LED ZEPPELIN - WHATS YOUR FAVOURITE FESTIVAL APPEARANCE?

'I told Pagey one or two people would be here, but he said he doubted that very much' Robert Plant, Knebworth August 4th 1979 ...

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

TIGHT BUT LOOSE ISSUE 45


TIGHT BUT LOOSE 45

I'm more than delighted to be sitting here leafing through the latest edition - and a special 64 page edition it is too - of long running and much admired Led Zeppelin magazine Tight But Loose. 41 years young, and as compelling and detailed as ever. 
Before I get into the content I'd first like to lay a bit of background with regard to my friendship and working relationship with TBL mainman Dave Lewis. I think Issue 4 was the first I saw on the shelves in London's west end back in 1981, but the first time Dave and I really sat down and got to know each other was 1988. We'd met at two of Robert's Now & Zen secret warm up shows in Colchester and The Marquee and then at a fair few shows as the tour plotted around the UK.
The following year I was very pleased to help contribute to Dave's upcoming book 'A Celebration' with (not surprisingly!) a bootleg overview. And after Zeppelin were firmly back in the public eye and once again respected by much of the media following the Box Set and Remasters packages, I approached Dave with a frankly mad idea of a fully blown Led Zeppelin Fan Convention.



It may be history now, but at the time it was something never done outside the USA and we managed to pull off an amazing weekend we're both extremely proud of. A second event in 1994 cemented it all, and over the years we've both been involved in many fan meets and gatherings, celebrating all things Zeppelin.



And so to 2019.

As we all know the 40th Anniversary of Knebworth is upon us. Dave has wisely decided to celebrate the fact with the publication of TBL45, boosted by incorporating an enlarged facsimile of TBL3, which is his original issue devoted to the events of 1979.

I've been reading and re-reading this special edition issue for 5 days now, and still find myself picking it up and finding something I've missed, something to look at again, something to immerse myself and my Zeppelin induced mind in. It is THE essential Led Zeppelin magazine. Simple. 

So, what's inside? Where to start... The reprint of TBL3 is the centrepiece of this special edition, embellished with some great colour pictures and illustrations, and covers 40 pages. It's fascinating to look back at Dave's observations from 40 years ago, so enthused by the incredible Led Zeppelin comeback, and highlighted for me by his blow by blow review (although the word review doesn't really do it justice) of that magical night on August 4th. The other articles, fan communication, a quiz, readers poll and the loose talk section all stand the test of time thanks to a heartfelt mixture of perception and enthusiasm. 



The rest of TBL45 is even better. After the reprint of TBL3 are 10 pages almost exclusively devoted to even more in depth articles on Knebworth. Nick Anderson highlights 3 very rare items related to Knebworth in his Collector's Column. Paul Sheppard brings us an invaluable guide to the best Bootleg CD releases and yours truly looks back to those halcyon days and the Vinyl Bootlegs that surfaced from the four 1979 shows.




Andy Crofts analyses the audio tapes that were used on the aforementioned underground releases, and I add a timeline style piece regarding the footage that has turned up over the last four decades. The last article is a five page recollection of August 4th by Pat Mount, a perceptive and personal look back at an extraordinary day.



And, being 2019, the front pages round up current news, including the upcoming official Led Zeppelin Documentary, Robert's Podcast and tour dates for Robert and Debbie Bonham. A review by Dave of Jonesy's 100 Club Resonance FM fundraiser is accompanied by a fascinating and exclusive interview with John Paul from June 26th this year. 

A Review of Saving Grace in St Albans, the Love Rocks NYC event from March, an interview with Peter Piddock about booking Zeppelin for the University of Kent gig on 10-3-71, another great interview, this time with renowned author David Hepworth and Simon Cadman's visit to the Play It Loud Exhibition at New York's Metropolitan Museum are all here too. 

Phew! Add to that a few more pieces of news and more....

Exhaustive and indeed exhausting! Dave has long been a chronicler of all things Zeppelin, and his constant enthusiasm is infectious. This is possibly the best TBL yet and a real treasure. It IS limited to 675 copies so please don't miss out, you'll regret it if you do. Check out www.tightbutloose.co.uk about how to order. 



