Archive for the ‘rawk’ Category

Album Mini-review: Tommy Keene — Laugh in the Dark

Friday, October 2nd, 2015

File Next to: Marshall Crenshaw, Smithereens, Matthew Sweet

A dedicated soldier in power pop’s ongoing struggle for critical and commercial success, Keene is at the top of the genre in terms of both quality and consistency. His preternatural abilities – crafting a sharp hook; wrapping it in a memorable, powerful melody; and applying heartfelt, often melancholy lyrics – make him an exemplar of what power pop can be at its very best. After the tangent of his deep-cut covers album (2013′s Excitement At Your Feet), Keene returns with another winning set of originals. He blasts out of the gate with the chiming near-perfection of “Out of My Mind” and continues with nine more tunes boasting muscular backing. The shimmering “All the Lights Are Alive” demonstrates Keene’s skill at delivering lump-in-the-throat emotional content in the guise of an impossibly catchy pop song. Laugh in the Dark shows that Tommy Keene’s muse hasn’t failed him yet.

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Album Mini-review: Jimi Hendrix — Freedom: Atlanta Pop Festival

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

File Next to: Cream, Buddy Guy

By the time of this historic July 4, 1970 concert – in front of his largest-ever American audience – Hendrix had broken up the Experience, briefly formed Band of Gypsys, and re-formed a new Experience. Joined by bassist Billy Cox and returning drummer Mitch Mitchell, Hendrix focused on his “older” (1967-68) material, previewing three numbers from his then-current recording project. The manic “Room Full of Mirrors” provided a clue to what would have been Hendrix’s new direction. Musically, the trio with Cox doesn’t sound all that different from the Noel Redding-era Experience. The band is very together, and the live arrangements stick closely to the studio versions; only on the slow blues of “Red House” does Hendrix stretch out, doubling the song’s length. Though most of the performance was released on the 1991 box set Stages, this long-bootlegged recording finally gets official and complete release.

An edited version of this review appeared previously in the Colorado Springs Independent.

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Album Review: Marshall Crenshaw — #392: The EP Collection

Friday, September 25th, 2015

For better or worse (actually, for better and worse) things used to be different: recording artists focused on their music, and the record company – or at least artist management – tended to business matters. Today that paradigm rarely exists: the artist is expected – no, s/he is all but required – to give time and effort to the task of marketing. In practical terms, that means the artist is expected to engage with his or her fan base in a way unimaginable even a decade ago. As a co-panelist of mine at a recent discussion on social media (look for my feature on that panel, coming soon to this space) put it, “Led Zeppelin never had to interact with their fans on Facebook.”

Now, for many artists, this works fine: cutting out the middleman (hilariously and accurately personified in This is Spinal Tap‘s Artie Fufkin of Polymer Records) is often a good thing, allowing participants to engage in a two-way dialogue that benefits all. If you’re an introverted artist, well, the new reality may pose some challenges.

Back in the 1970s heyday of rock, mega-platinum acts such as Fleetwood Mac and Pink Floyd could go two, three or more years between album releases, and still count on a groundswell of support when they finally got around to releasing something new. But today’s music consumer (and I use that term advisedly) has a shorter attention span: give us something new and give it to us often, they seem to say to the artist, or we’ll forget you and move on.

Happily, a growing number of artists have found a way to bend their creative muse toward this new way of thinking. Which, finally, brings me to #392: The EP Collection, the latest album from Marshall Crenshaw.

As he explains in the disc’s liner notes, “This is a compilation album, containing tracks from a series of 6 vinyl EPs that I did between April 2012 and April 2015.” So from one point of view – that of the CD consumer – #392 is a new album. While from another angle, it’s indeed a compilation, collection, reissue, what-have-you. Either way, it’s another serving of solid, tuneful and memorable guitar-pop from a master of the style.

The approach used to bring #392 to market isn’t exactly new: Todd Rundgren‘s PatroNet project was – as is so often the case with Rundgren – a bit too far ahead of its time, but it did offer hardcore fans a number of hear-it-here-first exclusives, assuming they could get the files down their 28.8kbps phone-line modems. So in 2000, Todd abandoned his pledge not to release any more traditional albums, and compiled most of the PatroNet content as One Long Year.

Now, some fifteen years later, Marshall Crenshaw has been successful with a release program not at all dissimilar to Rundgren’s 1990s concept. He’s achieved the now-important goal of keeping his name (and likeness, and music) in front of his fan base via the release of a series of 10” vinyl extended-play records. Those were welcomed by longtime fans (count me as one), and the new CD provides product that’s a bit more practical for the mainstream music consumer (read: one without a turntable).

