Tag Archives: “Moby Dick”

Happy 66th Birthday John Bonham!

Today is John Bonham’s birthday! I don’t have very many traditions, but celebrating Bonham’s birthday is something I try to do every year.  Since I was a wee-lad I’ve been a Led Zeppelin fan, but I had kinda drifted away from the band until about a decade ago when I was driving to work and I heard “Moby Dick” on Alice Cooper’s radio show. Since that time, I’ve seen Jason Bonham’s band open for Heart and I’ve read four different books on Zep.

This past year, streaming music service Spotify put Led Zeppelin’s albums up for listening, which was nice because my CD copies are still packed away somewhere.  Bonham’s drumming is so damn good, it still manages to knock my socks off.  It’s sad that John succumbed to his vices and left his family (and the music listening public at large) behind at such a young age.

Take time out today and give “Moby Dick” a listen.

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Dancing Days Are Here Again: Led Zeppelin Now on Spotify

This week one of the biggest bands in rock history was added to Spotify.  Yes, friends Led Zeppelin is available to stream!  I worry that I talk about Spotify a bit too much, but it’s been a godsend for me.  The ability to stream a wide swath of popular music has allowed me to dig deeper than I would if I had to go out and buy CD’s.  I never was a fan of illegally downloading music, though I did dabble with that in the past.

Spotify may not pay artists the way traditional album sales would, but I’d argue that the exposure the service gives band is worth it’s weight in gold.  I may have slowed down my consumption of records, but more importantly I’m a fan of more artists, from more genres than ever before.

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Led Zeppelin being on Spotify makes me happy for two reasons.  Firstly, I just moved and all my CD’s are packed away in boxes.  Meaning I’ve been living a horrible Zep-free life. Now I can hop on my computer, or smartphone, and instantly be in Led Zeppelin nirvana. Secondly, having the band’s entire catalogue available at my fingertips will finally allow me to explore the band’s last two albums.  I’m ashamed to admit it, but I’ve never heard 1976’s PRESENCE or 1979’s swan song (pun intended) IN THROUGH THE OUT DOOR.  Sure, I’ve heard a few cuts of each album on the radio, but I’ve never heard them all the way through.  It’s basically like I’ve got new Led Zeppelin to listen to!

A few years back, my local Best Buy had a mega-sale on Led Zeppelin albums and I snapped up everything up to PHYSICAL GRAFFITI.  Why did I stop there?  Well, even though the CD’s were dirt cheap, Mrs. Defending Axl Rose isn’t the biggest fan of my expansive CD collection…so I stopped where everyone said the band stopped being good. But as I sit here, typing this listening to IN THROUGH THE OUT DOOR, I can assuredly tell you that Led Zeppelin were good all the way to the bitter end.  Would I have had this epiphany without a streaming music service in my life?  Probably, though it would have taken me years to work my way back to Zeppelin.   If you’ve never fully explored the Led Zeppelin catalogue or if you’re an old-fan like me who haven’t listened to them in years, take some time and explore the band on Spotify.

My Top 10 Led Zeppelin Tracks (1969-1975)

1.  “Bron-Y-Aur Stomp” off LED ZEPPELIN III.  This is my all-time favorite Zeppelin song.  I love the homespun feel of this song, it’s like a campfire song…Led Zeppelin-style.

2. “Living Loving Maid [She’s Just  A Woman]” off LED ZEPPELIN II.  Repeat after me: love the riff.  Killer, killer riff.

3. “The Ocean” off HOUSES OF THE HOLY.  Have Robert Plant’s super-high vocals ever been higher?  Every time I go to a concert and look back on the swell of faces I think of Plant singing to his “ocean.”

4.  “Going To California” off LED ZEPPELIN IV.  The entire fourth LED ZEPPELIN album is amazing (everyone knows that) but if I had to pick one song that I love the most from that record it would be “Going to California.”  While the rest of the album rages, this song is the quite eye of the hurricane.  The song gets bonus points for being about Joni Mitchell.

5. “Kashmir” off PHYSICAL GRAFFITI.  A wonderfully weird, and powerfully heavy track.  It’s a shame that most kids know it as “that Puff Daddy song.”  *Shudder*

6.  “Communication Breakdown” off LED ZEPPELIN.   The first Led Zeppelin album is more blues-oriented than most people discovering the band after that fact might expect. But while Zeppelin might have pioneered hard rock/heavy metal, they really were just bluesmen.  “Communication Breakdown” is a wonderful fusion of blues and hard rock the band would later use to dominate the world.

