SOME STUFFS: Last three Led Zeppelin deluxe editions are on the way

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Led Zeppelin fans have had mixed feelings about the deluxe editions Atlantic Records have been releasing for all of their albums, anxiously waiting for the new one but either enjoying what was released or complaining that there wasn’t enough. There are three more on the way and this is the last of the bunch, as it represents the band’s last two albums before the death of drummer John Bonham, and ending with the 1982 compilation that, true to its title, concludes their existence as a band.

1976’s Presence is considered by some LZ fans as “a return to the essence, as Physical Graffiti may have been too much music at any given time, or with a few fans claiming the album had too much clutter. Whatever their disappointments were for it, Presence worked its magic in its own way. The deluxe will feature the following extras:

  • “Two Ones Are Won”
  • “For Your Life (Reference Mix)”
  • “10 Ribs & All/Carrot Pod Pod (Pod)”
  • “Royal Orleans (Reference Mix)”
  • “Hots On For Nowhere (Reference Mix)”

    It’s a mixture of reference tracks/mixes and previously unheard/un-bootlegged songs.

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    1979’s In Through The Out Door ended up being the band’s last hurrah. If there was one distinct complaint about it, it was that it had keyboards/synthesizers, which some fans felt ruined the power of the band, despite the fact Led Zeppelin had used some type of keyboard in their music since the debut album (i.e. Jones’ Hammond B-3 and bass pedeals in “Your Time Is Gonna Come”). Other fans welcomed a new change in their sound, with hope the group would continue rocking in the decade to come. The deluxe edition features rough and early mixes of songs:

  • “In the Evening (Rough Mix)”
  • “Southbound Piano (South Bound Saurez)”
  • “Fool in the Rain (Rough Mix)”
  • “Hot Dog (Rough Mix)”
  • Epic (Carouselambra – Rough Mix)”
  • “The Hook (All My Love – Rough Mix)”
  • “Blot (I’m Gonna Crawl – Rough Mix)”

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    Coda was an album that gathered previously unreleased songs so in itself, it showed fans what may be lurking in their tape library. Oddly enough, it is the deluxe edition of Coda that has the most extra goods in terms of material to listen to, with two extra discs coming along with a newly remastered version of the compilation:
    DISC 2

  • “We’re Gonna Groove (Alternate Mix)”
  • “If It Keeps On Raining (When the Levee Breaks – Rough Mix)”
  • “Bonzo’s Montreux (Mix Construction in Progress)”
  • “Baby Come on Home”
  • “Sugar Mama (Mix)”
  • “Poor Tom (Instrumental Mix)”
  • “Travelling Riverside Blues (BBC Session)”
  • “Hey, Hey, What Can I Do”
    DISC 3

  • “Four Hands (Four Sticks – Bombay Orchestra)”
  • “Friends (Bombay Orchestra)”
  • “St. Tristan’s Sword (Rough Mix)”
  • “Desire (The Wanton Song – Rough Mix)”
  • “Bring It On Home (Rough Mix)”
  • “Walter’s Walk (Rough Mix)”
  • “Everybody Makes It Through (In the Light – Rough Mix)”

    The regular remasters will be released as single CD editions and single LP pressings, each on 180g audiophile quality vinyl. Each remaster will be released as double CD’s (with Coda being a triple CD) and double LP’s on 180g vinyl. For those who want to commit themselves even further, the super deluxe edition box sets (30,000 copies) will each come with a hard cover book (all numbered(, each one being at least 70 pages in length, all full of photos and Led Zep memorabilia. The last batch of Led Zeppelin remasters will be out on July 31st.




  • SOME STUFFS: “Physical Graffiti” deluxe edition bonus tracks revealed

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    With the first five Led Zeppelin albums now out as deluxe editions, it was only a matter of time before fans were able to hear the band’s mammonth album with the extra goodies. It’s now that time.

    You will be able to just buy a remastered edition of Physical Graffiti as a double CD, but the goods are in the other configurations. They include a CD set with an extra CD featuring seven unreleased tracks as the bonus. The bonus songs are:
    “Brandy & Coke (Trampled Under Foot – Initial Rough Mix)”
    “Again (Early Version)”
    “In My Time Of Dying (Initial Rough Mix)”
    “Houses Of The Holy (Rough Mix With Overdubs)”
    “Everybody Makes It Through (In the Light Early Version/In Transit)”
    “Boogige With Stu (Sunset Sound Mix)”
    “Driving Through Kashmir (Kashmir Rough Orchestra Mix)”

    There will also be a deluxe edition vinyl with the bonus material, and a giant “Super Deluxe Box” with the CD, the 2LP’s, a card to download the music in hi-resolution, alternate cover art, and a hard-bound, 96-page book which features rare photos, and a print of the original album cover. This means if you just want the music, you can get that. If you want the goodies galore, you can purchase it that way too, and all of it will be released on February 24th in the U.S., a day earlier in the UK.


    BOOK REVIEW: Glyn Johns’ “Sound Man”

     photo GlynJohns_cover_zpsdf6c2566.jpg If you have bought any rock albums in the last 50 years, you will have come across Glyn Johns’ name a number of times, as he was responsible for producing and/or engineering some of the music that has become a part of your life. He has been mythologized due to the work he did with The Rolling Stones and The Beatles but Sound Man (Blue Rider Press) tells the stories direct from the man himself, from his childhood tales to joining a choir that would lead him to become not only part of the recording studio, but part of the record industry.

    As someone who is known as a producer and engineer, I had wondered (and perhaps hoped) that he would get technical about some of the projects that has made him someone to work with. It doesn’t get too technical or “over the head” at all but instead, he touches on meeting and working with the artists, his interaction with everyone involved and the experiences he may have had during a recording session or live shows. One is able to read about certain equipment from time to time but Sound Man isn’t a gear essay. Instead, Johns speaks from the perspective of someone who was there, yet at times he also writes as he was just a fly on the wall, observing what’s going on while putting together the process of what was and still remains his work.

    The bulk of the book focuses on what he did in the 60’s and 70’s, which means extensive work with Led Zeppelin, the Stones, The Beatles, Eric Clapton, and so many others. It’s a chance to find out about the negotiations for artists, doing a lot of traveling from England to Los Angeles or New York and back, and seeing everyone pass him by as if it he was just taking a stroll through a school building and saying hello to old friends. Johns does reveal a few facts that may have been overlooked, such as certain musicians that played in well known songs and why, so if you loved Charlie Watts’ drumming in “It’s Only Rock ‘N Roll (But I Like It)”, you’re actually listening to Kenney Jones behind the kit.

    The tales from the Sound Man are that from an employee and a fan, which makes it a pleasant read. By the last third of the book, we get to the 80’s and 90’s and the changes of the music industry as a whole and despite the setbacks, he moves forward and sticks with his job, occasionally having a bit of self-doubt but realizing his ears and expertise still hold a lot of value, as it has since the early 1960’s.