And as I write this it's under 3 weeks to the next fan gathering, on August 4th at the Atlas Pub, Fulham. I hope to see as many of you there that can make it, and as ever Celebrate all things Led Zeppelin.



Sunday, 7 July 2019

KNEBWORTH FAN GATHERING AUGUST 4 2019


LED ZEPPELIN AT KNEBWORTH - 40TH ANNIVERSARY

Since 1992 I've been honored to be involved in many conventions and fan gatherings here in the UK, from the original UK Fan Convention Celebration Days,, a glorious long weekend celebration of all things Zeppelin. 

This August 4th sees the 3rd annual fan gathering at The Atlas pub in Fulham, London. If you haven't already got your tickets I really hope you can make it along. As with all previous gatherings, it promises to be an unashamed day of celebrating Led Zeppelin, with the focus on events in that field near Stevenage 40 years gone. 

Guest speakers, video's, a quiz and much more will unfold over a day when we can all indulge in our passion with fans and friends old and new. I will be taking an active part in the day, and full details are below. Capacity IS limited, so please don't hesitate and join us if you can for what promises to be a great day.

Looking forward to seeing many of you at the Atlas!

Andy Adams

July 2019.


JOIN US FOR A DAY OF LED ZEPPELIN AT KNEBWORTH 40TH ANIVERSARY CELEBRATIONS…
TICKETS NOW ON SALE FOR THE LED ZEPPELIN AT KNEBWORTH 40 YEARS GONE CELEBRATION DAY EVENT:
Led Zeppelin at Knebworth 40 Years Gone –
No Sleeping Bag Required…
40th Anniversary TBL Celebration Day Event:
Sunday, August 4, 2019
Following on from last September’s hugely enjoyable Led Zeppelin 50th Anniversary ‘It’s been a Long Time’ TBL gathering, later this year we are going back to the excellent Atlas pub in Fulham,London to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Led Zeppelin performing those two memorable shows at Knebworth – 40 years to the day of the first date, and this time around there’s no sleeping bag required….
Here’s the details:
Dave Lewis and Julian Walker Present:
Led Zeppelin at Knebworth 40 Years Gone – No Sleeping Bag Required…
40 Anniversary TBL Celebration Event
Sunday, August 4, 2019
The Atlas Pub
16 Seagrave Road, Fulham, London, SW6 1RX
From 12.00 Midday to 8.30PM
Nearest tube: West Brompton (District Line, London Overground, and Southern train services)
This is a great opportunity to get together and celebrate those landmark last UK performances – of which many reading this will have attended.
A Day of Led Zep Celebration – Guest Speaker Forums, Video Playbacks, Led Zep Knebworth Quiz, History of Led Zeppelin at Knebworth 1979 on film and more.
Guest Speakers already confirmed:
Chris Charlesworth
Phil Tattershall presenting ‘Confessions of a Led Zeppelin Taper at Knebworth 1979
Mick Bulow and Pat Mount on their experiences out in the field
A Day of Led Zep Celebration – Guest Speaker Forums, Video Playbacks, Led Zep Knebworth Quiz and more
The new TBL issue 45 and the new package of the Then As It Was – Led Zeppelin 1979 book will be available on the day.
Pre order tickets at this link:


Limited capacity –be sure to order as soon possible!
We look forward to seeing you.
Best Regards
Dave Lewis and Julian Walker

Friday, 8 March 2019

CODA - THE ULTIMATE LED ZEPPELIN TRIBUTE

 Over the decades I've seen many a tribute band, from Limehouse Lizzy to AB/CD and Dread Zeppelin. Almost 30 years later the tribute scene is as thriving and relevant as ever. When bands cease to be, there is a demand for their music, their presence and their live experience. And of all the artists to have trodden the boards, none has the live reputation or is equally as missed and demanded as Led Zeppelin.

Those of you that know me know I'm a furtive and intense fan. I revel in the detail, the minutiae. Led Zeppelin were a four piece, they changed music forever. If you're gonna do Zep, it's gonna take a lot of talent, love and attention to that detail.

