“Rock Albums in 2015: There’s Nothing ‘Cheap’-er”


* I don’t need your sweet devotion
An’ I don’t want your cheap emotion
Whip me up some dragon lotion
For your dirty love
Your dirty love

– Frank Zappa


Remember when rock albums were sacred? Of course you don’t, because if you were that old you wouldn’t be wasting time on the internet.

I did just listen to Led Zeppelin’s Presence though, which I’m sure all these hipster tastemakers would call like their 37th best album, though it happens to be my favorite, and I couldn’t help but notice that, like, there’s 10-minute songs, there’s this menacing feedback technique where Page gets this octave-interval lowering on the intro to “Nobody’s Fault but Mine,” there’s starts and stops (and there’s Bonzo). Bonzo’s nickname was “the beast,” he used to grope girls while drunk and dress in that Clockwork Orange get-up. Sort of an unrelated tidbit, but it is interesting to think of him channeling this energy into the drumming, and he is undoubtedly the force behind Zeppelin, more on this album than ever.
Sleater-Kinney’s new album, somewhat like the Pixies’ swan-song-on-crack Trompe Le Monde, strikes me as music for people who do dust (“All the fine ladies are makin’ a fuss / A-but I can’t pay attention ‘cause I’m on that dust!”) And trust me, a lotta people can’t pay attention, but it’s just unfortunate because Janet Weiss looks like a city girl trying to churn butter playing those drums… and I mean I know she’s a talented drummer, but I dunno, it’s just not enough for me. And I hate that their new album is critically acclaimed, because the melodic richness of “The Size of Our Love” and “Leave You Behind” just doesn’t seem to be there.
To be fair, the creation of Led Zeppelin’s Presence was mired in calamity. Robert Plant had suffered a near fatal car accident, and then the band convened to a desert island to record this album, after Plant was released from the hospital, where I believe he spent like a month or something. I’m reading this book right now LZ-’75, which obviously is about the Physical Graffiti tour, but it seems you could write a separate book about the making of Presence. “Royal Orleans” and “Candy Store Rock” are just two accessible stompers, but “Hots on For Nowhere” steals the show, with Bonzo in particular cementing himself as the best drummer of all time… with stuff that’s BOUNCY, not brainy. They’re just singing about wanting to screw chicks, it’s not some hipster humanitarian manifesto (remember “Long Time for Love”?)
A year ago we were asking if hip-hop were dead, now we should be asking if rock is dead.


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