Jump to content

Rolling Stone reviews of LZ albums


Recommended Posts

I'd read some of the RS reviews, such as IV and 'Out Door', but some of them I had not. But I found the originals on the Rolling Stone website. Some of them were downright shocking. Ok, so the review of the first album.

Jimmy Page, around whom the Zeppelin revolves, is, admittedly, an extraordinarily proficient blues guitarist and explorer of his instrument's electronic capabilities. Unfortunately, he is also a very limited producer and a writer of weak, unimaginative songs, and the Zeppelin album suffers from his having both produced it and written most of it.

"Good Times Bad Times" might have been ideal for a Yardbirds' B-side. Here, as almost everywhere else on the album, it is Page's guitar that provides most of the excitement. "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You" alternates between prissy Robert Plant's howled vocals fronting an acoustic guitar and driving choruses of the band running down a four-chord progression while John Bonham smashes his cymbals on every beat. The song is very dull in places (especially on the vocal passages), very redundant, and certainly not worth the six-and-a-half minutes the Zeppelin gives it.

In their willingness to waste their considerable talent on unworthy material the Zeppelin has produced an album which is sadly reminiscent of Truth. Like the Beck group they are also perfectly willing to make themselves a two- (or, more accurately, one-a-half) man show. It would seem that, if they're to help fill the void created by the demise of Cream, they will have to find a producer (and editor) and some material worthy of their collective attention.

Eek. Somebody missed the point.

But then the same reviewer has this to say when reviewing the second album.

Hey, man, I take it all back! This is one fucking heavyweight of the album! OK—I'll concede that until you've listened to the album eight hundred times, as I have, it seems as if it's just one especially heavy song extended over the space of two whole sides. But, hey! you've got to admit that the Zeppelin has their distinctive and enchanting formula down stone-cold, man....Who can deny that Jimmy Page is the absolute number-one heaviest white blues guitarist between 5'4" and 5'8" in the world?? Shit, man, on this album he further demonstrates that he could absolutely fucking shut down any whitebluesman alive, and with one fucking hand tied behind his back too.

When Plant yells "Shake me 'til the juice runs down my leg," you can't help but flash on the fact that the lemon is a cleverly-disguised phallic metaphor. Cunning Rob, sticking all this eroticism in between the lines just like his blues-beltin' ancestors!

The album ends with a far-out blues number called "Bring It On Home," during which Rob contributes some very convincing moaning and harp-playing, and sings "Wadge da train roll down da track." Who said that white men couldn't sing blues? I mean, like, who?

OK, so this guy's a smart ass, too. While it's obviously full of sarcasm, I don't take it as as being 100% negative. His comments about The Lemon Song are on the money, I think.....IMO it's one of the worst things Zeppelin ever recorded, and they had no business taking writing credits for it. Criticize that tune all you want. But I think there's also a fair amount of praise in the review, too. Or at least it doesn't make me want to mail the guy a bomb like the first one did. Right?

Third album, different reviewer:

The Zep, of all bands surviving, are today — their music is as ephemeral as Marvel comix, and as vivid as an old Technicolor cartoon. It doesn't challenge anybody's intelligence or sensibilities, relying instead on a pat visceral impact that will insure absolute stardom for many moons to come. Their albums refine the crude public tools of all dull white blues bands into something awesome in its very insensitive grossness, like a Cecil B. DeMille epic. If I rely so much on visual and filmic metaphors, it's because they apply so exactly.

What a dick! But maybe he'll actually review the music at some point.

Their third album deviates little from the track laid by the first two, even though they go acoustic on several numbers. Most of the acoustic stuff sounds like standard Zep graded down decibelwise, and the heavy blitzes could've been outtakes from Zeppelin II. In fact, when I first heard the album my main impression was the consistent anonymity of most of the songs — no one could mistake the band, but no gimmicks stand out with any special outrageousness, as did the great, gleefully absurd Orangutang Plant-cum-wheezing guitar freak-out that made "Whole Lotta Love" such a pulp classic. "Immigrant Song" comes closest, with its bulldozer rhythms and Bobby Plant's double-tracked wordless vocal croonings echoing behind the main vocal like some cannibal chorus wailing in the infernal light of a savage fertility rite.

Wow, this guy's got quite a vocabulary! Too bad he's a dick.

"Celebration Day" and "Out On the Tiles" are production-line Zep churners that no fan could fault and no one else could even hear without an effort. "Since I've Been Loving You" represents the obligatory slow and lethally dull seven-minute blues jam, and "Hats Off to (Roy) Harper" dedicates a bottleneck-&-shimmering echo-chamber vocal salad to a British minstrel who, I am told, leans more towards the music-hall tradition.

