Classic Rock Review

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Jimmy Page & Robert Plant Concert Review: Auburn Hills (Detroit), June 26th, 1998

SignFrom angelfire.com

The equipment was set…the lights went out…the place went wild. The Palace was not even half full at this time. they put cloudy lights on the stage, you couldn’t see anything. The tension mounted. Then all of a sudden, the much anticipated moment arrived……everyone was on their feet. The screams came. There they were. Jimmy Page and Robert Plant. WOW.

Everything was surreal. Nothing existed except for the stage. They went right into The Wanton Song. After that, Bring It On Home came. Now, i will be honest…I might not get the setlist in order, actually I know I won’t. But I can tell you what I heard the best I can.

Now this next song, really helped get people going. Jimmy was flawless and totally awesome. Heartbreaker. This was one of the many, many, many highlights of the night for me. This was amazing. Pagey was perfect, and Robert’s voice was awesome. They both hopped around and did little dances, almost always smiling. Robert went from one side of the stage to the other, while Jimmy was just all over!

Ramble On and Walking Into Clarksdale were next, I am pretty sure. Everyone knew the Zeppelin songs and that was when everyone was wild, but when the material from the new album came on, no one seemed to care as much. So, as you can guess, everyone took their seats during those songs. Haha, except for me. I never sat down. At a few points, I was the only one in my section standing. It was awesome.

I can’t remember the order of the songs but I think No Quarter was next. Oh, this was awesome. Robert sounded as young as ever and it was amazing! The organ wasn’t the same without JPJ, but sounded great! the place calmed down a bit when Shining In The Light came on. It didn’t matter, it was great.

For the next song, Robert and Jimmy both sat down. We knew something was coming. It was the beautiful Going To California. I was stunned at how Page could play. I mean yeah, I always knew he was great, but when you see him play. It just settles in your mind more. I was just blown away at his onstage talent. and several other songs made me feel the same way.

Tangerine was next I think. This was also a highlight. You never think much about this song, I mean yes you do, but when you hear it live…..it just grabs you.

Now when you want to get Detroit to rock…you play this song. I have never seen a reaction to music like I did this song. And I was extremely, I mean extremely in awe with Jimmy on guitar. It was perfect!!! Wondering the song yet? Gallows Pole all the way. That was the real start to the show. Everyone was on their feet for this one. It was rocking so hard in there, you could just feel it.

If this was planned it was smart…they played Heart In Your Hand, next off of the Walking Into Clarksdale album. Everybody calmed down a lot, but still had that energy. It was a show watching the crowd.

I leaned down and mentioned to my friend that I really really wanted to hear Babe I’m Gonna Leave You. Well guess what came on next? Oh, I was flipping out. It was wonderful. The place was rocking. When the song picks up and gets going you could see people headbanging all over the arena in the lights. It was awesome and so energetic. People were rocking. And it never stopped. Ever.

Now, this tune was wild also. It was such a solid song. It was one of the best of the night. How Many More Times. Everyone was screaming and jumping around and going completely nuts. They had the lights flashing all around and everyone was singing along. Looking at people all you could see were arms flying around. It gave you goosebumps to see all the Zeppelin fans there. It was unconceivable.

The First release off of the walking Into Clarksdale album, Most High followed How Many More Times. Once again, people calmed down quite considerably. Yet, since the night was wild most everyone stayed up and cheered and screamed. But, not as many people sang along. Haha, too many late say zep fans I guess.

The Encore:
The encore was next and was very well rehearsed. They went into each song very smoothly and did a flawless job in my ears. The main song which started and ended the encore, was the most wild song of the entire night besides Gallows Pole. This was Whole Lotta Love. Everyone just went crazy singing. It was wild. And everyone was still jumping around and the younger generation was headbanding. It was awesome. There were really three main songs in the encore. But Whole Lotta Love was the highlight. And the solo…oh, my. That solo rocked the building.

The “almost” end:
Robert said his goodbye and said how Detroit rocked and he was honored to play here. He said it was fun, but it was time to go. Jimmy had a huge smile on his face and he waved and just looked at the crowd in awe. (though he’d seen so much bigger in his life) And then….they were gone. Everyone screamed. I mean it was loud and rockin’. Everyone had their lighters up and. No one was leaving. Soon, everyone chanted

“We want more, we want more, we want more”. And everyone started to stomp and jump up and down. The lights were still off..we knew they’d be back. And a little less than 10 minutes…they were.

The Finale:
Robert came back out with an alcoholic beverage in his hand and everyone just went freaking crazy. And Jimmy also…wow they were back. Robert mumbled something but the crowd was too loud for anyone to hear. Then they did something I thought was unexpected…they didn’t do a hard rocking song like i though. They did Thank You. Oh, gosh, the emotions that came with that song. It was the end and we all knew it. Maybe not the end of the show but the end of the night. It all kind of set in our minds. I stood but didn’t move. I just thought and savored every minute of that song. Tears came to my eyes. It was the emotional highlight of the night.

