Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Does Anybody Here Remember Snapper?

Tonight, the Netflix Fairy delivered Led Zeppelin DVD. I have mixed feelings.

Led Zeppelin is one of my favorite bands and, at the same time, I fucking hate them.

Let me step back for a second.

Page and Bonham lay down some of the coolest, grooviest riffs in rock history. Of this there is no doubt. When I was learning guitar, I quickly burned through the entire Zep catalogue, teaching myself all the parts the old-fashioned way: lifting the needle off the vinyl and going back again and again until I had it. There's some truly great playing on those records. And "Immigrant Song" is still one of the hardest rocking songs ever.

But is there anything more irritating than the EXTENDED version of "Dazed and Confused"? The song pretty much sucks to begin with and it ain't getting any more interesting with the added four minutes of, um, Jimmy Page slapping his guitar with a violin bow. Ditto for any of the extended faux blues songs from Zep I. So boring, so difficult to endure. When I watch these clips, I am astonished that the band ever took off. Outside of "Good Times, Bad Times" and "Communication Breakdown," the whole first record is a write-off to me. How many more times? How many more times can Plant say "Baby" in goddamned song! Feel my pain.

The 1970 Royal Albert Hall concert is a record of band that basically took already boring rip-offs of American blues and made them into extended jams with some of the sloppiest guitar playing around. I've always been a fan of Jimmy Page's playing, but there is precious little in this concert worth listening to. He sounds like the Sam Ash sales guy from hell. He is always playing too much, too fast and with incredible sloppiness. What's more, he is always way out on top of the beat, which is an achievement when Bonham is your drummer. The best the band sounds in this performance is on the Eddie Cochran tunes they play in the encore. All of a sudden, they come alive and seem like they are actually having fun.

Things pick up on DVD 2. For one thing, the band actually had some songs, as opposed to drawn out blues rip-offs. For another, Page is much more on the ball with his playing. And Bonham is a monster. In fact, without him and his ability to groove, I am tempted to say the band would never have gone anywhere. Still, despite the mammoth riffs, there is something just so...boring about Zeppelin.

In the words of Pete Townshend: "Led Zeppelin? Great blokes, great blokes. Never did like the band much, though."

19 comments:

Chrispy said...

I agree completely.

They had some monster riffs and songs, but to me they were mostly boring as well. I guess they were just so much heavier and bigger than most of the other groups around at that point...

They were a product of a different time, with different expectations and different drugs.

Tony Alva said...

I don't know, I love the first album, but I can dig what you're saying. I remember listening to "The Song Remains the Same" in the 7th grade when it first came out because this chick I liked brought it in to listen to during recess (we had to stay inside during recess when it rained and the nun's actually let us spin records on one of those shitty record players).

I remember how all the girls thought it was so great, and I was like, "yeah, this is cool..." when I was actually thinking, "How is this anywhere close to being as cool as Kiss? Oh, I think I can see a boobie through that white shirt she wearing…" Oh, sorry, I got lost in a Catholic grade school moment.

I love and defend the Presence album. It does have a wanker dope haze extended jam, but I dig Tea Is For One. I love it. To me, it seems like Plant would constantly run out of lyrical ideas hence a great deal of "Baby's" and repeat verses (at least until he started mining the J.R Tolken vault for lyrics).

Everything you say about JP is correct, but gotta disagree with you on JP's sloppiness. That's what's cool about him to me. The dude would eat a plate of heroin and then play with Bonzo's drums blasting in his ear. The results are magical. Being a Yes/Genesis guy, I can see why you don't perfer it though.

Dave Cavalier said...

I have a ton of respect for Page, but the 1970 concert shows a very sloppy player. The later footage shows a guy who got it together and really locked in. His playing is so much better then.

walter said...

In boarding school I had a roommate my freshman year that listened to Led Zeppelin and Boston exclusively. I can not listen to either band for that reason. He may be the only person I will truly hate until the day I die. I will not go into how he used to gag on his retainer throughout the night.....

With that being said, I am grateful to him for exposing me to 'When the levee breaks' as my hardcore band in high school played a great cover of that tune at our $5 all-ages show at the Anthrax when it was in Stamford, CT.....very heavy song.

Jackson said...

I have always had a dream of getting the ZEP work tapes and doing some mixes without Plant. I fucking hate Plant. I hat his 'babys' I hate his hand on hip fem stage presence, I hate his solo work, and his choice of clothing.

Bonham is king. Without him there is no band, literally. At least they knew that.

I have in recent years grown to respect Page much more than I used to. He is sloppy live, but he's going for it, and I can appreciate that.

I'll always opt for the compositions (That's The Way) over the blues jams, with the exception of Since I've Been Loving You. That shit is ON!

Zep III is the only LP I really ever put on.

Dave Cavalier said...

I'll give some credit to "Since I've Been Loving You." It's a little drawn out, but it's more original sounding than "I Can't Quit You Babe."

I think you'd be hard pressed to identify a truly memorable Zeppelin melody. Plant doesn't do much for me as a singer.

Jackson said...

I think there's some decent melodies in Tangerine and That's The Way on III.

Tony Alva said...

Plant is definately the weakest link. 7 words: "I'm in the mood for a melody...". Makes me cringe just thinking about it.

Oh God! No I can't get it out of my head.

Chrispy said...

Of course, they were big influences on Rush, so they've got that going for them...

Anyone who touches a violin bow to a guitar should have their guitar taken away.

You ARE allowed to touch a violin to a guitar, if you're Nigel Tufnel.

Dave Cavalier said...

Yeah, but they were also big influences on Whitesnake.

Tony Alva said...

"Yeah, but they were also big influences on Whitesnake."

How so? I don't see it...

Dave Cavalier said...

I've always said that "All of My Love" was the "Is This Love?" of the 1970s.

Jackson said...

David Coverversion actaully has a better voice, or at least a voice I hate less than Plant. Too bad about pretty much everything else having to do with whitesnake, except that video with that crazy Tawny on the white car, now that was Nobel worthy.

Jackson said...

...to the bone.

Chrispy said...

No memorable Zep melodies?

Really?

Not "Black Dog"? hey hey mama... and the guitar melody? That's not memorable?

"Immigrant Song" - no memorable melody?

"Stairway" doesn't have a memorable melody?

I can remember ten times as many Zep melodies as, say, Zappa or Genesis melodies.

Still, I don't like them.

Dave Cavalier said...

I wouldn't say either "Immigrant Song" or "Stairway" have memorable melodies. They have memorable instrumental parts, but not particularly memorable meoldies.

The melody to "Black Dog" I will grant you.

Given that you don't even know old Genesis' material, I'm not surprised you don't know any of the melodies.

Chrispy said...

There aren't melodies in instrumental parts? What the heck is your definition of melody?

Sure, nobody remembers the "ah ah ah.... AH!" bit from Immigrant
Song. That one is pretty forgettable.

I've been exposed to a lot of Genesis, especially since I grew up in the 80's, when they were their most popular, got the most radio and MTV play, and sold the most records. And I still remember more Zep.

Dave Cavalier said...

Chrispy -

We were talking about PLant's vocal melodies. The four notes in Immigrant Song are memorable, but not much of a melody.

Again, you know commercial Genesis (1979 forward). You don't know the Genesis from Trespass through Wind & Wuthering. There are some really wonderful, complex and memorable melodies in there.

Jackson said...

Say: "I know what I like, and I like what I know;
getting better in your wardrobe, stepping one beyond your show"