Tag Archives: John Paul Jones

30 Bands

Today, I hit 30, and in honor of my birthday, I’ve been working on my favorite 30 bands list for almost a year. My blog is actually inspired by music I grew up listening to. I have shuffle countless times ranking of bands back and forth.  It was really tough to leave few bands out. My basis of ranking is upon influence and discography.

Here it goes…

1. Led Zeppelin
2. The Beatles
3. Nirvana
4. The Doors
5. Pink Floyd
6. Queen
7. Radiohead
8. The Rolling Stones
9. Black Sabbath
10. The White Stripes
11. Pixies
12. AC/DC
13. Soundgarden
14. Rush
15. Jane’s Addiction
16. Faith No More
17. Arcade Fire
18. The Smiths
19. Rage Against the Machine
20. Alice in Chains
21. R.E.M
22. Aerosmith
23. Guns N’ Roses
24. Queens of the Stone Age
25. Muse
26. Foo Fighters
27. The Black Keys
28. Red Hot chili Peppers
29. INXS
30. Green Day


In Your Honor

With his band getting increasingly formulaic, culminating with the quite adequate but somewhat disappointing One By One, Dave Grohl needed a break. Enter Probot, Grohl’s heavy metal side project whereupon he co-wrote and performed songs with metal icons like Lemmy, Max Cavalera, and King Diamond. With the self-titled Probot album out of his system, Grohl and his main band reconvened for In Your Honour, easily their most ambitious album to date, and arguably their best since The Colour And The Shape.

The album is chock full of loud, anthemic rockers and contains a bevy of well-crafted soft rock compositions (a la “Walking After You”), the album’s sequencing and conception are seriously flawless. This is a 2-cd set, with the first cd containing 10 loud songs and the second showcasing 10 more slices of Grohl’s softer side. But all songs seem to blend into one another with several high profile cameo appearances from the likes of Norah Jones, Led Zepplin’s John Paul Jones, Kyuss/Queens Of The Stone Age’s Josh Homme, and The Wallflowers’ keyboardist Rami Jaffee. Fortunately, like I said before, almost all of these songs are good so the album is largely enjoyable anyway, even if I can’t help but think that a shorter set list that intermingled loud and soft songs was the way to go. That said, rather than focus on the albums flaws, let’s talk about its considerable strengths, shall we?

On disc 1, all the classic Foo Fighters elements are in place: Grohl and and Chris Shiflett’s guitars are crisp and loud, Hawkins and Mendel ably add heft to the bottom end, and Grohl’s alternately smooth and screaming rough vocals inevitably lead into the payoff: catchy chorus after catchy chorus. Although I marked down “In Your Honour,” No Way Back,” “Best Of You,” “DOA,” and “The Last Song” as highlights, almost every song here is a potential hit or highlight, even if the band lacks distinctive characteristics and the chance taking acumen to be truly exciting anymore. No, this disc is merely clean, highly professional arena rock (remember, Grohl has never worried about silly things like “indie credibility”) that doesn’t offer anything different but which rocks harder and with more consistent quality than any Foo Fighters album since the first two. As for the mellower second disc, it’s impressive and can never get boring. It’s largely due to the sequencing, as the songs are of a surprisingly high quality given that the band is usually much better at rocking out than on ballads. Personally, I prefer songs such as “Miracle,” “Over and Out,” and “On The Mend,” which are a little more instrumentally fleshed out, but there’s nary a truly duff track, and fans of Cobain (who “Friend Of A Friend” is about), Norah Jones (who sings the bossa nova flavored “Virginia Moon” with Grohl), and Taylor Hawkins (the band’s popular resident party animal who sings the livelier “Cold Day In The Sun”) should take particular note of those tracks.

Some albums add up to more than the sum of their individual parts, some add up to less (which is why track-by-track album reviews don’t really work), and In Your Honor is the latter case, strong though many of its individual songs are.

Dave Grohl is God

I love this MAN..and I’m not ashamed to say it.

Dave dedicated his award to Kurt Cobain and gave a shout to the Pixies! A living LEGEND!