    REVIEWS: Led Zeppelin’s (untitled 4th album) & “Houses Of The Holy” (Deluxe Editions)

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    Two new Led Zeppelin deluxe editions will be released this Tuesday, and one wonders if they will be worth the cost of admission. It depends on how much you value Led Zeppelin’s music and whether or not the contents will be worth your time and money.

    First and foremost, the albums concerned are 1971’s (untitled 4th album) and 1973’s Houses Of The Holy, with one being the band’s biggest selling album and the other being my all-time favorite Led Zeppelin LP. The albums were remastered by Jimmy Page himself, so if you didn’t pick up previous remastered editions or you simply want to hear what this version sounds like, you will enjoy the clarity of the familiar. Of course, what you want to know is the unfamiliar.

    Considering what exists for the (untitled 4th album) in bootleg form, it’s a shame that what exists on the 2CD/2LP deluxe editions is underwhelming, at least to me. It’s primarily alternate mixes, and what you get to hear is an alternate version of the same album in the exact order. Nothing wrong with that, so you’ll hear the Sunset Sound Mix of “Stairway To Heaven”, which was said to have been made when Page was not satisfied with the mixes done in London, or that he simply wanted a different audio perspective of what was created elsewhere. There’s also an Alternate UK Mix of “When The Levee Breaks” and a version of “Black Dog” described as “Basic Track With Guitar Overdubs”. As for the alternate mixes, are they thrilling? To be honest, not really. There may be a portion that is instrumental in nature, or a track that is pushed around differently, but it’s not exactly a different take or an outtake. It’s interesting upon first listen, but more on the curiosity side to wonder what the differences are. It would’ve been nice to have heard a different take of “When The Levee Breaks” at its proper speed, as the studio version was slowed down to give it the sound we are familiar with.

    The deluxe of Houses Of The Holy is what I wanted to hear but once again, I left wondering “is this all that they’re giving me?” Hearing “The Rain Song” without the piano track may be nice, but not much. Hearing the backing guitar track of “Over The Hills And Far Away” is nice too, but not much. Hearing John Paul Jones’ keyboards pushed up into the mix for “The Crunge” is decent, but not by much. Hearing a working mix of “The Ocean” is interesting, but again, while hearing different mixes is more than welcome, you can’t tell me that this is what was decided to release. There had to be songs with completely different mixes. How about songs recorded during these sessions but were not released on there? We know that some trackss done for Houses Of The Holy ended up being saved for Physical Graffiti, would it have hurt to put two to three of those songs? No demos for “D’yer Mak’er”?

    It seems that you’ll be paying big money for the packaging and design, but how about those who really listen to the music? Led Zeppelin are one of the most bootlegged bands in rock’n’roll and it seems if you really want the raw guts of these albums, you’ll have to find the outtake albums in varying levels of sound quality. In other words, the alternate versions of these albums are decent the first time but whether or not they will have repeated value remains to be seen, especially when we know there are other things that remain unheard.


    FREE MP3 DL: Led Zeppelin’s “Ramble On (Souleance Re-Edit)”

    It was only a matter of time: the multi-tracks for Led Zeppelin’s “Ramble On” leaked a few years ago and now someone has put together a new version of the song where Robert Plant and John Paul Jones are now backed by some incredible funky jazz. The Souleance Re-Edit could also become a new movement. it’s that good, even without the stereophonic panning in the last half. The song was originally released 45 years ago this year, so let’s hear what happens when it has a new set of clothes.

    DUST IT OFF: Led Zeppelin’s “Houses Of The Holy”…40 years later

    Everyone has their music origins, and I definitely remember some of the first records that were in my parents’ collection or in the house of my uncle. Santana’s Abraxas, Paul Simon’s There Goes Rhymin’ Simon and El Chicano’s Viva Tirado were albums favored by my mom and dad, while Black Sabbath’s Master Of Reality was what I craved when I had to stay next door with my Uncle Wayne. These records had a big influence on my outlook of not only music, but album covers and how art and design had a role in how music was interpreted. In my case, I was a three and four year old having to figure out what these images were and what, if anything, they had to do with what was coming out of the speakers. I’ve talked about how John Rowles’ “Cheryl Moana Marie” and Johnny Nash’s “I Can See Clearly Now” also played roles in my life as something that was more than records found within the box of 45’s that were near our stereo in California. Yet looking at everything I’ve ever listened to, there is one album for me that reigns near the top as the monarch of everything.

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    Houses Of The Holy was my introduction to Led Zeppelin, and what an introduction. It was a record that was played loud everywhere I went, and when records were played loud, I couldn’t help but to listen. I’d sit in the living room as a three year old, with the album cover in my lap and wondering who these naked kids were. Where are their parents, I’m sure I asked myself. Where are they going? What are these holes they’re coming from, and where is this mysterious place? Who is that man on the inside, and is he going to throw the girl down the mountain? How come everything is orange, yellow, blue, and green? So many questions but no answers were to come upon staring at this cover for 40 minutes at a time.

    As I approached the double digits in age, I would have a few more Led Zeppelin records, including Led Zeppelin III and the (untitled 4th album). In my early teens, I had all of their albums on cassette, specifically the Atlantic reissues from the late 70’s. It had come as a shock when I discovered drummer John Bonham died, which meant I could never see them in concert. From what one of my uncles had told me, Led Zeppelin had played in Honolulu a number of times before they were banned for life. That was his story, and for years I believed it. I later discovered that those Honolulu shows were done before and including the (untitled 4th album) but once they reached a certain level of success, they were not to return to Hawai’i for shows ever again. In turn, Led Zeppelin created a mystique which lead to false rumors, until I discovered how to find out the truths of these rumors for myself.

    In my teen years, I had a Houses Of The Holy door poster. My first LZ CD was Houses Of The Holy, specifically the West German target pressing. I read Hammer Of The Gods, watched The Song Remains The Same and went through many articles about the band, and how the music on the (untitled 4th album) had become a classic in itself, partly due to the success of “Stairway To Heaven” and how the album was eventually purchased as a single since the U.S. didn’t release the song as a 45. I understood it and respected it, but while I’ve gone through their music many times over, bought and raided bootlegs to hear them go through the motions in many combinations, I found myself always returning to the record that made me a fan in the first place.

