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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Led Zeppelin IV or Loveless

Posted by on Wed, Nov 9, 2011 at 8:30 AM

Both share a birthday this week, so how about an arbitrary poll about 'em! It probably all depends on if you prefer slasher film allusions or being taken to the shire but...


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Zep IV marked the beginning of a period in which certain music forms stagnated in part because it became pointless to continue. I still don't get how "Stairway" became the best song ever, and Loveless is just a point on the recovery curve, but when we stop to consider the idea of Slaughter and Shotgun Messiah, to the one, and the Onyx/Biohazard collaboration to the other, I think we start to get a sense of just how badly Led Zep screwed up rock and roll.

No, really, that's just the course rock and roll followed. The overproduced guitar solos of the 1980s are post-Zep. MBV is part of a recovery of the guitar, which includes Band of Susans. And listen to the difference. It's pretty damn apparent.

We'll be saying the same thing about Radiohead's OK Computer in thirty years. Life goes on.
Posted by BD on November 9, 2011 at 11:06 AM · Report this
Matt from Denver 2
Zep IV was the first album I ever bought. I had some birthday money and paid $5.99 in 1979. I was nine years old.

I only saw MBV in 1992 because Buffalo Tom opened for them here. They struck me a really very loud, too loud to really dig what they were doing, and it was a few more years before I got Loveless.

I listen to Loveless way more these days. Zep IV is such an icon that it's a cliche, which makes it hard to listen to. When I want to hear Led Zeppelin these days, I reach for Physical Graffiti and Presence.

Like any person who thinks any record "destroyed" something, BD ignores the fact that alternatives existed all along. 70s prog rock bands had little interest in aping Jimmy Page; neither did punk, post punk, hardcore, new wave, no wave, pigfuck, and other rock genres that existed before MBV. Also, I'm not sure what "recovery of the guitar" means; these bands were moving in new directions, while Zeppelin and the hair bands they influenced were continuing what blues rock had started.
Posted by Matt from Denver on November 9, 2011 at 11:37 AM · Report this
dangerousgift 3
After fighting my way through two complete quarters in the dorms at Evergreen, if I never hear Led Zeppelin again it'll be too soon.

When I listen to Loveless in the right light and it's still kind of warm out I can actually smell the inside of my first car and I get sensory flashbacks to the texture of the wooly seat covers. I fucking love that album.

The same thing happens when I listen to the Pixies's Debaser, Bikini Kill's Reject All American or the Flipper album Generic.
Posted by dangerousgift on November 9, 2011 at 11:44 AM · Report this
Vince 4
Oh my gawd- Zeppelin was big when I was in High School. Smoking weed and listening to Zeppelin. Good times. Your other reference does not ring a bell.
Posted by Vince on November 9, 2011 at 11:44 AM · Report this
If Led Zeppelin stays in the lead I'm going to fucking kill this poll.
Don't get me wrong, I grew up listening to Led Zeppelin (and I'm sure Physical Graffiti is a better album if it were paired down a bit) but Loveless is much better.
Posted by jnonymous on November 9, 2011 at 11:50 AM · Report this
NaFun 6
Zep IV not only has Stairway, but it also has When The Levee Breaks, which is maybe the most bombastic drum performance of all time (thanks Headley Grange stairwell, for your amazing acoustics!). Also, Black Dog, Rock and Roll, Misty Mountain Hop, and Going to California. These are some of the best songs of rock, full stop. You could take Stairway out of the equation and still have one of the best 25 albums ever made.
Posted by NaFun on November 9, 2011 at 11:53 AM · Report this
Knat 7
"What are you trying to tell me here, little man? That you don't like Zepp?"
Posted by Knat on November 9, 2011 at 11:53 AM · Report this
Both of them are really important to me. I grew up on Zeppelin and listened to Loveless a thousand times in my late 20s-early 30s. Ultimately I decided to vote for Loveless because it was something I chose for myself rather than something that was just in the atmosphere during my childhood.