But of course our boys couldn’t let the night end like that…the lights were placed on the drum set. And then we heard it. The place roared. For the grand finale, they played the ever so energetic Rock And Roll. It was crazy. It was awesome. Jimmy jumped around and did this leg kick that you used to see him do 20 years ago. The crowd just loved it. And he had the biggest smile. Robert put the mic towards the audience for the “lonely, lonely, lonely….time”. And everyone just screamed the lyrics. He did that everytime except for the last verse, he sang and so did we. It was incredible. Everyone at that concert was One. Everyone had the same feelings and emotions. We all knew what the other was feeling…haha well not all of us. Anyways, they played the drum ending like Bonzo used to do, just this was an extended one. It was awesome, it was loud and it was exactly like it used to sound so long ago. And jimmy came in for the end of the drum solo and the show was over.

The Goodbyes:
Everyone on stage was in smiles. Everyone. They all gathered together and bowed to the center, left and right. They said their goodnights and we all knew it was over. And they left. It was the last time i saw Jimmy Page and Robert Plant. The crowed roared and screamed. I danced around and embarrassed whoever was near. I didn’t care.

It was the best night of my life…

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April 3, 2013 Posted by | Jimmy Page & Robert Plant Detroit 1998 | | Leave a comment

Led Zeppelin The 1975 World Tour (Montreal, February 1975)

zep_75worldtourFrom collectorsmusicreviews.com

The Forum, Montreal, Quebec, Canada – February 6th, 1975

Disc 1: Rock & Roll, Sick Again, Over The Hills And Far Away, In My Time Of Dying, The Song Remains The Same, The Rain Song, Kashmir

Disc 2: No Quarter, Trampled Underfoot, Moby Dick

Disc 3: Dazed & Confused (incl. San Francisco), Stairway To Heaven, Whole Lotta Love, Black Dog, Heartbreaker

Led Zeppelin’s February 6th concert in Montreal surfaced first on vinyl with at least three different releases. The first was The 1975 World Tour on the Kornyophone label (TAKRL 2960) followed by Montreal 75 (Phoenix) and by Legerdomain (Kornyphone).

On compact disc it has appeared on When The Levee Breaks World Tour 1975 on TNT (TNT-920122~24) along with “When The Levee Breaks”, “The Wanton Song’, and “How Many More Times” from the January 20th, Chicago tape, The 1975 World Tour by Cobra Standard Series (020) packaged in a mini LP replica of the TAKRL release, and Canadian Graffiti on Black Rose (BR-001-2).

Empress Valley’s The 1975 World Tour is the first commercial release of this show in more than a decade. They use the common tape used on all other previous releases with the addition of cheering before “Rock And Roll” which sounds to be authentic. Much has been said about the fake stereo panning effect plaguing this tape since its first incarnation on vinyl and it is here too.

It was produced during the actual recording of the show and there is no way to avoid the annoyance but on the whole the tape is good to very good and clear. Luckily the taper used it sparingly during the more “exciting” moments of the show and during long stretches it is absent to allow us to enjoy the music. The tapers talk throughout the show and are just as annoying and make the same kind of moronic comments as the people who taped the New York shows.

Most of their comments are requests (“White Summer”, etc). During the long mellotron tune up for “Stairway To Heaven” this witty exchange is heard: Guy #1: “Gordon Haskell!” Guy #2: “Who is Gordon Haskell anyway?” Guy #1: “Who knows.” Guy #3: “That faggot on [King Crimson’s] Lizard.“ Guy #2 “[singing the Yes song] ‘To Be Over’…**belch**.” By their comments early on it sounds as if they were recording this specifically for a bootleg release!

But perhaps the biggest concern with this is the show itself is sub par. Plant’s voice is extremely hoarse and the band just sounds sluggish in the opening numbers. During “Over The Hills And Far Away” Page has a malfunction right when he begins his guitar solo.

John Paul Jones plays a funky bass under Plant’s “ooo yeahs” until Page can come to complete the solo. “Kashmir” sounds very muted and lacking in excitement. “No Quarter” really works though as does “Trampled Underfoot”.

“Dazed & Confused” is erratic with John Bonham getting lost in the middle, beginning the “Mars” section at the call-and-response part. The show ends strongly with a great “Stairway To Heaven” and encore section complete with explosions and an air raid siren going off after “Black Dog”.

Empress Valley use their big cardboard packaging case with a great cover photo and overall did a good job with The 1975 World Tour and this is recommended to those who want to hear the early weeks of this tour.

April 3, 2013 Posted by | Led Zeppelin The 1975 World Tour | , | Leave a comment

The Rolling Stones Tattoo You (1981)

51QeHiRUz8L__SL500_SS500_From donignacio.com

It’s not such a shocking thing to learn that a rock ‘n’ roll band had a vault full of unreleased material that didn’t make it on their previous albums. Most rock ‘n’ roll bands do that, I’d imagine. But it really says something about The Rolling Stones that they had material this good just sitting around! I mean, much of this stuff would have sounded great on their respective albums. Some might have even been substantial hits! Geez, can you think of any other rock band that would let such a piping-hot riff like “Start Me Up” lay around collecting dust for more than two weeks? I can’t! All things considered, though, it’s just as well that these songs wouldn’t see the light of day until 1981. The good people of 1981 definitely needed an album like this. It restored everyone’s faith in rock ‘n’ roll! Briefly.