And this is where Coda come in. On the eve of my next live experience with the band, I'm drawn to express my thoughts about them and the tribute they so accurately and lovingly celebrate. Going back in time there have been some fine bands - Simply Led, Boot Led Zeppelin and The Rubber Plants all stood out almost two decades ago as I remember seeing them from close quarters.

It was last September I first saw Coda, and have seen six shows so far including all 3 2019 shows - very soon to be 4!. The second show I saw last October was their nothing short of triumphant 50th Anniversary Celebration of Zeppelin's Marquee Debut on the 18th of the month. Legendary and esteemed journalist Chris Welch witnessed the first set and wrote a glowing review of the occasion.

Equally legendary Zeppelin author and old friend Dave Lewis was also in attendance, and we both enjoyed the night immensely. The crowd loved it too, feverishly and wildly. One thing that really strikes me about Coda is, like Zeppelin, different songs stand out on different nights There's one pertinent and obvious reason for this - they're a live band. Some nights are better than others, sometimes it works, sometimes not quite! At O'Neills Bar on October 18th 'How Many More Times', 'Communication Breakdown' and 'Since I've Been Loving You' are etched on my brain. At Southend it was 'I Can't Quit You Baby',  'Kashmir' and the encore stomp of 'Black Dog' that resonated strongest.
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Fast forward to Milton Keynes on January 18th 'Dazed And Confused', 'The Song Remains The Same/Rain Song' (played by Coda for the first time that night) and a celebratory 'Stairway' were highlights  The Next night at the White Rock in Hastings I remember 'Ramble On', 'Thank You' and a wonderful 'The Battle Of Evermore'. For authenticity Coda invited the wonderful and highly talented Jessica Lee Morgan to be their Sandy Denny for the evening.

The show at Lewes two weeks later was exceptional, with a really enthusiastic crowd that loved every minute. 'Moby Dick' grew a huge cheer as did the final numbers 'Kashmir' and 'Stairway' and the multiple encores.

The reason I've described and eulogized on the shows I've seen is simple. Coda don't pretend to be Led Zeppelin, they celebrate Led Zeppelin. They've researched and rehearsed and managed to achieve that rare and joyous quality that makes you indulge and rejoice in the music of Led Zeppelin. Chris Welch talked of being transported back to 1968 during the opening songs on October 18th. I know what he means.

Visually the show moves from the early Marquee and Royal Albert Hall era with appropriate stage wear and equipment. For the second set the Madison Square and Earls Court era's are faithfully represented. The songs vary, including a great acoustic set, and more are being readied all the time. As musicians they are all outstanding. And they understand what being a tribute is all about, and play with joy, enthusiasm and humour. At the White Rock Rob led the audience into a brief rendition of 'I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside', which incidentally Jonesy did at a show in Baltimore in July 1973!

Peter, Adam, Rob and Simon all work extremely hard to bring the music of Led Zeppelin to life in a celebratory way that makes you smile. With some great gigs coming up, even more exciting times are ahead. I've not been this enthusiastic about a tribute band for almost 20 years, but don't take my word for it. Check them out yourself!


Find out more about Coda at -

www.codaledzeppelintributeband.co.uk
www.facebook.com/codaledzeppelintributeband
Twitter @CodaZeppelin
Instagram CODA_Led Zeppelin Tribute
email codaledzeppelintributeband@gmail.com


Sunday, 13 January 2019

WHEN THE LEVEE BREAKS




In the summer of 1926 the States, towns and cities alongside and near the Mississippi River experienced unusually high rainfall. By the September flood defences were reaching breaking point, and over the Xmas and New Year into 1927 something had to give. The Great Mississippi flood of 1927 was to rage for months, peaking in April and finally subsiding in August. When it was over there was huge crop and livelihood devastation, hundreds of thousands dislocated and more than 500 dead.

This life changing event was captured by the media at the time in film, picture and prose and also by musicians. Blues artists sang about the tragedy, Bessie Smith's Backwater Blues regaling her viewpoint as early as January 1927. The great Charley Patton recorded High Water Everywhere in December of '29 but it was Kansas Joe McCoy who wrote When The Levee Breaks that same year. It's his version that stood out, a duet with his vocals and rhythm acoustic guitar, embellished by the lead guitar work of  Memphis Minnie Douglas. 