Tough question though.
Posted by SLCamper on November 9, 2011 at 11:54 AM · Report this
Dinosaurs pillaging the past, or lovesick visions on the future. I know what my choice is.
Posted by dylansean on November 9, 2011 at 11:56 AM · Report this
Keister Button 10
I've hung out with MBV a few times when visiting London: Deb Goodge shared a flat with my penfriend then. So because I actually knew Belinda, Kevin, Colm and Deb, "Loveless."
Posted by Keister Button on November 9, 2011 at 12:02 PM · Report this
For some reason, "20 years since Loveless" makes me feel older than "40 years since Led Zeppelin IV" even though I was 14 in 1971.
Posted by LMcGuff on November 9, 2011 at 12:13 PM · Report this
blip 12
I understand the appeal of Led Zeppelin *in theory* but, much like The Beatles, they are too overexposed to be meaningful. I realize their influence on rock music cannot be overstated, but to me they were always background noise.

I just picked up a copy of 'Loveless' a couple years ago (Side note: If ever there was an album that needs a proper remastering, that would be it. The music is far more dense than 1991 recording technology could handle). Even though I don't have a long history with MBV this album is without question much more relevant for me than any Zeppelin release.
Posted by blip on November 9, 2011 at 12:14 PM · Report this
Holding one band's popularity and influence as a strike against them, while revering another band for its relative obscurity is perhaps the best summation of the dumbass hipster pose that one could ever ask for.
Posted by I Liked That Band Before They Were Cool on November 9, 2011 at 12:17 PM · Report this
bunnypuncher 14
Two of the biggest bands in my life. I grew up on Zep and really all of their catalog up to and including Presence is pretty huge to me. But Loveless is my Official Favourite Album Ever, soooooo... yeah.
Posted by bunnypuncher on November 9, 2011 at 12:20 PM · Report this
My Bloody Valentine all the way—Zep meant a lot to me in middle school, but so did "Ice Ice Baby." Eventually I hit puberty, learned how to read, and realized there was a whole galaxy outside my narrow desires to eat, sleep, and masturbate. And then I stopped listening to Zeppelin.

I have serious quarrels with Lester Bangs (and how he ruined rock criticism), but I'm with him right down the line when it comes to Zep: "emaciated fops," "con artists," "lumbering sloths."

The nicest things people say about Zeppelin is that they paid homage to the blues and "invented" heavy metal—but I'd trade two songs by Blind Willie McTell and Black Sabbath for the entire Led Zeppelin catalogue. What the Eagles were to country music, Led Zeppelin was to rock 'n' roll.

And, 15 years after I first heard "Loveless," I'm still trying to wrap my head around it. To me, that's the sign of a good record.

The biggest tragedy of Led Zeppelin is the waste of John Henry Bonham's considerable talent. If only he'd wound up running with a better crowd...
Posted by Brendan Kiley on November 9, 2011 at 12:26 PM · Report this
Fnarf 16
@6, it would be a BETTER album without "Stairway".

