double album “In Your Honor.” It was around that time the friendly and no doubt persuasive head Foo Dave Grohl began to piece together a new project. The ex Nirvana drummer would return to the kit, Jones to his bass and Queens Of The Stone Age singer/guitarist Josh Homme signed on for the same. The result is Them Crooked Vultures. I get the idea the band was born out of a conversation between Grohl and Homme. “Dude wouldn’t it be cool if……..” And why the hell not, can’t hurt to ask. If it was a secret plot to lure Jones on stage for a much deserved victory lap I doubt he would have been much interested, not that it matters now. Once Jones started working with Grohl and Homme and realized that their abilities and talents were topped only by infectious enthusiasm, he was in for a late life adventure.

On “Them Crooked Vultures” the players are smart enough to know they ought not attempt to make a Led Zeppelin record. At least not one with all the trappings. On tracks like “No One Loves Me And Neither Do I” and “New Fang” the Vultures tap into something Zepp didn’t often get credit for. Songs like “The Crunge,” and “The Ocean,” both from Houses Of The Holy, were good fun to say nothing of even bigger numbers like “Rock N Roll” and “Black Dog.” You can close your eyes and see a big shit eating grin on Grohl’s face as he flails away, equal parts John Bonham and…. well, Dave Grohl. Fans of Queens Of The Stone Age will be smiling too. Tracks like “Dead End Friends” don’t stray far from Homme’s sonic turf. “We came to ruin all/and make a rotten trade” he sings on “Elephants.” I think you’ll find the deal to your liking however, at least for a good portion of the record. “Them Crooked Vultures” is a celebration of John Paul Jones’ blessed rumble, of hitting the damn drums as hard as you can, and rocking out. It isn’t a tribute to Led Zeppelin or Cream for that matter (which at times they resemble much more than Zepp), it’s the joy of three people in a small room bashing about, and it’ll send you to the garage looking for those big fucking speakers you used to keep in the house.

What this album mercifully won’t do is send grown men to their landlines calling the local classic rock station asking if Led Zeppelin were back together. Sadly classic rock stations won’t likely have anything to do with Them Crooked Vultures regardless, being the tar pit dinosaurs they are. Their loss.

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One response

20 11 2009
Bri Blahg… Matt And Kim Take It Off, Them Crooked Second The Motion, Mozz Invites German To Make Love To Himself… Music News Round Up 11/20/09 « Palestra Music Blog

[…] Bonus Coverage. I wrote a little review if you’re interested. I have a bit of fun comparing and contrasting T.C.V. with history’s wasteland of Zepp clones. You can read it here. […]

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