It starts off with that powerhouse classic “Start Me Up,” which is such a widely known song that even I recognize it from my childhood, which I spent living under a rock. It has all the makings of a great pop-rock classic: the verses are just as catchy as the chorus, the guitars are crunchy and terrific, and Jagger’s vocals are thrilling. …Jagger claims that song was originally conceived as a reggae, but you wouldn’t know that by listening to it. Thank goodness it wasn’t! That song is considered a massive classic and for very good reason.

This is also the album with “Waiting For a Friend” on it, which isn’t one of the Stones’ most celebrated ballads, but it definitely should be. I never remember The Stones sounding so dang warm before! The instruments are very soft and sweet, Jagger’s vocal performance is beautiful, and the melody is really easy to take to heart. Usually their ballads are bittersweet or cynical, but … geez, that song just makes you want to grab the person nearest you and give them a big ol’ hug. It takes a lot for me to say that, because touching people gives me the willies! According to Wikipedia, The Stones were performing that song as early as 1970, and only God knows why they didn’t actually release this since it would have sold millions. Maybe its sheer good-heartedness wasn’t consistent with their image? I don’t know. But this is a great treat for anyone who hasn’t given it a listen yet!

“Hang Fire” is an incredibly catchy pop-rocker that was left off of Some Girls, and it would have absolutely thrived on that album. The riff is tight and infectious, and Jagger adopts that utterly enjoyable growl to his lead vocals. “Slave” is jammy blues-rock that dates from Black and Blue and features Jeff Beck on lead guitar. (Apparently Jeff Beck had auditioned to be in The Stones! … I was not aware of that!) It’s a very captivating song, and it’s catchier than a cactus. “Black Limousine” is more straightforward blues, and it proves exactly why The Rolling Stones were always considered masters at the stuff. It’s performed well, the melody is memorable without resorting to cliches, and it’s a whole lot of fun to listen to. Do I need to say anything else?

“Tops” is a song that dates from Goats Head Soup and it even features some extensive guitar work from Mick Taylor. (I guess Jagger and Richards were still a little peeved that Taylor left them since they didn’t give Taylor credit for it!) Anyway, that’s another one of the album’s main highlights; it’s a loud, gritty and catchy ballad that has more attitude than 98 percent of bands could generate over the course of their entire careers. Man!!! “Heaven” is the album’s odd-duck, a trippy and atmospheric ballad that surprisingly puts my brain right to the title-location. I would have thought that was something that dated from Goats Head Soup, but nope! That, along with the fun pop-rock ditty “Neighbors,” is the only song that was newly written.

…Oh man, Tattoo You is one of those rare albums where everything is a great song, and I have a hard time figuring out what I want to talk about! I haven’t yet mentioned Keith Richards’ infectious “Little T&A” and the noble ballad “Worried About You” yet, and it seems like I should have! (I also haven’t mentioned the ballad “No Use in Cryin’,” but that’s my least favorite song on here, so I don’t have to mention it. …OK, I just mentioned it, but I didn’t have to mention it, you see!) You definitely wouldn’t expect an album full of leftovers to be this great, but it seriously eclipses most of their ’70s albums. And that’s saying something. This is also considered the last great Rolling Stones album, and I definitely agree with that assessment.

April 3, 2013 Posted by | The Rolling Stones Tattoo You | | Leave a comment

Led Zeppelin It’s Time To Travel Again (Brussels, January 1975)

zep_time_travelFrom collectorsmusicreviews.com

Vorst Nationaal, Brussels, Belgium – January 12th, 1975

Disc 1 (47:43): Rock And Roll, Sick Again, Over The Hills And Far Away, When The Levee Breaks, The Song Remains The Same, The Rain Song, Kashmir

Disc 2 (60:12): The Wanton Song, No Quarter, Trampled Underfoot, In My Time Of Dying, Stairway To Heaven, Whole Lotta Love, Black Dog, Communication Breakdown

Led Zeppelin took their first real break from live performance in the latter half of 1973 and 1974. They established their record label Swan Song and recorded Physical Graffiti and intended to tour the world several times over in 1975. The return to live activity were two low key shows in Europe. The first was January 11th in Rotterdam in the Netherlands and the second was January 13th in Brussels, Belgium. No tape currently circulates for the first but two tape sources exist for the second.

It’s Time To Travel Again is one of three silver pressings of this show. The first is Operation Moonbeam(Tarantura Belgium-1, 2) and after TDOLZ Empress Valley included it as part of Belgian Triple (EVSD- 232-237), a six disc set with the 1972 and 1980 shows at the same venue. These two titles are rare and expensive which makes the TDOLZ an affordable alternative.

Although all the songs are present and are virtually complete, there are several very minor cuts scattered throughout the show. There is a cut twenty-seven seconds in “Rock And Roll,” at 4:29 in “The Rain Song” and one immediately afterwards, one forty-seven seconds into “Kashmir” and a cut at the very end eliminating the very final note, one at 11:22 in “No Quarter” and immediately afterwards and one after “Stairway To Heaven.”

