Sunday, January 17, 2016

"Who's Behind the Door?" by Zebra

Song#:  1523
Date:  07/09/1983
Debut:  87
Peak:  61
Weeks:  8
Genre:  Prog Rock

Pop Bits:  Formed in 1975 in New Orleans, Zebra became a hot local act thanks to their covers of Led Zeppelin and other hard rock tunes, along with their own originals. They took a chance and moved to New York where they began to work the rock clubs on Long Island. After shopping around their demo tape, Atlantic Records bought into the band and signed them to a deal. They recorded their self-titled debut album and released this first single. The song became a hit at Rock where it reached #10. An appearance on the Pop chart followed where it lingered for a couple of months. A second single, "Tell Me What You Want," did okay at Rock reaching #29, but failed to get on the Pop chart. The exposure at Rock radio along with the fan base that they built helped the album sell well and reach #29 on the chart. Apparently, they had garnered such a supportive fan base that the album became one of Atlantic's fastest selling debut LP's at the time. Eventually, it would be certified gold. Unfortunately, their follow-up album, "No Tellin' Lies," sank quickly with only the #15 Rock track "Bears" getting any attention. After another studio album and live album failed to do any business, Atlantic dropped the group and they went on hiatus for several years. However, the band remains together and will perform the occasional show, mainly in New Orleans.

ReduxReview:  With Led Zeppelin now disbanded, who was gonna pick up where they left off? Apparently Zebra! Having covered Zeppelin tunes for years, that influence was bound to rub off on the band and their original tunes. Lead singer Randy Jackson certainly doesn't shy away from his Robert Plant-isms, especially near the end, and the tune itself sounds like a lost Zeppelin b-side complete with mystical lyrics. Whether you consider them an original band or just pale imitators, the fact is that they were pretty solid. This song reeks of Zeppelin, yet I like it. It is definitely not Top 40 fare, so the peak does not surprise me. If an artist is gonna wears their influences on their sleeve, then their output had better be good. And in this case I think Zebra did a fine job.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) The band's Led Zeppelin-ish sound, in particular the vocals of singer Jackson, came in handy later on for a couple members of the band. Jackson would later hit the road with a show called "The Music of Led Zeppelin" where he fronted a band that performed Zeppelin songs as close to the originals as possible. Felix Hanemann (keyboards/bass) would end up being a member of a New York Zeppelin cover band called Hindenberg.  2) The band name came about while drinking at a New Orleans bar. While discussing a band name, someone noticed a poster on the wall. It was a replica of a 1922 Vogue magazine cover. It showed a lady riding a zebra. The guys liked it so much that they chose Zebra for the band name.


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