Week 8? Already? Yes, unless I missed a week.
The obvious next person to feature is Jimmy Page. (For the less pop-music-obsessed: Clapton, Beck, and Page were all members of the Yardbirds, in succession except for a brief overlap of Beck and Page.) But I half-intended to skip him. Why? Because most of his best-known work was with Led Zeppenlin, and I never liked Led Zeppelin.
And why didn't I like Led Zeppelin? Well, initially because I just didn't care much, in general, for the loud, heavy, aggressively macho brand of hard rock that they helped to pioneer. It was more or less blues-based, and I love the blues, but it took the humor and sense of play out of it, and made it ponderous, with the good-humored sexuality of the blues transformed into something that seemed to have more to do with greed and power than desire. I admit I never listened to Zeppelin much; I lumped them in with bands like Grand Funk Railroad whose music seemed shallow and insignificant, and its popularity indicative of the collapse of the hopes of the mid-'60s.
But there was something else: Zeppelin always seemed somehow sinister to me, not in the manner of, say, the Velvet Underground or the Doors, who were consciously exploring darkness, but in a deeper way: not as if they were looking into darkness, like the Doors, but as if they were of the darkness. I couldn't put my finger on it (not that I listened to them enough to try), but there was a something dark abroad in the last couple of years of the 1960s, and the sound of Led Zeppelin seemed a part of it. I know this is an idiosyncratic reaction, but I was not the only one at the time who felt that way. I remember a friend describing it as "insect music," and I knew what she meant: yes, the sound was heavy, but it also had a shrill quavering element that seemed vaguely unhuman. I don't know what if anything that quality had to do with Page's interest in the occult and in particular the very sinister work of Aleister Crowley, but I wasn't surprised when I learned of it.
Over the years, hearing their music here and there, I've come to realize that I was mistaken about them in many ways, and come to appreciate them. They were superb musicians, and there's much more to their music than I gave them credit for. They deserve their reputation as one of the great bands. And Jimmy Page seems to deserve a lot of the credit, not just as guitarist but as writer and producer.
Still, I just don't care all that much for them. So here are a couple of tracks featuring Page that don't sound much like typical Zeppelin. Page was (is?) a very fine acoustic guitarist, as is sometimes apparent in Zeppelin's work. This has a lot in common with the acoustic tracks that appeared on the last Yardbirds album ("White Summer") and the first Led Zeppelin album ("Black Mountain Side"). The opening melody is from the ballad "She Moves Through the Fair."
I think Page differs from Clapton and Beck in that his playing is more about color and texture and harmony than lightning-fast leads. Here's a track from the 1998 Page-Plant collaboration, Walking Into Clarksdale. I had not heard this before I went searching for Page's music on YouTube. From what I've heard, it's pretty good. This tune isn't a guitar showpiece, exactly, but the guitar is crucial, and that solo that begins around 3:15 is remarkable.
Well, ok, one Zeppelin song. I've heard Led Zeppelin III more than their other albums, because I worked in a record store when it came out. I always liked this very atypical song (no drums!) a lot. Color and texture and harmony.