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Random Awesomeness (part 2019.9)

Random Awesomeness

What I’m Reading Right Now: Almost Yankees: The Summer of ’81 and the Greatest Baseball Team You’ve Never Heard Of by J. David Herman.

Purchase “Bullet Holes” (from John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum) by Bush!

Christmas gift ideas for your Zeppelin fanatic

I didn’t run out of ideas when doing my “Christmas gift ideas” posts, but I’ve had other things going on. I appreciate all who have clicked on the links so far, as I get a tiny kickback from Amazon and can put it toward things that I really shouldn’t be spending actual money on…but “gift card” money, that’s a whole different ballgame. Even if you don’t buy the products I post, if you click one of my links before browsing and making your purchase I get a little credit.

Perhaps the biggest hard rock band of all time is Led Zeppelin, and not without reason. Not only is “Stairway to Heaven” a masterpiece, but nearly every song on the first four or five albums is perfectly put together (even if they were not all written by the band). For these lists, I’ve made three sections. First we have other projects of the members of Led Zeppelin. Second we have artists that sound like they were inspired by Plant, Page, Jones, and Bonham. And in many cases, they were. Finally, tribute albums to one of the greatest classic hard rock bands in history.

Zeppelin members’ other projects

  • Lead singer Robert PlantLed Zeppelin solo projects has released numerous solo albums; the most recent is 2017’s Carry Fire. He also collaborated with Zep-mate Jimmy Page and classic rock guitarist Jeff Beck in 1984 on The Honeydrippers, Volume One. In 1994, he joined Jimmy Page for an MTV special and released No Quarter, followed by Walking Into Clarksdale in 1998. In 2007, Plant teamed up with bluegrass singer Alison Krauss for Raising Sand.
  • Guitarist Jimmy Page’s post-Zeppelin output is not as straightforward as Plant’s. He started by recording the soundtrack for Death Wish II, but that one is going to cost you a pretty penny as it is no longer in print. His only non-soundtrack solo album, Outrider, did not perform well. One other soundtrack was recorded for Kenneth Anger’s Lucifer Rising, but is not currently available unless you want to drop nearly $400 on the vinyl. In 1985, Page contributed to Roy Harper’s Whatever Happened to Jugula? 1985 also saw the self-titled debut of The Firm, a supergroup featuring Page, Bad Company/Free vocalist Paul Rodgers, bass extraordinaire Tony Franklin, and then-future-AC/DC drummer Chris Slade. A follow-up record was release by The Firm in 1986, Mean Business. In 1999, the guitarist joined the Black Crowes for two shows; most of those recordings were released in 2000 under the title Live At the Greek, but singer Chris Robinson was not enthused about the performance.
  • Bassist John Paul Jones wrote the soundtrack for the movie Scream For Help, which also includes contributions from Page and Yes vocalist Jon Anderson. In 1994 he appeared on the album The Sporting Life with Diamanda Galas. Jones has also released two solo albums, Zooma (1999) and The Thunderthief. In 2009, Jones joined a supergroup with Josh Homme and Dave Grohl; unfortunately only one album has been released, the self-titled Them Crooked Vultures. Lastly, Jones contributed to two records released by the band Seasick Steve, You Can’t Teach an Old Dog New Tricks and Hubcap Music.

Artists that sound an awful lot like Led Zeppelin

  • Greta Van Fleet Sounds like Led Zeppelinis the band getting a lot of attention right now, as they should. They have taken the rock world by storm and don’t appear to be slowing down. From the Fires was released last November, and Anthem of the Peaceful Army had an October release this year. Watch this band closely as their star is still on the rise.
  • Rival Sons have been around for several years, but is just now starting to gain some traction in the mainstream. You may have heard “Do Your Worst” from the soon-to-be-released Feral Roots on the radio, but the title track from 2011’s Pressure and Time really exhibits the Zeppelin connection.
  • Wolfmother‘s debut over a decade ago exploded on the scene, but then the band imploded. Three more albums have been released since the debut, but none have sold as well.
  • Zebra gigged for years playing Zeppelin songs before releasing their self-titled debut in 1983, and while there are some enduring classics on the record, it is not a cover-to-cover masterpiece like most of Zep’s catalog.
  • Kingdom Come is often cited as a hair metal version of Led Zeppelin, and Lenny Wolf’s vocals were certainly reminiscent of Robert Plant. The songwriting isn’t going to land them in the Rock Hall, but Kingdom Come has proven to be popular enough to release thirteen albums since 1988.
  • Whitesnake may be the most all-around Zeppelin sound-alike. David Coverdale’s vocals are spot-on. Whoever is playing guitar, be it John Sykes or Steve Vai or Doug Aldrich, does a great job laying down some Jimmy Page-like riffs.
  • Coverdale/Page may have been a slap in Robert Plant’s face for refusing to do a Zeppelin reunion in the early ’90s. Guitarist Jimmy Page recruited David Coverdale, one of the most Robert Plant-ish singers around, to record an album of new tracks. The band probably would have lasted more than just one album had Page been able to convince John Paul Jones or Jason Bonham to participate.
  • Speaking of Jason Bonham, he had a band in the late ’80s and early ’90s called Bonham featuring a Robert Plant clone, Daniel MacMaster, on vocals. Their most popular (and most Zeppelinish) song was “Wait For You” from 1989’s The Disregard of Timekeeping.

