Friday, June 20, 2014

Remasters 2014 Report: Led Zeppelin III

It’s so cool that the remaster CD has the spin disc cover like the original. Such attention to detail – not surprising but still worth acknowledging.

Jimmy Page should be revered as one of the great wonders of the world, a planetary treasure.

As before, these are thoughts and reactions experienced when listening to this remaster disc for the first time.

Led Zeppelin III

One of the most chilling, soul shivering song beginnings ever. But LZ was good at that.

Love the way RP lingers on the syllables.

I will never listen to the original albums again. The remasters are it.

The crispness of the sound makes me appreciate all over again how tight their musical choreography is.

Wait wait – Immigrant song can’t be that short!

That alternate tuning - edgy!

A kind of scary song, isn’t it? Friends? I mean really - who the hell decided on that innocent name?

The flow from Friends into Celebration Day – brilliant!

I’m so happy I joined up with that band decades ago!

The ups and downs – rhythm, tone, alternate tuning, major to minor scales, pitch, even the segues to next songs. Contrast, contrast, contrast, baby - never ever left to chance.

SIBLY. Simply… wow. A guitar and drummer. A touch of keyboard. And then POW. A sucker punch to the gut and then backing off to let RP sing of the damage. I fall for it each time.

Those rocking rhythms just stuck in there.

Wah. Tearing me to shreds.

The guitar – I wasn’t ready, I could never be ready for that lethal insertion of emotion. And then and then and then….

Jazz/scat, the whole kitchen sink. RP’s tools were beyond mortal.

Once again I’m struck with the disjoint of the start of OOTT. Uncomfortable, puts me off balance. Inside, it feels normal already. Were they not afraid of anything at all?

I remember thinking when I first ever heard this that it was a great song but why in the world did LZ do it? But really, who cares? It’s another way to express something different musically. Do it all! Any way at all!

Banjo. What a riot. It’s a sound. In fact, Gallows is so rich with diverse sound

I never noticed that chorus effect in the last minute – is that really what I’m hearing?

That false start before Tangerine… intriguing

Tangerine has always been one of my least favorite LZ songs. But there’s new information now, and it seems more complex musically than I thought. Maybe I've never given it a fair shake.

More slide guitar? Steel pedal? Where did that come from? And so its own thing. Not the way I’m used to hearing it

I can’t really listen to this music with my eyes open.

The sound between the notes is so full!

Steel strings so hard for such a soft song. But the bass cushions.

I love the ending – sometimes words just get in the way.

Oh Bonzo – you made it stomp. Can’t help but bounce when listening to this!

The greatest band in the world does a song about a dog. Is there ANYTHING they won’t try?

That’s some pretty slick guitar playing, Mr. Page.

Two instruments, so unlike. A guitar. A voice. And yet so much there.

But the end too soon!


Did anyone truly appreciate LZ in their time? I know that what I hear and appreciate now is very, very different than what I was hearing back then. We all are growing up, but maybe there are good things that come from that after all.

What I take away from this album is a new appreciation for how diverse these guys were, how bold and adventurous. Any technique, any sound – it was all fair game to get their music out there.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Remasters 2014 Report: Led Zeppelin II Companion Disc

So many people are talking about the remasters. That’s a cool thing. It’s too bad, though, that what so many people are talking about is the packaging, the technical details of the digital downloads, the shipping/delivery dates, the songs that should have been included or will be included on the companion discs.

Where’s the music in all that?

Led Zeppelin II 2014 Remaster - back cover
Led Zeppelin II Companion Disc

"The material on the companion discs presents a portal to the time of the recording of Led Zeppelin. It is a selection of work in progress with rough mixes, backing tracks, alternate versions, and new material recorded at the time."

Even before I put the disc in the player, I’m reminding myself of the above statement by Jimmy Page. The track listing is almost the same as Led Zeppelin II but not quite. Mr. Page’s choices of songs alone will reveal much about his musical intentions for us. I look forward to the new insights. 

RP’s voice is surprisingly more melodic than I recall. Am I hearing things that weren't there before or is it because of quality?

Oh this is fun, this is different! Hearing the parts without the whole! And my brain is supplying the parts that aren't there!