The show is very short, lasting under two hours, and lacks any major epics such as “Dazed And Confused” or “Moby Dick.” But this was a chance to introduce live arrangements to the new songs. It begins with “Rock And Roll” which segues into “Sick Again,” played for the second time live (assuming it was premiered the previous evening in Rotterdam).

“It is very nice to be back in Brussels again,” Plant greets the audience. “We have been very busy for eighteen months, but we do not play very much. This is the second concert in nearly two years for Led Zeppelin… maybe that’s good for you, and maybe it ain’t. This is…we’re gonna do new songs from the new LP Physical Graffiti, which comes out soon.” Bonham begins to bang out the introduction to “When The Levee Breaks,” but stops when he realizes he’s a song too early in the set. Page then starts “Over The Hills And Far Away” and the band follow with a sloppy version of the piece.

“When The Levee Breaks” is introduced as “one we really always enjoyed and we finally got around to playing.” This was probably the second ever performance of the song which would be dropped after the first couple of shows in Chicago on the US tour.

“The Song Remains The Same” and “The Rain Song” sound much more confident and tighter than the previous songs. But “Kashmir” sounds tentative and they miss a cue early on. They quickly catch themselves, but are unsteady throughout the duration of the song. This is followed another new song from Physical Graffiti “The Wanton Song” which is called “another song of lust. A little habit I picked up after meeting Phil Carson, one of my idols.” Of all the new songs in the set this fares the best.

“No Quarter” sounds just like the compact and intense arrangements on the previous tour. The follow two new songs, “Trampled Underfoot” and especially “In My Time Of Dying” sound very good on this tape. The latter is so intense that it wakes up the audience who give it a very loud ovation at the end. “So how do the new ones feel, OK? You’re fired” Plant asks afterwards.

“Stairway To Heaven” is installed as the new set closer. Led Zeppelin reward Brussels with two encores. The first is “Whole Lotta Love” and segue into “Black Dog” and a rare 1975 version of “Communication Breakdown” with a funk interlude featuring Plant’s “I don’t feel it” interjections.

It’s Time To Travel Again is packaged in a single pocket cardboard sleeve. The front has a picture of Jimmy Page taken at Earls Court playing the guitar with the violin bow (ironic since there is no such solo in this show), and the back a photo of the band on the tour plane flying to the US for the tour. This show isn’t essential for all collectors, but Zeppelin collectors would enjoy hearing the Physical Graffiti songs when they were first introduced for the stage. This is a common, affordable edition of the show worth having.

April 3, 2013 Posted by | Led Zeppelin It's Time To Travel Again | , | Leave a comment

Led Zeppelin A Young Person’s Guide To Led Zeppelin (Earl’s Court, May 1975)

zep_youngpersonsguideFrom collectorsmusicreviews.com

Earl’s Court, London, England – May 25th, 1975

Disc 1 (63:43): Intro by Alan Freeman, Rock And Roll, Sick Again, Over The Hills And Far Away, In My Time Of Dying, The Song Remains The Same, The Rain Song, Kashmir

Disc 2 (63:38): No Quarter, Tangerine, Going To California, That’s The Way, Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp, Trampled Underfoot

Disc 3 (75:24): Moby Dick, Dazed And Confused, Stairway To Heaven

Disc 4 (31:32): Whole Lotta Love, Black Dog, Heartbreaker, Communication Breakdown

Led Zeppelin’s fifth of five concerts at Earl’s Court is one of their longest and most emotional they delivered. Earl’s Court were the first shows they performed in England for more than two years and would be the final for a while (“who knows, there’s always the eighties” Plant says in his introductory remarks).

A mediocre audience recording circulated for many years and a small fragment of the video soundtrack also existed but five years ago Empress Valley began their “soundboard revolution” by releasing an almost complete, excellent quality soundboard recording in their massive Demand Unprecedented box set covering all five shows over twenty-two discs.

The label subsequently released the final night separately as Zeppelin Physical Express Rocket (EVSD-109/110/111/112) in a quad jewel case.

Afterwards the Watchtower label released their version of the soundboard tape that garnered universal praise on Conquistador (WT-2002097/98/99/100), which was a significant improvement over the Empress Valley with the sound quality being much more clear and with no traces of background noise. That release is rightly said to be among the top ten Zeppelin bootleg releases of all time.

Empress Valley followed Watchtower with When We Were Kings (EVSD – 256/257/258/259) a year later just in time for Christmas along with a new version of the May 24th soundboard Earl’s Court Arena 2405 Evoluzione. To most ears the second editions sound extremely close to their Watchtower equivalents. Both of these titles proved to be very popular and sold out quickly making them very difficult to find.

With Young Person’s Guide To Led Zeppelin (the title obviously inspired by Benjamin Britten) Empress Valley offer a second chance to pick up the final night in an extremely affordable edition.

The catalogue number for this release is identical to When We Were Kings and that title is even printed on the discs themselves and the spine. Little effort was made on the artwork with the common acoustic set photo on the front, a copy of the poster on the back and stark black inserts on the inside with the track listings.

