IF YOU GO
■ What: Black Jacket Symphony presents Led Zeppelin’s “Houses of the Holy.”
■ When: 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 31.
■ Where: Tivoli Theatre, 709 Broad St.
■ Admission: $30.
■ Phone: 423-642-8497.
■ Website: www.chattanoogaonstage.com.
‘HOUSES OF THE HOLY’ TRACK LIST
1. “The Song Remains the Same”
2. “The Rain Song”
3. “Over the Hills and Far Away”
4. “The Crunge”
5. “Dancing Days”
6. “D’yer Mak’er”
7. “No Quarter”
8. “The Ocean”
"We went back and forth thinking about ‘Zeppelin I’ or ‘Led Zeppelin II,’ but we landed on ‘Houses of the Holy,’ and I’m glad we did. It’s a beautiful record with some great hits on it.”
— Black Jacket Symphony founder J. Willoughby
With its monumentally successful fourth album in 1971, Led Zeppelin all but defined the sound of '70s hard rock. Two years later, the band released its first non-eponymous album, "Houses of the Holy," and set up camp for almost 10 months on the Billboard Top 40 charts.
In a Friday, Jan. 31, concert at the Tivoli Theatre, Birmingham, Ala.-based rock tribute collective Black Jacket Symphony will pay homage to the album with the same note-for-note-authentic treatment it previously has applied to more than a dozen records, including Fleetwood Mac's "Rumours" and The Beatles' "Abbey Road."
Re-creating the nuanced production of "Houses of the Holy" in a live setting has been a challenge at the forefront of the six musicians' minds since they hatched a plan to tackle it six months ago. Nailing every minute detail, including the occasional recorded flub, has been a bear, but after five years of practice, founder and music director J. Willoughby says they're up to the task.
"By the time we come to Chattanooga, we'll be a finely tuned machine," he says, laughing. "To get all the nuances and hit all that is a testament to the players, really. There's a whole lot of homework that goes into all this."
Willoughby conceived of Black Jacket Symphony after hearing two unrelated stories in 2009 about the 40th anniversary of "Abbey Road" and a symphonic performance of a Mozart symphony. Connecting the mental dots, he realized there weren't groups willing to apply the same degree of exactitude to re-creating the work of modern rock artists as is common practice in the classical world.
Friday night, he says, fans of Zeppelin will hear as close to a perfect live performance of the classic recording as he and his bandmates can manage, down to using the same instruments and other equipment as Led Zeppelin did in the studio.
By studying the minute details of classic hits such as "The Song Remains the Same," "Over the Hills and Far Away" and "The Ocean," Willoughby says he feels an even deeper connection to an album that has long been his favorite in Zeppelin's catalog.
"We dig into all these tracks ... to get every nuance of them we can," he says. "It's pretty neat to feel what they were feeling. You get a respect for the artist that way from doing that. Zeppelin was real. It was when music was art and they were artists."
Contact Casey Phillips at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6205. Follow him on Twitter at @PhillipsCTFP.
Casey Phillips has worked as a features reporter in the Life department since May 2007. He writes about entertainment, consumer technology, animals and news of the weird. Casey hails from Knoxville and earned a bachelor of science degree in journalism and a bachelor of arts in German from Middle Tennessee State University, where he worked as the features editor for the student newspaper, Sidelines. Casey's writing has earned numerous accolades, including first and second place ...