Thursday, December 15, 2005

But Then Again....

So there I was, out in the garage, trying to find something to use as an adapter to fit the garden hose to the tailpipe of my truck (I'm flabbergasted they don't sell these at Home Depot; I was close to settling for duct tape, which strikes me as dreadfully inefficient) when all of a sudden, all unbidden, the Small Faces' "Itchycoo Park" popped into my head.

Now I think I'll live after all.

See how it all balances out? One day the pestilential Mannheim Steamroller leeches away the last vestige of your will to live; the next you get Steve Marriott going "I got HIII-high!" thereby pretty much singlehandedly inventing heavy-metal singing (Robert Plant ain't even close) and the clouds clear away, food stops turning to ashes in your mouth, a spring returns to your step and you give the rising sun the glad eye.

It's a mystery.


Mark Smeraldi said...

A pleasure as always... Being another "word-smitten puritan", I am greatly enjoying the pseudo-word creation going on in your comments. for our mutual enjoyment,please allow me to proffer two pseudo-words created along different structural rules: Hummeroid and Mesopotemkin.If we're engaging in a meme-war, let ours accurately identify and skewer the opposition's.

Decatur Dem said...

A delight and special treat. The Little Drummer Boy has had me breaking out in a rash; I can't imagine what Mannheim Steamroller exposure might do to the unprotected victim.
But Steve Marriott invented heavy-metal singing? If you say so, but I'd have laid the blame for that at the feet of, say, Vanilla Fudge or Iron Butterfly- ponderous and vastly self important. Small Faces were more, I dunno, frolicsome. And a lot more fun.

Neddie said...

Decatur Dem:


Itchycoo Park, released 4 August 1967

Iron Butterfly's debut, "Heavy," released 1968

Vanilla Fudge debuted 1967 as well, but not much about it hints that it had much effect on Led Zeppelin, which is really the genesis of the HM vocal style.

You gotta hear the way Marriott delivers "I got high!" from "Itchycoo Park." It stands in contrast to the fey, druggy head-voice singing surrounding it: It's high-register, rough-voiced, and powerful as hell, and it couldn't be more obvious that it tickled Robert Plant's tiny little testicles. In fact, here's the evidence:

From Perfect Sound Forever, one of your better online rock-snob mags (the article linked to calls into question Jimmy Page's honesty and place in guitar-hero history, which is something I've said for years: Pagey just isn't that impressive a guitarist -- or a human being):

"Whole Lotta Love" opens Led Zeppelin II. As mentioned earlier, Steve Marriott and the Small Faces figure into the Led Zeppelin saga. That mod foursome were known for a killer live version of Muddy Waters' "You Need Love." The following paragraph is from "Small Faces: The Young Mods' Forgotten Story" by Paolo Hewitt (1995, Acid Jazz Books).

'A few years later, one of the LP's outstanding tracks, the Marriott/Lane 'You Need Loving,' cropped up again to create rock history, albeit in a different format. '"Whole Lotta Love" by Led Zeppelin was nicked off that album,' Marriott pointed out. 'Percy [a derisive nickname for Robert] Plant was a big fan. He used to be at all The Small Faces gigs. We did a gig with The Yardbirds which he was at and Jimmy Page asked me what that number was we did. "'You Need Loving'," I said, "it's a Muddy Waters thing" which it really is, so they both knew it, and Percy used to come to the gigs whenever we played in Kidderminster or Stowbridge, where he came from. He was always saying he was going to get this group together. He was another nuisance. He kept coming into the dressing room, just another little Mod kid. We used to say, "That kid's here again." Anyway we used to play this number and it became a stock opener after that album. After we broke up they took it and revamped it. Good luck to them. It was only old Percy who'd had his eyes on it. He sang it the same, phrased it the same, even the stops at the end were the same, they just put a different rhythm to it.' He laughs. 'For years and years I would hear it come on the radio while driving in America, and I would think, "Go on, my son," until one day I thought, "Fucking hell, that's us, that is. The bastards!"'

"Whole Lotta Love" is obviously, as Steve Marriott pointed out, a direct nick of the Small Faces take on "You Need Love." The lyrics are basically the same as the Muddy Waters version. Further, Robert Plant's vocal stylings are indeed modeled directly on Marriott's delivery. One listen to the Small Faces version will lay any doubt aside."

Notice, both Vanilla Fudge & Iron Butterfly are American bands, and both singers were baritones. Heavy, yes, self-important, sure -- to the point of hilarity. But your HM tonsil-tickler of 2005 pays far, far more tribute to Percy Plant than to Mark Stein or Doug Ingle.

mlcynvnw, which besides being the longest-winded Word Verification widget I've yet seen, makes me long for the friendly confines of Milky Nevada Northwest.

Neil Shakespeare said...

Good to hear you're back from the brink, Neddie.

blue girl said...

I'm with Neil here Jeddie.

