A review by Rolling Stone's Rob Sheffield, appearing in the latest issue of Rolling Stone and online now, gives the disc by Them Crooked Vultures 3.5 stars out of a possible 5 but starts off in the magazine's traditional snarky manner:
"Ladies and gentlemen, Them Crooked Vultures — the second-best band John Paul Jones has ever been in!"When you count up the number of bands Jones has ever been aside from Led Zeppelin, it becomes evident Sheffield hasn't heard of Mutual Admiration Society, the John Paul Jones Orchestra, the backing band of Diamanda Galas, or Jet Harris and Tony Meehan's band. Clearly, Them Crooked Vultures ranks sixth behind all of those.
But seriously, Sheffield can't keep his mind off Led Zeppelin in his review. Overwhelmingly, when he hears Them Crooked Vultures he thinks of Led Zeppelin.
Coming from Rolling Stone, comparisons to Led Zeppelin could be a good thing or a bad thing. Ever since the days when John Mendelsohn, Lester Bangs and Lenny Kaye were tepid or downright spiteful in their reviews of the group's initial albums, certain authors in the magazine -- including Cameron Crowe, Stephen Davis, Andy Greene, Mikal Gilmore and David Fricke -- have forced a reappraisal of Led Zeppelin in Rolling Stone's pages over the years.
The year 2004 represented a big shift in the re-analysis. That year:
- Led Zeppelin was ranked one of "The Greatest Artists of All Time" (coincidentally, Them Crooked Vultures drummer Dave Grohl, then with the Foo Fighters, authored the piece for Rolling Stone that called Led Zeppelin "the perfect combination of the most intense elements: passion and mystery and expertise").
- The selection of Led Zeppelin's U.S. Tour of 1973 as one of "The 50 Moments that Changed the History of Rock 'n' Roll" was an unexpectedly apt pick.
- Not to place at least six of the band's compositions in "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time" or the band's 1973 tour would have been a travesty; half of the six were on Led Zeppelin II.
- During "Elephants," Them Crooked Vultures succeed in "basically crunch[ing] every riff on Led Zeppelin II into seven dizzy minutes," Sheffield asserts.
- He says Jones's bass line on "Nobody Loves Me & Neither Do I" sounds "as nasty as 'Out on the Tiles.'"
- "Reptiles," he says, sounds like "a sly update of 'South Bound Suarez.'"
- He even wants Josh Homme's voice to sound like Robert Plant's, but it sounds more like Jack Bruce's in Cream.
- Sheffield compares Homme's guitar playing to that of Led Zeppelin's guitarist: "He does deliver loads of Jimmy Page doppelgänger solos, just to prove he can."
- Throughout the album, Jones reminds Sheffield "he's the bass man who helped give the world 'Black Dog.'"
- Finally, Sheffield says Homme and Grohl "are old hands at this kind of thing," having had "excellent Zeppelin homages" on the Queens of the Stone Age album Songs for the Deaf.
Update: Oh! I totally forgot my initial point in posting this! John Paul Jones told me in 2001 he hated when people compared his solo work to Led Zeppelin songs and approached him with the question, "Don't you think that's a little Led Zeppelin-inspired?" His answer to them was always, "Don't you think Led Zeppelin was a little John Paul Jones-inspired?"
And check out who's on the cover of New Musical Express! See how Josh Homme and Dave Grohl appear to tower over John Paul Jones.