Tribute albums

Christmas gift ideas for your rock n’ roller

There really are a ton of great bands out there that you have probably never heard of. Rival Sons, Scorpion Child, Black Country Communion, Tyler Bryant & the Shakedown, Revolution Saints, just to name a handful. But there is one band that has absolutely overshadowed all others, and they only have eight songs recorded so far: Greta Van Fleet. The group of three brothers and a drummer released a 4-song EP earlier this year, and have added four more songs on their latest release, From The Fires,, which dropped in November. Apparently they are getting some radio airtime, and that’s great, because this is the most rock n’ roll band since Led Zeppelin.

Greta Van Fleet

I’m not even making a list with this post. It begins and ends with one band: Greta Van Fleet. Buy it for every headbanger on your Christmas list.

Farm Machine by Steve ‘N’ Seagulls (2015)


Steve ‘N’ Seaulls
Farm Machine
Spinefarm Records, 2015
50 minutes

Covers albums are generally a bad idea. Poison, Def Leppard, and Guns N’ Roses have all tried and failed, and Metallica’s Garage Inc. is an overrated collection with just a couple of gems. But when a band is able to translate a song from one genre into another, and the song comes out just as powerful as the original, that is when covers albums are great.

That is exactly what happens on Farm Machine by Steve ‘N’ Seagulls. The five-piece bluegrass group performs renditions of hard rock classics by Led Zeppelin, Iron Maiden, and AC/DC, hillbillyfying them and blowing the listener away. This heavy metal hoedown is a perfect mix of passion and power, displaying both the timeless nature of the song and the talent of Steve ‘N’ Seagulls.

My personal favorite here is “Holy Diver,” a song originally recorded by the late Ronnie James Dio. We are approaching the five-year anniversary of the singer’s death, yet this song, which was released in 1983, sounds just as fantastic today as it did when first released, even in a different genre. Of all the cover versions of this song out there, Steve ‘N’ Seagulls’ entry is by far my favorite.

Watch the band perform Metallica’s “Seek and Destroy” below:

1. Grand Opening
2. Black Dog
3. Thunderstruck
4. The Trooper
5. Ich Will
6. Paradise City
7. Nothing Else Matters
8. Over The Hills And Far Away
9. Seek And Destroy
10. Holy Diver
11. Run To The Hills
12. You Shook Me All Night Long
13. Cemetery Gates

Learn more about Spinefarm Records.

Learn more about Steve ‘N’ Seagulls.

Purchase Farm Machine by Steve ‘N’ Seagulls.

Steve N Seagulls

Experiencing Led Zeppelin: A Listener’s Companion by Gregg Akkerman (2014)

Experiencing Led Zeppelin

Experiencing Led Zeppelin: A Listener’s Companion
by Gregg Akkerman
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2014
200 pages

I can recall when I first discovered Led Zeppelin. I don’t remember which song (probably “Stairway to Heaven”), but I do remember being floored by the power and grace of the music. It was the early 1990s, and in short order I possessed all the Zeppelin albums and listened to them time and time again, along with other new-to-me discoveries Jimi Hendrix and The Doors. Over time, I have expanded my musical taste more and more, but Led Zeppelin is one of those timeless groups that will always be central to my love for rock and roll.