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  • Instead of analyzing each song from start to finish, I’m going to start at the end and move backwards to the beginning. “The Ocean” ends the album in a glorious way because the band compared the throng of their audiences to an ocean, as they heard the oceans roar. This is also a song where Robert Plant offers a song to “the girl who won my heart/she is only three years old, and it’s a real fine way to start”, lines which could never exist today without parental groups or someone online tearing Plant, Led Zeppelin, manager Peter Grant, and Atlantic Records apart. Who was this mysterious three year old girl, or was Plant just pulling something out of the air just to see if people would say something? In truth, the three year old girl was Plant’s daughter Carmen, who was three at the time the band were in the studio recording the album. The count-in from Bonham is a nice touch, the vocal overlays from Plant stand out, and the band switching over to doo-wop for the song’s final vamp is perfect as a means to say “we did it, we’re going to rock out for you one more time.”
  • Listening to “No Quarter” was always the trippy and moody part of the album for me due to its tempo, it’s vibe and groove, the tone of Jimmy Page’s guitar solo, John Paul Jones’ organ work, and the eeriness of Plant’s vocals, which came from the entire track being pitched down just a notch for its final mix. I’d always look forward to hearing this, the third song on Side 2, when I played the album because while I grew up with songs on the radio and those “little records” (i.e. 45’s) my parents had, this was a means to explore a song. I’m sure I wondered how anyone could play that long, but I found it to be cool and soothing. It would be awhile before I had a full understanding of the lyrics, some of it direct, some of it left to the interpretation of the listener:

    Walking side by side with death
    The devil mocks their every step
    The snow drives back the foot that’s slow
    The dogs of doom are howling more
    They carry news that must get through
    To build a dream for me and you
    They choose the path that no one goes

    As a kid listening to a Led Zep album that had a lyric sheet, I had no idea what any of this meant or what they were referring to. I just thought that they were going somewhere, they’re walking on some kind of sacred ground, and now they’re going to places unknown. “Oooh, that’s cool”. Mix that up with how the band presented the music itself, and it was a seven-minute joy ride, one that we could always return to from the start at any time.

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  • “D’yer Mak’er” was always one of the few “fun” songs the band had made, one that seemed to sound funny to me as a kid because of its rhythm, even though I had heard similar rhythms before: Paul Simon’s “Mother & Child Reunion” and Nash’s aforementioned “I Can See Clearly Now”. I would not know the term “reggae” until I was nine or ten (maybe 11), but I liked how it sounded different to me. Plant’s lyrics were very lighthearted, one that didn’t involve any interpretation of deciphering, and I think that not only made it easy to listen to, but why radio stations played it back then, and still do to this day.
  • “Dancing Days” opened Side 2 in a glorious way with those guitar riffs from Page that always killed me. As I would eventually get into Indian classical music, I realized that those chords had an Indian or Middle Eastern flavor, especially that swooping drone that made it sound like nothing I had ever before. I think the line “dancing days are here again” are self-explanatory, but what to make of a verse like this:
    You told your mother I’d get you home
    But you didn’t say that I got no car
    I saw a lion, he was standin’ alone
    With a tadpole in a jar

    What kind of innuendo is that? Regardless of what it meant (or doesn’t mean), I always loved Page’s guitar and the Jones/Bonham rhythm section, before the song ends with a slight “spring”-ish feel.

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  • “The Crunge” is one of the other fun Led Zep songs, as the band get into a nasty James Brown groove while Plant gets gritty on the vocals. It always amazed me that while Bonham was said to not be able to get a reggae tempo on time (thus the reason why “D’yer Mak’er” sounds the way it does), he was always able to capture the funkiest moments in his drumming, due to him being a huge fan of James Brown’s records. He definitely gets down throughout “The Crunge”, especially the open drum break which has been sampled numerous times over the years. As for the bridge, no one knows where it is.
  • “Over The Hills And Far Away” begins acoustically and it could easily be a nice folk song before Page drives up his acoustic guitar before moving it to the side for electric splendor. Plant gets slightly mystical and mythical in the lyrics, almost as a puzzle or limerick for people to figure out, or at least to think of when the moment arises:
    Mellow is the man who knows what he’s been missing
    Many many men can’t see the open road.

    Many is a word that only leaves you guessing
    Guessing ’bout a thing you really ought to know

    My favorite part of the song is when the band fades out and all you hear is a guitar and its distant echo, before you hear another guitar and accompanying bass, taking us finally over the hills and towards a new home.

  • “The Rain” Song is one of two 7+ minute tracks on the album, and this comes after the album’s opening bombastic blast (more on this later), so by being positioned as track 2, it is meant to be a calming effect of sorts. According to Wikipedia, George Harrison had questioned Bonham on why they have never recorded any ballads. This was what they offered, and it is said that the opening two chords in “The Rain Song” were borrowed from The Beatles’ “Something”, as an ode to their Beatle friend.

    Even though this is their ballad, a very mellow one at that, there are a lot of things to get out of this. Wikipedia also states that the band used “Slush” as a working title for this song due to it having an easy listening arrangement, which also makes sense considering Jones’ piano work (specifically around the part of the song where Plant says “talk, talk, talk, talk”) sounds like something from either an easy listening album or a country record. It comes out of nowhere and almost doesn’t fit at first, but due to the tone of the lyrics and that rise in mood, it seems to fit in a unique manner. It then leads to the band wrapping up the song until that powerful echo closes Page’s guitar solo.

    Then the album begins.

  • Each time I would enter my uncle’s house, it would always lead to music. I’m sure there was a hello or “want to eat some food?” but my greatest joy was to be able to sit next to my uncle’s stereo and hear the record he had to offer. For a good year, it was Houses Of The Holy that was played first, and of course it always started with Side One. Those opening chords sounded like a calling of sorts, a welcome to the music that is about to be played. Bring in the bass and drums that collide during the guitar, and after six seconds, the band are one. Page’s guitar work is perfect here before Jones walks down a slightly different path, and eventually Page digs nastily as if he’s crawling in dirt, looking for some soil to create something new, followed by another brilliant solo. This eventually leads into some furious Jones bass swoops and Page jingle/jangling his guitar, all anchored by the weight of Bonham’s drums before Plant is finally heard almost 90 seconds into the song:
    I had a dream, oh man
    Crazy dream, oh…
    Anything I wanted to know
    Any place I needed to go

    Hear my song, now, people won’t you listen now
    Sing along, oh… you don’t know what you’re missing now
    Any little song that you know
    Everything that’s small has to grow
    and it always grows

    The band soon rise once again as Plant sings “push, push it… aaaaah!” and as a kid, I had no idea what was going on but it sounded great. As I got older and would listen to “Whole Lotta Love” and other songs, was this one of Plant’s many orgasmic moments in song? The band went back into the groove that started the song, but with a different guitar solo from Page. Jones went higher with his bass notes, all while Bonham is pounding the hell out of his kit, but this is nothing. All of a sudden, Plant yells out a “nah nah nah nah naaaah” and he offers up the song’s core, the centerpiece of everything:
    California sunlight
    sweet Calcutta rain
    Honolulu star bright
    The song remains the same

    I was born and initially raised in California, and for the longest time I could never figure out the other words. It wasn’t until I was 11 or 12 that I realized that he was saying “Honolulu star bright” and I thought oh, that’s where I live. I loved the reference to Calcutta rain, and as I was getting into Indian classical music for the first time through The Beatles, I found the reference to be one of mystery but one I thought could be soothing in the right frame of mind. By the end of those four lines, it seemed that no matter where you were, there you are. Fair and simple, you make do with things and live and love.