They also did not use the thick glossy paper used for their other releases. But the artwork is reasonable and clean and is not that important compared to the contents of the discs themselves. It is the same excellent quality, mind-blowing recording as before and is a worthy upgrade to those who were not able to afford the high price asked for both the earlier Empress Valley and Watchtower editions.

When this tape first surfaced it caused a re-evaluation of the concert itself. Before it was considered a good but tired end of a very long series of concerts. It is now considered to be one of the better shows they ever performed. Certainly it is one of the longest, clocking in at almost four hours. Knowing it would be their last show for a while (and the interim was much longer than expected given Plant’s accident), they make this a special performance.

The first two hours of the show must be among the most energetic in the mid-seventies. The sequence of “The Song Remains The Same”, “The Rain Song”, and one of the best ever renditions of “Kashmir” ever, is phenomenal and is followed by a classic “No Quarter”.

The opening riff to the future Presence track “Tea For One” prefaces “Tangerine”. “Trampled Underfoot” is very heavy and was used for the official DVD. “Dazed & Confused”, a song that dates from the band’s infancy (as Plant pointed out for years) is played for the final time and it is a shame they play such a poor version.

Page sounds very tired by this point and makes very obvious mistakes which he doesn’t even try to cover up.

Things do recover for “Stairway To Heaven” and the band give the audience a half hour’s worth of encores with Plant throwing in “D’yer M’ker” in “Communication Breakdown”. 1975 was Led Zeppelin at their heaviest and this stunning evidence of that. Given the asking price this is a good opportunity for an upgrade for this great concert.

April 3, 2013 Posted by | Led Zeppelin A Young Person's Guide To Led Zeppelin | , | Leave a comment

Lynyrd Skynyrd Pronounced Leh-Nerd Skin-Nerd (1973)

MI0001750419From sfloman.com

Al Kooper’s greatest contribution to rock was not magically delivering the keyboard intro to “Like a Rolling Stone,” spearheading the influential first Blood, Sweat & Tears and Super Session albums, or rescuing The Zombies’ Odessey and Oracle from the scrap heap, among his numerous accomplishments.

Rather, it was discovering and then nurturing the talents of Lynyrd Skynyrd (he produced their first three albums), one of the greatest American rock bands of the seventies and probably the second greatest “Southern rock” band ever (after the Allman Brothers Band, of course).

Named after a gym teacher they loathed (named Leonard Skinner), these redneck ruffians came through with a hard-nosed classic right from the gate, not the least because of the 9-minute “Freebird,” one of rock’s signature songs (fittingly written in tribute to the late great Duane Allman) and the ultimate extended guitar epic.

Starting off touchingly lyrical – love the Hammond organ, weepy guitars, and group leader Ronnie Van Zant’s soulful lead vocals – but then turning fast and furious, the song showcases Skynyrd’s stun gun drumming (Bob Burns) and especially their signature multi-guitar attack (Allen Collins and Gary Rossington plus Ed King on bass), who duel unmercifully until the listener can’t help but be exhausted yet thrilled at the same time.

Sure, the song is seriously over-played, and yeah it can be annoying hearing some drunk numbskull shout out “Freebird” at damn near every concert, but if you don’t think that this song is one of rock’s all-time anthems, well you’re just flat-out wrong! Nah, you’re entitled to your opinion, but that’s certainly my opinion, and though that song alone ensures this album of classic status, there are two other A+ caliber tracks that I consider all-time classics of their type.

The soulful, mournful, bluesy ballad “Tuesday’s Gone” is another great epic-scale track (7:30) that shows the band (with help from Kooper) to be far more sophisticated (both musically and lyrically) than generally given credit for, while the excellent power ballad “Simple Man” honestly and heartwarmingly states a mother’s simple wish for the son that she loves.

Man, if everybody would just heed his mom’s words of wisdom the world would be a much better place, and both of these tracks move me immensely, it’s as simple as that.

The rest of the album can’t keep pace with those terrific tunes, but not for a lack of trying, as album opener “I Ain’t The One” and later “Poison Whiskey” present a pair of agreeably tough, hard-hitting rockers.

The catchy n’ clever “Gimme Three Steps” is also extremely catchy even if it’s also overplayed like several tracks here (courtesy of classic rock radio) and a bit too redneck-y. Still, contrary to widespread belief, Lynyrd Skynyrd often presented a thinking man’s brand of hard rock by virtue of singer Ronnie Van Zant’s hard won lyrics.

True, they do at times succumb to bouts of machismo (“Mississippi Kid” and the aforementioned “Poison Whiskey,” for example), but the tuneful barrelhouse piano (Billy Powel) on “Things Goin’ On” and the mandolin on “Mississippi Kid” (probably the two weakest tracks but both are still pretty good) attest to a rarely acknowledged versatility, as all of the band’s considerable strengths were already readily apparent on this classic debut album.

April 3, 2013 Posted by | Lynyrd Skynyrd Pronounced Leh-Nerd Skin-Nerd | | Leave a comment

Supertramp Breakfast In America (1979)

114875046From ultimate-guitar.com

To me this was always one of the most introverted albums about so much happening. Its one part catchy and one part thematic. It combined everything Supertramp had at that time and not only made them a good rock band but a very strong progressive rock band that defied everything people tried to label them.