Insights into song construction. Wow. How music gets put together to make a whole is a mystery to me so this is awesome.

Oh what fun it all will be – prophetic! All these years of enjoyment have been fun and it doesn't end!

What a remarkable gift this is - no band has to share rough mixes with the world. Led Zeppelin's rough mixes are better than most bands' finished music!

This is truly an instructional disc, isn't it.

No lyrics! Thank You! I love this (lyrics aren't my thing). But I can also see how much this song was meant for RP's vocals. It doesn't stand as an instrumental as much as other LZ songs do.

Gotta admit JPJ’s keyboards are the best part of TY as an instrumental.

How often do we ever get to hear of bass and guitar in harmony? Makes it special to hear it now.

Yeah, then I get the solo – PLAY it man! And he does play with the guitar. Goofing around a bit there.

That tone. I’d like to interview JP and ask him how he chose different tones. The when/where/why of the different voices of his guitar.

He’s like a ventriloquist

Lyrics-free music! Again it’s really so clear when the instruments are supposed to be accompaniment to the vocals rather than standing alone as instrumental. That's never been so obvious to me before. This is amazing. I’d like to hear every LZ song without vocals to understand the interplay.

Oh oh oh. Ramble On – one of my most favorite. But this version missing the lovely voice of that guitar.

OMG – I’m realizing that this whole disc shows in such a damn dramatic way just how much JP’s guitar voice made a difference to the music. Duh! All of these tracks lack the Magick I seek in the sound! This is definitely an instructional disc for me!

I always love hearing Bonzo sing out his counts.

La La is just so damn much fun. It is so not LZ and yet Zep at the same time. I could see JP, JPJ and Bonzo deciding to have fun while waiting for Robert to get back from lunch.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Remasters 2014 Report: Led Zeppelin II

I gotta tell you, this reporting on the remasters is hardly a chore.  I can call it "reporting" but we know what it really is - indulging. 

I've been waking up in the morning with the music in my head. It’s become the soundtrack to my life.

As before, this report is a first impression, written while I listened to the remaster for the first time

Led Zeppelin II

I’m struck anew with the immediacy of the remasters. 

The original genius pulls out of the archives the sound that he hears in his own mind.  How amazing is that?

Whole Lotta space cadet! Haha – I remember now what I was doing when I first listened to this album back in the day. [censored censored censored]

Geez – if anyone walked in the room and saw me now they’d think I was nuts with this big, silly grin on my face. That's probably just what I looked like back then, too.

I don’t want to listen to the music I want to be IN the music.  A good recording lets you do that.

Each one of them had such a tremendous ability to put expression into the music. Bass, drums, vocal, guitar – all of it individually and then expressing it together.

The change of phrase. Another way of saying something musically with the slippery slide of the guitar - it is what is and could never be otherwise.

I listen to the voice without trying to understanding the meaning of what Robert's singing. Heck, half the time it seems he's just making up words anyway. But that makes the voice an instrument, not a song.

I so get into the music that it seems the songs are over before they're hardly started. That’s why I love the live stuff – the long, long, long delivery.  

The weight of the words isn't greater than the weight of the other instruments – that’s one extraordinary difference between LZ and others

That tone of guitar in The Lemon Song solo. Somehow it is Jimmy the sound is coming directly from, not his guitar. 

I get those fingers on the strings as if I was right there. What is it about the sound that makes it seem that way?

And then the little guitar comments on Robert’s vocals. Just little asides.

The juice – baby baby baby

And that little squeakiness tone to the guitar. Sly humor there.

Happiness no more be sad. This music.

Love the organ ending, JPJ with just the quiet chords, the fade out, then coming back. What crazy mind comes up with that?

There in the middle of Heartbreaker my heart breaks not with grief but just sheer pleasure

Then back to business.

Not for the first time I wonder if anyone has ever counted up how many different tones JP gets out of his guitars

Sometimes the guitar comes in and I don’t realize for a second that it’s not a human voice.