7.  “Immigrant Song” off LED ZEPPELIN III.  Elves and hobbits are nice, but it’s when Zeppelin sing about Vikings that my heart soars.  Truly this song is the hammer of the gods.  

8. “Hey Hey What Can I Do” B-Side to “Immigrant Song.”  This is probably the least-known song on this list (and not currently available on Spotify) but man, do I love it.

9.  “D’yer Mak’er” off HOUSES OF THE HOLY.  Funky.  This song is funky.  It also features a great vocal performance from Page.  Took me many years to learn that this song pokes fun of the way British people say “Jamaica.”  Which of course explains the reggae-ish vibe the song has.

10.   “Moby Dick” off LED ZEPPELIN II.  Come to Led Zeppelin for the killer Jimmy Page riffs and the stellar Robert Plant vocals…stay for John Bonham’s drumming.  Why on Earth don’t more drummers try to sound like Bonham?  He’s the greatest rock drummer of all time.  Period.  The song starts with some fun guitar licks and then devolves into an extended drum solo.  The genesis of the tune is that it began as something used during the live shows to give the rest of the band a break.  “Moby Dick” on record is over 4 minutes long, but Bonham would sometimes play a ten minute version live.

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Happy Birthday John Bonham

Today is John Bonham’s birthday! I don’t have very many traditions, but celebrating Bonham’s birthday is something I try to do every year.  Since I was a wee-lad I’ve been a Led Zeppelin fan, but I had kinda drifted away from the band until about 8 years ago when I was driving to work and I heard “Moby Dick” on the radio.  Being an instrumental, I had kinda overlooked “Moby Dick” in favor of the catchier, guitar-centric Zeppelin songs.  For some reason, hearing “Moby Dick” that night was like a revelation, and helped jumpstart my love of Led Zeppelin.  Like most people, I grew up thinking that Jimmy Page WAS Led Zeppelin, and while Zep certainly is Page’s band…it was Bonham and his drumming that made them truly special.  Over the years I’ve seen a lot of drummers, but nobody touches “Bonzo” (as Bonham was often called). It’s no secret that the way Bonham achieved his famous sound was by beating the ever-loving-shit out of his drums, but Bonham was more than just a burly oaf who wailed on the drums.  The man was a force of nature, he played with a massive amount of intensity yes, but he also had a raw/spontaneous nature about his drumming that can only be described as “organic.”  Every note seemed both thought-out and done entirely on instinct, and his ability to do that is the true secret of his genius.

John Bonham brought drumming into the rock ‘n roll spotlight.  Before hearing Bonham, I did not really consider drums.  Sure, w’d all miss them if they weren’t there….but drums were usually mixed way down prior to Zeppelin.  In fact, one of Zeppelin’s major contributions to rock music was how they recorded their drums.  Rather than record Bonham in a small, closed off little room (thus limiting the scale/scope of his thunderous sound), Zeppelin recorded Bonham’s drum parts in large, high-ceilinged rooms (even using a stairwell). Before I heard “Moby Dick” I the idea of a drum-solo (let alone an entire song that’s basically just the drums) seemed ridiculous. The only other famous drum-centric song that I could think of was “Wipeout,” which is more novelty than anything else.  “Moby Dick” is an epic masterpiece.  I’ve read accounts of Bonham playing this song for nearly 40 minutes during some of Zeppelin’s tours–the man had stamina (could you drum for 40 minutes straight?).

Earlier this month, I saw a symphonic tribute to Led Zeppelin put on by the St. Louis Symphony and a rock band led by singer Randy Jackson (of the band Zebra).  The show was pretty good, and the drummer did an admirable job covering “Moby Dick,” but even with an entire symphony, that tribute band couldn’t match Bonham’s volume and intensity.  Bonham was a notorious partier, who lived a larger-than-life existence and ultimately he paid the ultimate price.  And while he was a bit of a weirdo, he also loved his son and his friends.  And in the end, that’s enough for me.

Today is John Bonham day, celebrate by listening to some Led Zeppelin and have a pint for John.

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