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Led Zeppelin – Houses Of The Holy (1CD, RM)

Sunday Man Cave Series, Part 3

I found a cheap copy of the 1CD remaster of this stone classic record, and I snapped it up… why? Pure impulse, surely. I mean, how many times do I own this record, now?

1 – this 1CD RM
2 – original CD
3 – all the tracks are on the 1990 boxed set
4 – 2LP deluxe RM

Alright, so only four times. I know for sure that I own a lot more copies other records of theirs!

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One of my favourite enduring memories of this record:

We went to Exhibition Stadium in August of 1994 to catch a show by Harry Connick, Jr. on his Funk Tour (promoting the excellent She album). We even met him that day! Anyway, the opener was the awesomeLeroy Jones Quintet. Leroy worked double-shift that day because after his own band opened, he jumped in and took up his regular spot in Harry’s band too!

Anyway, the LJQ gets done playing, and someone starts playing recorded music between sets to keep the crowd warm while they set up for Harry’s show. And what were they playing? Houses Of The Holy. In its entirety. It surely didn’t fit between two jazzy sets, but then again, why not? It sounded wonderful over the big sound system in the stadium…

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So, what can I say about this record? Hahaha here’s all you need to know:

The Song Remains The Same
The Rain Song
Over The Hills And Far Away
The Crunge
Dancing Days
D’yer Mak’er
No Quarter
The Ocean

Amen!

Chris Welch – Led Zeppelin: Dazed And Confused

This book was a phenomenal gift from Mike during our most recent foray to Taranna. It’s awesome!

Here we have the stories behind every song on every album, complete with context and historical information. This whole thing is an information overload! Published in 1998, it also has a whole section at the end for what the guys got up to after LZ ended (Plant’s solo career, the Firm, the remasters and boxed sets, even playing together at Jason Bonham’s wedding!).

Throughout the pages, too, are tons of great pictures, many of which I’d never seen before.

160 pages of Zep bliss.

Thanks heaps, Mike!!!

Zeppelin Songs

🙂

It’s Poll Week! The Results

Alright folks, the polls are all closed and the results are in. Here are your results for all seven band polls, as posted on a daily basis last week!

Our huge thanks to everyone who participated. You’ll have noticed that I kept all the results hidden through the week. That was so I could do a big reveal in a post like this one. Fun!

I, myself, refrained from voting on all of the polls this week. Why? I wanted the results to be driven purely by you, our beloved KMA Readers.

NB: Number of votes per album are in brackets after album titles [e.g. (5)]. In the case of multiple albums per rating, each album received the number of votes indicated in parentheses.

Here we go!

 

 

 

 

Monday: Top 5 Iron Maiden Albums  (29 total votes)
1. Powerslave (6 votes)
2. The Number Of The Beast (5)
3. Iron Maiden / Piece Of Mind / Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son (3)
4. Killers / A Matter Of Life And Death / The Book Of Souls (2)
5. Live After Death / Somewhere In Time / Fear Of The Dark (1)

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Tuesday: Top 5 Led Zeppelin Albums (36 total votes)

1. Led Zeppelin IV / Houses Of The Holy (6 votes)
2. Led Zeppelin II / Physical Graffiti (5)
3. Led Zeppelin III (4)
4. Led Zeppelin I (3)
5. Coda / Led Zeppelin Boxed Set (2)
-and bonus-
6. In Through The Out Door (1)

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612856-132386

 

 

 

Wednesday: Top 5 Metallica Albums (30 total votes)
1. Master of Puppets (6 votes)
2. Ride The Lightning (5)
3. Metallica (4)
4. Kill ‘Em All / …And Justice For All (3)
5. The $5.98 E.P: Garage Days Re-Revisited / Load / Death Magnetic (2)
-and bonus-
6. Reload / S&M / Limited Edition Vinyl Boxed Set (1)

***

 

 

 

 

Thursday: Top 4* AC/DC Albums (28 total votes)
1. Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap / Highway To Hell / Back In Black (5)
2. Powerage (3)
3. For Those About To Rock… / Bonfire (2)
4. High Voltage / If You Want Blood… / Flick Of The Switch / ’74 Jailbreak / The Razor’s Edge / Ballbreaker (1)

* Apparently, there was just a Top 4 for this band, based on votes per album!

