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.

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.

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:

Random Video of the Week – Iron Maiden – The Phantom of the Opera

So, some of my favorite music videos are of big-name bands before they became super-duper stars.  Before they could sell out arenas and stadiums through sheer name recognition.  When they had to earn fan’s loyalty each and every night, performance-by-performance.

And that’s what we have here. Iron Maiden have been around for 35+ years and are rightly considered one of the titans of heavy metal.  But in this video they had exactly one album released and were happy to headline a London theater.  Admittedly, it was the legendary Rainbow Theater which was quite a gig back in 1981.  This is Iron Maiden as I was first exposed to them:  raw, young, agressive and, at the time, unlike any other band.  And because this is early in the band’s journey we have Paul Dianno on vocals in stead of Bruce Dickinson.

Now, a lot of people consider Dickinson the definitive voice of Iron Maiden, and I can’t really argue with them.  I will say, however, I like Dianno on vocals and the two albums he was involved with are classics in my opinion.  We also get Clive Burr on drums, rather than Nicko McBrain and while McBrain is a more sophisticated drummer I always preferred Burr’s raw energy and attack-style of drumming.

So what we get is a band just emerging from infancy, working their way to superstardom and at the height of their “new-band-breaking-out” awesomeness.  And there is perhaps no song that captures the essence of Iron Maiden better than The Phantom of the Opera.  Pretty much all their future epics employed some of the features of this song:

  • Reference dark, spooky, old literary classic:  check
  • Sinister / scary main character:  check
  • Lengthy, progressive arrangement:  check
  • Employ multiple time-changes and distinct sections:  check

What can be found here that’s missing from a lot of later material is a determined emphasis on HARD and FAST.  This focus on raw head-banging also displays the band’s profound musical chops.  Perhaps most compelling to me personally, however, is this captures a moment in time that was highly relevant to me.  I was 16 when this happened and had embraced music as a core sense of my identity.  This video speaks directly to the 16-year old me that still exists today.

Love this song; love this video.

Random Video – My Morning Jacket – Wordless Chorus

So, I honestly don’t know much about My Morning Jacket.  I had a friend who played them a lot and they sounded pretty cool.  This is a great song and I LOVE the title….because it does indeed have a wordless chorus.  The singer and primary force behind the band is one Jim James, and (on this song) his voice is the main attraction.  Enjoy!