Monday, 10 October 2011

'Whole lotta love'

The Strange journey of 'Whole Lotta Love'

"Talent Borrows, Genius Steals" - Oscar Wilde

Now, Urban village doesn't just love vintage clothes. It loves the culture, the tunes, the ideas and sentiments which forms what we love about vintage. 'Whole lotta love' is the pure definition of a vintage tune. On the face of it it's a great timeless tune, but on the flip-side there's another vintage. A vintage that takes into account decades of influences that merge to form a confluence of cultures, people and ideas.

To get slightly technical - there are but 12 notes a musician can compose with. Of course these 12 notes can be combined in inumerable ways to create harmony. But because there are but 12 notes some songs, tunes, ditties, describe them how you will, step on each others toes from time to time and sound the same.

Sometimes this happens by accident (ask Coldplay but possibly not Joe Satriani), sometimes it can be much more deliberate....

...and this is where our Urban Village Vintage blog takes a look at the strange story of Page/Plant; Marriott/Lane & Dixon/Morganfield (Muddy to his friends).

I paraphrase Jimmy Page when questioned on the overt nature of L.Z's borrowings. 'If Robert had have just changed the words I don't think people would have noticed'. Plant didn't change much, especially on the 1st two albums, which much later led to Willie Dixon being given joint credit for a lot of the tunes (after a 1985 lawsuit).

So where should we start? At the begining or the middle? The beginning I think.

Chances are that if it was on Chess & the first time you heard it it smacked you straight in the face it was written by Willie Dixon. Dixon wrote for all the big names in the Chess stable as well as being the bass player on many-a-tune. "You need love" was recorded by Muddy Waters and released by chess in 1962. Many an ear was cocked in the 'Thames Delta'. As we shall see.... Check this out.

The Small Faces debut album in 1966 was much rawer then the immediate stuff which most people remember. Marriott/Lane where just taking their first steps in the songwriting game with support from the band and Kenny Lynch. As a result they needed a bit of help from the past. 'You Need Loving' would later escape the courtroom wrath of the Willie Dixon case but Heaven knows how or why - maybe the knots that the Small Faces had tangled themselves in mangement-wise was just not worth the investigative time or money.

And so we end with Page, Plant, Jones & Bonham. The tune, now a rock classic, powered by one of the greatest riffs of all time has its roots planted firmly in the Dixon penned tune but the phrasing and delivery is all Marriott.

Plant would later go onto say: "Page's riff was Page's riff. It was there before anything else. I just thought, 'well, what am I going to sing?' That was it, a nick. Now happily paid for. At the time, there was a lot of conversation about what to do. It was decided that it was so far away in time and influence that...well, you only get caught when you're successful. That's the game".

In a statement that you wouldn't expect from a rock god he also went onto say "I could never be compared with Steve Marriott because he's too good, unfortunately! He's got the best white voice, for sheer bravado and balls."

Now let's not even get started on the Back door man reference in the Coda :o)

Richard, Urban Village.

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