Monday, July 17, 2017

Led Zeppelin: Led Zeppelin II

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I learned the following after reading Wikipedia. "The advertising campaign was built around the slogans 'Led Zeppelin – The Only Way to Fly' and 'Led Zeppelin II Now Flying'." [source]

This is a heavy album from start to finish, filled with heavy guitar riffs, tireless vocals, thundering drums, and some delicious bass sounds. As usual, the critics were confused:
Critical reaction to Led Zeppelin II was not positive originally. John Mendelsohn wrote a negative review of the record for Rolling Stone, in which he mocked the group's heavy sound and white blues, while writing that "until you've listened to the album eight hundred times, as I have, it seems as if it's just one especially heavy song extended over the space of two whole sides". Robert Christgau jokingly referred to the band as "the best of the wah-wah mannerist groups, so dirty they drool on demand", while complaining that "all the songs sound alike". He nonetheless conceded that "Led Zeppelin simply out-heavied everyone" in 1969, "pitting Jimmy Page's repeated low-register fuzz riffs against the untiring freak intensity of Robert Plant's vocal. This trademark has only emerged clearly on the second album, and more and more I am coming to understand it as an artistic triumph." [source]
I have a Canadian pressing (not the original) that I think came out sometime after 1978. The jacket of my copy looks mint, and the record is in fabulous shape too. I think there are more than 20 Canadian pressings of this LP, plus numerous 8-track, cassette, and CD issues.

The only track I am not crazy about is Moby Dick, partly because I think extended drum solos are kind of stupid. The guitar part of that song is great, though.

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Led Zeppelin: Led Zeppelin [aka Led Zeppelin I] (1969)

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"Tired eyes. Trampled under foot. Dazed and confused. C-c-c-c-Cocaine blues.
She hasn't gotten any eye contact tonight"

- Joke About Jamaica, The Hold Steady

In answer to the question -- often asked in musical circles -- the Beatles or the Rolling Stones?, I always answer Led Zeppelin. As much as I like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, it's the New Yardbirds for the win. When I was in public school and junior high, I was often teased for liking Led Zeppelin. I attribute my early interest to a couple of my older siblings. One year, I forgot it was photo day, and I wore a Led Zeppelin t-shirt. Oops.

This is a massive record. It begins pleasantly enough, with the brief Good Times Bad Times, but it's the second track that really lays claim to a new sound. It's hard to pick a favourite, but for me, it's Dazed and Confused, a song that would be in my top five Zep tunes. Ages ago, when I was living in a certain place, I would often play Dazed and Confused as loudly as possible when no one else was home. Every song on this record is amazing.

For me, this record is the defining statement about why critics are often wrong. Many critics dissed this record, and that is something I have always had a hard time wrapping my head around. Perhaps the music was so out-of-step with the music of the day, that it left them mystified. Who knows? In hindsight, I think some critics have corrected their opinions.

Figuring out which vinyl version I have is quite difficult. For the vast majority of artists, there was generally only one, and sometimes two, Canadian pressings. For this one, there are something like fifteen, or close to that. I wish I had a red Atlantic pressing or a Canadian red Atlantic pressing, rather than my mundane, later Canadian green Atlantic pressing from 1976. Oh well, it still sounds fine and my copy is mint, or very close to it. Needless to say I also have a copy on CD.

I have pretty much everything officially released from LZ on CD as well as some DVDs. By the way, check out Lez Zeppelin and Zepparella.



Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Keith LeBlanc: Einstein (Extended Remix) (1989)

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Keith LeBlanc is known partly for being a member of Tackhead, an industrial hip hop act. Most of my Tackhead, Gary Clail's Tackhead Sound System, and Keith LeBlanc music is on CD. This 12" single has two mixes of Einstein and a tune called Here's Looking at You, featuring Gary Clail.