Not to get too inside-baseball, but because Crenshaw switched again and again between publicists over the course of releasing the six vinyl EPs – and because some publicists were, shall we say, better than others at getting the word out to reviewers – I didn’t even hear about the fifth and sixth installments, Move Now and Grab the Next Train. So even for someone who’s done his best to keep up with the man’s music, I’m delighting in new-to-me music on #392.

The original EPs had an intriguing format, though one not always followed slavishly: a new song, a reinvention of a classic number from Crenshaw’s catalog, and an interesting cover tune. The new songs are uniformly excellent, and suggest that the meted-out-over-time approach is a good one for Crenshaw the songwriter (though he’s not exactly known for weak tunes). “I Don’t See You Laughing Now” is perhaps the best among these, a slice of classic, chiming Crenshaw. “Move Now” is vaguely reminiscent of Gin Blossoms. “Red Wine” has a lovely Parisian feel, thanks to Rob Morsberger‘s accordion. “Driving and Dreaming” takes its time to unfold and reveal its charms, but it’s worth the wait. “Stranger and Stranger” demonstrates yet again Crenshaw’s knack for turning out a memorable melody and lyrics that connect emotionally.

The covers are all left-field choices that give listeners a window into the eclectic world of music that has influenced Crenshaw. “No Time” must surely be one of the very few covers – by anyone, ever – of very early Electric Light Orchestra. In Crenshaw’s hands, the Jeff Lynne-penned tune is pared back to a simpler arrangement than on the first ELO record, but it’s simply lovely. The welcome presence of Mellotron does imbue Crenshaw’s reading with just the right level of dated-ness.

Also delightful is Crenshaw’s heartfelt reading of the Burt Bacharach/Hal David classic “(They Long to Be) Close to You.” Here it’s not mawkish, and feels very much at home on the varied collection that is #392. Bobby Fuller‘s “Never to Be Forgotten” is a solo Crenshaw arrangement – he does it all on this track – and his thrumming twelve-string is a tasty tribute to Fuller’s talent. And the electric sitar on James McMurtry‘s “Right Here Now” is guaranteed ear candy. Crenshaw’s readings of tunes by The Lovin’ Spoonful (an easy-listening version of “Didn’t Want to Have to Do It”) and The Easybeats (rocking out on “Made My Bed, Gonna Lie In It”) have undeniable appeal as well.

Crenshaw’s rethinking of his old tunes might, however, be problematic for some longtime fans. And perhaps that’s why none of those EP cuts – often drastically changed remakes of “Someday, Someway,” Mary Anne” and other timeless classics – found their way onto #392. The live version of “ There She Goes Again” with The Bottle Rockets (found on the I Don’t See You Laughing Now EP) would have made a nice addition, however.

#392 is formatted so that the first six tracks are the EP title cuts, and the next six are selected from among the dozen or so remaining vinyl tracks. Wisely – and with a commendable eye toward the commercial value-for-money side of things – Crenshaw has seen fit to append a pair of bonus tracks to #392: The EP Collection, a pair of tunes not found on the vinyl EP releases. The Everly Brothers‘ “Man With Money” gives CD purchasers a chance to hear Crenshaw live and ably supported by The Bottle Rockets; their version recalls the arrangement that The Who used when they featured the tune in their late ’60s live sets.

Crenshaw wraps up the disc with what he describes as a demo recording of a new song co-written with Leroy Preston, “Front Page News.” Even in demo form, it displays all of the hallmarks of Crenshaw’s singing, playing, and writing: talents that have made him a national treasure. At press time, there’s no word whether Crenshaw will continue the schedule of frequent EP releases, or whether he’ll follow his muse down some other path. Either way, it’s a story worth following.

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Yep, one might say that I’m a fan.

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Album Review: Cary Grace — Tygerland

Thursday, September 24th, 2015

Depending on the manner in which one learns about Cary Grace, the music on Tygerland may come as a surprise. An American expatriate now living in the United Kingdom, Grace is a keen synthesist. So much so, in fact, that she owns and operates Wiard, a company that hand-builds modular, analog synthesizers. You know: the twiddly-knob, patch bay looking beasts that require a lab coat and advanced degree to operate. I kid about the prerequisites, of course. But analog synths are not for the faint of heart.

