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GOODBYE 2023 -TBL/DL BEST OF THE YEAR ROUND UP & TBL WRITINGS /LZ NEWS/PONTIAC 77 FOOTAGE/LEMMY/DL DIARY BLOG UPDATE

28 December 2023 1,126 views 2 Comments
As we say goodbye to 2023 and welcome 2024, here’s some thoughts and a summary…  
It’s a year now since I announced the retirement of the TBL magazine. I do miss the Tight But Loose mag and everything that went with it. The planning, the editing, the production, working with designer Mick on the layout and design, over seeing the printing, the distribution and reaction. A process I have been involved in for many a year. It was hugely fulfilling and I am very proud of the TBL heritage and the 45 magazines produced over a 40 plus year period.
When I decided to call time on the TBL magazine last December it was done with much soul searching and was by no means an easy decision.
That all said, It was the right moment as circumstances have changed considerably here in the past three years. There is just not enough time to apply the necessary focus that is needed to produce and sustain an intensive 32 page workload.
There are fresh priorities now not least looking after our lovely grandson Ollie who we have Monday afternoons and all day Friday. It’s joy for the good lady Janet and I to do so – when he is here the playlist switches to the likes of Wheels on the Bus and Coco Melon – all great fun and we feel very blessed indeed.
It was a combination of factors that led to me retiring the TBL magazine. Nobody is getting any younger – I was 22 when I hand wrote the first issue in 1978 and here I am an old age pensioner at 67. With age comes health worries and there are ongoing issues here both physical and mental to navigate through.
I have personally lost some dear friends this past year and have attended six funerals in 2023. It’s a sad fact that my age group is very prone illness – these passing’s have all been incredibly sad – with age comes mortality and it’s something that is unavoidable. My first conversations now with friends tends to be not about the latest reissues or bootlegs but how their health is.
I am totally blessed to have many friends who enrich my life manifold.
”Good times bad times” to paraphrase that opening track of Led Zeppelin I might be rather a curt summary of how things are now but that is the way it is.
How one deals with all this is the difficulty we all face – I try and cherish the day and keep positive but it’s not easy… reaching out for inspiration is key and in my world that revolves around my love and passion for music in all it’s forms. On that front it really has been something of a vintage year as you will read on below…
My enthusiasm to chronicle and share the music I love and write about, goes on unabated. With the TBL mag no more – the platforms of this Facebook page and the regular TBL website update have become ever more important for me.
I love compiling the regular TBL website update, keeping up to date with the latest Zep related news and often focusing on key Zep related events from the rich heritage of past TBL content.
Similarly I love my various Facebook posts – the daily posting of musicians Birthday’s with links to You Tube clips, marking key Led Zeppelin anniversaries, the Saturday is platterday – on the player posts, the Throwback Thursday retro chart and adverts from my paper archive and the reporting of my record and CD finds etc.
All of this defines who I am and what I do – it also serves as an inspiration to fend off the black dog of depression which I am often prone to. In effect I need to do this as it’s good for the soul.
As is well known, I also love collecting records and CDs across many a genre – amongst them foreign Led Zeppelin pressings, anything Page, Plant and Jones related, 1960s and 70s sampler albums, Beatles and Rolling Stones albums, promo and demo singles, singles with Beatles cover versions, anything interesting on the the Swan Song, Apple, Atlantic, Island and Immediate label to name but a few, plus, eight track cartridges and cassettes, charity shop bargains, visiting record fairs and record shops and more -add to all that the consumption of monthly music magazines and music related books which I soak up relentlessly.
As the late great David Crosby sang ”Music is love” and that’s the way it’s been for me from an early age.
As previously mentioned here, my current writing focus is chipping away at my own memoirs. Researching my memoirs is an ongoing process and discovering the roots of my music and collecting passions is proving to be both cathartic and revealing.
Listening, collecting, chronicling and sharing this great music I and many other likeminded people love is in my DNA.
This very deep connection I have with my favourite artists is as fervent as ever – and all this is a reminder of why I do what I do and sometimes it’s good to stop and reflect on it all.
So, my Facebook page and the regular TBL website updates are important outlets for me to express and share my musical passion and enthusiasm – and to do so continues to be a privilege and a pleasure…
Projects ahead…
Before I get to my best of the year listings a quick summary of projects ahead…
The DL Memoirs:
Collating my memoirs that covers my involvement in chronicling of Led Zeppelin, my 35 years in music retail and much more has been an ongoing quest here since June 2022. I made a good start in the first few months but it’s been a bit slow going in recent months – not for lack of application -it’s just been difficult to find the time to get down to it in amongst everything else going on
I am currently 37,000 words up and have reached early 1974 so there’s a long way to go. I am pleased with what I have amassed so far and unlocking the thoughts and stories of my  formative years has proved to be very enlightening.  Looking at where it’s at now it could be there might be two volumes of this -I am not really sure quite what format it might appear in and I am not too worried about that yet.
The task in hand is to keep wading on with these memoirs and I am hoping to be much more pro active with this project in 2024.  More on all this as it unfolds…
I do have one or two other projects in the offing but are all at an early stage.
Whilst I would not consider myself retired, I have slowed down a bit and there’s a need to be flexible with my time. I still have the zest and energy to get things done albeit in a more measured way and of my choosing.
Right let’s get down to looking back at the musical year….
There’s no doubt it’s been an absolutely vintage period.
For example (deep breath)…..
A cracking new album from The Rolling Stones, A final Beatles single, Robert Plant with Saving Grace playing some of the best shows I’ve seen in years and even performing Stairway To Heaven at the Andy Taylor charity show. Jimmy Page back on stage with the double neck guitar at the Hall Of Fame induction ceremony  – a stack of great reissues topped by the brilliant Who’s Next box set…
BEST OF THE YEAR 2023 TBL ROUND UP:

DL Best Of Year LP/CD releases:

There’s been some truly fantastic albums and CD’s this past year so here’s my best of listings.

My collecting and listening pleasure revolves around heritage releases and reissues. I am not a pursuer of new music -not because there isn’t any great new music being made – it’s  hard enough keeping up with the many reissues, Zep bootleg releases etc that continue to surface and the sense of nostalgia attached to these gems is truly inspiring.