Well, he just slammed four of the worst Zeppelin tunes in their catalog. 'Celebration' and 'Tiles' just never did anything for me. He's right: they could be outtakes from the second album. And I'll just come out and say it: I don't care for SIBLY and never have, mostly due to Plants over-the-top vocals. Too much effort trying to sing high notes instead of singing the blues, and his voice always cracks a bunch of times. Jeez, Robert, tone it down. And does anyone really like "Hats Off"? I didn't think so. But this guy's full of shit concerning 'Immigrant Song' and 'Friends.' Tangerine is a great tune, but some of the background vocals are horribly out of synch with the lead vocal ("from a dream"). Plenty of great music on this album, but some of it is not executed as well as it should have been.

Finally I must mention a song called "That's the Way," because it's the first song they've ever done that has truly moved me. Son of a gun, it's beautiful.

Wow, he actually got one right!

OK, now for the fourth album:

Led Zeppelin–a band never particularly known for its tendency to understate matters–has produced an album which is remarkable for its low-keyed and tasteful subtlety....the incredibly sharp and precise vocal dynamism of Robert Plant, and some of the tightest arranging and producing Jimmy Page has yet seen his way toward doing. If this thing with the semi-metaphysical title isn't quite their best to date, since the very chances that the others took meant they would visit some outrageous highs as well as some overbearing lows, it certainly comes off as their most consistently good.

One of the ways in which this is demonstrated is the sheer variety of the album: out of eight cuts, there isn't one that steps on another's toes, that tries to do too much all at once. There are Olde Englishe ballads ("The Battle of Evermore" with a lovely performance by Sandy Denny), a kind of pseudo-blues just to keep in touch ("Four Sticks"), a pair of authentic Zeppelinania ("Black Dog" and "Misty Mountain Hop"), some stuff that I might actually call shy and poetic if it didn't carry itself off so well ("Stairway to Heaven" and "Going To California") ...

The end of the album is saved for "When The Levee Breaks," strangely credited to all the members of the band plus Memphis Minnie, and it's a dazzler. Basing themselves around one honey of a chord progression, the group constructs an air of tunnel-long depth, full of stunning resolves and a majesty that sets up as a perfect climax. Led Zep have had a lot of imitators over the past few years, but it takes cuts like this to show that most of them have only picked up the style, lacking any real knowledge of the meat underneath.

Uh huh, they got it down all right. And since the latest issue of Cashbox noted that this 'un was a gold disc on its first day of release, I guess they're about to nicely keep it up. Not bad for a pack of Limey lemon squeezers.

It seems like they're finally getting the picture, though it's funny the way the reviewer almost ignores 'Stairway.'

Now for my favorite Zeppelin album, Houses of the Holy:

In the same way that the Rolling Stones evolved into a senior, "safe" bizarro-perversion band, Led Zeppelin has become a senior, "safe" heavy-metal band. But by its very nature safety cannot coexist with heavy-metal fire and macho intensity (or bizarro-perversion, for that matter), which is probably why Houses of the Holy is one of the dullest and most confusing albums I've heard this year.

Even after a hundred listenings I'm still not convinced this album is by the same group that brought us the likes of "Communication Breakdown," "Heartbreaker" and "Black Dog." The powerfully simplistic rhythms and surging adrenaline drive that made those songs so compelling is nowhere to be found.

Jesus. The pattern here seems to be: "we hated all the earlier albums when they came out, but after awhile we realized they were great. Apparently it takes awhile to truly appreciate Zeppelin's music, because they're ahead of their time. But the same couldn't possibly be true of the latest album. It sucks."

"The Crunge" reproduces James Brown so faithfully that it's every bit as boring, repetitive and cliched as "Good Foot." Yakety-yak guitar, boom-boom bass, astoundingly idiotic lyrics ("when she walks, she walks, and when she talks, she talks") -- it's all there.

OK, he's right. I never cared for The Crunge, except for the instrumental versions played live in 'Dazed.'

"Over the Hills and Far Away" is cut from the same mold as "Stairway To Heaven," but without that song's torrid guitar solo it languishes in Dullsville -- just like the first five minutes of "Stairway." The whole premise of "graduated heaviness" (upon which both songs were built) really goes to show just how puerile and rudimentary this group can get when forced to scrounge for its own material.

Hey buddy? Fuck you.