I'm going to score this one 5% Zep, 95% Loveless. Though I like "Isn't Anything" better still.
Posted by Fnarf on November 9, 2011 at 12:28 PM · Report this
Oh dear Lord. Lester Bangs. What a fucking tool. The mold into which every self-important tone-deaf rock critic would be cast for decades afterward, the patron saint of every sneering record-store clerk who ever mocked a customer for purchasing an Abba record or daring to express a fondness for music that actually got played on the radio. What a plague on musical joy that sad little creep was.
Posted by I Liked That Band Before They Were Cool on November 9, 2011 at 12:41 PM · Report this
cosby 18
I have no emotional ties to either album. 'Loveless' is simply the better one though. Sorry.
Posted by cosby on November 9, 2011 at 12:57 PM · Report this
As far as which album is more important to me personally, Zepp. IV's impact on me has been far stronger than Loveless. As far as which album is better, it's a toss up for me. I adore Loveless because MBV really pushed the boundaries of music far more than most bands dare to. The sheer raw style and wall of noise they constructed has been copied by several bands but never duplicated near as well as MBV did it with Loveless. And I love IV because it really represents one of the pinnacles of rock music for me; a tightly constructed, massive, epic piece of work in which one of the best rock bands to emerge was really at its peak.
Posted by Blaine on November 9, 2011 at 1:12 PM · Report this
Dougsf 20
@2 - I saw them at the Moore in Seattle on that same tour for almost the same reason—a friend wanted to see Buffalo Tom. I couldn't tell you a thing about BT's set, but can say I enjoyed every minute of MBV and was one of the last 50 or so people that stayed for the, errr.... what would you call what they do at the end there? What's the opposite of a rave-up? For the weeks after the show, Loveless became pretty much all we listened to when fucking around with the sort of light drugs college aged kids fuck around with. My ears were probably still ringing.

When they came back to tour Loveless here in SF a few years ago, I figured I'd sit it out. I still like putting on Loveless from time to time and I've got a fantastic memory of the time I saw them. There was nothing to be gained by going to that show. Or maybe it's tooooooo loud because I'm tooooooo old, or something.

Rearrange a few of the facts above, ditch the part about seeing them live and rewind to about 8th grade, and in the fact that everyone single person on planet Earth likes the record although absolutely no one remembers that music hasn't just always been that way, and that's pretty much the thing with Zeppelin IV, too.
Posted by Dougsf on November 9, 2011 at 1:16 PM · Report this
cosby 21
"...was one of the last 50 or so people that stayed for the, errr.... what would you call what they do at the end there?"

It's called 'You Made Me Realise'.…
Posted by cosby on November 9, 2011 at 1:25 PM · Report this
I don't trust anyone who doesn't love Led Zeppelin.
Posted by Dave M on November 9, 2011 at 1:44 PM · Report this
Why do we have to choose? Is it not possible to enjoy both of these records?
Posted by David In Milwaukee on November 9, 2011 at 1:49 PM · Report this
LEE. 24
It's funny, I hung out with my dad for the first time in like ten years recently. We got drunk and started talking about music and how he didn't get where music these days had gone. The example I used as a turning point for modern rock was "Only Shallow". He still didn't get it but I guess I knew that was bound to happen.

Anyway, MBV are great. I listen to Isn't Anything way more than Loveless however. Loveless is just too introspective/stare at your ceiling/make out with somebody you have a crush on kind of affair. Isn't Anything shows potential for the things to come, but is first and foremost a rock record, and that's always going to owe itself to Led Zeppelin; a band who only got better from IV onwards.
Posted by LEE. on November 9, 2011 at 3:27 PM · Report this
Fnarf 25
@24, I agree. Although "Isn't Anything" is too peculiar a record to be just "a rock record". The funky motion is already there even if the seasick production hasn't caught up to it like on "Loveless". And to take it further, I really, REALLY like the stuff on "Ecstasy and Wine" best of all. But then I'm a twee bastard.

I remember the anticipation leading up to "Loveless" was really strong. The "Glider" EP really broke the news that something different was happening. They weren't the only band at the time phoning in dispatches from beyond the solar system (Cocteau Twins), but they were the best. I saw them twice when they toured "Loveless", once in a fairly small club in Providence, RI and a couple of nights later in an aircraft-hanger of an arena in Boston. Quite the contrast; Providence was better though.

The only Zeppelin album I find interesting at all is "Physical Graffiti", mostly because of "Kashmir", which is the only song of theirs I'd really ever want to hear again. Come to think of it, it's the most MBV-like Zeppelin song, if that's not too blasphemous a thing to say. All that phasing.

