Ric Ocasek found dead today

Sad news from New York tonight. Ric Ocasek was found dead in his Manhattan apartment on Sunday, law enforcement confirmed. Some reports say he was 75 and some say he was 70.

Ric wrote some of the best pop hits of the late seventies and eighties for the Cars. The Cars were a big part of my teenage years.

https://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/Ric-Ocasek-Cars-Singer-Dead-in-NY-at-75-560430391.html

https://pagesix.com/2019/09/15/the-cars-frontman-ric-ocasek-found-dead-in-manhattan-townhouse/

 

Songs That Would Be Pointless to Remake.

Some songs are so ingrained in our psyche that a cover version would not make us forget the original or improve it. Covering them in concert is one thing but remaking them is another. When you compete against a memory…the memory wins.  I know some will disagree but there are songs that in my opinion that are untouchable. That doesn’t mean I want to hear these songs over and over…some are worn out. I’m not saying the cover version would be bad…but it would not replace the original.

These are in no order. There are many more…any suggestions?

  1. Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen – I can’t even imagine someone seriously trying to pull this off…
  2. I Am The Walrus – Beatles -This bizarre piece of music would be hard to duplicate.
  3. Stairway to Heaven – Led Zeppelin – It’s been tried…even by Pat Boone…Mr Soul Sucker who can take the soul out of a room by simply walking in. Dolly Parton even took a stab at it.
  4. Freebird – Lynyrd Skynryd – I don’t think anyone would want to try.
  5. Won’t Get Fooled Again – How would you match the intensity and power of this recording?
  6. Good Vibrations – Beach Boys – Todd Rundgren remade this and copied it almost exactly…but what was the point? He did a fine job of copying it.
  7. Sympathy for the Devil – Rolling Stones – I don’t see anyone matching the Stones version.
  8. Born To Run – Bruce Springsteen – Bruce layered so many guitars (I’ve read up to 24) to make his own wall of sound…I don’t see this being topped.
  9. Band On The Run – This is basically three songs into one with McCartney’s style
  10. Like A Rolling Stone – Bob Dylan – Maybe the best single ever released. Bob is one of the most covered artists but his voice just stings on this recording and it would be hard to match.

A few more I thought of… American Pie, A Day In The Life, Sounds of Silence

 

Keith Moon’s Replacement at the Cow Palace 1973

After reading about Keith’s exploits it doesn’t surprise me this incident happened to him, what surprises me is that it didn’t happen more often.

On the 1973 tour opener at the Cow Palace in San Fransico Keith found out that Horse Tranquilizers and Brandy don’t mix with drumming. It has been said that someone slipped the tranquilizer in his drink backstage. Dougal Butler his PA said it was a Monkey Tranquilizer.

Keith was playing erratic most of the night slowing down and speeding up the tempo. The Who were coming towards the end of their set and Moon was clearly struggling. A few minutes into Won’t Get Fooled Again he ground to a halt, and left the stage. He came back and played Magic Bus and just fell over on his drums near the end of the song…he looked out of it on the video. He was soon carried off stage

Pete Townshend told the audience “We’re just gonna revive our drummer by punching him in the stomach,” “He’s out cold. I think he’s gone and eaten something he shouldn’t have eaten. It’s your foreign food…”

Pete then asked if anyone can play the drums… someone really good.

It’s hard to imagine one of the biggest bands in the world at that time asking for someone in the audience to fill in for their passed out drummer.

19-year-old Scott Halpin was there with a friend and said…“My friend was pushing me forward and saying, ‘Come on man, you can go up there and play, you can play,’” said Halpin. “He’s really the one that got me into it.”

In interviews, Halpin claimed the last thing he remembered was swallowing a shot of brandy and being introduced to the crowd by Roger Daltrey. That, and the size of Keith Moon’s kit: “It was ridiculous. The tom-toms were as big as my bass drum.” Scott did really well and Daltrey said afterward that he was really good. Halpin walked away from the kit an even bigger Keith Moon fan than before: “I only played three numbers, and I was dead.”… He talked later about the stamina that Moon must have had to play just a set.

From Wiki

Halpin was born in Muscatine, Iowa, to Elizabeth and Richard Halpin, of Muscatine. He grew up in Muscatine, showing early promise as a visual artist and musician. In the early 1970s, he moved to California, where he met his wife and lifetime collaborator Robin Young at City College of San Francisco in 1978. Halpin went on to earn an MA in Interdisciplinary Arts from San Francisco State University.

Halpin became a composer in residence at the Headlands Center for the Arts, in Sausalito, California, and played with a number of bands over the years, including The Sponges, Funhouse, Folklore, SnakeDoctor and Plank Road. While on the West Coast, Halpin and his wife managed a new wave punk rock night club, The Roosevelt, before moving to Indiana in 1995 to pursue opportunities in the visual arts.

