A Tribute to Zeppelin--or Recent Sales Trends?

With sales of "Common Thread: The Songs of the Eagles" nearing 3 million copies, it's no wonder record company executives are looking for more ways to cash in on the fever for tribute albums.

Hush-hush projects reportedly on the drawing boards would have contemporary pop or rock artists redoing hits by everyone from David Bowie to George Harrison--much as country stars on "Common Thread" redid the Eagles' best-known tunes.

But the tribute album likely to generate the most interest is the one involving the songs of . . . Led Zeppelin.

Atlantic Records won't confirm the project, but 4 Non Blondes have already recorded a version of "Misty Mountain Hop" (with guest guitarist Dave Navarro, currently of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and formerly of Jane's Addiction).

Other acts believed to be set for the package, which could be in the stores by fall, are Stone Temple Pilots, Lenny Kravitz and Tesla.

But not everyone is jumping at the invitation to salute the band--Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpkins and Soundgarden have all decided against participating, sources say.

"There are too many tributes," says one band manager, pointing to a recent package honoring Jimi Hendrix and the upcoming KISS collection. "Everybody's doing tributes for somebody and after a point there's nothing special about them."

How would a Zeppelin tribute album do?

Pete Howard, editor of the compact disc newsletter ICE, believes that the album could become the top-selling tribute collection ever--though the KISS tribute, featuring Garth Brooks and Kravitz among others, is also expected to set records for such projects.

Howard says that for Atlantic, the album could be a valuable addition to one of its top assets. Zeppelin albums continue to sell millions of copies each year, 14 years after the band broke up.

"The Zeppelin catalogue is to Atlantic what the Beatles is to Capitol," Howard says. "A tribute is a great way to put a new spin on old songs."

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