In effect every record or CD I invest in can tell a story…and there are many stories connected with the following some of which are explained in the DL writings round up below and more will feature in my work in progress DL Memoirs…

So in no particular order here’s my favourite LP and CD releases of 2023…

Life House –  Who’s Next – The Who Deluxe CD Box Set

The Rolling Stones – Hackney Diamonds LP/Picture Disc/Rolling Stones Number 9 edition/CD

The Beatles 1962 – 1966 – 3LP

The Beatles 1967 – 1970 – 3LP

The Kinks – The Journey Part 1 2LP

The Beatles at Stowe School 4LP bootleg

The Beatles – Hey Jude/Beatles Again – 3LP bootleg

Led Zeppelin Dancing Days Are Here Again 4 LP Bootleg

Led Zeppelin – Open Your Heart To Fort Worth -Live in Fort Worth TX Tarrant County Convention Center March 3rd 1975. 4LPbootleg

Led Zeppelin – Storming The Big Apple -Madison Sqaure Garden 1970 -3LP bootleg

The Faces – Had Me a Real Good Time at the BBC – LP – Black Friday Record Store Day Release

Bob Dylan – Another Budokan 1978 – 2LP

Joni Mitchell – Court And Spark Demos  LP – Black Friday Record Store Day Release

Splinter – The Place I Love – LP Black Friday Record  Store Day Release

Little Fea – Love at Manchester Free Trade Hall 1977 – 3LP Record Store Day Release

Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs Presents Incident at a Free Festival -Various Artists 2LP

Bob Stanley Presents London 1 To Z 1962 – 1973 – Various Artists CD

We Can Work it Out – Covers Of The Beatles 1962 – 1966 – Various Artists 3CD

The Endless Coloured Ways – The Songs of Nick Drake – Various Artists 2LP

Dusty Springfield – Cameo – 2LP Record Store Day Reissue

Elvis Presley – Burning Love The RCA Rehearsals 2LP Record Store Day Release

David Bowie -Ziggy Stardust Original Soundtrack 50th Anniversary – 2LP limited gold vinyl

Thin Lizzy – Live and Dangerous Live at Hammersmith -2LP Record Store Day Release

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Council Skies –  LP

Stephen Stills – Live at Berkeley 1971 CD

Coverdale Page – Coverdale Page – 2LP Japanese reissue

Yes – Live at Knoxville Civic Auditorium 1972 2- 3LP Record Store Release

DL Best Of Year LP/CD releases:

There’s been some truly fantastic albums and CD’s this past year so here’s my best of listings.

My collecting and listening pleasure revolves around heritage releases and reissues. I am not a pursuer of new music -not because there isn’t any great new music being made – it’s  hard enough keeping up with the many reissues, Zep bootleg releases etc that continue to surface and the sense of nostalgia attached to these gems is truly inspiring.

DL Best Of Year LP/CD releases:

Album of the year:

The Rolling Stones – Hackney Diamonds – LP, Picture Disc, Limited No 9 Rolling Stones shop edition and CD!

Singles of the Year:

The Beatles – Now And Then

The Rolling Stones – Angry

Box Set of the Year:

Life House –  Who’s Next – The Who – Deluxe box set

Compilations of The Year:

Bob Stanley Presents London A-Z 1962 – 1973 – CD

Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs Presents Incident at a Free Festival -Various Artists 2LP

Bootleg LP of the Year:

Led Zeppelin – Open Your Heart To Fort Worth -Live in Fort Worth TX Tarrant County Convention Center March 3rd 1975. 4LPbootleg

Charity Shop  Find of The Year:

Wishbone Ash -Live Dates double LP signed on the back by members of the later line up – found it for a £1!

Led Zeppelin Find of The Year:

Led Zeppelin – Physical Graffiti – pressing in rare gatefold sleeve – (thanks Patrick C!)

Favourite Books of the Year:

Nick Drake The Life -Richard Morton jack

Us And Them  The Authorised Story of Hipgnosis – Mark Blake

Whatever Happened To Slade? Daryl Eastlea

Favourite Films of The Year:

Mr. Jimmy

Squaring The Circle (The Story Of Hipgnosis)

Favourite YouTube Clip:

Led Zeppelin – Dallas – April 1 1977 -upgraded colour clip

Favourite Gigs of The Year:

Robert Plant Presents Saving Grace featuring Suzi Dian – Birmingham Symphony Hall -November 5 2023

Robert Plant Presents Saving Grace featuring Suzi Dian – Cardiff  New Theatre – November 15 2023

Robert Plant Presents Saving Grace featuring Suzi Dian – Cambridge Corn Exchange – November 17 2023

Jeff Beck Tribute – Royal Albert Hall – May 23 2023

Graham Nash – London Dury Lane Theatre – September 11 2023

Love Revisited – Bedford Esquires – July 14 2023

Coda – Bedford Esquires – February 11 2023

Tom Robinson Band – Bedford Esquires – June 15 2023

Absolute Bowie – Bedford Esquires – October 2023

Some thanks: 

Firstly thanks again to all the great suppliers that continue to feed my record passion – notably Warren and Nerys at the Slide Records Bedford, Brian at Revolution Records Stevenage, David and Eddie at Empire Records St Albans, David at Black Circle Records Leighton Buzzard.

The excellent Flashback Records in Islington and Sister Ray, Reckless in Soho and Fopp in Covent Garden.

Plus the many charity shops that often come up with amazing bargains on CD and LP.

To Nick Carruthers for all his help plus Steve Livesley, Pete Burridge, John Parkin, Ian Sakia, Phil Harris, James Bevis, Cliff Hilliard, Lee Abrahams, Dave Crane, Andrew Pepworth, Chris West ,Jerry Bloom and Adam Tidd, for sharing their fellow LP record collecting enthusiasm – and Rob and John at the always excellent VIP Record Fairs of which Bedford and Victoria in London continue to be the go- to Record Fairs for us.

Some record collecting thoughts:

LPs:

The price of new vinyl albums and reissues has continued to increase and though thee packaging on an LP is of course always an attraction, I am often quite content to bypass the vinyl version and settle for the CD package – I’m fine with that as I love both formats almost equally.

As for the second hand market, there is so much great stuff to be found  and I’ve picked up some great bargains increasingly from charity shops and the more familiar haunts such as the VIP Record Fairs. My interest in 60s/70s compilations, obscure packaging, foreign pressings and anything Zep related continues unabated.

CDs:

With their ongoing cheap availability in charity shops, the CD format is continuing to going through a collector renaissance . It’s possible to pick up some absolute bargains as I have done (and my fellow record collecting comrades John, Pete and Steve) throughout the year. This is a trend that is likely to continue as CD collections get replaced in favour of Spotify and other streaming services.

Being a man of physical product, I am more than happy for that situation to happen and I will be keeping an eye out for the CD bargains to appear in charity shop outlets – there’s some great stuff to be had and I like I said still love that format.

 

BOOTLEGS:
My collecting of bootlegs mainly revolves around Led Zeppelin , The Beatles and  Rolling Stones. There have been a few gems added to my bootleg collection in the past year.

