I heard that a few years ago Classic Rock magazine polled its readers to find out who they considered to be the best rock singer, guitarist, bassist and drummer of all time. When the votes were cast, it turned out that the band that was created already had a name – Led Zeppelin.
I must confess that I hadn’t listened to them much before my 40s, to the extent that I’d heard Rolf Harris’ version of Stairway to Heaven long before I heard the original. That seems barely credible to me, but it’s true,
I found a list of Top 40 bass lines ever, and of all the many possibles, this song was the Led Zeppelin one that made the list. And what a track it is! The bass burbles away in the background, while the lyrics include reference to Lord of the Rings. I’ve addded this to my bucket list of songs to be able to play, and from time to time I return to it. It’s getting easier to play parts of it, but I’ve not managed the whole thing at full speed. I know I’ll get there though, it’s just going to take time.
Ramble On – Led Zeppelin
OK, so last week I wrote about having an earworm which was all about The Stranglers and JJ Burnel’s basslines in particular. The only way I could stop it was by playing a lot of their songs and booking tickets to see them next month. Tonight I’ve just started several earworms off at once.
I went to see The Blockheads at their first gig this year. It’s fair to say it was an intimate venue, and I was by no means the oldest person in the audience! Three words to explain the earworms which I know are coming: Norman Watt-Roy. Much as I love SLF and Ali McMordie’s playing, and JJ Burnel’s basslines for The Stranglers, I’m left in total awe of Norman’s energy, fretwork, speed and accuracy. As you can see from today’s image, I struggled to get a picture where his hands weren’t a blur! I do wonder sometimes whether he regrets having written such complicated and beautiful riffs in his youth.
If you’ve not heard much of The Blockheads (with or without Ian Dury), I can recommend starting off with Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick (which has been on my Bucket List of basslines to play and I can’t even get close), Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll, What a Waste and Reasons to be Cheerful. Those and others are going to be rolling round in my head for quite a while I think!
As a band they obviously love what they do, and there’s a lot of interaction between the various members. There were a couple of hiccups but they dealt with them really well, laughing and joking with each other while continuing to knock out brilliant (and very familiar) tunes. As Dee said, it’s a bit surreal watching people you’d heard in your teens or even younger, some 30 or more years later, but they were brilliant!