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Rhythm of Candy Store Rock


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Candy Store Rock: What's the deal with the rhythm? I recently found myself dancing to Candy Store Rock" (I have listened to it many times since about 1977) and recently found the rhythm interesting. I usually can figure out almost any rhythm (trained musician on bass and guitar), but this one really made me wonder (sorry!). I've come up with two possibilities, but I'd like to hear from anyone who can add light to this topic. Thanks!

A.  There are conflicting sheet music scores online, but one source, the "official" Presence book, has the downbeat one on the "oh" of the "Oh baby." The drums enter as "and a one"  with a cymbal crash on the one. Notice the bass riff is the same as in Gallow's Pole" !

 Here is a video from Plant's youtube channel of Page&Plant playing Gallow's Pole." based on the old traditional blues song "Gallis Pole" popularized by Leadbelly. Page got the idea for this after hearing folk singer Fred Gerlach's version.

Then why doesn't the guitar intro line up with the band entrance? The guitar intro tempo is just a bit faster than when the band enters a little late. I think it's likely just a sloppy error in the recording editing process. In fact, notice that Page&Plant mostly smooth that out the only time they played the whole song live*: https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-news/flashback-page-and-plant-play-candy-store-rock-at-final-show-72738/

Then why don't the bridge parts evenly line up with the rest of the song? At 1:52 and 2:59 they just cut an eighth note beat, and going back to the verse they add an eighth note beat. Why? to be tricky, or the engineer or Page just spliced different sections quickly. The band wrote this song in about an hour at a studio in Germany, recorded under time pressure to finish Presence so the Rolling Stones could use the studio. Other factors could have easily contributed (see Jimmy history at the time, and his quotes about their recording process for that album).

[Or- B. Music Notes Sheet Music online has the "oh" coming in after the one, so the intro guitar sets the tempo/rhythm, and the bridge doesn't jump in early; it's the same steady 4 as the rest?]--no; try hard to feel it that way; it doesn't groove.

I favor 'A' because of the evidence here, and because it feels like that is the easiest way to dance to it. I can play lots of tricky rhythm bass parts, but feeling it the "b" way seems too awkward, even to a big prog fan. Someone might say well it's just a bad attempt at tricky rhythm like the Crunge (more like the "Cringe"!), but I think that's a stretch. Zep almost always rocks hard, and knows how to groove. Also, inside the bridges "ooh, baby it's all right", the bass clearly plays the beginning of the phrase on the downbeat, similar to the verse riff. The "ooh" at 2:00 is on the downbeat. That's the groove! Play the song on bass or drums and dance to it and see what you think.

*"Candy Store Rock" was never performed live at Led Zeppelin concerts except for a brief riff by Page at Riverfront Coliseum in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1977, and a loose, short improvisation by Page and Plant as a "Black Dog" introduction in 1995 at Wembley Arena. The full song was played live only once in Montreux by Page and Plant on July 7, 2001. I emailed Charlie Jones, the bass player in that video; no answer yet. 

Also, I noticed the chorus riff under "Tastes so good" is similar to Oh Susanna's "Well I come from Alabama" (downbeat on "come") and Dixie's "and a way down south, in dixie," with the downbeat on "way." (I discovered this connection after a few days of the song playing in my head and thinking what it reminded me of, scanning the giant jukebox in my mind!

So then Plant's line "Tastes so good" starts on beat 2 of a 4/4 measure. I think this jibes with one of the band's influences on this song, rockabilly music/Elvis.                                              

-I hope some of you enjoyed my little study of this fun song! Please add light on this subject if possible.

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  • 2 months later...

This is one of the songs that's bugging me lately; along with other songs with tricky rythm (Howlin' Wolf's "Killing Floor"). I like to think that in the change at 1:52 they do eat and later add an eight note; but the way they go into and come back from it so seamlessly makes me think THERE IS a special & different groove that i'm just not feeling.
It used to happen to me with the drum intro for "rock & roll". Until that fated day; where after hearing Little Richard's "Keep on knockin'", I finally understood and heard RIGHT the "rock & roll" intro.

Edited by Zenzoker
forgot to add a word
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On 3/18/2021 at 6:25 PM, bluecongo said:

The rhythm of this has baffled me, too.  I think, and it’s just an educated guess, I think its a tape edit, sloppy splice or whatever and Jimmy just let it go 

because the transition between bridge especially at end makes no sense 

So... Friends is ok, the fanfare section in Stairway is ok, Black Dog is ok, Four Sticks is ok, the intro to Over The Hills is ok, The Crunge is ok, The Ocean is ok, but Candy Store Rock 'makes no sense' because of a bad tape splice?  Come on!
All of those other songs have portions where the metre changes from an even to an odd time signature, or beats are dropped/added.  There's enough of them that it could be considered one of the trademarks of the band!

Edited by woz70
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  • 3 weeks later...

I thought it was a syncopation change up, and I've run into this on other songs. The intro is odd too, but I think the slapback echo was purposely set a little off kilter to make things more interesting. Remember the live 73' Celebration Day intro, that's dropping a beat or adding

a dotted eighth (?!$&?!!!!). Well Zep was very creative, but don't understand why Candy wasn't played in 77'.

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