My personal issue with the album is the fact that only on occasion does the band reach a really emotional place. I’m not sure if it’s their fault or the producers’, but at times the playing felt too solid, almost mechanical. The beauty of Zeppelin was the feeling that anything could happen, it felt like the song was being born in the moment, and each guitar solo is full of emotion and invention. Considering this is their first album, they’ve probably been playing these songs for a long time, so it’s logical they’d be tight. But, I can’t help but want a bit more life and energy at times.
“Black Summer” is built on a driving, Morricone like guitar line, and it goes into a great chorus, but I want something a bit more, a really sick guitar solo or some kind of crazy breakdown. Things do slow down for a while, but when they build back up, it’s into the same line. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a really good song, but I feel like it could be ever greater.
Part of the reason I focus on “Black Summer” is because it’s one of the more riff based, blues sounding songs. Only two of the songs on here top four minutes, which is fine for the more pop sounding songs, like the catchy “You’re a Treasure” and “Can’t You Hear It Call,” but the classic rock songs could benefit from a longer running time. People may frequently criticize Zeppelin’s excess, but I don’t think anyone would want a three minute version of “When the Levee Breaks.” Looking ahead, I would point to that kind of song as a model for The Colour, something that would let them showcase their musicianship.
I’m seeing them live tomorrow, and I’m curious to see what they do with these songs in concert. It’s possible they’re a band like Phoenix, who record really tight songs on their album then tear them up into extended jams live. I’d love to see that because these songs are so catchy, based around really strong riffs and full of room for improvisational jamming. They could easily drop a great ten minute version of “Black Summer.”