The Sounds of State-Andrew DeLeon

On Thursday I showed up to the Farmer’s Market Turn Up to meet Andrew DeLeon. With him were some familiar faces, Joey Bautista who I did my first interview (he also is in charge of the KCR Secret Sessions), and former programming director Brendan Price. Andrew was eager to be interviewed, he had reached out to me on more than one occasion to volunteer. Reciprocating his enthusiasm, we went into the Communications building and sat down to have our chat. Andrew is so far the only interviewee I’ve had who I’ve know beforehand. Last year my 5-6 National Sports talk show on Wednesday was preceded by Andrew’s show The Grand Illusion. He was a great DJ to interview, giving all of my questions thoughtful responses and his full attention. In fact, this is the longest interview I’ve done so far, at almost 13 minutes. With that said, I don’t want to use any more of your time that takes away from the interview, so let’s jump right in!

Cameron Satterlee: Okay I am sitting here with Andrew, welcome.

Andrew DeLeon: Thank you.

CS: So, what is your radio slot for KCR?

AD: This semester I’m doing Tuesdays from one to two. I just figure it works with the class schedule I had, and work schedule, trolley schedule. I pretty much just take what I can get as long as there’s time for classes in there.

CS: Uh huh. You’re pretty flexible with what time you get?

AD: Yeah you know as long as it’s not too late cause [the] trolley. And then early because I did a show at 8 am one semester and that didn’t turn out too well. We were still in transition and there was a bunch of tech problems so I would try to call them and no one would answer. We didn’t quite have Alex yet.

CS: Oh man yeah I don’t think I’d do an 8 am slot to be honest. I mean that’s good for you, you stepped up and took the bullet pretty much.

AD: I had to, that was all they could give me. I was willing to try, I adjusted though, it worked.

CS: Yeah. So how long have you been with KCR?

AD: This is my sixth semester. Interesting story on how I joined–

CS: Wow I’d like to hear it.

AD: Yeah I’m sure they would too. I was in psychedelic rock class. This was my freshman year, I was just taking this for credits. I didn’t care about the whole upper division, you have to take it at a certain time thing. I’m like “you know what? I’m gonna take psychedelic rock class, this will be fun.” And the guy I sat next to, really tall guy, kinda looked like Kurt Cobain, he asked “what do you want to do?” And I mentioned you know sports broadcasting or radio or tv, something like that. Even if it’s just some behind the scenes work, I’m good with that. And he said “oh why don’t you join the radio station, KCR?” I said “oh I didn’t know that there was one on campus.” And he told me I think the semester before they were still trying to transition–get it going–but the semester I joined what when it really started taking off. John was there, Lincoln was there and it was really the rebuilding years when I joined and now I’m happy to be here when it’s a big part of the campus now.

CS: Yeah I mean that’s sort of the eternal struggle for KCR is getting people actually on our own campus to know about us.

AD: Well look at it now. We have a what hundred members or something?

CS: Yeah we’re doing very well for ourselves. I mean guys like you who show up and become dedicated to your show is what really sets us off I think.

AD: Right, and I know I don’t volunteer as much as I should but I’ve tried to do my best here and at least wear my shirt whenever I do the show so that way people will know “KCR listen in.”

CS: Yeah yeah totally. So but you wanted to go into the radio, the field, before you joined.

AD: Right because in high school I really started getting into baseball. I had already been a fan but I was thinking “you know what someone’s got to take Ted Leitner’s job eventually.” Make sure that no one calls anyone else a moron again (laughs). That was hilarious, I give Ted credit for that. That was funny. Gotta love him.

CS: Gosh I feel you with the baseball thing. Well so, I guess I’m gonna take this in a different direction but so you currently have a music show and you’ve had one for a while.

AD: Right.

CS: It’s actually funny, so I guess I’ll say this for the benefit of the listeners, but Andrew, last semester, preceded my show. My sports hour. So we knew each other before then. So I kind of know the answer this question, but for the audience, what is the music you like to play?

