Rock Music & the Occult and Opinions on Stevie Nicks

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Jim and Greg celebrate Halloween by dabbling in the dark arts with Peter Bebergal, author of Season of the Witch: How the Occult Saved Rock and Roll. Later they review a new release from Fleetwood Mac enchantress Stevie Nicks.

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Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven has generated $562 million over the years and unsurprisingly, somebody wants a piece of it. Heirs to Randy California, the bandleader of the group Spirit, filed a lawsuit against Zeppelin claiming that Zep stole chords from Spirit’s 1968 track Taurus. While the judge is allowing the suit to go forward, the matter of Zeppelin’s legendary paraphrasing is likely to be settled out of court.

Speaking of Led Zeppelin, Paul McCartney announced on Twitter that he once collaborated with drummer John Bonham. They worked on the Wings’ song Beware My Love, which is available for purchase on McCartney’s reissue of 1976’s Wings at the Speed of Sound. Though Jim humorously laments that not even John Bonham can save this Wings song.

Rock & The Occult

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Ozzy Osbourne famously serenaded Mr. Crowley, in his 1980 track. But, poet, novelist and noted occultist Alesteir Crowley has been name-checked, celebrated and explored in hundreds of rock songs. And he’s just one example of how the occult has influenced rock and roll, or how it saved it, according to author Peter Bebergal. He talks to Jim and Greg about his new book Season of the Witch: How the Occult Saved Rock and Roll on this Halloween edition of the show. First off, we’re not talking about satanism here. There’s no great definition of occult, because it carries so much baggage. But Bebergal explains that occult beliefs are a conglomerate of bits of mythology, religion and actual experience, which take the form of mystical or other states of altered consciousness. Despite darker connotations, occult beliefs attempt to understand reality in a way traditional religious practice cannot or chooses not to explore.

Then Jim and Greg get into the music. The occult has trickled into popular music since early blues recordings at the beginning of the last century. That evolved into the hoodoo-inspired sounds of Elvis Presley, the mystical references to the east in the music of The Beatles and Led Zeppelin and even the Illuminati imagery of modern hip-hop.

For more great occult tunes, check out Peter Bebergal’s playlist by following us at Beats Music.

24 Karat Gold: Songs from the Vault Stevie Nicks

24 Karat Gold: Songs from the Vault

The Welsh Witch, Stevie Nicks, is back with her eighth solo studio album called 24 Karat Gold: Songs from the Vault, and as the title suggests, the record features new recordings of old songs Nicks has kept locked away since the late 1960’s. To reimagine the decades-old tracks, she’s enlisted the help of a squeaky clean Nashville backing band and squeky clean pop stars like Lady Antebellum and Vanessa Carlton. Jim is not a fan of these choices. He misses the old Stevie’s Celtic folk feel and her ethereal voice, which is now starting to show its age. Jim knows the Stevie Nicks-faithful will still want to try the album, but its mediocre songs and altered star make it a Trash It for the rest of us. Greg also misses Nicks’ distinctive personality and tires of the album’s inability to turn her meandering ideas into more shapely pop songs. Greg credits Nicks’ former love and Fleetwood Mac bandmate Lindsey Buckingham for helping her achieve that in the past, but he’s nowhere to be found on this record; except in many of the song’s lyrics, which provide a sometimes uncomfortably voyeristic window into the couple’s storied relationship. That said, the stripped-down piano and Landslide-like vocals on the song Lady are impressive, so Greg gives 24 Karat Gold: Songs from the Vault a conditional Try It.

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