Archive for the ‘Led Zeppelin’ Category

>Bludgeon Riffola!

21 March, 2010 3 comments

>And so the challenges continue.  This time, my challenge to Simon was to name his ten favourite riffs.  I put it to him this way…

“Right, after a lot of indecision and prevarication, the next challenge is out there.
And it’s the Riff.  The guitar line (and it has to be the guitar line) that turns a good song into a classic.
I want your top ten riffs.
No more than two or three bars.  Played to death by young boys in guitar shops.  Long of hair, behatted and beaded, no doubt.
I’m not talking solos here, I’m talking riffs.  Ba-danga-danga-da-dang dang.  Ba-danga-danga-da-dang dang.
You know what I mean.”

Simon’s response to the challenge is here -and mighty impressive it is, too, avoiding the obvious and embracing the concept in equal measure.  Including a number of riffs that I should have thought of as well.

As it is, there was only one riff on Simon’s list that was in my provisional ten – Seven Nation Army – so I have adjusted my list accordingly.  I similarly decided that Smoke on the Water (and one or two others) were a little too obvious to include.

So – ten riffs to send you running to the air guitar shop.  In no particular order, of course…

Whole Lotta Love – Led Zeppelin

And here’s me saying I was going to avoid the obvious.  But how could you not include this?  What swung it was the moment in the recent documentary, “It Might Be Loud”, where Jimmy Page plays this riff to an audience of The Edge and Jack White, both of whom know a good riff when they hear one.  The look of joy on their faces as the power chords rang out was probably the highlight of the film.

Back in Black – AC/DC

I very nearly went for ‘Whole Lotta Rosie’ but of course could have gone for just about any AccaDacca tune. In the end though, it had to be ‘Back in Black’, if only for its punchiness and attack.  The quintessential AC/DC riff.

Enter Sandman – Metallica

When I was editing down the individual tracks on this list to the essence of their riffs, most could be distilled into ten or twenty seconds, max.  Enter Sandman – I just kept the edit playing and playing, as the riff develops and grows.  Over a minute of pure riffage before I pressed ‘cut’.

The Jean Genie – David Bowie

Generally, Glam Rock gave good riff – and this is David Bowie right in the middle of his Glam phase.  Probably the only riff to be in the charts at the same time in two different forms – exactly the same riff graces Sweet’s ‘Blockbuster’.  But this is the definitive Glam riff, courtesy of Mick Ronson, of course.

She Does It Right – Dr Feelgood

Wilko Johnson, with some spectacular pub rock riffage, mastering the art of playing rhythm and lead at the same time, in the same riff.  I’ve seen footage of him playing this riff live, and I still can’t work out how he does it.  A simple riff on the face of it, but deceptively complex to master.

Safe European Home – The Clash

This is what you get when punk meets heavy metal – The Clash produced by Sandy Pearlman.  It irked the purists at the time, but Pearlman added weight and depth to the band’s natural intensity, to produce this master opening to the album.  It was even better live.

American Idiot – Green Day

Playing this riff immediately after The Clash, and the similarities are obvious.  Not just in the choice of notes (there are only so many to choose from, after all) but in the depth and intensity.  Often unfairly lumped in with the mass of lumpen Tattoo’d American Punk bands that came through in their wake, this riff kicks off an album of intelligence and variety that transcends its genre.

Song 2 – Blur

Another great riff from a band not really known for their riffage.  It also has the classic riff ‘trick’ that gets me every time – playing the riff once with little tone, then hitting the ‘gain’ pedal (turned up to eleven) to really hammer the point home.  It’s got ‘woo hoo’s’ as well.  Set the crowd alight at Glastonbury last year.  Not that I would know, I was in the Acoustic Tent listening to Georgie Fame.

Walk This Way – Aerosmith

I love this riff – deceptively simple, just four notes played pretty much in sequence four times – but it’s perfect in its simplicity and when combined with the opening drum pattern and hint of turntable scratching, sets up the mash of rap and metal perfectly.

Sweet Jane – Lou Reed

This is the lodestone – essence of riff.  Three chords – D/A/G – with perhaps a Bm in there as well – it doesn’t get any simpler.  Can be played gently (as in the VU original) or as an out and out rocker.  This version – from Lou’s ‘Take No Prisoners’ live album – is at the rocky end of the spectrum and none the worse for that.

(Oh – and bonus points to anyone who knows where the title of this post comes from…no Googling now, you’d just be cheating yourself…)

>20 – 16: Southern Boogie and Northern Croonin’

5 March, 2010 2 comments

>20:  Sweet Home Alabama – Lynyrd Skynyrd

Basically an ‘answer’ song, written in response to Neil Young’s ‘Southern Man’.  In a nutshell – we’re Southern and we’re proud of it.  So don’t be slaggin’ us off with your trendy Yankee ways because we’re just fine and dandy down here!  And so they are.  But it’s not really the sentiment in the song that does it for me – it’s the groove and the feel – the opening guitar riff is one of the slinkiest there is – not a note too many, not a note out of place.  Lynyrd Skynyrd could do overblown when they wanted to – Freebird being a case in point – but Sweet Home Alabama is tight as a gnat’s chuff.  As, no doubt, they say in Montgomery.