AD: Good stuff. Good stuff.

CS: Good stuff?

AD:And by that I mean classic rock. A lot of the shows on campus now they do Indie and folk and rap and hip hop, there’s a little much of that. Some stuff is okay, others…I mean play what you want to play I got nothing against that. But I thought “you know what? I’ll play my music” cause in high school–here’s the sad thing I graduated from Ridgemont High people didn’t know who The Beatles were at that school anymore. I would literally walk through Clairemont High School and people would say “who are The Beatles?” so I thought “you know what with this show I gotta do something about this.” So I took the classics, mix in with a little new things, and pretty much revive the genre and it’s surprising how many people like you and Jackson always come in and say “oh yeah these songs are awesome” and so many people I’ve met through this station they’re like “oh wow that’s awesome that you do that. That you play all these things.” Hell Alex and Brendan always sit in on my show, I always catch them dancing or singing. Everytime I play Huey Lewis, Brendan always shouts “HUEY” or I’ll dedicate a song to him and be like “this is for him, this is Phil Collins” and he’ll be like “ah you’re playing Phil Collins again,” yup that’s correct. And Alex just dances in the background, so awesome.

CS: You seem very passionate about your work. Rock music, I mean it’s its own genre and I guess at this point in rock music’s history you could say classic rock is its own separate sphere than what’s going on now.

AD: Yeah.

CS: Is there anything a bit more specific than classic rock you play? Like any real genre music?

AD: I suppose it’s not genres it’s more themes. What I do is try and set a theme each week and then I’ll take, sometimes I’ll take disco, sometimes I’ll take some country and do that just to mix it up, but then I take the rock songs and I’ll say you know “okay there’s soft rock so I’ll do soft rock this week”. Or there’s a bunch of metal songs so I’ll do some full metal jacket this week. Or sometimes I’ll incorporate sports, I’ll play songs that would be played at baseball games. You were there when the dancing friars came in.

CS: Yeah that was interesting. Yeah I remember those themes now that you bring it up.

AD: Yeah, so it’s not so much as a genre thing as it’s more of a thematic [show], but it’s more based on the rock genre I guess.

CS: Yeah and so each show is different. You’re not just sorta playing off the same playlist every week, you’re mixing it up.

AD: Right. Yeah I even make a point to do that. I say “okay I already played that song this semester, I’m not going to play that again” or at least make an attempt not to. So that way I don’t have repeats. Sometimes I listen to the stations and it’s the same set of songs every couple of days. Or I’ll drive to work, I’ll have on Easy and I’ll hear–for some reason they play In The Air Tonight on the Easy station–so I’ll hear that and then I’ll drive to work like two days later. I just heard this at the same time. So I try to mix it up a little bit. Make it interesting.

CS: Yeah yeah. So yeah I think that’s a great way to do things, it keeps things very interesting and different so that’s a cool thing you do. So I’m curious why classic rock? Why is it important to you? I mean you like it but why do you like it? Why is it important to you?

AD: Because the stuff that people produce now has no instruments and there’s almost no thought to a lot of it. There is thought, I do give people like Taylor Swift and you know some of the country people credit but a lot of the pop stuff now–I mean like that song Turn Down For What by Lil John, what is that? I mean he just says what so much he’s like “I’ll write a song with the word what in it.” It doesn’t make sense anymore.

CS: Well that’s interesting. I mean that’s kind of a negative perspective to look at it. You listen to classic rock because music now isn’t that interesting to you.

AD: Right. I mean I’m not saying all of it is, I’m just saying there’s certain parts of where it just seems that the creativity isn’t what it used to be anymore.

CS: Well I mean that could be a whole different discussion that leaves us here for twenty minutes.

AD: Exactly.

CS: Well but I’m curious if there’s sort of a more–cause you probably looked at in the sense that “oh I like this classic rock music, so this music doesn’t look so good to me.” Which I understand, I’m a classic rock guy, I’m trying to you know contemporize myself but it can be difficult, I’ll admit. But what made you like the rock music in the first place? That’s what I’m trying to get to.