When you really get down to it Led Zeppelin hasn't come up with a consistent crop of heavymetal spuds since their second album. Their last three efforts have been so uneven that had they started with Led Zeppelin III I'm convinced they wouldn't be here today. While they've been busy denying their bluesrock roots, Robert Plant's vocals have lost their power and the band's instrumental work has lost its traces of spontaneity. In simple fact of matter, Houses of the Holy was 17 months in preparation, yet Led Zeppelin I (the product of a mere 15 hours) cuts it to shreds.

No, really. Fuck you. Jeezus, you slammed the first album, but now it's used as something to slam a masterpiece like this? Fuck you.

So all in all it's been two separate groups we've called Led Zeppelin, and I've tired of waiting for the only legitimate one to return. An occasional zinger like "When the Levee Breaks" isn't enough, especially when there are so many other groups today that don't bullshit around with inferior tripe like "Stairway To Heaven."

If I didn't say it before, fuck you. This review has to go down as one of the worst ever. I mean, wow. That last sentence should be tattooed on his forehead.

Physical Graffiti:

In a virtual recapitulation of the group's career, Physical Graffiti touches all the bases. There's a blues ("In My Time of Dying") and a cosmic-cum-heavy ballad ("In the Light"); there's an acoustic interlude ("Bron-Y-Aur") and lots of bludgeoning hard rock, still this band's forte ("Houses of the Holy," "The Wanton Song"); there are also hints of Bo Diddley ("Custard Pie"), Burt Bacharach ("Down by the Seaside") and Kool and the Gang ("Trampled under Foot"). If nothing else, Physical Graffiti is a tour de force.

It was Page who formed Led Zeppelin in 1968, after the model of such guitar-oriented blues-rock units as Cream, the Jeff Beck Group and the Yardbirds, where Page, a former sessionman, had first come to prominence. And it is Page who continues to chart Zeppelin's contemporary course, not only as the group's lead guitarist, but also as the band's producer.

His primary concern, both as producer and guitarist, is sound. His playing lacks the lyricism of Eric Clapton, the funk of Jimi Hendrix, the rhythmic flair of Peter Townshend; but of all the virtuoso guitarists of the Sixties, Page, along with Hendrix, has most expanded the instrument's sonic vocabulary.

Um, OK.

A facile soloist, Page excels at fills, obbligatos and tags. Playing off stock riffs, he modulates sonorities, developing momentum by modifying instrumental colors. To this end, he uses a wide array of effects, including on Physical Graffiti some echoed slide ("Time of Dying"), a countryish vibrato ("Seaside"), even a swimming, clear tone reminiscent of Lonnie Mack (the solo on "The Rover"). But his signature remains distortion. Avoiding "clean" timbres, Page usually pits fuzzed out overtones against a hugely recorded bottom, weaving his guitar in and out of the total mix, sometimes echoing Robert Plant's contorted screams, sometimes tunneling behind a dryly thudding drum.

By 1971 and the release of the fourth Led Zeppelin album, Page and the band had broadened their approach to include acoustic ballads and folk-derived material, a side of the band introduced on Led Zeppelin III. "Stairway to Heaven," the band's most popular song, delicately balanced acoustic and electric elements before climaxing in a patented fuzz assault. Plant's controlled singing and Page's development of texture both distinguish this track, which to this day confounds critics who denigrate Zeppelin as a band schooled only in the art of excess.

Physical Graffiti only confirms Led Zeppelin's preeminence among hard rockers. Although it contains no startling breakthroughs, it does afford an impressive overview of the band's skill. On "Houses of the Holy," Plant's lyrics mesh perfectly with Page's stuttering licks.

Ah, so you actually like Houses of the Holy now! A little late for that, isn't it?

Naturally, Graffiti is not without faults — Zeppelin is too intuitive a band to cut a flawless album. Although Page and Bonham mount a bristling attack on "The Rover," this track, like several others, suffers from Plant's indefinite pitch. Other cuts, such as the ten-minute "Kashmir" and "In My Time of Dying," succumb to monotony.

Like Stairway, they didn't recognize a classic like Kashmir when it was right in front of them. I'm not sure what he's talking about with Plant's pitch in The Rover--it's actually Kashmir that has some pitch issues (at 4:19, Plant is woefully out of tune and even out of key at times on his long descending vocal line). But it's a small matter in the big picture.

Despite such lapses, Physical Graffiti testifies to Page's taste and Led Zeppelin's versatility. Taken as a whole, it offers an astonishing variety of music, produced impeccably by Page. They have forged an original style, and they have grown within it; they have rooted their music in hard-core rock & roll, and yet have gone beyond it.