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Friday: Top 5 Slayer Albums (0 total votes)

Yes, you read that correctly. For whatever reason, poor Slayer did not receive a single vote in this series!

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Saturday: Top 5 Judas Priest Albums (35 total votes)
1. Hell Bent For Leather… / Unleashed in The East / Screaming For Vengeance (5 votes)
2. Sad Wings Of Destiny (4)
3. Stained Class / Defenders of The Faith (3)
4. Sin After Sin / British Steel / Painkiller (2)
5. Point Of Entry / Priest… Live! / Nostradamus / Redeemer Of Souls (1)

***

 

 

 

 

Sunday: Top 4* Black Sabbath Albums (32 total votes)
1. Master Of Reality (6 votes)
2. Vol. 4 (5)
3. Black Sabbath / Paranoid / Sabbath Bloody Sabbath (4)
4. Sabotage / Technical Ecstasy / Never Say Die! / Mob Rules / Tyr / Dehumanizer / Black Box / The Dio Years / 13 (1)

* Apparently, there was just a Top 4 for this band, based on votes per album!

***

 

 

 

 

 

In Sum:

This has been a really fun week for me, watching the results come in (or not, as the case may be… sorry Slayer!). I hope you’ve all enjoyed it as much as I have.

And for those of you wondering about dipping your toes into the discographies of any of these bands, you can perhaps use these Top 5 voting lists as a shopping list. After all, those selected here are KMA Reader Approved!

Cheers, everybody!

It’s Poll Week! Tuesday Edition

Our Tuesday edition of Poll Week is gonna be a tough one. You see…

I was wondering if it was even possible to choose a Top 5 Led Zeppelin Albums. We love them all so much, can we do it? I mean, isn’t like choosing between children?

Well, just try to think of which ones you play the most. Let’s try!

And once again, I’ve included studio, live and compilation albums (source: Wikipedia).

Give ‘er!!   \m/   \m/

 

 

 

Led Zeppelin Overload!

Led Zeppelin Overload!

As pointed out on the excellent Second Disc blog, today is the release date for the last three of the amazing Led Zeppelin re-issue series!

Presence, In Through The Out Door, and Coda, all in formats like the rest in the series:

Original, and Deluxe Vinyl
Original, and Deluxe CD
Super Deluxe Edition

Yesss!!! I wants them all (in Deluxe Vinyl)! The preciousssss!

Go get yours!

Led Zeppelin Overload!

Led Zeppelin Overload!

Huge thanks to the excellent Second Disc blog for letting us know today that July 31, 2015 will see the release of the three final Zeppelin re-issues! Woohoo!

FOLLOW THIS LINK TO SECOND DISC FOR THE DETAILS!

zepzepzep

Led Zeppelin – Houses Of The Holy RM

Christmas 2014, Pt. 11

Led Zeppelin – Houses Of The Holy (deluxe 2LP RM)

Yeah that’s right, baby, I’m dropping two deluxe Led Zeppelin albums, with companion audio, in two days. Can you stand it? Of course you can!

Go back far enough in my history and I’d have told you this was, hands-down, my favourite Zep album. While it is still a total classic, my old age has brought me the wisdom to know that choosing a favourite of theirs is like choosing a favourite child. You just can’t do it.

Anyway, here we’ve got Houses Of The Holy, Zep’s 5th record and (just like the others before it) I’ll same the same thing for this one: I cannot add to the decades of scholarship, paid and fan-written reviews on this record. It’s all been said. All I can say is WOW once again, this record sounds as good as it should, just like the others. A brilliant set.

Now, the companion audio is where I get really excited about this release. As if I wasn’t already excited about having the album itself on this quality vinyl, but anyway…

The Song Remains The Same (guitar overdub reference mix) is a beautiful instrumental, The Rain Song (mix minus piano) I love love loved! And Over The Hills And Far Away (guitar mix backing track), another instrumental, is f-ing fantastic.

The Crunge (rough mix – keys up) is so damned funky, what a groove. The bits in brackets here describe it perfectly. Dancing Days (rough mix with vocal) is super-cool, and I believe I detected different vocals, in places.

No Quarter (rough mix with JPJ keyboard overdubs – no vocal) is a key seller here, those piano paerts are perfect, and hearing it as an instrumental is giddy-making. And last but not least, arguably one of Zep’s heaviest tracks, The Ocean (working mix) has some odd guitar harmonies before the “la na nanana na…” parts. Interesting.

