Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Confessions of a LedHed

David Browne has an overstuffed and uneven piece on Led Zeppelin in the New Republic. Most is fluff about other bands, but he does approach reality from a distance:
Of course, the reasons for Zeppelin's enduring appeal start with their music. Some of their songs (the acid-washed psychedelia of "Your Time Is Gonna Come" from Led Zeppelin, for instance) feel dated. But thanks to the manner in which Page drew upon blues and Stonehenge folk, most of their records sound ageless in the same way Nick Drake's exquisite ballads do. Led Zeppelin may have been the prototypical '70s rock warlords, but unlike their peers and contemporaries like the Rolling Stones and the Beatles (much less Deep Purple or Grand Funk), Zeppelin seem far less wedded to a specific era.

I would say "warlocks" rather than "warlords," as for a short time, Rolling Stone magazine reported they had bought up a few haunted castles around England. Also, "Those Dancing Days are here again" hearken to a W.B.Yeats poem almost line by line.
There's also the matter of the Led Zeppelin sound. In keeping with the band's unapproachable-gods status (and their notoriously arrogant manager, Peter Grant), "Whole Lotta Love" and "Kashmir," among others, felt in their day massive and all-conquering, cocky and confident. In the way the band generally favored sonic wallop over nuance, Zeppelin helped make overpowering rhythm a dominant part of pop music.

Browne goes on to compare the incomparable with run-of-the-mill bands of today. Then:
In terms of preserving its stature, Led Zeppelin also made all the right moves. They broke up at the right time, immediately after Bonham's death in 1980. The popular image of the band remains trapped in amber at the height of their stardom--they never got old or grew uncool. (Compare that strategy to that of the Stones, still making millions on the road but tarnishing their legacy by subjecting us to unnecessary rack-fillers like Steel Wheels and Voodoo Lounge.)

So true about Jagger & his motley moppets. But they'rrrrre baaack!
As part of a tribute concert to the late Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun, the band's three surviving members would be re-forming for a one-off performance in London on Dec. 10 (just postponed from Nov. 26, thanks to Jimmy Page's fractured finger). If that weren't enough of a stairway to, well, some type of heaven, another long-waited announcement followed on its heels: The entire Zeppelin back catalogue would finally be sold digitally, on iTunes and other services, ending the band's longtime wariness toward the new medium (and surely guaranteeing that Jimmy Page's grandchildren will never have to worry about day jobs).The concert announcement touched off such a mad Internet dash for tickets that the server handling the requests crashed.

I'll see if I can scratch together a few thousand pounds for the spectacular.

1 comment :

Rick said...

Have you ever seen this?