From 1995 until his death, Halpin resided in Bloomington, Indiana, with his wife Robin and son, James. According to local newspapers in the Bloomington area, Halpin died February 9, 2008, of an inoperable non-malignant brain tumor.

 

Keith leaves the stage 1:13:40 … and then passes out around 1:29:48. Pete talks to the audience and asks someone to play drums 1:37:50.

I have a friend named Bob who lived in Boston in 1976. His father worked for MCA Records and he saw The Who with Moon. After the first two songs, I Can’t Explain and Substitute Moon passed out and the show was canceled. The show was rescheduled but he didn’t make it to the makeup show…he regrets it now but he got to see Moon in action for 2 songs anyway… No call out for replacements in this concert since it was so early in the show. 

San Francisco and Boston are the only two occasions that I know of that Keith passed out and caused a cancellation. I sent Bob this link and told him at least he has a short audio souvenir of the concert he attended. It doesn’t have the opener Can’t Explain but it does have Substitute and Pete telling the audience about Keith at 3:22… you can hear people talking about it on this bootleg. The cause of this one was too much Brandy and downers.

 

Lynyrd Skynyrd – 41 Years Ago

It’s been 41 years since Lynyrd Skynyrd’s plane crashed in a swamp in Gillsburg, Mississippi. The band had just released the album “Street Survivors” and it was probably their best well-rounded album. With new guitarist Steve Gaines, they were primed for commercial success but on October 20, 1977, they lost singer-songwriter Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines, backup singer Cassie Gaines, and road manager Dean Kilpatrick. The plane crash also claimed the lives of pilot Walter McCreary and co-pilot William Gray Jr.

A year earlier Steve Gaines joined the band and he was pushing them in directions they never had gone. Listening to “Street Survivors” you can hear his influence with songs I Never Dreamed and I Know A Little. Steve was a  super talented guitarist, songwriter, and singer and I have to wonder where his career would have gone.

On this tour, they were headlining and moving up in status after years of touring as mostly an opening band.

Below is a good Rolling Stone article on the crash. The song below that is “I Never Dreamed,” a song heavily influenced by Gaines.

https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-features/remembering-lynyrd-skynyrds-deadly-1977-plane-crash-2-195371/

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Birth of the Beatles 1979

As a 12-year-old, I waited for this and couldn’t wait to watch it. The film started out with The Beatles about to take off to America…and then flashed back to 1961 and followed them until their Ed Sullivan appearance. It was made by Dick Clark Productions. There is a Pete Best slant to the film…with good reason. They used Pete as an advisor and you can tell. Many things slant his way.

For a fan like me, some things bother me about it…like The Beatles in Hamburg playing “Don’t Bother Me” which wasn’t written until at least 2 years later (I just looked up trivia in IMDB and this was listed…so others noticed). They mixed some facts around and left some out but with the length of the movie, they could not include everything. When making a movie about someone, events will get exaggerated and some things made up.

The movie I would make would be around 10 hours long and heavily detailed…in other words unwatchable by the general public.

I did like the spirit of this film and the actor playing John Lennon (Stephen MacKenna) I thought did a good job.

Overall it was a good try for the time and the film did do the early Beatle highlights… Stuart Sutcliffe, Astrid Kirchherr, Hamburg, Brian Epstein, Cynthia telling John she was pregnant, Paul and Pete lighting the Cinema (though heavily exaggerated), the comedy of the Beatles, George Martin, Rory Storm, Aunt Mimi and more. The group “Rain” did the soundtrack and that is maybe the highlight of the film

It was the only movie about the Beatles made when John was still alive. John, Paul, George, and Ringo…the real ones…tried to get the movie stopped but were obviously unsuccessful. The film was released to theatres in Europe but on television in America.

There are wince moments throughout the film…when in 1961 Hamburg, you see a little of seventies clothing and hairstyles plus some rushed acting. It’s full of flaws but they were on a budget and they tried to highlight the big moments. It’s a fun watch anyway even though they did get some of the story wrong.

From Wikipedia, these are the songs that were performed in the movie. Below these songs is the movie from youtube.

