My good bud Zach sent me this great recent article by Chuck Klosterman, a renown and award winning music writer. This article is rare in that it has something extremely insightful to say about Zeppelin. While few bands have ever had as much written about them as Zep, very few writers get it right.
I disagree with a couple points here, but the article is so good that they are not even worth mentioning. Enjoy Chuck’s article linked here. Be sure to watch the “In The Evening” video which is referenced exstensively in the article, but even more important to me is the very next video in the series on YouTube.
This is the “Achilles Last Stand” rendition from the same show. It’s so important because while “In the Evening” is very much a microcosm of Chuck’s point of the greatness and the sad decline held together inside of just one band for one particular 2 night stand, the Achilles video is extremely significant as it speaks to another part of Chuck’s theme. He touches on how these shows are some of the suckiest in the band’s storied history, but yet there was an absolute monster lurking just below the surface at Knebworth… like the Titanic just after the last portion slipped under the great divide.
Below all the links is my communication back to my bud Zach about the article [Zach is a Guerrilla partner whose favorite band is inexplicably Crowbar].
In The Evening Knebworth ’79
Achilles Last Stand Knebworth ’79
Achilles Last Stand Los Angeles ’77
[To Zach from W!SE] ~ Zep was a defining moment in my life, not just my music life.
I listened to nothing but Zep from ’84 to ’88. There’s plenty of bad and good in them, but they are the “widest” band in rock history. That article is very interesting, but anyone that knows Zep knows they were cooked by ’76. There is no video after ’76 which shows them in a good light, although the Knebworth video hints strongly at a former powerhouse that slowly oozes out of them, like a great ancient ruin. The ’77 video I added shows the band closer to top form, but still definitively on the slide. These recordings still show why the “Destroyer” bootlegs from ’77 were considered mythical for so long.
It is said that JPJ was the only functional one for the last record, so what did anyone expect? 6x platinum though, huh?
The most important thing to know about Zep is that 90% of what they accomplished in terms of ruling their generation was done from late ’68 to ’71 on vinyl, and through ’73 live. In this time frame they killed all comers. Throw away Zep III which was a dream they slept through, and you are left with I, II, and IV which cannot be touched by anyone in such a short period. In hard rock, no else came close. In just plain rock, only the Beatles, The Who and the Stones were in the same league in my humble opinion [though I am in some good company here]. Honorable mention to the Doors, Cream and Hendrix.
And re: Achilles ~ We obviously talked about this a year ago, but just listen to that rhythm section on this. Guys in their “death throws” huh? …. JPJ and Bonham dressed like Internet zillionaires playing that underlying bit that I still say was the creation of speed metal… a musical sidebar that JPJ and Bonham visited briefly in the studio on Presence in ’75 (!!!) and then tossed into the garbage heap of history like yesterday’s news as far as they were concerned. No doubt some others with lesser skills and pride dug it out of the heap and claimed it as their own. Enough with Sabbath having created Metal already. Sabbath was great and hugely influential on me also [I'm a fan] … but Metal was a bastard child that Zep sent to the countryside so the Queen didn’t have to look at it. Sabbath just adopted the child. Far and away the rhythm section that wrote Achilles is the one that invented Heavy Metal.
How can anyone question this from the rhythm section heard on these recordings? And it’s crappy audio at that. There is no great audio from Knebworth although it looked like they were trying to capture it. Early on in that clip the bass is especially clear. Nothing at all needs to be said about the drumming… but listen to that bass! You would absolutely swear that the clicking bass sound was coming from Steve Harris live playing circa Number of the Beast … not JPJ. The bass is even clearer on the ’77 clip. The guy is a master musician… a true multi-talent. Page is obviously fried in this period, but that has been beaten like a mule already. Plant seems to “just be there” by this late stage.
——- ~ W!se