The song or album that represents the time that is…

Image courtesy of Microsoft Clip Art

Image courtesy of Microsoft Clip Art

Posts at the moment seem to have either a common theme, or somewhat refer back to an earlier post. Recently, I was having some discussion with a friend about music lists. I have my 10 favourite on an early post somewhere, and a post on an idea called “the music map of me”. But in discussing we also referred to that old BBC radio favourite desert Island discs, and a feature in Mojo magazine called “All back to my place”, (where numerous questions are asked around your soundtrack for different circumstances, e.g. sunday mornings). So we came up with a new list. The idea is that you choose a song or album that represents you, or has a lot of relevance to you in a certain circumstance. I guess really they are about memories. So here is some of the list that we came up with. Some categories were easier to answer than others:

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Music Albums of the year 2012

Regular readers know I like a music post from time to time. This one is my end of year look at this years best albums. For me, this year had plenty of good albums, but not one I think that stood out as something really special, or ground breaking. Mojo magazine went with Jack White’s album, as their number one which shows what I mean. Good, but a bit retro. I like this album, but I haven’t played it in a few months. So for my number one, I went with something different.

Fiona Apple - The idler wheel. Best of the year?

Fiona Apple – The idler wheel. Best of the year?

Album of the year

Fiona Apple – The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw, and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do

For the second year running, I’m selecting an album by a female artist (last year it was PJ Harvey’s “Let England Shake”). This one a more unusual choice for me in the respect that I had never bought anything from Fiona Apple before, prior to this year. This means to me she was pretty much a new artist, albeit one with a back catalogue to explore. However with running this blog this year, I took more of an interest in poetry, short story, song lyrics and that whole area. Fiona’s album has a clever mix of intelligent lyrics. and phrasing, and the way she delivers or sings them, with subtle adjustments in her voice, mean there is lots to continually find. It made a good balance for me against the aforementioned interests. Musically it is also pretty subtle, a little low key, a lot of percussion, but it lends a touch of freedom which shows through in the album as a “whole” (speech marks intended). Try “Werewolf” or “Regret” as examples.

Runners up, were Bat for Lashes (another female artist), which I like a lot but as a fairly recent release, I’ve not lived with it long enough. Tame Impala with its neat way of live band dance music, and rolling drum beats, is also pretty cool, and a good soundtrack to various things going on in my life.

Further close calls include Bob Mould’s “Silver Age” (regular readers will know I’m a big fan and only recently saw him live for the first time). Bruce Springsteen also had a good, accessible record in “Wrecking Ball” which seemed to fit in with this election year (in the US). See also honorary mentions which I think are all good albums work checking out.

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Led Zeppelin – The alternative take

What do you need to know about them?

Led Zeppelin were a fabulous hard rock group, from the seventies, perhaps the biggest at the time. – Oh come on I’m not going to explain the whole thing here, either you know them or you don’t. Look them up on wiki. Four geezers, Robert Plant (Vocals), Jon Paul Jones, (Bass and keyboards), Jon Bonham (Drums), brought together via the ashes of The Yardbirds, by Jimmy Page (Guitar). As hard rock groups go, they are pretty much the best. They started in 1968, seven years before I was born, and ended due to the death of John Bonham, in 1980. They briefly reformed to terrible effect at Live aid in 1985, and to tremendous effect in 2007 for the Ahmet Ertegun tribute concert.

All the members except Robert Plant wanted to continue from the 2007 concert. Robert has moved on with other successful projects. Personally I was too young to see the Zep play live, and would love to see them, but it’s hard not to agree with Roberts perspective also. Led Zep were the four original members and that ended when Bonzo passed away. Going back to all that now, having all the press attention when it is not wanted, moving aside current interests, – all too much hassle.

Where did I first become acquainted?

Well my dad had some albums and compilations so  I probably heard them growing up. I think I started with the remasters compilation in the early nineties and started buying the albums from there. It’s Led Zep, what’s not to like?

What to buy:

Depends what stage of Led Zep you want. However this is my post, so I’m choosing:

  • II – Their second album, the one written on tour. It’s a bit sexy dirty, and begins with Whole lotta love.
  • III – The third album (see the theme developing here), a mix of acoustic, some soft and some harder tunes. Starts with Immigrant song.
  • Houses of the Holy – Some might go with other albums ahead of this one, but I think this works better as an album than most of the others do. Plus it opens with The song remains the same.
  • IV – Contains Stairway to Heaven so is naturally one of the most popular. Also contains the much sampled (for Drum breaks) When the Levee breaks’
  • Physical Graffiti – Big two disk affair often considered to be their best. Contains Trampled underfoot, and Kashmir, those being two good examples for consideration.

Some key tracks to listen to:

Lots of tracks, and you could easily just pick up one of the compilations as they all give you the main ones. For arguments sake let me divide them up a bit

Short hard rock ones:

  • Good times, bad times
  • Communication breakdown
  • Whole lotta love
  • Bring it on home
  • Immigrant song
  • Trampled Underfoot
  • The Wanton Song
  • Custard pie
  • Rock & Roll

Long guitar twiddly ones:

  • Song remains the same
  • Since I’ve been loving you
  • Achilles last stand
  • Nobodies fault but mine
  • Stairway to Heaven
  • Kashmir

“Lighter” ones

  • Tangerine
  • Thats the way
Blah, blah, so many good tracks. Or listen to some tracks here. Check out this fab version of Trampled underfoot.

Anything to avoid?

Coda, a collection of outtakes and unused tracks is a bit naff. The film The song remains the same, is amusing for all the stupid fantasy footage, but isn’t the greatest concert performance. I say 50/50 as to whether you watch or not, but don’t go in with high expectations.

Anything else?

They have their own website here. There is a good fan site here. There was not a lot of filmed concert footage, but the best was pooled together to make this dvd collection Led Zeppelin which became the biggest selling music dvd of all time. It is really good.

Robert Plant has some decent solo albums, I would check out:

  • Mighty Rearranger (with band the strange sensation)
  • Raising Sand (with Alison Krauss)
Jon Paul Jones joined with Foo Fighter man, and ex Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl, plus Queens of the Stone age main man, Josh Homme under the name Them crooked vultures for:
  • Them Crooked Vultures (ok, self titled)
Robert Plant and Jimmy Page recorded two half decent albums together:
  • No quarter: Unledded
  • Walking into Clarksdale
And Jimmy Page was featured in this fabulous guitar film It might get loud (along with U2’s The Edge, and Jack White).


Lexicon word of the day: Somniferous.