Tales of Rock: The Most Metal Album Led Zeppelin Recorded

When you look for the origins of heavy metal music, you’ll always find Led Zeppelin as part of the conversation. For all the sweet acoustic ballads and experimentation the band did over the years, the constant on every album was music that got heavy and very loud.

Just ask Geezer Butler, the bass player of metal pioneer Black Sabbath. “Zeppelin paved the way for us,” Butler said. “They were the heaviest thing, up until we came along. They very much started the genre.”

On Zeppelin’s first album, you got several different types of heavy. On “Dazed and Confused,” it was the ominous type that became so popular later. Then there was “Communication Breakdown,” which looked ahead to both metal and punk thrashing.

Led Zeppelin II got even heavier, and the band never shied away from the thunder on subsequent albums. But with Presence, the record that featured almost none of the keyboards and acoustic stylings of the other albums, Zeppelin had its most metal moment.

‘Presence’ contained the metal assault of ‘Achilles Last Stand’ and ‘Nobody’s Fault But Mine.’

Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant and Jimmy Page perform live onstage in 1972. | Robert Knight Archive/Redferns

You don’t find tunes like “That’s the Way” or even “Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You” on Presence. In fact, you don’t find John Paul Jones on keyboard at all. Jimmy Page, who wrote the majority of the album’s material with Robert Plant, mostly kept his acoustic guitars in their cases, too.

By this point in the band’s life (late 1975), Led Zeppelin had already delivered masterpieces like “Stairway to Heaven” and “Kashmir.” They’d also closed the book on heavy blues interpretations with “In My time of Dying.”

With “Achilles Last Stand,” you got what the title promised: a seasoned warrior not leaving the battlefield before thrashing almost everyone in sight. It was a full metal attack.

Between Jones’s heavy bass, Page’s crushing riff, and the thunder of John Bonham’s drums, there was no mistaking “Achilles” for anything short of metal. Plant’s vocals are the only thing you could describe as subdued here, and by the end he too gets loud.

Then there was the unbridled assault of “Nobody’s Fault But Mine.” On this tune, Plant joins the party in style with full-throated wailing and a sinister harmonica part. Bonham’s vicious drumming on these tunes heavily influenced drummers like Metallica’s Lars Ulrich (see: “One”).

The first record from ‘Physical Graffiti’ is also among Zeppelin’s heaviest offerings.

Led Zeppelin appears at the West Coast premiere for their concert film ‘The Song Remains the Same,’ Hollywood, October 21, 1976. | Frank Edwards/Fotos international/Getty Images

Led Zeppelin didn’t go all-metal for a reason: They considered their music far bigger than that. They never wanted to thought of as one-dimensional. You get a good look at the band’s philosophy on Physical Graffiti, the group’s only double album.

Five of the six tracks go straight at the listener, with Page and Bonham going in for the kill on every song. The exception is “Houses of the Holy,” which obviously came from sessions for the previous album. Had you replaced that “The Wanton Song,” it would be as heavy as Zep ever got.

Of course, the second disc from Physical Graffiti dulled the blow considerably with its acoustic tunes and “Boogie With Stu.” That was the point. And even with monster rockers like “Custard Pie,” the funkiness of Bonham’s drumming stands out.

Put it this way: Led Zeppelin went metal on several occasions (especially on Presence), and metal never got that good again.

 

 

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Tales of Rock: The Night Rob Halford Saved Black Sabbath

When Metal Legends Collide…

In November 1992, Ozzy Osbourne was about to wrap up his supposedly final concert tour in support of the massively successful No More Tears album. Two “farewell” shows were scheduled at the Pacific Amphitheatre in Costa Mesa, California.

To make these “retirement” concerts into an even bigger must-see event, the Osbourne camp reached out to Ozzy’s former band, Black Sabbath, with an offer to open the Costa Mesa shows. At the time, Sabbath was touring in support of 1992’s Dehumanizer album, which featured the return of vocalist Ronnie James Dio—the man who’d replaced Ozzy in Sabbath in 1980. Everybody thought this was a fabulous idea—except for Dio, who suspected that the invite was merely a back-door method to plant the seeds for a full fledged Sabbath/Ozzy reunion. Dio refused to do the shows and announced that he was leaving Black Sabbath for the second time.

No, sorry. I have more pride than that. A lot of bad things were being said from camp to camp, and it created this horrible schism. So, by them agreeing to play the shows in LA with Ozzy, that, to me, spelled out ‘reunion with Ozzy.’ And that obviously meant the end of our particular project.

— Ronnie James Dio

Various bootlegs of the Costa Mesa gigs. Note that the one on the top right says "with Rob Ralford." Ha!
Various bootlegs of the Costa Mesa gigs. Note that the one on the top right says “with Rob Ralford.” Ha! | Source

Enter Halford

In desperation, Sabbath’s Tony Iommi reached out to a fellow son of Birmingham to replace Dio for the two gigs: Rob Halford of Judas Priest fame. Rob was a free agent at the time, having split from Priest the previous year. He was also a massive Black Sabbath fan, so naturally he jumped at the chance to be their temporary front man. Legend has it that Rob only had two days to familiarize himself with Sabbath’s set list prior to the gigs.

