Fri, Jul 04, 2003 - Page 19 News List

CD reviews 

By Gavin Phipps  /  STAFF REPORTER

Led Zeppelin

How the West Was Won

Atlantic

It's pretty safe to assume that if Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones and John Bonham had never formed Led Zeppelin and set about interpreting blues music with such ferocity then today's music scene would be a whole lot blander.

Between 1969 and 1979 the band released a total of eight groundbreaking studio albums. It wasn't until last month, however, that a truly definitive live album hit record store shelves.

While 1976's The Song Remains the Same and 1997's BBC Sessions attempted to bring the majesty of Page, Plant, Jones and Bonham's stage presence to living rooms neither really hit the mark.

How the West Was Won does all that and a whole lot more. Compiled by Page, the triple album contains tunes from two of the band's 1972 concerts in Los Angeles. And it is the first release of live recordings of Led Zep at its zenith.

Page has tried to fit nearly all the band's most memorable moments into the three-disc set, which includes a selection of both short and long numbers and of course plenty of solos and interplay between Page and Plant.

Although the 25-minute long Dazed and Confused and the 23-minute long Whole Lotta Love are true wonders of modern rock and demand full volume, the band's real mind-numbing virtuosity is more noticeable on the shorter tunes.

From Immigrant Song to Black Dog and onto Dancing Days the sheer power and unabashed energy of Page's guitar, Bonham's drums, Jones' bass riffs and Plant's vocals go straight for the throat.

Digitally re-mastered and without any annoying bootleg fuzz it doesn't get much better than Led Zep's How the West Was Won.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Fever to Tell

Polydor

Hitting the scene in the wake of the Strokes-led New York garage rock revival, the Big Apple based art-house trio the Yeah Yeah Yeahs released its self-titled debut EP to much localized underground acclaim in 2001.

Successful US-wide tours supporting Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, the Strokes and the White Stripes followed shortly thereafter.

Within a year the trio had conquered the hearts and minds of America's arty garage scene. Thanks to a rise in popularity of US underground music in Europe, the combo successfully crossed the Atlantic last year, where it repeated its earlier success.

Having built up a strong following in both the US and Europe the band and its stylishly sexy new wave sound was snapped up by Polydor, on which it recently released its full-length debut, Fever to Tell.

Balancing noise and melody with a sound reminiscent of late 1970s new wave, Fever to Tell manages to be both raunchy and experimental while refusing to sound pompous.

The underlying theme of the album revolves around some kind of screwed-up sexuality or another. In order to create the mood, Karen O, Nick Zinner and Brian Chase employ rockabilly licks and riffs, basic bar-E, dub and some fashionably off-key noise.

There's something for everyone on Fever to Tell. Tunes such as Date with the Night, Tick and Black Tongue see the band toying with rock, Pin is bouncy pop, and the finest moment, Y Control, is gritty-chic new wave at its off-key finest.

Stereophonics

You Gotta Go There to Come Back

V2

Back in the late-1990s, Wales' Stereophonics, comprising Kelly Jones (vocals/guitar), Richard Jones (bass, and Stuart Cable (drums) were considered the greatest thing since sliced bread by the record-buying British public.

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