Wow, some actual praise. Who woulda thunk?

Presence:

Led Zeppelin's seventh album confirms this quartet's status as heavy-metal champions of the known universe. Presence takes up where last season's monumentally molten Physical Graffiti left off—few melodies, a preoccupation with hard-rock rhythm, lengthy echoing moans gushing from Robert Plant and a general lyrical slant toward the cosmos. (Give an Englishman 50,000 watts, a chartered jet, a little cocaine and some groupies and he thinks he's a god. It's getting to be an old story.)

Boy, you can't help but throw in some insults even when you're almost saying something positive, can you?

The opening track, "Achilles Last Stand," could be the Yardbirds, 12 years down the road. The format is familiar: John Bonham's furiously attacking drum is really the lead instrument, until Jimmy Page tires of chording under Plant and takes over.

Although Page and Plant are masters of the form, emotions often conflict and the results are mixed. A few bars from one piece convince the listener he's hearing the greatest of rock & roll, then the very next few place him in a nightmarish 1970 movie about deranged hippies.

Actually there is some fine rock on Presence. "Nobody's Fault but Mine" is strong, while "Candy Store Rock" perfectly evokes the Los Angeles milieu in which the Zep composed this album; it sounds like an unholy hybrid in which Buddy Holly is grafted onto the quivering stem of David Bowie.

Zeppelin's main concern here is to establish a reliable riff and stick to it, without complicating things too much with melody or nuance. At their best, the riffs are clean and purifying. The two dreary examples of blooze ("Tea for One," "For Your Life") may stretch even the diehards' loyalty, but make no mistake: Presence is another monster in what by now is a continuing tradition of battles won by this band of survivors.

I guess this is mostly positive, but RS just insists on being smug and condescending. Note that this reviewer is the author of 'Hammer of the Gods.'

In Through the Out Door:

Hearing John Bonham play the drums is the aural equivalent of watching Clint Eastwood club eight bad guys over the head with a two-by-four while driving a derailed locomotive through their hideout. Either you are horrified by all that blood on the floor, or you wish you could do it yourself. No one's ever going to accuse Bonham of subtlety, but everyone should give him credit for consistency. Even on Led Zeppelin's worst effort (Houses of the Holy),

Worst effort? You liked it in the PG review, and now you hate it again. What is it with you people?

If perchance Robert Plant meets someone who doesn't dump on him, he should avoid calling her "the apple of my eye" or she will probably reject him, just as I am rejecting "I'm Gonna Crawl," in which he sings that cliché almost as if it meant something. Any band portraying itself as mystical romantic poets ought to go to the minimal trouble of being obscure enough to cover up its lack of anything to say.

As you might suspect, In through the Out Door's best number is the one in which you can understand the least words. This is "In the Evening," a classic Zeppelin orchestral guitar rumble halfway between "When the Levee Breaks" and "In the Light." The only line I was able to understand was "Oh oh I need zoo love." Judging by Plant's convincing orgasmic moans on the rest of it, I would rather guess at the remaining lyrics.

Sounds like 'Jew love' to me, asshole.

Page now appears to have fallen victim to the law of diminishing returns, because "In the Evening" has the only great guitar riff on the entire album. The rest of the songs are based on John Paul Jones' keyboard work. Though an excellent musician, Jones functions best behind Page, not in front of him.

Side two consists of three of the least effective songs the band has ever recorded. "Carouselambra," the opener, is built on an extremely lame keyboard riff

Fuck. You.

and clocks in at an absurd 10:28. Repetition to weave a hypnotic effect has always been part of the Zeppelin sound, but what they are repeating here is not worth the effort. "All My Love" and "I'm Gonna Crawl," both slow and incorporating synthesized violins, let the record peter out instead of climax. Side one qualifies as occasionally interesting — particularly the heavy-metal square dance, "Hot Dog," and Bonham driving a locomotive through the mariachi (I think) beat in the middle of "Fool in the Rain"—but the only cut I'll return to with any enthusiasm is "In the Evening."

Yeah, there are a couple of weak cuts on that album (Saurez and Hot Dog), but Carouselambra ain't one of them. Jerk. And your Musician interview with Jimmy in '88 didn't change my mind about you, either.