AD: Right. I guess it’s because when I was little my mom played a lot of the stuff. She played some newer stuff too so I kind of evolved around that. But then, a lot of the stuff–like when I was in elementary school or middle school I would just hear this–some of this stuff and I thought “eh, new stuff doesn’t really appeal to me.” And I’d listen to the older stuff and like “okay this is good. I like this.” So I just rolled with it.

CS: Yeah I feel that’s how a lot of people in our generation got to like classic rock. I mean you brought it up earlier that there may not be so many of us in proportion to the actual population. How it used to be where rock was the big thing, the big genre. But there still are a good number of people who know what it is. But I think that you’re right that it comes from our parents you know, and just absorbing the music through other media.

AD: Yeah and you go to rock concerts now and there’s still a good turn up of teenagers. I went to The Monkees concert over at Humphrey’s, I think it was last year, yeah it was last year, and there was a kid probably about sixteen-seventeen dressed up looking exactly like Mike Nesmith.

CS: (laughs) That’s awesome.

AD: Yeah so you know that there’s people that are really influenced by this. I mean The Scorpions concert I went to, there was a lot of little kids there.

CS: Yeah. Alright so this is gonna be interesting because a lot of the people I interview, since they listen to contemporary music, the new music that gets released is what they’re obsessing over. But classic rock, unless they are artists who are still releasing music that sounds similar. I mean like Pink Floyd just dropped a new album.

AD: And it’s already up to number one.

CS: And that’s a whole different thing. But I’m curious since the classic rock music has already been released, by definition, but is there anything that you’re still just discovering? Any new bands where you’re just like “oh hey I should have listened to these guys before, this is great.” Like a recent obsession. It could be a band or a song or an album.

AD: I’ve been listening to some country, I think it’s cause I went to the Vince Gill concert. So I’ve been listening to some of that. Oh I listened to The Eagles a lot earlier in this semester cause they were coming here and cause I was watching History of The Eagles. It really depends who’s coming in concert. The only one I think I really didn’t listen to a lot before or after the concert was Chris Isaak cause I’m not a huge fan of his. He’s alright you know I respect him. I like what he’s doing, just haven’t been given a chance to listen to a lot of his music. And the one song I heard, Dancin, I was thinking “yeah it’s okay,” not totally my cup of tea.

CS: Alright yeah great, I’ll be sure to put up links to those songs for the blog. So here’s a fun last question. So what would be your ideal show? How would it go?

AD: It would probably either be the dancing friars show that I had last semester or the one I just had on Tuesday where I played the whole Sgt. Pepper album.

CS: Oh wow that’s awesome. That’s really interesting cause I mean I’m a sports DJ but I’ve kinda wanted to do a music show, it’s just hard to you know get two slots. But I was thinking I’d want to play whole albums. That’s great that you’re doing it.

AD: I had this theme all set. I was thinking “well I’ll do 50’s music.” I was gonna do that and then I thought, “well, there’s one more I gotta do before the Christmas themes. Why don’t I move that back and and I thought, ooh Sgt. Pepper, I haven’t done a whole Beatles show.” So in honor of George Harrison and John Lennon’s deaths since those are coming up, the anniversaries, I figured might as well play some Beatles songs. In addition to the Sgt. Peppers so I just had a whole Beatles show. I even mentioned the Manson story, about him getting married. That was kinda weird. But it made for a good story.

CS: Yeah, if nothing else (laughs). Yeah wow, so this has been a great interview by the way, I mean few people totally go all out on the easy questions I ask but you’ve been you know very open about your whole idea with your shows. I think it’s great. You’re a flag bearer the classic rock movement here at KCR, and so thanks for sitting down with me, it’s been great.

AD: Yeah no problem, and Ted Leitner you’re doing good but I want your job so be on the lookout. I’m coming. I want to work with Bob Scanlan.

CS: (Laughs) Alright thanks.

AD: You’re welcome.

