Book & Magazine Reviews

Dave Thompson - 'If You Like Led Zeppelin ...' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     January 20, 2014    
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Published by: Backbeat Books

The latest instalment of the 'If You Like...' series turns its attention to perhaps the biggest rock band of them all: Led Zeppelin. I approached this book with a degree of trepidation because, as our regular readers will know, I wasn't particularly enamoured with 'If You Like Metallica...' that I reviewed in these very pages. My reservations were quickly cast aside within the first few pages however; when the author enthuses that "because, no matter how successful the groups of the last three decades have been...not one of those record breakers has even threatened to match the sheer weight of influence that Zeppelin exerted on their surroundings...No, Bono, not even you". I immediately thought to myself I like this guy's style; I think I'm going to enjoy this and I'm happy to say I did.

It does help that this book's author, Dave Thompson, is a bona-fide music journalist; who has contributed to the likes of Rolling Stone and Mojo as well as penning numerous tomes covering a varied musical spectrum from Cat Stevens through to Nirvana. This isn't a book about Led Zeppelin as such; it more looks at the diversity of influences that the band would draw from throughout their career and how, in turn, their music would go on to inspire the rock world and beyond over the next four decades. As such, chapters are devoted to some of Zeppelin's biggest influences; blues and folk – where the authors tips his hat to Roy Harper (sorry couldn't resist that one!) amongst others and how they spearheaded the blues rock revolution in the late 60s/early 70s. Thompson cleverly highlights artists you may wish to explore further into his very readable narrative - some of them you will agree with, some of them not - but his points are well argued and his use of quotes from a variety of the artists themselves (sourced from his own journalistic archive) give added depth to his reasoning.

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine For Melodic Rock Music

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It's his chapters on The Yardbirds; Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones' 60s session work and the band's "vanity label" Swan Song that Zeppelin fans will find most interesting; where even I, who has read his fair share of Zep related books and articles, learned something new. The most thought-provoking section of this fine book, however, is the first; covering 1968, the year the band was born, when in the author's words "music turned serious" against a backdrop of the student unrest threatening the establishment and perhaps mirroring our own Paul Jerome Smith's comments in his Steve Miller Band reissue review last time.

All told, this book will make a nice stocking-filler for Led Zep fans and open minded rock fans alike.

Alister Strachan

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