19:  Kashmir – Led Zeppelin

Again, it’s all in the riff.  The spiralling, three-note stab that invokes so well the Eastern ‘vibe’ implicit in the song’s title.  A word of warning though – don’t listen to the lyrics.  Really.  They make Spinal Tap’s ‘Stonehenge’ sound profound.  But none of that matters.  This was a band at the height of its powers, pushing the boundaries in any number of directions, and exploring Eastern rhythms and time signatures that they would return to later in their careers.

Of course, there are many Zeppelin songs I could have chosen.  But for me, Kashmir is pure essence of Zep.

18:  Coles Corner – Richard Hawley

I love this song.  Often – erroneously – described as South Yorkshire’s answer to Roy Orbison but more accurately referred to (by himself) as ‘that specky twat from Sheffield’, Hawley is an absolute superstar.  In the ideal world, he would sell more records than U2.  With his slicked back hair, his twangy guitar style and his rich, baritone crooning, Hawley evokes an earlier age.  And never better than on this song, a slice of pure romance about one of Sheffield’s old department stores and a historic meeting spot for the city’s youth.

17:  Voodoo Chile (Slight Return) – The Jimi Hendrix Experience

My, it’s a rockin’ selection this time round, for some reason.  Jimi needed to be in the top twenty somewhere, and this is the track for me – a track that doesn’t outstay its welcome, that rocks like a mother and that demonstrates just what a fine guitar player Hendrix was.  Of course, describing Jimi’s guitar playing as ‘fine’ is like describing Zinedine Zidane as a ‘capable’ footballer.  He was the best.  Voodoo Chile was one of the final songs recorded with the original Experience, before Jimi moved on to looser, jazzier and funkier work – but this, for me, is the peak.

16:  Angel – Aretha Franklin

And changing the mood completely, it’s the Queen of Soul at her most soulful.  By some considerable distance, Aretha is the best female singer the world has ever seen – in any form of music.  This is an uncontestable fact.  Whenever any X-Factor wannabe starts warbling in a Mariahesque way, in the mistaken belief that the amount of soul in a performance is directly proportional to the number of notes you can squeeze into a single line, she should be slapped firmly across the face with a copy of Aretha’s Greatest Hits and locked in a darkened room with the CD until she learns the error of her ways.  Angel is just a beautiful song, written by her sister, with a (no doubt contrived) spoken intro that sets the scene perfectly.  In fact why am I writing this?  Rather than get into a long, drawn-out thing, I think the melody on the box will help me explain.  It’s there for you. below – just listen.

>Day 200: Double Century?

1 October, 2009 Leave a comment

>Today’s soundtrack: Led Zeppelin – In Through The Out Door

Two hundred days – and still counting! Where does all the time go? What have I actually done in those two hundred days?

Well you all know what I’ve done – I’ve spent most of my time writing about it here!

Today’s anniversary passed quite quietly I have to say – a bit of baking, a bit of chiselling, a bit of blogging and that’s just about your lot, I’m afraid.

But the baking – oh my. Looking for something tasty to go with my soup, I chanced across a recipe for some ‘tear and share’ bread rolls. Bread rolls with a ‘twist’ – quite literally.

Start off by preparing some white bread dough in your breadmaker of choice. Don’t do it yourself – far too much like hard work. When your dough is done, roll it out into a rectangle, about twice as long as it is wide. Spread a thin coating of mustard over the dough, then sprinkle grated cheese and chopped ham over the surface of the dough.

Roll up the dough from the short end, in a Swiss Roll stylee. Slice into chunks about an inch and a half thick, then turn onto their edges on a baking tray. More grated cheese on top, then leave to rise for half an hour, then bake for about fifteen minutes. When they come out they look like this –>

…and they are to die for!

Now you might think this cooking malarkey is something a red-blooded male like myself should refrain from dabbling in in case people, you know, talk. But let me tell you chaps – it makes you a real hit with the laydeez! Mrs W took some of yesterday’s soup to work with her today and gave a taste to one of the young ladies she works with. “What do you think?” she said. “I think I want to marry your husband” was the reply.

She’s taken some of the bread rolls in today for another taste test. She ought to be careful – she’s playing with fire here!

The boy’s still got it – if only in the kitchen!

Anyway, I did do some proper man work today, getting on with the cleaning-up of the old bathroom tiles. Just about there now – leaving me no excuse for not actually getting on with re-tiling the thing! Oh, and I did, finally, manage to gouge myself with the chisel. It was just a matter of time. Luckily, it was just a flesh wound.

Led Zep on the soundtrack today, and of all the albums/bootlegs iTunes could have thrown up, it gave us the runt of the litter. Actually, I don’t think ITTOD is as bad as it’s often painted to be – In The Evening and All My Love are as good a much of Zep’s work and, while the album is nowhere near the standard of Physical Graffiti or 1-4, I wouldn’t say Presence of Houses of the Holy are that much better.