SINGLES:

The collecting of the 45 RPM format remains a joy for me and there’s been many a bargain acquired this past year.

One of my many record collecting areas is advance promotional demonstration singles – demos or promos as they are known.

These are the pressings of singles in a limited quantity that were distributed to DJs, radio stations and reviewers ahead of their official release to garner interest –A promotional recording, or promo, or plug copy, is an audio or video recording distributed free, usually in order to promote a recording that is or soon will be commercially available. Promos are normally sent directly to broadcasters, such as music radio and television stations, and to tastemakers, such as DJs, music journalists, and critics, in advance of the release of commercial editions, in the hope that airplay, reviews, and other forms of exposure will result and stimulate the public’s interest in the commercial release. I have over 200 of these on many labels and many an artist.

A bulk of these contain details of the planned release dates on the label and I love equating these dates to what I might have been up to at the time.

Another of my singles collecting passions is Beatles cover versions- particularly post 1966. Again I have a lot of these items. It remains a fascination that every Beatles album was mined by other artists for possible hit material so album tracks such as And I Love Her, Nowhere Man, Girl, Michelle, Hey Bulldog, Goodnight and many more appeared on countless singles in their own right. Searching these often obscure releases is great fun.

I am also always on the lookout for anything on the Apple, Island and Immediate labels, TV and film themes and of course Led Zep related.

Other formats – cassettes and stereo 8 track cartridges:

Interesting cassettes and 8 track cartridges are also on my radar – I recently scored a few Led Zeppelin 8 track cartridges in good condition and on the cassette front, a nicely packaged Rolling Stones Rolled Gold double cassette. I also picked up an excellent portable cassette player with slide controls.

In summary – collecting music in all its varying formats is in my DNA and a source of constant joy and inspiration.

However…I do have a new mantra for 2024 

Buy less – Play more…

Yes I know that might come as a shock statement as my ”you can never have too many” guideline has been my mantra for a good while.

Circumstances dictate that I need to take stock here. The fact is I have a lot of stuff and not a lot of room. So my intention in 2024 is to buy less and play more. Like a lot of collectors I have a backlog of CDs ,LPs and singles to play and investigate and that will be high on the agenda. So it will be a case of buying less to play more and I’m looking forward to that policy.

It won’t be easy of course and there’s already a few things on my wants list ( the forthcoming Paul McCartney and Wings Band On The Run 50th anniversary release being one) but for now I’ll be pausing to breath a bit more here.

That’s not to say I wont be buying but it will be somewhat more strategically applied.

I also have a plan ahead to downsize the collection and sell some LPs and CDs on to make some much needed room here.

These are of course bold intentions designed in consultation with the good lady Janet.

I’m sure there will be a few important additions to be had although perhaps more selectively…

I’ll be posting the ‘’Play More’’ items that will be on the player as I get to them in the coming weeks..

Dave Lewis – December 28 2023.


TBL DL POSTINGS AND WRITINGS 2023:

Here’s a round up of some of my postings and writings this past year from January to December…

Jeff Beck – 1944 – 2023…

Like us all, I was so shocked and incredibly saddened on Wednesday night to hear the news of the sudden passing of Jeff Beck aged 78.

Jeff Beck has been a part of my musical heritage for over 50 years.

Initially I discovered his genius lighting up the charts with The Yardbirds – hits such as For Your Love, Shapes Of Things and Over Under Sideways Down were way ahead of their time.

He was of course intrinsically linked with his lifelong friend Jimmy Page and my interest in Led Zeppelin took me on a path through their roots and influences and to the music of Jeff Beck.

I paid a then bank busting £5 in the early 70s to own the seminal Yardbirds single Happenings Ten Years Time Ago/Psycho Daisies –the only time Jeff and Jimmy shared the spotlight on a Yardbirds single

They did hook up for that stomp through Train Kept a Rollin in the Blow Up film and on the wonderful Beck’s Bolero (with John Paul Jones, Keith Moon and Nicky Hopkins) the B side to his massive hit Hi Ho Silver Lining. I discovered the latter on a a Most Of hits compilation during a musical exploration that included those 1960s jams with Jimmy on the Anthology of British Blues Vol I and II and the Guitar Boogie album,  The Yardbirds bootlegs Golden Eggs I and II, The Yardbirds magnificent 1966 Roger The Engineer album, his work with the Jeff Beck group with Rod Stewart on the Beck Ola and Truth albums, in  the  power trio Beck Bogart & Appice and his move into the jazz rock field with Blow By Blow.

Jeff had a unique style all of his own – technically brilliant but equally explosive, able to drift off on a tangent at the flick of the fingers.

I was lucky enough to be in his company on a fair few occasions notably backstage at Earls Court in May 1975  at the 1983 Royal Albert Hall Arms shows with Jimmy Page, at the Classic Rock awards in 2011 when he performed an amazing set after collecting his Living Legend award.

Most memorable of all was the evening of February 14 2007. That was the night Robert Plant reunited with his Honeydrippers line up for a special show at the JBs Club in Dudley.

Before the main event, there was a real surprise. Jeff Beck strolled on the stage, cream and white Telecaster in hand to perform three instrumental jams supported by a two man rhythm section with the Playboys Ian Jennings on bass. Looking for all the world like he’d stepped off the set of that famous Yardbirds club appearance in the Blow Up film, he proceeded to deliver those familiar guitar histrionics that has carved his legend. The total surprise element in viewing one of the pioneering guitarists of all time right there just a few feet away from me was absolutely startling. Scrubbing the axe for all it’s worth, finger picking up the fret- it was a true masterclass of electric guitar playing.
The gig was also a 60th birthday party for long time Robert Plant soundman the late great Roy Williams who had worked with Jeff.
 Jeff attended the after show party and I was lucky enough to spend a few minutes in his company – he was so gracious and welcoming as we talked about his days in The Yardbirds, collaborations with Jimmy and more.
That unscheduled Jeff Beck performance remains one of the most memorable I have ever witnessed and now he has gone and the world of music is a far poorer place.
He will be so sorely missed…
RIP Jeff…
Dave Lewis – January 12 2023.
Jimmy Page Tribute:
Via his Facebook page:
“The six stringed Warrior is no longer here for us to admire the spell he could weave around our mortal emotions, Jeff could channel music from the ethereal. His technique unique. His imaginations apparently limitless. Jeff I will miss you along with your millions of fans.
Jeff Beck Rest in Peace.”
Robert Plant Tribute:
Via his Instagram page

This is tragic news. Hard to take in. Jeff always appeared timeless, ever evolving. He embraced project after project with limitless energy and enthusiasm. He surfaced in an extraordinary time, he took his place side by side with the virtuosos of the period, his mates.

