Sunday, December 21, 2008

Whitesnake singer volunteers to participate on Led Zeppelin album, tour

David Coverdale has recently suggested the style of a Led Zeppelin reunion that he would like to see as a fan of Jimmy Page.

Conveniently enough for Coverdale, his plan of having multiple singers replace Robert Plant includes Coverdale as being one of them. Meaning, he would be able to sing a few songs and then sip tea backstage while somebody else went front and center to tackle other songs.

Essentially, he suggested a Ferris wheel of rock singers and said he'll be in one of the seats.

He also said Def Leppard's Joe Elliott would be up for the job if asked.

Coverdale is quoted in an article by StarPulse that has gotten some real traction on the radio. Apparently, it's pretty amusing to programmers that singers are offering their services to the Led Zeppelin members should they be looking to record an album and a tour.

That alone isn't a horrid proposition. But what jars is the idea of calling whatever results Led Zeppelin.

Come on, can a revolving door of performers sitting in with Page, John Paul Jones and Jason Bonham really be considered Led Zeppelin?

What would all the singers travel in? A clown car?

You can just forget the goal of being tight but loose. Doesn't this just come off as loose but loose?

Don't forget that going out under the name Led Zeppelin without Plant being involved is something Page has said, through his management, his current plans do not include. That would be the case even if Page hit the road with Jones and Bonham, three-quarters of the group that billed themselves Led Zeppelin when playing in London last year.

Still, Coverdale may not be one to play by Page's no-Zeppelin-without-Plant rule. As a previously undiscovered singer in 1973, he first broke into the professional music scene fronting British rock heavy Deep Purple following the departure of Ian Gillan, who had sung on all the band's prior hits including the 1971 smash "Smoke on the Water."

Deep Purple split up two-and-a-half years into Coverdale's tenure with him, after which the singer launched a solo career from which he ultimately formed the band Whitesnake. In the 1980s, the band earned repute for its own version of the faux-sentimental hair-band persona. Coverdale placed himself as an equal to Robert Plant, but the former Led Zeppelin singer chided Coverdale for his lame mimicry of him on Whitesnake songs like "Still of the Night" (see video below). Plant even dubbed him "Coverversion" as the two singers verbally sparred with one another in the press.

Whether or not Coverdale ever was Plant's equal, he sure gave off the impression that he was for a short time in 1993, when he successfully teamed up with Jimmy Page for a full album of new material and a handful of tour dates highlighting the musical past of each.

Although the Coverdale/Page collaboration played out on stages in Japan with their band striving to provide the antidote for Zeppelin-starved fans, the tour did not proceed beyond Japan as planned. Theirs was apparently not a successful enough relationship to stand the test of time, and its existence was completely overshadowed before long, by Page's next project: performing regularly again with Plant for the first time since the Zeppelin breakup of 1980. Their work between 1994 and 1998 was not Led Zeppelin either but, with the participation of its two most visible members, provided both the authenticity and temper the Coverdale/Page unit lacked.

The Page/Plant tours, which leaned heavily on the revered music created in Led Zeppelin, were highly profitable. That had a lot to do with the music, not the personalities. Handing over the Led Zeppelin reins to the man whose Whitesnake fame was based on golden locks, a large ego, and a huge voice with a mouth that won't refrain from cursing? That just won't cut it.

Led Zeppelin was a group of four musicians who bonded to create a unique fifth element. If Page and Jones go into a rehearsal studio with Bonham, their newly indoctrinated drummer, and create some fifth element with another singer and another voice, or multiple singers and multiple voices, it will still be some different fifth element -- not the one that was born in the Gerrard Street room in 1968. It won't be Led Zeppelin. And it shouldn't be called Led Zeppelin.

I can only hope Page and Bonham agree with Jones, who said in October:
"We don't want to be our own tribute band."

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