So there you have it, we got some KCR history to go along with our music discussion. Andrew and I hung out a while longer before we had to split up. I had to enjoy the Farmer’s Market after all and score some Pad Thai. Remember to listen to Andrew from 1-2 on Tuesdays and KCR anytime online. Thanks for reading!

The Sounds of State-Danielle Stuht

Hello readers! Welcome back to The Sounds of State. This week I interviewed Danielle Stuht, who you may know by her DJ handle Daniellica.

I met up with Danielle last Monday at West Commons. She showed up early and told me to just look for the pink computer and purple hair. Lo and behold I found her in that exact condition. We chatted for a bit at a table, the one closest to the corner by the building. I wish I could have picked her brain even longer, but I was dressed up coming from work and needed to eat before setting off to class. Danielle struck me as a knowledgeable and dedicated DJ, I could tell when interviewing her that she was very involved in her show and her music. I think you readers will have the same impression.

So without further ado, we go to the interview.

Cameron: Alright we are recording. I am here with Danielle. So, Danielle, could you please tell me your radio slot?

Danielle: Yes. So it’s every Tuesday from 2 to 3, and it’s called Local Bands Unleashed and it’s just playing nothing but San Diego bands.

C: Wow that’s really cool, gettin’ all the local action in. How long have you been with KCR?

D: This is my first semester, so I’ve never done any radio before, this is the first time and it’s really really exciting. I love it.

C: Awesome, welcome to KCR. So I guess you answered what you play, but with these San Diego bands is there a specific sphere—musical area—where they, you know, trend towards?

D: So I really try to emphasize all genres of music. I want this to be very equal opportunity. You know it’s just really an outlet for the local musicians to get out and for people to hear their music. But the most love and support I’ve gotten from is from the metal community. They’re really really underrepresented when it comes to music and getting their stuff out, and so I’ve gotten just so much love from them. You know I had an entire metal hour two weeks ago where I had The No Name Gang in studio. And they had a big announcement about their show that was coming up at House of Blues. My show tomorrow I will have the singer from Dark Measure. He’s gonna actually be a guest host with me tomorrow, and they have a new cd that’s coming out Saturday. So I’m really trying to give back the love to the metal community because they’ve just given me so much support and so much love already.

C: Wow that’s awesome. Especially since at KCR we don’t really have a dedicated metal block so yeah they must love getting on your slot.

D: Exactly, I’m kind of hoping that maybe next semester to have nothing but a metal show. You know that way it can hit that genre, that specific audience that doesn’t get to hear that.

C: Alright, cool. So what do you personally like, the music you personally like to play?

D: So I am actually personally more of a rock, pop, reggae—anything like that—I’m a little bit more commercial. You know anything really in the rock genre, that’s how I was raised. My mom was a big metalhead so it’s interesting about the whole metal thing, cause life is pushing me and pulling me in every direction of metal, but it’s just not where my personal love of music is. I more enjoy something I can dance to, you know something I can sing along to and whatnot. But I’m equal opportunity for all music really, other than country, no country.

C: (Laughs)

D: No room for country around here.

C: I know a few people who feel the same way. So this is a bit more of an out there question, but you’ve been very good with answering these so far, so I think you can handle it. Why is music important to you? What made you want to be a DJ? Why is it important in your life?

D: I feel like it’s the one constant in my life. You know I’m a little bit older, almost 28, and you know I’ve seen a lot, I’ve been through a lot, and music is just the one constant that’s always been there. It’s the one thing that hasn’t changed. It’s the one thing that I can really fall back on and know that it will always be there to support me. With radio, I grew up listening to the radio, this was something that I’ve wanted to do my entire life. And you know when people bash on the radio I’m just like “what are you talking about?” This is the first medium was that you were able to hear different kinds of music, and prior to the internet and being able to find these bands. So you know it was radio that paved the way for us to be able to hear different music and different bands and be able to be exposed to it.

