Random Video of the Week – Led Zeppelin-In My Time of Dying

So, as I wrote a while back Led Zeppelin is among my very favorite bands.  And lucky for us, they have a rich trove of video material to enjoy, everything from their early days to their last real tour.  This particular video comes from their 1975 Earl’s Court show which, based upon the six songs available on the exhaustive Led Zeppelin DVD, was a high quality show.

In My Time of Dying represents mid-career Zeppelin perfectly fusing their blues influences with their by-now well-polished hard rock chops, all wrapped up in a long, proggy arrangement that allows the band to explore various parts of the song.  It’s one of my favorites as it’s uniquely Zeppelin and captures Page and Plant at their live best, playing off each other at the height of their status as 70’s rock gods.

Random Video – Queen – Ogre Battle

So, hard to believe it’s been almost 25 years since the death of legendary singer / songwriter / pianist / front-man extraordinaire Freddy Mercury.  Luckily, Queen was such a uniquely talented band there’s an enormous library of content to appreciate, including four entire concerts captured in totality at different stages of the band’s history.  Luckily, one of those includes a show from early in the band’s career….before they had become huge, stadium-filling mega-superstars.

This song comes from a 1974 show at London’s legendary Rainbow club.  The band at that point is almost experimental, combining hard rock, pop, prog, cabaret, show-tunes and jazz elements in their setlist.  Ogre Battle captures the band at their hardest, most proggy…and shows that when they wanted to Queen could rock with anyone.

For me personally, I just love seeing legendary bands when they were still trying to prove themselves…building the foundation on which the rest of their career has long stood.  This one shows Queen at a unique time and it’s terrific.

Enjoy.

Reviewed: Voivod – Nothingface

Artist:  Voivod

Release:  Nothingface

Year:  1989

Songs:  9

Overall Rating:  89

Nothingface

So I moved to Washington DC in January of 1989 to begin an internship working for a congressman on Capitol Hill.  It was supposed to be a temporary thing so I left most of my “stuff” behind.  But I did have one of these:

Jambox

And that meant that, against my very basic instincts, I actually purchased what I called “store bought” cassettes.  Before then I always purchased LPs and would then record them on high quality blank casettes.  This allowed me to keep the LPs in mint condition and enjoy the music in my car or wherever.  Store bought cassettes were terrible quality; they sounded like shit and would often get eaten by players.  Anyone who lived in the 80’s and listened to music knows exactly what I’m talking about.

So, one day I’m reading about music in Spin Magazine.  Spin was relatively new then, and in the pre-internet days such magazines were one of the few ways to learn of new, unkown bands without actually seeing them.  And they had a story about a “cyberpunk” band from Quebec.  I didn’t know what “cyberpunk” meant in 1989 but the write-up on the band was interesting and thus Nothingface became my very first “store bought” cassette purchase.  It was a good one:
Nothingface Table Nothingface Chart Continue reading

Random Video of the Week – Dream Theater – Instrumedley

So, I’ve outlined my feelings regarding Dream Theater.  One of the nice things about the band is they have a huge library of live videos.  Another good thing is the band understand that they themselves are the key feature of a live concert video and the editing and presentation reflects that understanding.

Dream Theater is best live when they move away from standard presentations of their songs, like when they perform extended jams or somehow mix things up.  This is one such case, as the band combines some of their most-loved instrumental sections from more than a half dozen songs.  The result is a stunning 15-minute grand opus that is as good as anything the band has ever done and perfectly captures their world class abilities.  Enjoy.

The History of Radiohead – In Chart Form

So, Radiohead.  Critics love them.  Loyal, devoted, hardcore fan base claim the greatest band ever!  A catalog of widely acclaimed releases.

But not exactly my thing,  And yet, surprisingly, I have all their music.  And….my “Best of Radiohead” playlist gets a lot of play.  That’s because when Radiohead are good…they’re uniquely good, unlike any other band before or since.  If you want to hear “Radiohead-like” music you have to listen to Radiohead (which is different than many bands that have a gaggle of sound-alikes).