Esteemed journalist Charles Shaar Murray credits the song to Joe, the original '78 names the artists as Kansas Joe and Memphis Minnie with no mention of origin. Whoever scribed the tale, it's a wonderful heartfelt tale of despair and fear. 


Fast forward to the Autumn of 1970. After their 6th US Tour Led Zeppelin looked forward to their next album. Although the tour was a huge success 'III' was roundly criticized by the press and those fans baying for the son of 'II'. Responding to this, Jimmy drove the band on, rehearsing and writing. So just 6 weeks after the final notes echoed around Madison Square Garden Led Zeppelin found themselves in Island Studios. On November 2nd Four Sticks was recorded, and just 9 days later their first early take on Joe and Minnie's tale of woe - 'If It Keeps On Raining'.


A much more open sound, even without the seismic crunch achieved in Headley Grange Bonzo stars with some perfect syncopation, busier than the final arrangement. Robert is more down key, sticking closer to the original lyrics including 'work so hard to keep the water away' and only adds 'goin' home' at the coda. Without the searing slide lead and maestrom of dubs and panning Jimmy plays a precise on the money riff. It grooves, moves and is fine. Just not quite...


Recording continued into 1971, with most of the album recorded by the end of January. On May 19th further mixes and takes were auditioned. The three that have surfaced both officially and unofficially are all radically different lyrically and in terms of dubs and mix. Less intense than the released version, they show the way Jimmy added layer upon layer to turn the song into a monster, prompting Robert's much more impassioned vocals on the finished version, as if to match the swirling harp and searing slide overdubs.



And it's not until the final take that Robert adds the opening lines from Joe Williams 'Goin' To Chicago'.Playing these versions back to back, the enormity of the finished article is astounding. From the off, the backbeat groove and almighty crunch of Bonzo's introduction is game changing. Recorded with just 2 mics in the stairwell at Headley Grange, Jimmy ran the feed through a Binson echo unit, an Italian made effect that used a magnetic drum to record as opposed to a tape loop. Heavy compression to bring John's fabulous hi-hat and cymbal work to the fore completed the sound. 

All four are on the top of their game here, their collective drive and confidence palpable. For me, it's not just about that. Even with Roberts more and more pleading and hysterical vocals, Jonesy's on the button groove nailed to John's bass drum pedal, Bonzo's thunderous rolls towards the coda and Jimmy's layered guitar swoops intertwining with Robert's wailing harp the crowning glory is the production.

Bearing in mind the restrictions and barriers in the studio in 1971, Jimmy works miracles. 16 tracks at his behest, he takes the other worldly soundscape of 'Whole Lotta Love' to a whole new level. Each verse, bridge, break brings something new, an extra tone, one more flavour. And finally as it seems to almost get too much, Robert's vocals stand dead centre as Led Zeppelin swirl and glide around him. It actually SOUNDS like the levee breaking! Genius.


Live, we only have 2 live performances by Led Zeppelin on tape. The 2nd warm up in Brussels on Jan 12th '75 and the first Chicago gig on the 20th. Probably played in Rotterdam on the 11th and Bloomington on the 18th (mentioned in the press review), the only other possible that year is the 2nd night in Chicago. It works live, but for me needed to be later in the set and played consistently to get a life of its own as a live number.


Brought back post Zep by  Page & Plant, their 1994 Unledded arrangement was slower and more like the 1929 Joe & Minnie take. 


Robert played it with Alison Krauss too, and let's not forget this great 2017 version by the Deborah Bonham band, with Robert guesting...


Over the decades it has become (rightly) one of the most influential songs in the Zeppelin catalogue, largely due to Bonzo's immortal drum intro. So many have used it, following on from Trevor Horn's sampling Moby Dick for Frankie Goes To Hollywood!


From the Beastie Boys to Dr Dre, Eminem to Massive Attack plus countless mix DJ's across the globe.  


Half a century on, When The Levee Breaks is testament to Led Zeppelin as pioneers and masters of their art. Taking their own inspirations and influences and creating such a unique song that has in turn inspired new generations and genres...