Interestingly, there is no companion audio for D’Yer Mak’er. Presumably, this is because the band nailed it perfectly in one go and there is no different version to be had. 😉

You know, this companion audio disc would make a cool album on its own. Very different from the album we know and love, but I think it would stand up!

For my money, the companion audio here is far more interesting than that which came with the LZ IV, which is probably blasphemy to say. But listening to this I actually got very excited about it in ways that IV’s extra stuff didn’t manage.

Can I vote above full marks? I mean, like, 1000/10? Because this set is So. Damn. Good.

Get you some.

houses of the holy

Led Zeppelin IV RM

Christmas 2014, Pt. 10

Led Zeppelin – IV (deluxe 2LP RM)

This was a Christmas gift from my Mom a couple of months ago, and oh man. OH MAN!

Look, we know all about IV, right? So you’ll understand when I say I have nothing to add about the record itself. It’s huge. Gigantic on a scale that my brain, on so little coffee this morning, cannot even really begin to comprehend even where the edges of its vastness are.

And the RM job on the original LP sounds gorgeous. Of course it does. The first three records were done perfectly, no reason this shouldn’t be too! The packaging is a treat too.

Now, the companion audio slab, which for me is the real reason to own these albums over again…

Black Dog is a “basic track with guitar overdubs.” I’d say the difference is most noticeable in Plant’s vocals on the “oh-yeahs.” Rock And Roll is an “alternate mix,” which is mostly on the guitar solo. The Battle Of Evermore is an instrumental “mandolin/guitar mix from Headley Grange.” Gorgeous.

Stairway To Heaven is a “Sunset Sound mix,” which has a bit more keys in the middle, while Misty Mountain Hop is another “alternate mix,” most notable (again) in the guitars. There’s a count-in on Four Sticks, which is an alternate mix, and here the difference is most obvious on the vocals. When we’re so used to the original, at this point, I like hearing how they changed things, at least for this take.

Going To California is a “mandolin/guitar mix” instrumental, with the mandolin handling the vocal line. I really dug this. And finally, When The Levee Breaks is an alternate U.K. mix with an echo and darkness to it, and again an altered vocal approach.

I give this package full marks, an A with as many +’s as you’d like to give it. I’m still waiting for another in this series to have companion audio to compare to the greatness of LZ I’s full live concert, but this is a sweet, sweet time capsule that will surely be one of the more popular of the re-release series.

Final Note: I think the most beautiful thing for me, playing this album through for (what must, by now, be) the millionth time in my life, was listening to my three-year-old daughter singing along. She didn’t know the words, but it didn’t matter – this music is so primal, so elemental, so epic, it simply demanded she sing. And sing she did.

LZ IV

HMV Led Zeppelin

HMV Strikes Again

So I was trolling the bins at our local shite HMV mini store, last night. I believe I’ve mentioned them before, it’s the pathetic one that wants to be a real HMV when it grows up. Anyway, I usually only use them for the $5 deals. But it’s often amusing to poke around in the place, if you’ve got a few minutes to spare. Always something enlightening to see…

For example, last night I saw the following. I just… I can’t… I mean… Goddamn it, HMV!

dumbass hmv

This display was lovingly crafted by rocket scientists.

 

Christmas 2014, Pt. 8

Awwww YEAHHHHHHH!!!!!

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Thanks heaps, Mom and Dad!!

 

Led Zeppelin 2014 Remasters Round-Up

Felt like these Zep reissues needed a round-up post.

The Product:

I can’t speak for the 2CD sets (although I have fondled them in the shops, they were still shrink-wrapped). And I can’t say anything about the super-duper fancypants editions (maybe one day Rich will write about them… didn’t he get those?). But the Deluxe vinyl sets that I have here are simply divine. All 180g, satisfying to hand as you heft them (especially LZ I, with its 3 LPs where the others have 2). Faithful reproductions of the originals, they are also pleasing to the eye.

The Albums:

I’ve had a blast going through all of this stuff. These were exactly what you know and love. The remastering sounds really clean and loud and wonderful. I have no complaints… although I’m not an expert on remastering jobs. Your mileage may vary, but I’d wager you’ll be just fine with them.

