Dec 012017

Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.

Today we conclude our series of posts about The Yardbirds.

But wait!” you exclaim. “The headline says ‘Led Zeppelin‘. Aren’t we talking about the folk-rock ballad that originally appeared in 1970 on the softer acoustic second side of Led Zeppelin III?”

Indeed we are, and “Tangerine” has been mentioned once or twice before on these pages. But a recent re-release, widely anticipated by fans of Rock & Roll Hall of Famers, The Yardbirds, has re-opened the discussion about the songs’ origins. Is “Tangerine” really a Led Zeppelin song?

When it comes to songwriting credits, things aren’t always cut and dried with Jimmy Page. As it were, this particular instance follows suit. Around the time of last year’s “Stairway to Heaven” plagiarism lawsuit – won by Led Zeppelin – Rolling Stone cited 10 other Zep tunes with cloudy origins. The article mentioned “Dazed And Confused” – a song with ties to Page’s stint in The Yardbirds – but made no mention of “Tangerine” a song sharing similar ties. Both songs were the only two non-instrumental Led Zeppelin tracks to carry a songwriting credit attributed solely to Jimmy Page. The writing credit on “Dazed” was later amended in 2012 (singer-songwriter Jake Holmes was added as Page’s inspiration), but a cloud continues to hang over “Tangerine.”

Why the fuss? Cover Me readers might be interested in some of the forensics. Two years prior to the release of Led Zeppelin III, The Yardbirds, with Page as a member, recorded a demo for a song titled “Knowing That I’m Losing You” which was never officially released. Thirty-two years later, “Knowing” was scheduled to be included on The Yardbirds’ 2000 album Cumular Limit with other live and unreleased material, but the track was pulled. Seventeen years after that, Page, as producer, included an authorized re-mastered instrumental version, with the modified title “Knowing That I’m Losing You (Tangerine)” on the new Yardbirds ’68 compilation. Continue reading »

Feb 222011

More myth than man, Robert Johnson influenced countless musicians with his brand of haunting country blues. The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton all cite Johnson as a key influence in their musical development, and four of his songs (“Sweet Home Chicago”, “Cross Road Blues”, “Hellhound on My Trail” and “Love in Vain”) appear on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s list of songs that shaped rock and roll. Pretty impressive for a guy who recorded under 30 songs over 2 sessions in 1936-37 and died at 27 – yes, he started that trend too.

To celebrate the 100th anniversary of his birth, Big Head Todd and The Monsters have augmented their lineup with an all-star cast of blues musicians to record 100 years of Robert Johnson. B.B. King, Honeyboy Edwards and Hubert Sumlin (guitarist for Howlin’ Wolf) all turn up, among others. The result is toe-tapping, but ultimately somewhat unsatisfying. Continue reading »