Classic Rock Review

The home of old record and bootleg reviews…

The Doors LA Woman: The Workshop Sessions (2012)

51LIgTkWQdLFrom amazon.com

No this one isn’t just another reissue of the well known album but also one for the discerning Doors fans and collectors, featuring as it does different versions of 7 of the 10 tunes (exceptions being “Hyacinth House” (unfortunately as it is a beautiful song), “L’America” and “Crawling King Snake”) plus the unissued “She Smells so Nice”/Rock me Baby”. There’s also the image of Morrison crucified on a telegraph pole included with the early original vinyl issue on a poster and on the inner sleeve (referred to here as “Electric Woman”).

They were all recorded in The Doors Workshop at the time of the “LA Woman” sessions (hence the title of the double vinyl edition, “The Workshop Sessions” (which features only the alternate versions and unissued tunes). The quality of the alternative versions is, as one would expect, excellent of course and I’m surprised that they have never appeared before though that’s probably down to the cynical record company penchant for making maximum money off old material (not that I am a cynic myself, you understand).

Enough has been said about the original album so I’ll concentrate here on the alternative versions. I haven’t actually compared any of them to the originals, merely listened to the unreleased ones and said what comes to mind, but I can say with certainty that most of the alternate versions are less polished than those used on the album and, indeed, sound at times like demos at times rather than alternate takes or versions. One does, in fact, mention the take number, which probably means that none of them are actually demos. Studio chat features too.

“The Changeling”, which Jim tells the band is his favourite number, is longer at nearly 5 minutes and powers along at around the same speed as the album version but with a different keyboard riff. It is, perhaps, more powerful and certainly bluesier with more raucous lead guitar. A few bum notes slip in but do not spoil the overall feel of the song.

“Love Her Madly” features a lazier Morrison vocal with different lyrics and a totally different keyboard section in the middle.

“Been Down So Long” is probably the least different alternative, much the same as the album version apart from being a bit rougher and longer.

The slow, dirty, blues of “Cars Hiss by My Window” seems to feature somewhat more prominent guitar than the LP version and is 30 seconds longer.

“LA Woman” meanwhile features different lead guitar riffs and a weird bit of extra vocalising brings it to a sudden end at 8.45.

“The WASP (Texas Radio and the Big Beat)” features different lyrics and is 1.20 longer than the album version but this comprises a cacophony of jazzy guitar and drums with no discernible tune. There’s an instrumental version thrown in too.

Clocking in at 2 minutes longer than the original, “Riders on the Storm” could have been the jewel in the crown here, were it not for the fact that the extra time is occupied by a throw away Morrison ditty, false start and chat occupying the first 2 minutes plus a somewhat flat Morrison vocal, especially evident at the start of the tune proper.

Finally, music-wise, you get the addition of an actual unreleased song, “She Smells so Nice”, which morphs into “Rock Me”, but both are pretty much of filler or single B side standard and it`s no wonder they were not used on the “LA Woman” album proper or indeed anywhere else.

As stated earlier this 2 LP 180 gram vinyl version features only the alternative versions spread over 3 sides. The lyrics of the original versions of the alternative songs are etched onto side 4. The gatefold sleeve features a largely white mock up of the “LA Woman” sleeve with recording details, credits and a replica of the striking image of a naked Morrison crucified on a telegraph pole that came as a poster and on the yellow inner sleeve of early copies the original vinyl LP (mine’s in the loft). Though the image is referred to as “Electric Woman” on a set packaging sticker, I always understood it to be Morrison and it does look like it could be him.

For the current price, 3 sides of music in a gatefold sleeve seems like pretty good value. Buy it this way if you still have a record deck and do not want another copy of “LA Woman” on CD.

I fail to understand why the other reviewer gave this 2* rating and inferred Rhino had screwed up again based on the sole comment of a lack of the promised etched image on side 4. Rhino’s Doors screw up was in the £100+ vinyl box issued a couple of years ago and not this. Just ignore the differing etchings and the 2* rating and enjoy the brilliant music.

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May 27, 2013 Posted by | The Doors LA Woman: The Workshop Sessions | | Leave a comment

Jeff Beck You Had It Coming (2001)

51vq0p1lEEL__SS500_From amazon.com

Review This album, as said by many other reviewers, is one of Jeff Beck’s best, and is one of guitar’s best as well. You Had It Coming pushes musical boundaries like none before it. People usually turn their heads when I tell them it’s techno oriented, but once I play it for them they run out to buy their own copy.

