Various Artists

Whole Lotta Bluegrass: A Bluegrass Tribute to Led Zeppelin

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Unfortunately for rock music, bluegrass has officially replaced Muzak as its easy listening interpreter. What started off as a series of irreverent tributes thinly veiled as novelties has now become a full-blown epidemic of "good old boy" elevator music. It's an unfortunate thing for bluegrass as well, because as the cut-out bins begin their eventual collapse under the dead weight of another Now Entering Sandman County -- A Rodeo Clown Tribute to Metallica collection, the reputation of the genre itself -- not the band it's pretending to champion -- suffers the consequences. Iron Horse's Whole Lotta Bluegrass: A Bluegrass Tribute to Led Zeppelin is typical; typical in its flawless execution, its balanced selection of the obvious ("Whole Lotta Love") and the not-so-obvious ("Kashmir"), and in it's smirky ability to just wink through the song as opposed to take it anywhere legitimately interesting -- they missed a great opportunity to turn the "Immigrant Song" into a "Rawhide" or "Mule Train"-style barnburner. Their dreadful take on "Stairway to Heaven" doesn't even attempt the "simple" dynamics of the song's second-half, and "Ramble On" and "Bron-Y-Aur Stomp" were both more successful at rounding up "down-home spirits" in their original incarnations than the soulless versions on display here. However, like most by-the-book novelty records, Whole Lotta Bluegrass will inevitably find its audience, an audience that will play it once for themselves, once for their friends, and once more to make sure that there are no scratches on it before they sell it.

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