11/30/2008

Led Zeppelin's Greatest Hits



Despite going through a bit of Led Zeppelin withdrawal during the ‘90s—not shunning them; just simply caught up in the music of our peers and general vibes of the times—the collective work as a unit of Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones, and John Bonham is without a doubt firmly lodged in our musical DNA. Fuelled by the timely acquisition of the band’s choice recent CD box set—not only do we finally own the catalog on CD, we got a steep discount from a friendly retailer on this set of mini LP replicas, which we were wonderfully surprised to discover we had inadvertently purchased the twice as expensive, higher-fidelity Japanese version!—we’ve been on a Zeppelin binge of late.

But no matter how much we may love the mighty Zep, we are not oblivious to the numerous charges of plagiarism levied against the legendary quartet—quite a few of them substantiated by lawsuits won against the band over the years. Which brings us to Wilson and Alroy.

Even though they know their music and can put a couple of coherent sentences together, Wilson and Alroy are not music journalists. Just a couple of opinionated, Gen-X pricks—we mean that as a compliment—that aren’t always on point (their Black Sabbath reviews are pretty lousy and off-base; especially the ones covering the classic first four albums) but get it right most of the time.

One cool thing about their site is that they've gone through the trouble of compiling a list of songs that Led Zeppelin partially and/or completely ripped-off and tried—successfully, in most cases—to pass off as their own. Sure, songwriters always nick a bit here and there, but c'mon. This is what they've compiled:

Now by popular demand! A list of some of the songs Zep stole from other artists:

* "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You" - A folk song by Anne Bredon, this was originally credited as "traditional, arranged by Jimmy Page," then "words and music by Jimmy Page," and then, following legal action, "Bredon/Page/Plant."

* "Black Mountain Side" - uncredited version of a traditional folk tune previously recorded by Bert Jansch.


* "Bring It On Home" - the first section is an uncredited cover of the Willie Dixon tune (as performed by the imposter Sonny Boy Williamson).


* "Communication Breakdown" - apparently derived from Eddie Cochran's "Nervous Breakdown."


* "Custard Pie" - uncredited cover of Bukka White's "Shake 'Em On Down," with lyrics from Sleepy John Estes's "Drop Down Daddy."


* "Dazed And Confused" - uncredited cover of the Jake Holmes song (see The Above Ground Sound Of Jake Holmes).


* "Hats Off To (Roy) Harper" - uncredited version of Bukka White's "Shake 'Em On Down."


* "How Many More Times" - Part one is an uncredited cover of the Howlin' Wolf song (available on numerous compilations). Part two is an uncredited cover of Albert King's "The Hunter."


* "In My Time Of Dying" - uncredited cover of the traditional song (as heard on Bob Dylan's debut).


* "The Lemon Song" - uncredited cover of Howlin' Wolf's "Killing Floor" - Wolf's publisher sued Zeppelin in the early 70s and settled out of court.


* "Moby Dick" - written and first recorded by Sleepy John Estes under the title "The Girl I Love," and later covered by Bobby Parker.


* "Nobody's Fault But Mine" - uncredited cover of the Blind Willie Johnson blues.


* "Since I've Been Lovin' You" - lyrics are the same as Moby Grape's "Never," though the music isn't similar.


* "Stairway To Heaven" - the main guitar line is apparently from "Taurus" by Spirit.


* "White Summer" - uncredited cover of Davey Graham's "She Moved Through The Fair."


* "Whole Lotta Love" - lyrics are from the Willie Dixon blues "You Need Love."


I'm not listing covers that the band credited to the actual authors ("You Shook Me") or the less blatant ripoffs (the "Superstition" riff in "Trampled Underfoot"). If you have anything to add to this list, please tell me. (D B Wilson)


To state that Led Zeppelin’s musical influence is undeniable is a monumental understatement. But that influence sometimes reaches way past sound and fury and into the area of legality. To wit:

In the late ‘90s Colombian rockers Bloque recorded a latin-flavored version of “Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You” in Spanish called “Nena”—which translates as “Babe”—on their self-titled debut, echoing Zeppelin’s recording of the song on their self-titled debut some thirty years prior. However, upon further inspection of the album’s credits, the song is listed as written by Ivan Benavides and Ernesto Ocampo, Bloque’s main songwriters!

