Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Rolling Stone gives Them Crooked Vultures album 3.5 of 5 stars

Rolling Stone, the chief magazine leading the pack of the music media's offenses against Led Zeppelin from 1969 onward, is now having to figure out how to deal with John Paul Jones in the digital age.

A review by Rolling Stone's Rob Sheffield, appearing in the latest issue of Rolling Stone and online now, gives the disc by Them Crooked Vultures 3.5 stars out of a possible 5 but starts off in the magazine's traditional snarky manner:
"Ladies and gentlemen, Them Crooked Vultures — the second-best band John Paul Jones has ever been in!"
When you count up the number of bands Jones has ever been aside from Led Zeppelin, it becomes evident Sheffield hasn't heard of Mutual Admiration Society, the John Paul Jones Orchestra, the backing band of Diamanda Galas, or Jet Harris and Tony Meehan's band. Clearly, Them Crooked Vultures ranks sixth behind all of those.

But seriously, Sheffield can't keep his mind off Led Zeppelin in his review. Overwhelmingly, when he hears Them Crooked Vultures he thinks of Led Zeppelin.

Coming from Rolling Stone, comparisons to Led Zeppelin could be a good thing or a bad thing. Ever since the days when John Mendelsohn, Lester Bangs and Lenny Kaye were tepid or downright spiteful in their reviews of the group's initial albums, certain authors in the magazine -- including Cameron Crowe, Stephen Davis, Andy Greene, Mikal Gilmore and David Fricke -- have forced a reappraisal of Led Zeppelin in Rolling Stone's pages over the years.

The year 2004 represented a big shift in the re-analysis. That year:
At any rate, Sheffield makes the following comparisons between Them Crooked Vultures and Led Zeppelin:
  • During "Elephants," Them Crooked Vultures succeed in "basically crunch[ing] every riff on Led Zeppelin II into seven dizzy minutes," Sheffield asserts.
  • He says Jones's bass line on "Nobody Loves Me & Neither Do I" sounds "as nasty as 'Out on the Tiles.'"
  • "Reptiles," he says, sounds like "a sly update of 'South Bound Suarez.'"
  • He even wants Josh Homme's voice to sound like Robert Plant's, but it sounds more like Jack Bruce's in Cream.
  • Sheffield compares Homme's guitar playing to that of Led Zeppelin's guitarist: "He does deliver loads of Jimmy Page doppelgänger solos, just to prove he can."
  • Throughout the album, Jones reminds Sheffield "he's the bass man who helped give the world 'Black Dog.'"
  • Finally, Sheffield says Homme and Grohl "are old hands at this kind of thing," having had "excellent Zeppelin homages" on the Queens of the Stone Age album Songs for the Deaf.
It's just interesting, now, that the magazine that didn't want anything to do with Led Zeppelin is now the magazine that can't seem to get enough Led Zeppelin. What's more, Rolling Stone has trouble giving even a 4 out of 5 rating to a band it insists is so reminiscent of Led Zeppelin.

Update: Oh! I totally forgot my initial point in posting this! John Paul Jones told me in 2001 he hated when people compared his solo work to Led Zeppelin songs and approached him with the question, "Don't you think that's a little Led Zeppelin-inspired?" His answer to them was always, "Don't you think Led Zeppelin was a little John Paul Jones-inspired?"

And check out who's on the cover of New Musical Express! See how Josh Homme and Dave Grohl appear to tower over John Paul Jones.

1 comment:

  1. RS hurt its credibility with its coverage of Led Zeppelin. They missed an phenomenon that everyday fans of rock and roll did not. I think the 2006 issue proves that Zep got the last laugh.


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