journey to italy (roberto rossellini,1954)
creature feature saturday: return of the fly (edward bernds, 1959)

music friday: led zeppelin, "in the light"

In his review of Physical Graffiti for Rolling Stone back in 1975, Jim Miller spent a lot of time on Jimmy Page, both his guitar playing and his producing/arranging:

The album's — and the band's — mainspring is Jimmy Page, guitarist extraordinaire....

His primary concern, both as producer and guitarist, is sound. His playing lacks the lyricism of Eric Clapton, the funk of Jimi Hendrix, the rhythmic flair of Peter Townshend; but of all the virtuoso guitarists of the Sixties, Page, along with Hendrix, has most expanded the instrument's sonic vocabulary.

He has always exhibited a studio musician's knack for functionalism. Unlike many of his peers, he rarely overplays, especially on record ...

A facile soloist, Page excels at fills, obbligatos and tags. Playing off stock riffs, he modulates sonorities, developing momentum by modifying instrumental colors. To this end, he uses a wide array of effects ... But his signature remains distortion. Avoiding "clean" timbres, Page usually pits fuzzed out overtones against a hugely recorded bottom, weaving his guitar in and out of the total mix, sometimes echoing Robert Plant's contorted screams, sometimes tunneling behind a dryly thudding drum....

Thanks to Page's production, Led Zeppelin quickly outdistanced such predecessors as Cream and the Yardbirds.... Taking his cues from old Sun and Chess records, he used reverb and echo to mold the band into a unit, always accenting the bottom (bass and drums), always aiming at the biggest possible sound.....

Physical Graffiti testifies to Page's taste and Led Zeppelin's versatility. Taken as a whole, it offers an astonishing variety of music, produced impeccably by Page.

Hey, I'm not here to argue ... all of the members of Led Zeppelin made important contributions, but as a listener who wasn't in the studio to see exactly how their records were made, I've always given extra credit to Page, for the reasons Miller mentions and more.

Miller didn't think "In the Light" quite worked.

"In the Light," one of the album's most ambitious efforts, similarly fizzles down the home stretch, although the problem here is not tedium but a fragmentary composition that never quite jells: When Page on the final release plays an ascending run intended to sound majestic, the effect is more stilted than stately.

Even here, the only band member he mentions is Page, although John Paul Jones was the person most responsible for the sound ... his synthesizer dominates. Led Zeppelin never played "In the Light" in concert, supposedly because Jones didn't feel he could properly match the synth playing on stage. (Both Page and Plant performed the song in concerts outside of Led Zeppelin.)

Let's say Miller is right that "In the Light" is fragmentary. In that case, it might be perfect as accompaniment for a movie or TV scene. And in fact, that's what made me think of it for this post, because it plays during the final scene of Season One of David Fincher's Mindhunter, the interesting Netflix series with Jonathan Groff, the great Holt McCallany, and Anna Torv. Here is part of that scene (spoilers, for those who care). The song had begun at the beginning, with Jones' synth a perfect background for the action. It picked up again at the end of the scene, as you see here. Most of the time, I get frustrated when a song is hacked up to fit what is happening on the screen. But the missing middle of "In the Light" here disposes of Miller's complaint that the song is fragmentary. The editing makes it more fragmentary, of course, but it makes sense, because it's not just a track on an album, it's the soundtrack for what we're watching.

Here is the complete "In the Light":

A sampling of the comments on YouTube:

Devon Palmer: The editing and use of this song made mindhunters ending so disturbing it was amazing.

Brian Merriman: I don't generally applaud when watching tv, but couldn't help myself on this one. Ten minutes of brilliance the equal of anything on a small or large screen in recent memory.

TwisTr71: Best execution of music fitting a scene I have ever experienced

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