Led Zeppelin III

Led Zeppelin III seems to hold a special place among music critics.  Whereas the previous album was their cock rock album, a work so willfully sleazy it still offends the snobbish music fans among us, the band takes a different, less “obnoxious” approach on III. It’ll forever be remembered as “the album on which they’d incorporate a lot of folk,” and rightly so, as only three songs out of ten could be called “hard rock.” Of course, the debut album already contained “Black Mountain Side,” so it shouldn’t surprise anyone that they’d pick up their acoustic guitars once in a while, but in a way, it also must’ve been memorable, as most of their contemporaries still seemed hell-bent on becoming as heavy as possible. As such, the album also leads the way to the classic untitled fourth album, which is often considered the best crossover of folk and hard rock ever, and while this merger isn’t always that successful on this baby, it’s an extremely likeable album, hell it’s even elegant, and one you can turn to in many moods. By consequence, it’s become the Led Zeppelin album I probably play most often, and I bet I’m not the only one.

Now, it’s not a GREAT album – it simply lacks a few stunner -, but it’s definitely a grower, certainly after the none-too-subtle Led Zeppelin II. It immediately kicks off with one of their most recognizable rockers, the short, pumping declaration of war “Immigrant Song.” It’s pretty silly actually, with its Viking imagery (and should be held responsible for that ridiculous sub-genre it spawned) and Plant’s high-pitched wails, but it’s also a prime piece of rawk. And watch out for that huge bass groove. In case it might forget to point it out in the later reviews: John Paul Jones may not have been an extraordinarily gifted musician like Entwistle, but he was the quartet’s restless soul, providing a lead-heavy foundation, tasteful organ parts and string arrangements. Equally important: many of the band’s explorations were instigated by Jones, so it’s no surprise it’s his career that made the freakish turns, by becoming producer of acts such as The Butthole Surfers and avant-queen Diamanda Galas twenty years later. Anyway, “Immigrant Song” is a good, hard rockin’ song, but for some reason – and I’m well aware I’m alone on this one – it’s not as enjoyable as the awkward “Celebration Day.” That song has some brilliant multi-tracked guitar parts, powerhouse drumming (and how Bonham bashes those cymbals!) and simply the best chorus on the entire album. The one rock track that’s left, “Out on the Tiles,” is quite disappointing in comparison – tough, but one-dimensional – even though their hard rock brethren probably would’ve sacrificed an arm for it. Anyway, it’s not one of these tracks that’s the one undisputed highlight, but the majestic epic “Since I’ve Been Loving You.” You either like it, or you don’t, and if you don’t, chances are slim you’ll like much of Led Zeppelin’s output. Even though it serves perfectly as an extended mood piece – somehow, it still renders me speechless every time I hear it -, it’s of course also an exercise in bombast (I have to admit that my favorite part of the song is the first 70 seconds). But still, Page’s performance throughout is simply stunning, a masterful combination of passion wrapped up in the blues. Plant’s performance is probably an acquired taste (and he does go overboard if you’re used to less confident vocalists), but you can’t deny that he gives it his all. Again, what cracks me up the most, is the sound and you can actually hear one of Bonham’s pedals creaking if you listen carefully.

The pleasant textures of the non-rock tracks is also one of the album’s assets. “Gallows Pole,” for instance, isn’t that special, a reworking of a traditional that starts of wistfully and soon develops a frenzied, hard-hitting pace, but it’s the way in which things click together that turns it into a winner: that combination of acoustic and electric guitars (“Stairway to Heaven” anyone?), the graceful way in which Jones’ mandolin suddenly comes in (after 1:05) and the moment Page’s banjo pickin’ and Bonham’s simple beating simultaneously enter the picture a bit later. Something totally different, and a remarkable entry in their catalogue is “Friends.” It starts off acoustic, contains some rather cheesy lyrics (yeah, we all gotta be good friends, etc), but then those strings come in, and they give the song this dark, eerie tone that’s easily as effective as Sabbath’s tritonic doom in creating an unsettling atmosphere. Before you start thinking it’s one of my favorite albums: I’m a bit less ecstatic about the next few songs: during “Tangerine” they make great use of steel guitar, but overall I’ve thought it lacked the final ingredient that might lend it some true character. Likewise, the nice “That’s the Way” combines folk and country-ish in a successful way, but I somehow feel it’s still a missed opportunity, as five and a half minutes don’t seem enough to come into its own. Still, what the hell am I complaining about? They’re still good! The weaker stuff is tacked to the end: “Bron-Y-Aur Stomp,” named after the “small derelict cottage in South Snowdonia” is folk, but not the kind that I like: it reeks too much of campfire coziness and boy scout-bonding for my taste. Finally, the album ends very confusingly with the distorted acoustic delta blues of “Hats Off to (Roy) Harper.” It lacks rhythm, has got nothing to do with Harper as far as I know, throws some blues elements together and seems to serve one purpose: it might inspire you to check out good country blues. But hey, overall Led Zeppelin III is a damn fine album that finds the band expanding its sound and preparing itself for world domination a year later.

