Episode 230: Fed Zeppelin Pat invites Wayne Federman to the Co-Host chair to discuss his favorite band of all-time Led Zeppelin. From December 10, 2015
With your host:
Pat and Kyle welcome us to the show. Today's special guest co-host is the very funny Wayne Federman!
Wayne has a brand new 3-CD comedy album called The Chronicles of Federman, a retrospective of Wayne's 30-year standup career. Pat says he saw Wayne do standup on TV while he was in high school, but Wayne doubts the validity of this. Regardless, Pat has always found Wayne to be very funny.
The Chronicles of Federman is Wayne's first ever album. Why did it take 30 years for him to have a CD? Well, he thought someone would ask him to do one. Nobody asked him. Ergo, 30 years. You might have also seen Wayne in those Kenny Rogers Geico commercials. It was a quick 2-hour shoot. Kenny's a nice guy, he and Wayne chatted about the Eagles. Wayne likes how in the documentary they embraced how awful they are as human beings. Also, the band kept getting their bassists from Poco. "Like a farm team," as Wayne puts it.
It is very early for Wayne. Not only that, but Pat brought him a hot chocolate, which Wayne doesn't like. He doesn't drink anything hot. He eats hot foods, he likes hot women, he listens to Hot Chip, but he doesn't drink hot liquids. In other Wayne news, he recently went to the Grammy Museum, a disappointing place. Very small. He went there mainly for the George Carlin exhibit (which consisted of a staggering two cases).
Things in the George Carlin exhibit include:
The first thing he ever won in his life.
His FM/AM outfit.
A letter from his mom.
The police report from when he was arrested for doing the "Seven Dirty Words" bit.
His written-out conversation for the Tonight Show panel, then the notes he wrote after the show for improvement.
Pat decides to take Wayne's neglected hot chocolate, which he barely throws a glance towards. He actively DEFIES the hot chocolate. "I drink for thirst, not for comfort," explains Wayne. Wayne started out in New York, then moved to Los Angeles in 1986. The first guy he met was Judd Apatow. Yeah, that Judd Apatow. Judd immediately gave him work, and Judd has given Wayne work to this very day. Pat saw Judd at a Taylor Swift concert taking pictures with his iPad. Wayne gives some advice to dads taking their daughters to concerts. You can't look bored, but you can't go balls to the walls crazy. Wayne suggests some slight, yet steady head bobs.
Pat doesn't like parents bringing their kids to inappropriate concerts. He retells the story of seeing Steely Dan (whom Wayne does not like at all) and there was a dad who brought his wife and kids to the concert. The dad wanted to show Steely Dan off to his family, to introduce them to the jazzy vocal stylings of Donald Fagen and the intricate musicianship of Walter Becker. Yet, a bad setlist left the dad dejected. His mission: a failure.
"I kind of got into their catalogue later in life because I think it's for older people."
- Pat, talking about Steely Dan
"Yeah, who've lost their hearing."
- Wayne, with the line of the episode
We listen to a clip from Wayne's CD. The damn thing was sold out on Amazon for a period of time. Hot cakes, I tell you, hot cakes! Pat thinks it's because people still want a physical copy to hold.
The album's early audio isn't stellar, given that Wayne had to literally transfer it from old VHS tapes. We listen to a couple of tracks, one of which is an intro to the second disc and the other is a track about Wayne going to a Pink Floyd concert. Wayne used to play the electric ukulele to end his shows. He would play Jimi Hendrix, Iron Butterfly, and the band we are going to talk about today, Led Zeppelin. Wayne is a multi-talented musician. He can play the ukulele, the guitar, the drums, the piano. As Wayne says, he plays anything he doesn't have to blow (hey now).
Who are Wayne's favorite drummers? John Bonham (obviously), Ginger Baker, early jazz drummers like Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich. Pat mentions Hal Blaine, but Wayne is on the bubble for the ol' Blainster. The Wrecking Crew gets brought up, so Wayne recommends a video of Carol Kaye teaching Gene Simmons on how to play the bass.
Halfway through the clip, I was expecting Gene to look at Carol Kaye and say, "You know I invented you, right?"
After listening to another track from Wayne's CD, called "Jimmy Page," Pat and Wayne start digging into Led Zeppelin. Pat notes there isn't a ton of post-Zeppelin work from Page. He's got The Firm, Page and Plant, Coverdale-Page, scant solo work, and his live collaboration with the Black Crowes. Wayne thinks Led Zeppelin was Jimmy's peak. He also doesn't want Led Zeppelin to tour without Robert Plant and thinks that John Bonham was a better drummer than Keith Moon. Wayne expects some angry Twitter comments from Who fans for that one. He notes a rift between Who fans and Zeppelin fans, as well as the two bands in general. The Who were more critically acclaimed, while Zeppelin was trashed by Rolling Stone. The Who wrote rock operas, while Led Zeppelin wrote about Ring Wraiths and squeezing lemons as a metaphor for handjobs. But Wayne can't deny it, Led Zeppelin is his favorite band of all time.
Okay, let's finally play some actual music. Wayne starts us off with side 1, track 1, album 1. It's "Good Times Bad Times" off of the band's self-titled debut album, Led Zeppelin. Wayne goes ga-ga over Bonham's intricate triplicate drumming. What made Bonham great, according to Wayne, was his bombastic power, his sharp sense of syncopation, and his Big Band/Swing style of playing. Wayne relates that Jimmy Page was a notorious penny-pincher. His nickname was Led Wallet.
Led Zeppelin I was released in January 1969, Led Zeppelin II was released in October of the same year! Pat plays a track from Led Zeppelin I called "Communication Breakdown". Wayne feels like that is a prototype for punk rock.
