Tag: Tunes for Tuesday

Tunes for Tuesday: Go Go Godzilla!

Blue Oyster Cult was another of my favorite bands as a teenager and, along with Black Sabbath, was one of the first heavy metal bands. The first album I bought was Agents of Fortune. While they had released three earlier records, this was the one that crashed through the door to commercial success for the band.

The album’s first single, “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” just missed the U.S. Top 10 in the summer of ’76, hitting #12, and the album sold, in large part, based on that one song.

From the Byrds-inspired main riff to the mid-song eruption, it was unlike anything else on the radio at the time. This classic riff was one of the first I learned to play on the guitar.

Don’t Fear The Reaper (Live 1976)

Over time, of course, “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” not only became a genuine rock classic but gained another lease on life via the infamous “more cowbell” skit on Saturday Night Live.

More Cowbell

Godzilla, from their next and fifth album Spectres, was one of the bands more popular songs, but neither it nor any of the other songs on that record ever made the charts. However, Godzilla did have a very long life on Classic Rock radio

Godzilla (Live 1977)

Blue Oyster Cult continued to be a great concert draw but did not strike big pay dirt again until 1981, when they released the album Fire of Unknown Origin with its smash hit, Burning For You. Burning for you hit #1 on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock Chart.

Burning For You (Live 1981)

Blue Oyster Cult was one of the few American rock bands that were making videos when MTV launched in 1981. The single version of Burning For You was released in July that year, and when MTV went on air on August 1, they were happy to put it in rotation since they wanted to push a rock format but had little to choose from. Thanks to exposure on MTV, the song rose in the charts, reaching #40 in October.

Bone up on some great American Rock and Roll

As we’re sitting at home, one way to keep from going stir crazy is to check out some of the fantastic Classic Rock music produced during the 60s, 70s, and 80s.

I do a lot of that when I need a break from working on my next book!

Be sure to check out Serpents Underfoot and Adirondack Bear Tales while you are sitting at home at the computer as well.

Montagnard is in the hands of my editor and will be out soon!

Tunes for Tuesday: Carry On!

Yeah! I know it’s one day late. So, sue me!

Growing up, there was not a lot of agreement as to what constituted great music in my family. My mother grew up on Elvis Presley and liked some rock music, mostly on the lighter pop side. My father, not so much. Both my parents loved Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, Rachmaninoff, opera, and Madrigals. I liked Grand Funk Railroad, Led Zeppelin, Blue Oyster Cult, Steppenwolf, Ted Nugent, and even some Kiss. Not a lot of genre cross-over there.

Then one day, I was listening to one of my albums, and my Dad stopped and listened for a moment and then said, “Now, that’s well-orchestrated rock.” Well, you could have knocked me over with a feather!

At the time, I was listening to some Kansas

Carry On Wayward Son

I saw Kansas three times. Twice as a teenager; once in Springfield, MA, once at Saratoga Performing Arts Center in Saratoga, NY, and then later on in Knoxville, TN, in the mid-1980s.

Everybody liked Dust in the Wind. And it’s a great song. However, not one of my favorites. It is a bit mellow and seems slightly depressing to me. But hey, to each his own.

Dust in the Wind

One of my favorites was, of course, Carry On Wayward Son. And, of course, there were What’s on My Mind and Song for America, to name a few more.

What’s On My Mind

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a live video clip of this song with excellent sound quality. So, here is the version from their first album.

Song For America

How can you not like that!

Tunes for Tuesday: A Little Led for the Head!

Led Zeppelin was my favorite rock group of all time. In high school, I wore Led Zeppelin T-shirts, had a Led Zeppelin belt buckle, and wanted to play a guitar like Jimmy Page.

I was lucky to see them in concert at the Frankfurt Festhalle in Germany in 1980. Unfortunately, John Bonham, one of rock’s greatest drummers passed away later in 1980 from a tragic asphyxiation accident.

The Thunder of the Gods was laid to rest on October 12, 1980.

The British rock group, Led Zeppelin, was formed in London in 1968 with vocalist Robert Plant, guitarist Jimmy Page, bassist/keyboardist John Paul Jones, and drummer John Bonham.

They got the name for this band when Jimmy Page made a comment that their “new” band would probably fly like a “lead balloon.”

Zeppelin is often referred to as the beginning of Heavy Metal rock, and yes, they certainly could rock. Especially with Jimmy Page’s heavy guitar-driven sound. But much of their music defied classification, blending many influences, including blues and folk music.