Led Zeppelin II

THE MOTHER OF ALL HARD ROCK ALBUMS! THE GENESIS OF HEAVINESS! THE GREATEST RIFFS EVER RECORDED BY MANKIND! THE BEST ROCK ALBUM FROM A TIME WHEN ROCK WAS STILL ALIVE AND KICKIN’, MAAAAAAN! And so on. You must’ve heard at least one of these comments before, right? Well, they’re all widespread, and they’re all wrong, too. If we’re ignoring The Kinks, Cream and Jeff Beck (and a bunch of others), then you might indeed consider them the first band to offer the whole hard rock package, but in that case picking the debut (“Communication Breakdown” and “Dazed and Confused” anyone?) makes more sense. As for sheer heaviness: Vincebus Eruptum (1968) maybe? Or, again, the debut? Riffs then? Sure, there’s a shitload of memorable ones on this album, but Let There Be Rock relegates it back to primary school (well, sort of). That said, Led Zeppelin II does deserve some of the credit as well, since it rocks really hard, has that fantastic early ‘70’s greasy sound and does indeed boast a few riffs that even a guitar player in Chili, Senegal or Ramon, NM, has heard of: those big, fat, bombastic, bloated motherfuckers that make the hairs on your arms, back and legs stand straight, those decibel crunches that unleash the animal in you, the beast that craves beer, a good time with the boys and, more than anything else, WOMEN! EASY WOMEN!

Misogynistic, dumb, pummelling, overrated, call it whatever you want, but … just don’t deny that “Whole Lotta Love” is the album’s epicentre. Basically a repetitive blues riff on steroids, with lyrics comin’ straight out of a sleazy porn flic (“I’m gonna give you every inch of my love,” “Way down inside, you need it,” “I wanna be your backdoor man”…what the hell?), it’s a filthy classic that could be the hard rock equivalent of the Vatican: larger than life, indestructible and perverted to the core. It’s great though, and the best thing about it all is that it still sounds incredible to this day, and boy, do I get a kick out of hearing Bonham’s hi-hat pedal during the meandering mid-section! I mean, nowadays they probably would’ve edited it and replaced it with a sample. Slightly less popular, but every inch as monstrous, is the incendiary “Heartbreaker,” with its grumbling bass, thrilling acceleration and some of Page’s best axe work. On top of that, Plant’s vocals (especially “Heeeeeyy, fellas have you heard the neeeeewwss”) turn it into an instant cock rock-classic. As for the second tier: “Thank You” might belong there. Initially, I wasn’t that impressed by it, but I’ve developed quite a fondness for it: I just dig the nice organ sounds (courtesy of J.P. Jones) and the contrast between the acoustic touches and thundering drums, while it contains some of the best Plant vocals of the entire album. Come to think about it, I think “Thank You” could very well be a wedding song.