Coda:

Coda is a resounding farewell from the greatest heavy-metal band that ever strutted the boards. Produced by Jimmy Page, the album chronicles a ten-year adventure in high guitar drama and maximum blast. If the record seems a bit of a cheat timewise–it clocks in at 32:40–the song selection is a marvel of compression, deftly tracing the Zeppelin decade with eight powerful, previously unreleased tracks, and no unnecessary elaboration.

Side two skips ahead to November 1978 for three outtakes from the Stockholm sessions for In through the Out Door, Zeppelin's last LP before the group-sundering death of John Bonham. Recorded at Abba's state-of-the-art Polar Studios, these tracks – the bone-rattling "Ozone Baby," the hypnotic "Darlene" and "Wearing and Tearing"–are about as wonderful as hard rock & roll gets.

Completing the picture – there was no getting around this – is "Bonzo's Montreux," recorded in Switzerland in 1976. Extended rock drum solos are notoriously the pits, but this one, electronically enhanced by Page and executed with considerable panache by Bonham's "drum orchestra," is true to the spirit of Sandy Nelson, and thus vestigially nifty at the very least. Coda is an honest and honorable career profile, and a classy way to go out.

High praise for Zeppelin's weakest album. I guess you don't appreciate something until it's gone, do you?

Yeah, for the most part, these reviewers are full of it. I don't blame Zeppelin for disliking Rolling Stone. The repeated negative comments regarding 'Houses of the Holy' are just outrageous.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd read some of the RS reviews, such as IV and 'Out Door', but some of them I had not. But I found the originals on the Rolling Stone website. Some of them were downright shocking. Ok, so the review of the first album.

Jimmy Page, around whom the Zeppelin revolves, is, admittedly, an extraordinarily proficient blues guitarist and explorer of his instrument's electronic capabilities. Unfortunately, he is also a very limited producer and a writer of weak, unimaginative songs, and the Zeppelin album suffers from his having both produced it and written most of it.

"Good Times Bad Times" might have been ideal for a Yardbirds' B-side. Here, as almost everywhere else on the album, it is Page's guitar that provides most of the excitement. "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You" alternates between prissy Robert Plant's howled vocals fronting an acoustic guitar and driving choruses of the band running down a four-chord progression while John Bonham smashes his cymbals on every beat. The song is very dull in places (especially on the vocal passages), very redundant, and certainly not worth the six-and-a-half minutes the Zeppelin gives it.

In their willingness to waste their considerable talent on unworthy material the Zeppelin has produced an album which is sadly reminiscent of Truth. Like the Beck group they are also perfectly willing to make themselves a two- (or, more accurately, one-a-half) man show. It would seem that, if they're to help fill the void created by the demise of Cream, they will have to find a producer (and editor) and some material worthy of their collective attention.

Eek. Somebody missed the point.

But then the same reviewer has this to say when reviewing the second album.

Hey, man, I take it all back! This is one fucking heavyweight of the album! OK—I'll concede that until you've listened to the album eight hundred times, as I have, it seems as if it's just one especially heavy song extended over the space of two whole sides. But, hey! you've got to admit that the Zeppelin has their distinctive and enchanting formula down stone-cold, man....Who can deny that Jimmy Page is the absolute number-one heaviest white blues guitarist between 5'4" and 5'8" in the world?? Shit, man, on this album he further demonstrates that he could absolutely fucking shut down any whitebluesman alive, and with one fucking hand tied behind his back too.

When Plant yells "Shake me 'til the juice runs down my leg," you can't help but flash on the fact that the lemon is a cleverly-disguised phallic metaphor. Cunning Rob, sticking all this eroticism in between the lines just like his blues-beltin' ancestors!

The album ends with a far-out blues number called "Bring It On Home," during which Rob contributes some very convincing moaning and harp-playing, and sings "Wadge da train roll down da track." Who said that white men couldn't sing blues? I mean, like, who?

OK, so this guy's a smart ass, too. While it's obviously full of sarcasm, I don't take it as as being 100% negative. His comments about The Lemon Song are on the money, I think.....IMO it's one of the worst things Zeppelin ever recorded, and they had no business taking writing credits for it. Criticize that tune all you want. But I think there's also a fair amount of praise in the review, too. Or at least it doesn't make me want to mail the guy a bomb like the first one did. Right?

From Mojo magazine Led Zeppelin & the story of 1969:

Led Zeppelin Vs The Press

Rolling Stone critic John Mendelssohn didn't 'dig' Led Zeppelin. Forty years on, he explains why.

