Playing this vinyl and actually thinking about my record collection resulted in a ‘road to Damascus’ moment, one that shook my musical beliefs/assumptions to the core (in an earthquake in Kent kind of way).
In an earlier post I covered a Led Zeppelin compilation CD and stated “Whilst I have a preference for earlier Led Zeppelin there’s nothing wrong with any of the tracks on this album.” Now, while I still stand by that statement, there does comes a time in everyone’s life where you have to take a long hard look at yourself in the mirror and decide whether to make a stand for what you really believe or continue hiding behind a mask for the rest of your days.
I’ve looked in that mirror and I’ve decided that I find the mask suffocating and it’s time to take it off.
So, what I’m about to say will be sacrilegious to many but it’s the truth and I can’t go on living a lie.
Here goes……….I like the idea of Led Zeppelin – a group of four virtuosos where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, extending the blues into modern rock music and forging a new path, stories of excess that can only be dreamt of by those that came before and after them, concerts that rewrote the meaning of improvisation for rock bands with no two performances ever being the same – more than I enjoy the reality.
I like many individual tracks but a lot of the music doesn’t hit me like I think it should, a lot of it is pure aural bombast, albeit of the highest order – or is that the point and am I just missing it?
Where it does all come together for me is on this album and it’s the only Zeppelin album in my collection that I return to on a regular basis. It’s a mix of new tracks and cast offs from previous sessions and that might be why it works for me – from the haunting “In The Light”, through the spontaneity of “In My Time Of Dying” ending up with the epic that is “Kashmir” – it delivers on so many different fronts.
As an antidote to the previous post I’ve just played X-Ray Spex at serious volume in the car. I was never into them back in the day, I couldn’t handle Poly Styrene’s vocal (in my defence it is an acquired taste, after listening to this album for any length of time I always get a psychosomatic sore throat) or the fact that they had a saxophone player, this was meant to be punk after all!
In fact this is a damn good album that has passed the test of time with flying colours. This is music to be enjoyed loud and by jumping around, this isn’t noodling about like the music in my previous post. This is a group voicing their fears of the modern world and what the future holds in the only way they know how – loud and with rhythm. This is an album that I agree with being in “1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die”.
The standout track for me is “Identity” (closely followed by “I Am a Poseur”) always played loud in the car with me singing along – this is where I get a true sore throat………..
X-Ray Spex – Germfree Adolescents (1978) – CD (1991 Issue)
So I’ve just bought a new car and the sound system allows me to play music straight from a data stick. Earlier today I copied 40 albums onto a stick, went out for a drive, turned up the volume and picked an album at random.
The album that played is a prog rock classic and has sold over a million copies. Unfortunately it’s also the biggest load of tripe I’ve had to listen to in a long time. I don’t understand what happened, my timeline for the 70s is now totally screwed, if Yes released “Close To The Edge” in 1972 why didn’t punk rock appear in 1973 to blow them all away? Why did we have people twiddling away with this sort of music for another four years?
Now don’t get me wrong I like prog rock and have loads of albums to share over coming posts but this album just sounds like people trying to show how clever they are (actually ‘smug’ is probably the best description) and totally forgetting about basics such as structure, form and the enjoyment of the listener. There’s an argument that this album may be a soundscape but that’s as far as I would go.
I really tried to get some positives out of this (as obviously over one million people have) but I can’t. I’ve also got lots of further ranting about this but life’s too short and I’ve already lost 37 minutes 51 seconds listening to the damn thing.
Play the below if you really have to, it is the shortest track on the album. I wouldn’t advise it however………
17/05 As a post script to the above (and to add insult to aural injury) I’ve just realised that Close To The Edge is included in “1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die” – Aargh! I need to find my X-Ray Spex CD and quickly……….
Now I’ve always thought that you can either have a great vocalist who can play some guitar or you can have a great guitarist who has a passable voice. I could never think of someone where the two came together.
And then I discovered George Thorogood going full throttle on the guitar and singing. And you know what? It didn’t change my view at all………
Thorogood is a great guitarist who sings to this best of his ability and that’s all we can ever ask of someone, none of us can do anything above the best of our ability.
The first slab of vinyl here is the debut, eponymous, release that introduces us to his take on the blues. Mainly an album of covers the stand out track here is John Lee Hooker’s “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer” which is merged with another Hooker track, “House Rent Boogie”. The talking blues delivery suits Thorogood’s vocals and allows his guitar to do the business, live this is a killer track……………..
Nine years have passed by the time we get to the second slab of vinyl and in the meantime Thorogood’s star has ascended and he’s recorded the track that he’s probably most famous for “Bad To The Bone” (a classic that’s on every playlist I ever produce). Given his playing ability and the reputation of his stage shows I was expecting much more from this live album than it actually delivers.
It’s not for lack of trying on the part of Thorogood or his Destroyers it’s just that the recording comes across as a bit ‘flat’. The two big tracks (“One Bourbon…” and “Bad…”) are here but the live mix isn’t that good, the guitar and voice have no real separation – with “Bad…” this is one of the few instances in rock music when I actually prefer the studio version to the live one.
There is also a bit of an issue with quality control (imho) with Thorogood and band not only playing a cover of “Alley Oop” but allowing it to be committed to vinyl……… This song was original recorded by The Hollywood Argyles in 1960 and was a novelty hit. It should have been left there, no one needs to hear any version of this ever again (unless you really want to – if so hit the ‘play’ button below and be transported back to ‘quality’ prime time viewing from the 60s)
It’s not fair to leave any post with that as the final video so here’s one of George Thorogood and the Destroyers revisiting past glories with “Bad To The Bone” from a few years ago.
George Thorogood and the Destroyers (1977) – Vinyl
You Got to Lose
One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer
Kind Hearted Woman
Can’t Stop Lovin’
Ride On Josephine
I’ll Change My Style
Rate – 3/5
George Thorogood and the Destroyers – Live (1986) – Vinyl