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Opinion: „Ooh, It Really Makes Me Wonder“

Blog, News, Opinion

If artists claim originality for a riff –
who is supposed to really prove them wrong?

Did Led Zeppelin steal the riff from “Stairway to Heaven“? Spirit have been battling the rock giants in a seemingly endless court case since 2014. They claim Zeppelin used a melody section from their own instrumental “Taurus“. In 2016, Zeppelin had been found not guilty of copyright infringement on Spirit‘s song. In 2018, however, a new trial was ordered, apparently due to erronious jury instructions. This Monday, the argument continued in yet another hearing at the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

Spirit‘s lawyer, Francis Malofiy, brought forth the argument that “Jimmy Page has five of Spirit‘s albums in his record collection“, as he ingeniously told The Associated Press. No doubt Page nicked the riff then, right? It‘s not that easy, Francis. “Stairway“ goes all the way back to 1971, and it‘s arguably one of Zeppelin‘s most famous songs. Yet it‘s true: if you listen to “Taurus“, there are striking similarities, and the Spirit song was published three years earlier. Hence, the band‘s legal attempt is legitimate.

But can anyone ever really find out the truth? As long as Page claims he did not steal the riff, who is supposed to prove him wrong? Fans say the whole affair feels like a cash grab at Zeppelin‘s fortune. And leading a battle against what has grown to be one of rock‘s most famous enterprises appears daunting, to say the least. Yet protecting artists‘ creations is undoubtedly indispensable, as is taking their concerns on potential copyright infringement seriously. But in a situation like this, when it‘s brawler against brawler, where shall the jury really draw the line? It makes me wonder.

Gig Review: Robert Plant & The Sensational Spaceshifters, 28.07.2016

Blog, Gig Review

It was Thursday, July 28th, that I got to see who is in my mind one of the greatest rock singers of all time: Robert Plant.
Famous as Led Zeppelin-frontman from 1968-80, the artist is currently touring Europe world with his Sensational Space Shifters, with whom he also recorded his latest studio album Lullaby and… The Ceaseless Roar (review here).

Just in time for the start of the main act, I arrived at the well-filled Arena Wien and found a great spot on the lawn near the stage with excellent view. Just as good as the view was the sound that night, which was lengths better than of Wolfmother’s concert at the same location (review here).

At about 21:00 pm, Robert Plant emerged with a huge banner carrying the feather-symbol in the background. He himself on vocals and diverse membranophones, he brought five other musicians with him: Juldeh Camara on nyanyeru (an African one-string fiddle), Liam “Skin“ Tyson on guitar, Justin Adams on bass, John Baggot on keys and Dave Smith on drums.
What’s known is the different musical approach of the ensemble (compared to Plant’s earlier times). Not focusing on one specific genre, the artists freely mix styles and rhythms. The result is a colourful medley with folk and country elements as well as foreign African sounds paired with Led Zeppelin classics and the well-known mighty riffs.

This diversity lead to an interesting set list that included Poor Howard, Rainbow and Turn It Up from Lullaby and… The Ceaseless Roar, a cover of Willie Dixon (Spoonful), the traditional Little Maggie, and lots of Led Zeppelin medleys that included (parts of) What Is and What Should Never Be, No Quarter, Dazed and Confused, Whole Lotta Love, Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You and Rock and Roll for the encore.

The band not only convinced the audience by its versatility and range of styles, but also by the quality of performance. Robert Plant still has that great voice of his and a very individual approach on singing that one recognizes immediately. Furthermore he really secured a great atmosphere by continually including the audience and performing with lots of energy.

This concert meant a great deal to me – and without any exaggeration: it was truly sensational.

 

More information / photo credits:
© Robert Plant http://www.robertplant.com