Well, there’s of course much more to Grace than that. She has collaborated with other musicians of repute, and has a number of production credits on her résumé. She also produced and hosted a music podcast (currently on hiatus), and in 2015 she self-released her sixth solo album, Tygerland.

The disc’s title track opens with some jarring, heavily distorted blasts of noise from a synthesizer; that quickly gives way to some sonic textures more readily associated with space rock (think Saucerful of Secrets-era Pink Floyd, or the more keyboard-oriented exponents of 1970s krautrock). There are even hints of seagulls a la Floyd’s “Echoes.” But to characterize “Tygerland” as musique concréte would be doing it a disservice; it’s a textural, moody piece that serves as an effective opener for the music to come.

“Cyanide” features more conventional rock-oriented instrumentation; the track’s soaring guitars wouldn’t be out of place on a Steven Wilson album. But those guitars and the electronics that preceded them don’t prepare the listener for Grace’s strong, assertive vocals. Mixed pleasingly out front, her singing is controlled, assured, and expressive. Some listeners might hear bits of Grace Slick (Jefferson Airplane) in Grace’s pipes; for some reason I’m led to think of Shocking Blue‘s Mariska Veres. “Cyanide” rock hard in an early 70s way, yet it sounds positively modern. Timeless might be a better adjective. Grace’s sturdy songwriting provides a highly melodic base for her lyrics, but leaves plenty of space for the instruments to shine.

The analog synths return on “Orange Sky.” Loads of carefully-placed delay are applied to the percussion and to Grace’s voice on this elegiac tune that drips of melancholy. With its mention of the legendary crossroads, the lengthy (but not overlong!) “War Child” feels like a modern rethink of blues; were it not for Grace’s gender, the tune would fit comfortably into the macho rock mold; as it is, the track – with delightful use of electric piano and phased/wah-wah guitar – will please those who enjoy the classic-retro stylings of Siena Root.

“Limelight” takes things in an entirely different direction. It’s a smoky, sultry, understated number that burns slowly. The sinewy lead guitar fills between Grace’s verses provide a nice contrast, and the shimmering keyboard runs suggest raindrops hitting the surface of a lake (yeah, I dunno why; they just do).

The contemplative “Razorwire” starts off with assertively chorded “lead” bass guitar. Here, Grace delivers her lyrics in a high, airy tone that suggests The SundaysHarriet Wheeler; among other things, the track serves to point out the range and expressive palette of Cary Grace’s vocal abilities. “Razorwire” is perhaps the most 90s-alternapop sounding track on this varied disc. Graces’ vocal overdubs – sparingly used on the album overall – are a highlight here.

“Into the Indigo” is a subtle, minor-key track, making effective use of its relatively minimal arrangement. Into that space comes some lovely violin work, answered (again subtly) by picking guitar lines. Meanwhile, Grace sings of tales of Helios, chariots, and symphonies. Halfway through the song, the instruments break free, as the violin and guitar engage in a mighty battle.

“Windsong” is Tygerland‘s final track, but it’s also the album’s longest at over twenty minutes. Befitting the electronic music pedigree of its creator, the work unfolds slowly, delivering menacing, faraway-sounding musical textures, sometimes of indeterminate origin. After five minutes of instrumental scene-setting, Grace recites her lyrics as spoken poetry. Behind her, instrument skitter in and out of the mix, adding to the overall feel but never getting in the way of Grace’s recitation. Gradually, the instruments throb forward in the mix, seeming to force their way out front. Twelve-plus minutes in, they take over, and “Windsong” becomes a heavy, hypnotic psychedelic piece somewhere between The Doors‘ “The End” and some of Amon Düül II‘s best work. For the remainder of the track, vocals and instruments compete; eventually, Grace’s voice trails off, but it’s as if she’s done so on purpose, retreating rather than surrendering to the krautrock-flavored swirl of electrics and electronics.

Adventurous yet melodic, Tygerland is one of 2015′s more interesting releases.

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Video Review: The Who — Live at Shea Stadium 1982

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2015

In the eyes of most pop music historians, The Who circa 1982 gets a pretty bad rap. With the hindsight of history, it’s not that difficult to understand why. Drummer Keith Moon had died in 1979, just before the release of Who Are You. The group enlisted former Small Faces drummer (and authentic “mod”) Kenney Jones to fill the drum throne, a move that enraged a certain subset of Who fans. And the pair of post-Moon Who albums – 1981′s Face Dances and It’s Hard from the following year – didn’t rate among anyone’s choice for best albums of the group’s career. And with a bit more hindsight, the marketing of the 1982 tour can look like a case of misleading advertising: as the live document of that tour, the largely uninspired 2LP set was called Who’s Last, the group was more or less expected to hang it up and go their separate ways after the tour. They didn’t, instead reuniting multiple times and eventually (2006) releasing new studio material.