“Ramble On” seems to hold a much-debated position: some people think it’s a crude failure, a clumsy marriage of soft and loud textures, others think it’s an all-time classic. While it doesn’t sound like vintage Led Zep to me, I certainly dig the pumping chorus and jazzy bass lines, even though it’s hard to ignore the fairly silly lyrics (well, let’s be honest, they rarely were about that, right?). Also the semi-ballad “What Is and What Should Never Be” deals in that vague mysticism and imagery (“Catch the wind, we’re gonna see it spin, we’re gonna sail, little girl”), but luckily that’s redeemed by some excellent playing (especially by Page) and a successful exploration of folksier territory. That’s when we get to the lesser stuff: “The Lemon Song,” one of those blues rip-offs that sound cool but also shows they started working on the album a little too fast, starts off extraordinarily with a dirty distorted blues groove and a terrific roots-rock acceleration, but I’ve always though the pummelling, jammy second part should’ve been trimmed. Similarly, album closer “Bring It on Home” seems to be some song that’s more included because of laziness or creative limitations than anything else. The band does a good job at recreating an authentic blues vibe, but what does it lead to: a totally unconnected second part that never really takes off. Frustrating, and a bit of a waste of time. It’s quite possible that you’ve never heard that last song, since the one that precedes it isn’t the most popular of Zep’s tunes either. “Moby Dick” kicks off with a dirty, funky smellin’ riff that suits the title just fine, but the main point about the song – a lengthy drum solo that usually tells me it’s time to get a refill or to take a leak – should be filed under “seventies excess.” Drum solos can be cool in concert, but they rarely work on albums. Anyway, I have a few bones to pick with this album, but that doesn’t get in the way of the fact that its best moments were made for the ages.  But calling it greatest rock album of all-time? I disagree.

Led Zeppelin I

Whether you consider them the epitome of self-indulgent dinosaur rock, the greatest rock band ever or a boring bunch of self-obsessed wankers and blues recyclers who eventually turned to mysticism and folklore to hide the emptiness between their ears, it’s hard to deny Led Zeppelin was an immensely important, gifted and accomplished band, right from the start. Admittedly, Page was hardly a rookie, having played in the Yardbirds and already having made a name for himself as a session ace, while also bassist John Paul Jones wasn’t an unfamiliar face for those who were bad-ass and happenin’ at the time, but I’d say that if this were a consistent album (and it’s not), it would’ve been one of the all time greatest debut albums. There have always been quite some accusations of plagiarism, and they did borrow heavily without acknowledging it, but I’m not going to spend too much time on that, the internet will provide you with everything you want to know and more. What I do know is that they borrowed, but rarely imitated slavishly, they always turned it – whatever it was: a riff, a catchphrase, a structure – into Led Zeppelin. Even though they’d get more experimental later on (especially from the third album onwards), not always with successful results, you might argue that the essence of Zeppelin is already here, unless you consider the later excess essential as well. Robert Plant’s exalted wails and high-pitched shrieks (they didn’t call him ‘the banshee’ for nothing) are already present and the remnants of his improvisational style are hard to hide (the repetitive “baby, baby, baby” and other ways to fill the silence), but it’s all kept in check here. Sort of.

What’s extraordinary about Led Zeppelin is that they, much like The Who, were basically a band of equally fascinating musicians. Well, I don’t know if Jones was as technically versatile as Page, but he does combine heaviness with refinement once in a while, whereas Bonham is still one of the most recognizable drummers you can imagine. Seemingly not that gifted, because of his rudimentary sound that was obviously influenced by that other notorious hard-hitter, Ginger Baker, his thunderous and plodding technique sounds perfect for this kind of album. Finally, there’s of course Page, an extraordinarily gifted musician who could be both incredibly sloppy and mind-blowingly fantastic in one song and probably is one of the few who can rival AC/DC’s Young brothers’ knack for writing brick-solid riffs. The forceful attack that characterises so many of his songs is already present in the album’s opener “Good Times Bad Times,” which is basically much more accessible and poppy than the sound might make you believe. What sets it apart – besides Page’s guitar antics – is the booming drum sound. Even if it’s probably not the first hard rock album (Jeff Beck’s Truth, released half a year earlier, is indeed a good candidate, and coincidentally, Jones also played on it), but I’d say this album is where mainstream hard rock got really heavy, as in ‘pounding, menacing, evil music.’ Or check out the fast “Communication Breakdown” and convince me they’re not pre-dating their own nemesis (punk?) with some 8 years or so. Crashing cymbals, loud guitars and a rhythm section that’ll make an entire building shiver, that’s what it’s all about, or am I wrong? Anyway, those aren’t even the highlights, as I agree with the majority of people that tracks 2-4 basically define what the band was about. “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You” is in a way already a precursor to the later folk/hard rock melting pot, an awesome marriage of acoustic parts and electrical power, as Plant moans and wails with passion (not theatre) and the band adds Spanish-sounding accents. These soft/loud-dynamics are something that not only they themselves would recycle, but the entire hard rock following during the next few decades. It also features Page’s much criticised “rock scat” (“I know I’m nevahnevahnevahnevah gonna leave you baby … ooohhhh, baby, baby, baby, baby, baby, ooohhh, … woman, woman, woman,” etc.) but it actually works here and goes to show his instinctive approach to singing could work very well. Similarly instinctive is also his attitude/ pose: Plant was a horny bastard, and he’d let you know all about it as well. Whereas Mick Jagger was already your mother’s nightmare, Plant became your father’s as well, certainly if you were a female between 15 and 30 or so. But after giving few listen to “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You” , I think it’s more of a killer sweet pain love song. OM-GOSH!! You must have been hurt in love to know the pain. And Robert Plant certainly makes the case for it.

