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Walking Into Clarksdale - Rediscovered

80 posts in this topic

After reading a few positive remarks here and elsewhere concerning 1998's Walking Into Clarksdale opus, I decided to dig it out & give it a spin after a long absence.

Like fine wine & women, I'm convinced that this album gets better with age. :)

Of course at the time of release it was criticised for having the audacity to not sound like Led Zep IV.

It is definetly understated, but (to my ears) in a good way. Oh, and I really don't think it sounds like Presence (another journalistic observation of the time).

Tbe one thing that did suprise me was Robert Plant's recent comment about the production, and how he felt cut off from it all (can't remember the exact wording). In actual fact I listen to it, and it seems to have more of Plant's stamp on it than Page's?

Thoughts?

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After reading a few positive remarks here and elsewhere concerning 1998's Walking Into Clarksdale opus, I decided to dig it out & give it a spin after a long absence.

Like fine wine & women, I'm convinced that this album gets better with age. :)

Of course at the time of release it was criticised for having the audacity to not sound like Led Zep IV.

It is definetly understated, but (to my ears) in a good way. Oh, and I really don't think it sounds like Presence (another journalistic observation of the time).

Tbe one thing that did suprise me was Robert Plant's recent comment about the production, and how he felt cut off from it all (can't remember the exact wording). In actual fact I listen to it, and it seems to have more of Plant's stamp on it than Page's?

Thoughts?

My thoughts exactly. I've alway's liked it but I think I like it more now than when it was first released.

I agree, it does seem to have more of Robert's stamp on it but I think Jimmy shines. Very underated album

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It is not My favorite cd however i love several of the cuts.The title track is My favorite.

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Producer Steve Albini suffocated and killed this album. It sounds as if your hearing them

perform down the hall in another room.

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I like the songs from Please Read the Letter onward more than the ones preceeding it.

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The album title was changed from "Most High" to "Walking Into Clarksdale" prior to release but the cover art was not updated to reflect this change. Just another prime example of it's overall abysmal production.

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there is some great bits on it. such as page's melodic and delicate guitar parts on some of the tracks . aside from blue train the vocals were recorded/mixed too thin

and dry. blue train is almost too wet. the guitar parts are nice but production wise

they could have been better. and it's hard to hear what the bass player is doing.

overall it sounds like they were rushed and had only 8 hours of studio time to work with.

it almost sounds like a demo. it's cold and solid state sounding (despite the fact that albini

prides himself on using tape and analogue equipment) i still really like the cd. a lot.

Edited by zero

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The album title was changed from "Most High" to "Walking Into Clarksdale" prior to release but the cover art was not updated to reflect this change. Just another prime example of it's overall abysmal production.

Any word on what Page and PLant think of the final product?

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One thing I liked was that Page didn't sound like Page.

Most of his post Led Zeppelin stuff stayed close to his trademark style of playing,

but Clarksdale sounded nothing like Page.

For some reason, Most High reminded me of the Houses of the Holy period, and I never got the Presence comparison. Maybe because both albums had no keyboards.

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Any word on what Page and PLant think of the final product?

Jimmy has questioned the songwriting credits that were assigned. They did fulfill their extensive, obligatory press and promotional duties but otherwise have seldom spoke

of the album. They had started working on it in Nov 1996 but it was not finished until December 21 1997.

Robert's doing Please Read The Letter on his current tour with Alison, so he must enjoy

it, although it was not performed on the '98 Page/Plant tour. You may recall that tour was criticized for it's stagnant setlists, so go figure.

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One thing I liked was that Page didn't sound like Page.

Agreed. On several cuts he sounds like Dick Dale doing a sixties spy film soundtrack.

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Agreed. On several cuts he sounds like Dick Dale doing a sixties spy film soundtrack.

That was cool, but the lack of guitar solos and overdubs in areas that were begging for them (like Shining in the Light, which seems to want to build to a guitar-orchestra climax but never does) resulted in an album that sounds like a live soundcheck or something. And the less said about Robert's singing (ahem, Burnin Up) the better.

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Producer Steve Albini suffocated and killed this album. It sounds as if your hearing them

perform down the hall in another room.

Interesting. I was always under the impression that Albini was a bit intimidated by working with Plant & Page, even going as far as to say something along the lines of "Would you tell Jimmy Page that solo he just played isn't as good as he is capable of" (again, can't remember the exact wording now).

That suggests that he wasn't as in control of the whole thing, in my view.

Also, who suggested that Albini was brought on board? I'm guessing Plant?

Regardless, I still maintain there is some great material on WIC, and the stripped-down nature of it appeals to me, rather than repels me.

