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Birthday Celebrations / Uncut Interview Reflections / Houses Of The Holy (amongst the women’s tights and stockings) Remembered 35 Years On.

7 April 2008 1,860 views No Comment

A lot going on recently with the first topic being the Uncut interviews. All three reflected the dilemma they face of what might happen next. Robert’s interview with Allan Jones was by far the most compelling. His rare examination of his complex relationship with Jimmy was most enlightening.

“It went off the rails in the end because everybody got a little too relaxed and little too haywire. For me then, it didn’t really work from ‘77 onwards. However there were moments at Knebworth that were spectacular. But the price you have to pay – I didn’t think it was worth it anymore.”

Moving stuff indeed – there’s a great book to be written about the last lost days of Zeppelin though it would take the participants involved to reveal exactly how it was during that difficult last few years to make it really work. 

JPJ’s interview was informative if a little short. His offhand quote about a new album was unfairly taken out of  context on many news sites – give them a break!

His hurt at Unledded was also evident but ultimately he came across as unsure of where it might be heading.

“I’m not too sure about anything at the moment, I’ve got no idea what’s going to happen. But I’d certainly like to play with Jmmy again”

Jimmy seemed well agitated by some of his loaded interview questions – perhaps the most agitated he’s been in an interview for some years. However his comment   ‘’If you’re talking about a tour, other dates, recording together – there’s only one thing that’s going to be a common denominator with that and that’s commitment. That’s how we did the 02.’’was again very perceptive.

As was Robert’s declaration: ’There’s unfinished business definitely. And I don’t think there’s any need for it to be finished .There’s going to be something to do sometime‘’

With Led Zeppelin there’s been unfinished business for these past 40 years. Long may that be the case.

Back here finished business is near at hand with the final proof checking of TBL 20 (thank you Lorraine). It should be landing on your doormat in the next couple of weeks.

It was something of a celebration day last Thursday when the bruv John celebrated his 60th birthday. The Lewis clan all converged on the local White Horse – including the elder bruv Mervyn who’s only experience with Zep live occurred at Earls Court and left him as he constantly reminds me with “psychedelic nightmares”.

Beers were drunk and toasts were made, and I was pleased to hand over a series of special JL at 60 Zep CD’s (thanks Gary D) that marked the three occasions that JL and myself saw Zep together stretching back to that night of Electric Magic. I was also able to supply a DVD (thanks John P) of The Faces gig at the Edmonton in 1973 – an occasion when I was ousted in attending in favour of wife to be Sally. Now I know what it was like!

All in all it was great to be with JL and family on a milestone night – his decision for us to attend that epic show of Sunday November 21 1971 made sure things were never the same around our house after that.

I just wish we had purchased more than one Electric Magic poster at 30p!

It was also the bruv JL who 35 years ago (he was coming up 25, I was sweet 16 and we are both older than that now to paraphrase Bob Dylan) on Wednesday March 28 1973 first alerted me to the fact that Led Zeppelin’s fifth album was finally in the shops. I was working at the local British Home Stores as a warehouse assistant and JL interrupted me unloading boxes of ladies tights and stockings outside the shop to show me that glorious sleeve. (Historical note: I left school at 15 with no qualifications to work at BHS for the astounding wage of £11.50 a week – it was to be a year later in 1974 that I took up my more appropriate job of working in a record shop – which in various forms and many twists along the way, I’ve been doing ever since).

It was typical of JL to beat me to being first with the album. He’s had a habit of upstaging me for many years right up to last week when he scooped me by seeing the premiere of the Stones Shine A Light movie. I know my place and I’m still the baby of the family!

Prior to that day in late March 1973, I’d spent almost every lunchtime in the local record shops namely Harlequin, Carlows and WH Smith (where I’d end up working) requesting the album. It was first touted for release on January 5th. So regular were my jaunts that the Bowieesque guy behind the counter at Harlequin one day jumped out proclaiming “It’s in!” This was in early March. “Surely not” said I.

“Oh yes it is ..” the Bowie clone proceeded to unveil the sleeve for the new Deep Purple album Machine Head.

I felt like saying “It’s Led fucking Zeppelin I want!”, but kept it to a relatively calm “Oh I’m strictly a Zep man sorry.”

Curses! Terry B you would have been sorted!

Anyway once on the player, well it was more than evident they had delivered.

I have fantastic memories of that period – being mortified by Chris Welch’s poor review in Melody Maker (“Zep lose their way”), smiling triumphantly at the NME story of their achievements at Tampa (little did I know that 34 year hence a vintage TV news story about that gig would proceed their return to the stage in my 52nd year!)

Houses Of The Holy alongside Wings Red Rose Speedway, the Jimi Hendrix soundtrack from the then new documentary film (another memorable occasion with JL – we went to see the film that July) and latterly The Rolling Stones Goats Head Soup formed the soundtrack of my summer of 1973.

I still have massive affection for that fifth Zeppelin album. It seems to stand alone within their catalogue. A transitional set, taking stock and paving the way for what was to follow – all smiles and brightness and easily the most uplifting Zeppelin album. In a future TBL magazine I must do a full reappraisal of that album – I have some fantastic archive material from the era.

It will certainly be a favorite on my iPod in the coming weeks and I’d fully recommend it be on yours too – Expect to be feeling a whole lot better after it has run the near 41 minutes duration.

Plans ahead: I am organising an informal get together in a central London pub (details to follow) for Saturday May 31 – to celebrate what would have been John Bonham’s 60th birthday.

It’s high time we chewed over the Zep fat of which there has been much, and generally hold our own Bonzo’s birthday party. I look forward to seeing all that can make it – I’ll be the one in the corner drinking a Fosters (sorry Phil T!) and discussing the reason why I think the track Poor Tom is the perfect percussive statement of dear John Henry striking sticks upon skins.

I’m hoping Eddie Edwards will be in attendance to reveal his misgivings for the revamped Song Remains The Same double CD set which has been highlighted by a fair few fans (that includes you Ritchie from California – note I haven’t mentioned soccer once!) – an issue I’ll be addressing via Eddie in TBL 21. 

Right that’s enough for a Sunday night – I’m off to unravel the wraparound overlay proclaiming  ‘Led Zeppelin Houses Of The Holy’ that holds the delights of the album with the catalogue number K50014…. the very same cover that the bruv JL first brandished amongst the patterned women’s tights and stockings I was unloading back in 1973.

Altogether now..

“We’ve done four already and now we’re steady..”

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