Jump to content

Why did the music of their late career suffer?


Recommended Posts

Again the contractual obligation thing about Coda doesn't sit with me. Their record company was swansong which they owned. I think it was just some lazy spin put out when the album was released to soften the blow that it wasn't an album proper.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 50
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

8 hours ago, babysquid said:

Again the contractual obligation thing about Coda doesn't sit with me. Their record company was swansong which they owned. I think it was just some lazy spin put out when the album was released to soften the blow that it wasn't an album proper.

Swan Song Records was still being distributed by Atlantic Records so maybe that last record (Coda) was part of a distribution deal they were still obligated to do as a band by Atlantic. 

 

 

Edited by blindwillie127
Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, babysquid said:

Again the contractual obligation thing about Coda doesn't sit with me. Their record company was swansong which they owned. I think it was just some lazy spin put out when the album was released to soften the blow that it wasn't an album proper.

Yes, Zeppelin had their own record company in Swan Song, but their output from that label was distributed by Atlantic, with whom Zeppelin signed a contract in 1974 to deliver five albums.  Coda  was a contractual obligation in that the band were legally obliged to deliver one further album, the Swan Song lawyers couldn't see a way out of it (and they tried), so Jimmy decided on the chronological live album he'd been planning for years as that final album, but Robert Plant vetoed the idea, so an album of previously-unreleased material became the compromise they settled on.  Atlantic chairman Ahmet Ertegun gave Peter Grant an assurance that if the band weren't happy with the album, he wouldn't force them to release it... but as it happened, they scraped together enough material to make it work, and the rest is history.

I like Presence  a hell of a lot more than I did initially; like many people, I thought it was lackluster and a step down from those first six albums, but I started listening to each song individually over a period of time, and at some point, it clicked for me... it's an album of such energy and urgency, the band are on fire performance-wise, and the material is simple yet also complex, book-ended by two of the best tracks the band ever produced, a very tasty little opus.

In Through the Out Door  is a solid album overall, not terrible and not extraordinary, with occasional moments of brilliance, but I do enjoy it thoroughly.  It's very much a spiritual successor to Houses of the Holy  and sees the band exploring new musical terrain, keeping it fresh.  If it lacks anything, it's at least one full-on hard rock track, 'Wearing and Tearing' having been recorded but excluded, but I also see Jimmy's point (even if I don't necessarily agree with it) that it didn't fit on an otherwise more reflective and contemplative album... but he's the producer and absolutely knows what he's talking about, so I defer to his expertise.  One BIG plus for ITTOD  to me is the divisive 'Carouselambra' which is my favorite Zeppelin track of all time, it shouldn't work, it should not work, but blimey it does... it's prog rock gone completely insane and it's utterly brilliant!!!  Plus the overall packaging of ITTOD  is pretty inspired, so add another point for that.

Coda  is a funny old album for me, and whilst I'll not comment on the actual material (for reasons of brevity), I do think Jimmy missed an opportunity with the recent remastered version by not expanding the standalone, non-deluxe edition to double album status; if you include the eight tracks released in 1982, the four additional tracks added in 1993, and the three 'complete' (in other words, not alternate mixes or instrumental outtakes) original tracks given official releases for the first time - namely, 'Sugar Mama', 'Key to the Highway/Trouble in Mind', and 'Friends (Bombay Orchestra)' - that's a total of fifteen tracks in all, a double album's worth of material, and a pretty good one at that.  If Jimmy had went for that approach and left the alternate mixes/instrumental outtakes solely for the companion discs, people like me who aren't interested in the vast majority of material on those supplemental discs won't be missing out on music we actually want that is only included on the Coda  deluxe, namely the aforementioned 'Sugar Mama', 'Hey Hey, What Can I Do', and 'Baby Come On Home'.  But that's just my own subjective and personal opinion on that matter.

Sorry for the long post, I was on a bit of a roll there...

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

I listened to Presence today and it is a ferocious LP.  I think the problem is that Roberts voice is still in recovery mode.  Didn't he record the entire LP sat down.  I know he had leg and elbow injuries from the crash but his breathing sounds off and his voice and oddly quiet at times.   