“The scene was on fire, he introduced a cool template moving from Yardbird to Bolero to Truth, Beck Ola with Rod the perfect foil, the singer and guitarist syndrome, plenty of sparks, great results. He cooked up magic through all the passing eras, always up for the next, unknown, unlikely collision, back in time to homage Cliff Gallup, forward to Johnny Depp. His gift was enormous. He was funny, challenging and eager. My feelings are with Sandra today.”

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Stop Press: David Crosby RIP:
This vey sad news came in late on Thursday night…
David Crosby ….one of my all time musical heroes – part of my musical heritage since 1969…such a beautiful singer. Sensitive and passionate and a superb guitarist – he could do it all – he could stir the soul and did so many times across a six decade career that encompassed The Byrds, his magical link up with Stephen Stills and Graham Nash and Neil Young, through an eclectic solo career and more recently with his Lighthouse Band – I was about to order his new live album literally today – and now he has gone and the world has lost another musical giant of my generation…
‘’Guess I’ll set a course and go’’
RIP Croz…
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It was 54 Years Ago Today…January 30,1969..
On the player The Beatles Get Back The Rooftop Performance – 2022 remastered version bootleg LP on white vinyl…
Some thought’s today as it played:
Get Back take one
Get Back take two
A couple of warm ups with Billy Preston making his presence felt.
There a sense of real relief in these early work outs – the fact that they are one again together united as a fab four free of all the studio constraints.
Don’t Let Me Down take 1
Initially slightly tentative, John forgets the lyrics then they are all in at the chorus..
I’ve Got a Feeling take one
Paul in his best I’m Down/ Helter Skelter/Oh Darling screaming vocal mode and then John entering with his contributions – ‘’Everybody had a hard year’’- harmony between them restored, not that it ever really went away…
One After 909
The vintage one from 1963 – getting back to the Cavern, the spirit of pre fab four days prevailing…
Dig a Pony
Latter era Lennon gem –a warm up, a false start and then straight in…”’All I want is you’’
God Save The Queen
A short instrumental skit then it’s in to…
I’ve Got a Feeling take 2
Tighter – harmonies pitch perfect and the descending guitar part spot on …
Don’t Let Me Down take 2
More assured and superb Lennon vocal
Get Back take 3
The chaotic finale as the police arrive after complaints and Paul ad-libbing the lyrics as it happens …’’You’ve been singing on the roof again and that’s not good you’ll get arrested’’
Summary:
I’ve been fascinated with this performance for nigh on 53 years – ever since I watched the Let It Be film at the Granada Cinema Bedford in some awe aged 13 back in 1970.
Playing it today all of 54 years on from when it all took place on that roof in Saville Row, reminded me of how glorious this performance was and still is.
It’s the act we’ve known for all these years at their joyous best and yes John, you and Paul, George and Ringo more than passed the audition…
Dave Lewis – January 30, 2023.

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My thoughts on…

Coda – A Tribute To Led Zeppelin, Bedford Esquires – February 11, 2023
First set:
We’re Gona Groove/I Can’t Quit You Baby/Out On The Tiles/The Wanton Song/The Ocean/Thank You/Black Dog/When The Levee Breaks/Kashmir
Second set:
Rock And Roll/Sick Again/Moby Dick/Custard Pie/Trampled Underfoot/Misty Mountain Hop/Stairway To Heaven/Whole Lotta Love – Let That Boy Boogie /Communication Breakdown
Back to the always excellent Esquires venue in Bedford last night for a much needed night of musical inspiration – and what an inspiration Coda are.
It says everything about their undoubted understanding of the Led Zep legacy that tonight’s set is vastly different from the last time they came to Bedford a year ago. Collectively, they have the ability to interpret the Zep catalogue at will – and they interpret it so brilliantly.
As I have noted before, what is so refreshing about this particular tribute band is that they really give the audience what they want – which is no holes barred rock’n’roll played with all the swagger it demands. They also do it with a smile on their faces – front man Pete Byrne has an engaging between song manner that adds a touch of warmth to the proceedings.
They opened with We’re Gonna Groove and then straight into I Can’t Quit You Baby – as the real thing did back in 1970 at their celebrated Royal Albert Hall gig.
From there the Zep nuggets just kept on coming. Out On The Tiles, The Wanton Song and The Ocean all hitting the mark. They slowed it down for an emotional Thank You with great keyboard input from Rob Deery. Black Dog and When The Levee Breaks (Happy Birthday Fiona G!) took the temperature back up before an intense rendering of Kashmir closed the first set.
They were back with pure intent with Rock And Roll and Sick Again and then Moby Dick – a showcase for drummer Simon Wicker to demonstrate his John Bonham credentials which he did with much aplomb.
Custard Pie led into the funk groove of a riveting Trampled Underfoot, guitarist James Yorke-Starkey coming into his own with a series of compelling solos.
A stomp through Misty Mountain Hop and a suitably majestic Stairway To Heaven brought the main set to a close.
Finally a fitting encore – kicking off with a riotous Whole Lotta Love which was dedicated to our recently departed friend and ardent Zep fan Jez Firth – a lovely touch.
Whole Lotta Love led into the Let That Boy Boogie segment and then a frantic Communication Breakdown.
By the evenings end Coda had more than done justice to the Led Zep legacy.
Summary:
It was a real tonic for Janet and I to meet up with so many friends who share the passion including Steve and Anne Marie, Michaela and Bob, Chris and Tina, Jenny and Dave, Ian and Veronica, Pat and Gaynor and Lee.
Many thanks to Pete Burridge, Kevin Bailey and Emily Paris and to Simon Wicker and Fiona Goble.
In paying tribute to Led Zeppelin, Coda bring a lot of happiness to every audience they encounter and in this day and age that is a very welcome trait.
Last night at Esquires it was a joy to be in their company again.
Dave Lewis – February 12, 2023
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My thoughts on Us And Them – The Authorised Story of Hipgnosis 

The visionary artists behind Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Paul McCartney and more..

by Mark Blake 

I’ve had a fair bit of association with the Hipgnosis design team over the years.

Back in early 2005, I was at a meeting at the Virgin Megastore where I worked when I saw a voice mail come up on my mobile. When I checked it later I saw that it was from Aubrey Powell who I knew to be Po of Hipgnosis. He wanted to come here to shoot some of my Robert Plant memorabilia for a promo video he was putting together to be shown at the forthcoming South By South West event Robert would be appearing at.