“You Shook Me,” for instance, which was basically copped from Beck’s version (who was pissed off), presents the band at their sleaziest, churning out perverse, over-sexed blues with an unmatched arrogance. Beck’s version was already quite extraordinary – especially because you couldn’t decide whether that distorted guitar was actually a guitar or a recorded fart – and added the piano that only enters at a later stage here (well, it’s an organ, but OK), but Zeppelin made it more accessible, overtly sexual, and, well, better. Whereas the overall sound of the album in a way kick-started hard rock, it’s “Dazed and Confused” that arguably started heavy metal in the process as well. From that bass/guitar intro onwards, the songs sounds as creepy as they come, with those loud, crashing parts directly influencing Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid.” But that’s not nearly everything, as the song also introduced Page’s legendary bow-technique (giving the guitar that Satanic sound) and was a showcase for the powerful rhythm section. More than anything else, however, I’d say “Dazed and Confused” was already Plant’s peak as a vocalist, as he roars, moans and wails his way through the song with one of rock’s greatest vocal performances (ever).

The remainder of the album isn’t as impressive (and that’s why I’ll never get people who claim it’s one of the greatest albums ever while admitting its flaws), but a lot better than the weakest stuff on their other albums. “Your Time Is Gonna Come” is quite enjoyable once when it’s on its way (that organ intro should’ve been shorter), but no match for those previous three songs, whereas “Black Mountain Side” is an unspectacular Eastern-tinged instrumental that’s actually a nice interlude and a great way to prepare you for the onslaught of “Communication Breakdown” (ain’t it cool how these songs segue into each other?), which was the testosterone-driven highlight of the second half. Usually dismissed as a lazy blues rendition, but in my opinion a delightfully greasy slab of blues that sounds great (dig the reverb on the guitar!), their take on Willie Dixon’s “I Can’t Quit You Baby” is only slightly less impressive than “You Shook Me.” Paving the way for other extended album closers, the pummelling “How Many More Times” is mainly a great showcase for Page’s guitar, which turns this boogie into something special with extracting howlin’, cajolin’ and slashing sounds from his six-stringed weapon. Man, that guy could play a mean & dirty guitar.

Led Zeppelin I has a second half that’s a bit too weak to justify a maximum score, but its highlights are among the best the band ever did, while the faults and excess that would mar later albums is largely absent. So, what you get is a very generous dose of thunder, fire and bulging crotches, and who can say no to that?

Them Crooked Vultures

Oct 8th, 2009 at Filmore  in Detroit, MI

Them Crooked Vultures at Filmore Detriot

After missing the chance of seeing TCV debut performance at Metro Chicago, few tour dates in the U.S were released. I jumped the gun with my two music junkie pals Scott and Arvin. We left from Milwaukee around noon and were in Detriot around 7 PM . T 8-hour drive didn’t matter. Drenched in sweat and getting beat up in the mosh-pit didn’t matter. Actually, I kind of enjoyed it.

TCV headlines Filmore Detroit

Staying two feet off of Mr. John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin made my night, with Dave Grohl smashing drums and Josh Homme being a dirty whore as a lead vocal. This was my first time seeing all three of them live, therefore, it was really sweet. This was by far the best concert of life yet. I don’t think any other concert would close to that.  I had time of my life

My Ticket