Anyone who thinks Jeff Beck is boring should listen to the first cut, Earthquake. The dynamics and tension are a nice touch, listen as the middle section is like the eye of the storm, calm, but then Jeff rips it apart with his awesome, awe-inspiring solo. Classic. Roy’s Toy is another highlight piece with a funky groove (think “A Day in the House” from Guitar Shop, only even cooler).

For motorheads such as myself, this song has an extra bonus when we hear the 32 Ford roadster start up at the beginning and is used throughout the rest of the song. Jeff’s solo in this song is also quite inspiring and, simply, awesome. The next cut, Dirty Mind, is the single from the album. Jeff Beck’s wah pedal playing in this song is amoung the best I’ve ever heard. The technically staggering solo in the middle is the best wah wah solo that I’ve heard on an album.

Rollin’ and Tumblin’, the next song, features the soulful Imogene Heap on vocals. This awesome rendition of the song gives the Blues a new name. The solo section between Jeff and Imogene is very fun, awesome, and leaves you wondering how on earth Jeff Beck does it.

The next cut, Nadia, merits more detailed examination and we shall look it over in a little bit. Meanwhile, anyone who thinks they sound tough and menacing on their Strat (or any guitar, for that matter) should give Loose Cannon, the next song, a listen. The menacing riff in the beginning sets the tone for the whole song. The solos are also very mesmerizing, especially at the end where he hits two signature and totally Jeff Beck harmonics.

The sounds he gets out his simple Strat-Marshall setup are amazing. Rosebud is a funky piece with a groove and lick that will leave you humming and dancing afterwards. The next song, Left Hook, is among the best on the CD. Listen to the fade out… I can’t even explain it. You’ll have to listen for yourself, it’s that good. Blackbird/Suspension close this disc, and what an ending. The tone of album turns down a bit and is left with just Jeff, a bird, keyboards, and soft drums. Very emotional, as is all of Jeff’s playing, and very beautiful.

As I promised before we will now look at Nadia, the standout track of You Had It Coming. “Jeff’s signature tone is in full splendour here…” said another reviewer, and it is so true. Nadia will leave you scratching your head and asking yourself why you can’t get that kind of beauty out of your guitar. Not only is Nadia one of the most techincally difficult songs Jeff has ever done, it’s also one of the most beautiful. It’s just Jeff with keyboards and drums.

The up-tempo beat is also note worthy. You have to close your eyes when you listen to it to take it all in. Jeff switches amazingly between bottleneck and fingers, as well as doing whammy bar flutters. The sheer emotion of this track can bring a grown man to tears. Not much more can be said. Buy it and listen for yourself. I agree that Nadia is as good as Where Were You from Guitar Shop, and might even be better.

You Had It Coming is an awesome Jeff Beck album and is one of his best, if not the best, of his entire career.

Review Jeff Beck’s You Had It Coming is a great album. There is plenty of thick guitar tone and emotion to go around, and no one executes this the way Jeff Beck does. Mr. Beck also takes over most of the songwriting here, and it is nothing short of excellent. Overall, Jeff’s musicianship makes up for the whole record.

Once again, Jeff Beck proves he is the master of guitar. “Earthquake” is the perfect opener for an album of this genre, and Jeff’s ferocious guitar work leaves the listener either trying to do it himself or packing the guitar in forever (because no one’s as good as the master!). “Roy’s Toy” is the perfect song for the hot rodder (aka Motorhead) and Jeff’s guitar phrasing and tone do not disappoint. Great beat as well. Next we come to “Dirty Mind,” one of the highlights of the record.

This song is absolute wah bliss, and Jeff’s phrasing is amazing. He packs so much power and feeling within his playing and still manages to be technically amazing as well. “Rollin’ and Tumblin'” is the next track, and is perhaps the biggest surprise of the album. It is the only song on this album that features vocals, and Imogene Heap pulls them off with amazing skill. Her voice complements Jeff’s guitar quite nicely.

Next we come to “Nadia,” the climax of the record. “Nadia,” as said by many others, is the standout and is one Mr. Beck’s best tracks, ever. Everything fits here… his tone, his technique, his emotion, his delivery… this is the perfect guitar performance. It is not only astounding, it is also very beautiful, while not leaving you bored with a great beat backing Jeff up. An amazing song by an amazing guitar player that is worth the price of this album alone.