    The band get into yet another groove, and as someone who was raised near a beach and the ocean, hearing the way this song goes into valleys and reaches peaks is like someone surfing. There’s a bit of calm waters before you catch yourself waiting for the ocean to rise again and you’re in the tube, waiting for a hopefully powerful ride. It gets that way after the 3:40 mark, as Page seems to dance around a bit, before things get incredibly bombastic in strength and volume after the four minute mark. Plant lets out a quick moan (another thrust?) before the band get ready for the swell of another wave. All of a sudden, that wave rises again and the band are once again on top as Plant sings something that sounds like “oh, are we gonna do it now?” before he unleashes his final statement:
    Sing out Hare Hare
    Dance the Hoochie Koo
    City lights are oh so bright
    as we go sliding…

    Do these lines really mean anything in the grand scheme of things? I know Plant was known for coming up with random lyrics, often from other songs, during live performances, but did he actually write these words down and said “I’m going to sing this with all of my heart”? Yet referring to California, Calcutta, and Honolulu earlier in the song, somehow these lyrics make a small bit of sense, as he is revamping what was established before ending the song with a ride towards the ocean shore. Also, who exactly is this “we” and what are they sliding down on? The answer, like the location of the bridge, remains unknown.

  • For me, the excitement of “The Song Remains The Same” and the thrills heard within make it my favorite Led Zeppelin song of all time, which associates itself with the seven other songs on Houses Of The Holy that make it an album I can and will never live without. It begins with Plant wondering about a dream and ending with a dance with his daughter. Can these songs be the houses, and are Led Zeppelin the holy ones? Or do the holes refer to the houses where the naked brother and sister on the cover live? Or is the “holy” reference meant to be something secretly sexual? What does it mean? What does it not mean? Regardless, the color tones on the cover design help to create the auras heard in the music, which in turn helps the listener look at the world in a very different way, perhaps more powerful, more glorious, more elegant. With a smile.

    Oddly enough, while the band did record a title track for the album, it was not used until the group put together Physical Graffiti two years later for their first album on their own label, Swan Song. Perhaps its lyrics tell the tale of what they tried to accomplish with the album:

    From the houses of the holy, we can watch the white doves go
    From the door comes Satan’s daughter, and it only goes to show
    You know.

    There’s an angel on my shoulder, In my hand a sword of gold
    Let me wander in your garden and the seeds of love I’ll sow
    You know

    Or maybe not.

    Even though it could easily be placed within the album’s eight song line-up, the world now knows that it will never fit. It may fit perfectly to separate the sides (i.e. between “The Crunge” and “Dancing Days”) but someone who has grown up with this album will never fiddle with the sanctity of this album, with these eight songs, in the exact order. For me, the holiness of Led Zeppelin will always and forever be found here, at Giant’s Causeway, climbing naked as children until our youth ends as we all grow up to climb over to explore the great unknown.

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  • FREE DOWNLOAD: Led Zeppelin’s “When The Levee Breaks (Platurn’s Bonus Beat Edit)”

    DJ Platurn / Led Zeppelin
    DJ Platurn has returned with another edit, this time going back 41 years ago to a track from one of my favorite albums. It’s an edit of “When The Levee Breaks” that primarily focuses on John Bonham’s distorted break that was recorded at a certain speed and key, but slowed down in the final mix for something a bit more loose, funky, and dare I say sleazy. Platurn takes the final mix and tinkers around with the emphasis, and comes out doing it quite nice. Have a listen.

    Led Zeppelin Eve Hill Building

    REVIEW: The Resistance Organ Trio “Does Led Zeppelin”

    Most of the time when I hear Led Zeppelin covers, it’s usually just hard rock and heavy metal bands recreating the songs, although they covered folk, country, soul, and funk along the way as well. One can’t deny their influence on countless artists (Heart, Tori Amos, The Black Crowes) and a generation of fans who appreciated the hammer of the Gods, but I think because of the power and myths of their music, people stay away for whatever reason. Guitarist Teddy Presberg decided to show his love of the band by creating The Resistance Organ Trio with Leclare Stevenson (organ, bass, and piano) and drummer Kyle Honeycutt to show people how LZ’s music can be reinterpreted, and without vocals.

    The Resistance Organ Trio Does Led Zeppelin (Outright) adds a little… I was going to say the trio adds elements of soul, funk, and gospel to Led Zeppelin’s music, but I think what they’re doing is playing the role of the music doctor by extracting it from the original songs, and reveal to people what they’ve really been hearing all these years. “Your Time Is Gonan Come” is known for its church organ vibe courtesy of John Paul Jones, and here it remains in the church. With the vocals being replaced by Presberg’s guitar, you hear him play not only the vocal melody but add his own brilliant solo to it, not as a means to upstage Jimmy Page but to just add a new perspective, as any musician would. “What Is And What Should Never Be” gets into a blues/jazz motif wit ha major boost from Stevenson taking it deep into Jimmy Smith territory. Bonus points for the panning at the end of the song where guitar is on the left, complimented by Stevenson on the right, bouncing back and forth. In “The Immigrant Song” (free download), I liked how the ending of the song is extended and explored, which is what Zeppelin did when they performed the song. The thing I felt was lacking was the intense bass riffs played by Jones, for me one of the best bass riffs Zeppelin ever made.

    As a lifelong fan of LZ, I love everything they did. The uptempo tracks are performed honorable to the originals, but Presberg and friends take the slower and mellower songs and really go on the voyages LZ’s songs did on their own. I would have loved to have heard a medley that finally united “Since I’ve Been Loving You” and “Tea For One” in some fashion, but maybe they could do that in a live setting. As it stands, The Resistance Organ Trio Does Led Zeppelin is a tribute album that will hopefully make people listen to LZ’s songs in an all new light, or maybe notice things that have existed but not have been highlighted until they heard this. It would be interesting if someone’s first exposure to the work of LZ was with this tribute. In turn, the album shows the continued progression of Presberg as a musician, and also shows Stevenson and Honeycutt as musicians that should be recognized for their talents as well. The name of the trio is meant to focus on the organ, which you can interpret as is or as a metaphor, so Stevenson may a primary focus but listen to the trio as a collective with individual talents. If the “organ” did Led Zeppelin as if LZ was a passionate woman who was confident of all of her capabilities, then it did it until it was content, although I’d like to think she would want a lot more. Musically, LZ’s last musical words was “I’m Gonna Crawl” so Presberg, Honeycutt, Stevenson: you know what to do. Boogie chillens.