Some bigger problems for the group were internal: Pete Townshend was mired in drug and alcohol abuse, and racked with self-doubt and confusion about his artistic direction; Roger Daltrey never could get on with Jones.

It was amidst this backdrop that The Who mounted a massive tour, documented now a third of a century later, on Live at Shea Stadium. Those who know the group’s history and/or those who have sat through Who’s Last would likely expect this video (on DVD and Blu-ray) to be a dull and lifeless affair, a document of a group past their prime and with little left to say.

And they’d be wrong. The band are shown here in fine form. Daltrey is athletic, and his voice is powerful yet controlled. Bassist John Entwistle is rock solid, with respect to both his stage movements (nearly imperceptible) and his bass playing (sterling and thunderous). Townshend looks more than a bit silly in his trendy clothes and haircut; he looks to all the world like the middle-aged guy who’s trying more than a bit too hard to fit in with the younger crowd. (And by all available accounts, that’s almost exactly what was happening with him at the time.) Jones is doing more than an acceptable job; rather than attempting to ape Moon’s drumming style – a feat largely impossible anyhow – he plays the drums forcefully, but in a manner consistent with his work up to that point. Remember that this was a man who had played on quite a few studio albums and performed countless live dates before joining The Who; it’s not as if Daltrey and his band mates wouldn’t have known what they were getting with Jones. (Keyboardist Tim Gorman is kept in half-light nearly offstage.)

For those who didn’t witness the ’82 tour firsthand (I attended a date on the brief 1980 tour), the Who’s Last album has until now been the more-or-less official record of that period for those who cared enough to listen. And it presented a lopsided picture of those tour dates. As was (and probably remains) standard practice, the concert tapes were edited to remove songs that had been released not long earlier as studio tracks. So Who’s Last came off like an oldies revue, a perception reinforced by the encore number, an Entwistle-led “Twist and Shout.” The world didn’t need another version of that song in 1982.

But Live at Shea Stadium – documenting the second of two nights at the New York City landmark, with some bonus tracks culled from the previous night – presents a more complete picture of The Who live onstage. And they’re better, more fiery that one might have remembered. They blast through a set list that includes the de rigueur chestnuts (“Substitute,” “Baba O’Reilly,” “Pinball Wizard,” and you can probably name the rest), but they also pepper the set with selections from Who Are You (including the underrated “Sister Disco”), Face Dances (unfortunately only Entwistle’s “The Quiet One” but not the vastly superior “Another Tricky Day”), and the then-new It’s Hard (most notably the late-period classic “Cry If You Want”). On all of these, not only does the band turn in an excellent performance, but they seem actually to be enjoying being onstage together.

Much of early 1980s videotape has a curious visual quality that makes it feel dated and sterile. The video here – described on the package as “upscaled standard definition original material” – looks quite good, and the multiple-camera production is typically professional for its vintage. The sound is excellent, especially in high-definition stereo and DTS-HD Master Audio.

So while this 1982 concert video doesn’t represent The Who at their pinnacle – one could argue endlessly on that score – neither does it show them at their nadir (for that, I would refer you to the 3LP set Join Together, a document of their overblown and uninspired 1989 concert tour). Thanks to this new video, the group’s 1982 tour can now been seen as an important – if not strictly essential – chapter in The Who’s story. Live at Shea Stadium 1982 is well worth viewing for fans.

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Album Mini-review: The Jean-Paul Sartre Experience — I Like Rain

Friday, September 18th, 2015

File Next to: The Chills, The Clean, Straitjacket Fits

Sporting a playful name (eventually shortened in response to lawsuits) that had less than nothing to do with their sound, this New Zealand band was a prime exponent of the Flying Nun Records sound and aesthetic. With a DIY production approach and relatively unadorned arrangements, the JPS Experience crafted music that brought to mind Teenage Fanclub sitting on comfy couches, or Loaded-era Velvet Underground leaning even more in a timeless pop direction. The band never once dented the charts outside their island homeland, and mustered relatively little chart action there. But their lack of commercial success belies the charms found within their music. In the same way that America’s garage rock explosion of the mid 60s created hundreds of worthy tracks that never got a wide hearing, the Kiwi pop explosion of 1980s New Zealand went mostly unheard outside that small country. Albeit belatedly, this best-of helps correct that injustice.

