I typically play what I’m posting, but today I’m posting what I’ve been playing: Led Zeppelin’s Presence (1976). I had a hankering to hear “Nobody’s Fault but Mine,” but once this record started spinning I rediscovered some other gems like “Hots on for Nowhere” and “Royal Orleans.” There are only seven songs, but I was still surprised to read this album was recorded and mixed in only 17 days. I believe I bought Presence in the mid ’80s when I worked at a chain record store. I was late to the Zeppelin party due to acute punkrockitis.
Long time no listen. “Good Times Bad Times,” the first song on the first Led Zeppelin album, is probably my favorite of all their music. When I see how young the guys look on the back it’s even more impressive how out there this record is. Another favorite is “Communication Breakdown.” It’s more punk than the punk music that would come along almost a decade later. I liked it so much as a punk rock teenager that I recorded my own cover of it on my Tascam Porta One cassette four track. I played all the tracks and did a good job on drums and bass. My guitar work was not uh… scintillating. And I’m pretty sure the vocals were an octave lower out of genetic necessity.
Note on the back cover:
This is a stereo recording. For best results observe the R.I.A.A. high frequency roll-off characteristic with a 500 cycle crossover.
That’s one cool dude on the cover. And speaking of cool dudes, this album was a birthday present from my Dad, a/k/a “Mr. Cool.” Just ask my Mom. I had some singles, you know, vinyl seven inches, that I had accumulated, but this was my very first full length album. That’s right, the first of thousands of records. And I can’t think of a better album or artist to start a record collection. I’m eternally grateful for my father pointing me in the right music direction. I liked Hendrix from what I heard on the radio, but this record was not something I asked for. It was his idea.
For me, Hendrix brings together everything I love most about music. Art, innovation, guitar mastery, blues, funk, acid rock, and the moments of cathartic heaviness that I just need to survive. Smash Hits by the Jimi Hendrix Experience is one of the most played records I own, and the vinyl shows the wear and tear. But it still sounds great. I did a decent job maintaining it for a 13 year old.
My favorite from this collection is a song I think was less of a hit than the others, “Stone Free.”
And so begins my favorite ZZ Top song, “Waitin’ for the Bus.” Growing up I loved hearing it on the radio. All the AOR stations would also play “Jesus Just Left Chicago” right after it. That’s also how the songs are ordered on this best of. It’s hard to believe ZZ Top had a “best of” out in 1977. Also, after non-stop listening to this compilation over the last couple days I’m amazed how funky these cats are, or at least were. There are many other great ones here: “Tush”, “La Grange”, “Heard it on the X” etc. They’re still rocking live shows with these tunes, but their later period work doesn’t really compare.
To my everlasting regret I never have been able to find their records. And I do want records. Whenever I’m in a proper record store I always head right to the Zs, but no soap. At least I scored this one from my friend Bob when he moved West.
I found a great, recent video of ZZ Top playing “Waitin'” and “Jesus” live. Check it out below. Billy Gibbons has such a huge, nasty tone. I read a long time ago that he uses something like an old silver dollar for a pick. Once I started watching these videos I couldn’t stop. After about six I said to myself “you’re spending too much time on music.” I know, that’s crazy talk.
In Step is the last album to come out from these boys before Stevie died in a helicopter crash. It’s also his first album after he had sobered up. The album definitely has a more upbeat vibe than the earlier records. But positivity and the blues don’t really go together. In Step seems to be missing the grit of the first three records, but if that’s the price of being sober please stop killing yourself. All that said, I do like the whole record. Surprisingly, my favorite song is the nine minute jazz instrumental “Riviera Paradise” that closes the album. It’s blissfully smooth and low-key, not what you expect from Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble.
Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble -- Couldn't Stand the Weather
Artist: Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble
Title: Couldn’t Stand the Weather
Format: Vinyl 12 in.
Rating (1-10): 9
Owner: Tracy and Bob
Acquired: 2005 – Inherited from Bob Bobala
Oh, too many to blogs to keep up with. I haven’t been posting as often as I want. It’s too late and I’m too tired to do this record justice. Suffice it to say that Stevie Ray Vaughan was a massively talented genius and Couldn’t Stand the Weather is an excellent album. I think if I listened to it for another day I’d probably rate it a “10.” From memory I was thinking that this record wasn’t quite as good as the first, but now I’m not so sure. Stevie and Double Trouble (Tommy Shannon on bass and Chris Layton on drums) are slamming on all eight tracks. My favorite is the heavy funk title track, “Couldn’t Stand the Weather.” And their version of Hendrix’s “Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)” is phenomenal. I’m a huge Hendrix fan, but I like listening to this version just a little bit more. Vaughan’s tone is super fat. This is another record Bob should have kept.
Acquired: 1999? – Used, maybe Record Mart in Alexandria, VA
Straight Shooter is another great sounding record by Bad Company, but I don’t think it’s as good their self-titled debut. That said, it does have my favorite Bad Company song, “Feel Like Makin’ Love.” I can’t seem to play that song loud enough. Those guitars are so crunchin’, the drums so cracking, and the sparse lead guitar accents sound so fat and huge I just want more. I’m a sucker for the pretty verse then heavy chorus thing. Another great one is “Shooting Star.” “Good Lovin’ Gone Bad” is a distant third to those but it’s fun to listen to, maybe because I remember it from the radio when I was a kid.
There are only eight songs on Straight Shooter and the other five are pretty forgettable. I’ve played this record a lot and I can’t remember them, so, it must be true.
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