Originally Posted by murphinelli
..But, if Bonzo was still alive and Zeppelin continued playing for 5-10 years or even until today... What do you think they would sound like? How do you think Bonzo would change over the years? Just pondering...Forgive me if this question has already been addressed on this thread also...
Just as In Through The Out Door showed signs of moving in an over-produced direction, I also think Bonzo was showing signs of complacency. Although he still could play one heck of a groove, his beats and fills were much more simple and straight-forward, lacking that creative fire from earlier on. This could be chalked up to a number of things, maturation being the most likely, but overall for Led Zep it definitely went hand-in-hand with the band moving towards a more slick production style.
If Bonzo stayed alive and Led Zep continued, I think they probably would have absorbed some new wave influences (mostly in the form of using the synth) just to sound "contemporary" for the early 80s, but by then would also start to absorb the sound of Van Halen, although it would probably be a more adult contemporary version of those guys. But really, could you imagine Bonham in the hyper-produced reverb-and-gated-snare 80s?? Oh boy, it's probably a good thing he went when he did (as horrible to say as that might be..) and I really don't want to imagine what they'd be doing if they were still kicking it today.
A current example of this phenomenon of aging and going for a more slick sound is Eric Clapton. I've heard and seen most of what he's done the last 5-10 years, and while he's still sounding great and the band is top notch, the overall sound is just too slick. Now I love Steve Gadd (he's the Sg in my username) but it sounds like most of the time his creative engine is running at about half capacity nowadays (but to his credit his passion and playing for the music engine is always at 100%). Again you could chalk Clapton, Gadd, Preston, ect.'s more streamlined sound up to maturation, but overall it feels a bit lifeless, like if you're walking through an old city where all the grime and decay and signs of day-to-day life have been cleaned up to the point that you could be in a Disney theme park.
So maybe Led Zep would be sounding something like Clapton, if not in actual notes or grooves, but in spirit, however wrinkle-free that may be.