The Funky Led Zeppelin Song That Was Zep’s Salute to James Brown

by Jeremy Spirogis
The Funky Led Zeppelin Song That Was Zep’s Salute to James Brown

How might a band ever comply with Led Zeppelin IV (1971)? Considering the album had “Black Dog,” “Rock and Roll,” and “Stairway to Heaven” on simply its first facet, it was a frightening process — even for the band that made it.

But by the point Zep started working on its fifth album, followers in all probability had no concept what to anticipate. The solely factor that was sure was that Jimmy Page and the band have been unlikely to repeat themselves. And that’s what occurred with Houses of the Holy (1973).

From the opener “The Song Remains the Same” to “No Quarter” and the Jamaican-influenced “D’Yer Mak’er,” Zep went in so many new instructions it once more confused followers and critics. (Everyone questioned what occurred to the blues thrashers — and the place the following “Stairway” was.)

“The Crunge,” the observe that closed out the primary facet of Houses of the Holy, additionally led to some head-scratching. That’s what a 9/eight rhythm, a funk sound, and carefree lyrics will do for you. To Led Zeppelin, it was a salute to the Godfather of Soul.

Led Zeppelin tipped its hat to James Brown on ‘The Crunge’

John Paul Jones and John Bonham of Led Zeppelin carry out on the Bath Festival, 28 June 1970. | Michael Putland/Getty Images

Just earlier than the beginning of “The Crunge,” listeners hear the mesmerizing fade-out of “Over the Hills and Far Away.” Then, all of the sudden, you get a signature John Bonham drum half on a cool, fully totally different observe. Soon after, John Paul Jones joins in with a grooving bass line.

Then Page leaps into the combo with the type of strumming listeners weren’t used to listening to from him. Speaking to Guitar World in 1993, Page made it clear what he was attempting to do. “I played a Strat[ocaster] on that one — I wanted to get that tight James Brown feel,” he mentioned.

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Last however not least, Robert Plant joins in, and he’s clearly having enjoyable with the lyrics. “I wanna tell you ’bout my good thing,” he sings. “I ain’t disclosing no names, buuuuuuuuut…” If it appears like an improvisation, that’s as a result of it was.

The observe began out as a jam begun by Bonzo (one other fan of the Godfather of Soul within the group). But when you would possibly think about the music a tribute to Brown anyway, Plant makes it specific along with his lyrics.

Like Brown, Robert Plant needed to take his listeners ‘to the bridge’

Led Zeppelin performs reside at Nippon Budokan, October 2, 1972. | Koh Hasebe/Shinko Music/Getty Images

After the primary verse, Plant’s lyrics don’t get any extra sophisticated. “Now let me tell you ’bout my girl,” he sings. “And when she walks, sheeeee waaaalks. And when she talks, let me tell you, sheeeeee taaaaalks.”

From there, Plant begins referencing some nice soul singers of the day. First comes Otis Redding. “Ain’t gonna call me Mr. Pitiful,” Plant sings. “I don’t need no respect from nobody, no.” Toward the top, he will get to the inspiration for the music.

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“Excuse me, oh will you excuse me,” Plant sings. “I’m just trying to find the bridge. Has anyone seen the bridge?” Every James Brown fan will get that reference instantly — Brown famously asks about attending to the bridge on “Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine.”

However, with “The Crunge,” Zep by no means actually developed the music past the opening riff and some variations. So Plant is left wanting. “Where’s that confounded bridge?” he sings because the music cuts out.

Also seeThe Zeppelin Song Jimmy Page Said Really Showcased His Guitar ‘Swagger’

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