C: That’s very true. Yeah I think that’s a great point. I didn’t even think about that before. So is there anything lately that you’ve been listening to in specific that you know is always in your head or obsessing about? Could be a band or an album or just a song.

D: You know The Black Keys are playing in two weeks, and I bought tickets to that six months ago when those tickets went on sale. So it’s just been one of those that I’ve just been waiting and waiting and waiting for those to come up. So I’ve really been listening to a lot of Black Keys, I really love the Arctic Monkeys, Cage the Elephant, all of that kind of music which drives my metalhead boyfriend absolutely insane (laughs).

C: Are there any—I’m gonna put these on the show, what I’m I talking about, the blog—any specific song recommendations you’d have for some fans?

D: Oh man. It’s really about the hits, you know what I mean? And what’s played on the radio. You know I don’t really get too far into that. But if I’m gonna recommend that anyone listens to anything I highly recommend listening to the bands that I’m putting out there. If I could tell anyone to listen to anything please just support local music. Cause without it, without local music, these bands don’t have the opportunity to turn into these huge bands like The Black Keys, like The Arctic Monkeys. You know if you’re not supporting them, then how are they ever gonna make it? How are other people gonna be able to be be exposed to it? You know so that’s my suggestion is, you know these big bands are awesome, totally support them and listen to them, but really give your heart and soul to these local bands, and give them your time and give them your attention, because without it they’re never gonna make it. You know it’s all about the love and whatnot.

C: Alright, yeah. So just pick and choose among a wide variety?

D: Yeah, for instance The No Name Gang, they’re metal but they’re really listenable metal. You know what I mean? They’re not that cookie monster, growl-y, anything. They’ve got two amazing guitarists, a really great drummer, really great bassist, and their singer has such a stage presence that you don’t have to be a metal fan. But you’re totally rocking out to it, getting’ with it, so check out The No Name Gang. They are going to be huge.

C: Alright, cool. So last question, this is a bit of an easy one to finish off on. Can you please describe your perfect show, how it would go?

D: Oh man, my perfect show. Well I would say the most perfect part would be that I don’t have any extra time left over, and that all the songs actually get to play full through. That’s one of the first ones, I’m really really working on, on getting that full hour of you know not cutting any music off or anything. But if I had the perfect show it would just really showcase a different band from a different genre and everyone. You know what I mean? I would like to have a metal band, and then I’d like to have an indie rock band, you know and then a harder band like Gunner Gunner. They’re local and they’re rock but they’re really easily listenable. And they you know maybe some kind of reggae thing like Slightly Stoopid, you know they’ve made it but there are other bands like that out there. So if I could just have one show that was super eclectic, that I think is the ultimate show for me. And that’s what I’m striving for, to make it like that.

C: Okay, thank you for taking the time out of your day to be interviewed for this spot. I’ll have this up soon.

D: Yeah absolutely, thank you.

Danielle and I talked for another minute or two before we had to part. I snapped a photo for the blog than had to be on my way. Remember kids, listen to your local bands. Who knows, maybe someday they’ll make it big and recall your die hard support.

Thanks for reading The Sounds of State.

The Goldmine-Exile on Main St. by The Rolling Stones

It’s the end of the month so that means it’s time to profile another double album! The album in question may in fact be the best album that I will ever talk about on this blog, that is The Rolling Stones’ 1972 magnum opus Exile on Main St. The final record in the band’s incredible five year untouchable golden run that brought forth Beggar’s Banquet, Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers, and Exile; some of the finest rock music ever recorded. The Stones were the kings of rock and roll and at the peak of their creative powers.

Describing Exile on Main St. itself is rather difficult due to the sheer vastness of it all. Describing it piece by piece is also somewhat of a challenge because on first blush it is a cobbled together collection of muddily mixed rock-ish genre tracks. The strength of the album comes from the depth as well as breadth found in between the two vinyl discs. Sure, The Rolling Stones were a rock and roll band, they in fact bill themselves as the world’s greatest, but this album displays a vast reservoir of blues, soul, gospel, and country to go along with it. I think we should just jump in instead of me setting the stage any more.

