Ghali on Dig the Now Sound

Dig the Now Sound (Thursdays at 10:00 pm eastern on Turn Me On, Dead Man Radio) plays standout recent garage/psych. The featured track this week is “Colors” by Ghali, a psych punk band from southern California. Ghali released S/t on Resurrection last summer and I ranked it at #10 on my “Best of 2014” list.

I corresponded with drummer Cesar Marin recently.

Continue reading Ghali on Dig the Now Sound

The Turn Me On, Dead Man Best of 2014

It’s that time of year (well, maybe I’m a little behind) to put together a list of the best releases of the year gone by. Great garage/psych releases have continued apace, and plenty of great music was produced in 2014. The first list is full-length releases and the second is EPs & 7″ releases. As digital releases online have now become the norm, bands have experimented more with formats, both in terms of the variable length and the physical media bands choose to use. The cutoff I used for “full-length” release was roughly 20 minutes, which, I admit, is a fairly arbitrary choice. Even so, 2014 was notable for its wealth of short releases. Where my 2013 list had only 10 EPs & 7″ releases, this year I have 25.
Continue reading The Turn Me On, Dead Man Best of 2014

Interview with George Markou of Gew-Gaw Fanzine

Greece has long had a very active garage/psych scene. Perhaps no one has done more to cultivate Greece’s enthusiastic garage/psych community over the years than George Markou, editor and contributor to Peace Frog and Gew-Gaw fanzines. Many notable bands have appeared on the CDs given away with these fanzines, as well as on the associated Nowhere Street label.

I corresponded recently with George Markou.

Continue reading Interview with George Markou of Gew-Gaw Fanzine

The Thons on Dig the Now Sound

Dig the Now Sound (Thursdays at 10:00 pm eastern on Turn Me On, Dead Man Radio) plays standout recent garage/psych. The featured track this week is “Wars Most Won” by the Chicago band The Thons, self-described “surf scum punks and nice guys, too”. They’ve been waiting for a while for me to post this. We started corresponding in June but the summer has been a busy one for me in ways unrelated to Turn Me On, Dead Man, and I almost lost track of this. Still, Graham (guitar/vocals) and I have kept in touch through the summer.
Continue reading The Thons on Dig the Now Sound

When the Levee Breaks

On Led Zeppelin IV (or Untitled, The Runes Album, Zoso or whatever you want to call it), Led Zeppelin listed Memphis Minnie along with the four band members on the songwriting credits for “When the Levee Breaks”. In this case, Led Zeppelin fairly gives credit where credit is due in the creation of this monumental masterpiece. The lyrics follow Memphis Minnie’s original “When the Levee Breaks” but this is not a straightforward cover of that song. Led Zeppelin completely reworked the music into a heavy psychedelic track that bears only a distant relationship to the original. As performed by Memphis Minnie and Kansas Joe, “When the Levee Breaks” is a country blues number with spare but deft instrumentation. Kansas Joe sings and accompanies himself on guitar, while Memphis Minnie plays lead guitar with a “Spanish” tuning, according to Steve Calt in the liner notes for the Yazoo compilation Roots Of Rock (1991).
Continue reading When the Levee Breaks

Babe I’m Gonna Leave You

One of the reasons Jimmy Page liked the name “Led Zeppelin” was that it suggested music that was both light and heavy.  Jimmy Page’s vision for the group was to mix heavy, blues-based rock with acoustic, folk-influenced music.  In their initial meeting, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant played a number of songs to introduce their musical tastes to each other.  One of the songs Jimmy Page chose was an acoustic folk song Joan Baez had performed called “Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You”.  Jimmy Page knew from the start that he wanted to rework this song in a style that would become characteristic of Led Zeppelin, contrasting heavy rock with the lighter acoustic sections.  “Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You” was included on Led Zeppelin I with the songwriting credits “Traditional, arr. Page”.  On recent reissues, however, this song is now also credited to Anne Bredon.
Continue reading Babe I’m Gonna Leave You

Black Mountain Side

Jimmy Page was well versed in a variety of guitar styles.  Beyond blues and rock, Page was fascinated with folk styles, and one of his biggest influences was the British folk guitarist Bert Jansch.  Page loved to combine Celtic and Indian influences, so he took the main theme of Bert Jansch’s “Blackwaterside”, performed as an instrumental adding a tabla and retitled it “Black Mountain Side”.  Where Jansch’s recording of “Blackwaterside” is credited as “Traditional, arranged Jansch”, Jimmy Page gave songwriting credits for “Black Mountain Side” to himself.  In a 1977 interview in Guitar Player Page admitted, “I wasn’t totally original on that. It had been done in the folk clubs a lot; Annie Briggs was the first one that I heard do that riff. I was playing it as well, and then there was Bert Jansch’s version. He’s the one who crystallized all the acoustic playing, as far as I’m concerned.”
Continue reading Black Mountain Side

Randy California’s Relatives Sue Led Zep Over “Stairway to Heaven”

Several news outlets are reporting that Randy California’s relatives are suing Led Zeppelin for copyright infringement over Jimmy Page’s use of a riff written by Randy California. The lawsuit seeks damages for Page’s use of the opening of Spirit’s song “Taurus” for “Starway to Heaven”. Because of the statute of limitations, they can only sue for damages from the last three years but given that Jimmy Page is working on reissuing Led Zeppelin’s catalog, this could result in a substantial amount of money. Other such cases, such as Jake Holmes suing over “Dazed and Confused” have also resulted in changing songwriting credits. CNN had an interesting discussion about the legal aspects of this case.

Some of the news stories used a quote from an interview Jeff McLaughlin did with Randy California in the Winter 1997 issue of Listener magazine, shortly before Randy California died. This quote is included in my “Stairway to Heaven” post and the NPR article by Bill Chappell included a link to my blog. Rolling Stone and The Guardian quoted from the McLaughlin interview, as well. It’s interesting how I got this article. I had found part of Randy California’s quote on a discussion forum and included it in an earlier version of my piece on “Stairway to Heaven”. At that time Jeff McLaughlin contacted me to tell me that I only had part of Randy California’s quote from the interview. He told me that Randy California was actually much more direct in accusing Jimmy Page of stealing his work and expressed some resentment that was missing from the partial quote I had originally used. Jeff McLaughlin sent me the full issue and I’ve used the full quote in subsequent updates of my post on “Stairway to Heaven”.