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Album Mini-review: Pugwash — Play This Intimately (As If Among Friends)

Friday, September 18th, 2015

File Next to: Fountains of Wayne, XTC, Electric Light Orchestra

This may just be the effort that pays off for guitarist-singer-songwriter Thomas Walsh and his bandmates. The Dublin-based band has released six albums, including three – count ‘em: three – best-ofs on three different labels. Though critically acclaimed, Pugwash haven’t gained traction in the American marketplace. Until now, that is. Play This Intimately is their first album of new material to get a proper stateside release, and it’s filled to the brim with Pugwash’s brand of preternaturally melodic, catchy pop-rock. The group is often compared to XTC (they were on Andy Partridge‘s Ape label for awhile, and Partridge guests on the new album) and ELO (Jeff Lynne makes a fleeting appearance as well), but Pugwash truly have a style of their own. “Kicking and Screaming” boasts one of Walsh’s strongest melodies, and that’s saying something. Play This Intimately is a winning balance of power and subtlety, of brashness and nuance.

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Album Mini-review: Joe Satriani — Shockwave Supernova

Thursday, September 17th, 2015

File next to: Buckethead, Steve Vai, John Petrucci

A big part of what has always made the music of Joe Satriani stand out among contemporaries is the guitarist’s inerrant sense of melody. While other shredders rely on technique and speed, Satriani employs those qualities in service of rock-solid songwriting. And though he can actually sing (he provided backing vocal on Crowded House‘s debut album, of all things), Satriani has long since made the decision to let the music do the talking. That his instrumental songs still manage to sounds like they’re “about something” is a testament to his skill as composer and arranger. His fleet-fingered, constant soloing is the “lead vocal” of his albums, but the arrangements allow the other players’ work room to breathe. There may not be anything on Shockwave Supernova quite as timeless as the Grammy-nominated “Always With Me, Always With You,” but that’s a near impossible standard to apply. Soaring, expressive guitar work abounds.

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Album Mini-review: Led Zeppelin — In Through the Out Door

Thursday, September 17th, 2015

File Next to: Thin Lizzy, Bad Company, Van Halen

At the time of its original release, In Through the Out Door was problematic for some longtime Zep fans; it featured more keyboards – synthesizers, even! – than was typical of a Zep LP, and guitarist Jimmy Page‘s involvement seemed muted. That perception was quite accurate: owing to extramusical matters (did somebody say drugs?), Page loosened his grip on the project. The result was an album that showcased John Paul Jones‘ talents. With hindsight, the album now seems a logical musical progression. A few missteps (“Hot Dog,” perhaps) don’t detract from what is ultimately one of their most consistently melodic offerings. The disc is reliably adventurous as well. The reissue adds seven largely superfluous bonus tracks; these embryonic versions don’t differ significantly from the finished versions. In what might be a sly, grudging nod to to the song’s radio-readiness, the early version of “All My Love” is titled “The Hook.”

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Backstage with Led Zeppelin 2: The Songs Remain Quite Similar

Tuesday, September 15th, 2015

Recently, I traveled to Charlotte NC to take in a concert that I considered a double bill: tribute bands Led Zeppelin 2 and The Australian Pink Floyd Show. Both put on superb shows that brought the amphitheater crowd to its feet. Before the show started, I enjoyed a few minutes backstage in conversation with Led Zeppelin 2′s guitarist, Paul Kamp. We talked about the group’s approach to material, how they do it, why they do it, and how it all fits into the bigger picture.

Chicago-based tribute band Led Zeppelin 2 grew out of a power trio called Busker Soundcheck; the band actually got started over ten years ago. But at that stage, “It was only a Halloween thing,” says Kamp. “We would play once a year, maybe. And one time we didn’t even play at all for two years. It was a very loose thing; we didn’t even have a name. We were just ‘those guys that play those Led Zeppelin songs.’”

A local club owner in Chicago wanted to book them, but he told the group, “I don’t want it to be on Halloween.” So they booked a Saturday night, and it was a rousing success.

Those who heard the unnamed group liked what they heard, and encouraged the band to take things more seriously. So Kamp and his bandmates did just that. “The very first time that we went on the road to Houston, it was a real eye opener,” Kamp recalls. “It was an 1800-seat venue – we had never played in Houston before – and the place sold out! We don’t even know how people heard about us, because there are other Led Zeppelin tribute bands, too.”