Side A

The album begins in true Stones flair, with a drugged out and muddy sounding rocker about their hedonistic rock lifestyle. The song is appropriately titled Rocks Off, and sets an exhilarating tone for the rest of the record. The song’s mix is purposely haphazard, with instruments cutting in and out with little rhyme or reason, yet somehow it sounds better than the most professional records of the era. Session piano man Nicky Hopkins contributes his famous key licks to the track, and the backing brass keeps the song swinging as it frolics along.

A slow fade out and suddenly we find ourselves being swept up in Rip This Joint, one of the fastest songs the band ever recorded. A short little rocker moving at a breakneck pace, the song is about a tour across the country, and certainly could be seen to mirror the Stones’ own tours of the era, which were some of the most famous of all time for their decadence and general indecency.

The first of the cover songs on the album, track three is the Stones taking on Slim Harpo’s swinging blues classic Shake Your Hips. The Stones were perhaps the most decorated cover band of the time, devoting at least one album slot to an old blues or Motown standard which they gave a triumphant dressing up.

The fourth song on the first side is Casino Boogie, which takes blues images and shuffles them around a swinging boogie beat. The song has Keith Richard’s affection for the blues written all over it in his guitar lines and his backing vocals supporting Mick Jagger’s muddy drawl.

To close out the first quarter of the album we run into Tumbling Dice. Unlike the rest of The Rolling Stone’s albums, Exile has no real hits, as in a signature song that instantly conjures up the image of the rest of the album to other fans. Tumbling Dice is perhaps the closest thing to this as it is the most regularly performed song on the album in concert. The song features Jagger and a chorus of beautiful backing singers singing about gambling and infidelity. Sixth-Stone Ian Stewart contributes piano to the song. Drummer Charlie Watts was allegedly frustrated with his ability to play the beat coming out of the “keep on rolling” section of the song and was replaced in that part by producer Jimmy Miller, who also played drums on the Stone’s mega-hit You Can’t Always Get What You Want.

Side B

The second side begins with the song Sweet Virginia, a country-blues piece featuring the whole stones ensemble including Ian Stewart. Keith Richards and Mick Taylor duet on acoustic guitars and provide backing vocals for Mick Jagger along with a whole crew of other backing vocalists along with New Orleans blues legend Dr. John.

The second track on the second side is more country than country-blues but it has a notable soul influence in the vocalizations and the organ track. Al Perkins of The Flying Burrito Brothers contributed his signature steel pedal guitar to the song. Torn and Frayed is similar in lyrical content to other Stones country-influenced tracks as Dear Doctor and Far Away Eyes, telling the stories of washed up and haggard protagonists trying to survive their trying times.

While staying in the country-blues theme of this side of the album, Sweet Black Angel stands in stark contrast thematically to the other tracks on the album. Behind the absolutely beautiful acoustic arrangements is a sharp political statement from the Stones concerning the trail of civil rights activist Angela Davis, who was being charged with murder at the time the album was being recorded. The Stones were never a very political band, but this is one of their most overt statement against injustice as they saw it.

To close the first album is the lush and lusty Loving Cup. Nicky Hopkins takes over again on the keys and together with Charlie Watts and bassist Bill Wyman provides the Stones the perfect backing track to perform their subtle and sublime overlays. Similar to Tumbling Dice, Loving Cup has an aurally astounding vocal display from Mick Jagger and his backing vocalists.

Side C

The second album begins with the classic Keith Richards song Happy. It is considered to be the signature tune for the guitarist, and is frequently played in concert whenever Keith gets his two or so songs in the middle of the show. Mick Taylor performs the slide guitar and Mick Jagger is relegated to backing vocals for this one track. Both Ian Stewart and Nicky Hopkins play piano on the song, with session man Hopkins taking up the electric piano.

The next track is the short and rollicking Turd on the Run, and yes that is the song’s name. The song has a varied mix of acoustic and electric instrument and the production job makes it somewhat difficult to decipher what exactly is being said and played, but it’s a fun little tune.