Link to post
Share on other sites

Good to find some Presence lovers out there. Starting with Coda and going all the way thru the recent companion

releases, etc., I still don't quite understand how this aspect of Zep's output came out lackluster. The Allmans, Clapton,

Pink Floyd, King Crimson and many other groups have great "extracurricular" collections . I think leaving all the recent

release stuff to Jimmy was probably a big mistake, although it seems to me that Plant and Jones didn't sound all

that interested in participating. A head scratcher for me, and a letdown.

Link to post
Share on other sites
15 hours ago, The Old Hermit said:

Yes, Zeppelin had their own record company in Swan Song, but their output from that label was distributed by Atlantic, with whom Zeppelin signed a contract in 1974 to deliver five albums.  Coda  was a contractual obligation in that the band were legally obliged to deliver one further album, the Swan Song lawyers couldn't see a way out of it (and they tried), so Jimmy decided on the chronological live album he'd been planning for years as that final album, but Robert Plant vetoed the idea, so an album of previously-unreleased material became the compromise they settled on.  Atlantic chairman Ahmet Ertegun gave Peter Grant an assurance that if the band weren't happy with the album, he wouldn't force them to release it... but as it happened, they scraped together enough material to make it work, and the rest is history.

 

Thank for that. I think that's cleared a few things up.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hermit, I like the idea of ITTOD being the spiritual successor to HOTH.  True in a lot of ways.

Not sure their output suffered, but the music scene was undergoing dramatic changes, and I am not sure you can be in that business and be immune to the changes around you. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

I liked and still like ITTOD.  It's differences from its predecessors are clearly attributable to both the changes in the music scene at that time as well as the major shift in writing and production by Plant/Jones.  Page got the Producer credit entirely by default rather than by participation.  

As for Coda, this was a case of scouring the vaults in order to fulfill the Atlantic deal.  It's still good stuff, but not on a par with the previous albums.

Edited by NealR2000
Link to post
Share on other sites

The Bands music at least in the studio didn't suffer. In a " Plantation" (don't remember the album) Robert is going on about the 6 1/2 years of music and the musical prism and changes.He further stated without change we would become stagnant and have no reason to go on. Zep 1 &2 are similar. 3 was radically different , the Fourth Album was the perfect combination of the first 3 but again VERY different. The "new songs" from PG like Kashmir, Trampled , IMTOD etc. were very different too. So the common theme of the first 4 and 1/2 albums is change but not a radical change.

My first few spins of Presence left me dumbfounded. This WAS a radical change, raw , stripped down , very little "light and shade" within any particular track (if any). After a few more spins it was all good. Great album but different .

ITTOD took more time to digest. The synth and heavy use of effects, the quirky Hot Dog track , "no ass kicker" track. Eventually, I began to realize how well crafted the songs were. Even the "pop-ish" tracks had some very complicated drum tracks and rhythm changes. I love the album but again VERY different.

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't place any "blame" when it comes to the introduction of smack from one person to another unless it really comes down to naivete.  Jimmy was a worldly, intelligent guy, who was all too familiar with the drug culture.  I'm sure that his interest in heroin had a lot to do with his fascination with Alistair Crowley. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, NealR2000 said:

I don't place any "blame" when it comes to the introduction of smack from one person to another unless it really comes down to naivete.  Jimmy was a worldly, intelligent guy, who was all too familiar with the drug culture.  I'm sure that his interest in heroin had a lot to do with his fascination with Alistair Crowley. 

Without a doubt Neal, Crowley was a huge drug fiend, morphine addiction until the day he died. What I don't understand with Jimmy being a student of Crowley is, how could Jimmy fail to see that Crowley was a failed prophet at best and a complete fraud at worst, mostly because of his addictions and appetites? One would think Jimmy would feel, eliminate the problem to seek the path, that is, eliminate the drugs to first clear the mind to allow the mind to concentrate on the path of Thelema. As much as I love and admire Jimmy, he was no true seeker of higher wisdom if he allowed heroin to seize his mind when he knew damn well the drug had seized the minds of those much greater and much stronger than him. After seeing what opiates had done to Crowley, he should have wanted to stay as far away from that shit as possible.

Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, IpMan said:

Without a doubt Neal, Crowley was a huge drug fiend, morphine addiction until the day he died. What I don't understand with Jimmy being a student of Crowley is, how could Jimmy fail to see that Crowley was a failed prophet at best and a complete fraud at worst, mostly because of his addictions and appetites? One would think Jimmy would feel, eliminate the problem to seek the path, that is, eliminate the drugs to first clear the mind to allow the mind to concentrate on the path of Thelema. As much as I love and admire Jimmy, he was no true seeker of higher wisdom if he allowed heroin to seize his mind when he knew damn well the drug had seized the minds of those much greater and much stronger than him. After seeing what opiates had done to Crowley, he should have wanted to stay as far away from that shit as possible.

If that simplistic thinking applied in the real world, we wouldn't still have a growing epidemic. Everybody thinks they can handle it better than the next guy. Everybody.

In the end, Jimmy Page handled it better than many. He survived to grow old.

I have no problem with how H might have influenced ITTOD. I really enjoy his playing on that record.

Link to post
Share on other sites
12 hours ago, IpMan said:

Without a doubt Neal, Crowley was a huge drug fiend, morphine addiction until the day he died. What I don't understand with Jimmy being a student of Crowley is, how could Jimmy fail to see that Crowley was a failed prophet at best and a complete fraud at worst, mostly because of his addictions and appetites? One would think Jimmy would feel, eliminate the problem to seek the path, that is, eliminate the drugs to first clear the mind to allow the mind to concentrate on the path of Thelema. As much as I love and admire Jimmy, he was no true seeker of higher wisdom if he allowed heroin to seize his mind when he knew damn well the drug had seized the minds of those much greater and much stronger than him. After seeing what opiates had done to Crowley, he should have wanted to stay as far away from that shit as possible.

What you said above may be true, but Heroin is probably the Most Addictive Drug, of all drugs, and people do certain drugs to FEEL GOOD.  I have done a lot of different drugs in My lifetime and I did them all because I liked the way they made me feel and think.  When I was a teenager (back in the 1980's), I probably "tripped" on Acid over 200 times.  I had a great time, every time I did Acid and I think that it made me a lot smarter now then it way back then.

I am no musician or a Jimmy Page, but I still like to drink and do the occasional stuff, but regardless of what I did do and do very occasionally, I am a positive member of American Society. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, Badgeholder Still said:

If that simplistic thinking applied in the real world, we wouldn't still have a growing epidemic. Everybody thinks they can handle it better than the next guy. Everybody.

In the end, Jimmy Page handled it better than many. He survived to grow old.

I have no problem with how H might have influenced ITTOD. I really enjoy his playing on that record.

Absolutely. And further, many, many artists of all kinds gain a LOT of ideas and go further creatively than perhaps they otherwise would due to exploring the darker recesses, or indeed simply unreachable places, within their psychy. Like kingzoso, my mispent youth had quite a number of years "exploring" my mind. Speed, acid, pot, in my view, ALL can be - and often are - very positive experiences. Acid is the best thing I have experienced if I was to be totally honest. And like alcohol, any abuse of it, you will  pay a heavy price. Also, like alcohol, it is not suited to all people. Just like certain types of people should never gamble.

Jimmy and Co. would have been brilliant no matter what. But the catalogue we have we would not have if not for all of their experiences, including the excess. In the end, the price paid was unbearable. Tragic. But that's how it turned out. I don't think there are regrets, and there should not be.

I don't think the music of their late career suffered album-wise even with the out of control excess for one reason. Who can say what would have produced in the "drug free" alternate universe? Might have been anything. Better, worse, no real direction change, who knows? I enjoy the ITTOD. It is worlds away from I and II and so it should be, that was 10 years previous. Who hell is the same person 10 years from before? LOL. It's a great album. Not their best, and I don't think Zep have a "worst". So it's a great album.