Talk about a wide-spread influence…

11/22/2008

Matthew Not So Sweet These Days

In a post titled "Ugly Truth Rock: What Does Matthew Sweet Owe Us?" folks at Idolator take the power pop maven to task over recent performances while touring behind his most recent album Sunshine Lies, particularly a San Francisco date which only drew 200 in a 600 capacity venue. And for being overweight.

One of our all-time favorite concerts was Sweet's March 25th, 2000 date at Irving Plaza, NYC. If we recall correctly this was the tour in support of In Reverse, the first of his albums that really didn't do anything for us. But regardless, we got tickets and brought a date, (who turned out to be--unbeknownst to us--a minor celebrity who got us into the VIP area) and elated from the show rushed out to Queens to play a set with our own band, energized by the stellar performance we'd witnessed earlier.

But more importantly, and to the point, we've always considered that night's concert as the ideal performance. Why? The band was in top form; the sound was decent; Sweet performed 22 songs (7 from the new album and 15 from his catalog), and we got to hear everything a devoted fan would want to, within reason. (Maybe 5 tunes from In Reverse would've been enough, but hey…)

As longtime fans of Sweet's it saddens us to hear that the recent SF show is a common example of what this tour is like. (Not being thrilled with his latest album and lousy weather kept us from his recent NYC stop.) Someone with a catalog as sizeable as Sweet's should play longer shows and even mix it up a bit with an acoustic set, as was suggested by one Idolator reader. As for the size of the crowd, that's beyond his control, and if he's touring without his own sound man, that's one more thing left to chance. (Then again, the house sound guy has very little excuse for not pulling it off: you work the joint every night, for Pete's sake!)

Truthfully, while Sweet isn't likely to pick up any new fans at this point, that sense of resignation shouldn't extend to taking his followers for granted in any way shape or form. It's not like he can afford to lose/alienate followers at this stage of his career. And 13-song sets half-devoted to a new album is a step in that direction. Granted, there's nothing wrong with showcasing a good chunk of your new record--that's why they're out there touring--but an established artist can't get away with a set consisting of 50% new tunes, either. (Having said, the AC/DC model is also not a good choice: Bon Scott-era tunes and Back in Black, plus "For Those About to Rock", "Thunderstruck" and 2 songs from whatever new album they've just released. But maybe that's EXACTLY what their fans want.)

For whatever reason, Sweet chose not to do a 15th anniversary Girlfriend tour two years ago. Maybe it would've been more feasible had he gone on hiatus for a while, but Sweet has not been MIA: he's actually released 3 solo albums of new material this decade, one of which, Kimi Ga Suki, is up there with his very best. (It also features the closest thing to a reunion of the Girlfriend lineup.)

As for Sweet's girth, if it indeed is affecting his health and ability to perform on stage, that is a legitimate concern. Otherwise, let the man be. He's 44 yrs old, he's been big for at least a decade now, and not everyone on stage needs to look like John Mayer, despite what anyone says.

11/20/2008

Troublemaker

As we stated previously, Weezer's most recent self-titled release--aka The Red Album--has been a disappointment 'round these parts: tired and uninspired is how described it, with drummer Pat Wilson's "Automatic" the only other song on the disc we can get with. But like another similar album by the Los Angeles quartet--2002's Maladroit--we've fallen in love with a simple, but quite rockin' tune included therein, regardless of the ineffective lure of the rest of the record.

We're referring to lead-off track "Troublemaker", an irresistibly catchy 2-chord rocker with silly lyrics that just begs to be sung along to. (Although, this may be a bit of a challenge: it probably has more words than a classic Public Enemy song.) If you've missed it, well here is its equally funny and goofy video clip, courtesy of Spinner.com

11/17/2008

MTV Pulls Plug on TRL, Thousands Yawn

MTV's long-running music countdown show is no more: Total Request Live has been cancelled after a ten-year run. Debuting as the rise of the late '90s rap-rock, nu metal, and the teen pop/boy band phenomenon were implementing their chokehold on the mainstream music-buying public, the once highly-popular show had been floundering for years. This probably means more airtime for The Hills or whatever other nonsense they air these days.