The Companion Audio:

On LZ I, we get the full 1969 Paris concert and it’s a corker. This was my favourite of the three sets for that very reason. I know I mentioned it in my reviews of LZ II and III, that I wished there was live content for the II and III sets as well, especially considering there had to have been more than enough live stuff recorded to use. Even if it wasn’t all one show, a collection of live tracks from each time period would still rule. Alas.

On LZ II and II, of course, we get rough mixes and slightly different versions. They’re still great. It’s still interesting to listen to these songs in early forms. There are enough differences, over the course of each disc, to make them more than worthwhile.

In Sum:

Led Zeppelin I, II and III, the 2014 remasters are great. It really impresses me that now, even after all of this time, we can all still get so excited about these records we’ve heard a million times. It speaks volumes to the enduring strength and timelessness of the material.

I don’t have a rating system, but for these I thought I would try. I would give these complete vinyl packages the following:

LZ I: 5/5

LZ II: 4.5/5*

LZ III: 4.5/5*

 

* .5 lost for wanting live stuff instead of the other mixes. Not that there’s anything wrong with the tracks that are here, really. They could be 5/5 if LZ I hadn’t shown me what was possible with the others.

Led Zeppelin III (2014)

Well, let’s just get it out of the way and complete the trifecta. As with the reissues of Led Zeppelin I and II, may I just say that there is nothing I can add to the decades of writing and scholarship and fandom that has followed these records into history. It’s all been done and said far better than I could ever manage.

And Led Zeppelin III, the 2014 remaster? It sounds crisp, clear, and friggin’ gorgeous. An amazing album done justice in this release.

As with the other two sets, the real meat and potatoes (for me) is the Companion Audio. With Led Zeppelin I, it was a glorious full concert from 1969. With II, it was some interesting studio outtakes and my wish that, optimally, there’d been live stuff instead.

With III, I still would rather that there had been live stuff included. Again, surely, there would be enough to have done live recordings with each of these, as with I. A missed opportunity, in my opinion.

But I won’t be so quick to say it’s only more studio outtakes on this release and carry on. It’s true, of course, but there’s some tracks here to make Zeppelin fans salivate.

First up is an alternate mix of The Immigrant Song. Man, what a riff. I didn’t find any really noticeable difference from the studio track. If anyone else did, I’d be pleased to know what I missed. But may I also note, here, that now every time I hear this song I think of Scott at Heavymetaloverload. “We are your overlords…”

Friends is, as with a couple of song versions on II, just the music, no vocals. It’s karaoke time! But this time with bongos! This really shows off just what a great track this is. I didn’t find myself missing the vocals as much here. I mean, obviously I did, but also not…

Celebration Day’s alternate remix, again, wasn’t different enough for me to notice much. Again I stand prepared to be shown.

Since I’ve Been Loving You, here, is a rough mix of the first recording. It’s a gorgeous slow blues, as always. But there’s a noticeable difference in the vocals. The organ is more understated and I preferred it to the album track. This is a great version.

Bathroom Sound, another instrumental track, is really just the precursor to what would become Out On The Tiles. Interesting to hear it in its embryonic stages.

Gallows Pole (rough mix), the old traditional tune, is another gem in these bonus tracks. A brilliant version with that sweet build-up.

That’s The Way, a rough mix with dulcimer and backwards echo, is a very different acoustic version without the studio track’s electric guitar noodling. It’s more like a sketch, in comparison, a work in progress (hence the ‘rough mix’ notice, eh?). I liked it, still.

Jennings Farm Blues (rough mix of all guitar overdubs that day) is an early version of Bron-Y-Aur Stomp. It’s a bit more pop-rock in feel but I still liked it.

Key To The Highway/Trouble In Mind (rough mix) is a great blues jam with trippy vocals. This is a superb unheard track!

NB: We do not get alternate versions of Tangerine or Hats Off To Roy Harper. It’s OK, I think the stuff here more than makes up for it. But for the price they’re charging for these sets, it likely wouldn’t kill them to have thrown something of those two in as well and made it an 11-track disc. Alas.

In Sum:

Led Zeppelin III is just so damn good. And the Companion Audio here is worth the price of admission, for sure. Beautiful.

Led Zeppelin II (2014)

The Preamble:

Once again, there’s nothing I can add about Zeppelin or this album that hasn’t already been said, and by better writers.

