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Rock & Roll Rewind: Dread Zeppelin

c d kaplan is a rock & roll lifer. He’s got stories. Lots of stories. Here’s another.

At its most astute, satire not only makes fun of the subject it is skewing,
but it does so with a reverence and acknowledgment.

In rock & roll, the prime example of exacting, may I say perfect satire is Spinal Tap.

Not only do David St. Hubbins, Nigel Tufnel and Derek Smalls and whatever
drummer has been able to make it through the day alive make iconic
music, resonant of the Brit 70s rock scene, but they are oh so deftly
managed by Sir Denis Eton-Hogg.

Director Marti DiBergi’s telling documentary of the band’s decline
stands as the best ever about the music scene.

What rock fan of any worth has not referenced “Eleven. Exactly. One
Louder” at some moment or another to make a point.

The flip side, for me anyway, of satire not working is Sha Na Na. Whom
I always thought just made fun, did not show true respect for the early days of rock & roll.

All of which brings me to a very real, very good and oh so satirical group.

Dread Zeppelin.

This ensemble is conceptual art of the highest order.

Fronted by by an Elvis impersonator impersonator Tortelvis (Greg Tortell),
with a voice evocative of the King, the band does killer reggae tunes, which are
mashups of Led Zeppelin and Presley songs.

Like “Heartbreaker (At The End of Lonely Street).”

Like “Black Dog” meshed with “You Ain’t Nothin’ But A Hound Dog.”

The members adopted appropriate monikers. Charlie Haj. Bob Knarley.
Ziggy Knarley. Jah Jah Gabor. The guitar player and longest term member
of the group Gary Putnam went as Put-Mon. And took to wearing little but a
spangled codpiece on stage. As well as during an interview on the Joan Rivers TV show. True.

I heard the group a couple of times in late 80s/ early 90s at Phoenix Hill Tavern.

They were a hoot. They rocked.

So enthralled with them was I, that on the second trip I took along a drumming
musician pal, a Led Zeppelin acolyte, and skeptical about the whole thing.

A couple of tunes in, he turned to me, saying with a smile, “These guys are really good.”


Clever arrangements performed by fun-loving and very talented musicians.

And funny.

Dread Zeppelin: Rock & Roll satire of the highest order.

Observer of the Passing Scene: Pop Culture and Sports. Writer. Film Critic. Curmudgeon. Rock & Roll and Louisville Cardinal fan.

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