Thursday, December 15, 2011
Led Zeppelin's Forgotten Son
Good response on both the XTC and Grateful Dead posts. Something came to mind while reading the comments.
The song I posted for the Dead, an instrumental outtake of "Death Don't Have No Mercy," is a song I felt would have been appreciated, even liked, by people who don't like the Dead. I'm wondering how many didn't bother to listen just because of who it was.
Then, my pal ASH made these comments on the XTC post:
"Skylarking is an easy choice for most"
"I defy anyone to make an album as English and original as Big Express. XTC have made better albums, but none as original."
So it got my wood burning.
That first Grateful Dead record seems to strike a chord with many Dead-hating friends of mine, simply because of the 60s, "nuggets-y" feel of both "The Golden Road" and "Cream Puff War," two songs that could be Paul Revere & The Raiders or the 13th Floor Elevators, for Pete's sake.
"Skylarking" had the huge MTV hit "Dear God," and because of it, found a much bigger audience that had been eluding XTC for years, but as ASH said, it's "The Big Express" he makes return trips to.
So combining all these ideas, I decided to show some public love for Led Zeppelin's 7th studio release, 1976's "Presence," an album that was ill-received upon its release, and continues to garner somewhat shakey reviews. And I'll go out on a limb here, but, there's a certain group of Zep fans that will only show love for their first two, and others who have never even bothered to listen to anything after "IV." I've experienced these people first hand---first while standing behind a counter for 15 years, then at various times on the pages of Burning Wood.
"Presence," in many ways, is a Led Zeppelin "Greatest Hits" LP, in that it covers everything the mighty band has successfully attempted on prior releases. There is the monster epic, "Achilles Last Stand," a 10 minute attack that showcases one of the greatest rhythm sections in the history of the world, as well as one of Jimmy Page's finest solos. There is your slow-melting blues number, "Tea For One." Your "Good Times, Bad Times" attempt at a pop single with "Hots On For Nowhere." Your hall of fame riffage, a la "Whole Lotta Love" in "For Your Life," which All Music refers to as the "best song on the album." Your "Bring It On Home," harp-blowing blues workout in "Nobody's Fault But Mine." And two hard rocking tributes to the roots of rock and roll, "Candy Store Rock" and "Royal Orleans."
There was a recent discussion...a discussion that seems to take place once a month....over Jimmy Page and his tendency to steal from the great folk and blues artists that came before him. Our friend, BuzzBabyJesus wrote a brilliant piece on it HERE. But I've tried to never let one's reputation get in the way of the final product. (There are plenty of great Woody Allen movies after "Crimes & Misdemeanors." Honest.) Yes, there are some examples in Buzz's piece that are so blatant, you wish you could just smack Jimmy and ask, "What the hell were you thinking?" But those 3-4 examples are just a small piece of the pie. And if anyone had any interest in LZ at all, I find it astonishing that with such a small catalogue...only 8 studio releases...even one record could go unexplored.
"Presence" is an unsung hero, a massive record by a massive band, and a collection of music, that deserves a second chance, and in many cases, a first chance by those who jumped ship after "Stairway To Heaven."
What would you nomimate as an "unsung hero," or an album that may turn a non-believer into a fan?