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Highly anticipated new Supergroup
kicks out the jams - circa '69

Them Crooked Vultures - Them Crooked Vultures
(DGC / Interscope)
3 1/2 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: Jan. 29, 2010
Them Crooked Vultures

Review by Tony Bonyata

Supergroups, or the coming together of a number of well-known musicians for a specific side project, are all too often a hit-or-miss affair. Some of the better known of these 'mega-bands' have yielded fantastic results, such as Cream, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Traveling Wilburys, Audioslave, and more recently Monsters of Folk and The Dead Weather. Of course, there's also always been the other side to this Supergroup phenomenon, where pomp, pretense and bloated egos have plagued what may have originally looked great on paper, but ultimately went limp on wax (remember Asia and Damn Yankees? Okay, neither of these ever looked good on paper, but you know what I mean).

Without question, one of the most highly anticipated of these groups in recent years has been Them Crooked Vultures a cross-pollination of Dave Grohl (Nirvana, Foo Fighters), Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age, Kyuss, Eagles of Death Metal) and - the clincher for most of us - Led Zeppelin's John Paul Jones, whose last recorded work was his second solo effort The Thunderthief back in 2001.

On Them Crooked Vultures' self-titled debut the trio offers up 13 heavy tracks filled with gargantuan guitar riffs, some so mighty they sound as if they've always part of the lexicon of rock, mind-boggling time changes and just enough essence of all three bandmember's respective bands to appeal to fans of heavy metal, classic and alternative rock.

Grohl (41) and Homme (36) must've been positively giddy at the prospect of working with the 64 year-old rock legend Jones, whose innovations as bass player, keyboardist, composer and arranger for Led Zeppelin have gone onto influence a wealth of talented musicians and groups throughout the last four decades. And it shows, as the two younger members seem much more content to tap into the primal, psychedelic blues-rock of the late '60s and early '70s when Zeppelin ruled the rock world, than any newfangled form of alternative rock. Songs such as the lead-off track "No One Loves Me & Neither Do I" busts wide open with a tight-but-loose swagger, but by mid-song morphs into a primordial Zeppelin-esque rock riff that dares the rest of the album to keep up with. Thankfully it does for the most part, with the inclusion of the snaky rocker "New Fang," the skuzzed-up "Mind Eraser, No Chaser," the amphetamine-fueled blues of "Elephants" and "Scumbag Blues," which wouldn't have sounded out of place on Cream's 1967 Disraeli Gears album.

As good as it is, though, there's still room for improvement, as filler songs such as "Bandoliers" and "Interlude with Ludes" attest. But then again who really expects a full-on masterpiece from any of these type of Supergroups anyway? That said, if you're happy to simply 'kick out the jams' with some super heavy, prehistoric, psychedelic rock then look no further than this.

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