Wayne's next pick from Led Zeppelin I is the epic "Dazed and Confused".
Hoo boy, that is electric. The song is based on an old blues ditty which, if you know Led Zeppelin, isn't a rare occurrence. Wayne acknowledges that yeah, Plant, Page, and the boys may have done a five-finger discount when it came to some of their songs, but for the most part it was all them. Something tells me Howlin' Wolf and Willie Dixon weren't so concerned with writing about Moby Dick or valkyries or some such. Jimmy produced the first album all by himself at the age of 24-25. Plant was only 20 at the time.
The guys move on to the next album, Led Zeppelin II. Pat starts us off with "Living Loving Maid (She's Just a Woman)". This is Jimmy's least favorite Zeppelin song, hence why it was never played live. Led Zeppelin II is Wayne's favorite Zeppelin album and it's in Pat's top 3. Wayne's second favorite is Led Zeppelin IV. Pat's top 3 are Houses of the Holy, Led Zeppelin II, and In Through the Out Door. Wayne is amused by this. Pat prefers the poppier stuff to the bluesy stuff.
Wayne plays two different versions of "You Shook Me," the first by Led Zeppelin and the second by The Jeff Beck Group. The Zeppelin version has that oomph that the Jeff Beck version doesn't. Following this, Wayne plays the opening track of Led Zeppelin II, "Whole Lotta Love". This was the album that knocked Abbey Road out of the number one spot. Wayne comments that Plant's singing was never as good as it was on these first albums.
"Whole Lotta Love" went to number four, while "Living Loving Maid" was its B-side. Up next is Led Zeppelin III. Pat is not a big fan of Led Zeppelin III. "Who is?!" exclaims Wayne. Pat plays the opening track "Immigrant Song". A prime example of "huh?" lyrics. Zeppelin III didn't do as well as Zeppelin II. Maybe it was because of the greater amount of acoustic songs, speculates Wayne.
Wayne has nothing from Led Zeppelin III, so instead he goes back to Led Zeppelin II and plays "What Is and What Should Never Be". Wayne has shaken 3 out of the 4 members of Led Zeppelin's hands. If Wayne had any skills as a gravedigger, he could complete the quartet. He also once met Robert Plant backstage after a show and simply told him, "Nicely done."
Pat moves on to Led Zeppelin IV, which is technically an untitled album, but let's be real: it's Led Zeppelin IV. Not Four Symbols, not Zoso, not The Hermit. LED ZEPPELIN IV. Pat plays "Going to California", where Plant goes really high in the vocals. "Robert Plant on his worst day is still better than David Lee Roth on his best day," says Pat.
After discussing album covers and the lack of humor with most rock stars, Wayne plays "Black Dog". Wayne compliments how it's a new take on the call-and-response blues song. Pat has some stats about Led Zeppelin album sales according to the RIAA:
Led Zeppelin I - 8 million
Led Zeppelin II - 12 million
Led Zeppelin III - 6 million
Led Zeppelin IV - 23 million
Houses of the Holy - 11 million
Physical Graffiti - 16 million
Presence - 3 million
In Through the Out Door - 6 million
Pat can't think of any American bands that can hold up to the British bands like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, The Who, and The Kinks. Wayne lists a couple like the Eagles, Van Halen, Aerosmith, Guns N' Roses. Pat isn't entirely convinced. Regardless, Wayne plays the epic guitar solo from "Stairway to Heaven".
Wayne plays a bit of the guitar solo from "Whole Lotta Love," then Pat adds another one from Led Zeppelin IV, "Misty Mountain Hop". Those mountains aren't misty because of natural condensation, let me tell you. Word has it those Zeppelin boys enjoyed a few marijuana cigarettes now and then. A little bit of the wacky tobacky, if you catch my drift.
After Zeppelin IV came Houses of the Holy. Pat plays the reggae-infused "D'yer Mak'er". Pat's brother legitimately thought the song was by The Rolling Stones.
Wayne gives Pat and Kyle the correct pronunciation of the song, which sounds like Jamaica. GET IT?!?! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Oh that rock star wit. John Paul Jones hated D'yer Mak'er, hence why the song never made its way onto the stage in its full version. Wayne doesn't have a pick from Houses of the Holy, so he goes to the next album, the double LP Physical Graffiti. Wayne plays "The Rover". It's a harkening back to their earlier stuff.
Pat describes Wayne's 3-CD set as like Fight Club: It starts out great, the middle is okay, and then it falls apart at the end. Wayne's problem with Fight Club is that it should have been a club where guys punch themselves instead of each other. Hey, instead of all the fisticuffs, why not just enjoy a piece of "Custard Pie", which is Pat's next pick. Again, Pat goes for the poppier side of Zeppelin. Wayne points out the change in Plant's voice.
Wayne has the song that he believes solidified Zeppelin's reputation: "Kashmir". Physical Graffiti is all well and good, but what about Presence? Pat and Wayne agree that Presence is not as strong an effort as other albums, but there are two standout tracks: "Achilles Last Stand" and "Nobody's Fault but Mine."
We come now to the last true Led Zeppelin album, In Through the Out Door. This was the first Led Zeppelin album that Pat ever bought. He's played "Fool in the Rain" a bajillion times on the podcast, so he picks "South Bound Saurez". The album is a blueprint for where the band would have gone in the 80s if Bonham hadn't gone bye-bye in the box. Wayne actually brought his Jimmy Page guitar with him to show off. Pat wants Wayne back on the show to do an Eagles episode. Wayne would be delighted.