Aubrey duly came over for an afternoon with an assistant and photographed a lot of my Plant material. Po also got me to set up my Dansette record player so he could film Robert’s Honeydrippers single Sea Of Love filmed revolving at 45RPM to get a retro look.

Po kindly signed copies of Houses Of The Holy, Presence and In Through the Out Door and chatted about their creation.

The resulting promo film was shown at the South by South West event in the US complete with my Dansette record player spinning Sea Of Love.

Ten years later in March 2015, I met Po at his home near Battersea Power station to interview him for the TBL mag on the 40th anniversary of the release of Houses Of The Holy. I spent a very illuminating time in his company. Po revealed a fair few stories that day though it was evident there was a whole lot more where those came from.

There have been a number of Hipgnosis photo books which offered insight to their working methods but it always felt like that these revelations were the tip of the iceberg. The story of how Po and co conspirator Storm Thorgerson loomed large over the 1970s rock world was one that I always felt needed telling in full and at last it has been.

The author Mark Blake with his past bio credentials including definitive works Queen Pink Floyd and Led Zep manager Peter Grant, has stepped up to the task with aplomb

He navigates his way though the often complex story of how this pair of contrasting characters became the go- to album sleeve designers for the likes of Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Paul McCartney and countless others.

The initial story centres around the 1960s Cambridge scene where Storm mixes with the art school crew including members who would become Pink Floyd including the wayward spirit of Syd Barrett.

By the time of their second album A Saucer full of Secrets appeared in 1967, Storm had linked up with Aubrey Powell to form the Hipgnosis design team and they came up with the album cover – the beginning of a highly fruitful relationship. Other big name clients soon came on board not least of course the mighty Led Zeppelin.

They did not get always hit it off with their clients Zep included. Storm offering a design of a tennis racket for a Zep sleeve felt insulting to Jimmy Page ”Are you saying our music is a racket?” recounts the guitarist.

However, the Hipgnosis/Zep relationship was to be a great success  producing the era defining sleeves for Houses Of The Holy, Presence and In Through The Out Door. The stories behind the creative process of this iconic album art work are diligently recalled.

Without giving the game away, there’s a constant stream of fascinating detail throughout the book. Want to know how a Robert Plant look a like was considered for that climb up the Giants Causeway? The character who played the guy in the bar on the six covers for In Though The Out Door?  The only time Po appeared on a Hipgnosis cover? The identity of the hand that features on the Lamb Lies Down On Broadway? The 10 CC cover that was rejected as a potential Genesis cover? All this and much more is revealed.

At the core of the story of course, is the often fractious dynamic of Storm and Po’s working relationship. Storm often arrogant and cantankerous -something of a tortured genius  while Po the more affable and measured. They had a number of key staff such as the late Peter Chrstopherson who became a co partner, Alex Henderson and Richard Evans who went on to work with The Who and Robert Plant. It was a tight knit team that produced spectacular results.

How the Hipgnosis team travelled to various exotic locations with all the grandeur of a Lawrence of Arabia film shoot, became the stuff of legend and tales of how they created such masterpieces as Argus for Wishbone Ash, Elegy for The Nice ,Wings’ Greatest Hits and Pink Floyd’s iconic The Dark Side Of The Moon, Wish You Were Here and Animals are faithfully dissected  – the absurdity of some of their ideas not being without humour.

Such was their extravagance in June 1973 they travelled to shoot a total eclipse in Akjoujt Mauritania for a Led Zeppelin cover idea that was never used.

In an era of on the road rock’n’roll excess Hipgnosis were also not adverse to joining in and matching the foibles of the artists they worked with and there’s plenty of juicy stories along the way. A number of musicians who worked with Po and Storm on their respective album covers add ‘I was there’  perspective including UFO’s Phil Mogg, 10 CC’s Graham Gouldman and Andy Powell of Wishbone Ash, Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and various members of Pink Floyd.

The arrival Punk with it’s simplistic artwork pioneered by Jamie Reed’s Sex Pistols covers, clearly threatened the Hipgnosis empire but it was the arrival of the compact disc in 1983 that really did for them. Shrunken artwork was never going to be their forte and they expanded into music video work and films. A row over money split the Storm and Po relationship and they did not talk for 12 years though thankfully they were reconciled before Storm’s passing in 2013.

As Po himself explains in the book’s introduction, the Hipgnosis story unfolded ” At a time in the music business when nobody said no.”

It’s to author Mark Blake’s immense credit that he has persuaded a number of the principal players to say yes and it’s their first hand recollections skillfully linked to form a clear narrative that makes Us and Them such a compelling saga.

In short, anyone who stared in wide eyed wonderment at the classic album cover designs of Hipgnosis will find much to enjoy here. It’s a great read that captures a bygone era of visionary design – artwork that framed and enhanced some of the most important music ever made.

Dave Lewis – March 16 2023

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Friday March 10:

Just catching up with this gem that I’ve had for a couple of weeks…-
Led Zeppelin “The Sigils”-4 CD Slip Case edition of Odense 1971, Tarantura label
This has the recently surfaced May 4, 1971 performance at the Fyens Forum, Odense, Denmark.
Includes the rarely played live Four Sticks and Gallows Pole – a good audience tape for the time and the performance is blistering – and usual fabulous Tarantura package..
More DL Saturday LP record finds…these three from the excellent Thirsty Records in Bedford…
The Summit Year of the Child charity compilation album on the K -Tel label includes Led Zeppelin’s Candy Store Rock and tracks from Pink Floyd, Thin Lizzy, Wings etc. I like the fact someone has written 30/1/80 on the sleeve as that was when it was released…and the week I first purchased a copy..
The Wishbone Ash Live Dates double album original 1973 MCA pressing – the sleeve is a bit worn but it plays fine..
Genesis And Then There Were Three original 1978 pressing on the Charisma label…
£1 each? I’ll take them!

Sunday March 12:

More on my LP record finds yesterday…
On closer inspection of the Wishbone Ash Live Dates double album original 1973 MCA pressing that I paid £1 for – the back cover appears to have been autographed by members of the band – now that is some find and some bargain for a quid – you gotta love this record collecting lark!
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Jimmy Page has released an early demo of “The Rain Song” to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the release of “Houses of the Holy”.

Page released the track, titled “The Seasons,” through his website on March 28 using the website’s “On This Day” section.

“On this day, 50 years ago to the day, ‘Houses of the Holy’ was released,” Page wrote. “My original idea for the opening tracks for ‘Houses of the Holy’ was that a short overture would be a rousing instrumental introduction with layered electric guitars that would segue in to ’The Seasons’, later to be titled ‘The Rain Song’. Again there would be a contrasting acoustic guitar instrumental movement with melotron that could lead to the first vocal of the album and the first verse of the song.”

