Sunday, 19 December 2010

The Story of a Riff - Update

In September I traced the career of a riff in The Story of a Riff - Bullet in the Fever Stranglehold Train. I showed how the riff had travelled from Savoy Brown's Hellbound Train (1972) via Ted Nugent's Stranglehold (1975) and U2's Bullet the Blue Sky (1987) to Fever Dog from the 2000 film Almost Famous.

Now, it seems like Led Zeppelin's When the Levee Breaks predates these. From the 1971 album Led Zeppelin IV, it bears distinct similarities to Bullet the Blue Sky, especially thanks to John Bonham's drum and Robert Plant's vocals. As one commentator wrote on the youtube page for the vid below;

" This song is like having sex in a fast car while eating ice cream and everything's glitter and confetti

It is interesting, though, to see how the Zeppelin version again is an adaptation of a 1929 blues. It was written by Kansas Joe McCoy and Memphis Minnie after the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927, but is impossible to come by due to Sony Music forcing their copyright. However, this makes the riff 81 years old, by the last count.

For the other 4 versions of the riff, see the first post.

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