I was in high school when "Physical Graffiti" came out, and it's funny but everyone I knew who was a big Zep fan really hated it at the time. "Too weird", too varied, too much breaking the formula. I don't think any Zep fan thinks that now.
Posted by Fnarf on November 9, 2011 at 3:51 PM · Report this
seandr 26
I've always considered MBV a one hit wonder (Only Shallow), but wow, what a song.

I was a senior in college on the east coast preparing to graduate and head west (to Seattle) when a friend played it for me. That song made me feel excited for the world's potential. It also turned me on to feminine vocals a la Lush, Th' Faith Healers, PJ Harvey, Liz Phair, Throwing Muses.

I saw them live that summer at First Ave in Minneapolis. At one point they played 15 solid minutes of extremely loud white noise. I thought it was funny.

Led Zeppelin, on the other hand, was the primary sound track to everything fun that happened while I was in high school. Zep IV is ok, but Zep I is the biggest earthquake ever to shake up rock and roll.
Posted by seandr on November 9, 2011 at 4:02 PM · Report this
Jackson Hathorn 27
Thanks for voting in my haphazard poll everybody, it was born mostly out of half my musically-inclined friends caring about the Loveless birthday and the other half for ZeppIV. I voted for IV just because I've listened to it more than MBV, and while I might not put it on anymore, just thinking about Going to California takes me back to a special place and time, as a 14 year old thinking drugs are probably really cool to do.
Posted by Jackson Hathorn on November 9, 2011 at 4:13 PM · Report this
as a kid i enjoyed IV, but i don't ever need to hear it again. i grew in the era of "NO STAIRWAY" posters hung on the walls of the guitar shop.

loveless i adored. there was no bad time, no bad situation to hear that album. sounds awesome on the hi-fi, sounds awesome on a shitty car's cassette deck.

and way back when, it was weatherall's "soon" that inspired us to take our first hack at a remix.
Posted by deepconcentration on November 9, 2011 at 4:52 PM · Report this
I come from a generation of musicians where home recording with technological prowess is easily within grasp, if you're willing to put in the time. Effects aren't merely effects anymore, and all equipment in the studio are as viable for virtuosic expression as traditional instruments.

I was also almost exclusively devoted to electronic music in my teen years. A lot more emphasis on textural mastery and the record as a blank canvas for the imagination, as opposed to a facsimile of a live performance.

As such, ambitious records in the dub, industrial, drone, noise, and generative realms along with classic stuff like Phil Spector's productions, Pet Sounds, Sgt. Pepper's, Dark Side of the Moon, and now Loveless, have a far greater influence on the records that I enjoy and my own approach towards musicianship.

Loveless is also the first record to have ever made me hunt down details about every amp, every piece of rack gear, every pedal, every mic, every sampler, every mixer, every studio, everything - so I suspect that I will always hold the album dear to my heart.

It seemed to make a whole lot more sense to me, as an engineer who happens to play a guitar. Not an engineer in the older, traditional sense of capturing an immaculate and dynamically ranged representation of a live performance, but as an artist (producer) who naturally grew up with computers. It's all the more mind-blowing to me that there were people out there in 1991 within the rock scene who were adopting an approach that would become pretty common twenty years later.

Posted by The Killer Whales of Puget Sound on November 9, 2011 at 5:11 PM · Report this
Who is My Bloody Valentine? sounds like a teenage horror flick. I'm surprised the voting has been this close. maybe i search out a tune from them soon. any suggestions?
Posted by johnny ranger on November 9, 2011 at 6:41 PM · Report this
Dougsf 31
FNARF — You already heard these kids Veronica Falls? They are young and behave and dress in a manor I think you'd find agreeable and proper. I wish good things for them.
Posted by Dougsf on November 9, 2011 at 6:58 PM · Report this
tallchris 32
19 year old me would have said "Loveless".

29 year old me says "Zoso".
Posted by tallchris on November 10, 2011 at 10:04 AM · Report this

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