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Date: Tue, 15 Nov 1994 08:51:00 -0500 From: Lisa To: zeppelin-l@cornell.edu Subject: "Village Voice" P&P Reviews Message-ID: <01HJI3L8VOL2I1AB8Y@SMITH> Hi folks! The "Village Voice" had a Zepfest of sorts. They printed several reviews of "No Quarter"--many of which include personal reflections on the band--under the rubric "To the Misty Mountains." They all make for really fun reading. (No photos, but daffy caricatures.) I'll feed you some as I have time (and as my already strained wrist tendons allow). Enjoy! ***************** Village Voice, November 15, 1994 ANN POWERS: A style revived still bears its original surface, but at its center are different meanings, cultivated in the atmosphere of now, constantly responding to the familiar form they occupy. The skin remains the same. But for the revival to transcend nostalgia, it must hold some kind of new creature inside. Jimmy Page and Robert Plant didn't become the world's foremost monster rockers on dumb luck--these two have a knack for making music big enough for any number of ans to live inside at once. The songs they built as Led Zeppelin had specific, often esoteric, connotations. But most of all, what the very strangeness of the lyrics, the open harmonies of Page's guitar, and the thundering rhythms concocted by bassist John Paul Jones and drummer John Bonham provided was room--for whatever fantasy or urge the music stimulated, whether it belonged to the epic egos producing it, or the striving kids who embraced them. This is why people hated them: they took up so much space. And it's why people loved them: that space could swallow you up, take you in. So in this season of yet another Frankenstein movie, it's a big corpse Page and Plant have wired up for the recharge. To their credit (and the beast's), they've managed to find a new way for it to breathe. In its heyday, Led Zeppelin invented its own far-flung lands; on their new collaboration, "No Quarter," Page and Plant venture into real ones and find the fit between their old imaginings and those of the same "exotic" cultures they once treated like astral planes. Reworkings of Zep favorites like "Four Sticks," which gains depth from a collaboratin with an Egyptian percussion and string ensemble, or "Battle of Evermore," with ghazali singer Najima Akhtar replacing Sandy Denny's smoky-forest vocal with a high, trancey wail, reinterpret Zep's fantasyland as a blend of Eastern and Western folk styles, with rock's custom of self-creation by appropriation nourishing the mix. Unlike the prudish colonialism of Peter Gabriel or David Byrne's giddy surrender, Page and Plant act like the seasoned travellers they are, unsurprised by the common ground they discover as they go. Plant's singing, particularly, has gained depth from his journey: the yowl still rears its ugly head, but he'll just as likely try something like a North African chant pattern--a different expression of manliness and spiritual wayfaring. These are the best moments on "No Quarter," although some of the new material proves that the spark that first carried these two off on their time travels still fires the machine. True, Page and Plant can't wrestle with the gods anymore--no amount of new ethnic clothing can replicate Bonham's balls and Jones's four-cylinder heart. And one must admit that the feeling here is, for better and worse, more mature; more respectful of forces beyond the self, a little weary, a lot more reasonable. But give it up to Page and Plant for copping to the way their aptitudes have changed, and still going beyond the cash-in. And remember, revivals feed the listener's blood too. Here, Zep fans and foes consider the course the mighty ship still cuts through their consciousness. [end of article] BOB MACK: "Undreaded" I loved LZ in high school. Not because I played Dungeons and Dragons or took woodshop courses, but because I was a normal, happy dude who had friends, played sports, dated girls, liked to party and loved to listen to bitchen (not bitchin') tunes with the headphones on. I was so into Zep, in fact, that I traveled to England in the summer of '79 expressly to see them perform at the Knebworth Festival, which of course was fucking awesome. I'd gotten to the concert site 24 hours early, camped out in the front row and waited in the rain through Chas and Dave, Commander Cody, Todd Rundgren's Utopia and some other dicks before Zeppelin came on at way past midnight. They started off with "The Song Remains the Same," which made me scream like a girl for the Beatles. By far the highlight was when they played "Kashmir," "Trampled Under Food" and "Achilles Last Stand" back to back. I've yet to see anything even approaching that kind of power, except maybe the Jane's Addiction one-off at the Garden. Certainly the flaccid "Unledded" video didn't come close. First of all, the decision to supplant John Paul Jones with the NBC orchestra and a bunch of hired ethnic guns is almost as unforgivable as lettin' that gumba get behind the drum kit and butcher the late Bonzo's battery. But second of all, the only thing that remains the same (i.e., good) are the songs themselves, which try to retain their dignity despite all the treacly retreatments. The once stately "Kashmir" is inflated here with absolutely, positively no oomph, like Plant's aged pecker after yet another shag. Seriously, Schooly D's version was better. By the time you get to "Nobody's Fault But Mine" (the unintentional Dread Zep version) and what appears to be a few precious new pieces recorded in Marrakesh (where Plant sits on his ass in short pants and bare feet), I was literally watching through my fingers as if it were a scary movie. OK, so maybe I should have taken acid, and watched it with my old girlfriend (the first plan), instead of watching it with my friend Mike, who hated LZ in high school because he knew they'd grow up to do something cringeworthy like this. But in the end I think I've done the manly thing. For 15 years now, ever since those magic moments at Knebworth, I've lived my life in the past lane, pining for either Zep to reform or a new generation to do the same kind of thing in their own new way. But now that both of these events have come to pass, I can definitely say to the youth of today: be careful what you wish for, it just might come true. [end of article]

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