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16 November 2021

Beth Hart To Pay ‘A Tribute To Led Zeppelin’ On New Album

Beth Hart Tribute To Led Zeppelin
Photo: Roxanne De Roode
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The Grammy-nominated powerhouse vocalist Beth Hart takes on one of her most profound undertakings to date by channelling the legendary voice of Robert Plant on A Tribute To Led Zeppelin. The album will be released on 25 February via Provogue/Mascot Label Group and will be available digitally, CD and LP (Black vinyl, Orange transparent vinyl and Splatter red gold vinyl).

The nine-song album highlights the incredible spectrum that Led Zeppelin operated in, from powerhouse rock to psychedelia, folk, jazz, prog, blues, funk, soul and beyond. Rumours about the album had been circulating for a few years. At the helm was super-producer Rob Cavallo (Green Day, Linkin Park, My Chemical Romance) and engineer Doug McKean (Goo Goo Dolls, Adam Lambert, Gerard Way).

The A-list musicians include Cavallo on guitar along with Tim Pierce (Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen, Tina Turner), on bass was Chris Chaney (Rob Zombie, Jane’s Addiction, Slash), keyboards were Jamie Muhoberac (Bob Dylan, Iggy Pop, Rolling Stones), on drums Dorian Crozier (Celine Dion, Miley Cyrus, Joe Cocker) and Matt Laug (Alanis Morissette, Alice Cooper), with Orchestral arrangements by David Campbell (Muse, Aerosmith, Beyoncé). All that was left was the final piece of the puzzle… the voice.

Things clicked into place when Cavallo was producing Beth Hart’s previous album, War In My Mind (2019), and she did an impromptu version of Whole Lotta Love in the control room during the session. He later asked about doing a whole record, but Hart was hesitant. Beth said, “I’m not doing this whole album. To do Zeppelin, you’ve got to be pissed off to hit that right. I can’t go there; I’ve worked years to put my rage away.”

She continues, “then the pandemic and all the things around it hit. So now I’m pissed off. I called my manager and said, have Rob and Doug send me all the music because I am ready to do this.”

“They had this huge unlimited vocabulary,” Hart enthuses. “When I started to delve deeper into Zeppelin, I realised what a magnificent composer Page is, and I had no idea how educated Plant is. Let’s not forget they were kids at the time, and Page is such a badass that he was coming up with new ways of producing and getting sounds outside the box. It’s phenomenal. They are modern-day Beethovens. They’re insane; that’s insane music.”

If you were to rewind, you could say the story for a Led Zeppelin album started a little further back; so let’s visit May 2004 when Beth Hart prowled the stage at the Paradiso in Amsterdam for an incendiary performance of Whole Lotta Love. The song became a semi-regular fixture in her setlist over the years, including a memorable performance with Slash.

Stepping back further, the presence of Zeppelin has always been there in the background. As a child, the sound of “Black Dog” would travel from her neighbour’s house into her orbit. Her brother introduced her to the heavy rock of Zeppelin and Black Sabbath. Her major-label debut came on Atlantic with the 1996 release of Immortal. The same label introduced Led Zeppelin to the world in 1969.

Earlier on in her career, former VP of Led Zeppelin’s Swan Song label Alan Callan recommended Beth Hart contact Jeff Beck to work with her. Hart and Beck have gone on to form a beautiful friendship. Beck and Jimmy Page are also friends and for a while, bandmates in The Yardbirds. After Beck’s departure from the band, they would eventually become Led Zeppelin.

Her phenomenal performance at the 2012 Kennedy Centre Honors for Buddy Guy was another special moment. She received a standing ovation from Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, and John Paul Jones, who were in the audience. There are also the three albums she did with Joe Bonamassa and producer Kevin Shirley. Shirley also engineered and mixed Zeppelin’s How The West Was Won. For a long time, it seems that there has been ever-present connection to Led Zeppelin never far away from the surface.

Talking about the parallel Zeppelin timeline that’s followed her throughout life, Beth Hart says, “it’s cool because it’s almost like the good things and the bad things that happen to us in life, they’re not coincidences; they are part of a journey for us to learn.”

“When Rob sent me the tracks, I was scared. How am I gonna sing this stuff? Doug and Rob were so gentle, and we went slow. I would go to Rob’s house to listen, and I couldn’t get over how great everything sounded and the drummer Dorian, I thought he was incredible.”

It’s often been said that Hart has “a voice so ballsy it could pin you to a wall.” Maybe this was always in the cards. It’s fitting that the song that started it all, Whole Lotta Love, is the opening song of the album. From there, it’s a non-stop, palpitating journey through Kashmir, an enchanting version of Stairway to Heaven to a James Brown-esque funky strut of The Crunge. Inspired medleys Dancing Days/When The Levee Breaks and No Quarter/Babe I’m Gonna Leave You Now stand either side of Black Dog. The penultimate song Good Times Bad Times leads into the orchestral ballad The Rain Song, which closes the album.

Talking about the music and legacy of Zeppelin, she says, “it’s so beautifully done, it’s timeless. It will go on forever. Sometimes people come along, and they’re from another planet, and they make these pieces of art which will forever be, like the Mona Lisa.”

Hart is recognised as one of her generation’s most talented voices. She has sold out multiple tours worldwide, including performances at historic venues such as Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium, London’s Royal Albert Hall, and the ZiggoDome in Amsterdam. She’s topped the Billboard Blues charts six times, gone double platinum and had a string of Top 10 charting albums across Europe.

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