So, take this for what it’s worth…a Radiohead career retrospective by a meh Radiohead fan.  Honestly I’d never be here were it not for my wife who is a dedicated Thom York fan.  She’s often grooving and singing along to what initially sounds to me like computer beeps with drowning cat accompinament.  But I’m open-minded, I’ve given it a chance…and yeah, some really good stuff to be found among the weirdness.

As always, a couple house-keeping notes:

  • The band has a long history and some of the images are hard to read; you can click any image for a full-scale version.
  • I have my own rating system; it’s not complex but read the link if you’re interested in understanding more about it.
  • “Point Rating” represents the rating on a 5-point scale
  • “Rating” converts the “Point Rating” to a 100-point scale
  • “Prog Arch” represents the average rating found on the Progressive Archives site
  • “Total Points” represents how many points the band earned, based upon my rating system.
  • “Potential Points” represents how many points were possible through my rating system (=minutes * 5)

So, Radiohead has been consistent, 8 studio releases over 20+ years.  While the band has never taken a sabbatical or broken up they’re also not the most prolific group.  You get about 20 minutes of music per year.  My overall ratings are pretty low; I wouldn’t create a “history of” post for most bands with these scores.  But because I really do like the Radiohead I like and because they’re a noteworthy band here we are.

1. Career Table

There’s also an abundance of bonus music, a complete absence of official live releases and two official live DVDs (and one bootleg…which we’ll get to).   In total, barely six hours of studio music, four hours of video and four hours of bonus material.

2. Career Chart Continue reading

Random Video of the Week – Heart – Battle of Evermore

When Heart burst upon the music scene in 1976 they were labeled by some the “female Led Zeppelin”.  And while that’s ridiculous….it wasn’t totally inaccurate.  The band played a wide range of rock styles, just like Led Zeppelin.  They also featured lots of different acoustic-based songs featuring not only guitars but mandolins and all sorts of instruments.  And while I’m not sure this is true….to my knowledge every live show Heart has performed featured a Led Zeppelin cover of one song or another.

Which brings us to this video, from Heart’s 2002 Seattle homecoming show.  The band Heart has long been synonymous with sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson, who have enjoyed long, successful careers.   However, I feel neither has ever been given the appreciation they deserve for their instrumental accumen.  Ann Wilson is well-regarded as one of the very best female vocalists in rock history…and on this show she still wails as strong as ever.  But she also plays the guitar, flute, mandolin, ukelele and I imagine other instruments (I have no idea what the thing is that she picks up at the end of the song in preparation for the next song).  Sister Nancy is the more accomplished guitarist, and a fine singer in her own right….and on this song she takes over the mandolin responsibilities.

I know of at least 14 different Led Zeppelin songs Heart has covered over the years….but to me none are more surprising, difficult or impressive as this version of The Battle of Evermore.  Seriously, who would even think of trying to cover this oddity within the LZ catalog.  But the Wilsons pull it off with aplomb.  It features the duo’s fine harmonies and acoustin instrumental capabilities…which is the heart of their success.

Random Video of the Week – Porcupine Tree – Arriving Somewhere, But Not Here

So, Steven Wilson is pretty much the indiputable heavy-weight champion of progressive music this century.  He’s fronted bands as lead singer, song-writer and guitarist (Porcupine Tree, No-Man, Bass Communion, Incredibly Expanding Mindfuck), produced bands as diverse as Opeth, Blackfield and Anathema, contributed to dozens of other bands and, oh yeah, launched an extremely successsful solo career.  He is a progressive music renasaince man.  His list of credits is absolutley mind-blowing.  

So when the following came on a random playlist the other day I knew I had to post it.  The song starts with a slow ambient soundscape, moves into a poppy lyrical section and evolves into a classic heavy-prog workout….it’s quintessential Porcupine Tree.   The only negative is the overly ambitious video editing:  stupid effects, out-of-focus shots, million-edits-a-second….you name the film school effect it’s found on this piece.  The fact is totally awesome despite the horrid editing speaks volumes to the strength of the band and the music.  It’s a perfect introduction to anyone unfamiliar with the the no-doubt-about-it King of Prog: