Wednesday, 27 November 2013

No idea why I'm posting this, no idea if anybody reads this blog (if the guy who writes it doesn't know why he does how does he expect anyone to be bothered to read it?). This post is yet another example of me talking to a blank wall.........onwards and downwards.

Today's post is about my bottom 5 Led Zeppelin songs. Now, I'm a big fan of Zeppelin: when I first got into hard rock/metal back in '79 Led Zeppelin was one of the first bands I was into (alongside AC/DC, Thin Lizzy, Rush and Motorhead). Thanks to my friend Lee (and his older brother Glynn) I was introduced to such classic albums as Physical Graffiti, Presence and their first 4 (self-titled) albums. Over time I added these albums (and the rest of their catalogue) to my ever growing album collection (Led Zeppelin 1 was the first album I ever bought) and to this day I still continue to enjoy their songs.

However, there are some songs that the band has written that has not turned to gold (see what I did there?), In fact it seems that with all the bands I love, there are several songs (indeed several albums) that I do not like, I find boring, or are just plain shit. Such is life, not everything is going to be liked by everybody (just look at the traffic of this blog.)
So, here are the worst 5 Led Zeppelin songs (in my opinion) that I would be happy to never hear again.
(no links but you can these songs on youtube etc)

5. Hot Dog -In Through The Out Door (1979)

I never enjoyed this song when I first heard it and in the intervening 30-odd years it STILL hasn't grown on me. I can't really put my finger on why it's not pleasant to my ears; maybe it's the hokey rockabilly-country feel to it; the sloppy guitar playing from Page; the rushed 'will-this'do?' air of the track. It was especially galling that this song made the final album (which has some stone-cold classic tracks on there) when they released 'Coda' in 1982 (a collection of unreleased Led Zeppelin songs) and they had 3 tracks recorded at the same time as the ITTOD sessions and any one of those 3 tracks would have been better than the crap that is Hot Dog (in particular Wearing and Tearing which is fucking immense).

4. Hats Off To (Roy) Harper- Led Zeppelin 3 (1970)

Compared to the great songs that precedes this track (Immigrant Song, Celebration Day, Out on The Tiles, Since I've Been Loving You, Tangerine, Gallows Pole) this just leaves me cold. Again it seems kind of throwaway, just studio banter best left on the cutting floor (alongside Boogie With Stu from Physical Graffiti, which nearly made this list if I did a bottom 6.) A very disappointing end to a classic album.

3. D'Yer Mak'er - Houses of the Holy (1973)

The first of two songs from 'Houses of the Holy' which makes the Bottom 5 list (can you guess the other one?) Considering that HOTH was my second Led Zeppelin album I bought, and that it features some of the greatest songs LZ ever wrote (The Song Remains The Same, The Rain Song,  No Quarter, The Ocean, Over The Hills And Far Away, Dancing Days) it's astounding that there are two tracks on here that just rub my ears the wrong way. Again, to my mind (and ears) this seems another throwaway track, just some guys messing around in the studio and having a 'we're Led Zeppelin-we-can-do-reggae' vibe. And HOTH is still one of my favourtie albums of theirs.

2. The Crunge- Houses of the Holy (1973)

It's the synthesizer. It's that damn synthesizer sound. It's just horrible. The track is quite funky, the drumming sublime and the bass line is popping, the vocals are a little weak and whiny but I can get past that as the track moves along at a pace but then......that flatulent synth noise ruins everything.Without the synth, this track is not in the bottom 5: with the synth it makes it all the way up to number 2! Thanks JPJ!! I don't recall hearing that synth noise again in a Led Zep song, maybe they threw it off that confounded bridge.

and now, my most loathed and disliked Led Zeppelin song:

1. Moby Dick- Led Zeppelin 2 (1969)

Cards on the table: I HATE drum solos. Loathe them. The only good thing about a drum solo at a gig is that you know you can go to the bar or the toilet and you won't be missing a damn thing. I should also say that I hate guitar solos, bass solos, keyboard/synth solos if they are all unaccompanied.  Nothing more than a 'hey look at me jerk off' moment by the player which adds nothing to the gig and waste 20-30 minutes when the band could have fit another 3-4 more songs in! (The last time I saw the Zappa Plays Zappa band they were guilty of this: a drum solo followed by a keyboard solo followed by a bass solo! 30 minutes I won't be wanting to relive when my life flashes before my eyes)