“‘The Seasons’ was a memo to myself as a reminder of the sequence of the song and various ideas I’d had for it in its embryonic stage. I’d worked on it over one evening at home. During the routining of the overture now titled ‘The Plumpton and Worcester Races’, the half time section was born and the overture shaped in to the song, ‘The Song Remains The Same’. These rehearsals were done in Puddle Town on the River Piddle in Dorset, UK.”

“The first set of recordings were done at Olympic Studios with George Chkiantz. We then came to record at Stargroves, Sir Mick Jagger’s country home, and, like Headley Grange, with the Rolling Stones recording truck. ‘The Song Remains The Same’ was played on a Fender 12 string, the same one used on Becks Bolero, with my trusty Les Paul number 1 on overdubs in a standard turning. The ‘Rain Song’ was an unorthodox tuning on acoustic and electric guitars. On live shows, it became a work-out feature for the double neck.”

My thoughts on The Seasons:

My thoughts on The Seasons – demo version of The Rain Song by Jimmy Page…
What a wonderful surprise to mark the 50th anniversary of the Houses of The Holy album.
For what Jimmy has so pleasingly revealed is a complete six and a half minute instrumental sequence that would be further developed as The Rain Song. This is a work in progress demo that Jimmy mentioned in an interview as being lost.
From a thread on the Steve Hoffman Forums website.
Back in 2014 this was what Jimmy said in an interview exchange:
Q: Has any of this kind of material been lost over the years?
JP: Yes. I had a home demo of The Rain Song (from Houses Of The Holy), but unfortunately the tapes have been lost. Which is a real bastard.
Q: Was this a fully formed version of the song?
JP: Yes. I literally had the full piece from beginning to end. I had the Mellotron idea and everything on it. But the version of The Rain Song on the new companion disc is a really cool one. It’s got less piano on it, so you get more of the guitar textures. I really liked the version that we did on (1976 live album) The Song Remains The Same. I thought we were working it really well. These songs, you see, they’re recorded and they come out on an album, and then they were included in the live set, and they would start to mutate. That was what was so good about it. So the live version on The Song Remains The Same is quite different to how it is on the studio version.
Thanks to Dave Snively for that thread piece.
It would appear on the strength of this new posting on his website that Jimmy has discovered the aforementioned demo – and what a find it is..
Titled The Seasons it carries that revolving guitar motiv we know so well and every time it comes around it inspires a rush of familiarity.
The acoustic themes further develop against a backdrop of soothing mellotron sounds. It all builds towards what would emerge as the vocal climax.
You can just picture Jimmy back then in his home studio totally lost in a world of musical creation
This is on a par if not better than anything on the official Houses of The Holy companion disc and as vital a find as anything in the entire reissue series.
It tells us so much more about the development one of the pivotal moments in the Zep catalogue.
It’s emergence shines a whole new light on The Rain Song and in a confused unsettled world, playing it though brings a tranquil calm that says everything about the genius of the guitarist.
The Seasons is quintessentially Jimmy Page – an album of his demos in the style of Pete Townshend’s Scoop releases would be very welcome indeed…
Meanwhile revel in the beauty of this awesome piece…
Dave Lewis – March 29 2023
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LED ZEPPELIN “STORMING THE BIG APPLE” 3LP

The new Casino Records bootleg release is in the house…it’s a fabulous package…
Here’s how it lines up
LED ZEPPELIN “STORMING THE BIG APPLE” 3LP
Recorded live at Madison Square Garden, New York City, NY, September 19th, 1970.
Afternoon Show (2pm)
For the first time on vinyl, complete audience recording
including tour concert poster replica and liner notes.
200 NUMBERED COPIES
LIMITED EDITION 3LP YELLOW VINYL 180 Gr. TRIFOLD SLEEVE
200 NUMBERED COPIES
LIMITED EDITION 3LP TURQUOISE VINYL 180 Gr. TRIFOLD SLEEVE
Mine is the turquoise vinyl run number 41 of 200
The two 1970 Madison Square Garden shows occurred the day after Jimi Hendrix passed and this referenced by Robert Plant.
This is the familiar audience tape much bootlegged and available on various CD sets notably the two gig presentation of the same name on the eat a peach label
Sound quality wise it’s a good for the time audience tape though nowhere near Blueberry Hill levels.
As for the show it’s a stormer though the evening show is even better with various one off performances. Maybe Casino Records are lining up that one ahead.
These multi LP limited vinyl bootleg sets are always a bit of a collector novelty and not for all – but as a visual package this is well up to the previous Casino standard -and I am very much looking forward to wading through this three LP’s worth of prime 1970 live Led Zep…
Dave Lewis – April 14 2023

Let It Be at 53:

The Beatles’ final studio album Let It Be celebrated its 53rd anniversary on May 8 – here’s my thoughts on one of favourite albums and what it means to me…

Let It Be and me…

I’ve had something of a 53 year love affair with The Beatles’ Let It Be album.

It all began way back in April 1969 when The Beatles released a new single titled Get Back. As previously chronicled, this was the inspiration for me to  get right back into music after a brief infatuation with The Dave Clark Five when I was seven years old.

James Bond, Thunderbirds, The Daleks and football took over for a while but aged 12 I was ready to tune in once again

It was Get Back that really attracted me back to music. I had heard it on Tony Blackburn’s Radio One breakfast show and repeatedly on the juke box in our local café.

I recall an advert in the NME that proclaimed it as ‘’The Beatles as nature intended.’’ What also attracted me to the record was the distinctive green Apple label design – and the B side that displayed the core of an Apple. Having been drawn to that beautiful image I was forever asking older friends to put The Beatles’ B sides on the Juke box – this is how I came to be very familiar with Don’t Let Me Down, Old Brown Shoe and Come Together –the flip sides of Get Back, The Ballad of John And Yoko and Something, the trio of singles released by The Beatles in 1969.

In September of that year The Beatles issued their Abbey Road album. An older friend bought it and I listened at his house in wonder at it’s amazing contents – not least the medley on side two.

The NME had already flagged that The Beatles next album would be titled Get Back and comprise of recordings made in early 1969 to accompany a film of the same name. This was planned to be released in 1970.

During the early months of 1970 I eagerly scanned the news pages of the NME for more news. It transpired the album and film would now be titled Let It Be and in early March 1970 the Let It Be single was issued backed with the quirky You Know My Name (Look Up the Number). The single came in an eye catching picture sleeve. I of course loved the single and the accompanying film clip of it shown on Top of the Pops.

On April 10, the Daily Mirror broke the story that Paul had quit The Beatles. The acrimonious reasons behind the split dominated the pop headlines over the next12 months. The Beatles had out grown The Beatles and as Lennon would put it – the dream was over.

