Note: The following interview is an upcoming excerpt from my two-hour interview with my alter ego, Raoul Duke. In this piece, we discussed the hammer of the gods themselves while in Raoul’s caravan on June 18, 2017.
DB: So, you wanted to discuss Led Zeppelin?
RD: Not just Led Zeppelin, son. The Led Zeppelin!
DB: That’s not grammatically correct. It should be ‘The Led Zeppelin band’.
RD: Stuff your grammar, you uni prick. Grammar doesn’t matter when your eardrums are being blown out by John Bonham’s bass drum.
DB: I see. What was your favourite album?
RD: Hmmm. That’s like asking someone their favourite choice of beer, or their favourite child. Beer is beer is beer. Children are children are children.
DB: What’s the first one that comes to mind then?
RD: Led Zeppelin II. Simply for that opening riff of ‘Whole Lotta Love’. Who else would dare to start an album that way? It’s the sort of album that gets down on its knees and begs for you to crank it up when you first hear it.
But what really got me into elzee, what really made me realise that this was the greatest blues-rock band of all time, was the bootlegs.
DB: The bootlegs?
RD: Yes. My favourite was the infamous Listen to this, Eddie, but na honourable mention goes out to For Badgeholders Only for featuring, for the only time in music history, two of rock’s most famous drummers on stage together — John Bonham and Keith Moon. Moonie joined Bonham for two songs: ‘Over The Top’, a drum solo introduced with the riff from ‘Out on the Tiles’ and concluded by the outro from ‘Moby Dick’ (both on LZ II) and, ‘Rock and Roll’, a cymbal-crashing, raucous love letter to 1950s rockabilly.
Here RD stood up, walked over to a pile of records sitting on his yellow-stained bed, and grabbed the first two off the rack
RD: This was back in the good old analogue days, when music had to be recorded to a tape, which would be turned into a lathe, then pressed into a vinyl record. The nature of bootlegging itself is fascinating — professionals being recorded by amateurs using consumer equipment. For Badgeholders Only was sourced from a whole variety of recordings, most notably a stereo recording made by ‘Mike the Mike’, also known as Mike Millard. He used a wheelchair to conceal his equipment, pretending to be disabled.
DB: Sounds like a Che Guvera approach to audio recording. They were undermining the industry with a DIY attitude.
RD: Nothing modern can compare to seeing the hammer of the gods in a symphonic concert. From the cacophony of ‘Nobody’s Fault But Mine’, especially the vibrating echo of the final chord in the intro, to the evolving state of LZ II’s ‘Whole Lotta Love’. And finally, that crashing guitar crescendo that marks the end of ‘Stairway to Heaven’, along with the final call by elzee wizened front man, Robert Plant:
“Aaaaaaaand, she’s buuyyyyyyyyyyyyiiiiiing….
DB: No one can… (recording becomes increasingly muffled).
RD: (muffled agitated reply)
There is the loud breaking of glass, then recording ends.
By Damian Brown