Like a lead balloon…

There was a time in my life when the prospect of Led Zeppelin reuniting would have been a ticket to rock and roll heaven for me, and while that time has past I hope for everyone concerned that tonight’s show goes well. Morbid curiosity may prod me into checking the NME’s blog every now and then as the show goes on…

Zeppelin were a tremendous band, and they also illustrate the inherent pastiche nature of popular music. It’s well-known that they pillaged the blues as aggressively as they trashed hotel rooms, eventually paying a settlement to Willie Dixon for “Whole Lotta Love” amongst others. But they also borrowed heavily from contemporaries.

Does “Taurus” by Spirit remind you of something (wait about 30 seconds)?

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Spirit – Taurus
Found at

And I don’t know how Zep got away without scoring Jake Holmes a few bucks for this shameless rip-off:

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Jake Holmes – Dazed And Confused
Found at

I should note that pointing out these well-known instances of reuse doesn’t diminish the power and influence of Led Zeppelin’s music in any way — though the refusal to share a little of the enormous wealth they earned does speak to a certain lack of grace.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to ramble on…

About Brian

I am a Strategist and Discoordinator with UBC's Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology. My main blogging space is Abject Learning, and I sporadically update a short bio with publications and presentations over there as well...
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4 Responses to Like a lead balloon…

  1. Jim says:

    I love this post, my two cents: Led Zeppelin sucks! There I said it. Sorry to be so ineloquent, but I have never been a fan. The bands I was listening to, like the Ramones, represent everything that Led Zeppelin is not: Bubble Gum! Serious rock is the death of the genre, give me a Surfin Bird or a Rocket to Russia and keep your damn stairway to Heaven. It’s good to know that on top of being pretentious, Zeppelin’s constantly affirmed genius was far more distributed than most Led Heads ever care to admit.

  2. Alan Levine says:

    Black Dog was summoned to respond to this Ramone loving freak. Didn’t take too long fore I found out
    what people mean my down and out.

  3. Brian says:

    Jim, my inner 17 year old will never forgive you, but he still thinks you’re very wild.

    Gardner and I disagree on the relative coolness of a quote by Robert Pollard, something he slurred in-between songs on the last Guided by Voices tour: “Serious rock is good, but fun rock is better.”

    I don’t have difficulty understanding why someone wouldn’t like Zeppelin. There’s lots that’s corny and pretentious about them — the ersatz Tolkien symbolism, the Crowley-tinged occultism, the endless solos — and many of the songs they played tonight were long ago slaughtered on the altar of classic rock radio. I’ve come to really dislike most of Bob Plant’s singing.

    Having said that, it’s a cliche to say that Keith Moon and John Bonham were the two best and most distinctive rock drummers ever, but only because it’s so obviously true. And as a drummer in high school, playing like Moon was obviously impossible, but Bonham had a simple, elemental and ferocious approach that was easier to aspire to, the most important thing was to hit hard. I shudder to think how many minimum wage hours in drumsticks, drumheads and cymbals my Bonham fixation cost me.

    The bassist and guitar player had pretty decent chops too. The instrumental sound on the best 2/3’s of Houses of the Holy is top-drawer… and last month on a whim I threw my copy of Physical Graffiti on the turntable and ended up listening to all four sides… seriously grooving on about half of it. That may sound like faint praise, but it isn’t.

    Then again, between Harry and I you’d be amazed how often “Surfing Bird” gets played (he even has a puppet that sings it), and prominently displayed in our kitchen there is a photo of Joey Ramone, performing in 1980 at UBC’s Student Union Building, waving a “Gabba-Gabba Hey!” banner.

    Gabba-Gabba Hey!

  4. Brian says:

    @Alan – Da da da da da DAH da DAH dadlada da DA da da da da da da da da da da DAH DAH DAHHHHHHH! …

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