It’s been almost three years since the release of Conspiracy A-Go-Go: 50 Years After the JFK Assassination and Who Breaks a Butterfly upon a Wheel: A Tribute to Pussy Riot, but Turn Me On, Dead Man is back with another Creative Commons compilation. Without Borders: On Behalf of Refugees is a collection garage and psychedelic rock […]
Several years ago when I was researching Led Zeppelin’s sources of inspiration, I was looking for any quotes from Randy California about the similarity between “Stairway to Heaven” and “Taurus,” which was written by Randy California and included on Spirit’s 1968 self-titled debut album–three years ahead of “Stairway to Heaven”. The only reference I found was […]
When you bring up “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” by Blue Oyster Cult, it doesn’t take long before someone interjects “More Cowbell!” because of the Saturday Night Live sketch. I’ll get to that a little later but first I want to look at a different aspect of this song: the demography of “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper”. The […]
A few weeks ago Live365 sent all webcasters a notice that they were terminating service at the end of January. I was certainly disappointed but it wasn’t a complete surprise. Live365 had been struggling even before the increases in royalty rates were to go into effect. Looking back I guess I’m just happy it lasted […]
Austin, Texas, psych band ST 37, currently on tour with Acid Mothers Temple, played at Comet Ping Pong in Washington DC on May 8, 2015. It was a particularly interesting show with opening band Rough Francis. ST 37, worried that their van wouldn’t be able to make the trip, had held a Kickstarter campaign to rent a van for the five-week tour, and I contributed enough to get a T-shirt. In corresponding with the group, I agreed to let them stay with me when they played in DC. ST 37 had contributed a track to Conspiracy A-Go-Go, a compilation of JFK assassination-related tracks I curated for the 50th anniversary of that event, and I wanted to repay them for that. We gathered at my breakfast table the following morning for an interview before they were off to Richmond, Virginia, going, as they pointed out, from the capital of the Union to the capital of the Confederacy on successive days. I talked to ST 37 while we ate a lovely breakfast prepared by Archana, who dazzled us with her culinary prowess.
At this point they are more than two-thirds through their tour. I wish you well on the rest of your tour and a safe return to Austin.
“I Am the Walrus” is on the Beatles’ 1967 release Magical Mystery Tour. Because of its strange imagery, “I Am the Walrus” has long been closely scrutinized by people looking for clues that Paul McCartney died in 1966 and was replaced by a lookalike. To search this song for hidden meanings is rather ironic since, according to Pete Shotton, John Lennon intended to write a song with nonsensical imagery to confound those who looked for significance in every Beatle lyric. After recalling a grotesque song they used to sing as children, John strung together the most ludicrous imagery he could think of. Shotton recalls that after writing the song, “He turned to me, smiling. ‘Let the fuckers work that one out, Pete.'”
“Trampled Under Foot” was included on the 1975 album Physical Graffiti. By the this time criticisms about Led Zeppelin lifting ideas from African American artists were commonplace, regardless of whether these claims had any substance or not, and Led Zeppelin were clearly aware of their reputation as music thieves. As Physical Graffiti was climbing the charts, Led Zeppelin performed at Earls Court Arena on May 17, 1975. Just before they played “Trampled Under Foot” Robert Plant told the audience that Robert Johnson’s “Terraplane Blues” had been the source of inspiration for the song. John Bonham then jokingly accused Robert Plant of stealing the lyrics. Led Zeppelin didn’t appear to have a care in the world at this point, though–plagiarism or otherwise. According to his review of the concert in Melody Maker, Chis Welch asserted, “This was the band firing on all cylinders, at their absolute best”.
John Bonham jokingly accuses Robert Plant of stealing the lyrics to “Trampled Under Foot” at Earls Court Arena, London, May 17, 1975
But did Led Zeppelin really steal the lyrics from “Terraplane Blues”?
“In My Time of Dying” is a song that already had a long history by the time Led Zeppelin recorded their version, which was included on their 1975 double-LP Physical Graffiti. With its roots in spirituals dating before the twentieth century, this song has been recorded under a number of titles. Perhaps the earliest recorded version was by country blues and gospel singer Blind Willie Johnson, who recorded it under the title “Jesus Make Up My Dying Bed” in 1927. This recording and others mentioned below are included in a MixCloud compilation embedded at the end of this post.
Despite my criticisms about Led Zeppelin’s sorry history of not citing their sources I remain a Led Zeppelin fan. Physical Graffiti
has always been one of my favorite albums and I pre-ordered the Deluxe Edition of that album a few weeks ago. It arrived in the mail late last week.
As I’ve said elsewhere, though Led Zeppelin failed to give proper songwriting credit in several cases, they (almost) always brought something original to each recording, enough to justify partial songwriting credit. Two Led Zeppelin tracks, however, stand out as particularly flagrant examples of plagiarism: “Dazed and Confused” and “Boogie With Stu”. Recent releases now acknowledge that “Dazed and Confused” is “inspired by” Jake Holmes, though it took the threat of legal action to make even that insufficient alteration. The songwriting credits for “Boogie With Stu,” however, remain the same as when Physical Graffiti was released in 1975.
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.
Following up on my post about the best releases of 2014, here is a Mixcloud compilation of some the best garage and psychedelic tracks to come out in 2014. The tracks are arranged roughly in order of preference. My favorite of the year is “For My Own” by The Mystery Lights.
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.
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.
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 “Human Cancer” by People’s Temple from Lansing, Michigan. “Human Cancer” is on their LP Weekends Time, released in September on State Capital Records.