"In the spring of 1969, Scenic Sounds began promoting rock shows at a barn-like affair in Pasadena, Los Angeles, where floral floats were prepared for the town's annual New Year's Day morning Rose Parade. For their first shows in May, they booked as headliners a new English four-piece whose first album was getting played on local radio, despite being dismissed as self-indulgent crapola in Rolling Stone. To review this show, The Los Angeles Times dispatched the self-same spotty young Jewish university student who'd written the Rolling Stone review.

Yes, I was the spotty young student and, though I grow faint with embarrassment nearly 40 years after the fact on re-reading my horribly written review of the Rose Palace show, I haven't changed my mind. I liked tuneful songs with witty or poignant lyrics; I worshipped The Who and loved The Kinks and The Move. Zeppelin were about riffs and showing off. When I was able to make out any words, they seemed to be about what an implacable bull stud the singer was.

I will not, in the autumn of my years, withhold their due and claim not to have noticed Zeppelin's inventive arrangements. I have never heard a 4/4 beat turned inside out quite the way John Bonham managed on Good Times, Bad Times. I might have been the only person at the Rose Palace who seemed not to derive pleasure from how dexterously Jimmy Page played, how high Robert Plant was able to sing, at the undeniable brute power of the rhythm section.

When my review was published, I was denounced as a philistine or faggot. Led Zeppelin came back conquering heroes in mid-summer. The Los Angeles Times didn't invite my comments on their show at the Anaheim Convention Center in August, but I heard from several who attended how Plant's between-song banter patter had included a promise to make my ears resemble cauliflower.

A decade later, I attended a Wolverhampton Wanderers match with my friend Bev Bevan, once of The Move. We met Robert Plant outside of the stadium, and Bev introduced us. My name didn't ring a bell."

Lol, I don't think it's a big deal. I don't think "Rolling Stone" had an axe to grind with Zeppelin in particular. Throughout the 70's the magazine was all about mellow bands from California & that's who the good reviews & press went to. Dylan & The Rolling Stones recieved brutalizing reviews from RS in the 70's, & Jann Wenner was/is a good friend of Mick Jagger's. Also, RS has never been very over enthusiastic about hard rock to this day. It took almost 30 years since the release of "Back In Black" for AC/DC to get a cover, as if now they're finally legit. RS jumped on the Guns N Roses bandwagon in the late 80's & pre-Nirvana 90's because they had to seem some what relevant in the face of hair metal's popularity & GnR were being touted as the new Stones/Pistols. In the 70's Led Zeppelin was on the cover of about every issue of Circus & Hit Parader in some form or other without the hint of a negative word, so it works both ways in terms of criticism. Creem magazine featured Zeppelin & other hard rocks bands constanly to both negative & positive criticism, & if a band was from Detroit whether it was the MC5, The Stooges, or Bob Seger they could do no wrong as far as CREEM were concerned.

I don't know, it's still funny to me that people still have grudges about old RS reviews. They have done nothing but heaped praise on Zeppelin since 1988 when Plant's "Now and Zen" album came out.

I'm not a fan of RS but I do read it just to see what's going on. The major complaint I have with the magazine is what a leftist rag it is, where their music reviews barely register at all, except for Jann Wenner's personal 5 star review of Mick Jagger's solo album "Goddess In The Doorway" which I found hysterical even as a Stone's fan. Jann Wenner himself is a joke. I'll leave you with one last tidbit, concerning The Beatles Abbey Road along with the above mentioned John Mendelssohn & Jann Wenner, taken from (where else by me) the same issue of Mojo as above in a Beatles article:

"As John Mendelssohn in Rolling Stone concluded, the fact that "The Beatles can unify seemingly countless musical fragments and lyrical doodlings into a uniformly wonderful suite, as they've done on Side Two, seems potent testimony that, no, they've far from lost it, and no, they haven't stopped trying." Mendelssohn's viewpoint wasn't allowed to stand alone, however. His review was only printed because the critic originally assigned the job of tackling Abbey Road, Ed Ward, had delivered a crushing verdict; and Rolling Stone's editor Jann Wenner never liked to see his musical favourites being attacked in his magazine."

I like that Jann Wenner had to run a good review of Abbey Road to balance a negative review of Abbey Road because The Beatles were one his favorite bands. It's nice when you have editorial control. While not censoring Ed Ward's negative review Wenner felt he had to run Mendelssohn's positive review as an after thought to potentially bias the reader towards his view. If you weren't one of Wenner's favorite bands I guess you weren't afforded that luxury. Now that's a jerkoff.

