Thursday, February 28, 2013

Carry me back, carry me back (Led Zeppelin)

The Led Zep reunion concert at the O2 from 2007 is finally out on CD and DVD in 379 different formats. That might be a conservative estimate - it's probably nearer 3,790 different formats.

It's called Celebration Day.

I bought the double CD and single DVD version in a CD size case for 20 bucks. Pretty good deal huh?

The package is pretty spiffy I must say. The DVD especially brings the reunion to permanent life.

I love the way Led Zep play on stage. They all cluster around the drum riser like a real band and play looking at each other like a real band. They've played so much together they could stand 30 metres apart like other bands do, without a hitch, but I love that they don't.

Jimmy Page is the epitome of guitar cool, Robert Plant is still the epitome of a rock god vocalist, John Paul Jones is still the ace of bass and Jason Bonham is his father's son.

Favourites? Phew - tough to single anything out but the version of Kashmir is a fitting climax to the set list before the encores (Robert Plant in particular is in mighty voice) and Rock and Roll, the last song, is all you want the song to be and Jason Bonham's impassioned drumming is awesome!

An great concert by a great band. Haven't bought it yet? Why not?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

People, taking me for a ride (Guess Who)

Burton Cummings has a great rock and roll voice.

I picked up a mint copy of The Guess Who's  Artificial Paradise album (1973) from New Plymouth's Vinyl Countdown on the weekend. Only cost me $3 which was a bargain.

The album does crop up a lot in remainder bins which is a bit of a mystery. Although not really - I liked the band in the seventies but it's taken me 40 years to own this album. Gotta be a reason for that huh.

I'm listening to it as I write; it's a good (not great) Guess Who album with a naff cover (to my eyes). It attempts to present itself like a envelope from a mail order company so it looks fairly cheap and nasty but I'm not sure that's what the music required.

During the early 1970s the band were at a series of crossroads with the departure of Randy Bachman and a subsequent period of revolving door musicians. Amid all this the band did manage to peak on the sublime Live At The Paramount album.

Stylistically the Artificial Paradise album is all over the shop. There are hard driving rock and roll songs (Bye Bye Babe is a great opening track), ballads (Lost and Found Town), the quirky Follow Your Daughter Home, the downright weird (Hamba Gahle-Usalang Gahle) and the nifty pop single Orly (a non hit at the time bizarrely).

No thematic cohesion, dodgy packaging but the sound is great. The band were certainly a cohesive unit and the recording is spot on.

And there is always Burton's voice. He can do it all - of course the ballads but he is a much better rock singer than he is given credit for. Try Orly again and remind yourself of his immense talent and ability to sell a song.

Friday, February 15, 2013

I was only seventeen, I fell in love with a gypsy queen (Uriah Heep)

I am back in the Abbey Road Two studio/record collection room in Otane for a bit. It's so great to reactivate the blogs on blogger. I've really missed writing about music while we've been in China and I LOVE blogger.

The good thing is I haven't had to pay a fortune to transport CDs back to Nu Zild but the bad news is I've had to go to the dark side and download music from itunes.

I've written about that on my other blog site so I won't labour the point.

We stayed on Waiheke for a few days and that gave me a chance to visit Real Groovy in Auckland.

It was great to find the expansion of the vinyl for sale has continued. There would be roughly twice as much vinyl as there are CDs and that can only be a good thing.

I picked up a few things including Uriah Heep Live in 1973. I used to have it many years ago but it was sold in one of my periodic purges.

Uriah Heep was one of the bands that sound tracked my teenage years. ...Very 'Eavy ...Very 'Umble was their debut album and one of my earliest possessions. For a time it was a permanent fixture on my Garrard SP 25 Mk III turntable.

I added Demons and Wizards (Easy Livin' - the single - sold me on the album) and the double Live album to my collection but, somewhat bizarrely, nothing else by them.

Listening to the album again after all these years was weird. It was both familiar, like the stage announcements - Fridee nite in Birmingham! and fresh.

I couldn't thinking how much they remind me of Grand Funk, with the same wall of sludge blues/ hard rock that has become retroactively so appealing.

Best moment for me is Gypsy (the standout from that debut album too). It's suitably rocky, proggy and there is noodling going on!! All my favourite components.

The band is still going too.

Mick Box, the guitarist, has been the only constant feature. Sadly David Byron, the singer in the classic early seventies line up, died in 1985 (heart attack and liver disease). While in similar died young tragic circumstances, New Zealander Gary Thain died from a drug overdose shortly after being fired from the band in 1975.

The current version of the band is light years away from the early seventies Uriah Heep which will always have a special place in the collection.