Edited by One Symbol

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Jimmy's 12 string solo in BLue Train is worth the price of admission alone, you haters.

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I actually liked Walking into Clarksdale (the songs and that Page and Plant got together to do something new of sorts). I didn't like the production of it (like others) though.

I'd be cool to see them (Page, Plant, Jones and Jason) do "Shining in the Light" and/or perhaps "Most High" from Clarksdale. Also a medley of Plant's "Calling to You" going into "Kashmir" in the future live would be cool, too (the eastern feel).

1998 was a cool year: to see them live on that tour and meet Page and Plant (briefly) was a great memory (so that makes me have fond memories of the Clarksdale period). :)

R B)

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The song "Most High" is repulsive to me. It's noodly and goofy. It's like a parody of their Eastern influences.

The title track kicks ass though. Great lyrics and Jimmy's solo is right out of his Yardbird's era. "Heart in Your Hand" is very underrated too.

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Yeah, I think it's a pretty good album and still listen to it occasionally. I was just happy to hvae some new Page/Plant material. I was disappointed a bit with Jimmy's "subdued" guitar on the album...a lot of chord and rhythm work, not a lot of solos or overdubs. They were going for a raw sound, and I remember reading that they recorded a lot of songs live as a 4-piece, as opposed to multi-tracking.

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I only have Zeppelin albums :( I have a lots of after Zeppelin albums to buy. But it is good to see so many recommend this record so if I find it I can buy it.

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there is some great bits on it. such as page's melodic and delicate guitar parts on some of the tracks . aside from blue train the vocals were recorded/mixed too thin

and dry. blue train is almost too wet. the guitar parts are nice but production wise

they could have been better. and it's hard to hear what the bass player is doing.

overall it sounds like they were rushed and had only 8 hours of studio time to work with.

it almost sounds like a demo. it's cold and solid state sounding (despite the fact that albini

prides himself on using tape and analogue equipment) i still really like the cd. a lot.

i love blue train....i think it's one of the best cuts on the album. robert was going for a "hear my lips smack and soft breathy" kinda thing the whole album and on this track it came off the best. the singer was emotionally invested in this tune. pagey made me smile the whole song. i could hear his whole history in his playing on that song....from studio firebrand playing background to seriously soulful chops that can only come from the most passionate guitar player on the planet. i found the guitar on that song subtle, tasteful, and extremely poignant. i recall playing this song for several "nonzephead" friends when WIC was released. i didn't tell them who it was and the reaction from most of them was astonishment- "velvety beautiful!" to intense curiosity: " who the fuck is that?"

wet? perhaps...

more like "dewy"

shining in the light: another standout that really could have been a kickass zeppelin track. i could almost "hear" the HOH orange emanating from the sound....

i agree with most of the previous remarks concerning production values and the superiority of "most high". i wish pagey would have produced this old school.

that said, i still play this record.

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shining in the light: another standout that really could have been a kickass zeppelin track. i could almost "hear" the HOH orange emanating from the sound....

Most definitely a standout track. I really wish it had another verse as I really love the lyrics.

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I've been listening to this album again, and I have to say that I love every second of it. Unlike most people, I loved it from word "go", and I still regard it as the best post Zeppelin album by any of the former band members. I love that Page tried something different here, like he did on ITTOD (whatever the reason may be), and I had no issue with him trading in his trademark solos for some eery, eastern tunings, and some incredibly evocative soundscapes. I understand the critiques of the production, but I think the production suits the music beautifully, and creates a ton of ambiance, while alluding to an underlying grunge feel. Page's work on the track, Walking into Clarksdale, has a Little Games flavor to it and I love this nod to his past, as well. This is a very progressive and mature album, and one that shows a whole new side to Page and Plant, and not just the same old thing that has been heard a thousand times before. The fact that it does not sound like Zeppelin is its strength, and I really appreciate this approach. One of my all time favorite albums for sure, but I am known to appreciate the deeper cuts after being a Zep fan for so long. I've got the CD, the UK vinyl, the US vinyl, the cassette, and the single with The Window as the B side, The UK vinyl is unmatchable for sound quality and depth of field. A solid 8 out of 10, and the cover art is amazing, at a solid 9 out of 10.

Edited by The Dark Lord

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Agreed, Blue Train has a solo by Page that is unlike anything he has done, I love it, and it is one of the evocative soundscapes you mention. Albini does a great job on it, not all the sounds are overly obvious, clear and up front, and it is better for it, it makes it rustic and bare sounding.

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I really enjoyed the album! Good, creative songs and effort!

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