Category Archives: Song Reviews

Today’s Song I’m Fixated On: Led Zeppelin – “If It Keeps On Raining”

“When The Levee Breaks” is one of Led Zeppelin’s most famous songs. It is a behemoth of a song, closing their hard-rocking fourth album with a hurricane of guitars and one of the most propulsive backbeats in rock history.

Over the last several years, Jimmy Page has been slowly overhauling Led Zeppelin’s catalog by remastering all of the band’s albums and providing a bevy of bonus tracks with each release. This project has just finished with the rerelease of Presence, In Through The Out Door, and Coda, the band’s final three albums.

Coda, itself a grab-bag of previously unreleased tracks, perhaps got the most interesting studio outtakes, grabbed from throughout the band’s history, seeming to want to close the series out with a bang.




The most interesting alternate take is “If It Keeps On Raining,” an early version of “When The Levee Breaks” that presents the song before it became the epic it was destined to be.

It is evident from the first second that this song is going to be a completely different sonic experience from the version of “When The Levee Breaks” we’re used to. Instead of hearing John Bonham’s drums crash through at the beginning of the song, the drums and bass begin to settle themselves into a steady, driving groove. John Paul Jones’ bass is much more forward and audible than on the original version, and Bonham has not yet developed the iconic drum beat that the song is most known for. The parring down of Bonham’s drums turn this song less into a hard rock onslaught and more into the realm of a blues-rock stomp.

Adding to the contextualizing of this more as blues is Robert Plant, whose vocal is more toned-down and dark, blending more into the mix. Plant sounds more like a bluesman on this take, warning of the flood ahead instead of being part of it.

Overall, this song is a close sibling to the master version. It sounds like after a few takes, Led Zeppelin left the studio to debut the in-progress song at a small club gig. The song feels alive, cohesive, and more in harmony with itself than the original version, making it a very nice alternative that still rocks.

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Today’s Song I’m Fixated On: Steely Dan – “Dirty Work”

Some bands are very easy to get into. Some bands can take a long time to form a lasting bond with their work.

It took me a while to get into Steely Dan.

My interest with Steely Dan started with very small steps. They were another band with an album in a crate with a bunch of other records I wanted to listen to. They were one or two songs I heard on rotation on classic rock radio.

When I saw that they were playing at Coachella, I decided to give them a try. I ended up standing in the second row, completely enamored by the musicianship and the careful precision of the songs. But they also knew how to make a fun show that could rock.

Then, I thought it was finally time to start doing some digging into their catalog. Starting out with Aja, I started to dip my toe into their work. I was casually listening, trying to just get a grasp of what this complex music was. After listening to Aja a few times, I dipped into their first record 1972’s Can’t Buy A Thrill. It was noticeably different from Aja‘s pristine, mellow vibes.

The song I immediately clung to was “Dirty Work.” There is something in the vibe of the song that just made it rise above the other songs. The wail of the organ in the beginning of the song, jumping out of the mellow, almost McCartney-esque electric piano chords, sets the mood for sultry self-reflection. It’s able to ride that electric piano groove throughout the song, including a saxophone solo that seems like the perfect fit.


Vocally, the song isn’t that amazing. David Palmer, who was only in Steely Dan for this record, sounds like a million early-’70s singer-songwriter or soft rock singers. His lead vocal, and the harmonies on the chorus, could have easily been ripped from an Eagles or CSN record of the time. But the music and lyrics, a low-lit scene of lovelessness disguised as love, keep this from being your run-of-the-mill soft rock tune.


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