Although they had very strong releases from previous albums, “Breakfast” would sadly prove to be the last for Supertramp within the turmoil band conflicts. However at the turn of the 1980’s this would be a great opening soundtrack for a generation.

Lyrics and Singing: This is one the most self-reflectioned albums ever recorded. The songs were like mini movies and they come off not only strong lyrical wise but musically as well. Its dark and brooding but the opening “Gone Hollywood” showed a band disillusioned with corporations and the not so idyllic lifestyle of nomadic rock stars.

“The Logical Song” is one of the most memorable tracks off the album being written by Roger Hodgson. Its a everyday coming of age story for every young person. Its pretty deep about the loss of naivety and belief in a young person’s life only to see the cruel reality. Ever the truth in such strong words. “Goodbye Stranger” is another one of those character studies you see in a movie but this time its a powerful song.

Davies seemed to rival his songwriting partner on this album and it really shows because I really dug into this album well. From what Hodgson says the title track “Breakfast in America” was written many years before the band even recorded. He said it went through many changes before the final attempt was recorded on here being in its masterpiece. Its full of hooks and catchy lyrics well worth the admission.

“Oh Darling” and “Casual Conversations” were more pop oriented ballads written by Davies and balances the album out nicely with the more introverted songs. Its nice to hear some lighter subjects and not always about the character in mind or what’s in your head kinda songs. For me the personal favs were “Take The Long Way Home” and “Lord Is It Mine” both seem to echo about something deep inside of us. Its borderline spiritual and at the same time nothing more than a complex song about who we are and the need to search within ourselves for something, anything.

Sometimes I come home from work and throw this album on and skip to these 2 songs. I guess relating to the words and songs people write make others think about the simple things and life and the difficult things are what we hope are just a passing phase.

Anyhow back to the article, Rick Davies also rivals his partner again with his composition “Just Another Nervous Wreck”. It seems almost self-biographical in it tells about the rise and fall (about to fall) of the band and Davies’ friendship with Hodgson didn’t seem to go well. Finally we get the closing track “Child Of Vision” and its part jazzy and part pop rock. Something about this final track alone makes you know that the band was coming to an end.

Its brooding and dark but at the same time offer a final glimpse of what the band was capable of. I like it but there’s a lot to think about when something good comes to an end. I don’t know why this album is almost forgotten but its an important reminder for most of us who still think and interact with other people. From what I see I don’t think most people ever sit down and self-reflect or ponder about what life is about.

This is a great album by Supertramp and its also the last of the classic ones to feature Roger Hodgson before he left the band in 1983. The songs aren’t as thematic as “Crime Of The Century” but they still hold their weight on some self reflecting lyrics. I’d say its on par with “Even In The Quietest” but more radio friendly and commercial than “Crisis What Crisis”. I wouldn’t change a thing about this album because the band worked hard to leave a substantial piece of work behind.

This is the one where you put the cassette tape in turn up loud on a bad day stare at the sky at night.

April 3, 2013 Posted by | Supertramp Breakfast In America | | Leave a comment

Crazy Horse Crazy Horse (1970)

MI0000642501From sfloman.com

One of the great lost albums of the ‘70s, this debut album by Neil Young’s backing band should greatly appeal to anyone who likes Neil’s early ‘70s albums. “Gone Dead Train” immediately sets the pace with a loose, chugging groove and the band’s ragged but right harmonies, while “Dance, Dance, Dance” is an even catchier, fiddle-led sing along.

“Look At All The Things” exemplifies the album’s hauntingly moody quality, while the band then gets gritty on the intense “Beggars Day.”

I personally think that the band’s beautifully affecting version of “I Don’t Want To Talk About It” blows away Rod Stewart’s later hit version, and “Downtown” provides another sing along that’s so catchy that it’s easy to forget about its deadly serious subject matter (ominously, it’s about scoring drugs).

“Carolay” is another melodic if less memorable composition with a singable chorus, and though the band falters in the songwriting department on “Dirty, Dirty,” the song is still worth hearing for guest Ry Cooder’s stinging slide guitar playing. “Nobody” is another excellent, funky little rocker with intensity aplenty, and “I’ll Get By” delivers an optimistic message with another timeless melody.

Most of these succinct songs are driven by dual guitars, the band’s forceful rhythm section, and tasteful piano support from co-producer Jack Nitzsche (who also wrote or co-wrote three songs and unfortunately sings the countryish “Crow Jane Lady,” which still has its moments).

Neil Young also supplied the band with two songs (“Dance, Dance, Dance” and “Downtown,” the latter a co-write that later appeared on his own Tonight’s The Night) and Nils Lofgren, who contributed two songs (“Beggars Day” and “Nobody”) and a strong second guitarist, while Ry Cooder provides slide guitar support on three songs.

Thanks for all the help, guys, but the true star here is Danny Whitten, who wrote or co-wrote five songs, played lead guitar, and sang most of the songs. Although not a technically “good” singer, Whitten had a ragged vulnerability to his twangy voice that greatly moves me. Unfortunately, his voice would forever be silenced a year later as a result of a heroin overdose.