Monday, 7 January 2019

JOHN PAUL JONES


The Quiet One. Jonesy. The cornerstone of Led Zeppelin. As a band of equals, they had four distinct and equally important personalities, their individual traits that would intertwine so gloriously and uniquely to create the whole. Time after time, John's contribution would be subtle, imaginative and crucial to that aural palette. 




But Led Zeppelin is only part of the picture, 12 of  the 56 years and counting John has been a professional musician. From learning the ropes on tour with his parents playing Big Band to Vaudeville John graduated to session work. Wanting to play bass, his father Joseph tried to persuade him that Cello or Piano was the way forward, regarding Electric Bass as 'a fad that will be forgotten about in a year or two'. He happily relented after four words from his son - 'There's work for me'.




Session work in the 60's was insular and lucrative. A small band of musicians would criss cross the capital up to 3 times a day. A typical day would involve three such sessions, usually about 3 hours each, the first beginning at 10am, the second at 2.30 and the third at 7pm. The 90 minute gap would soak up (expensive) over runs and set up for the next artist and assorted backing musicians. From Hampstead to  St. Johns Wood, Marble Arch to Barnes, John would add his musicianship and very quickly arrangement and production skills to a wide variety of artists. 


Many would remain nameless or forgotten in the whirlwind of the time. Others would become stars, household names even. Mickie Most, Tom Jones, Petula Clark, Dusty Springfield, Donovan, Herman's Hermits, Lulu, The Rolling Stones... And on and on.


With such a clique of session musicians, prowess rose to the top very quickly and John (like Jimmy Page) was in high demand. His playing and arranging embellished songs from Downtown to Hurdy Gurdy Man, To Sir With Love to She's A Rainbow.




John even had the opportunity for a solo single, Baja/A Foggy Day In Vietnam on Pye Records in April 1964, early on in his session career. Some sessions would be with new on the scene guitar slinger Jimmy Page, from Donovan to Francoise Hardy to Jeff Beck.

The Beck sessions for Hi Ho Silver Lining and Beck's Bolero would bring together a bunch of musicians musing over a supergroup Keith Moon would jokingly christen Led Zeppelin. The sessions for Beck's Truth LP also included a brief take on You Shook Me highlighting Jonesy's growing keyboard prowess. Listen to some of John's session work and you instantly become aware of a clear, perfect musical ear, a triumphant and easy way with perfect pop and melodic arrangement. 'If you really listen to a song it writes itself' was his dictum.


One pivotal session was arranging the Cello's for Mickie Most's session of Little Games by The Yardbirds, another meeting for John with Jimmy and the honing of a friendship that would grow into a very bountiful musical connection. By 1968 the session world had changed. More musically adventurous artists were playing their own songs, the 'Pop Star' being pushed more into the background and the demand for session musicians too. And John had had enough. His only live work had been with Dusty Springfield as part of her backing group during her Talk Of The Town residency in Leicester Square, where incidentally Madeline Bell was a backing singer. Now he wanted some musical freedom, the road, a band.


He did play bass on Madeline's '68 LP 'Doin' Things', and they were by now firm friends. When Zeppelin flew to the US two days before Xmas in '68, the rest of the band flew on to LAX while John and Maureen stopped off in New York to spend Xmas day with Madeline.

So came Led Zeppelin. Even if his musical journey had stopped in 1968, John Paul Jones would have left a wonderful legacy and body of work. The fact he was to be a member of the biggest band of them all and THEN go on to another 4 decades of ground breaking and always interesting and unique music says so much.


We all know of his major part in Led Zeppelin. The strident bass that underpins Good Times, the fluid no messing flurries that underpin Dazed and the flourishing fanfare that starts side two of the debut LP. With songwriting credits on 40 odd songs in Zeppelin's arsenal, his influence and presence were vital and perfect. Within months he'd laid down two of the most breathtaking bass performances on record ever - The Lemon Song and Ramble On. Lyrical, harmonious and percussive and rock solid at the same time. Locked in to that Bass Drum, that syncopation.




As Zeppelin spread their wings as the 70's dawned he gradually came into the spotlight with an Organ Solo in the middle of the set. On 'III' he helped shape Celebration Day, The Stomp and Since. Live his unique,  telepathic communication with Bonzo and their empathy with and behind Jimmy and Robert was to cement Led Zeppelin's reputation as THE live band of the age. By the tail end of 1970 John brought both the impossible bass line and structure of Black Dog and the kernel, albeit jazzier and faster, of No Quarter. His studio knowledge and melody greatly influenced MMHop and the delicate introduction of Stairway.