  1. She Loves You – Opening titles version
  2. My Bonnie (Lies Over the Ocean)
  3. Oh Baby Doll – Performed by a different group at the Liverpool audition and not by the Beatles themselves.
  4. Dizzy Miss Lizzy
  5. Blue Suede Shoes – Performed by Rory Storm and the Hurricanes
  6. I Saw Her Standing There – featuring Pete Best on drums
  7. Don’t Bother Me
  8. Johnny B. Goode
  9. Lawdy Miss Clawdy – Performed by Rory Storm and the Hurricanes
  10. Roll Over Beethoven
  11. Kansas City
  12. Hey! Hey! Hey! Hey!
  13. Shake, Rattle and Roll!
  14. Ask Me Why
  15. Love Me Tender
  16. Twist and Shout
  17. P.S. I Love You
  18. Dizzy Miss Lizzy – Reprise, a different recording featuring heavier drums and a more raw-sounding guitar
  19. Cry for a Shadow
  20. Please Mr. Postman
  21. Long Tall Sally
  22. Love Me Do
  23. Rock and Roll Music
  24. I Saw Her Standing There – Reprise, featuring Ringo Starr on drums. The drumming styles differ between versions for story reasons
  25. Please Please Me
  26. Thank You Girl
  27. I Want to Hold Your Hand
  28. She Loves You – Ending titles version

The quality is not great but here is the movie on youtube.

 

Ranking Led Zeppelin Albums #6 – #10

Led Zeppelin has produced some of the best albums in the history of rock. I will include the original live album of “The Song Remains the Same”… Not the remastered version of that one. Below is the way I would rank them. Ten albums in all including Coda released after John Bonham died. 1-5 coming tomorrow.

 

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10. The Song Remains The Same – 1976

This was recorded at the end of their 1973 American tour but was not released until 1976. They sound tired. It’s a good history marker looking back, but far from their best live performance. Not until long after the band broke up though nothing was officially released except this. I still prefer this over the movie of the same name.

Tracklist

Rock And Roll
Celebration Day
The Song Remains The Same
Rain Song
Dazed And Confused
No Quarter
Stairway To Heaven
Moby Dick
Whole Lotta Love

 

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9.  Coda – 1982

The album spans the band’s entire career, from live performances just after their debut album to unused songs from In Through the Out Door sessions. My favorites are Ozone Baby, Wearing and Tearing and Walter’s Walk. Personally, I like this album more than Presence but the playing is not as tight.

Tracklist

We’re Gonna Groove
Poor Tom
I Can’t Quit You Baby
Walter’s Walk
Ozone Baby
Darlene
Bonzo’s Montreaux
Wearing and Tearing

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8.  Presence – 1976

This album was made when Robert Plant was recuperating from injuries he and his wife suffered in a car wreck. He was singing from a wheelchair. Jimmy Page was keeping the band busy recording this since they could not tour. The playing on this album is great and tight but the songs are not as strong as their predecessors. After Physical Graffiti, this one paled in comparison. Technically this could be one of Jimmy Pages best performance on an album. It was recorded and mixed in 18 days.

Tracklist

Achilles Last Stand
For Your Life
Royal Orleans
Nobody’s Fault But Mine
Candy Store Rock
Hots On For Nowhere
Tea For One

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7.  In Through The Out Door – 1979

It was not the typical Led Zeppelin album. Page and Bonham were having substance difficulties during this album. Plant and Jones wrote much of the album and Jones used his new synthesizer. This was a change in direction and some Zeppelin fans hated it but it did foreshadow the synthesizer coming in the eighties. I liked a lot of songs on this album like In The Evening, Fool In the Rain, All of My Love and the fun Hot Dog.

Tracklist

In the Evening
South Bound Suarez
Fool In the Rain
Hot Dog
Carouselambra
All My Love
I’m Gonna Crawl

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6.  Led Zeppelin – 1969

One of the best debut albums of any band. The classic Dazed and Confused, Good Times Bad Times, etc… The album went to #7 in the Billboard 100, #6 in the UK and #11 in Canada. Some people wonder why the band didn’t like critics…this is what Rolling Stone said about the album.

The latest of the British blues groups so conceived offers little that its twin, the Jeff Beck Group, didn’t say as well or better three months ago, and the excesses of the Beck group’s Truth album (most notably its self-indulgence and restrictedness), are fully in evidence on Led Zeppelin’s debut album.

In their willingness to waste their considerable talent on unworthy material the Zeppelin has produced an album which is sadly reminiscent of Truth. Like the Beck group they are also perfectly willing to make themselves a two- (or, more accurately, one-a-half) man show. It would seem that, if they’re to help fill the void created by the demise of Cream, they will have to find a producer (and editor) and some material worthy of their collective attention.”

The album is hard-hitting as it is fused Rock and Blues…it was very heavy and had a great sonic quality…

Tracklist

Good Times Bad Times
Babe I’m Gonna Leave You
You Shook Me
Dazed And Confused
Your Time Is Gonna Come
Black Mountain Side
Communication Breakdown
I Can’t Quit You Baby
How Many More Times

Led Zeppelin’s Ascent and Descent

Led Zeppelin ruled the hard rock landscape of the 1970s. Critics didn’t like them and they didn’t like the press. They sold tons of records and their concerts were instant sellouts. They spawned a lot of bad imitators in their wake. By 1975 things started to go wrong for the band and soon by the start of the new decade they were done.

