Thursday, February 23, 2006

The Best Remake Ever

I think this was recorded in 1994. The call had gone out for Led Zeppelin remakes for the planned tribute titled “Encomium.” At the time, Kevin Gilbert was working with Sheryl Crow and the Tuesday Night Music Club. He was respected as a genius by those who had the good fortune to have worked with him, but was and would die a virtual unknown. His resume included the critically acclaimed but mostly ignored “Toy Matinee” album (aduophiles should check out the 5.1 remix available in DTS and DVD-A formats for a real aural treat) and session work with Michael Jackson and Madonna.

Kevin had heard through the grapevine that the producers were hoping for a version of “Kashmir” but because of the song’s legendary status there were as yet, no takers. He decided to round up some of his friends and current band (Dave Kerzner on keys, Corky James on guitar, Nick DiVirgilio on drums – Kev played bass in this band) and headed into the studio. He completed the song in a couple of days and submitted it for consideration.

In the meantime, Kevin had been befriended by L.A. DJ’s Mark and Brian and was a frequent guest on their show. He brought the master tapes onto the radio program and they played it. The board lit up. Calls were coming in for the next few weeks requesting the song, and it was generally understood that it would become available when the record was released.

The producers rejected it. Apparently they thought it was great, but since Kevin was “a nobody” they didn’t see the point. The story goes that there were over 1000 returns of “Encomium” in the Los Angeles in the first couple of weeks of its release.

The song ended up being released on a separate bonus disc (now extremely rare - couldn't find it on ebay even) that was included with a repackaged release of Kevin’s fabulous solo release, “Thud."

This is the version that my kids first heard. When they finally got around to hearing the original Zeppelin version, they thought it sucked! It was funny, and indeed my oldest step-daughter got herself into a bit of a pickle when she was in the ninth grade. It seems that in one of her classes some of the boys were talking about the song, and she piped up that Kevin Gilbert’s version “blew away” the original. That went over like a lead balloon. She was embarrassed and humiliated, but to her credit remained steadfast.

I think I agree with her.



Blogger XTCfan said...

Indeed. I'm one of the lucky ones (my copy of Thud came with the EP), and I've always loved this song. Kev was a fine, fine singer -- such power in that voice.

A sad, sad loss. I've always been convinced that Cintra Wilson wrote A Massive Swelling to get even with Hollywood and Fame for killing her boyfriend.

6:53 PM  
Blogger Neil Shakespeare said...

That's great! Thanks for link, V.

12:08 AM  
Anonymous Devil's Rancher said...

I'm still in the habit of scaning used bins for Thud, and whenever I find one, I buy it and give it to someone who I think will like it. I've made a few new fans this way, but they by and large won't have the bonus disc. When they were stil available new (a couple on-line retailers had stock as recently as 2 years ago) you'd get the bonus disc, so I snagged a few. Odds are even that you'll get the bonus disc if you purchase one new, as they were added to all the stock that PRA had at the time, unless they've re-printed it again without it. Gilbert was definitely the remake king. I find I generally prefer his version of Siberian Khatru to the original as well, and Back in NYC is pretty strong, too.

5:31 PM  
Blogger The Viscount LaCarte said...

Hey Rancher!

Glad you still visit here at The Viscount's.

He had an uncanny ability to take what should be an untouchable song and do it justice. "Siberian Khatru" is excellent, and I like (with apologies in advance to Xtcfan,) his "Back in NYC" better than the original.

7:45 AM  

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