It seems rather ridiculous to give bands shit for ripping off Led Zeppelin, given that most of Zep’s early output was an inch away from outright thievery (ask Robert Johnson & Willie Dixon). But Led Zeppelin was about more than the riffs– Led Zeppelin was a sound and an attitude, and that is what other bands have been trying to recapture for forty years.
Let’s take a look at five extremely blatant attempts to capture that Zeppelin mojo!
Heart: “Barracuda” (Ann Wilson/Nancy Wilson/Roger DeRosier/Roger Fisher)
From the album Little Queen
Portrait Records, 1977
Ann & Nancy Wilson have never attempted to hide their love for Led Zeppelin. Heart has always covered Zeppelin songs in their encores, and earlier this year the band toured with John Bonham’s son Jason and played a set loaded with Zep classics.
“Barracuda” was the lead single from “Little Queen,” Heart’s second album. Without question, the galloping guitar rhythm pays homage to the Zeppelin epic “Achilles Last Stand.” It also proves beyond a doubt that the Wilson sisters could rock as hard as any band out there. A classic.
Zebra: “Who’s Behind The Door” (Randy Jackson)
From the album Zebra
Atlantic Records, 1983
Vinyl rip courtesy of the Analog Kid
“Who’s Behind The Door?” was a huge AOR hit from Zebra’s 1983 debut record. The band had been playing together since 1975, and had frequently incorporated Zeppelin songs into their set. I suppose if you have a voice as high as singer/guitarist Randy Jackson, you are required to sing like Robert Plant. Note that Zebra released its albums on Atlantic Records, meaning they never had to worry about being sued by Zeppelin’s record company. The Discovery Channel is right: zebras are very intelligent.
Billy Squier: “Lonely Is The Night” (Billy Squier)
From the album Don’t Say No
Capitol Records, 1981
Don’t Say No had bigger hits, but “Lonely is The Night” is its centerpiece. Drummer Bobby Chouinard lays down a monster Bonham groove, and the song oozes that Zeppelin swagger I was talking about earlier. Squier made a living cranking out pseudo-Zep anthems, and “Lonely Is The Night” is easily the best of a fine lot. Thankfully, Billy didn’t put on a pink shirt and dance around a loft in the video.
Whitesnake: “Slow An’ Easy” (David Coverdale/Micky Moody)
From the album Slide It In
Geffen Records, 1984
Like Squier, Whitesnake built an entire career on Zeppelin-esque riffs. The chorus on “Slow An’ Easy” kinda kills the Zep vibe, but the beginning is so Plant-like that I had to include it here. I suppose it’s no shock that David Coverdale eventually made an album with Jimmy Page, and it’s also no shock that I can’t remember a single song on it.
Kingdom Come: “Get It On” (Lenny Wolf /Marty Wolff)
From the album Kingdom Come
Polydor Records, 1988
Without question, Kingdom Come wins the prize for most blatant Led Zeppelin rip-off of all time. They were essentially a Led Zeppelin tribute band that didn’t play any actual Zeppelin songs. I hated this on principle in 1988, but in 2013 I have to give it a little respect. Kingdom Come didn’t hide what they were trying to do, and they hired producer Bob Rock to make sure that they did it very well.
I can think of at least ten other songs that could have easily made this list. What songs make YOU think of Zeppelin? Let me know in the comments section!
The first rule of The Analog Kid blog is that if you write about a song on the Analog Kid blog, you share the song on the Analog Kid blog.
Led Zeppelin: “Achilles Last Stand” (Jimmy Page/Robert Plant)
From the album Presence
Atlantic Records, 1976