Author Gregg Akkerman takes readers on a journey through Led Zeppelin’s studio recordings in Experiencing Led Zeppelin: A Listener’s Companion, breaking down each record song-by-song, with additional in-depth looks at two to three songs per album. His description of Led Zeppelin’s early live performances of “Stairway to Heaven” in eerie, and I could feel myself being transported back to 1971 to witness the genesis of what would become the greatest rock song of all-time. You may not always agree with Akkerman’s assessments of particular songs, but he gives a fair amount of ink to each. Led Zeppelin fans new and old will love this book.

Learn more about Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

Purchase Experiencing Led Zeppelin: A Listener’s Companion by Gregg Akkerman.

Get The Led Out: How Led Zeppelin Became the Biggest Band in the World by Denny Somach (2014)

Get The Led Out Denny Somach Led Zeppelin Book Review

Get The Led Out:
How Led Zeppelin Became the Biggest Band in the World

by Denny Somach
Sterling, 2014
256 pages

So much has been written about Led Zeppelin since the group disbanded, it is difficult to imagine anything more could be said. Yet Denny Somach has put together an informative guide of Zeppelin’s touring itinerary, interviews with those who knew the band and all four members themselves, and a record-by-record breakdown of Zepplin’s discography in Get The Led Out: How Led Zeppelin Became the Biggest Band in the World. Filled with images of ticket stubs and concert bills along with a number of illustrations by the legendary Ioannis specifically commissioned for this book, there is little lacking from Somach’s tome to the greatest rock and roll band in history.

Of special note is the interview with Mick Wall, the author of 2008’s When Giants Walked the Earth: A Biography of Led Zeppelin. It is clear that Wall is a fan, yet refuses to pull any punches. His treatment of the group’s musical influences and Jimmy Page’s appropriation (or outright theft) of songs from other artists is blunt but truthful. Also interesting is Robert Plant’s interview, conducted in 1982 after the release of his debut solo album.

Originally published in 2012, this new printing of Get The Led Out is a wonderful addition to any classic rock lover’s library.

Learn more about Sterling.

Purchase Get the Led Out: How Led Zeppelin Became the Biggest Band in the World by Denny Somach.

JT’s Ultimate Mixtape: Led Zeppelin edition

There has never been and never will be a hard rock band like Led Zeppelin. Many have tried to imitate the thunderous sound, but none have accomplished the feat for more than a handful of songs. Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, and John Bonham combined for such a creative powerhouse that they are still revered today, more than four decades after their formation.

This is the Led Zeppelin edition of JT’s Ultimate Mixtape. If you have missed our previous installments, there are some rules that make this more of a challenge than you might think. It’s not simply a collection of greatest hits or favorite songs.

    • Every studio album must be represented by one and only one song. Led Zeppelin has made this rule more of a challenge than any other band.
    • That song does not have to be an official “single” released by the band to promote said album.
    • Compilation albums can be included, but only songs that are new, previously unreleased, or remixes of songs from prior albums are eligible for the list.
    • Live albums are a waste of time. There are exceptions to this rule, and the concert recordings of Led Zeppelin allow us to sneak in a few songs that were knocked out of consideration by rule #1.

Click play on this video, then start reviewing my selections for this Ultimate Mixtape:

JT’s Ultimate Mixtape: Led Zeppelin edition…
“Dazed and Confused” (Led Zeppelin, 1969)
“Whole Lotta Love” (Led Zeppelin II, 1969)
“Gallows Pole” (Led Zeppelin III, 1970)
“Stairway to Heaven” (Led Zeppelin IV, 1971)
“Over the Hills and Far Away” (Houses Of The Holy, 1973)
“In The Light” (Physical Graffiti, 1975)
“Nobody’s Fault but Mine” (Presence, 1976)
“Rock and Roll” (The Song Remains The Same, 1976)
“In The Evening” (In Through the Out Door, 1979)
“Ozone Baby” (Coda, 1982)
“The Girl I Love She Got Long Black Wavy Hair” (BBC Sessions, 1997)
“What Is and What Should Never Be” (How The West Was Won, 2003)
“Good Times Bad Times” (Celebration Day, 2012)

Every “Ultimate Mixtape” needs some bonus tracks. The surviving members of Led Zeppelin went on to release solo albums and collaborated with others in supergroups. Before the death of John Bonham, he participated in several session recordings. This is just a small sampling of the members’ works outside the group.