The band continued without him with dramatically reduced results, and in 1975 Frank Sampedro permanently replaced Whitten’s guitar and they again asserted themselves as one of rock’s all-time great backing bands. However, Whitten’s uniquely sad voice and strong songwriting skills were never replaced.

Had he lived, Crazy Horse might be remembered as a great band rather than a great backing band.

April 3, 2013 Posted by | Crazy Horse Crazy Horse | | Leave a comment

Led Zeppelin It’ll Be Me (LA Forum, June 1977)

ledzep-itFrom collectorsmusicreviews.com

Forum, Los Angeles, CA – June 26th, 1977

Disc 1 (73:06): The Song Remains The Same, Sick Again, Nobody’s Fault But Mine, Over The Hills And Far Away, Since I’ve Been Loving You, No Quarter

Disc 2 (65:21): Ten Years Gone, The Battle Of Evermore, Going To California, That’s Alright / Black Country Woman / Bron-Y-Aur Stomp, White Summer / Black Mountain Side, Kashmir, Out On The Tiles / Moby Dick

Disc 3 (52:11): guitar solo, Achilles Last Stand, Stairway To Heaven, It’ll Be Me

Led Zeppelin’s fifth out of six nights in the Los Angeles Forum in 1977 is one of the more obscure shows. Overshadowed by the Eddie and Badgeholders concerts, it is even less well known than the forth and sixth nights since it lacks a brilliant Mike Millard recording. Only the second night has fewer silver releases and only one that is truly worth having.

The fifth night was first pressed on silver by Tarantura on That’s Alright (Tarantura T19CD-13~16) part of their massive boxset covering the entire series of Los Angeles concerts. It was followed a year later by Sundazed (Silver Rarities SIRA203/204/205), the first solo release. It was also included in Empress Valley Badgeholders boxset released several year ago.

It’ll Be Me on TDOLZ was also part of a boxset, Pride And Glory covering the LA shows. But TDOLZ also issued the title alone making it very accessible. Show starts off with an alternate source covering the first four minutes and forty seconds of “The Song Remains The Same” before the main tape is edited in for the rest of the show. The alternate tape, which may not even be from this show, is very thin and and tinny sounding.

The main source is louder and more clear and listenable but slightly distant with hints of distortion. It is enjoyable on some levels but isn’t up to the standard as the other shows in this week. There are cuts at 4:04 in “No Quarter,” a small cut during Plant’s introduction to “Ten Years Gone,” and an enormous one in “Moby Dick” omitting most of the actual drum solo but leaving the opening and closing instrumentals. There is also a strange digital flaw in the guitar solo between 18:54 and 19:19 and a cut at 21:03.

It is a shame the sound quality isn’t as good as the others because this is a very energetic show starting with quick versions of “The Song Remains The Same,” ”Sick Again” and, after apologizing to the audience for being “so many months late,” “Nobody’s Fault But Mine.”

Before “Over The Hills And Far Away” Plant continues the badgeholders references begun earlier in the week: “anybody been to any of the other concerts? So right now you’re familiar with the term to be a badgeholder, right? You’ve heard that before. Have you heard that before? Right. To be a badgeholder is to be someone’s loved one and to hold a badge and tonight we’d like to dedicate this next song to Mr. Richard Cole our tour manager who got us into all the trouble in the first place who hasn’t got a badgeholder.” The following song “Since I’ve Been Loving You” is “a blues for badgeholders.”

The long “No Quarter” improvisation lasts past a half hour and like the others in Los Angeles can be considered among the best. John Paul Jones plays nice, melodic themes during the grand piano section before Jimmy Page comes in with the guitar to lead it to the more traditional doom and gloom. Plant frequently would describe this piece as a journey which has its ups and downs and this rendition is good at emphasizing the two.

Plant becomes very chatty while they’re setting up Jones’s three necked guitar for “Ten Years Gone,” explaining how “when you play so many concerts in one town it gets a little bit laid back. You start joking amongst yourselves. You start talking to each other on stage. You know what I mean? John Paul has a little sleep in between songs, but then it becomes a little more human though, doesn’t it? You know what I mean don’t you?”

Introduction “The Battle Of Evermore” is another excuse to get into some of Led Zeppelin’s history with Plant explaining: “You may or may not realize when we formed in 1968, which is probably before some of you were born, we stared on the first album by applying acoustic material like ‘Babe I’m Gonna Leave You’ and ‘Your Time Is Gonna Come.’ And on the second album with things like ‘Ramble On.’ And when we started touring America we introduced an acoustic set into the program but as time went on we got so involved with other aspects of the music that we found that we couldn’t squeeze it in.”

The band are very loose this night and play close to a full version of “That’s Alright Mama” before “Black Country Woman.” The latter half of the show becomes extremely devastating with “Kashmir” sounding like a pile driver on stage. Page extends the guitar solo past twenty minutes with many and various riffs and themes thrown in before it segues into a wild version of “Achilles Last Stand.”