Edited by kaiser
Link to post
Share on other sites

There's no question that, at times, Zeppelin was self-indulgent. Examples would be Robert at the end of "You Shook Me", when he takes forever to say the word "all". To me, that's just unmusicial because it's an excuse to show off his voice instead of doing what the song calls for, which is to finish the damn thing. Another example would be on the Danmarks Radio section of the DVD, when they get into the "sugar and spice, isn't it nice" stuff. Or in the WLL medley in TSRTS, when he says "boogie, boogie, wah wah wah wah wah wah boogie." What's the point of the "wah wah wah wah" stuff? What does it add to the music? Nothing. And Jimmy had his moments too.....sometimes when the Dazed had gone on for plenty long enough, he'd insist on playing yet one more unnecessary cadenza before the final chord. Sometimes less is more. But to say this dominated their music is just plain wrong. To me, the band was something like 90% brilliant and 10% self-indulgent, and as they matured, there wasn't as much of it latter. I know I'm preaching to the choir, and that for every homerun they hit, geniuses sometimes swing and miss, too.

Like I said, I'd seen some of those reviews, but not all of them. The negative 'Houses' review was the one that just blew my mind....that and the fact that they'd slam any given album but then praise it years later when they finally figured it out, while still slamming the current album. A day late and a dollar short, is how I see their reviewers.

They pissed me off when SRV died (20 years ago!) when in the issue that covered his death, they had the "women of Twin Peaks" on the cover. Who's had the greater long-term influence on the world? They became a fashion magazine, more concerned with Britney Spears than music, and I cancelled my subscription years ago.

Edited by PhxHorn
Link to post
Share on other sites

I was skimming through my copy of the 1988 Rolling Stone with the infamous Plant interview. Following the article, there's a separate article with quick reviews of their entire catalogue to that point. I'm almost positive this was the first time Rolling Stone began changing its tune towards Zep.

Link to post
Share on other sites

That interview was, I believe, the first time Robert mentioned that he didn't want to sing Stairway. "I wouldn't dream of it. I actually wouldn't enjoy it," I think was his wording. And yet the interviewer insists on dwelling on the topic and how it was written, which is obviously the last damn thing Robert wanted to talk about that day. RS had called it 'inferior tripe', and then 8 years after Zeppelin ended, they can't get enough of that tune.

Link to post
Share on other sites

It's the first time I read the (in)famous RS reviews and I find them inconsistent and musically-ignorant. But it's also the first time when I hear sort of similar things from a Zep fan. Of course, each of us hears/ feels the music in a particular way. For me, the long improvisations or songs such as YSM or TLS work just fine, like an orgasmic build-up. Or like jazz. So what if Plant's voice cracks, so what if Page is over-and-over again the same riff, they FEEL that music and make me feel it deep inside. They take me over in the caroussel. I never get bored or embarassed while listening to them or to Hendrix or Joplin doing it, I guess it's just called blues, you feel it or you don't. Otherwise, one could label "showing off" all big rock moments.

And strange little tunes like "Hats off" are unexplainable musical miracles. I can't reproduce them in my mind, I can't figure them out, but they don't cease to mesmerize me. Plant once detailed how these songs (he mentioned Out on the Tiles) are precious for their apparent out-of-key moments, unsynchronized playing, I don't recall exactly, I'm not a musician. Such tunes makes them unique in rock music. The Crunge?? well, Plant sings with sooo much humour those "idiotic" lines...How can you not love it, PhxHorn? to me, it's one of my favs, it always lightens my day :)) the funky side of Zep,they wouldn't have been that great without it.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I was skimming through my copy of the 1988 Rolling Stone with the infamous Plant interview. Following the article, there's a separate article with quick reviews of their entire catalogue to that point. I'm almost positive this was the first time Rolling Stone began changing its tune towards Zep.

That's exactly when RS started being nothing but postive towards Zeppelin & I haven't seen them write a harshly negative thing since about them. I re-read that issue you were refering to within the last month & posted several quotes of Plant's throughout the forum.

Link to post
Share on other sites

They pissed me off when SRV died (20 years ago!) when in the issue that covered his death, they had the "women of Twin Peaks" on the cover. Who's had the greater long-term influence on the world? They became a fashion magazine, more concerned with Britney Spears than music, and I cancelled my subscription years ago.