As soon as they went national, Led Zeppelin 2 was drawing big numbers for their shows. “There still are some towns where the crowds are pretty small,” Kamp says with a sly grin, but those are becoming fewer and farther apart these days.

Drummer Ian Lee and bassist/keyboardist Matthew Longbons are relatively new to the group, but vocalist Bruce Lamont is, along with Kamp, a founding member of Led Zeppelin 2. And in addition to getting the sound right, the group pays attention to the gear they use onstage. “Visually, a Gibson Les Paul works the best,” admits Kamp. “Sonically, it works the best, too. And you need to have that double neck guitar to play ‘Thank You.’ And then you need it for “Stairway to Heaven.’ And then you realize you need it for ‘The Song Remains the Same,’ and ‘The Rain Song,’ and so on. Sometimes,” he laughs, “I’ll just pick up that guitar and play it, because it’s pretty cool.” Kamp uses vintage 1970s-era Marshall amplifiers “because I think they sound the best. Not necessarily just because Jimmy Page used them.”

The group draws upon all available resources to inform their performances of the classic Led Zeppelin catalog. “We listen to every recording of a song that we can get our hands on,” Kamp says. “We do some of the songs close to the studio recordings. But even when we’re playing the notes close to the recordings, I think that you’ll find that the dynamics are more like a live rock’n'roll band.” He notes that their version of “Thank You” is “similar to the version that was on the BBC recordings. We do our own thing with sections of it, but we try to capture the tones and the highlights of all the riffs.”

As needed, the band makes some practical compromises to fit the music into a shorter set, such as the hour-long opening set they delivered this night in Charlotte before headliners The Australian Pink Floyd Show took the stage. “’Dazed and Confused’ is twenty-eight minutes long in The Song Remains the Same version,” Kamp laughs. “And there are many other [recorded] versions where it’s thirty-three or more. People may have been willing to sit through the real Led Zeppelin doing that, but honestly, I’m not sure even I want to hear a thirty-three minute version!” Onstage, Led Zeppelin 2 manages to distill the essence of Zep’s songs into more compact readings; their version of “Moby Dick” – complete with obligatory drum solo – is quite satisfying even in a six-minute arrangement.

That approach keeps them connected to their audience. “Sometimes we think, ‘We’ve been flying by the seat of our pant for five minutes,’” Kamp says, “’And we’d better pull it back together so that the audience can feel pulled back together.’ And then you can see it on their faces: ‘Wow, I wasn’t expecting this!’”

Not every Led Zeppelin song is right for a show. “The only Zeppelin song that we just don’t like playing is ‘Fool in the Rain.’ Great drum part, okay vocal part. The guitar riff is – meh – it’s okay. The solo is cool. People like it. But it’s just one that we played four or five times.” The Song Remains the Same‘s “D’yer Maker” is another iffy one for the band. “It’s super popular, and it goes over really well,” Kamp concedes. “But we personally just don’t like playing it.” On the other hand, deep cuts like “Hats Off (To Roy Harper)” is a band favorite. “We’ve played every song on Presence except ‘Tea for One,’ but we cop little licks from that, and throw them into other songs.” All in all, the foursome balances their set with hits and a few less well-known numbers, and in the process they please concertgoers who want an experience that feels like a 1970s-era Led Zeppelin concert.

Even though Led Zeppelin 2 is a popular draw on the concert circuit – the band stays busy – it’s not an all-consuming endeavor for Kamp and his bandmates. “My wife and I have four companies, and we have three kids,” he says. When he has spare time at home, Kamp still comes up with riffs and original songs that might – at some undefined point in the future – find their way onto a recording.

Kamp is driven to do what he does by a simple and straightforward motivation. “Robert Plant once said that music is supposed to be about people having a good time and celebrating. There’s some kind of magical appeal that Led Zeppelin has. But I think that it goes through Led Zeppelin, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Willie Dixon, Howlin’ Wolf, Buddy Guy and Junior Wells. Right down south to the old acoustic Delta blues. And that music came from another continent where drums and music were about celebration. They represented memories of things and people, and rejuvenation.

“People have said this to me many times: ‘I’ve worked all week, and my friend dragged me along to this show. I thought it was gonna suck! But you were really good! I’ve got to admit, I had a really good time!’ And,” Paul Kamp smiles as he picks up his guitar to take the stage, “that’s the best possible kind of reaction we can get.”

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