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Walking Into Clarksdale - Rediscovered

80 posts in this topic

This is one of my favorite albums as well. Heart in Your Hand is my favorite cut. It has the same haunting sorrow as Tangerine.

The bluesy feel to this album was so different than the LZ days. The LZ blues were all youthful macho angst, anxiety and libido. Walking into Clarksdale was real blues by grown men that had experienced real loss and disappointment. Those songs reflected a person making some very painful assessments of one's life. At least that's my take on it.

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I just listened to this album for the frst time in a loooong time

And it hasn't gotten any better and my dissapointment has only been reaffirmed.

Under Produced. Where is the guitar army? Plants vocals sound thin and nasally.

Drum sound: Flat and weak with stupid delay effect no punch no power

Bass: practically non existent

Jimmy just way too far in back seat, hardly any guitar solos, and the ones on there are too short.

Songwriting: weak meandering songs, with a few exceptions, but the songs just don't POP

Blue Train, When World Was Young, Shining in Light, Most High are best tracks, House of Love too

The rest, it's just flat and poorly produced, Albini was the wrong choice, Rick Rubin would've been better choice for the minimalist approach they were aiming for.

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I just listened to this album for the frst time in a loooong time

And it hasn't gotten any better and my dissapointment has only been reaffirmed.

Under Produced. Where is the guitar army? Plants vocals sound thin and nasally.

Drum sound: Flat and weak with stupid delay effect no punch no power

Bass: practically non existent

Jimmy just way too far in back seat, hardly any guitar solos, and the ones on there are too short.

Songwriting: weak meandering songs, with a few exceptions, but the songs just don't POP

Blue Train, When World Was Young, Shining in Light, Most High are best tracks, House of Love too

The rest, it's just flat and poorly produced, Albini was the wrong choice, Rick Rubin would've been better choice for the minimalist approach they were aiming for.

What I have always respected about Page and co is their ability to grow and try different things, and not do the same thing over and over, which is what you seem to be wishing they would do, if I understood your comment correctly. That's more the AC/DC approach to music and that is why they are often viewed as a one trick band. Having said that, their new album is pretty darn good overall, and it is now part of my vinyl collection. I really like the positive comments in this thread, as WiTC is quite a masterful piece of work, but one that appeals to a more open minded listener that can appreciate the departure from past efforts. I still love it. Always will.

Edited by The Dark Lord

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Since the album was released, I thought Walking Into Clarksdale was a great album. When The World Was Young, for example, is a great song. If Led Zeppelin ever reforms and tours (they probably won't) they should throw in one of these Walking Into Clarksdale numbers every once in a while. I would.

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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.

I totally agree with this. I understand it's an album that divides but I'm just glad to be on the positive side of the canyon

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Fantastic! it's a real grower.They updated zeppelin for the new millenium.

The problem was Plants insistence on using Albini,more for the cred of it than

any quality it might bring. Also an indication of where the balance of power now lay

in the P&P partnership.I doubt Page would have allowed such poor production

out the door in their heyday.

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Not a fan of this album at all. Very boring imo.

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Have to say, I still don't care for this album. Instead of Walking into, they should have caught the first thing smoking OUT of Clarksdale...

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One thing I only recently discovered is that Plant and Page wrote Please Read the Letter for Walking Into Clarksdale. The version he and Alison Kraus recorded for Raising Sand is better known. Plant made great strides as a lyricist between 1980 and 1995, imo.

Edited by Disco Duck

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I keep coming back to this album and keep walking away with my views unchanged.

most high is the standout track for me. The eastern element added some real spice and energy. Terrific.

Upon a golden horse is good. The strings really work (compared to the b side version I had previously heard). Blue train is very sad and poignant but good. There are moments of the title track that are good, and moments that are dull. Burning up could have/should have been better.

The rest is boring and forgettable. I think it was significantly hampered by the production which gives everything a 'demo' quality.

I keep trying and I would love to love it, but 16 years on my original opinions stands.

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I like the disc but I expect to LOVE Page and Plant. The mix is awful! It's like they tried to fix it later by turning the treble and bass controls way up! It really does sound like a demo, Page should have produced it.

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One thing I only recently discovered is that Plant and Page wrote Please Read the Letter for Walking Into Clarksdale. The version he and Alison Kraus recorded for Raising Sand is better known. Plant made great strides as a lyricist between 1980 and 1995, imo.

Yep, and between '95 and 2014, too.

I agree about the mix - it stands out in a bad way, and with most of mckjuana's assessment of it.

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Ok I listened AGAIN, it's just not good. In fact, I have a very specific problem with Burning Up, and I finally figured out why this song never worked for me. Charlie Jones ruins the whole song.

During the chorus where Plant sings "I'm burning up" Jimmy is going from A to D, but Charlie for some asinine reason is going from E to A, and it sounds terrible. It just sounds like a mess.

Terrible terrible production job

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Ok I listened AGAIN, it's just not good. In fact, I have a very specific problem with Burning Up, and I finally figured out why this song never worked for me. Charlie Jones ruins the whole song.

During the chorus where Plant sings "I'm burning up" Jimmy is going from A to D, but Charlie for some asinine reason is going from E to A, and it sounds terrible. It just sounds like a mess.

Terrible terrible production job

I agree as well in regard to Burning Up, I really don't like it and it sounds out of place, a throw away tune. The rest of the album I love though and don't mind the mix. Great album IMO.

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When it was brought up in a recent interview, Jimmy said Walking Into Clarksdale was 'more a minimalist album' and moved straight onto another subject.

I'm not quite sure what that says about Jimmy's view of the album.

As for the way they recorded and mixed it, I understand the idea of a basic recording capturing a performance in a room - but I don't think Steve Albini's actually that good at it.

I know this is Albini's way of working over many years and it's precisely why bands use him, but a lot of his recordings actually sound quite flat to me (eg. PJ Harvey's Rid Of Me, which

had none of the vibrancy and dynamics of the Peel session versions of those same songs).

Jimmy Page certainly understands how to capture the sound of a band playing in a room, so it always seemed a bit perverse to me to hire Steve Albini to do a worse job!

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I agree Burning Up is a problem track. I also don't like Upon a Golden Horse.

But for me, the biggest issue is that the track order just doesn't work. I recently made my own version, removing the above two songs, adding in Whiskey from the Glass (Japan edition bonus track) and The Window (b-side to Most High single), and rearranging everything as follows:

  1. Sons of Freedom
  2. House of Love
  3. When the World Was Young
  4. Heart in Your Hand
  5. Most High
  6. Please Read the Letter
  7. Shining in the Light
  8. Blue Train
  9. Walking into Clarksdale
  10. The Window
  11. When I Was a Child
  12. Whiskey from the Glass
It works so much better than the album as released. The first time I tried it this way, I ended up listening to it all the way through, twice. And since then I've listened to it more times than I did from 1998-2014 combined.

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I have a mixed view of the album and as Page said "it's a minimalist album". That's why at least half the tracks may be jarring to the

regular Zep listener. In fact Page may well have been aware of the unresolved nature of "Burning Up". And hearing so much empty

space in the music is completely contradictory to Page's production style. I myself consider it a pretty good album, but it's a grower,

and if you can't set aside the usual grand ambitious Zep style, it's hard to swallow. One big mistake is that as others have said, some of

the EQ and rusty razor sharpness, used to great effect on Presence, here doesn't have the intended effect and makes parts of the

release sound demo-like.

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I think with the passage of time and reduced expectation it fares better, but it is still a bit of a disappointment. It's a good late night, atmospheric sort of album. I think what hampered the Page/Plant reunion was that Plant was holding all the cards and basically held Jimmy to ransom to do things his way. Page was so desperate to work with Plant again so he went along with him, including working with Albini. The album's got artistic merit but it's just not that much fun to listen to. A bit of a dirge at times and I don't like Plants voice for most of it. Frustrating because some of the material was good and with the right production it could have been sensational. A low key footnote to their songwriting partnership.

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How true that Plant even from the Unledded period on had Page handcuffed to a certain degree. Many

don't even know that even singing range problems aside, Plant basically called what tunes would be 

played at the 02 show. As well solo lengths, etc.,. I consider Albini a great producer but he has taken on

some boneheaded projects not suited to him. I think one of the main mistakes on WIC is that if you are

going to minimize Jimmy, or Robert, then you have to ramp up considerably other instrumentation.

Otherwise you have this kind of floating half-empty space which pervades too much of the album, and 

little echo or reverb further harming things. Charlie Jones is a very good bassist, but I also think he is

not suited for this album, if you had JPJ in there he could do the "minimalist" thing and play a lot more

inbetween the lines and push things much further.

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I think with the passage of time and reduced expectation it fares better, but it is still a bit of a disappointment. It's a good late night, atmospheric sort of album. I think what hampered the Page/Plant reunion was that Plant was holding all the cards and basically held Jimmy to ransom to do things his way. Page was so desperate to work with Plant again so he went along with him, including working with Albini. The album's got artistic merit but it's just not that much fun to listen to. A bit of a dirge at times and I don't like Plants voice for most of it. Frustrating because some of the material was good and with the right production it could have been sensational. A low key footnote to their songwriting partnership.

Do we know for a fact that Plant "forced" Page to do things his way?  Page's collaboration with David Coverdale wasn't commercially successful.  Perhaps Page had began to doubt his musical instincts as a result and was happy to let Plant drive the bus during the Page/Plant collaboration.  

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I never claimed it was a fact, that's why I said "I think what hampered..." Just an opinion. It was based on Jimmy wanting to work for Robert for years, and Robert being the stumbling block. So when Robert finally committed, after 13 years, I think that Jimmy wouldn't want to rock the apple cart and scare Robert off again.

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I never claimed it was a fact, that's why I said "I think what hampered..." Just an opinion. It was based on Jimmy wanting to work for Robert for years, and Robert being the stumbling block. So when Robert finally committed, after 13 years, I think that Jimmy wouldn't want to rock the apple cart and scare Robert off again.

Point taken.  

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