The Album Proper (1LP):

I mean, this is the Brown Bomber for crying out loud. You know it like a best friend, at this point. We all do. It’s so full-sounding… Seriously. You know this beast already. All I can say is that this 2LP release is a beautiful thing. It sounds so bloody good.

The Companion Audio (1LP):

Whole Lotta Love (Rough Mix With Vocal) actually ain’t a whole lotta different from the album version, except the breakdown part, which is very different indeed, and there’s no guitar wail when restarting… I missed it, totally should have been there. The lyrics are a little bit different afterwards too, and I get it for the sketch that it is, but I prefer the album track on this one.

What Is And What Should Never Be (Rough Mix With Vocal) is a little different in the harmonizing bits, but otherwise it’s essentially unchanged from the album track. Unless I missed something here? And if so, fair enough.

Thank You (Backing Track) made my brain strain to hear Plant’s vocals. I’ve heard this song so many times, my mind was filling in all the blanks. Until I realized: this is the Ultimate Karaoke Track! You know all the words, so step up to the mic and give ‘er!

Heartbreaker (Rough Mix With Vocal) is not all that different from the album track, except in the guitar solo, which is way crazier than the album version. In fact, I might prefer this one, it’s awesome!

Living Loving Maid (Backing Track) is another perfect karaoke ripper. Even taking away Plant’s indelible vocals and letting the band do the talking proves just how hugely awesome this song really is. Interestingly (and most pleasingly), somehow isolating the vocal line out of this track has made the bass more prominent, and I love it.

Ramble On (Rough Mix With Vocal) is missing electric guitar parts in a couple of key (album version) places, even though my brain was waiting for them. Also missing were some vocal overdubs… Actually, I prefer this track played this way.

Moby Dick (Backing Track) is a brilliant bookend effort. It’s basically just the beginning and ending parts of the song without any drum solos at all. You can even hear him counting 1-2-3-4 at one point…  [UPDATE: I was saying to Scott in the comments that this track is the equivalent of seeing them live and they start up this song, so you go get a beer or take a leak, and come back in time to hear the ending! So true. Hilarious!]

La La (Intro/Outro Rough Mix) is an unreleased instrumental track. Boaby must’ve been off having a nap, for this part. Happy chording becomes an acoustic bit before the full band comes back, then repeat. It’s actually a fascinating jam track, with lots of ideas crammed into its short minutes.

In Sum: 

It’s the fucking Brown Bomber. What am I supposed to say, at this point? As for the companion audio, it was a true pleasure to get to hear the different versions. I do still wish that this had had a live albu with it (like LZ I) instead of studio tracks. Ah well.

Led Zeppelin I (2014)

The Preamble:

For a couple of reasons, I really feel like I’m going out on a limb here.

First, I mean, Zeppelin. Fucking ZEPPELIN. What the hell can I say, at this point that hasn’t already been said, and by far better writers than I could ever pretend to be? Next.

Second, if I am not mistaken, I may be the first of this wonderful blogging community (which has built up here) to actually address these reissues with a review. If I am wrong about that, I am fully prepared to stand corrected and will gladly link to your reviews! Of course, there was a lot of talk in the blogs and comments prior to their release, a lot of excitement, and people have (since) mentioned getting them, but I don’t think there’s been a full review in these parts, yet.

So. I’ll be the first, and by no means the best. You all can do Zeppelin better justice than me. But since I got the three Deluxe vinyl releases for my birthday back in July (as you’ll recall – thanks, Mom! You rock!), I felt it was about time I addressed them.

The Packaging:

Can I express how gorgeous this set is with words that come close to being adequate? Nope. Not even close. Three 180g vinyls in a gatefold package true to the original. The thing weighs a ton. It’s stunningly beautiful. I know it’s not healthy to develop attachments to stationary objects, but this… I fell in love with this! Just holding it in my hands is sheer bliss.

The Album Proper (1LP):

We all know this album forwards and backwards, every note, every nuance. I don’t need to tell you a damn thing about it. What is my opinion of the remastering? It sounds friggin’ great! Does it compare to the remastering job on the 90s box sets? Um, maybe? Sure! I’ll let you experts hash it out. All I know is it sounds damn crisp (and beautiful!) to me. Superb.