    (The album will be released digitally on September 17th, CD version two weeks later.)

    THE LISTENING EXPERIENCE: Headbanger: Movement I

    Being a fan of hard rock and heavy metal has its benefits. I was very much a certified headbanger, and for me, to be a headbanger means you have embraced heavy metal as your savior and you look the part. By looking the part, you feel that you are one with the spirit of metal, and I was very much that, and while the keyword here is “was”, my love of heavy metal still remains.

  • As a kid born and initially raised in California, my Uncle Wayne also lived next door to us with his then-girlfriend, Pam. Even though he was always there, I don’t remember doing much at my uncle’s house except listen to music. That’s not to say I didn’t play with toys at home or with my friends at the daycare/pre-school thingy, but my uncle was never a “play with toys” kinda guy. Yet when it came to kicking back and playing music… maybe that’s why I enjoyed going over.

    In this case, I don’t remember anything but the fact that he had two albums that I liked listening to. As part of the listening ritual, it also meant looking at the album cover. One album my uncle loved was Black Sabbath‘s third album, Master Of Reality, released in 1971. It was on the army green Warner Bros. label so it was one of the first pressings before Warner Bros. moved to their Burbank tree painting label of the mid-70’s. While I was able to enjoy the music of Santana and War at home, the music I heard on Master Of Reality was just brutal. Okay, I’m sure at 3 years old I didn’t know what brutal was, but the guitars were cool sounding and loud. I loved “Sweet Leaf” because it was someone coughing before the song, but I also liked “Embryo”, “Children Of The Grave”, and “Into The Void”. A few years later, when we moved to Honolulu, my Uncle David (brother of Uncle Wayne) had the album too and I would listen to it when I went to his apartment. I sat there, and at one point the cover freaked me out. Those of you who know the cover are going “um… why?” Here’s the cover.

    For those who have never held the original vinyl pressing, the cover consists of Black Sabbath in purple lettering, with the title of the album, Master Of Reality, embossed in black lettering on black. This creeped me out because it was “dark”, and when you’re a kid, “dark” (as in “without the lights on”) meant spooky. Will a ghost get me? When the end of “Children Of The Grave” came to its close and the song had the sounds of Tony Iommi playing the guitar in a manner that sounded ghostly, along with a few voices going “oooh” and a faint “children of the grave” whispered every now and then, this was just creepy. In time, kinda cool. As a kid who would eventually learn about spiritual and religious things, I wanted to know who this “master of reality” was, and if it’s a person, how come his picture isn’t anywhere on the cover. The back cover had the lyrics for the entire album, so as I sat there not knowing what was going on in the front, I could read along and initially not know what a “sweet leaf” was (until I realized it was what my dad was smoking). As for “Children Of The Grave”, I was a child and I wondered if a grave was in my near future. Who are these children, and are they the ones going “oooooh” at the end of the song? It would be awhile before I learned “Into The Void” was an environmental song.

    What I loved about the music was that it was my initial exposure to something one would call “heavy”: lots of guitar, lots of distortion, booming drums, deep bass, with an incredible groove that I’d love. I also liked it because there are parts of their songs where they’d break out of these heavy grooves and play fast (as they did in “Sweet Leaf” and “Into The Void”) but then return to creating these cool grinding sounds. This love of low-end heaviness would refresh itself in high school with a bunch of goofy kids from Montesano, Washington, and when it did, it would remain there from that point on.

  • My Uncle Wayne also had another cool looking-yet-scary album: Led Zeppelin‘s Houses Of The Holy. I remember sitting down, holding the “big” album cover in my hands, not knowing who these naked girls on the cover were (not realizing that one of them was a boy, and that the full cover was just a collage of the nude brother and sister team). Open the cover, and there was a man (a father?) holding up a little girl (his daughter?) I know I saw this and thought “what is the dad going to do with his little girl? Is he going to throw her off of the mountain? What was cool about the cover? The orange and yellow tones of the outside photo, and the green and blue tones of the gatefold.


    But what I loved the most about the cover was the idea that all of these kids (again, just a brother and sister) were living in holes. Why were these kids living in holes that are in rocks? Where are these rocks? How do they live? It looked like some of the rock formations and reefs that are around Honolulu. When I was able to swim far enough to reach reef formations, I’d try to see if I could find my own Houses Of The Holy. I came close when one of the blockages at Magic Island had a hole where you could go inside and hide. But these were man made holes, but it was enough to where you could sit inside and just chill (or if you were someone who smoked or did a few drinks, get polluted until your heart was content or you coudn’t feel your legs.)

    My uncle also had Houses Of The Holy on 8-track for his car, while an auntie had the album on cassette. Both the 8-track and cassette were in pink plastic shells, which was the coolest to me because I had never seen any cassettes, other than Disneyland read-along stories, that had a color other than white, black, or grey.

    What I loved about the music was old bold and victorious “The Song Remains The Same”, as if it was coming in from the mountain that the father and his daughter was on, down to find the kids. Those jangling guitars sounded like power and strength, the drums would kick in, and then you’d have the power trio just playing. In the mid-section you have guitarist Jimmy Page just digging into the guitar with some wicked riffs, and then doing it again once more in the song’s last minutes. My Uncle Wayne would always sing one part of the song, and before I knew the lyrics I had no idea, other than “he likes this song”. Then one day when I found a lyric sheet, I knew:

    California sunlight
    Sweet Calcutta rain
    Honolulu star bright
    The song remains the same

    These were things of delight, but it was a part of the song that referred to Honolulu. It was a reference to home for my uncle, and it’s something I would eventually single out in my life too, it may have originated from here. It’s the idea that even though you are miles away from home, you tend to want to find and single out any and all references to where you were from. Then again, the end verse was kinda cool too:

    Sing out hari hari
    Dance the hoochie-coo
    City lights, oh so bright
    As we go sliding, sliding
    Sliding, Sliding, Sliding, Sliding…

    It sounded cool, but eventually when puberty hit and you realize about the wonders of those you are attracted to, and how, “you know, sometimes words have two meanings” and that a lot of the songs you knew and love could be re-interpreted into many different, perhaps more exciting things. What was Robert Plant sliding down, or was someone sliding down on him, or were he and a lady sliding down together? I wanted to find a lady I could slide down with too, experience all of this “sliding, sliding, sliding, sliding”.

    What I also loved about Led Zeppelin was those drums. It was just a lot of “boom”, “bam”, “chsssshhhh’ and “pop”, but once I understood what he was doing, there was so much to learn and love about this John Henry Bonham. I didn’t want to be a drummer then, but his drumming would never leave my consciousness.