Truly a 5 star song. After “Nadia” comes “Loose Cannon,” another excellent song. If you think your guitar tone and playing is mean and tough, give a listen to “Loose Cannon.” Jeff tears up the fretboard, while adding emotional quality. The solo in the middle and end of the song leaves one wondering if Mr. Beck is actually a human. “Rosebud” dispells that, proving that he cannot be to pull off such a fine performance. Jeff still has funk in his blood, and “Rosebud” has one of the best melodies and beats on the album, and it is sure to get you dancing, as well as singing along with it afterwards. “Left Hook” is next, and is one of the best songs on the record.

Jeff’s playing on this track is so very excellent, especially toward the fadeout. I’m guilty of turning my stereo up every time to try to get every note that Mr. Beck throws in. The next song, “Blackbird,” features some of Jeff’s most awesome slide playing, ever. Here he jams along with a feathered friend, and neither disappoint the listener. “Suspension” is the closer of the disc, and is second best only to “Nadia.” Jeff’s playing is so emotional and graceful on this track, and the backing instruments really do a nice job of complementing the playing. Astounding.

Overall, this is one of Jeff Beck’s best, as well as one of rock guitar’s best.. ever!

May 27, 2013 Posted by | Jeff Beck You Had It Coming | | Leave a comment

Led Zeppelin Concert Memories: San Antonio Texas, August 15th 1969

lz19690815_01From Underground Uprising uuweb.led-zeppelin.us

San Antonio, TX. August ’69. It was nearing my birthday (Aug 15) and mom had taken me to North Star Mall (actually the second indoor mall in the U.S.). Now the world was different back then, especially in San Antonio. The AM radio did not carry any “concert info” and the “underground” FM stations, well they were on so late, how would I know.

Mom and I walked past a small record store that had a sign up announcing Led Zeppelin tix would go on sale that very day, indeed almost at that moment. No crowds, no fuss, no nothing. So mom got a pair of tix for me and a pal next door for my birthday. She or dad would drive the 20 miles into San Antonio and hang out while we went in. In those days, if our hair touched our eyebrows, ears, or collar, you were sent home for a haircut or suspended. I liked neither! So here I am 13 yrs old with a “bap” haircut and mom buying me tix.

She sprung for the good ones. Row H (whatever that meant). The big night. Guys at school are talking about this “new” sound that Zeppelin is putting out. Jethro Tull is kicking ass too. We go to the Hemisfair Arena and eventually get to our seats which we notice seem to be in the 8th row center!! What good luck!! I do not remember who opened but it was likely The Children or perhaps Bubble Puppy.

Next comes out Ian Anderson. Now I am already a “seasoned” drummer of 4 years and even taking lessons. In band and all at Junior High School. Anderson and crew looked like they stepped out of a Dickens novel, early English outfits, Martin Barre wearing powder all over his face looking dead. And Clive Bunker, the drummer, was just on fire. Ian spun his flute and danced, wow!! It was great!!

So now the wait for Led Zeppelin. My buddy and I got up and walked all around gripping our ticket stubs as though life depended on it (that night it did). Security was different then. Nobody hardly tried to go backstage except chicks. And there were only saw horses standing in your way at that. It is getting later. Finally I want to ask what is up. I see this long (long) haired fellow standing near the stage steps wearing jeans and ladies low heals!! I thought man these English are a bit gone.

So I ask him, “Say, man,” in my squeaky 13 year old voice, “is Led Zeppelin coming on soon?” He turns and pleasantly smiles and says, “Yeah–any minute now.” So we scurry back to our seats, now occupied by two groupies. We are scared shitty. These broads look serious man. Serious. It seems as if everyone is staring at us and pissed. We figure they are gonna steal our seats but squeeze in anyway. I am gonna see the show!! Finally, I get an usher that takes the broads away. The whole line cheers us!! ! Wow!! Far out man! Now we sit down and I look up and who is the lead singer but the dude I was talking to!! Wow!!

Zeppelin breaks into their routine, playing the first album and who knows what. Jimmy whips out a violin bow and has a go at his Les Paul. Bonham plays with his hands. The show absolutely rocked the house. I will never forget that night. Before light shows (blinking coloured lights), they just had on stage lights period, and played their asses off. Of course I still have my ticket stub as I do all of my shows. Zeppelin came through three more times, I believe, and each time it just got crazier.

Recently, Plant and Page came to Orlando on the No Quarter tour. I was afraid to go but had to. I hated to see the guys a parody of themselves but went out of respect. Man, they flat tore the ass off of the stage. I believe that they are better than ever, oddly enough. Many ovations, and my nieces gave me a sudden look of awe. “Like, now we understand what you have tried to tell us about the glory days of rock and roll! “When this new, loud as hell blues was not called “metal”, when bands truly were forming what would be known as Zep!!!