Ramble On – no doubt some kind of masterpiece. No ordinary music, just loaded to the top with Magick. One of my absolute favorite LZ works. Great light and shade. The different guitar phrases just knock me over. I like that little tappy tappy stuff Bonzo does sometimes. Thing is… even though Dave Grohl kind of sucks cause he shouts the lyrics, I like the Foo Fighters version at Wembley better, but then maybe it was JP who was better for that song then.  I'm not discounting that.

The bass balance on this album seems pretty high to me (I haven’t changed any settings from the first two remasters). I like it just fine.

This studio album is a good contrast with LZ live. It’s much more constrained. Of course, maybe it's because I still haven’t replaced my speakers and can’t turn UP THE VOLUME.

I love Robert on harmonica. He gets the same expression as he does with voice. And the weird voice on Bring It On Home gets me every time. I forget who he's emulating, doesn't matter. Nice echoey sound on this and you get sucked in and then they get BIG. Light and dark, baby! And then tweet!

WHAT??? It’s over already????

I’m definitely hearing stuff on the remasters I wasn't hearing before.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Remasters 2014 Report: Live at the Olympia

It was not so easy waiting two days to listen to the companion disc to the first album. But I made myself do it because self-discipline is part of the Music, of all the Arts, and of Magick as well.  And because it's going to be a long, long time till the next three remasters come out.

As before, this report was written as I listened to the music.

Led Zeppelin I Companion Disc - Live at the Olympia 

I love that the show opened this way.  In your face showing off how good these guys are.  Bam bam.  Bam bam.

Dammit, my speakers are ruined.

Robert Plant’s voice so young – he’ll get even better than this later years but he's already there, on the top.

Recording’s a little uneven – sometimes JPJ’s bass is right in your face, sometimes it’s Robert. Who cares.

JP’s guitar so clean. Still reflecting the tightness and technical excellence of his session playing, but he’s starting to break loose. Not like later, but you can hear him being pulled off into the ozone.

HOW does Robert still have a voice at all today? What awesome lungs. Seriously.

It is so amazing that JP could make himself sound like multiple guitars without benefit of a studio.

Do people even realize how different this music was? That the guitar wasn’t just an accompaniment to the vocals anymore? All bets were off!

Live recordings back then – not such great quality, but you've got the loosy-goosy freedom of a live performance that a studio recording never really has. Magick in it all, just different, because one’s a capture of a practiced, perfect ritual, the other is a messy Work in progress.

I love how the audience responds. Lucky dogs.

The boys were like elite marathon runners – putting out maximum effort for miles and miles of music.

How can a human being do that on a guitar? The guitar isn't a musical instrument any more but instead is a physical extension of the soul’s desire.

So strange hearing a quiet audience at the first notes of D&C!

It is 84° in my house and yet I just shivered.

It seems to me that D&C is a completely different song every version of I hear. That time in Paris still takes place somewhere far, far away from this planet, though.

There I go again. Goosebumps.

Bonham so in tune with the music. Not merely a rhythm keeper but a music creator along with the others.

Whatever gave Robert the brilliant idea to sing counterpoint to the guitar? Simply beyond extraordinary.

Sexual assault with sound.

This is crazy-making music. Crazy is good.

Oh the voice of that guitar – that crawling, seeking, huge, nasty thing.

This is so not the studio!

Get your mind out of the gutter. Not mere sex – it’s so much more. Push the music, push life, push reality. Spread the wings. Fly to the sun and beyond.

Like telling the story a new way each time but in the language of emotion made sound.

No announcer butting in! I automatically cringed but it wasn't there!

How brave, how cheeky, how much confidence and joy to try a new note, a new pause, a new rhythm, a new chord, a new progression in front of witnesses. And pulling it off.

Oh I surely did trash the speakers two days ago. Must replace can’t go on with them like this, but no stopping the music.

Can blues be any darker, slower, richer, sleazier? Can anyone survive such exposure of the soul?

I forget I’m listening to a voice and a guitar. They weave in and out so perfectly, I hear a musical message. My heart follows willingly, not even caring where I'm being taken.

No wonder some people think there’s something evil in this music. I actually know of  a few who could only blush if they really listened to what’s going on here. But they can’t hear what it is, only what they fear. A pity.

Geez – you have to just laugh with joy at some of this. Unbelievable. And it’s just crappy blown speakers! Of course I’m laughing!

