NOTES ON REDISCOVERING LED ZEPPLIN
My 10-cd Led Zepp box arrived a week ago from half.com. I'm now deeply involved reliving a youth I never had. Luckily, this time around it doesn't involve a school full of stoners or 8-track tape decks blaring from the backs of Cameros in the A&P parking lot. Observations:
1) I'm shocked at the number of great Zeppelin songs hidden on the albums which never get touched by classic rock radio.
2) For me, Led Zeppelin's high point is probably House of the Holy although the entire string of albums from Led Zeppelin II through Presence is rock solid. The only weak stuff is 3/4s of the way through Physical Graffiti and hey, that was a double-album. They're allowed a few misses.
3) Robert Plant's lyrics mystify me. At worst, he sounds like a high school kid immersed in Tolkin and English mythology. At best, there's a lot of reverb and I can't understand what he's singing.
4) Tina, I totally understand why fabulous girls in my high school like you worshipped the bare-chested Mr.Plant and wished to have his children (or at least attempt the process).
5) Bonzo is an ass-kicking drummer. The generally quality of any Zeppelin song is directly related to the the volume and intensity of Bonzo's drum part. The man could groove.
6) In Through The Out Door is dreck. Luckily, Coda, the leftovers album which came out two years after they broke up, is excellent (and improved further with the four bonus tracks offered here).
7) Jimmy Page plays some mighty fucked up guitar parts. Even on songs which could be played straight (like the rock-steady-influenced Dyer Maker), he's twinging and twanging these strange little riffs and beats. Brain candy for stoners, I know, but cool to hear twenty years later too.
8) As much as I wanted to feel the presence and development of Led Zepp by checking out the albums as complete works, something is missing. Namely, the buzz of a hot band releasing new records and being featured on magazine covers. I can blab all I want about these guys, but they are over and listening to this is more akin to visiting a museum than the sleazy, immediate thrill that is rock and roll. I'm listening to these CDs in my car and I should probably be locked in a room with headphones and staring at the album covers.
But those days are gone (or at minimum, left to young Creed fans). Box set revisionism will have to do.