I hate all drum solos. I've yet to meet a drum solo I like. So why record one in the studio and put it on an album? Can't you just torture the people at concerts with these? Why upset the listener in their own home?
 I love John Bonham's drumming and there are dozens and dozens of examples of his drumming excellence in the Led Zeppelin catalogue (Kashmir, Achilles Last Stand, Immigrant Song to name but three) and so this is just a personal thing of mine; I hate drum solos (and unaccompanied solos) at concerts so why the fuck do I want to listen to a studio recording of one?

So, 5 songs out of a possible 85 studio recordings, of Led Zeppelin songs that I just don't like. Which works out to 4.25%. Not a bad ratio is it? Especially when it's compared to other bands, which is another post for another time..................................... hopefully.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Albums I have owned Part One of Many (an occasional series)

I'll be posting various albums I have or I had owned whether on vinyl, cassette, cd; whether I bought it, was given it as a gift or taped it off a friend or downloaded it. Each album will be marked thus: 
favourite tracks/actual tracks on the album.
You may or may not get a little story behind each album (you lucky people!)
After buying singles for over twelve months, I finally bought my first album on my 12th birthday.And what an album it is! One of the great debut albums and one of the few albums that do not have a duff track (IMO) 9/9 

I got this the same day as Led Zeppelin debut. I had heard the classic 'Cat Scratch Fever' on the radio (and subsequently found the single at one of my favourite record stores when I was growing up- ROX in Moreton- don't look for it yadda yadda yadda......) So when I found his new album in the same store as the Zepp one I just had to buy it.
A pretty fine rock'n'roll record with a few more hits than misses. Not as good as his 70's albums but probably his best (ie most consistent) record in the last 30 years 

Favourite tracks: Terminus Eldorado, Come And Get It, Scream Dream.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

In Leasowe, Amsterdam, Thassos, Edinburgh, Agoura Hills they kiss on main street

A few days ago, I got asked a question on facebook about which 5 albums I would listen to if I was stuck on a desert island. Now, for all you literal chaps (and chapesses) out there, I know that being on a desert island and having electricity, a record player, 5 albums from my past etc etc is impossible (not to mention the food/water/shelter question, the 'well how did I get here?' question (also known as the 'David Byrne Question'); what the question asks is: if you could only listen to 5 albums for the rest of your life, what would they be?
Well after a couple of hours or so of thinking (which resulted in half an hour of lying down with a cold compress to the forehead) I had narrowed it down to several bands and which albums would I take.
A three way death match for Pink Floyd! A 42-man 'Royal Rumble'-style battle for Frank Zappa's work! A 'Valhalla! I am coming' all out Scandinavian 'rape-pillage-burnthechurches', a a-furore-Normannorum-libera-nos-Domine Viking melee to sort out the Black/Death/Viking/Folk metal portion of the show and a quite civilised 'after you, no after you, no no I insist after you' discussion on the merits of the Rush back catalogue.

Admist all the too-ing and fro-ing and fro-ing and too-ing and a little more fro-ing for good measure (you can't have enough fro-ing in my opinion) one spot had already been taken and would never, ever be relinquished: Joni Mitchell and her 1975 album 'The Hissing of Summer Lawns'.

For me, this album is important to in 3 ways.

