But then there are those artists who you don’t like as much as you think you should. Or you may respect their talent and acknowledge that their music is well made. But it just doesn’t move you.
Is it just a matter of taste, or something more? What if you, for some reason, actually dislike the artist? Would this get in the way of your enjoying their music? You’d think the two things were separate. I mean, can’t I just listen to the music without it getting personal? (Actually, I can’t even eat breakfast without it getting personal, but that’s another post entirely.) Apparently not. For some of us, music, like sex (now, anyway) requires that we like the person.
And on top of all of this, add their reputation for debauchery while on tour. So you can see how a tight-ass like me could really work up a case against them. The libertarian in me, however, feels that the young woman who got slapped with the fish, probably chose to get slapped with the fish. (Don’t ask.)
So we got down to the business of deciding which albums to get. We already had several on vinyl, and briefly considered getting the 10-CD-complete-album-box-set-yadayadayada, but declined to pay the $80. Instead, we got four for about $25. She wanted II and IV. I wanted III. Neither of us wanted I, but we got it anyway because, well, what’s the sense in having II, III and IV if you’re not going to get I, too? It wouldn’t be right. It also helped that BMG was having one of those buy-one-get-40 sales. (Because you were going to get those 40 CDs anyway, right?)
The third albums don’t compare easily since two of them are double albums - one all live, and the other half-live. But since such albums usually suck, it all comes out in the wash anyway. “Live at the Fillmore” is the classic. “Wheel’s of Fire” is a mish mosh, with weird studio stuff and loooong live stuff. It can be very silly, but it’s still fun. “Led Zeppelin III” is a departure, and not bad at all. And with all the acoustic stuff, it’s actually pretty brave. But the clear edge goes to the Allmans.
Now, call me crazy but I happen to love the “Eat a Peach”’s 35 minute “Mountain Jam”. Add to that “Blue Sky”, “Little Martha” and “Melissa” and you’ve got a very strong LP. It’s probably my personal favorite here. Cream’s “Good-bye” shows them limping off stage - the sound on the live cuts sucks. But side two is excellent – highlighted by an intense “Sitting on Top of the World” (crappy sound and all) and “Badge” (greatest guitar solo on a pop song, ever?). But you have to give “Led Zeppelin IV” its due. The songwriting is blossoming, the drumming powerful, and production, courtesy of Jimmy Page, absolutely sterling. There’s not a bad song here. It’s one of those records that I don’t love, exactly, but that I know is great. On the whole, a tie between Zeppelin and the Allmans.
Now, I wouldn’t blame you for totally disagreeing with me on all four albums. I mean, talk about your apples and oranges! But that’s exactly my point. Some of us have a preference, and I’m struggling with music I prefer versus music I know is great on its own terms. So how do I explain the fact that Zeppelin has gone toe to toe with the Allmans, who I supposedly prefer, a clearly best Cream, record-wise?