In all fairness to RS, they were never a music magazine, they were & are a left leaning pop culture magazine. I have that Twin Peaks issue still, & I'm sure before SRV died that the Twin Peaks cover & article were planned months before it hit the stands. SRV may have been a great respected musician but he was never a pop culture icon the way Elvis Presley, John Lennon, Kurt Cobain, Johnny Cash, Ray Charles, & James Brown were, & so he didn't recieve a cover when he died like those artists did. Hell, I was more than pissed when Justin Timberlake was on the cover of RS when they ran their tribute to Joe Strummer of The Clash in the same issue. I know that cover was already planned & quite frankly just because I love Joe Strummer (as much as Jimmy Page) doesn't mean he's a huge pop culture icon, certainly not as much as Justin Timberlake & I'm sure RS sold more copies of that issue because

Timberlake was on the cover than if Strummer was. Money is the bottom line & it is a business.

Link to post
Share on other sites

That interview was, I believe, the first time Robert mentioned that he didn't want to sing Stairway. "I wouldn't dream of it. I actually wouldn't enjoy it," I think was his wording. And yet the interviewer insists on dwelling on the topic and how it was written, which is obviously the last damn thing Robert wanted to talk about that day. RS had called it 'inferior tripe', and then 8 years after Zeppelin ended, they can't get enough of that tune.

I didn't take it as Robert Plant not wanting to talk about "Stairway" in that interview, quite the opposite. His 2 missions with that interview were to re-establish himself as a solo artist who embraced his past while debunking the "myths" about Zeppelin, "Stairway" being one of those myths. That's where Plant said "Kashmir" was the ultimate Zeppelin song & not "Stairway" & how everyone had always gotten that wrong. He also talked about the Tony Thompson rehearsals at great length, how the "new real Zeppelin" would just be Page & Plant(this is 1988, 6 years before it happend) if Zeppelin ever reformed again, his legacy with Zeppelin, etc. He was very much in a Zeppelin mode, setting the record straight according to him, & name dropping every current artist he could comparing his new music to those bands(which he would do for the next 2 years in interviews constantly). It was a very upbeat interview.

Link to post
Share on other sites

None of those RS reviews of LZ surprised my friends and me when they came out - even then we knew that RS didn't understand the power, musical and otherwise, of LZ. We thought the RS focus seemed to be on politics and/or bands and artists who were, in one way or another, "political." I remember the review where the RS writer referred to the guys as a bunch of "limeys" - we didn't understand the term at the time and my friend's mother, who was from England, told us it was an insult. In another piece about the band, the writer referred to Jimmy as "Jimmy Paige." :rolleyes:

We preferred to read magazines like Hit Parader, Creem, Crawdaddy, etc.

I remember where I was when reading the ITTOD review,because I threw it when I got to the "zoo love" part.

Poor. poor Jann Wenner

Yes...

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm sure the Twin Peaks issue was planned, but SRV deserved the cover anyway! You're right that it's about money, but the mag was supposed to be about music. At least that's why I was buying it. At any rate, I took my money and went elsewhere!

Link to post
Share on other sites

It is well known that Rolling Stone gave poor reviews of Zeppelin Lps. Later (after the break up) their attitude changed. A little too late for many.

Rememder that a poor review of Clapton's guitar work (a very early issue) with Cream was the domino that started the end of the band.

They pretty much will praise anything that Springsteen does and panned everything Zep released.

Just ignore the reviews and just read the articles!

Link to post
Share on other sites

This quote from kaisers post made me laugh, because that's how I felt at the time.

The major complaint I have with the magazine is what a leftist rag it is, where their music reviews barely register at all, except for Jann Wenner's personal 5 star review of Mick Jagger's solo album "Goddess In The Doorway" which I found hysterical even as a Stone's fan. Jann Wenner himself is a joke.

Nothing screams rock and roll like the Olsen twins! :unsure:

Link to post
Share on other sites

Reading these now is so laughable. But I don't think it was funny when Led Zeppelin was in their prime. I guess it goes to show to any artist--don't take the criticism to heart. You might want to listen a little, but you're probably better off not listening at all.

If Led Zeppelin had given a damn about what Rolling Stone had to say, the end product would have suffered a lot more.

Link to post
Share on other sites

It's always been a mystery why ANYONE cares what magazine reviews say about music. It's SUCH a subjective thing, really the only opinion that matters to me is, well, mine.

Now, on a forum such as this one can always think, "well, a bunch of like-thinking people as me like so it's probably good", (didn't work for tCV, I still think it sounds like it took them about a half hour to write and isn't that good) but really when it's RS on anyone else you don't know the reviewer or their motivations. Hell there have been well documented cases recently where reviewers haven't actually listened to the music !

Also, it can take many listens before something sinks in, sometimes years later something will grab you that didn't at first.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...