Personnel: Pat Monahan (vocals); Luis Maldonado (acoustic guitar, electric guitar, electric 12-string guitar, slide guitar); Jerry Becker (acoustic guitar, electric 12-string guitar, harmonica, Hammond b-3 organ); Drew Shoals (drums, percussion).
Audio Mixer: David Bianco.
Recording information: Bear Creek Studio, Woodinville, WA; Sunken Forest Studios, Issaquah, WA.
Like many American men of a certain age, Train are fond of Led Zeppelin. Most of these men celebrate their love of Zeppelin by purchasing a spiffy new reissue or perhaps picking up a vintage Les Paul copy so they can finally learn how to play those Jimmy Page riffs, but Train aren't most men. They have the skill and ability to record their own version of Led Zeppelin II, replicating all the licks and studio tricks of the British band's 1969 classic. Of all the Led Zeppelin albums to painstakingly re-create, Led Zeppelin II is an odd one because the album was recorded while Zeppelin were on the road, stealing sessions whenever they could; it's the opposite of the meticulous approach Page used in the studio. Train decide to expend considerable energy copying this casually authoritative majesty, mimicking inflections and solos, even stereo effects. If you're not listening closely, Does Led Zeppelin II can be mistaken for the original: Pat Monahan approximates Robert Plant's timbre and the guitar overdubs of Jimmy Stafford and Jerry Becker can pack the wallop of Page. The slight details give away the game -- the vocal harmonies are too clean, too precise -- but they only reveal themselves with a close listen, which raises the question of what's the point of this exercise in the first place. For Train, it probably was a lot of fun pretending to be one of their favorite bands, but for an audience the results are so close to the original that there's not much reason to listen a second time: the first reveals that Train can pull off this stunt but never gives a reason why, other than "because they can." ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine