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Walking Into Clarksdale - Rediscovered

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On 3/25/2017 at 3:21 PM, bluecongo said:

I just can't get past the poor production, sorry.  And there are some good songs on there for sure. 

 

I  listen to it once every few years and I hate it more each time.  

:D

I have to say that I hate it a bit less each time I hear it, but I'm never pleasantly overwhelmed by it. My observations from re-listening to it recently:

 

- It sounds like a RP solo album with Page on guitar (not surprising with the rhythm section being RP's rhythm section on several albums previous).

- Many of the songs don't sound fully finished to my ears; some songs sound more like high-quality demos.

- Why they had Steve Albini record and mix the album, I'll never know. Since he came originally from the punk world and produced for grunge bands like Nirvana, that's the sound that really comes through on the songs, even the quieter ones. If they hired him to sound more "current" (at the time), why? (I think Albini's mixing gave some of the songs the unfinished quality I raised in my last point.)

- The better songs are earlier on the album, IMHO - they seem to meander more as the album goes on.

 

Now, I do like several songs (e.g., Shining In The Light, Please Read The Letter, Most High, among others), but, IMHO, they should have just mixed the album themselves and fleshed out several other songs. When I finish listening to the album, I'm always struck by how spare the whole thing sounds - almost antiseptic in some songs...

I do wish they would release a live CD/DVD/Blu-Ray of the tour though - that was great! :)

 

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26 minutes ago, ForEvermore said:

- Why they had Steve Albini record and mix the album, I'll never know.

My guess? It was Plants decision. 

Steve Albini:

“I was impressed with how collaborative Page and Plant were, bearing in mind that there was a previously existing power structure where it was Jimmy Page’s band and Robert was hired to be the singer and in the interim, Robert had gone on to become a very successful solo artist and now should be able to call the shots in a lot of situations. Jimmy was deferential to him in that regard.”

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1 hour ago, blindwillie127 said:

My guess? It was Plants decision. 

Steve Albini:

“I was impressed with how collaborative Page and Plant were, bearing in mind that there was a previously existing power structure where it was Jimmy Page’s band and Robert was hired to be the singer and in the interim, Robert had gone on to become a very successful solo artist and now should be able to call the shots in a lot of situations. Jimmy was deferential to him in that regard.”

Ah...well that confirms what I suspected.

Thank you for finding and posting this quote!

 

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1 hour ago, blindwillie127 said:

My guess? It was Plants decision. 

Steve Albini:

“I was impressed with how collaborative Page and Plant were, bearing in mind that there was a previously existing power structure where it was Jimmy Page’s band and Robert was hired to be the singer and in the interim, Robert had gone on to become a very successful solo artist and now should be able to call the shots in a lot of situations. Jimmy was deferential to him in that regard.”

And clearly remains deferential to him to this day.

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There's the crucial mistake: Page is one of the greatest Rock Producers ever, but he let two lesser men exert too much control.   

Theres a reason Roberts name has never received sole Producing credits.

Albini quite simply not in same league as either one.

 

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Found this great live version of When the World Was Young.  Much better than the studio version.  So much energy and check out what Jimmy does starting at 3:57.  He develops a full blown solo from the very spare figures on the original recording. 

  

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On 5/25/2017 at 1:00 AM, ForEvermore said:

- Why they had Steve Albini record and mix the album, I'll never know.

Short demo session with Albini at RAK Studios in London was booked in June 1997 to see how they all got along (it progressed well).The first song performed was 'Burning Up'. Sessions with Albini resumed at Abbey Road Studio 2 in September and concluded in December '97.

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You can tell the album was filled with good ideas but they really didn't have "songs". They went with the underproduced, minimal overdubs approach. I think Shining in the Light is the closest they came on the album to an actual completed thought but even that kind of goes on too long. Sons of Freedom bugs me as a song for a short (ish) uptempo song in rambles so much.

It was a good album but not much more than that. Blue Train could have been an epic and whenever I listen to the album I come away slightly disappointed it wasn't...just, MORE than it was. And yeah, it was very much sounding like Jimmy Page as the guitarist in Robert's band.

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51 minutes ago, jmorton said:

You can tell the album was filled with good ideas but they really didn't have "songs". They went with the underproduced, minimal overdubs approach. I think Shining in the Light is the closest they came on the album to an actual completed thought but even that kind of goes on too long. Sons of Freedom bugs me as a song for a short (ish) uptempo song in rambles so much.

It was a good album but not much more than that. Blue Train could have been an epic and whenever I listen to the album I come away slightly disappointed it wasn't...just, MORE than it was. And yeah, it was very much sounding like Jimmy Page as the guitarist in Robert's band.

Yeah I agree with that. I mean especially the point of it was almost like Jimmy was just playing guitar for Robert's latest (rock focused) solo album. Shining in the light really is a great song, and most high is really good as well but outside of that the album just doesn't impact me. It's interesting to hear the contrast between what came out on Walking into Clarksdale with that of Jimmy's song Domino which almost sounded like something that could've been a song on one of John Paul Jones solo album. I imagine that if Jimmy and John Paul Jones had wrote together at the time period it would've came out fantastic and not something that would've been disappointing.

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Posted (edited)

This album was not what I expected at the time but had some good hooks that I still really enjoy.  Most high is a nice use of the cacgce tuning, please read the letter is a standout song, and it has a "sun studios" type sound.  The minimalist production, drum sound, and the reverb  laden guitar tone is in line with the minimalist blues that the title of the album suggests, and it makes this album unique to my ear (at least the cd I have of it). 

As noted many times before here, the 1998 tour to support WIC was way better than the 94/95 tour for NQ.  I saw it and can certainly vouch for that.  Jimmy's playing was his best in years and surely him stealing the spotlight by really excelling at his instrument again must have bothered some of those he shared it with on some level.  I would love to hear some of the Page/Michael Lee sessions from the 1999/2000 sessions that Robert reportedly rejected. 

I would also love to see an expanded 180g vinyl come out for Walking into Clarksdale.  I always am looking for a copy on Discogs and Amazon and they are always in the $130 to $200 range depending on quality.  A bit too rich for me...It seems the demand for Zeppelin and related on vinyl is certainly most high given how well the RSD release sold last month, so this release is not so unrealistic to imagine.

 

Edited by Darth Hoek

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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, Darth Hoek said:

I always am looking for a copy on Discogs and Amazon and they are always in the $130 to $200 range depending on quality.  A bit too rich for me...It seems the demand for Zeppelin and related on vinyl is certainly most high given how well the RSD release sold last month, so this release is not so unrealistic to imagine.

 

Yeah, vinyl copies of WIC are expensive to get, sometimes I've seen them go for around $85 on ebay, which is about the best price I've seen. Unledded on vinyl I've seen go for about the same price and up. Robert Plant albums like Fate of Nations and  Mighty Rearranger are expensive, and especially Dreamland is extremely expensive. Trying to get Dreamland to finish off my RP vinyl collection, but the prices I've seen start at $800. But yeah, an expanded, remastered version of WIC would be nice.

Edited by luvlz2

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If jimmy is working on page coverdale now...maybe this record is next, before the firm records. With this record it is a total given...100% that a companion disc would be a complete remaster and bright. hopefully everybody that doesn't like this record, might like it then....haha. Also i think that whiskey from the glass and the window should be added. In regards to walking into clarksdale, as the years have gone by , i hear a joni mitchell riff in shining in the light, a yardbirds spark in, walking into clarksdale and while air guitaring to sons of freedom, hear vibes of lower register willie nelson combined with dick dale. Also, with whiskey from the glass, the drums sound so much like bonzos moby 75 sound effect....so maybe maybe they left it off the record  cause of that...

 

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