Metal news traveled slower in those pre-internet days, so I imagine much of the audience in Costa Mesa must have been quite surprised to see Rob Halford take the stage with Sabbath on November 14th, 1992. By all accounts, the Metal God absolutely killed it, in spite of the short amount of prep time.

I’m sure that the bootleggers who were already there in force to capture Ozzy’s “last shows” on tape must have been absolutely thrilled to get the Halford/Sabbath combo as an added bonus. Their grainy VHS videos and scratchy audio recordings of the two gigs immediately became popular items in trading circles. For a brief time after the Costa Mesa shows, rumors circulated that Halford might be joining Black Sabbath full time, but obviously that never came to pass.

Night #1, Nov. 14, 1992 (Full Set)

Call for the Priest…

I own a CD of the second night’s show on November 15th (entitled The Priest Comes to the Sabbath), which seems to be the more common of the two nights available via bootleg. It’s obviously an audience recording (occasionally someone yells out “YEEEAAAAHHH!” or “WOOOOOO!” close to the recorder/mic and drowns out the music!) and unfortunately it’s missing the first song of the set (“The Mob Rules”), but aside from that it’s a decent quality recording of an amazing night in Heavy Metal history. Rob’s lack of rehearsal is most obvious during “Children of the Grave,” when he comes in at the wrong time and then has to repeat the first line of the song a moment later (whoops!). However, he quickly redeems himself with a fine rendition of Heaven and Hell‘s “Children of the Sea” (one of my all time favorite Sabbath tracks).

As the set goes on, I’d say that Rob’s singing style is better suited to the Dio era songs like “Neon Knights” and “Heaven and Hell,” but on the other hand, he does turn in some killer performances of Ozzy-era classics too, especially “N.I.B.” and “Into the Void.”

The crowd is clearly having a blast throughout the set, and it sounds like Rob himself is pretty damn jazzed to be singing for one of his favorite bands, too. I guess even Metal Gods can still have fanboy moments!

Night #2—November 15, 1992 (Full Set)

The Aftermath

Ozzy’s planned “retirement” didn’t last long. He was back out on the road again only a few years after the Costa Mesa shows, and Black Sabbath kept on truckin’ as well. Their paths frequently crossed with Ozzy’s during the late 90s at the man’s annual OzzFest attractions. Sabbath also managed to mend fences with the estranged Ronnie James Dio, releasing 2009’s The Devil You Know album with him (under the moniker “Heaven & Hell”) before Ronnie’s tragic death in 2010. A full fledged Ozzy/Sabbath reunion resulted in the 13 album, released in 2013, and a farewell tour.

Rob Halford spent the rest of the ’90s dabbling in street-level groove metal with his solo project Fight and electronic rock with the band “Two.” He returned to Priest style traditional metal with his Halford solo band before he rejoined Judas Priest in 2004.

Amazingly, Halford’s association with Black Sabbath wasn’t quite over yet. Judas Priest was taking part in the 2004 OzzFest tour, headlined by an Ozzy-fronted Black Sabbath, when Ozzy came down with a bout of bronchitis at the Camden, New Jersey date. Rob was asked to step in for Sabbath once again, and even though he had already performed a full set with Judas Priest that day, he was still able to belt out an additional set of classics with Sabbath that night! “Iron Man” indeed!

“Paranoid” With Rob Halford—2004

 

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Tales of Rock – The Best Band You Never Heard – Krokus

If you like Bon Scott era AC/DC, then you’ll love this band.

I recommend the album, One Vice at a Time

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Krokus_(band)

 

 

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Tales of Rock – Bon Scott

Ronald Belford “Bon” Scott (9 July 1946 – 19 February 1980) was a Scottish-Australian singer and songwriter, best known for being the primary lead vocalist and lyricist of the Australian hard rock band AC/DC from 1974 until his death in 1980.[1]

Scott was born in Forfar, Scotland, and raised in Kirriemuir, before moving to Melbourne with his family in 1952 at the age of six. They lived in the suburb of Sunshine for four years before moving to Fremantle.[1] Scott formed his first band, The Spektors, in 1964 and became the band’s drummer and occasional lead vocalist. He performed in several other bands including The Valentines and Fraternity before replacing Dave Evans as the lead singer of AC/DC in 1974.[1]

AC/DC’s popularity grew throughout the 1970s, initially in Australia, and then internationally. Their 1979 album Highway to Hell reached the top twenty in the United States, and the band seemed on the verge of a commercial breakthrough. However, on 19 February 1980, Scott died after a night out in London. AC/DC briefly considered disbanding, but the group recruited vocalist Brian Johnson of the British glam rock band Geordie. AC/DC’s subsequent album, Back in Black, was released only five months later, and was a tribute to Scott. It went on to become the second best-selling album in history.[1]

In the July 2004 issue of Classic Rock, Scott was rated as number one in a list of the “100 Greatest Frontmen Of All Time” ahead of Freddie Mercury and Robert PlantHit Parader ranked Scott as fifth on their 2006 list of the 100 Greatest Heavy Metal Vocalists of all time.[3]

 

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Tales of Rock – Zakk Wylde Accidentally Survived A Fatal Disease By Drinking All Of The Time

“Because you are shitfaced, all of the time.”

