Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Band I Was Given

There's a game that's been going around on Facebook for some time, in which a friend gives you a band/artist and you have to answer the following questions:

The song I love?
The song I like?
The song I hate?

Then people can "like" the status and I can give them a band.

I'd resisted playing it for some time, until I saw that my friend Lisa the Cookie Momma had done one for Kings of Leon (her "love" was "Molly's Chambers"; "Like" was "Sex on Fire", "Hate" was "Back Down South").  Lisa knows her music, and we've done our fair share of talk about the topic, so she seemed a good choice to be the one to pick a band for me.

Her choice?  The mighty, mighty, one and only Led Zeppelin.  Well played, Picc.  Well played, indeed.  No Springsteen.  No Beatles.  No Huey Lewis.  Nope - Led Zep.  Straight back to my youth.

Now of course I can't simply do a snap reaction (well, OK, I can, but I don't want to).  So I sat down in front of my iTunes to listen to a snippet of each song to see if my instinct matched up.

First up, it's been a while since I've given Zep this much play because, to be blunt, EVERY FREAKING CLASS ROCK STATION IN THE WORLD DOES THAT FOR ME!  But with a fresh set of ears, I went through each album.

Presence is largely ignored and probably deservedly so, although "Achilles Last Stand" and "Nobody's Fault but Mine" are both well done.

I'd forgotten just how amazing Physical Graffiti is.  I still remember looking at the album cover, with the fold-out windows, when my brother bought it in 1975.  Too many songs to highlight on that classic, besides the obvious "Kashmir."

Led Zeppelin IV (or ZOSO, your choice), sits in that rare air of most overplayed records e-v-e-r, with its heavyweights "Black Dog", "Rock & Roll" (I loved playing this with the volume at "11" when I was younger), and, of course, the little ditty known unofficially as "Stairway."  I still need to go about a solid year without hearing it before I can stomach it again.  That being said, it's not the song that I hate.

Led Zeppelin III isn't the monster that other albums are.  Still it has "Immigrant Song", "Friends", and "Since I've Been Loving You."  Led Zeppelin certainly knew how to play the blues.

Led Zeppelin II is probably my favorite or second-favorite album of theirs.  You know the hits.  Or you should.  "Whole Lotta Love", "What Is and What Should Never Be", "Thank You" and so on.  Fairly brilliant.

Led Zeppelin hit the world just like, well, you know.  Again, songs that you might be a touch familiar with: "Good Times Bad Times", "Dazed and Confused", etc.

In Through the Out Door saw Zep on the verge of the 80's.  It would also be their last album.  To me, it's not the way I'd prefer to remember them.  Only Coda to me is worse, but that wasn't meant to be a a Zep album - just a desperate way to put out more material.  Back to In Through the Out Door, I do like the kick of "In the Evening."

Lastly, we come to Houses of the Holy, which if Led Zeppelin II isn't my favorite, then Houses is.  From the opening riffs of "The Song Remains the Same" to the final notes of "The Ocean", this is a wonderful record.

So I've broken things down that way...now back to the questions.  OK, here we go (my opinion will change as soon as I publish this post).

Song that I Love: "Dancing Days" (From Houses of the Holy)  Yes, contrarian that I am, I just can't take the easy route.  "Dancing Days" is as close to a pop record that Zep made, at least in my opinion.  That's not what makes it a great song.  It's the beat, the guitar work by Jimmy Page (duh - all work by JP was pretty exceptional), and the feel that makes it so good.  Not every Zep song needs to be seven minutes long to be great.  Trust me there were plenty of other songs I could have chosen, but I only get one.  This is it.

Plus Stone Temple Pilots' version was so disappointing by comparison.

Song that I Like: "What Is and What Should Never Be"  If there's a single song that has Zep at their most, er, romantic-yet-powerful, this might be it.  Think about that song: the bass of John Paul Jones, the slightly muffled effect in Robert Plants' voice as he croons, and the line: "And if I say to you tomorrow: take my hand child, come with me.  It's to a castle I will take you.  Where what's to be they say will be."  Not as obvious in the background is Page's strumming and a nice jazz/blues beat from John Bonham.  That's only the first 23 seconds.  Then all hell breaks loose.  My my my.

Song that I Hate: This was the toughest.  I have plenty of Zep songs I simply ignore.  Some that I just don't play.  Some that are fine.  And, of course, "Stairway."  Yet the winner, for its pure choice as being classic rock radio's "Let's play some Zeppelin just...because" award is "Fool in the Rain.  It was either that or "D'yer Mak'er."  They can both have the title, but there's something about "Fool in the Rain" that is the closest to ear bleed for me, maybe simply because it's just not Zeppelin to me.  It's from an album that just didn't seem like they wanted to make.  It also has "All My Love" with is nothing like "All My Loving" (from that Beatles band).

So there you go.  Discuss.  You want a band?  Ask, or "like" on Facebook.

By the way, I just saw one of my high school friends take the Rolling Stones.  That would have been a lot easier for me...

Love: "Heartbreaker (Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo)"
Like: "Monkey Man"
Hate: "Beast of Burden" (Damn you, rock radio!)

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