This was a real experience. The second show I ever attended, right after Jimi Hendrix!!

Dan O’Connor

May 27, 2013 Posted by | Led Zeppelin Concert Memories: San Antonio Texas August 15th 1969 | , | Leave a comment

Led Zeppelin Stoke 1973 (Stoke UK, January 1973)

100803012006From collectorsmusicreviews.com

Trentham Gardens, Stoke-On-Trent, England – January 15th, 1973

Disc 1 (53:09): Rock And Roll, Over The Hills And Far Away, Black Dog, Misty Mountain Hop, Since I’ve Been Loving You, Dancing Days, Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp, The Song Remains The Same, The Rain Song

Disc 2 (58:10): Dazed & Confused, Stairway To Heaven, Whole Lotta Love

Led Zeppelin’s soundboard recording of their show in Stoke-On-Trent is one of the best sounding and one of the most popular, being found on Live In Stoke, England Vol. 1 (LZ-007), Live In Stoke, England Vol. 2 (LZ-008), Trentham Gardens (Music With Love MWL 009-010), Stoker (Stoke-1, 2) on Tarantura, Broken Fingers (IQ-001/2) the underrated Image Quality label’s first release, and soon after that on Dedicated To Rizzlers (Equinox EX-00-008/009) in the summer of 2001. Stroke In Stoke was released about the same time as Equinox with the same sound quality but with the songs out of proper running sequence.

As good as the tape sounced on these releases, several years ago Soul Brothers (Tarantura TCD-37-1,2) was released almost simultaneously with Live At Trentham Gardens (Empress Valley EVSD-394/395) both with significant ungraded sound quality. Stoke 1973 has the same excellent and improved sound quality as the two. The sound is very clear with a touch of hiss. The vocals, drums and bass are up front with the guitars pushed somewhat back in the mix.

There is still the gap cutting out the latter part of “The Song Remains The Same” and the first two verses of “The Rain Song”, and one at the very end of “Stairway To Heaven” which also eliminates the very beginning of “Whole Lotta Love.” Overall Stoke is a beautifully laid back, very loose performance. Zeppelin’s shows in the UK are virtuoso yet low key performances.

The show starts off with “Rock And Roll” and the segue into “Over The Hills And Far Away.” Plant is recovering from a nasty flu that affected his voice, so he takes it easy in the opening numbers. He is sipping lemon tea while introducing ”Black Dog,” claiming it’s about ”a Labrador who used to come with us when we went shooting people. We don’t shoot animals.”

“Misty Mountain Hop” is dedicated to Rizlas(a brand of rolling paper for sale in the UK), and that number segues into “Since I’ve Been Loving You.” Page’s guitar goes out of tune during the following song “Dancing Days.” After “Bron-Y-Aur Stomp” Plant reminiscences about their visit to Wales several years prior when they wrote the song. “Actually, we’re very fortunate to be playing in Aberystwyth tomorrow night, which is where all them things came from, locked far away in the National Trust of Snowdonia. What a gas place that was. Sold to a stockbroker in the end folks.”

The set ends with “Whole Lotta Love.” While it reaches seventeen minutes long, it is significantly shorter than in other shows on this tour where it reaches almost twenty-give. Plant’s vocals seem to be come weak by the end, so when they complete “Let’s Have A Party,” instead of going into the demanding “I Can’t Quit You,” he goes straight to the closing verse of “Whole Lotta Love.”

Unfortunately the tape ends right when Plant is saying good night. The encores aren’t present. Eyewitnesses to the event said they played “Four Sticks” as an encore. It is possible although unlikely since Zeppelin rarely played unrehearsed songs live. But, it would be an event if it were to surface. Stoke 1973 is packaged in a double slimline jewel case with attractive artwork and is a good way to obtain an excellent copy of this essential show.