  • When we were living in Honolulu, we lived for awhile at my grandma’s house in Honolulu. My grandma had one of those wooden cabinet phonographs that looked and felt sturdy, if I could fit inside (and no I did not try), it could be a cozy place to stay. It had a radio, the plastic seemed durable, the metal on it looked as if it could never break or melt. Those wooden cabinet stereos had a distinct smell, a mixture of the wood and the components of the electronics inside. I honestly never remember my grandpa ever playing any music on this stereo, and since we arrived in Hawai’i when my grandfather was sick, I have no idea if the stereo was something they both enjoyed or if it was something one of them preferred more. This was in the mid-1970’s, and yet this thing looked like it came from the 1950’s or early 1960’s. Was this the stereo that my dad discovered some of his first records? It wasn’t an issue again so the question never came up.

    As with anything to do with grandparents and their things, you never meddled in their business, or in this case my grandma’s business. She always seemed a bit quiet and reserved, but her husband had died and was still dealing with the loss. Yet even as I got older and would visit her often, she kept to herself. I do remember her scolding me a few times, for what I don’t know, but I do remember her being in the kitchen. Sometimes she would make a dish that was my dad’s favorite, and sometimes it would have ingredients that I would try and go “what is this?” Actually, I probably said something like “yuck!”, I honestly don’t remember a dish from hers that I liked. When we had our own place, my mom would still make some of my dad’s favorite dishes, but tweaked with some of my mom’s preferences. One of them was curry stew, a Hawaiian style concoction that involved ground beef, carrots, chopped potatoes, and curry powder, then poured over white sticky rice. This would become one of my favorite dishes among many. Yet when it came to music, I don’t associate anything with my grandma.

  • There was a day when I had two records to myself, and what felt like an empty house. I don’t remember where my parents where, my guess is my dad was maybe in the garage fixing his car. I don’t know if my mom was there. The weird thing about this story is that somehow I obtained these two records. At this point I wasn’t actively going to stores and saying “mom, I want this” or “dad, this is cool, can you get me this?”, I would simply play what may have been near me. I have no idea where these records came from, but now that I had them, I wanted to hear them. At the age of 6, I wanted to play these records on the big grandma stereo, which was in the dining room. I looked around, and I walked towards it.

    The two albums in my hands were the Taiwan pressing of Led Zeppelin III, and a U.S. pressing of Alice Cooper‘s Easy Action. I remember it being the Taiwan pressing because the cover was the cheap paper and plastic version, with no wheel to spin. The label was also blue, with a circle instead of the Atlantic logo. I pulled the record out, put it on the turntable, turned on the phonograph, lifted the tone arm, and put it on the first Side 1. “Two… three… four…” All of a sudden, “Aaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! Aaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!” I loved what I was hearing, this was cool. I knew who Led Zeppelin were from Houses Of The Holy, and I felt I was having a good time until my grandpa came out from nowhere and said “turn that off! Turn that off! That is the devil’s music!” Devil’s music? What is the devil’s music? I just remember her looking at me as if I did the naughtiest thing a 6 year old could ever do, and I was unhappy. My mom and dad let me play this music, my uncles and aunties loved this music, why is this “devil’s music”? As for Alice Cooper, I remember playing the record another time but don’t remember any of the songs. I wouldn’t hear it again until high school. Yet I loved the cover photo of the band, whose faces you could not see because they were not facing the camera. COOL! If my grandma thought Led Zeppelin was evil, one wondered what he thought of the cover where all of them had long hair and were shirtless. The devil, indeed.


    (SIDENOTE: I believe this was also the first Taiwan pressing of the album I had ever seen, which were plentiful in Honolulu in the mid-70’s. I had never seen them in stores, but always when my parents would go to a swap meet. My guess is that this album was bought at the Kam Super Swap Meet, which was held at the Kamehameha Drive-In Theater, where you could get a lot of things for dirt cheap. It was not the first swap meet I had been to, as I remember one visit to the Rose Bowl Swap Meet in Pasadena, California. I don’t remember what was purchased, but I remember walking to see the big Rose Bowl sing and thinking “wow, this place is big”. My dad may have been looking for car parts.

    Years later, I became aware that Taiwan pressings had not only cheap and flimsy covers, but the quality of the records were piss poor too. However, when one could not buy, find, or afford a proper U.S. pressings, and you just wanted to hear the music, a Taiwan pressing was acceptable, albeit barely. In my early teens, I would obtain the Taiwan pressings of Blind Faith‘s first and only album, and Black Sabbath‘s Master Of Reality, with a photo of the band on the cover that I later discovered was found in the poster of original pressings of the record. If there’s any benefit of Taiwan pressings, it was to see the different look of the front or back cover, especially if an alternate photo was used.

    Also, any and all Taiwan pressings are counterfeits, along with any pressings from any part of Southeast Asia. There were no major label affiliates in Taiwan, it seems whoever had a recording would press it up. At least with Led Zeppelin III, the album was released three different times on three different labels, each showing the name on the label on the cover. No idea if these were three different counterfeit copies or just one entrepreneur pressing it in three different ways.)

  • I believe the first hard rock band I got into on my own terms was Kiss. I know for a fact that my Uncle David saw them when they played at the Neal S. Blaisdell (NBC) Arena in 1976 (after doing a search, a Wikipedia entry shows they played in Honolulu on February 29, 1976 for the Alive tour. Amazing: Kiss did live shows in support of a live album that for the most part was not live.) I think what I liked about Kiss is what everyone else liked about them: they were four distinct characters, hidden in costume and make-up, and they rocked. They did songs that sounded good, or at least they felt good. I know over the years, people said that Kiss played nothing more than dumb rock’n’roll, but it was a style of rock’n’roll people loved because they put on an awesome spectacle. Fans were consumed by the show and the myth and mystery. My parents bought me the Alive album on cassette, and I would play it like crazy. Loved Paul Stanley when he spoke about drinking tequila, vodka & orange juice, and then at the end of one of the songs where the crowd noise flanged.

    Eventually I would get Destroyer and Love Gun but in 1978, I went to DJ’s Sound City, a record store in Ala Moana. This was like the playroom I wanted to live in, where everyone wanted music, everyone was buying records and tapes, and earlier in 1978 I had went in and heard Van Halen for the first time. A few months later, with a regular visit to Ala Moana, I would go to the record store. In Ala Moana, you also had House Of Music, which I also liked because they had record booths where one could listen to records before you’d buy them. I also liked House Of Music because back then, each record store was distinct and this felt like a true house of music, with items I would never see anywhere. DJ’s Sound City sounded like the kind of city I’d want to live in when I grew up, because they had a great name. My goal in life back then was to be a radio DJ, so a disc jockey where he could go to a sound city and just rock on? RIGHT ON, and my dad would make regular visits there to browse or buy.