A deep down and dirty slide guitar riff from Keith Richards starts off the lumbering Ventilator Blues. The song is the only song ever co-credited to guitarist Mick Taylor, although he only plays the guitar solo that closes out the song. It’s likely that he also wrote the guitar licks even though Keith plays them on the recorded version. Nicky Hopkin’s complex and articulate piano riffs roll up and down and contrast the slow back beat.

Ventilator Blues fades directly into I Just Want to See His Face. A gospel inspired song, the combination of the falsetto vocals and sparse instrumentation make the song sound as if it’s somewhere out of the 19th century swamps and fields of the American Deep South.

The last song on the third side is Let It Loose, one of the most spiritually moving songs that The Rolling Stones ever wrote. The song draws on soul, gospel, and blues and meshes them together in an incredibly powerful manner that draws out the very heart of any invested listener. Dr. John again contributes backing vocals and also performs the delicate piano track. Mick Jagger gives one of his finest vocal performances on the song, this is high praise for the singer of a band whose very logo is a mouth. The backing gospel choir adds onto Jagger’s solos with precise angelic swoons and hails. Taylor and Richard’s guitars, plugged into Leslie organ speakers, give the song another unique angle that makes it stand out not only on the album but throughout the Stones catalog.

Side D

The last side of the album would not be as tame as the previous two, beginning with a bang with All Down the Line. The song is one of the most straightforward rock tracks on the album. It features Mick Taylor’s slick electric slide guitar licks, a key to the band’s success during his tenure as guitarist opposite Keith Richards. Bill Wyman’s bass and Charlie Watt’s drums pull the song forward like a speedy roadster. Bobby Keys and Jim Price, who contributed sax, and trumpet and trombone throughout the album lend their lungs to this rolling record.

The second cover song on Exile can be found in Stop Breaking Down, from the original blues master Robert Johnson himself. The song contains much more instrumentation than just Johnson and his solitary acoustic guitar, with Taylor once again performing his masterful slide. Mick Jagger plays harmonica in addition to singing. A full band effort, the song is a great example for how the Stones can retool an old blues song into a rock and roll format.

The album makes its last twist and turn in direction with the gospel inspired Shine a Light. The song was written for former Stones guitarist Brian Jones, whose tragic detachment from the band and eventual death is spiritually chronicled in harrowing style by Mick Jagger. Jones’ replacement Mick Taylor plays a fitting emotive guitar tribute to his predecessor. Billy Preston, who had performed with The Beatles in their Get Back and Abbey Road days contributed both piano and organ to the song.

To close out an album as vast and expansive as Exile on Main St. we finally come to Soul Survivor. The tune seems to sum up the album, drawing elements from many of the genres explored in the album, including soul, gospel, and of course rock and roll.

With that we reach the end of the album Exile on Main St. It is truly one of rock music’s great master works and is an essential record in the history of genre as a whole. The album displays an astounding depth and breadth in all of the 18 tracks laid down by the band. If you want to experience what rock music was at its absolute height, this is a great place to start.

I’d like to thank all of my readers, running this weekly publication has been very fun and rewarding. I was honored on April 25th as KCR Radio’s best blogger and I hope to continue my work here. Thanks for reading.

The Goldmine-Houses of the Holy by Led Zeppelin

This week on The Goldmine we will be giving Led Zeppelin’s Houses of the Holy a listen to. Released in 1973, Houses of the Holy was the follow up to Zeppelin’s hugely popular untitled fourth album. The album was a musical turning point for the band, who explored a growing number of sounds that added greatly to the diversity in their music. Houses of the Holy is a wonderful mix of many popular musical styles, with the fantastic talent of its collective musicians to hold it all together.

