Right then health freaks, here are three of your recommended five a day.
The Lemon Song – Led Zeppelin
The third track on the 1969 album Led Zeppelin II, ‘The Lemon Song’ starts with the crash of a gong and a couple of bars of Jimmy Page’s ascending guitar riff before the bass and drums join in on the act. As a rhythm section John Paul Jones and John Bonham were always a force to be reckoned with, but Jones outdoes himself on this song. His beautiful fluid lines manage to weave elaborate textures whilst still doing the essential job of holding the whole thing down; it’s just incredible.
“I could have quit you, long time ago”, brags Robert Plant on the opening line. The fact that this is the same opening line to the 1964 blues classic ‘Killing Floor’ by Howlin’ Wolf is no coincidence. A kind critic may suggest that Led Zep started playing ‘Killing Floor’ in their early live sets, applied their own unique twist on it, recorded it, and then ‘forgot’ to credit Wolf (real name Chester Burnett) for royalties. A harsh critic may suggest that they just nicked it (like so many white musicians did with black music). Either way, The publishers of ‘Killing Floor’ took legal action in the early seventies, an out of court settlement was made and Burnett’s name was added to the writing credits.
After the first verse the song goes into double time with Burnett’s original riff, where Page applies one of his trademark messy, yet effective, solos. After things slow down again for the second verse there is a glorious breakdown where Bonham shows he can actually play quietly sometimes. Page scratches and bends his way about the fretboard whilst Jones gives us a sublime tour de force lesson in how to play the bass. This is the part where the immortal line from which the song came (as it were…). “Squeeze me baby, ’till the juice runs down my leg. The way you squeeze my lemon, I’m gonna fall right out of bed.”
‘Peaches’ – The Stranglers
Like the last song, ‘Peaches’ features a fruit-related anatomical reference and an awesome bassline. Released in the ‘Summer of Punk’ of 1977, this slice of lecherous, lewd genius was banned by several radio stations (including the BBC) for its rude words (ooh, he said ‘shit’!) and sexual theme.
Setting the mood from the off is JJ Burnel’s menacing, growling bassline (probably one of the most recognisable bass intros in history) sounding like a low frequency sexual predator. Dave Greenfiield’s organ then follows the bass like a partner in crime, with Jet Black’s loping beats giving a well needed laid back counterpoint to proceedings. Singer Hugh Cornwell takes up the role of a leering voyeur, prowling the beach, checking out all the bikini-clad women in a sort of pre-Loaded laddish monologue. “Walking on the beaches looking at the peaches”.
Blueberry Hill – Fats Domino
‘Blueberry Hill’ was written in 1940 and recorded by a whole host of artists including Glenn Miller and Louis Armstrong. It was Fats Domino’s version in 1956 which popularised the song, selling over 5 million copies between 1956 and 1957. His boogie woogie piano style with it’s characteristic left hand bass figure was a big influence on many artists, not least Lennon and McCartney, who recorded and performed many of his songs pre and post Beatles. McCartney reportedly wrote ‘Lady Madonna’ for The Beatles as a tribute to Domino -listen to the left hand piano riff in this song and you can hear the connection.