    One day, I entered the store on my own. The plan was, as my parents would do their shopping and or browsing, usually at a store nearby, I would go to the record store. This was my safe haven, my Toys-R-Us, and employees did not make an issue of a 7-year old kid on his own, in a record store. I knew how to navigate myself through. Pop and rock was always in the front, those were the big sellers. Soul/funk records were mixed in with pop and rock because they were popular, and it was the 1970’s, soul and funk were huge. The uncle who had a good amount of hard rock and heavy metal also loved jazz, but that was due to the guitarists who were on some of those albums. One jazz album I remember was Live Evil by Miles Davis. The cover looked very similar to a record I was familiar with, Santana‘s Abraxas, but the artwork was creepier. Miles Davis looked cool inside, just simple black & white photos where it looked as if he was talking behind the counter or in a recording studio. When I was at my uncle’s place, he would put on the records for me, but sometimes I’d listen to them with the stereo speakers. Most of the time, I would have to wear headphones, adult-sized headphones that were way too big for my young head. But this meant the music was doing “direct” to my head, and it was warm and cozy like a good couch. Now imagine a 7-year old kid listening to a bit of fanatical jazz fusion where I had no idea what was being played or why it sounded like this. When I pulled out the record and looked at it, there was maybe one or two tracks on each side. These songs are long, but that meant more time listening and concentrating to the music. Again, imagine a 7-year old kid listening to Live Evil and looking at artwork like this:

    Now, I was used to the two nude women on the cover of Abraxas, an illustration of a lady with tattoos, another of a woman sitting there for all to see with a strategically placed bird. But Live Evil: what the hell was going on? Here was a nude black woman, pregnant, with another woman kissing her stomach. Fair enough, but what are those ripples on her stomach? Then I see people in the background: who are these people, and where are they going? Then I flip the cover over and I see a blonde gorilla, sitting with webbed feet or whatever with peas all over the place. I now realize that the gorilla-type beast is meant to be J. Edgar Hoover, but as a 7-year old, those peas freaked me out.

    I bring this up because when I went into DJ’s Sound City in September 1978, I knew to go to the jazz section in the back, because I could see other Miles Davis albums with equally weird covers. I remember seeing a Keith Jarrett box set on ECM (Solo Concerts: Bremen/Lausanne and back when 2-record sets were “special events”, and I could only have them if I was a good boy (read “good grades”), I always wanted more. Then I look at the wall, where new releases for the week and month were sold. I looked and saw something I had never seemed nor dreamed. This was too good to be true. What did I see? FOUR SOLO ALBUMS FROM EACH MEMBER OF KISS!!! Forget the Keith Jarrett box, I want to hear all of these. I stood there for what felt like hours, just staring, but most likely it was a few minutes. When my mom or dad came to pick me up, I most likely pointed and said “look, everyone from Kiss has a record, I want them all.” Pffff, forget that. Getting one album meant I had to be good and exceptional, but a kid getting four records, four “big records” (albums) at once? I was following the habits of a music loving household, but most of the time my collection would be primarily 45’s, with albums for being “good”. No way would I get all of those four Kiss albums.

    Not all at once, at least.


    I don’t remember if I got Gene Simmons‘ or Ace Frehley‘s album first, but I know that I liked them both. I liked both of them because Gene was the devil guy with the blood and cool hair, while Ace Frehley was far out and from outer space, as he would sing in “Snowblind”. I liked Paul but he was the “Starchild”, which at the time I felt he stole from Parliament. These two were on the same label, how come there are two Starchild’s? Plus, Paul always puckered and seemed “girly” but his album was quite good too. Peter Criss‘ album was okay, but I played that one the least, although I remember his cover of “Tossin’ And Turnin'”. Eventually, all four of those Kiss solo albums would be released as 12″ picture discs, but they were more expensive and while I don’t remember asking for them, if I did, I would’ve been told “go get a job”.

    I used to think that being able to get all four Kiss solo albums must’ve meant I was really good, or that my dad was feeling extra happy about something. However, I remember reading in And Party Every Day: The Inside Story Of Casablanca Records by Larry Harris that, while Kiss were being pushed and promoted as the hottest band in the land, they had created massive attention towards these four albums. It was a chance to not just buy one Kiss album, but four. However, more albums were pressed than were sold, which lead to record stores turning the album into a budget-priced cut-out. Eventually you could find each of these albums at supermarkets that would have a small devoted section to records that were essentially failures (the RSO soundtrack to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was always there, along with the Pickwick Records knockoff. At the time, as a growing Beatles fan, I wanted the soundtrack but instead my mom bought me the damn Pickwick knockoff. The music sounded like shit.) My guess is that some, if not all, of the Kiss solo albums were bought as cut-outs, so they were cheaper than they were when I first saw them at DJ’s Sound City. I would know this too, because of part of the cover was clipped off, I knew it was most likely bought at a supermarket.

  • My Uncle David also loved Aerosmith, especially the albums Get Your Wings and Toys In The Attic. I would enjoy them too, but the album I found myself really enjoying their 1976 album Rocks. My uncle was still living with his dad at their apartment in Waikiki (my uncle was still 15), and one day I remember him wanting to play me a new record. It was a 45 on Columbia, and he asks me “guess the name of this song.” I enjoyed how the sound started out slow, before it changed 20 seconds in to the groove that would become the main part of the song. I really liked it, and wanted a “little record” as well. I heard the singer sing “home… sweet… home” and I told my uncle “is this called “Home Sweet Home”?” He said no. I couldn’t understand the singer’s screams at the end, could’ve been “I found a lass chao, a just a boogin da bee”. After the song faded and the record player stopped, I picked up the record and saw that it was Aerosmith’s “Last Child”. I had to have it. I didn’t get it then, but I would get that 45, most likely bought by my Uncle David or an auntie.

    One day, my parents dropped me off at my grandfather’s apartment so he could watch me, and he would take me to Records Hawai’i, one of his favorite record stores since it had a lot of Hawaiian music. It may have been on Friday, perhaps a pay day, and I know he bought some records so he could listen to it during the weekend, a ritual for him. He then asked me to pick an album that I wanted to get. I don’t remember if I looked at anything else, but if “Last Child” was on my mind, then this is why I immediately went for the Rocks album. When I got home, I played it, looked at the inner sleeve and wondered why Steven Tyler was eating oatmeal or Cream Of Wheat with the food all over his mouth? I didn’t get it, nor would I, but it didn’t matter. I had an Aerosmith album, and loved Side 1. I’d play it over and over. When I would go to my uncle’s place, I would be able to hear other Aerosmith albums and since they were on the radio too, there was never a true need to get more. My uncle would have the record, I can go listen to it there but if I wanted to hear Rocks over and over, I could do so at home.