What We're Listening To

ERIC AVERY Help Wanted (Dangerbird)
THE CURE Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me (Elektra)
GUIDED BY VOICES Live from Austin, TX (New West)
KING CRIMSON Red (EG)
WEEZER self-titled [The Red Album] (Geffen)

The Dead Album

Are any of you into Weezer's most recent? Aside from the kick-ass lead-off track "Troublemaker" and drummer Pat Wilson's "Automatic" it sounds tired, uninspired and rehashed to these ears.

What say you?

New Star Trek Trailer

Yes, finally a glimpse of the upcoming Star Trek movie, due to open in theatres on May 8, 2009.

We were never crazy about the choice of J. J. Abrams--of Lost fame--as director of this latest installment of Gene Roddenberry's baby, and if this preview is any indication, it's gonna be one big Michael Bay movie set in space.

Keep hope alive, though.

No.5: Low Numbered Original 'White Album' on eBay

If you've got in excess of US$15 grand at your disposal, feel free to bid on it and get yourself an original copy once in the possession of John Lennon right in time for the album's 40th anniversary (Nov. 22).

And, of course, you can read our review of the album itself here.

Just Like Heaven

Wow...has it really been 20 years?

The third single from 1987's Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me, in 1988 The Cure had their first American top 40 hit with a song that has won them numerous accolades and been the subject of quite a few cover versions. Their best pop song and undoubtedly one of their very best overall--not to mention, quite possibly, the one Cure song everyone knows--it is 3 and a half minutes of, well, heaven.

And that first verse? It's what clever love songs are made of:

"Show me how you do that trick
The one that makes me scream" she said
"The one that makes me laugh" she said
And threw her arms around my neck
"Show me how you do it
And I promise you, I promise that
I'll run away with you
I'll run away with you"

And yes, it rocks:



A timeless classic, indeed. Wonder if it's too late to learn that hug-inducing, scream-and-laugh-provoking trick?

[Video courtesy of MTVmusic.com]

11/10/2008

RIP

Miriam Makeba, the South African legend considered by many to have been the musical voice of the anti-apartheid struggle, died in Italy on Nov. 9th, after collapsing onstage from a heart attack.

She was 76.

11/06/2008

New Releases

We've been kinda preoccupied with other things but here we are with this week's newbies:

PETER BRĂ–TZMANN The Brain of the Dog in Section (Atavistic)
DENNIS BROWN The Best of Dennis Brown: The Niney Years (Universal)
RODNEY DANGERFIELD Greatest Bits (Shout! Factory)
KLAUS NOMI Za Bakdaz: The Unfinished Opera (Heliocentric)
Q-TIP The Renaissance (Universal Motown)

Deftones Bassist In Coma After Car Crash

Billboard:

Deftones bassist Chi Cheng is in a coma after being involved in a car accident Monday in Santa Clara, Calif., according to the Sacramento Bee. Frontman Chino Moreno confirmed Cheng's condition but declined to give further details.

"I don't know everything that's going on -- I just know it's very serious," Moreno told the Bee, adding that he was on his way to a San Jose hospital to be with Cheng's family.

The accident was confirmed by Warner Bros. Records, who said Cheng was in "serious but stable condition" but did not provide specifics.

"Chi is one of the strongest people I know, and I'm praying that his strength will get him through this," Moreno added in a note on the Deftones' blog. "Please say a prayer for him as well."

Cheng, 38, has been in the studio with Deftones working on the band's next studio album, "Eros," which is due in spring 2009 via Warner Bros. The Deftones' most recent live show was in mid-September in Peoria, Ariz.

RIP

Jimmy Carl Black, drummer for Frank Zappa's Mothers of Invention passed away on Nov. 5th. He was 70 years old.

11/05/2008

Right Here, Right Now

"I was alive / and I waited...waited / I was alive and I waited for this / right here, right now / there is no other place I wanna be"

11/04/2008

(don't) Wait Until Tomorrow

We don't talk politics here on "5" but today is Election Day in the US, and we choose to show our support for one pioneering African-American by showcasing another trailblazer:

James Marshall Hendrix, "The Star Spangled Banner" - Woodstock (1969)