Friday, August 19, 2011

The Beatles and Led Zeppelin

UPDATE: I noticed that this post was getting a lot of views for some reason and also that some of the YouTube links were no longer working, so I just replaced those with different clips.

I was reading something that was talking about the greatest bands of all time and mentioned three: The Beatles, Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones. Leaving the latter to one side for a moment, I wonder what it would be like to compare The Beatles and Led Zeppelin? Here's the first Led Zep song that comes up on YouTube:

If you resurrected Robert Johnson, carefully drained off about 37% of his creativity and gave him a lot of big amps, I guess that's what it would sound like. If you have read many of the posts on this blog you probably have an idea how much will-power I had to use not to stop the clip about a minute into the long synthesizer noodling with Robert Plant moaning orgasmically section. OK. Let's try The Beatles. Here is the first song that comes up that was written by the Beatles:

Let's dig around a bit and choose some other examples. First, Led Zeppelin:

Here is something vaguely similar from The Beatles:

Something else from Led Zeppelin:

They made a lot more effort with that one. New palette of sounds with the keyboard, wider harmonic range with the ascending chromatic figure--a lot more going on. I'm not sure the disparate elements ever really knit together, but points for effort. Now another from The Beatles:

Hard to find anything equivalent, but that's as close as we can get. Hmmm. Well? What can we conclude? In Kashmir Led Zeppelin are incorporating exotic elements into their basic blues vocabulary and it works pretty well. But I Am the Walrus is one of those incomparable songs like nothing else. I guess the only thing we can conclude is that these two bands are not terribly comparable. I know who I would rather listen to, though.

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