In fact, Zeppelin’s music was deeply rooted in the blues. The influence of American blues artists such as Muddy Waters and Skip James was very evident on their first two albums

Many of their best songs are blues, and a large number are acoustic. Much of what I considered their best music never received my air time because it was outside the mainstream of commercial rock and roll.

Babe I’m Gonna Leave You

This famous folk song written about 1959 by American singer Anne Bredon is about a guy who is letting his lady know that he’s about to “Ramble On” and leave her. It was also recorded by Joan Baez in 1962 and released on her live album, In Concert.

The Rain Song

One of my personal Zeppelin favorites, this was written in collaboration by all four Zeppelin members after George Harrison, a huge fan, told Zeppelin drummer, Bonham, that “the trouble with Led Zeppelin is that they don’t do any ballads.”

Bonham took this comment to the rest of the band, who worked with him to put this song together. It is one of the few Zeppelin songs where all four members shared the composer credit.

Robert Plant has stated this song is one of his best vocal performances with Led Zeppelin. He uses the seasons as a metaphor, starting with the springtime of his love and ending with the coldness of winter, a song about the changing seasons of love.

Upon us all, a little rain must fall.

I can’t Quit You Babe

This is based on a Blues song by Willie Dixon that he wrote for Otis Rush, who recorded it in 1956. Many of Led Zeppelin’s songs were influenced by old blues or folk songs.

Many musicians consider this one of Led Zeppelin’s technically strongest performances, but Jimmy Page admitted that it’s certainly not perfect. In an interview with Guitar Player magazine in 1977, Page stated, “there are mistakes in it, but it doesn’t make any difference. I’ll always leave the mistakes in. I can’t help it. The timing bits on the A and B flat parts are right, though it might sound wrong. The timing just sounds off. But there are some wrong notes. You’ve got to be reasonably honest about it.”

Rock and Roll

As the title suggests, the song is based on one of the most popular structures in rock and roll. That is the 12-bar blues progression (in A). The phrase “Rock and Roll” was a term rhythm and blues musicians used as a metaphor for sex.

The song, Rock and Roll, has been covered by many other artists, including Def Leppard, Heart, and even the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

In 2001, this song was recorded by Double Trouble (Stevie Ray Vaughan’s backup band), for their 2001 album, Been A Long Time with Susan Tedeschi singing lead on the track.

The band often used this either as an encore or to open live shows from 1971-1975.

“The Biggest Band in the World” 1971 – 1975

Many consider Led Zeppelin to be one of the most successful, innovative, and influential bands in the history of rock music.

Rock critic Mikal Gilmore said, “Led Zeppelin—talented, complex, grasping, beautiful and dangerous—made one of the most enduring bodies of composition and performance in twentieth-century music, despite everything they had to overpower, including themselves”

Led Zeppelin influenced hard rock and heavy metal bands such as Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Rush, Queen, Aerosmith, the Black Crowes, and Megadeth as well as progressive metal bands like Tool and Dream Theater.

They also influenced some early punk and post-punk bands, such as The Ramones, Joy Division and the Cult.

Zeppelin was also a significant influence on the development of alternative rock artists who adapted elements from the “Zeppelin sound” of the mid-1970s, including the Smashing Pumpkins, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden.

Bands and artists from many diverse genres have acknowledged the influence of Led Zeppelin. These include Madonna, Shakira, Lady Gaga, Kesha, and Katie Melua.

Too many achievements to count!

Led Zeppelin has achieved many honors and awards throughout their career. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995, and the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2006.

Among the band’s awards are an American Music Award in 2005, and the Polar Music Prize in 2006.

Led Zeppelin was the recipient of a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005, and four of their recordings have been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

In the US, Zeppelin has been awarded five Diamond albums, as well as fourteen Multi-Platinum, four Platinum and one Gold album.

In the UK, they have five Multi-Platinum, six Platinum, one Gold, and four Silver albums.

In addition to listing five of their albums among “the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time”, Rolling Stone named Led Zeppelin the 14th-greatest artist of all time in 2004.

Perhaps the biggest accolade for me was when, not too many years ago, a lady friend and I went to see a Led Zeppelin cover band called Get the Led Out (they are excellent by the way). This wonderful lady was not a big rock and roll fan, being more into classical music and opera, and I am sure going to humor me. During one song, the band got to one of my favorite parts, where the melody shifts key, tempo, and everything else. She looked at me and said, “Oh my God … that was brilliant!”

So, grab your iPhone, stereo, boombox, radio, or whatever you listen to music with, and take a few minutes to get the Led out!