May 27, 2013 Posted by | Led Zeppelin Stoke 1973 | , | Leave a comment

Led Zeppelin Deutschland Über Alles (Vienna, June 1980)

deustchland_uber_alles_fFrom collectorsmusicreviews.com

Stadhalle, Vienna, Austria – June 26th, 1980

Disc 1 (67:00): Train Kept a Rollin’, Nobody’s Fault But Mine, Black Dog, In The Evening, Rain Song, Hot Dog, All My Love, Trampled Underfoot, Since I’ve Been Loving You

Disc 2 (55:13): White Summer, Claude Knobs announcement, Kashmir, Stairway to Heaven, Rock and Roll, Whole Lotta Love

Even though Led Zeppelin’s 1980 Tour Over Europe is unfairly vilified, it certainly did hit a serious state of mediocrity in middle with the shows in Hannover, Vienna and Nuermberg. Hannover was plagued by a grumpy Robert Plant and a very quiet audience and Nuremberg was cut short after fifteen minutes because of John Bonham. But Vienna had both mediocre playing and an unfortunate incident with a firework in the middle of the concert.

Unlike most of the stops on this tour, no soundboard exists but only an excellent audience recording. The crowd is quiet, so the music can be heard without any interference. This tape first surfaced in the eighties and was pressed on All Good Things Go By Threes – Inedits Vol. 3(Wien). Other compact disc releases include Vienna (Tarantura 1980-13,14), which is part of the massive 1980 tour binder and came out before TDOLZ, and Goodnight Vienna (Electric Magic-016A/B) which came out after.

TDOLZ sounds similar to the Tarantura release except there are some digital scratches during the announcement and the label speed up the tape a bit. Electric Magic has the metallic sound spoiling the music, making it the worst of the three.

The show gets off to a promising start with nice versions of ”Train Kept A-Rollin’” and “Nobody’s Fault But Mine.” Jimmy Page introduces “Black Dog” as “a nice little number about 36-23-36…what’s it called in German? Schwartzhund!”

Afterwards Robert Plant tells them he’s forgotten how beautiful the city is and hopes the concert can match the city’s beauty. “In The Evening” functions as their latter day stage stomper even though it’s drenched in new wave synthesizers. John Paul Jones plays the sad little melody in the bridge but messes up a few notes.

This part of the show is dominated by slower songs like the “The Rain Song” and newer material from the last album. People in the audience are impatient and keep requesting “Rock And Roll” (something common in all the stops on this tour). Page becomes impatient himself after “Hot Dog” and scolds the audience by saying: “Hold on, hold on, hold on, hold on. Hold it. We haven’t been here for seven years you know, sure we played Rock and Roll, but we haven’t been sitting around on our asses for seven years. We got a lot of new songs to play too. Would you like to hear those? We’re gonna do that and we’re gonna play Rock and Roll too, Ok?”

The audience grows even more impatient, and it really leads one to question their decisions with setlist. Zeppelin, on their first actual tour in three years, wanted to play shorter, more hard rocking sets. Yet there are so many slower, more demanding songs in the set that the audience’s reactions, not just in Vienna but at other points as well, grow tired of the set. It’s even more strange that “Achilles Last Stand,” one of their most exciting songs, is dropped from the show this night.

This is especially true with “White Summer / Black Mountain Side.” Very few of the performances of this piece inspire any kind of excitement in the audience. And in Vienna someone throws a firecracker at Jimmy Page.

He leaves the stage and the promoter comes out to yell at the audience. TDOLZ list him as Claude Knobs, but that’s not accurate. Knobs is a French speaking Swiss, not a German. There are several cuts in the announcement so it’s hard to determine how long it is, but it lasts over five minutes on the tape. The promoter says both in German and English that he cannot allow that person to remain in the audience and that the show won’t continue until he steps forward.

The band eventually do return and pick up with “Kashmir” and the show is actually better. “Stairway To Heaven” is particularly effective, the best song of the night and one of the best versions from the tour. After the song Plant thanks Vienna and tells them it’s been “quite an evening one way or another.”

When they come out for the encores Plant teaches Vienna the “Eye Thank Ewe” trick and Page tries to play “Vienna” by Franz Josef Hayden (although most know it as “Deutschland Uber Alles”), Austria’s national anthem. He struggles with it, and Plant tries to help. ”Rock And Roll” is the first encore and, in a supreme irony, Page badly botches the solo in the middle rendering the song a mess.

Before the final encore Plant tell them “it’s turned out alright. Sorry about your friend somewhere. Bang. Sorry” and after “Whole Lotta Love” tell them “don’t forget: preserve the dinosaur.”

Deutschland Über Alles is a good release by TDOLZ but could have been better. It’s packaged in a slim double with inserts printed on one side only. It is a good enough sounding tape and interesting enough to warrant a re-examination and for a more definitive version to be released.

May 27, 2013 Posted by | Led Zeppelin Deutschland Über Alles | , | Leave a comment