Side A

The albums starts off with a bang in the form of The Song Remains the Same.  Guitarist Jimmy Page plays overdubbed 12-string guitars ferociously, the song (along with Achilles Last Stand on the Presence album) is the best realization of Page’s dream of a symphony-like guitar army completed through multiple overdubs. With both the 12-string and Robert Plant’s slightly sped up vocal performance the song is in a much higher tonal register than much of Led Zeppelin’s work. The Song Remains the Same became a concert staple and lent its name to Led Zeppelin’s concert film released in 1976.

Following up The Song Remains the Same is The Rain Song. The quintessential rock ballad, The Rain Song is allegedly inspired by George Harrison of The Beatles, who at a concert told the band that they should write more ballads. The song has multinstumentalist extraordinaire John Paul Jones on his traditional bass as well as piano and mellotron, giving the song its lush string orchestral backing sound. Vocalist Robert Plant used The Rain Song during his fantasy sequence in the aforementioned film The Song Remains the Same, which had all band members and manager Peter Grant playing out dreamlike short stories. At 7 and a half minutes, it’s the longest song on the album.

The third song on the album is Over the Hills and Far Away. Another ballad-like song, this time Jimmy Page gets back to his 6-string with both electric and acoustic overdubs and an extended outro. It was released as the single to promote the record backed by Dancing Days as the B-Side. Over the Hills and Far Away, like The Song Remains the Same, became a concert staple and a popular radio hit. It is one of the best examples of Led Zeppelin’s acoustically styled writings brought forth from Plant and Page’s vacations at Bron-Yr-Aur in the Welsh mountains.

The last song on the first side is The Crunge, a James Brown styled funky jam. A short and comparatively trivial song when held next to the first three songs on the album, The Crunge was derided by critics early when the album was released as more of a joke. However, the song was a band favorite even though they never played it live and one of the most lighthearted songs on a very fun and lighthearted album.

Side B

The second side starts off with Dancing Days, another fun song with light, if not a little quirky lyrics. Dancing Days could be considered the most generic song on the album, a mid-tempo rocker with some interesting guitar and organ melodies. While it’s the closest thing to filler on the album, you can hear it on the radio all over still, which is a testament to the strength of the songs on the record.

The second song on the second side is D’yer Mak’er, which was also the second single released on the album. It’s pronounced “D’jer Make-er” after a joke with a punchline mimicking the pronunciation of Jamaica with an accent. The song was written in reggae/dub style and is credited to all band members. Along with The Crunge, D’yer Mak’er is one of the songs singled out by critics and fans as more disposable because it didn’t fit Zeppelin’s ‘sound.’ Nevertheless, the track is very catchy and all band members give it their best.

Following this up in the complete opposite musical spectrum is No Quarter. A moody and murky piece, the song features Page’s guitar playing one of his heaviest and dirtiest riffs and one of his most melodic and subtle guitar solos of his storied career. But No Quarter really belongs to John Paul Jones, whose keyboard expertise on synthesizer and piano truly makes the song great. It was his ‘dream sequence’ song in The Song Remains the Same. Stop me if you’ve heard it before but No Quarter became a live staple, featuring Jones playing extended keyboard solos stretching the 7 minute song to an epic 20 plus minutes.

From drummer John Bonham’s countdown to start the song to the very end of the feedback fading out The Ocean is everything an album closing song should be. The track is four and a half minutes of unbridled joy, dedicated to the band’s legions of fans who looked like an ocean when viewed from the stage. Robert Plant’s vocal performance saunters along with Page’s raunchy guitar riff and we can’t forget the Bonham/Jones backbeat that swaggers behind everything. The Ocean’s doo-wop coda brings the song and the album to a thrilling finale to close the album.

Houses of the Holy crams a lot into 8 songs on a single album. Each track is wildly different from the last and shows a much more multifaceted face of an already diverse band. Led Zeppelin never wrote a more varied single album. Their next release, the sprawling double album Physical Graffiti, would see them follow this path of making a wide array of great sounding rock (spectrum) music. Most albums are unified by tones and sounds or lyrical and musical themes, Houses of the Holy is unified by the presence of four supremely talented musicians as they enjoy creating a wild and fun album.