Playing material from 'IV' plus an acoustic set gave John more variety onstage, and by the time the LP was released he would be seen on bass, keyboards, acoustic guitar, mandolin and even his 'Tupenny Upright' bass. As Zeppelin strode on the material for 'Houses' was more diverse, sophisticated and challenging than ever. His beautiful orchestration and subtle, joyous piano on Rain Song is sublime, faultless. Elsewhere there's the fabulous Synth twists on Dancing Days and the James Brown nailed down dance riff of The Crunge. No Quarter would stand alone as a stark, isolated statement that would expand into a sophisticated and never ending journey by the time Zeppelin returned to the stadiums of the United States.


During that 9th US Tour John switched between electric Piano and Mellotron, and without an acoustic interlude treated us with some unusually upfront bass work on the few occasions he pulled out his 5-string Bass. No Quarter was varying from 9 to about 15 minutes at its' longest on this tour, and John was on keyboards for about 30% of the time.


When the tour finished Jonesy kept busy, playing on and producing Madeline Bell's 'Comin' Atcha' LP, recorded at his own Doormouse Studio. He even appeared with her on her BBC TV show 'Colour My Soul' on December 12th. After filming his parts in the movie came the first of two bursts at Headley Grange where the 8 new tracks for Physical Graffiti were recorded. As 1974 rolled on he popped up at Hyde Park with Roy Harper and Dave Gilmour, having guested on Roy's 'HQ' LP.


The PG sessions were sensational, Jonesy's 'sickness'/'rest' not withstanding. His memorable Clavinet on Trampled and synth and electric Piano work on the electronic opus In The Light still send shivers as does his orchestration on Kashmir, so far down the road from She's A Rainbow!


For the '75 shows No Quarter became one of the two main sources of improvisation and inspiration, dominating the opening part of the now 2 1/2 to 2 3/4 hour shows that climaxed with a sometimes too long and leaden Dazed and the de rigeur set closer Stairway. Beginning at the same length as '73, the addition of a Grand Piano half way through the tour helped it stretch both musically and in length.


Along with Rain Song, Kashmir, Trampled and Stairway (and SIBLY on 3 occasions) John spent much of the middle part of the show seated. Still only 1/3 of the show, but at least an hour at this point! At Earls Court it was a highlight, and the returning acoustic set showed his dexterity and sublime ease with whatever the band threw at him, including 4 part harmony on Tangerine!


John's steadfast and exemplary work on Presence is stunning, especially the strident 8-string on Achilles. The beautiful soundscape outtake 10 Ribs & All/Carrot Pod Pod was a completely unexpected highlight of the Munich sessions. And the 1977 Tour had an even more complex and improvised No Quarter, two sections including a Boogie Woogie motif that heralded a bone crunching Nutrocker on a few nights half way through the tour.

By now he was playing so many different roles onstage Robert referred to him as 'Man Of The Match'! Vocals, guitar and Bass Pedals on Battle Of Evermore take that to the extreme... And right up until Berlin John played his usual key role as the anchor on one hand and almost musical director on the other.

After Zeppelin John returned behind the scenes, spending time with his family in Devon. And since then he works when he wants with who he wants. So talented. Aware of his legacy and body of work but not dragged down by it in ANY way. Always looking forward yet with respectful and proud nods to what he's done before.


Work with Brian Eno and The Mission, who he produced and jammed with. More Soundtrack music on 'Scream For Help' where he teamed up with Jimmy Page once more, a far cry from his arranging of the 60's film  Mrs Brown, You've Got A Lovely Daughter with Peter Noone and Herman's Hermits! When Zeppelin were giving Robert time to consider his future before the Knebworth return he joined Bonzo guesting with Wings on the Rockestra project as part of the Back To The Egg LP and was involved in Give My Regards To Broad Street.


Loved his jams with Ben E King and Lenny Kravitz, working with the Butthole Surfers and the fantastic LP and shows with Diamanda Gallas and Pete Thomas. His two solo LP's Zooma and The Thunderthief are spectacular and innovative, moving as always in new and surprising directions.





