Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Big Wreck - Ghosts - Hey Mama

Since I've had the opportunity to hear these tracks in the making, it gives me pleasure to be able to share my written impressions with y'all (with Big Wreck's blessings - of course). I can't wait 'til we can ALL share our thoughts on this and all the others. I'll have MUCH more coming.... never been this excited!

Yep, it's the one we all know, but on an incomparably different plane....

Hey Mama
I used to love this track called Hangman's Jury by Aerosmith. It starts out on a backwoods porch just harmonica and an old slide acoustic and progresses through a modern treatment, building instruments, vocals and power as it grows; acknowledging it's Rn'R roots while infusing it with raw power. Well, Hey Mama started out as a straight up Zep tribute back when it was a solo demo by Ian, leaked in '02. While the original demo had tons of heart (a fan favorite) it only hinted at what would become of this track.

THIS is the game changer IMHO. Many times a demo is infused with an immediacy that gives it life and then it gets mushed in rendering it to final. Full production robs it of it's original vibrancy and power. Well not so with this Mama! The rootsy guitar pattern, the droning background chords, the tasty mandolin echo the same Appalachian mountain music that inspired Zep originally. Ian rasps "Hey Mama, hear me holler! Hey Mama, watch me pray! I buried you out in the backyard, I hung you high in a tree, yeah that was ME". This is some creepy backwoods drama about to throw down. Shadowing the vocal lines the guit/mando/drone heaps layer upon layer until a MASSIVE stuttering drum beat kicks it to life.

So full, so powerful…. background vocals or effects laden guitar patterns fill in behind the lines "An empty house on a hillside, An empty boat on the sea" and it's bouncy, familiar and otherworldly all at once. Like when Jimmy Page played that boogie pattern in the beginning of Celebration Day on Zep III. It was just sooo from-another-planet yet firmly based in the delta blues. Mama continues this Celebration tradition in the BEST possible way. You can't help but dance along while the song goes on about betrayal and loss. Chuck's furious drumming and absolutely bouncy baseline (Dave McMillan channeling JPJ) gives this track a life not heard from Big Wreck since The Oaf. As a matter of fact, I think it out does The Oaf in it's pure Zep spirit!

As it hits it's stride "She forgot about forever, and I'm stuck in yesterday" what's that?… Beatle-esque Octopuss's Garden "la, la, las" or guitar lines? Whatever it is, it adds soo much body and mood! You cannot help but get up and just ROCK!

As Ian screams "HEAR ME HOLLAR!" the band does one of those Pagian throwaway breakdowns just to loosen your spine. At full bore now this track hums along until a clipped "I'm STUCK in YESTERDAY!" spews and the first hair-stand-on-end moment comes.

Big Wreck have uncovered the most amazing lost Zep riff of all time. It's a down turning, elevating BEAST of a riff! You will head-bang and rock to this reflexively. And it's delivered with all the majesty, mystery and MASS that it deserves. All you want to do is hear it MORE… LOUDER…. and then…. tease…. the band drops into this sweet little slide eddie… just because they can…. light and dark… tight but loose…. nice warm summer vocals and mandolins…. the baseline to walk us out…. but, what happened to that riff? Where's that confounded riff?… Ian's was "stuck with yesterday" but now he launches into a mega "I'M STUCK WITH TODAY!" over the top of… THAT MASSIVE RIFF!

This riff is such a behemoth. It's the culmination of years of distilling Zep's essence, of playing the Immigrant Song in shows, of exorcizing that Pagian possession that Ian sang of in Overemphasizing and Defined by what We Steal. It has the majestic power of Kashmir, but DRIVES like the Immigrant Song.

The power thrown by the whole band into this ending is indeed worthy. The riff stomps, grinds, moans and groans over furious badass bass and Bonham-righteous drum flourishes while Plant-like guitar wails on the high end. The final chord rings on in afterglow with feedback and vocal like the last heaves of Godzilla. THIS is what Big Wreck is all about. THIS is what every Zep tribute from Heart's Barracuda to Rival Sons Pressure and Time ascribes to be. THIS is the 2 million hit youtube song. THIS is what my best bud (1st generation Zep-fan) said "If they had survived, THIS is what Zeppelin would be playin'!" You can't ask for a better endorsement. 'Nuff Said.

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