The Companion Audio (2LP):

Recorded live at the Olympia in Paris, 1969-10-10, this is a must-have document. If you care about Zeppelin at all, and you do not yet have this, run DO NOT WALK to your local purveyer of music and get your hands on this set. You have been told.

Communication Breakdown is a helluva opening salvo blast with an amazing and huge bottom end, and Page’s guitar is super-cool. There’s a big crash ending and we go straight into…

… a slow-burning blues intro for I Can’t Quit You Baby, which features an amazing Plant vocal performance and guitar pyrotechnics from Page. Just… wow. The breakdown section is awesome. I love that Plant’s stage banter is welcoming the crowd to Paris… when most of the crowd are (surely) Parisians… the band are the visitors! Haha you cocky bugger, Boaby!

Heartbreaker is next, a solid version that hews closely to the record. The noodly guitar bit in the middle is cut short in favour of a full-tilt instrumental solo/band section.

NB. For both I Can’t Quit You Baby and Heartbreaker, the sound fades in and out a bit. It’s a less than perfect recording but even when it’s wonky it doesn’t affect too much. I don’t place much weight on it – it was 1969 and we’re lucky to have what we do. Just saying.

Up next is a completely brilliant version of Dazed And Confused. Everything about it is bluesy jam session glory. By the time Page starts from nothing and noodles and stabs his way up into the full blast section that’ll tear your head off, you’ll know everything is clicking and they’re flying high. Then it teases down and back up again and we’re into the 10th minute before the song returns, and over the 12th minute before it all ends. Whoa.

A lovely experimental guitar intro of seven and a half minutes (!) leads into White Summer/Black Mountain Side. When the band kicks in in earnest, it’s short-lived. No matter, it’s the Pagey Show! Whew! The only downside is hearing some dude coughing occasionally, during the quiet parts. Seriously.

The smoking slow blues of You Shook Me is just glorious. It has a drunkard’s slow drawl and a big fat ass that makes a full meal out of this 12-bar. The harmonica’s a nice touch. This is brilliant. The bit from the 10-14 minute marks is just incredible.

Moby Dick is a 9-plus minute drum clinic. Rock out, man!

And our last track, How Many More Times, swings happily while crashing heavily along. Each player lets it all hang out here, wailing away with abandon only to (eventually) bring it all back down and quote Whole Lotta Love (before it was released!) into the ending. Whoa.

You might say that 8 tracks is a short live record, but many of these tracks are long. And anyone who has heard recordings of Led Zeppelin live knows that my overriding sensation of feeling like I have been ridden hard and put down wet is entirely accurate. There was no more they could do, on this night. It was perfect.

What a document! What a show! What a band!

This is a gorgeous package, amazing music and, holy hell, this isn’t even fair to other bands.

Completely recommended.

Happy Birthday To Me, Pt. 5

This 40th birthday just keeps on giving!

To recap: My parents gave me Led Zeppelin I, II and III on RM vinyl. In the gift, I and II were single-disc, while III was the Deluxe set with companion audio. Mom said we could swap the I and II for Deluxe versions (so awesome). Arrangements were made, and a little while ago the gorgeous 3-LP LZ I arrived (and I posted a pic on this site as soon as it did!).

And then, this morning, the LZ II arrived!

The collection (so far) is complete. You can bet that LZ IV and Houses Of The Holy (due out in October) are on my Christmas list!!

Look at all of that 180g vinyl MAJESTY!

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THANKS SO MUCH MOM AND DAD!!

Happy Birthday To Me, Pt. 4

In the on-going series of how awesome my 40th birthday has been, today in the mail I received a parcel from Super-Awesome James (if he hasn’t got  cape, he needs one). As you all know, James is Actual Quality Contributor and KMA Brother #1.

He is also really fucking awesome at finding incredible things to send lil’ ol’ me for my birthday. For the longest time, it seems, there were Sloan limited releases around my birthday and Christmas and, since James is also an Internet Wizard, these things would find their way to my house. Well, since Sloan’s new record (Commonwealth – you know you’re gonna buy it!) isn’t out ’til September, the pattern was broken. But fear not, because James has come through with a stunning piece of music gorgeousness:

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Oh yes, friends, displayed on our lovingly restored kitchen island tops is a beautiful copy of Guided by Voices’ Universal Truths And Cycles. On LP. Why is this so awesome? Because when I opened the box and peered inside and saw this in there, I did a happy dance right there in the kitchen (and you’d think the kids would look at me like I was nuts but, no, they joined in). Because this is the first Guided By Voices album I have ever owned on LP (I’ve always bought CDs. Believe me I want them all on vinyl but that’s a very slippery slope). Because Guided By Voices fucking rules. Because this album is really, really, really good. Because James. THANK YOU JAMES!