Link to post
Share on other sites

"I started using heroin because I thought it would make me more creative, that was a big mistake"

                                                                                                Jimmy Page speaking to author Barney Hoskyns and quoted in Trampled Under Foot  bio.

Edited by The Old Hermit
Link to post
Share on other sites

That now amongst Zeppers almost famous quote. Amazing how I'm not

sure he ever said that to anybody else. If you take opiates consistently

for a long time, an enormous % of people will get nasty withdrawals.

Actually Page told some confidantes. Speculation, but really I also think

Jimmy wasn't just simply into partying, he was a very sensitive artist

who didn't always handle stress or adverse conditions that well. Remember,

he did return from the 73' tour almost considering a stay in a sanitarium.

The actual studio playing of course remained top notch, but as all know,

Page creatively was not all there on ITTOD, so some fans, not me, have that

problem with that album. Despite some great guitar playing, not his songs.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't think the music suffered. they were still writing classic tunes on Presence onwards. The problem lay in the fact that the members themselves suffered at the hands of addiction and sorrow, which brought upon creative differences and absence for the most part.

The problem wasn't that they were writing bad material, it's that each member wanted different things from the material. The material wasn't bad, it was the creative 'glue' just wasn't there.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Right, Plant had been severely humbled and probably was not into having every track a barn burner, as he needed

more reflective or lighter( HD, SBS, AML) material to match his mood. The creative differences, is there any source

for this ?? Page and Bonzo were battling to keep their heads above water, let alone challenging Jone's and Plants

direction on ITTOD. No glue is a good way to put things too, the songs aren't as airtight as before.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I've always speculated that decreased frequency in playing together live had a huge impact - if you look at their early days 69-71 they toured often, this frequency diminished in the later years.  From 75 - 80 they did a total of 107 shows, in 69 alone they played 167 concerts, they especially seemed to be inspired by their live playing which in turn would influence the next album, songs would expand and improvisation would provide additional areas to explore for the next album. I can't recall  where i read this but in an interview Page was asked if he thought he could writing something as good as STH again, and his reply was that he would have to "work very hard" to get back to writing that sort of a song - I interpreted this at the time to mean he requires playing, and playing often in a live setting w/ an incredibly inspiring band to spark his writing to LZ IV levels. LZ to me has always been about live playing.

Edited by tadpolejar
Link to post
Share on other sites
16 hours ago, tadpolejar said:

I've always speculated that decreased frequency in playing together live had a huge impact - if you look at their early days 69-71 they toured often, this frequency diminished in the later years.  From 75 - 80 they did a total of 107 shows, in 69 alone they played 167 concerts, they especially seemed to be inspired by their live playing which in turn would influence the next album, songs would expand and improvisation would provide additional areas to explore for the next album. I can't recall  where i read this but in an interview Page was asked if he thought he could writing something as good as STH again, and his reply was that he would have to "work very hard" to get back to writing that sort of a song - I interpreted this at the time to mean he requires playing, and playing often in a live setting w/ an incredibly inspiring band to spark his writing to LZ IV levels. LZ to me has always been about live playing.

This is a very common theme among progressively-successful musicians.  I'm sure there are all kinds of reasons why this happens, but I tend to think money and fame are big factors.  The early days are all about making it, bursting with creative energy.  This process slows down when their lives become consumed with being millionaires, buying multiple houses, collecting fine art, and wanting to spend more time with growing families.  They were really big after Volume II, but I think it was the conclusion of the record-breaking 1973 tour that their lives entered the twilight zone.

Edited by NealR2000
Link to post
Share on other sites

Some very good observations, the last two posts. And certainly Page himself was highly unlikely to be playing or

practicing on his own. Also interesting is unless I'm missing something, Page never really seemed to be jamming much

outside of Zep. Supposedly up till 71' or 72' Jimmy was playing /practicing 3 hrs a day. Later I doubt it.

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...