Sunday, January 09, 2005

The following is a letter I recently received from Jason at Perfect Sound Forever regarding an article I wrote on the Stooges back in the Dark Ages (or 1997, to be more precise). It's also a good example of: A) why I will be moving to Mars at the first available opportunity; and B) why a self-professed "entertainer", drummer, songwriter, producer, jackoff, etc. should be sterilised so the chances of any offspring are minimised.

Now, I know what you're thinking: give me this Peter Cross guy's email address so I can write him a really abusive letter which'll knock him upside the head. Too late for that. I'm suffering nicotine withdrawals right now (in keeping with a New Year's resolution) and am rather unbearable to be around at this point in time. He caught me on a bad day, and thus I've already sent him a nice letter back.

Dear Dave

Please read everything I've taken my time to write to you:

"Groan all you want" is an understatement for what I have to do with you now. I won't bicker about what an off base opinion you've got because everybody is entitled to their opinion even if it's wrong, but I need to lecture you because you simply wouldn't even think about those boring Stooges as "the best rock and roll band ever" if you had some real rock and roll experience under your belt. I've been in the thick of rock and roll all my life as a drummer, songwriter, singer, producer, and entertainer, so I've got the credentials to back up my opinion and to give you this lecture. First of all, Iggy was the best thing about the Stooges because at least Iggy knew how to entertain an audience, but as a singer he just rasped and screamed - he didn't actually SING at all. And all the Stooges ever could do is bang "crash chords" away through big amps. There's absolutely no possible arguement that Led Zeppelin is the best rock and roll band EVER and here's why:

1. Best Players:

A. John Bohnam was the best rock and roll drummer ever to walk the face of this planet. John played double bass drums like no one else ever did or does. John had complete independence in all four limbs. He > slammed his drums harder than anyone else and with more precision and creativity than anyone else and he never once dropped the beat. Remember, I was a drummer who also played double bass drums so I know whereof I speak here.

B. Jimi Page has always been one of the best rock guitarist ever, and as a songwriter, Jimi used his incredible ability to play lead guitar to create actual song structure. Led Zep's songs use not one or two of Jimi's incredibly powerful, complicated and unbelievably SEXY riffs in each song, but Jimi's riffs vary within each song and also from song to song.

C. John Paul Jones (who was really a guitarist) became a bass player who attained the same level of brilliance as Paul McCartney. No one at all can touch those two on bass, and John also played excellent keyboards.

D. Robert Plant, like him or don't, had the most incredible range of any male rock singer ever. And just like Dylan was for his own music, Robert's voice was perfect for Led Zep's music and there's no other singer who could possibly have fit in. And Robert co-wrote with Jimi too. Most of the time you can't understand his lyrics and that's Robert's intent because all he cared about at that time was that you connect with the emotion and the sexual energy. But when you can get the lyrics like in Stairway to Heaven (their tribute to Janis Joplin), you find a great piece of poetry there.

2. Unique songwriting: Nobody covers Led Zep songs for very good reasons. Their structure is based on their vastly superior playing abilities and no one can actually play what they played. I'm talking about songs that are not based on simple chords at all like all other rock and roll is. Jimi and Robert based their songs on Jimi's riffs and on his chordal tonalities that to this day stand alone as being unique.

3. Shear body of immortal work: Here they outdistance even The Beatles and the Stones. I'm talking about 9 albums chock full of brilliant songs - I don't know how many hours of great listening that is. There's hardly a single relatively weak track among all that work. Their debut album is still the best one of all time. And Coda, their "swan song" is equally perfect.

4. Stage Presence: If you'd ever seen these guys in action, Dave, you'd have seen TRUE rock and roll STARS with true charisma, and you wouldn't even think of those average Stooges who have none at all. Led Zep was there when the concept of "rock and roll star" was still evolving. I will admit that the Stones at least partially deserve the label as the best rock and roll band ever, but it's mostly because of Mick's superstar stage presence and his ability to put on a great show every single time he appears, and he's still doing it at age 60 for Christ sake! But they can't hold a candle to Led Zep's ability as brilliant players and unique songwriters. Certainly Mick and Keith wrote a lot of great rock songs, but their songs are very simple and similar to each other.

I could go on but I don't need to. Those four categories do enough to qualify them as the best rock and roll band of all time.

Peter Cross

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