1. It was my first Joni Mitchell record I bought. I was vaguely aware of her work and some of her songs: 'Woodstock', 'River'(which was usually played on UK radio around christmas) and 'This Flight Tonight'- not her version but the one recorded by hairy-arsed Scottish rockers Nazereth. Ahh Nazereth, now there was hairy-arsed rock band you could set your watch by (whatever that means!) but that's a story for another time. Back to 'Hissing...'
Her first full album I heard was 'Court and Spark' one afternoon whilst at the house of Tania Foulkes. a tall. long blonde-haired lass who was a year older than me (17), looked a little bit like Joni Mitchell (except for the time Joni had that tight curly hair look in the late 70's-ugh!) and is the second reason why this album is important to me. It reminds me of my first case of unrequited love. I fell so long and hard for Tania (no snickering at the back!) that when I landed I had reached the bottom of a Sarlacc pit! (Oh look! Star Wars reference! No wonder I was a virgin for so long!) and it took a loooooooong while to climb back out. This album helped me out of that hole (now, really! No snickering at the back!) and was the first album I truly fell in love with.
Now, with love it's very hard (........) to be objective and my love for this album is no exception. This album cuddled me, nursed me and cradled me to its busom and soothed my aching heart and told me everything was going to be ok. Look, I was 16 and sensitive, what can I say? After that experience, this album has followed me on my travels and in all it's glorious formats (except 8-track, but if did have an 8-track you know I'd have bought it).
And that's the third reason- it's the only album I've bought in all formats. First it was a single sleeve 2nd-hand record. No lyrics sheet, no paper cover cover to protect the record, just a thin plastic sheet. The next time was I saw it on cassette in a second hand store in Birkenhead (Skeleton Records; don't look for it, it's not there anymore but it did have an awesome painting of a skeleton on the side of the wall of the building it was in and always had these fantastic 60's/70's prog-rock, hippie, psychedelic 2nd- hand records. It was the place where I bought my first........focus Steve, focus). I had a walkman and wanted a better sounding copy than the cheap home copy I had made and for £2.00 it was a bloody bargain! Cheap as bloody chips!.Then, a few years later, whilst perusing said record store looking for Zappa records (a Tolkien-inspired saga in itself which I'll bore you with another day) I discovered a gatefold-sleeve copy (2nd hand, natch) of 'Hissing..' in the racks! I opened it up and there was Joni, lounging in the pool ( in my mind,THE pool! Not a pool, THE pool) she sings about in the title track; looking so lithe , so slim, so damned * deep sigh* I had to have her...I mean it! I had to have the record! £3.50 later and album was in my grubby mitts and I was away home to play...........(Oh I give up!).
Aside from adding material for my teenage libido, the inside cover also had the credits of who played on the record and, more importantly the lyrics. This was a huge bonus for me for, although I could understand most of the lyrics to the songs, it's always nice to have the singer's words in black and white (or whatever font colour the singer desires) in front of you.
You may have noticed that I've not described the songs, the words or offered any critique of the album as a record review may do. The thing is this is not a review, it's more a love letter to an album that has been with me (almost) from the "forceps to the stone", that has made it's way across the beaches of Europe and now resides with me in the land, the state, the city (or one of them at least) that Joni wrote and lived in. To hear 'Don't Interrupt The Sorrow' or the title track in a 2 up 2 down in Leasowe is one thing, it's another to fly into L.A or drive along Malibu Beach and hear those same songs and actually see the inspirations for those songs and the album.

As I've got older, wiser (hmmm), no matter what my tastes in music has been, is or will be, one thing is certain: 'The Hissing of Summer Lawns' is an album I will continually return to and discover something new but also to be received and welcomed by Harry, Edith, the Kingpin, Liquid Melvin et al as old friends do, to hear the troubles of Scarlett and to feel the reassuring warmth of it's embrace and it's soothing voice telling me everything is going to be ok.

Don't Interrupt The Sorrow

The Hissing of Summer Lawns.

For the record, Tania didn't do anything bad or nasty to me. She just liked me as a friend and looking back I don't blame her for not wanting to date a shy, spotty kid with a very introverted personality, but one thing I will always be grateful for is that she introduced me to the music of Joni Mitchell and that my friends is a many, splendid thing.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

