Friday, November 27, 2009

Furious Plant

On this day in 1975, the Rolling Stones arrived at Musicland Studios in Munich, West Germany, to begin recording their next album, Black and Blue. Led Zeppelin had just been using the same studio the previous day, to complete the recording and mixing of the album Presence. All it took to record and mix that album was 18 days.

It's an album that features many guitar overdubs, a so-called "guitar army" of sorts on the opening song, "Achilles Last Stand."

As it was getting toward the end of Led Zeppelin's booked time in Munich, Jimmy Page knew it would be crunch time, so it's been said he and engineer Keith Harwood worked 18 to 20 hours each day, taking only quick naps and then waking up. Page apparently stayed up for two days straight to get it all done on time.

As for Robert Plant, his attitude at the time definitely affected the lyrics he was writing. He once explained:
"Presence was the most difficult record for me, in my career, to ever come up with, to be a part of because I spent the whole process of preparation and delivery, vocally and otherwise, in a wheelchair. So, I -- physically, I was really, really frustrated. I had to travel from Europe to America lying down in the plane with my foot up in the air 'cause of the -- my foot was so badly smashed up that I had to keep the blood supply a certain way, and all that sort of thing.

"In the end, I did actually rent cars in L.A. I lived in Malibu Colony for a while. And I rented a pink Cadillac with a white soft top. And I used to drive with just my left foot. Stick my right foot up on the bench seat and drive and just watch everybody because otherwise I was marooned in this house with Benji, the sound operator guy, later to become co-producer on [my] solo stuff. He used to sit with me and try and relieve the tedium. But I couldn't -- I was living in Malibu Colony; I couldn't even see the sea.

"So, the whole Presence thing was really quite extraordinary. And I think my vocal performance on that is pretty poor. I find, all the way through, it's very strained and it sounds tired.

"So, when it got round to something like 'Candy Store Rock,' I find that was the saving grace of the album -- that and 'Achilles Last Stand.' 'Cause 'For Your Life' was really a bitter treaty with rock 'n' roll, with the rock 'n' roll spin-offs, the women and all the girls who in 'Sick Again' were wonderful. Now, suddenly, they were 'Hung on the balance of a crystal paying through the nose.' It was like a -- I was really angry. 'Hots on for Nowhere' was -- I was furious with Page and Peter Grant. 'Royal Orleans,' I was having something to say about somebody else. I was just sitting there furious in that wheelchair. 'Tea for One,' I couldn't get back to the woman and the children that I loved, and I was just thinking, is this rock 'n' roll really anything at all? You know.

"But 'Candy Store Rock' was, for me, being Ral Donner. I finally could be Ral, you know? He'd always been my hero, the guy who wasn't Elvis but really was Elvis. At one point or another, they actually exchanged bodies. And the kind of bridge section in 'Candy Store Rock,' it's sheer and pure Ral Donner. And it was great because Jimmy's guitar playing on it was incredible!

"It was like the whole band moved into another gear there. Bonzo's rhythm with Jonesy playing. The two of 'em, the rhythm section, on that and 'Achilles Last Stand' is -- it just goes beyond pop music and beyond anything -- jazz, rock 'n' roll. It's just so inspired."

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