When The Levee Breaks – Playing For Change Featuring John Paul Jones

Holi-days are Coming! Holidays are coming!

I figured if I’m coming back (even for a short while) I’d better open up with something epic. If you’re window shopping for a song roomier than this 1920’s Memphis Minnie blues standard forever turned Led Zeppelin grandstander… Well, then you need it played by about twenty or so virtuoso musicians, all video linked from around the world with added background wailing, husky vocals, screaming harps, pan pipes, congas, Janes Addictions drum kit and the slide bottle-neck guitar stomp of Gary Clarke Jr. Get more epic than that and I suggest you need a diarrhetic.

The mighty John Paul Jones has had a couple of moments in 2022. All the way back in February he treated us to this absolute gem. See him there, stood in a pristine but stately room spanking his plank (that’s a bass guitar euphemism don’t cheapen yourself). Looking every inch the quiet librarian of Rock & Roll Valhalla. Holding it down while The Dream Lord is away on Earth (Ohh these references are going to be sooo topical). Everyone in this video looks cool. Everyone in this video is cool. But cool is not the aim or the exercise. Playing For Change is a political, charitable, prophetical organisation.

This band is not auditioning for the role of playing on the deck as the good ship humanity slips beneath the waves. They’re doing what they do in the hope they can effect change. Through spreading their talent and pointing their focus at the fact it’s all on fire. All the while, the most of us are essentially that dog sat at the table in the meme saying ‘This is fine’. Turns out, submission might not be the only option. It’s getting late though…

These aren’t points of debate any longer (they haven’t been for a ruddy long time). They’re unavoidable facts. I drove home from work on the hottest day the UK has ever seen, back during this years long hot summer. As smoke filled the air and fire engines whizzed around me putting out crop fields, house fires and smouldering school buildings. It was carnage. I live less than an hour from London… ‘Taint right! Just Stop Oil? Umm, yeah. I guess.

We also saw JPJ on stage at Wembley Stadium in the closing ceremony of the final weekend in the final summer of the second Elizabethan age. How’s that for an equation? He stood with Josh and Dave as the anchor of Them Crooked Vultures. JPJ represented Led Zeppelin again (all the bands who played that day had suffered loss) as well as being a mate of Dave’s. Along side Queen, Rush, AC/DC, Foo Fighters, The Pretenders, Macca and all those Rock and Roll Children, the Zeppelin man eclipsed Jimmy and Percy even though the old Lemon Squeezer had spent much of the year promoting his second marriage with the heavenly voiced Alison Krauss.

This whole recording of WTLB stomps like a theme tune from a movie with a cast of thousands, but there is also a show stealing star on the track. The moment Mihirangi screams and takes on her verse the track is hers. She elevates the thing to an incredible level. Stood there with a sun dappled waterfall behind her looking like a goddess, she cuts a heroic sway through the track. If we can no longer trust the Norse Gods to not make a mockery of our classic rock songbook (Love & Thunder I’m looking at you) best we whisk it away to warmer waters. Check out her Reverb Nation page here. The hand over to Susan Tedeschi of the Derek Trucks Band* is sublime, the sustained wails of Norways Elle Márjá Eira throughout give that cathedral like architecture in the song so many pulpits for the multiple vocalists to stand and shine.

Anyway, here we are. Here I am. Still keeping our heads above water. For now. Throughout the Festive Season I’ll be posting my favourite tracks of 2022. They’re not all old rock songs done over in a modern way just to let some long hairs take another bite at the cherry… Well, not ALL of them, but you know how it is, ‘Certain Songs Get Scratched Right In’ right?

Season’s Greetings!

*I’ve never heard of them apparently they’re Dave Matthews big… I don’t know about him either but Derek Trucks sounds like Dave Coaches and now I’m thinking of Barry Island.

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