“Stairway To Heaven” closes the show and for the encore, instead of the “Whole Lotta Love” and “Rock And Roll” medley, they cover Jerry Lee Lewis’ “It’ll Be Me” which Plant jokes is “something off the new album that’s coming out” which is “predominantly conceived with the question of badges which of course all of LA is fully aware of.”

Someone on the official forum claimed they played a primitive version of “Carouselambra.” But how one can confuse a cover of an old rock and roll tune with the new wave synth epic from In Through The Outdoor isn’t entirely clear. Overall It’ll Be Me is a great title to have. Despite it’s limitations it is enjoyable to listen to and a good alternative to the more well known shows from this week. TDOLZ package this in a single pocket cardboard sleeve instead of employing a gatefold sleeve or jewel case. It’s nice looking, but this label were maddeningly inconsistent when it came to packaging.

April 3, 2013 Posted by | Led Zeppelin It'll Be Me | , | Leave a comment

Genesis Archives 1967-75 (1996)

3944From donignacio.com

1998 must have been a red letter year for true-blue, Genesis fans. The five titans of the group, Peter Gabriel, Phil Collins, Steve Hackett, Tony Banks, and Michael Rutherford, got together and assembled this awesome, four-disc box set. The first three discs predominantly contain material taken from live shows (that weren’t also included on Genesis Live).

Part of the third disc and all of the fourth disc contain non-album singles, demos, and an assortment of early, unreleased songs. There are 52 songs on this collection in total. Indeed, sitting through this album is a project. However, speaking as someone who not only listened to this entire collection, but wrote a track review for every single one of them, I’ll tell you…… I had a blast!

The first thing you should note about it is that the first two discs contain a live rendition of the entire rock opera, The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. They play its songs very similarly to how they were played in the studio album. It’s a valid criticism that it makes it a pointless collection to own, because it’s essentially an inferior version of it.

…However, I appreciate it, because I like to marvel that they were able to capture so many of those delicate textures from the album in that live setting. (With that said, there were parts that had to be rerecorded in 1998 due to technical problems with the original recording. Notably for the album closer, “It,” Gabriel’s vocals had aged tremendously! Admittedly, it would have been better if they left it alone, but surely the soul of the original shows are still there in full display.) Steve Hackett fans should especially appreciate that he gets to shine a bit more here than he did in the studio cut.

But I’m not going to spend much time talking about the first two discs, because it’s the third disc where the highest concentration of goodies are. Its crown jewel is an entire live rendition of “Supper’s Ready,” a recording that probably should have been included on Genesis Live if only Genesis gave it the proper double album length. But anyway, hearing the band perform it live is fascinating to me, because it has nearly the same effect on me as its studio counterpart.

They were able to recreate that magic on stage? Wow. Those lucky people in the audience! I also love all the Selling England By the Pound selections including “Firth of Fifth,” “More Fool Me,” “I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe),” and my personal favorite, “Dancing With the Moonlit Knight.” All marvelous live renditions (But why did they cut out Tony Banks’ opening piano solo at the beginning of “Firth of Fifth?”)

With that said, probably the most interesting selections of this box set for most Genesis fans are the non-LP studio songs, because they’re brand new to many people. “Twilight Alehouse” was the B-side to “I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)” and it’s quite fantastic! I’d say it would have been a pretty weak fit on Selling England By the Pound, because the transition between its folky beginnings and that strange dance groove comes across as jarring to me.

Certainly it doesn’t develop as gracefully as all the other songs on that album. But anyway, it’s excellent to be able to hear another Genesis song from that era that I never heard before. “Happy the Man” sounds like an attempt for them to get a radio single in 1972. It’s a sweet, sunny pop-rocker with a nice melody… However, it takes a few awkward turns here and there, so it’s not much a shocker that it never took off.

All those early, pre-From Genesis to Revelation tracks on the final disc are certainly interesting to sit through. A few of them are demo versions of songs that would come up later in their discography, such as “In the Beginning,” “In the Wilderness,” and “Where the Sour Turns to Sweet.” But the majority of them had never been released before. Some of them can be quite interesting. “Going Out to Get You” is based on one of the weirdest piano grooves I’ve ever heard… It makes me think more of The Residents than Genesis!

…However, most of the other songs are very simplistic and shows these guys in their most formative years. Some of the material was even recorded as far back as 1967 when Peter Gabriel hadn’t developed confidence a singer yet, and Tony Banks seemed to always just want to pound blocky chords at a cheap sounding piano like an amateur. But I do admit I find these art-nerd teenagers charming! I wonder if they had even an inkling of what would lie ahead in their future?

About the album score, this one was really tough to determine since I believe this is the first time I ever reviewed a box set like this. I could have gone as high as a 13 on this just based on the overall quality of it, but I figure ratings as high as 13s should be reserved for albums. For now, a 12 seems like a perfectly reasonable score. It’s a wonderful collection that all Genesis fans will certainly treasure. If you’ve been sitting on the fence about acquiring it because its length intimidates you, then get off that fence. I was on it until recently, and I’m glad I have finally gotten off of it.

April 3, 2013 Posted by | Genesis Archives Vol 1 1967-1975 | | Leave a comment