  • I’d listen to other hard rock and heavy metal groups, and many of my discoveries would be through my Uncle David, a guitarist who seemed to buy a wide range of albums to perfect his craft.Scorpions‘s Tokyo Tapes and Animal Magnetism; AC/DC‘s Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap and If You Want Blood You Got It; UFO‘s Lights Out, Pat Travers Band‘s Force It; Judas Priest‘s Sad Wings Of Destiny and Unleashed In The East; and the almighty Live album by Frank Marino & Mahogany Rush. I loved the volume of it all, the power and majesty of it, the ability to rock out, and at times hearing some incredibly weird sounds played in the form of guitar solos that were not a major part of my listening at home. My parents weren’t against heavy metal at all, but going to hear what my uncle had? I wanted to hear more. I know there were times when my parents would come to pick me up, I didn’t want to go home. I was not done listening to music with my uncle. I’d probably get into a fit and acted like a fool. What did I want to do with my life, after being exposed to the music that my uncle loved? “I wanna rock!”
  • As the 1980’s started, I could never have imagined all of the changes that would happen, not only in my own life, but with how I was able to listen to and find out about music. If my days as a single digit boy felt exciting, especially as this new thing called video games was becoming another means of great entertainment, it was only a mere climb of the metaphorical roller-coaster before I’d reach the top, only to grip the edges before speeding down into the great unknown from all angles. It’s a ride that continues to this day.


  • THE LISTENING EXPERIENCE: Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Down On The Corner”

    Creedence Clearwater Revival is one of the first songs I remember in my early years, and a song that showed me what the power of music and sound was. My parents had the Willie And The Poor Boys album, so when the album on the blue Fantasy played, I’d look at the cover. Perhaps the photo of John Fogerty & Friends playing music outside with local kids made an indirect influence on my subtle love of corner stores. Or if not that, it represented a “down home” quality of sorts, the idea that you can be a kid, go to a store and if you see grown-ups playing music with a harmonica, guitar, and washboard, it’s okay. Or if not that, I think it was one of the first instances of me associating an image with music, and becoming timelines for me to remember moments in my life. The song and the album cover are a part of some of my earliest memories.

    I am not sure what I liked about the song, but I am sure the reason I liked it was because my parents loved it. It was the first song on the album, so when I saw my dad pull the record out of the cover, I knew “Down On The Corner” was going to be played, it was a ritual. My dad had some of the other CCR albums too, and what I thought was cool too was that Fogerty and the rest of CCR wore flannel shirts, not unlike my dad. At that age I don’t think I even thought of the word “cool”, but in a way, CCR looked like my dad and vice versa so again: image association. As for image association, I clearly remember Bayou Country, Green River, and Cosmo’s Factory being at the house. Bayou Country looked trippy, I had never seen a picture like that. Green River was simple but it reminded me of some of the scenery I had seen as a child, it seemed “very California” to me. But it was Willy And the Poor Boys that represented a small bit of my life before we would move to Honolulu.

    To this day, when I hear the hi-hat and the cowbell comes in, I’m 3 or 4 years old all over again. Then the band kicks in and plays a little funky groove. Fogerty then begins his tale about being Willie and his group, The Poor Boys, are jamming for the neighborhood:

    Early in the evenin’ just about supper time
    Over by the courthouse they’re starting to unwind
    Four kids on the corner trying to bring you up
    Willy picks a tune out and he blows it on the harp

    That’s the album cover right there, and their mission is explaiend in the chorus:

    Down on the corner, out in the street
    Willy and the Poorboys are playin’
    Bring a nickel; tap your feet

    The album cover comes to life, in sound and in your mind. Then “Willie” introduces his group:

    Rooster hits the washboard and people just got to smile
    Blinky thumps the gut bass and solos for a while
    Poorboy twangs the rhythm out on his kalamazoo
    Willy goes into a dance and doubles on kazo

    The band get into a nice little groove, and the song ends with his hopes of what the group hope to accomplish:

    You don’t need a penny just to hang around
    But if you’ve got a nickel, won’t you lay your money down?
    Over on the corner there’s a happy noise
    People come from all around to watch the magic boy

    (“Down On The Corner” written by John Fogerty, published ©1969 by Jondora Music, BMI.)

    That’s what CCR and “Down On The Corner” represented to me, and what I continue to seek throughout my life: “a happy noise”. Granted, I didn’t know the lyrics at first, I think the last line of the chorus was interpreted as “playing nickle, happy feet”. The rest of the lines were just sung in the unique way Fogerty vocalized, so with the album not having a lyric sheet, I knew most of the chorus but would just groove along and dance to its catchy rhythm. Once I found the proper lyrics, I realized how the cover photograph was made to represent the lyrics in the song, and thus the name of the album was the name of their fictitious group, a more down home version of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

    The song has always been on oldies and classic rock radio, so it has never been out of mind. When the Beastie Boys‘ released Licensed To Ill in 1986, I immediately recognized one of the last samples in “Time To Get Ill”, and that gave me the biggest smile. Sampling was not a word used to describe the production technique Rick Rubin was doing, but as I was a devotee of rap music, I became fascinated with the Beastie’s combination of rap, soul, funk, and rock. When the “Down On The Corner” sample came on, followed by Led Zeppelin‘s “Custard Pie”, it felt like the group and Rubin had listened to the exact music I listened to as a kid. It wasn’t just the rock aspects in their music I loved, but that this new rap music felt like just going into my record collection and making the kind of sounds I’d hear and have in my head. The use of “Down On The Corner” in “Time To Get Ill” would never ruin my initial appreciation for the song, in fact it made me love it even more.

    As for the Duck Kee Market that is seen on the album cover, it had been an unofficial landmark in Oakland for years and remained there very close to a freeway, where thousands of Creedence Clearwater Revival would visit to get a glimpse of an iconic image. In truth, it had been said that the band and their label, Fantasy Records, was not too far from a corner store that was suggested as a possible site for a cover photo. Photographer Basul Parik drove them to the corner of Peralta Street and Hollis Street, which was only a few blocks from where they were at, and spent a few minutes there playing as some neighborhood kids watched. It was perfect, but not wanting to cause a ruckus by being a bunch of white guys posing in front of a Chinese market in a black neighborhood, they simply returned back to the studio with the hopes the photos taken would suit them. It did. Over the years, when the location of the photo shoot was discovered, fans would make it a regular practice to steal the Duck Kee Market sign as a souvenir, until the market was eventually closed down in the early 00’s.

    Music, image, emotion, feeling. It all brings me back “Down On The Corner”.

    (For years, I have always wanted to see other images of this photo shoot, other than what is on the front and the photo of the group and the kids dancing in the back. Some of the outtakes have been used in various CD reissues over the years, and here are those that have been published online:

    If one is to look at these and create some kind of sequence, these photos eventually lead us to the back cover.)