'Unledded' encourages old rocker exploitation

Someone out there knows that I, and many others I'm sure, have been waiting for the reunion of Robert Plant and Jimmy Page for years. I, for one, could have waited a hell of a lot longer, however. Like . maybe . well .

Okay, I could have waited forever. These two could have never again spoken, and I could be happy. Instead, they have followed in the footsteps of so many other aged rock stars, and have created a watered down version of their music . for money. Lots of it.

To me, that's one of the more insulting practices in the music industry. Resurrecting the dinosaurs of rock, dressing them in the spandex trappings of their prime and prancing them around the country on a stadium tour just isn't the most honorable thing to do.

You would think that out of human courtesy someone would tell Mick Jagger that he no longer has the same sex appeal he had 30 years ago. Why didn't someone tell Pete Townsend that crawling onto stage with an acoustic guitar and splints for his brittle arms would be more pathetic than honorable? And where was someone to tell Jimmy Page, "Okay, we'll be willing to forgive and forget Coverdale/Page, the Firm and all the other crap you've unleashed under the pretense of music if you just crawl back into your Aleister Crowley castle and die a dignified death. Silently."

Alas, the dollar speaks louder than nobility, and the human element is removed. Hence "Unledded," the repairing of Page and Plant. I guess no one considered that part of the appeal of Led Zeppelin (and the Rolling Stones and The Who for that matter) was the context. Sure, the music is good, but it was a rebellion of sorts. There was something there that has made "Stairway to Heaven" and "Black Dog" teenage anthems for the past 20 years. Regardless, Page and Plant opted to milk the cash cow one more time, and entered the hallowed halls of rock commer-cialism: "MTV Unplugged."

When I first heard about the "Unledded" taping, visions of Eric Clapton's incredibly dull, tired and insipid acoustic reworking of "Layla" came to mind. The thought of "Misty Mountain Hop" slowed down and accompanied by a string section brings me close to some serious soul coughing.

Smartly, Page and Plant opted to stick to their slower paced, near-acoustic songs such as "Battle of Evermore," "Gallows Pole" and "Four Sticks." But what's the point? So Page and Plant can go into a near studio environment and record some old material and do it very similarly to the way it was originally done. Big deal. And while the duo has tried to bolster their "new" anemic sound with a host of various percussion instruments, there is still no replacing John Bonham. And what about John Paul Jones?

While Page and Plant have said that Jones wasn't invited for a variety of reasons, who's to say he would have even participated? Of all the members, Jones is the member who has acheived the most musical growth since the band's breakup. Jones is an esteemed producer, and has recently released a project with Diamanda Galas. It would seem improbable that he would want to retread stale water.

Unfortunately, there will probably be enough people that will eagerly snatch up the "specially priced" $18.99 CD, enough people willing to sell out their memories of a great rock band in order to try to recapture the same magic 20 years later. And while those people won't succeed, they will ensure that there will be more career retrashings in the future.

Take It . or Leave It is an arts column that appears in every alterNation.

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