However, there was one more Beatles album release and it came on May 8, 1970. Let It Be was packaged in an outer cardboard box that contained a deluxe book and the actual record catalogue number PX1. It sold for a penny less than £3.

Far too much for my pocket money but the same older friend did buy it and we marveled at that package, the book and the album’s contests. Let It Be for me sounded like a great album -with it’s off mic comments and raw playing, tender moments, jams and quirky singalongs –the informality of it all touched a chord – this was The Beatles presented in a unique way as never before.

However, not everyone was enamored with this final chapter. The NME called it a cheap cardboard epitaph. To this day I disagree with such a notion.

On Thursday June 18, 1970 I went to the Granada cinema in Bedford to see the Let It Be film. We had the day off school as Britain was going to the polls to vote in a general election that saw Edward Heath gain a shock Conservative win over Labour’s Harold Wilson.

It was also Paul McCartney’s 28th birthday.

The film was a poignant farewell – the highlight being the final footage of them performing live on the on the rooftop. I loved the film for its illuminating inside look at The Beatles at work.

Over the next few years, The Beatles Let It Be era was never far off my radar.

When I started buying bootlegs in 1972, alongside the Zep titles, I eagerly invested in The Beatles Get Back Sessions and the curiously titled Renaissance Minstrels Vol 1 , Both these albums contained various outtakes and unreleased material from the Let It Be/Get Back period.

They provided key insight to this captivating last gasp. The likes of The Walk and Teddy Boy sounding like lost jewels.

Fast forward to Christmas 1975 –the BBC screened the entire film on Boxing Day and it looked fantastic.

During that first TV showing I even listed down for my own reference all the songs that appeared during the film – I still have that hand written note as can been seen here.

The BBC screened it again four years later on Boxing Day 1979. On that occasion  my very good friend Dec taped it all on his newly acquired video recorder. When I got my own video recorder rented in 1981, Dec made me a copy of the Let It Be film – I now had all that marvelous footage at the flick of a button.

The bootleg CD explosion in the early 90s led me to many more recordings of the Get Back/Let It Be period as title after title appeared – notably a complete version of the fabled January 30,1969 rooftop gig – and the Let It Be film on DVD. I also have a bootleg of the original Get Back album as first proposed by producer Glyn Johns – complete with the intended cover of that photo of them in early 1969 at EMI in Manchester Square -re creating the Please Please Me cover shot. The 1969 image was later used for The Beatles red and blue compilations issued in 1973 (I bought both of those on the release date).

Mark Lewishon’s astonishingly detailed The Beatles at Abbey Road and The Beatles Chronicle books offered up vital accurate information of the 1969 sessions. I was lucky enough to meet Mark and attend two launches of his books inside the hallowed walls of Abbey Road Studios itself. In 1983 I also attended EMI’s The Beatles at Abbey Road presentation inside studio number two where so much of the Beatle magic had been created.

Over the years, The Get Back saga has continued to fascinate me and I’ve invested in a fair few books and magazines about the subject. The official Beatles Anthology made available some of those unreleased recordings I had craved on those bootlegs. Paul McCartney then re-invented the album by releasing Let It Be Naked – a fresh pre Phil Spector mix of the stark original versions of the Get Back/Let It Be project. I avidly soaked up that one with it’s 20 minutes of bonus recordings.

In the October 2010 issue of Mojo, they covered the final Beatles era in a superb feature. This issue was made available with an accompanying and CD vinyl album -Let It Be Revisited. This was a re imagining of the original album by a variety of artists including Beth Horton, Wilko Johnson and Judy Collins. The vinyl run came in a limited edition of 1,000 and I eagerly snapped that one up – I am always a sucker for Beatles cover versions.

Peter Jackson’s incredible Get Back film was of course another huge Let It be related thrill.

I of course have various pressings of the album – notably a French pressing and the US pressing with the gatefold sleeve. Until 2019 one had remained elusive.

That is the original UK release in the box set package. Very good condition copies go for over £400. Due to the flimsy nature of the cardboard and book binding, most copies are somewhat flawed. There was a very good conditioned copy sold at the local Bedford Slide Record Shop a while back  for £200.

In January 2019 I had a big result.

Flawed or not, I could not pass up an original Let It Be box set I came across at a Victoria Record Fair. Though nowhere near mint it wasn’t too bad. The outer cardboard box is somewhat trashed but acceptable. The Get Back book is in surprisingly good condition with no loose pages and the record is very good. This was on offer for what I consider a bargain price of £30. I managed to knock the guy down slightly and secured it for a mere £25.

Now that’s bargain and in Beatles collecting terms, one of the very best I’ve had.

So, at long last I have the original package that all those years back I marveled and have been obsessed with throughout my 53 years of music passion.

To own it as The Beatles put it ”as nature intended” is an absolute thrill.

It inspires so many memories of those halcyon days of 1969/1970.

Those memories are ignited every time the needle touches down and John Lennon’s plaintive cry of ‘’I did a pygmy by Charles Hawtry and the deaf aids – phase one in which Doris gets her oats’’ signals the entry of The Beatles performing Two of Us – on our way home.

In acquiring that Let It Be box set it felt like it had finally come home – and it, and I have memories longer than the road that stretches out ahead…