***

And, as if that parcel from James wasn’t enough (and it so totally was HOT DAMN!), Canada Post also brought me the Led Zeppelin I Deluxe Remastered copy, today. As you’ll all recall, my Mom gave me the go-ahead to upgrade from Remastered to Deluxe Remastered on LZ I & II! (The LZ III she gave was already the Deluxe).

Mike, you were right, at 3 x 180g records, it does have some heft to it. Yes, it is a very seriously gorgeous thing of beauty. THANK YOU MOM!

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Happy Birthday To Me! Pt. 2

So yesterday was an awesome day, as reported in my previous post. I loved having the family together (except we were missing my sister and brother-in-law), and all of my gifts were gorgeous.

My Mom and I had been talking about how the LZ I & II were single disc, and the LZ III was a double. As I said, I had no idea the vinyls were all available with the companion. As far as I knew, they were single disc releases.

Anyway, after everyone left last night, and after the kids were in bed and the dust settled, I did some researching on the Amazons and indeed I did discover the Deluxe vinyls. LZ I is a 3-disc set, and LZ II is a 2-disc set! So I texted my Mom and said mystery solved. I thought no more about it and started making plans to listen to these beautiful 180g Zeps!

We were talking again on the phone this morning and Mom said if I wanted to swap them out for the Deluxe sets, we’d just return the I & II that are here and re-order. Of course, I thought that was a great idea – and I never even mentioned it, she did! So she called Amazon, got it all sorted out, and I’m printing off a label and returning the LZ I & II tomorrow. The Deluxe versions are ordered, but not from Amazon (a third party seller). They should be here in a couple of weeks!!

Did I ever tell you that my Mom is the BEST? I mean, the absolute BEST? 🙂

Happy Birthday To Me!

Today was an excellent day. I got to spend all day with the kids. [Also, today marked the two year anniversary of my being stay-at-home Dad]. We sort of took the house apart, over the course of the day’s utter madness. It’s still not back together as it should be… and do I care? Haha no. Much fun was had. Mission accomplished.

And then, at suppertime, my parents arrived! You’d think yeah well big deal, but they don’t live in town, in fact, not anywhere near town. You see, my lovely wife had coordinated all of this without my knowledge, and my folks drove an hour and a half to be here for supper. It was wonderful (understatement). We barbequed some excellent steaks, and Mom brought homemade chocolate pie (my traditional birthday choice).

I would have been done right there. I mean, that’s a fantastic surprise. I love having everyone together. Also, I do love a good home-cooked meal surrounded by said loved ones!

But then there were prezzies. Oh my.

First up, I got some much needed new t-shirts and shorts. That is not interesting to you. However, relevant to this blog, there was also my first-ever official Guided By Voices t-shirt (on the back it says “The bus will get you there yet.” Of course it does. For all of you who don’t know A Salty Salute, the excellent opening track from Alien Lanes, you should seek it out). Also, the new book from The Oatmeal (I’ve wanted this for a while), and Questlove’s book too. I love the Roots and I’m fascinated by this guy so I really can’t wait to read the book.

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And then! Oh ho ho. And then.

THEN!

Oh the beauties.

Led Zeppelin.

Vinyls.

All three of the recent re-releases. Oh yes.

Interestingly, I’ve got LZ I and II as the single-disc vinyls, and LZ III as the double vinyl with companion audio. AWESOME!!

IMAG4895*

* Also, please admire the fine work we did on those kitchen island worktops. Those are sanded (by me) through several grits to a fine sheen, and then hand-oiled by my lovely wife. It was a lot of work, but worth it. Aren’t they lovely! And now back to my regularly scheduled Led Zeppelin blathering.

Now, I apparently hadn’t been paying attention. I’d thought these vinyls were either single disc only, or the Super Deluxe editions that are about $150. I honestly had no idea that they had released them all with companion audio on vinyl. I’d thought that was for CD only! Goes to show you that I haven’t been paying much attention.

