Thursday, April 22, 2004

#5) Led Zeppelin - ZOSO UNTITLED LED ZEPPELIN IV (released in 1971, I had all but "Four Sticks" taped off of a Led Zep box my friend Ben - who I really need to e-mail one of these days - got from the library during our junior year in college. I finally bought a used CD copy from City Lights in 2003)

Thanks to alt-culture propaganda, I hated these guys before hearing a single note. It wasn't until my senior year of high school that some friends (well, they were friends when they weren't wishing I'd evaporate) forced me to watch The Song Remains The Same and listen to "Stairway To Heaven" in their car that I actually had an opinion about them founded on an actual listening experience: they were OK. I can't remember if Stairway To Hell or Ben's box set came first but somewhere down the line I learned to listen to what's good about these guys rather than what's supposed to offend me. While I still have little need for most of their pre-IV/post-Houses material, those two albums are masterpieces of rock goddery (Houses Of The Holy was disqualified from my list because I still only have the songs off the box set taped - I don't have "The Crunge," which is a fuck of a lot better than "No Quarter," which I find almost unlistenable). This isn't the kind of music that inspires you to start your own DIY band because they're not giving you any faults to get away with. Power and groove are there, vocal and guitar gymnastics, tender balladry, hard-dick swagger, buckets of shameless self-lionization: goldens gods don't give "they're losers like me" Pavement fans anything to connect to.

Now that I can appreciate beauty at face value and bands that don't share my own personal awkwardness (either that or I lost some of the awkwardness - it's all very chicken and egg), this stuff is astounding. "Going To California" taps a longing so deep in me that I forgive the fact that Plant could be talking about Jewel ("la, la, la, la...."), "When The Levee Breaks" is highlighted not only by some of the most disturbing pain/pleasure shrieks ever recorded but a thunderous groove only topped by ANOTHER Led Zep track ("The Ocean") and maybe some AC/DC numbers, though none of those are nearly as vicious. "Misty Moutain Hop" is the funniest song about hippies I've ever heard (even if the jokes are mainly in beat). Chuck Eddy was right with what he said about "Rock And Roll" (don't have those words with me) and I bring the house down when singing that at karaoke (my friend Carey supposedly does it with "Black Dog"). My karaoke version of "Stairway To Heaven" was considered "Dylan-esque" by one bar patron and while I still find the opening flutes a bit poofy I don't get MAD about that anymore. This might not work for everybody but "Stairway To Heaven" always sounds best if I imagine some may queen found a "bustle" in her "hedgerow" while "spring-cleaning" to it.

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