And anyway, average Zeppelin is still 90% better than most stuff out there.

Here’s ‘In The Evening’, from Knebworth in 1979.

>Day 38: Breaking Eggs With a Big Stick

22 April, 2009 1 comment

>Today’s soundtrack: Bob Dylan – Bringing It All Back Home

“Breaking eggs with a big stick” is one of my mother’s expressions (she’s got a few) that I have always taken to mean ‘taking a lot on, getting loads done’. Which is what I’ve been doing today. I googled the expression though, just to see if I was right. Apparently it actually means doing things in a showy or ostentatious manner…so I’ve been wrong all these years.

I don’t care. I’ll carry on using it the way I’ve always used it.

So I’ve been breaking eggs with a big stick today.

Started out by taking myself off to Tesco to do the shopping. (In Northwich, not Helsby – I’m still boycotting that store until they revise their checkout policy. However I have to go to Tesco somewhere to get the points on the credit card!) That done, it was back home to clean the fridge out. Actually, I’ll rephrase that. It was back home to disinfect the fridge, which had sadly degenerated into a state of some squalor. So it was out with the Mr Muscle, all detachable parts chucked into the dishwasher, and the fridge innards sprayed and swabbed. Happily our fridge is now so clean, you could store food in it. Safely.

Having got the fridge into shape, it was on with the (metaphorical) pinny to get some cooking done. ” Yay!” shouts the Massive. “Recipes! At last!!” Well, ok then. Reflecting my current circumstances, it was bread and soup again.

But posh bread and soup. I have standards, you know.

Bread was (of course) made in the breadmaker, but this time with added seedy stuff. Linseed, poppy seeds, sesame seed, sunflower and pumpkin seeds all added to the regular white bread mix. And we’ll be nothing if not regular with all that lot flushing through our system.

I know. Too much information.

So the soup – carrot and coriander today. With three separate coriander elements to consider. Firstly fry up an onion (or two, if they are little) in some oil, along with a teaspoon or two of ground coriander.

While the coriander and onion are frying off, dry roast some coriander seeds (again, a teaspoon or two) in a hot frying pan (just the seeds, no fat or oil) until they begin to brown. Using a pestle and mortar, crush the seeds until you have a fine powder and add that to the onion mix.

Take a couple of pounds of carrots and chop up into discs and add to the pan. I also added a couple of sticks of celery (to add some depth to the flavour) and a couple of peeled, chopped potatoes (to help thicken the soup) but these are optional – it’s the carrots that are important (like, duh!). Stir them round so they are coated in the spice mix, then add some stock (again, I used chicken but vegetable stock would be fine) to cover the vegetables. Add some water if you need to to achieve coverage.

Bring to a boil then leave to simmer for as long as you like, but at least until the veg are tender. Whizz them all up with your whizzy thing until you have a smooth texture. Take a pot of fresh coriander, and snip the stalks into the soup. Stir this round and cook gently for a while. Then add the coriander leaves and stir gently. Your soup’s now ready for freezing (and eating), although you might want to stir in some cream or creme fraiche before serving.

Phew! And if that wasn’t enough, while all the cooking was going on, I tidied up my ‘study’ (my den, really), putting shedloads of free magazine cds into big storage boxes I bought at Homebase yesterday, and then I got out into the garden to tidy up some of the lawn edges, trim the plants around the border and re-compost the flower beds.

Not bad eh? I’m goosed now though. Oh, and I’ve also got a meeting in my diary with a recruitment consultant in Chester arranged for Friday morning as well. Also toying with applying for a job advertised on t’internet today, although as it’s overseas we need to have a talk about it before I commit.

Postman delivered a CD today I’ve been waiting for for a while – it’s a CD by Richard Hawley, recorded live at the charmingly-named ‘Devil’s Arse’ cavern in the Peak District. It’s been uploaded to iTunes, but I’ve yet to give it a listen. But you should investigate Richard Hawley anyway. The self-styled ‘specky twat from Sheffield’ has a voice like treacle and a delightful way with a lyric and a tune. I commend ‘Coles Corner’ to you in particular.

And apropos of completely nothing – have you ever wondered what Led Zep’s ‘Stairway to Heaven’ would have sounded like if it had been written and recorded in 1964 by the Beatles instead? Of course you have!

Well wonder no more….

I’ve already written about Bob Dylan, and already written too much today, so I’ll not dwell on today’s soundtrack except to say that ‘Bringing It All Back Home’ is one of the greatest albums ever made – by anyone, ever. Recorded in 1965 and as relevant now as it was then, on the cusp of Dylan’s switch to ‘electric’ music, it includes biting social commentary (Maggie’s Farm, Subterranean Homesick Blues) beautiful love songs (She Belongs to Me, Love Minus Zero) and pure poetry (Gates of Eden, It’s Alright Ma). Oh, and pop songs (Mr Tambourine Man) as well.

If you wish to understand why some believe Dylan to be a genius, you could do worse than start here.

You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows…..