For those of you who’ll recall from a little while ago, I went through a whole diemma about whether I should even get these. After all, I already own the crop circle box set (and the little black one to go with it) from the 90s. And I own all the albums on original CD. And I own several of the albums on original vinyl. Did I need them again? Today it was decided for me – yes I did!

My huge thanks to my family for making all of this happen, and for plotting behind my back and arranging to have us all together on this day. You guys rock!

Gareth Thomas – Led Zeppelin: The Illustrated Biography

My wife scored this one for me out of the library. It’s a great companion to Hammer Of The Gods, which I read recently. In fact, if you could take the text from Hammer and insert these pics, you’d have one king hell of a book.

Anyway, like all band pictoral essays, it’s funny to see the musicians in the early days, so young and fresh. And then, by the end, after all the energy-draining touring and the distracting and debilitating drugs and groupies and who knows what else has taken its toll, you see battle-hardened faces where once there was youth. Interesting, too, is that the book goes past the end of Zeppelin in 1980 and includes every award show and performance the main players have done together since.

The text accompanying the pics lacks the colour of Hammer but tells enough of the surface of the story to be passable. Besides, it’s the images that really matter, here.

One thing is for sure, though, and maybe it’s because I’m a Dude that like the Ladies, but man, Robert Plant should not have been wearing those tight, skinny pants. There are just some things I don’t need to see. I’m sure there were a lot of Ladies out there who would’ve disagreed with me, I’m just saying. Ugh.

Stephen Davis – Hammer Of The Gods, and LZ-’75

I like Led Zeppelin’s albums, but I’d never cared to read much about the band’s story, knowing only the broad impressions everyone has of them. I prefer to let the music speak.

However, something possessed me (haha) to sign both of these books out of the library recently, and I read them both within three days (no small feat, with a two year old son who refuses to nap underfoot). One book I loved, the other I thought was a rip-off. Allow me to explain.

By now, everyone who cares about the band will have devoured and internalized Hammer Of The Gods for the hilarious, intriguing story that it is. As a relative neophyte to their story and history, I thought it was great. The best fiction writers couldn’t conjure a better story of excess, oddity and pure testosterone and adrenaline that this purportedly real tale claims to be. Mix in mythology about black magic and deals with the devil, then sprinkle liberally with various substances, underage groupies and a management team that took no prisoners, and you’ve got one helluva tale for rock’s history. If even half of these stories are true, Zep still lived through an unbelievably unique experience, indeed. This book will make you want to play all their albums over again, even if you just heard them yesterday. Recommended reading.

There were 25 years between the writings of these two volumes, during which the author claims to have eventually found another box full of notes and stuff from his brief time with the band in 1975. Already, alarm bells went off in my head. I mean, really? Even if it’s true, it sounds more like a cash-grab, to me. Anyway.

LZ-’75’s dust jacket promises a lot, and I will grant that it does offer a few new insights and pictures. But a good chunk of this book is simply a blatantly re-worded re-telling of the same period as told in Hammer, with some artful additions to make the author seem more savvy than he probably was at the time (retrospect, a desire for more association with the legend of the band, and the need to fill pages will do that for a guy). There are also a few tales from his own experiences during that time, unrelated (really) to the story, again giving the sense of filling pages with minutiae that no one really would care about. I know I didn’t. Some of the quotes have been slightly altered (e.g. the brief Bob Dylan quote to Peter Grant), among others. To make things worse, this book totally lacks the fire and vigour of Hammer, as though the passage of time and the need for a fresh infusion of book royalty cash has slightly dulled the whole affair. It smacks of too little, too late.

If Davis had written up the decent pages of concert reviews and few new insights from LZ-’75, pasted it into Hammer’s text and re-released it as expanded and updated, that would have made more sense to me, as a reader. The rest of it is unnecessary twaddle. I’m sure most Zep fans, after getting this paperweight home, were pretty pissed to have shelled out $28 (CAD) of their hard-earned, in these hard times, no less, on what mostly amounts to the same stories over again.

I imagine Davis was hoping not too many people would do what I did, reading the books back to back, rendering the repetition obvious and the new insights not interesting enough to warrant a whole new volume. Skip this one, and stick with Hammer.

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