Be it Sarah Watkins, Julie Felix, Ben Harper, Supersilent, Seasick Steve or Them Crooked Vultures, you can be sure John Paul Jones will retain that individuality, that calm and measured approach that yet breaks moulds and turns heads and ears. Long may he reign...





And as a footnote, you can't forget John's dry humour. From the unconnected 'phone on the Yamaha at Knebworth to sharp interview answers across the globe and years he's been been always amusing and observant. When talking about the first Zeppelin rehearsal John once said 'Robert hadn't met me before and heard I was a session player. I don't know if he was expecting some old bloke with a pipe and a copy of the Golfing Times! Well, I didn't have a pipe...'
,





Saturday, 6 October 2018

EVENINGS WITH LED ZEPPELIN


Now the 50th is upon us, celebrations for fans old and new are now reaching a fair pace. Already I've added two exceptional publications to an increasingly creaking book shelves, and this mighty tome completes something of a holy trinity. I have known Dave Lewis for 30 years now, from when I collaborated on his 'A Celebration' book. Fast forward to today and the amazing growth of knowledge, memorabilia, recordings and film - and the volume of official releases - is astounding. 
  

First impressions are simply this - stunning. Weighing in at a hefty 576 pages, it really is special. From the incisive foreword by Zeppelin tour manager Richard Cole, it immediately becomes compelling. Two prologues follow, the first covering the years 1958 to 1967 and focusing on  the individual members activities. The second is a fascinating and excellently detailed history of 1968, with tour dates from The Yardbirds, Band Of Joy, Obs-Tweedle and best of all more than 20 shows Bonzo played with Tim Rose during the spring and summer of 1968.

The detail and the passion is what sets this book apart. There are 516 confirmed shows, 6 unconfirmed, 11 sessions and TV appearances and 86 cancelled shows all given a microscopic analysis, to the point where almost 400 - including 19 cancelled shows - have ticket stubs illustrated here. Just confirming the detail and unending search we've all been on for (much of) the last half century.

Photo's of venues, both outside and inside, flyers and programmes illuminate the evocative text for every entry. Some wonderful pictures - the four pictures from the Kinetic Playground, Chicago on May 23/24 from the late, great Howard Mylett collection on page 103 spring to mind - help to bring the story, the journey to life.

Cross referencing the audience, radio and soundboard recordings brings a direct link for those that focus their collecting on the audio side of Zeppelin, aided by reference to the various 8mm cine film and broadcast visual clips that have surfaced in the last half century.

Alongside Luis Rey's recent 5th addition 'Evenings With...' makes you want to reach for that LP, that CD, that tape and delve and relive the power, mystery and the hammer of the gods. And one of the biggest compliments I can make is inside all of this the text is not dry and unerring. Dave and Mike have made it interesting, alive and beguiling. Unlike so many reference books that leave me cold and read like a phone book, this is bright and sparkles.

Drawing from so many sources of inspiration over this long and never ending Led Zeppelin journey, they've strived to and achieved a fantastic database (for want of a better word) of those wonderful Evenings with Led Zeppelin. Taking a step back you can only marvel at their inexorable rise from unbilled opening act to stadium headliners, from hungry young men knocking at the door of the late 60's headliners to the biggest band in the World.

There are some contentious dates and venues, which some of us will debate long into many a long night with a beer and a quizzical look, but Dave and Mike know more than enough to explain and elucidate their reasons for placing of shows such as Boston 25/1/69 from 28/5/69 and their argument is both understandable and compelling.

Evenings with Led Zeppelin works on so many levels. In 2018 we've heard, seen and learnt so much since those halcyon days of Howard's first book, the at the time ground breaking A Celebration and the next level compendium The Concert File. As with every Zeppelin publication it's almost immediately outdated the moment it goes to print, as it is with Luis' Tape Documentary, as just one newly surfaced recording or ticket stub gives us new information or questions old truths.

This book is an utter triumph, a vast pool of knowledge and amongst the finest publications on ANY band, let alone those myriad of tomes about Led Zeppelin. Very few books are completely essential. This is...