Ain't you never been shook? Oh!

How BIG they were. Filling the heavens with joyful sound!

Drums and voice were the original music. Yet all alone Bonzo made music with drums. Not just rhythm – he made music. He brought down the lightning and the thunder and then he mocked the gods with their own pounding footsteps as they strode across the quivering earth hunting for what he'd stolen from them. We love him because he had no fear. Hearing him shout as he hammers it out – where is the fire to throw our sacrifices on, to dance around, naked and sweating?

How Many More Times can I be blown away by this music? It doesn't matter. I willingly throw myself on the flames.

Love how there’s a touch of Whole Lotta Love snuck in there towards the end.

Can you believe they’d go out and do this night after night?

Why in the world do they call what these guys did “playing”? It’s as serious as a heart attack. Oh yeah, Art Attack.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Remasters 2014 Report: Led Zeppelin

I'm taking it slow, letting it sink in. I'm not wanting to dive into all this music, but savor it for the wonder that it is. Accordingly, my reports will come out slowly - over days, not hours.

These reports will be thoughts that come to me while listening to each disc for the first time. Your experience may vary. That's okay. Just let the Magick in.

Led Zeppelin

The immediacy of the sound, so clean, crisp and lively. Extraordinary. Begs me to turn up the volume again and again. This music is hard on speakers.

A song ends and I feel like I’ve been slapped in the face: Earth to Lif! Earth to Lif! So taken away. The music transports me to another plane of existence in another universe.

Jimmy Page’s concept, grabbing the listener by the musical short hairs with extraordinary balance of light and shade, is so well executed.

I heard detail and nuance of sound I’ve never heard before. I felt depths of musical emotion beyond what I have loved for over 35 years.

The guitar was right there!

I could practically hear Robert’s heartbeat.

No wonder their music has held up for so long. It will hold up forever.

How could it be that it makes me want to weep? It’s joy I feel, and gratitude – not only for this music being put out into the world, but for this renewed connection with its essence.

Oops. I’m blowing out my speakers. Oh well, I needed better ones anyway to do this music justice.

Jimmy Page’s guitar has a voice of its own that is just on the edge of language. It is a perfect expression of emotional language. Sweet, nasty, a spear to the heart.

John Paul Jones can tickle those keys, dammit!

The thing about Robert’s singing is that he doesn’t sing. He plays a musical instrument of voice. His range is beyond belief, and I don’t just mean that he can hit the high notes. A shriek, a grunt, a sigh, a whisper that wets the panties. There’s never been a singer who did what he did then – not even the Robert Plant of today.

Dazed and Confused is extraordinarily other-world eerie - even this one without the long solo. Or maybe it's not other-worldly after all - not for the first time I think this is what whales sing to each other in the depths. Aliens, nonetheless.

It’s like I’m hearing it all for the very first time. Zowie!

Majesty. Magery. Magick.

Has there ever been four musicians creating on that level, so in synch with each other? And they’d been together such a short time at that point!

Your Time is Gonna Come – I laughed out loud with the pleasure of the irony. Their time came and it's still coming, like a never-ending musical orgasm.  Pity those who ever doubted.

Had I ever heard really heard that subtle singing of the guitar before?

The sharpness of the tabla of Black Mountain Side – you can feel the hands slapping the drumhead.

The energy! You could power a whole city with the creative and psychic energy of one album!

What an incredible relief it must have been for Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones to know they’d never have to go back to playing sessions again.

So damn professional. So tight. But loose.

I’m a Jimmy Page fan before even being a Led Zeppelin fan, so having his guitar speak to me so clearly, so expressively, is like an answer to a deep prayer I hadn’t known I was praying.

This remastering leaves anything done before right in the dust. No comparison. No question. Sit up world, pay attention. This is what music is supposed to be about.

There is something about the guitar coming in to How Many More Times before the Bolero section that that just shatters me. And then after the Bolero section – my gawd. Talk about leviathans of the vast spaces between stars…

And then I have to laugh at Robert’s being exhausted after eleven children. How can you not love this stuff?

There never will be another Bonzo. I’m so thankful we had him for as long as we did.

Content of first 3 albums and companion discs