Bonus Tracks:
Lulu (feat. Bonham) “Everybody’s Got To Clap” (single, 1971)
Wings (feat. Jones & Bonham) “Rockestra Theme” (Back To The Egg, 1979)
Robert Plant “In The Mood” (The Principle of Moments, 1983)
The Honeydrippers (with Plant) “Rockin’ at Midnight” (Volume One, 1984)
The Firm (with Page) “Radioactive” (The Firm, 1985)
John Paul Jones “Crackback” (Scream for Help, 1985)
Jimmy Page “Wasting My Time” (Outrider, 1988)
Coverdale/Page “Shake My Tree” (Coverdale / Page, 1993)
Page & Plant “The Battle of Evermore” (No Quarter, 1994)
Jimmy Page and the Black Crowes “Mellow Down Easy” (Live at the Greek, 2000)
Foo Fighters (feat. Page & Jones) “Ramble On” (Live At Wembley Stadium, 2008)
Them Crooked Vultures (with Jones) “Gunman” (Them Crooked Vultures, 2009)
Seasick Steve (with Jones) “Keep On Keepin’ On” (Hubcap Music, 2013)

Diversity was a key aspect of Led Zeppelin, and even after the band dissolved, diversity continued among the members’ solo works. Use your time wisely this February, purchase some Zep and crank it.

Photoset: Heart with Jason Bonham – The Encore (July 27, 2013 @ Riverbend Music Center, Cincinnati OH)

Heart with Jason Bonham encore performance 2013 tour photographs Cincinnati

The highlight of the 2013 “Heartbreaker” tour is, without a doubt, the encore. Ann and Nancy Wilson come out and play “The Battle of Evermore,” then are joined by the rest of Heart as well as Jason Bonham and his band to roar through five more Led Zeppelin songs, capping off the night with “Stairway To Heaven.”

I can’t say it enough, if you have a chance to see Heart perform live with Jason Bonham, take it! This was the best concert I attended this year so far.

Heart with Jason Bonham encore performance 2013 tour photographs Cincinnati

More photos from the encore after the jump: Read the rest of this entry

Photoset: Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience (July 27, 2013 @ Riverbend Music Center, Cincinnati OH)

Jason Bonham Led Zeppelin 2013 concert photographs Cincinnati

The son of the late drummer John Bohman is a very in-demand man. He has played with UFO, Black Country Communion, and his own eponymous band, as well as sat in for his father with the surviving members of Led Zeppelin on a couple of occasions. Currently he is touring with a group of very talented musicians performing the music of the classic rock icons. James Dylan is the man behind the mic, giving a very good impression of the inimitable Robert Plant. Tony Catania handles the six-string fretboard while Michael Devin of Whitesnake lays down the bass notes.

Opening for Heart at Riverbend Music Center in Cincinnati, Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience performed an electrifying eight-song set starting with “Rock and Roll.” The group is doing another month of shows; if they are coming to your area, you need to see this performance.

Jason Bonham Led Zeppelin 2013 concert photographs Cincinnati

Want to see more photos? Read the rest of this entry

Offbeat cover songs

Cover songs are a dime a dozen, and most of them can be thrown away pretty easily. Either they are so poorly performed, pale in comparison to the original, or are so faithful to the original to make them unnecessary. But when done well, cover songs can be thrilling. Think about Jimi Hendrix covering Bob Dylan’s “All Along The Watchtower.” Completely different arrangement and delivery, making it almost unrecognizable but still unforgettable.

A good recent example is this Krokus song from the new album, Dirty Dynamite. Listen to it carefully…do you recognize it at all?

So who did Krokus cover? Who was the original artist for this song?

That’s the Beatles, folks. They took that classic pop song and turned it into a sticky sweet 1980s ballad, complete with a crying guitar solo. I absolutely love Krokus’ version of this song.

How about Reggie Watts’ version of “Panama”…which is really nothing like the Van Halen song at all, but still pretty interesting.

Have you ever thought, “I wonder what ‘Stairway To Heaven’ would sound like if it had been performed by the Doors instead of Led Zeppelin?” Wonder no more, my friends…

Alex Skolnick, guitarist for metal band Testament, also has a jazz band that covers heavy metal songs. Check out “War Pigs” below:

If jazz isn’t your thing, how about flamenco guitar? Benjamin Woods did an album called Flametal of cover songs, like Ozzy Osbourne’s “Bark At The Moon”…

One more for this post, and then we’ll turn it over to the comments section…The Byrds singing “Friday,” a song originally written and recorded but never released by Bob Dylan. The song was made popular a few years ago by Rebecca Black.

So now it’s up to you…tell me some of your favorite offbeat cover songs in the comments, with a YouTube link if you can find one!

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