As a guitarist for Ozzy Osbourne, Zakk Wylde isn’t a stranger to the world of wild partying, it’s fair to say. His last name is literally the word “wild” as spelled by a drunk person. We wouldn’t be surprised to hear that this is the only reason he got into rock music.

However, after a monthlong bout of extreme illness finally forced him to see a doctor, Wylde discovered that he was suffering from a rare blood condition that caused his body to overproduce blood clots, which are things that can suddenly kill you at any moment without warning. Furthermore, he’d been suffering from the condition for several years. Wylde sagely asked how the hell he had managed to stay alive for so long with such a deadly affliction, to which the doctor responded, “Because you are shitfaced, all of the time.”

You see, the treatment for Wylde’s condition involves a course of strong blood thinners, which slow down the rate at which blood clots develop. You know what else thins the blood? Alcohol. Zakk Wylde’s years of being heroically wasted saved his life, although nowadays he’s banned from booze and restricted to taking standard medicine, which we feel is a little unfair to the booze.

 

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Tales of Rock – Van Halen Had Sex Tents

Hagar exerted himself so much during his nightly trips that he temporarily lost the ability to climax.

Before they became a quartet of endless punchlines, Van Halen used to be one of the coolest bands in the world, and they demonstrated their status by having sex with every female who wandered within one mile of their powerful aura. Their career is a filthy memorial to how being in a band is a more powerful aphrodisiac than things like “not looking completely ridiculous,” a criteria David Lee Roth specifically targeted for destruction.

Roth infamously claims that he had his penis (nicknamed “Little Elvis”) insured and would hold a nightly contest wherein he would reward his roadies with a cash prize if they were able to convince girls he had spotted in the crowd during the show to come backstage for a personal discussion with Little Elvis. It is unclear whether his insurance policy required each girl to sign a waiver beforehand.

Roth’s eventual replacement, Sammy Hagar, was a little more “Roman Emperor” in his groupie interactions. One tour saw the band build a tent directly beneath the stage specifically for Sammy Hagar’s erection. During the mid-show 20-minute guitar solos Eddie Van Halen would launch into each night, Hagar would disappear to the tent and discover a group of naked fans waiting to swallow his penis, which we assume was as pinched as his face.

But owning your own sex tent apparently has powerful side effects. Hagar exerted himself so much during his nightly trips that he temporarily lost the ability to climax. That’s right — Sammy Hagar had so much sex that he ran out of sperm. And with that mental picture, I end the post.

 

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Tales of Rock – Duff McKagan Drank So Much His Pancreas Exploded

I love rock and have been in several bands in my young life and I will write about them all in 2018 and beyond. These posts aren’t promoted as part of phicklephilly but I love writing about bands and the music biz in general. If I could add a Thursday post about wine, beer, and liquor i would have the perfect magazine for me. Wine, women, and Song! But these are the first ones and it’s mostly wild stories I remember, but as I write more of these they will go deeper about bands I’ve met and played with but I have to start somewhere, but I assure you it will grow, and I’ll add my experiences when I’m ready. But thank you for reading and continuing to follow me!

Oh, and one more thing… unlike phicklephilly these don’t pop up every morning at 8am. I think it’s more fun if I have these pop up a minute after midnight every Friday to close out your work week with a little secret prize at the bottom of the box.

It seems like a ridiculous understatement to say that Guns N’ Roses were party animals. A band doesn’t get the nickname “the most dangerous band in the world” by enjoying an occasional wine cooler. As if his body were deliberately trying to solidify the band’s reputation, Duff McKagan drank so much booze that his pancreas fucking exploded.

In a habit formed from spending so much time trapped in a confined space with Axl Rose (that’s not a joke — that’s actually the reason), McKagan used to spend his days in GNR trapped in a perpetual whirlwind of cocaine and a daily half-gallon of vodka. That is, before he made the more health-conscious decision to cut back to 10 bottles of red wine per day.

One day, however, his boozing was interrupted by his pancreas swelling “to the size of a rugby ball” and rupturing, leaking acidic pancreas juices that caused third-degree burns inside his goddamned body.

Duff survived the incident, which inspired him to stop treating his liver like he was using it to manufacture chemical weapons. His prodigious fluid intake might be gone, but tributes to its legacy are tucked away in (nearly) every episode of The Simpsons.

Duff is one durable motherfucker that new it was time to clean up. He is currently healthy and on tour with Axl and Slash!

 

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