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Frank Zappa - Stairway To Heaven 12'' CD (album) cover

STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN 12''

Frank Zappa

RIO/Avant-Prog


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3 stars "Stairway to Heaven" is a single release by US experimental rock artist Frank Zappa. The single was released through Zappa Records in 1991. The A-side is a cover version of the famous Led Zeppelin song while the B-side is a cover version of Ravelīs "Bolero". Both tracks are played live and are also featured on "The Best Band You Never Heard In Your Life (1991)".

The band that Frank Zappa had put together for his ill-fated 1988 tour (the tour was cut short because of Frank Zappaīs disagreements with various members of his group), which these recordings are taken from, were pretty amazing. There were twelve members in that group which meant that in addition to the more ordinary rock instrumentation of drums, guitars, bass and keyboards there were also a five-piece brass section on stage.

The cover version of "Stairway to Heaven" is quite different from the original. First of all the rythm section plays an off-beat reaggae rythm. Secondly thereīs lots of brass in the song and of course this version features the distinct sounding vocals by Ike Willis. It actually comes off as a rather beautiful tribute even though the usual ironic distance and sarcastic humour are fully on display. Best examplified by the weird noises that occasionally pops up throughout the track. The version of Ravelīs "Bolero" is shorter than the original and itīs given a rock twist. But itīs the brass section that steal the picture on this cover song. A great arrangement of this legendary classical composition.

If you view this single as an individual entity, itīs a great release featuring intriguing cover versions of two legendary tracks. However as both tracks are already featured on "The Best Band You Never Heard In Your Life (1991)" and as that live album is pretty much mandatory listening for fans of Frank Zappa, this single does seem a bit redundant. A half star comes off and a 3.5 star (70%) rating is warranted.

Report this review (#230456)
Posted Saturday, August 8, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars 2 songs here, from a 1991 live album. "Stairway to Heaven" and Ravel's "Bolero". I am not sure if Frank meant this version of Stairway as a joke, but 9 minutes and 20 seconds seems a long time to use during a concert just for a joke. This tune has a reggae beat and lots of trumpetss in the background. Very interesting interpretation. I still like the original Zepplin version better, but this is not horrible, in fact it is good. 3 1/2 stars. The second tune here, "Bolero" is also done with lots of brass. I was never a big fan of this song, no matter who did it or how it is done. This is interesting, but I find it dull, like the original. 3 stars. Overall, 3 stars for this single. Both tunes are available elsewhere.
Report this review (#295495)
Posted Friday, August 20, 2010 | Review Permalink

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