Led Zeppelin formed in 1968 while Jimmy Page was still with the Yardbirds but with only bass player Chris Dreja and he still left in the group. To fill other gig obligations Page formed the New Yardbirds with Robert Plant and his recommendation for drummer John Bonham. Chris Dreja dropped out so studio bassist John Paul Jones filled the bass position.

After a change of name, they were off and running. They made their first self-titled album and signed a huge deal with Atlantic Records. The album had bad reviews but sold very well. The band made their reputation off of live performances.

Their manager at this point was Peter Grant and with him made their mark on the industry. Peter made sure his band made money and no one would stand in the way. He told promoters the band was to get 90 percent of the gate…which was unheard of at the time. The promoters gave in because they would rather have ten percent of that than 100 percent of nothing.

The musicians were great. Robert Plant could sing and wail like no other. John Bonham was a groove extraordinaire who had his own style. John Paul Jones was a great underrated bass and keyboard player. Jimmy Page was one of the best studio guitarists there was at the time. Similar to The Who…it was like a Rock All-Star lineup.

Zeppelin’s first three albums were building up to the fourth. You can see it build with the first and second album’s electric hard edge to the third where the acoustic is introduced more and a more folk side is shown. It all peaked with the classic 1971 Led Zeppelin IV with the perfect combination of the two.

Songs that came off that album are classics like Stairway to Heaven, Black Dog, Four Sticks, Rock and Roll, Going to California, When the Levee Breaks, The Battle of Evermore, and my favorite Misty Mountain Hop. This album and the Who’s Who’s Next came out within months of each other and both of these albums are the foundation of classic rock radio.

More great albums were to follow like Houses of the Holy and Physical Graffiti though none would match the fourth album. After Physical Graffiti things started to go south for Zeppelin.

Their reputation kept growing and it was not all about their music. Wild stories about groupies, Peter Grant stopping at nothing if he perceived an injustice toward his band and there was the Jimmy Page strong occult interest that followed the band like a dark cloud. John Bonham was described as a nice family man until he started to drink. When drunk he would turn into “The Beast” (as bandmates called him) and could terrorize anyone near the band. They did a series of concerts in 1975 at Earl’s Court and after that The Zeppelin started to descend.

In 1975 Robert Plant and his wife were in a serious car wreck and it would take Plant a few months to recuperate and soon the band would record the album Presence with Plant still not able to walk without assistance. The band would not tour in 1976 because of Plants injuries but started an American tour beginning in April 1977.

When Zeppelin started in 1968 critics didn’t like them and Zeppelin didn’t trust the press. Critics thought their first two albums were the work of blues-ripoff artists. Led Zeppelin never forgot that. This was one set of rules in 1977 shared with the press covering the band.

1. Never talk to anyone in the band unless they first talk to you.
1a. Do not make any sort of eye contact with John Bonham. This is for your own safety.
2. Do not talk to Peter Grant or [Tour Manager] Richard Cole — for any reason.
3. Keep your cassette player turned off at all times unless conducting an interview.
4. Never ask questions about anything other than music.
5. Most importantly, understand this — the band will read what is written about them.

The tour was beset with problems with rowdy crowds, Pages increasing heroin intake, and Bonham’s drinking. Peter Grant had hired a British gangster named John Bindon to handle security. Zeppelin’s security crew and John Bonham attacked one of promoter’s Bill Graham’s staff after Grants 11-year-old son was pushed down… After that incident in Oakland, they flew to New Orleans for the next show and Plant received a phone call from back home informing him that his five-year-old son Karac died from a stomach infection. The entire tour was immediately canceled as Plant flew home to be with his family. The last Oakland concert was the last time they played in America.

In 1979 they would get back together and release “In Through the Out Door“, a softer more synthesizer-based album. Plant and Jones did the majority of the writing on the album. Zeppelin did two great shows at Knebworth in 1979 and a short European tour in 1980. While rehearsing for the American tour John Bonham died of asphyxiation in his sleep after a night of heavy drinking in Page’s home on September 25, 1980. Unlike the Who, who continued on without their one of a kind drummer, Led Zeppelin was no more.

The band regrouped three times for one-off concerts. Once in 1985 for Live Aid with two drummers (Phil Collins and Tony Thompson )and in 1988 for the Atlantic Records 40th Anniversary with Jason Bonham on drums. Neither of those turned out too well.
They did regroup in 2007 for a  concert with Jason Bonham drumming. This time they sounded comparable to their younger days and their fans clamored for a reunion and tour…Plant all but ruled that out.

I like most of their albums and consider them one of the biggest rock bands ever…They have made some of the best albums in Rock history. I just never got into them like The Who, Beatles, Stones, Cream, and Kinks. The more I learn about them the more distant they get. Their mystique and image became larger than their music at times.

I’m going to attempt to rank 10 of Led Zeppelin’s albums coming up this week.

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