no real reason

I was listening to a few full albums on youtube and 'Machine Gun Etiquette' by the Damned came on. I've not heard this since I was a lad (around the time it came out '79/'80) and when pleasantly listening to it when 'Smash It Up' came on.
Now.....when I was at school around this time (St.George's Middle in Wallasey-don't look for it, it's not there anymore) we would have school discos at the end of term and the end of year and they were usually dull, boring affairs of shy boys and shy girls not dancing together and drinking flat pop and eating stale crisps (or where those my birthday parties?); and the music was a mix of pop trash, disco rubbish and other chart garbage (Dollar, Abba, Leo Sayer, Sheena Easton!) with little or no 2-tone, mod (except maybe the odd Police or Madness track) and definitely, absolutely NO punk or metal being played (despite it being a rather thing in the UK)
Anyway a guy that was in my class, Gavin Curry, had obviously had enough and brought in his own copy of the Damned single and asked the teacher to play it whereupon he started to dance (all by himself on the dance floor) as the song played, not giving at rat (scabies)'s arse about what anyone thought about him. It was brilliant!
The boys all cheered as he took a bow and the teacher gave him back the record and refused to ever play it again! Rock and fucking roll people!

We moved to different schools at the end of summer '81 and I never saw Gavin again and would never see him again after he had hung himself in a bizarre prank, in which he was joking around with his girlfriend and mock 'hung' himself in a tree with his braces and slipped.....tragic really. He wasn't a close friend or anyone I hung out with but I did go to school with him and he must have left some kind of impression on me because I'm writing this post about him after over 30+ years since I last heard this song and thought of him.

The Damned- Smash It Up

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Random Bandcamp musings

Hello again, hello. Welcome to another post and another new band (for me at least) do rave about.

This post features a band I discovered  not on M-A (though they are featured) but on Bandcamp whilst listening to Mare Cognitum (see last post).

Hailing from Stuttgart, Germany the 5 piece band Schattenbrandung are a black/doom metal act that were formed in 2009 and have one release under their belts, the snappy titled I-Apophanie from this year.

Over 6 tracks this band explore a large range of styles and variety within the black/doom metal tag. The songwriting is very strong, the musicianship is very tight and the production is excellent. The standout track for me is 'VII' the sixth track which closes the album. Over the 16 minute finale, Schattenbrandung pull out all the stops and show off their talent as the songs flows from blastbeats, mid tempo bm, slow doom to an acoustic section which melds into an Enslaved-style guitar solo that merges into the sound of a thunder clap and falling rain leaving you wanting to hear the whole damn album again.

teaser for I-Apophanie by Schattenbrandung

Definitely an album and band to check out for fans of Enslaved, Cult of Luna and just plain damn good metal. Buy the album and t-shirt at the link below and support this great band.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

More Random Musings

"It's been a long time, been a long long wait" as a wise man once sang. I'm back and with 8 lives two spare. Rejoice! Rejoice! So bring out that fatted calf and put up that bunting gay, your bright and bonny plow boy will so be on his way!

Ahem, sorry bout that, just got a little carried away! After receiving some kind words from Alex Wyld from Morgawr about my post on his band, I've been re-invigorated to do more posts! Yay for kind words from a random stranger!

So to recap: I go onto the Metal-Archives website, push the 'random band' button and write about whichever current /active band appears. And as I've finally discovered Bandcamp , I'll be publishing the band's bandcamp page info (if they have one).

So first up in this brave, new, exciting world is Mare Cognitum

A one man black metal band from Santa Ana, California whose sole member is Jacob Buczarski (who plays all instruments) has released 2 albums so far: 2011's ' The Sea Which Has Become Known' and 2012's 'An Extraconscious Lucidity' both are available on his bandcamp page:

The songs are atmospheric, progressive black metal with  plenty of variety (and great production) to elevate Mare Cognitum from the usual idea of what one-man-black-metal is.

Of the two albums, I find that 'An Extraconscious Lucidity' has more variety, different tempos and better songwriting than the 2011 debut. That's not to say that 'The Sea Which.....' is a bad album, it's not it's a great BM album and one you should check out; but the playing, songwriting and ideas are just more mature and fully realised on the second album making it (for me) a more satisfying listen and an album I go back to time and again. Which makes me even more excited for the third release from Mr. Buczarski, whenever that appears.

For fans of Krallice, Wolves In The Throne Room, Enslaved.

A Vain Lament from 2011 The Sea Which Has Become Known

Degeneracy Pressure from 2012 An Extraconscious Lucidity