I'm so glad you chose life!!

Decatur Dem said...

Gee, Neddie. I feel like the hapless shlub in Annie Hall who makes some pompous comment about Marshall McLuhan, only to have Alvy Singer (Woody Allen) magically produce the real McLuhan to torpedo everything the guy just said, in front of a New York theater lobby crowd. I stand in awe of your erudition.
But thanks to you for reminding me of Small Faces. And not sucking tailpipe.

The Viscount LaCarte said...

I can't help but like Led Zeppelin, but they were master thieves! The did the same thing with The Lemon Song and probably lots of others that I don't know because my early blues vocabulary is so limited.

Page was a damn sloppy guitarist, but he had a good melodic feel. While lots of people praise Bonham (me included) I think John Paul Jones doesn't get enough credit. Percy (I LOVE that!) used every chance he could get to slag off Jonesy but I think it was the combined sound of him and Bonzo that made them sound so heavy and unique.

Apparently they weren't very nice people back in the day either. I think Frank had a field day lampooning them. Something about a Mud Shark?

By the way, I hear Lennon's guitar (from "Get Back") inside of "Celebration Day."


Kevin Wolf said...

Neddie, as soon as you mentioned "I got hi-i-igh" I knew exactly what you meant and the proof, so to speak, wasn't even needed. But thanks for the interesting info anyway. And thanks for not taking the gas pipe.

hhvrk - Haven't seen one in ages because they're indigenous to Australia.

blue girl said...

Decatur Dem -- That's one of my favorite movie scenes ev-ah!

XTCfan said...

Wow, that's the first time I've seen Ned turn down a pipe.


Neddie said...

Decatur Dem: It looks like what passes for erudition these days is the ability to cut-and-paste. Didn't mean to rub your nose in it, sorry.

Ah'm gonna drink my sorrows down the drain, find solace at the bottom of a glass. The only problem with this method is that you wake up with a vicious case of divlhejd.

Akatabi said...

I stopped listening to rock precisely at the advent of Led Zeppelin (it had something to do with a woman), so I won't comment on their influence on Heavy Metal. But the place of Itchycoo Park in the pantheon of poppy tunes you can't get out of your head even after thorazine can't be denied. It's been on Cheese Patrol at least twice.

But for the past few days, the tune running slipshod around the corners of my mind has been The Cowsills' "Indian Lake" and I have been trying to dredge up from cold storage the tune it reminded me of and that I have always conflated with it. The best I could come up with was Donovan's "Barabajagal" or Herman's Hermits' "Bus Stop." When of course all I needed to do was drop by Neddie Jingo's Serendipity Central to realize it was "Itchycoo Park" all along. Thanks, Neddie.

ehavel - vaclav's smarter brother
H. Rumbold, Master Barber

Madman in the Marketplace said...

Funny, Mannheim Steamroller always inspires thoughts of high powered rifles and high buildings in me, but then again I did 15+ years in music retail, so that might explain it.

Good points on the Small Faces ... you're a man of culture and taste.

Liberal Street Fighter

ghostwhowalk said...

It's true Jimmy Page was a limited guitarist. He didn't have the fluidity or fluency of Clapton or the gunslinger chutzpah of Jeff Beck. Zeppelin lacked the spontaneity, the audacity or the mischievousness of Hendrix or Cream.

But give Page his due... he was a shit-hot acoustic guitarist and he could write a memorable riff, which is a not inconsiderable talent.

A riff usually draws on only a five note scale (blues pentatonic) and maybe eight beats (two bars), so it's painted with a very limited palate, which in many ways is harder than having a huge range of possibilities to choose from. The writing of a good riff is an elusive skill. With something like Whole Lotta Love, it's the riff that draws you in. It's relentless, it's hypnotic... it's the hook. Both the Small Faces' & the Muddy Water's versions are great, but they lack that riff. Zeppelin's version had the riff & took the world by storm.

Here are some of my favourite riffs from the history of blues & rock: Smokestack Lightnin' by Howlin' Wolf (guitar played by Hubert Sumlin), Who Knows? by Hendrix/Band Of Gypsies, Rebel Rebel by David Bowie (was that Mick Ronson on guitar?), I Feel Fine by the Beatles (I've heard that Lennon stole the riff off an American Blues record), You Can Make Me Dance, Sing, Any Old Thing by the Faces (presumably Ronnie Wood), Graveyard Train; Credence Clearwater, Just A Little Bit by Magic Sam (covered by Liverpool band the Undertakers featuring Jackie Lomax), Crossroads by Cream, Street Life by Roxy Music (Phil Manzanera) and The Last Time by The Rolling Stones (Brian Jones on the guitar).

I'm sure everyone has their own favourites and I'm sure many will scratch their heads at mine!

Anonymous said...

The Small Faces invented heavy metal on their first album, released in May of 1966. Listen to that album and you'll understand where Led Zeppelin got their ideas.