OK, I’m gonna go out on a limb here and make a statement that will have Led Zep fans loathing my very existence. The Led Zeppelin of the 2007 reunion show and recent “Celebration Day” DVD/CD are so much better in every way than the Led Zeppelin of “The Song Remains The Same” circa 1973. Or, at least, the slightly touched up Led Zep of 2007 is better than the 1973 model. While it’s tough to compare a band that’s fresh off of releasing an album like “Houses Of The Holy” with a bunch of semi-retired veterans who have remained somewhat active over the years with various projects of relative merit, this final lap around the track for Led Zep ’07 found them a tight, succinct unit. In contrast, the Led Zep of 1973 were often sloppy, bombastic and ponderous on stage, making the “Song” soundtrack and bootleg concerts from the ’73 tour unlistenable at times. I will concede that Robert Plant’s voice is just a mere shadow of the miraculous wonder of a voice he had back in the day, but Plant rose to the occasion for the 2007 reunion, and with the addition of studio postproduction touch-ups, his voice sounds terrific here too. Besides, the 1973 Madison Square Garden recordings that provided the soundtrack to “The Song Remains The Same,” were also heavily touched up. Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones are as great as ever in 2007, and the band looks and sounds like they are having a ball on stage. And what can be said about Jason Bonham, other than there are no better substitutes for father John than his son, who makes mincemeat out of his drum skins. Now let’s talk image a little bit…” The film portrayed the band members via mystical vignettes that were just plain silly (and slightly boring) in 1976 when the film was released, although with hindsight those prog-rock visuals do come off somewhat nostalgic today (and still pretty silly). The “Celebration Day” film and concert is all business with none of the histrionics that surrounded the reunion (resulting in over 20 million requests for tickets to the show), with a focus squarely on the band and the occasion. I really didn’t want to buy into the whole “Celebration Day” hype machine, but I must admit that I am sitting here with a big grin on my face enjoying the latest installment in the Led Zep cannon. So, is “Celebration Day,” essential listening? Maybe not, but for anyone who remembers laughter, it’s a welcome addition to their discography…and heck, I’d go see them in a heartbeat if they decided to take the show on the road!
Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #79 – Led Zeppelin: “D’yer Mak’er” b/w “The Crunge”– Atlantic 45-2986 (S8/T8)
“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over twelve years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.
I jumped onto the Led Zeppelin bandwagon after the release of Led Zeppelin IV (Zoso) and the single “Stairway To Heaven” in 1972 when I was eleven years old. You couldn’t escape “Stairway” on FM radio and, at the time, I had no notion that they had existed before that record. With further investigation, I came to discover the three records before Led Zeppelin IV, although that came much later.
So when the mighty Zeppelin (Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and John Bonham) delivered their fifth album Houses Of The Holy in 1973, I was firmly in their camp as a fan as was most of my peer group. But for older, long-time fans of the band, the release of Houses was met with much derision and whisperings of selling out due to the album’s first single “Dancing Days,” which was the most radio-friendly track the band had ever released. When fans began playing the record, they found several other tracks to gripe about including today’s jukebox classic and second single from the album, “D’yer Mak’er” backed with “The Crunge,” which really made the die-hard rockin’ blues-based Zep fans really cry foul.
“D’yer Mak’er” is an awkward hybrid of reggae and doo wop that is loaded with charm, a term seldom used to describe Led Zeppelin, and an attribute that Led Zep fans didn’t find to their liking. Jimmy Page: “I didn’t expect people not to get it. I thought it was pretty obvious. The song itself was a cross between reggae and a ’50s number, “Poor Little Fool,” Ben E. King’s things, stuff like that.” (Schulps, Dave (October 1977). “Interview with Jimmy Page”. Trouser Press via Wikipedia)
It was one of the few in the Zeppelin catalog where all four members of the band shared writing credits since it sprang forth from a studio jam. The band was never serious about the track as it was initially conceived as a joke, and bassist John Paul Jones went out of his way on numerous occasions to let it be known that he never liked the song. As a result, it was never performed in its entirety by the band in concert, although it did occasionally feature in the medley of tunes the band would incorporate into “Whole Lotta Love” on stage. That said, it was a commercial track and Atlantic Records in America chose to release it as a single which climbed to #20 on the charts.
The title of the song has several meanings including a slang for the phrase “Did you make her” which loosely translates to did you get to have sex with her. Another interpretation of the title was derived from an old Jamaican joke that went like this: “My wife’s gone to the Caribbean.” “Jamaica?” (which in Jamaican patois is pronounced “D’you make her?”) “No, she went down on her own.” Yuk, yuk, yuk…Ba-da, bum!
The flip of today’s single finds the mighty Zep tapping into their inner James Brown with aplomb on an ultra-funky workout that evolved out of another studio jam session. It is one of the greatest recordings the band ever committed to vinyl showing off just how tight they were while capturing a jerky groove with ever-changing time signatures. It is also one of John Paul Jones’ favorite Zeppelin recordings.
The song pays homage to James Brown with it’s ending line, “Where’s that confounded bridge?” The line is a reference to James Brown’s penchant for recording live in the studio and shouting out orders to the band on the fly, including “Take it to the bridge.” Since “The Crunge” doesn’t have a bridge, the line grinds the song to an abrupt halt. Additionally, the lyrics “Ain’t gonna call me Mr. Pitiful, no I don’t need no respect from nobody,” pay tribute to Otis Redding’s recordings of “Mr. Pitiful” and Aretha Franklin’s “Respect.”
Bobby Skafish had the ultimate gig. Interview some of the biggest rock stars on the planet at the behest of Chicago’s prominent rock stations.
And now he’s recounting his experiences as interviewer, emcee, and observer.
The book is called “We Have Company: Four Decades of Rock and Roll Encounters.”
Rock music on the radio in the Windy City is synonymous with WXRT, WLUP, Q101, and WDRV. Skafish had stints at all of these outlets.
Beginning with an attempt to sneak into a Todd Rundgren show, and including such rock royalty as Jimmy Page and David Bowie, Skafish engages the reader as he chronicles encounters with everyone from The Ramones to Steely Dan’s Donald Fagen. The late keyboardist Ray Manzarek tells him some Jim Morrison stories during an interview.
Bobby does admit to a minor faux pas as he honed his craft, on his way to becoming the go-to interviewer, when touring acts came to Chi-town. He also describes a few times when he interacted with these starts as he emceed their concerts, including a few at now defunct venues.
As someone who attended several of the concerts described in the book, it really resonated with me. However, even if you’ve never set foot in the Midwest, you will delight at hearing stories about Debbie Harry, David Lee Roth, David Gilmour, Dave Matthews, Ron Wood, and more.
Johnny Lydon, Tom Waits, Lenny Kravitz, Bruce Hornsby, Suzanne Vega, John Mayer, Nancy Wilson (Heart) are among the icons sharing a microphone with Skafish.
Bobby joined me on Acid Flashback radio. We played music from the artists and bands covered in the book, and he recounted a few of these stories.