Monday, October 5, 2009


I write this post with mixed emotions. I feel foolish and old and out of touch, because last night was the first I had heard that John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin, Dave Grohl of Nirvana and Foo Fighters and Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age had formed a band. Josh also used to play in another favorite band of mine, Screaming Trees.

They've been gigging since August, and they call themselves an L.A. band.

I mean, if you like good hard rockin' rock and roll, this is the biggest news in nearly 20 years, notwithstanding the Cream and Led Zeppelin reunions. But it's not a reunion. It's some new rock and roll music by some masters.

And Them Crooked Vultures, how about that as an excellent band name that once again, shows that there are some band names that do not suck still waiting to be thought up out there. TCV is no reunion, ladies and gentlemen.

Some friends of mine who saw the show last Thursday before ACL at Stubbs can't stop raving about it.

And who can blame them? JPJ, who I and others have long considered the real brains and talent behind Led Zeppelin, and that's saying something since there were four highly talented and soulful mofo's in that band. But although I am primarily a drummer and have always thought John Henry Bonham was the greatest rock drummer of all, I always knew that JPJ was the heart of the band.

I feel the same way about Eric Avery in Jane's Addication. None of the other line-ups of Jane's ever rocked like the original, despite having stellar players replacing Eric.

JPJ, like Eric, drove those songs along with John Bonham, allowing Plant and Page to reach new heights of rocking out and totally setting a bar for what rock and roll is all about.

So, after the mysterious Robert Plant refused to do the reunion tour for all of us Zep-less fans all over the world after the H2 London concert, what's a guy like JPJ to do? JPJ's been doing lots of killer bluegrass playing the past few years, and I've seen one performance of his excellent mandolin playing.

So JPJ has been playing some kind of lap steel, some keyboards and of course his beloved Manson basses with TCV.

Likewise, Dave Grohl is one of my favorite drummers. From the first time I heard Nirvana, to his many projects and bands thereafter, he not only rocks the drums but is a hella guitarist and frontman. And although I just wish I could play guitar half as well as he does, it is Dave's drumming that really entertains me. I'm so glad he's behind the drums in this band.

Josh Homme, of course, is a rocking guitarist. I've got a QOTSA CD that I like quite a lot. It will be very interesting to see what happens with this band.

And I think it will be a band, not a project. My friends that saw them play spoke of a vibe that came off the stage, three folks playing together as one, particularly Grohl and JPJ.

It's fitting, then, that Grohl has long had the John Bonham Led Zep moniker tattoo on his arm and is a total Bonzo fan. Many Led Zep and Bonzo fans hoped that if Jason Bonham, for some crazy reason, didn't want to do the Led Zep Reunion, that Dave Grohl was the man for the job.

I've followed the different works of JPJ since Bonham passed on nearly 30 years ago. I bought both of his CD's, and although I listened to both on numerous occasions, I knew there was so much more bubbling beneath the surface.

And here it is friends. This will be no Chickenfoot or any other number of "superstar" member composite bands. No Velvet Revolver, no siree. This is going to be the real deal. I've heard a few songs already and boy do they rock.

I only have one suggestion. I know they are augmenting their live sound with a fourth guitarist, and I like that better. It's impossible, sometimes to do all you want to do live, and rock songs rock out a whole lot more with a happening rhythm guitarist.

Way back in 1984 or so, a bass playing friend of mine named Steve and I were discussing the next bands we would seek to join or form. The band we were in was petering out, and we had been making the rounds of clubs and jam nights in Houston looking to stumble into another project.

In the course of all that, Steve, who is about ten years my senior and was thus a young adult when Cream, the Who, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and other bands were touring. All of these are really three piece bands, although some had a fourth member who sang but didn't usually play an instrument.

Steve opined that the tightest rock bands were always 3 piece. He gave example after example, and it was hard to argue. But I have to say that growing up a few years later amidst the ever popular guitar-guitar-bass-drums lineups of the 70's and 80's, that I usually like having 2 guitars. Clapton, Jimi, Townsend, Page and a few others could pull off having one guitar and being able to keep the song going during solo's, but even many of them multitracked guitars on their records.

Nothing but good is going to come from Them Crooked Vultures. How awesome!

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