Sunday, December 2, 2012

(More Than) Ten Years Gone

I watched the Blu Ray of the 2007 Led Zeppelin reunion on Friday. Like probably 95% of the rest of the population I love Led Zeppelin. They are an integral part of my growing up. I had the posters (like this one and this one) in my room growing up. My best friend in high school didn't really like Zeppelin, he was more of a fan of Ozzy and Guns n Roses. I took it as a tremendous victory when after my constant playing of it he went out and bought the 2-disc version of the Zep box set. I remember going to Sound Warehouse in my hometown of Carrollton to buy the 4-disc set the morning it came out. That was a big deal for a kid in high school working at a grocery store. It was something like $50. It's awesome and I still have it.

The fans will say the untitled fourth record is their favorite; critics will always say Led Zeppelin II, but my favorite is Presence. I admit that is a music-snob kind of thing to say, always having to pick the more obscure record because I-am-in-the-know-compared-to-you-trogloydites. But that said, I really love "Achilles Last Stand" and "Tea For One" and "For Your Life." "Tea For One" is a favorite but it's also frustrating because the opening 30 seconds have a just tremendous Jimmy Page riff, that just goes completely away.

Watching the Blu Ray I like anybody else who watches it came away impressed. Even being from 5 years ago these guys are old (except for Jason Bonham, who isn't a spring chicken). Plant and John Paul Jones just look great for their age. Page looks a bit rougher, like some old wizard with the long silver hair. He still makes the funny Jimmy Page faces and poses. I like the one where he puts the guitar to his side and sort of swivels his hips. He might be almost 1000 years old but he is STILL Jimmy Page.

And being Jimmy Page he is still sloppy as hell. It's maddening sometimes. But that is part of his charm. He's supremely gifted; he's the best riff-er I have ever heard. But like Eddie Van Halen said it's like Page plays with a broken hand sometimes. Sometimes I am not sure what Page is doing. It seems like he is playing a different song.  Take "Black Dog":

Page is all over the place. But that's one of the great things about them, something that Jodi mentioned yesterday when I was talking about it, that Zep was great at disparate parts making a great whole. If my band tries it it will be a total train wreck. But in the hands of the people who actually know what they are doing and are as creative as it comes in rock it's mesmerizing.

Let's get back to the clip above, which comes from the Celebration Day movie. Isn't it awesome!?! These old bastards are tight and they rock the hell out of that stage. Before I saw the performance I was saying to my bandmates that a Zep reunion tour would wind up being a sad thing because how great could it be? It's been so long and they are let's face it pretty old. I've heard people talk about a new album but is that really necessary? Is any new Zep record going to be any good? Do they have anything new left to say as a unit? Will a new record really compare favorable or even belong next to The Song Remains The Same and Physical Graffiti in the CD rack? The new Aerosmith is horrid; is a new Rolling Stones record needed? Maybe that is harsh, and maybe the record is not horrid but it is the one thing I cannot get past: it is not interesting. Why listen to a new Aerosmith record when you can listen to Rocks?

But watching the video I stand corrected in at least one respect, for one night Led Zeppelin can still bring it. Maybe after 3 months on the road it would get horrible. But on that night the hammer of the gods were back at the anvil and showing how they were once the greatest rock n roll band on the planet.

1 comment:

  1. While the two Page/Plant records from the mid to late 90s were fairly good and interesting I dont see a new Led Zeppelin record following suit. I think were they to do one it would follow the Aerosmith/Rolling Stones examples you cite. So many bands have taken what Zeppelin did, internalized it and expanded upon it that a Zeppelin new record some 33 years since their last can only sound like pale imitations of their previous selves.

    I saw that Page/Plant incarnation live at the old Cap Center back in what the internet tells me was March of 1995 and for the life of me I dont recall the quality of their playing. I just remember that I never thought I would see Led Zeppelin songs live like that ever which likely caused me to completely miss anything else.

    If you havent seen it already, I recommend you check out the documentary "It Might Get Loud" which essentially is a long form conversation about rock guitar between the Edge, Jimmy Page and Jack White. While White really steals the show the deeper background on Page is fascinating.

    Of all their records I am partial to III. I think it best illustrates their range. Your mileage may vary...