Dave Lewis – May 8 2023

5 MAY 2023 1,046 VIEWS 4 COMMENTS
My thoughts on…
A Tribute To Jeff Beck – Eric Clapton & Friends – Royal Albert Hall May 23, 2013:
48 years to the day that I was in on a mission for musical greatness with Zep at Earls Court (and boy did I find it) here I am all these years later on a train out of Bedford in search again but this time the mission is tinged with sadness.
For this is A Tribute To Jeff Beck -the second of two nights at the Royal Albert Hall to celebrate the life and music of a musician who has dominated the rock and fusion circuit for decades.
Jeff first appeared on my radar over 54 years ago during my quest to find every Led Zep influence I could.
Being a member of The Yardbirds more than qualified him for that status and I had great fun searching out The Yardbirds catalogue, the Jeff Beck Group, and his 1970s outfit Beck, Bogart and Appice and his masterful jazz fusion work on the likes of Blow By Blow. I remember paying £5 in 1974 ( a hefty price at the time) to own a copy of the seminal Yardbirds single Happening Ten Years Time Again /Psycho Daises which features Beck and Page.
So the opportunity to pay homage to his much missed talent was too good to miss and though tickets were hard to come by, I managed to score a single ticket for the second concert.
Before we go on I need to address the Jimmy Page issue. The first thing to state was that he was never billed to appear. Of course there was much speculation that he might make some sort of cameo role but that really was pure speculation.
Yes of course it would have been incredible to see him stroll on to join in on The Train Kept a Rollin’ etc and no doubt it would have taken the roof off.
But it was not to be.
Jimmy no doubt has his own personal reasons for not taking part and we should respect his wishes not to do so. As I have said before, Jimmy owes us nothing – over a 60 year career he has given us everything.
There’s been plenty of negativity about his non appearance which I find unjust. Jimmy has already paid a heartfelt eulogy tribute to Jeff at his funeral
It’s Jimmy’s decision and I for one trust his integrity to not be a part of this – this night was not about him but all about Jeff Beck – and rather than focus on what didn’t happen let’s celebrate what did, because let me tell you, my it was some occasion…
In the nearby Queens Arms pub it was great to see many a fellow comrade including Dave Fox, Guy D’Angelo, Hiroshi, and Steve Bombaci -the latter flew over with friends from Fort Lauderdale to attend both shows. It was also great to chat to the world renowned Beatles historian Mark Lewishon.
It was of course a thrill to be in the confines of the magnificent Royal Albert Hall. It’s my favourite London venue and I think this was my 16th occasion of being down at Albert’s place going back to the two memorable Arms concerts in 1983. It’s a venue seeped in musical history and tonight there was more history to be made…
The stalls were doing very brisk business on the selling of souvenir T-shirts and posters – though I was surprised there was no official programme.
I had a very good overview of the stage in my seat in the rausing circle.
So deep sigh…this is how this marathon evening unfolded.
Eric and his band were first up acknowledging Jeff’s Yardbirds era with a reggae paced Shapes Of Things and an authentic Heart Full of Soul.
Derek Trucks was on hand to add some truly inspiring blues guitar to a segment that included Little Brown Bird( Eric Clapton, Derek Trucks, EC Band) Done Somebody Wrong (Eric Clapton, Derek Trucks, Susan Tedeschi, EC Band) and The Sky Is Crying ( Eric Clapton, Derek Trucks, Susan Tedeschi, EC Band.)
Next up Elergy For Dunkirk sung with passion by Olivia Safe with support from Robert Randolph.
Enter Mr Ronnie Wood for an invigorating Becks Bolero ( Eric Clapton, Doyle Bramhall, Ronnie Wood, EC Band.)
Johnny Depp then took centre stage for an intense delivery of John Lennon’s Isolation aided by the introduction of Billy Gibbons and Kirk Hammett.
Imelda May made the first of two appearances for a dramatic rendering of The Shangri-Las Remember Walkin’ In The Sand.
Goodbye Porkpie Hat brought Derek Trucks back in the spotlight with Chris Stainton on keyboards and the Jeff Beck Band.
The arrival of the 81 year old John McLaughlin garnered huge applause. He proceeded to weave his guitar magic performing You Know You Know and Stratus with the Jeff Beck Band. Guitar strapped high and played with stunning dexterity. We were in the presence of greatness…
Yet more highlights – Billy Gibbons centre stage for a compelling delivery of the Afterburner track Rough Boy. It was then a joy to see Ronnie Wood replicating his bass role for a stomp through the old Jeff Beck Group number Rice Pudding.
Imelda May was back on to share vocal with Billy Gibbons on another Yardbirds throwback and one time Zep set opener The Train Kept A Rollin’ with Johnny Depp, Kirk Hammett, Ronnie Wood and the Jeff Beck Band.
During the interval various video clips were shown including a brief snatch of Jeff and Jimmy Page performing Immigrant Song at Jeff’s induction to the Hall of Fame. Earlier there had been various interview clips shown from the likes of Jimmy, Dave Gilmour,Sir George Martin and Slash.
Freeway Jam with Eric Clapton, Robert Randolph, Doyle Bramhall and the EC Band kicked off the second half. Josh Stone wrenched every piece of emotion out of a stunning delivery of I Put A Spell On You.
Gary Clark Jr entered proceedings for Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers and Let me Love You.
Then for me the arrival of the star of the show – Rod Stewart and this was not a case of do you think he’s sexy but more a case of do you think he’s brilliant because he was.
Rod owned the stage from the off and to see him sparring with Ronnie Wood again in a manner that made The Faces such a great band was awe inspiring to say the least and worth the price of admission alone.
They romped though Infatuation from Rod’s 1984 Camouflage album ( a track Jeff played on), Rock My Plimsoul (Rock Me Baby), I Ain’t Superstitious and then slowed it down for a tender and touching delivery of The Impressions People Get Ready – a number Jeff and Rod covered on his 1985 Flash album.
The finale was a rousing Going Down the Don Nix original Jeff recorded on his 1972 Beck Group album tonight performed with everyone back on stage.
Summary:
This was a fitting tribute to the late great Jeff Beck performed by some of the finest purveyors of the electric guitar – and superb vocalists to match.
Peers of a much missed guitar genius who collectively and indivually did his legacy proud.
I felt very priviledged to be in attendance on this memorable night at Albert’s place…
Dave Lewis – May 24, 2023
1 JUNE 2023 719 VIEWS ONE COMMENT

My thoughts on the John Bonham Celebration III event in Redditch – Saturday, May 27 2023:

A day of mixed emotions…

I made an early 8am start to reach Redditch from Bedford via train, a journey that lined up as follows: Bedford to Kettering, Kettering to Leicester, Leicester to Birmingham and then Birmingham to Redditch. The various changes went well and by 11am I was in the excellent Vintage Trax record shop in Redditch run by organisers Rose, David and her sister Teresa.

The weather was sunny and warm and I met my fellow Zep/TBL  comrade Andrew Pepworth by the John Bonham Memorial and it was over to the venue. This was situated by the shopping centre – a large cutaway area with a canopy. It quickly filled up.

Everything was looking great however, the proceedings were marred by a  very unfortunate incident. Just as the live music was about to get underway at 1pm the event director Rosemary Sidaway had a bad fall. It was very unnerving to witness and poor Ros had to be taken to hospital for hip surgery. It was so heart breaking that after all the effort she has put in to creating what was an excellent day Ros and her husband David had to miss it all.

I have to say I was well shaken by what had happened ( it spurred memories of Janet’s fall in December 2019) as were many of the event team but we all knew Ros wanted the show to go on

Under these difficult circumstances the event carried on and it’s to the credit of the organising team including Gemma and Lar and Neville that it did so very successfully.

The first couple of acts on were playing under the duress of the ongoing aftermath of the Ros accident who was positioned near the stage. Both did an admirable job under difficult circumstances.

Ritchie Dave Porter & Debra Susan’s enthusiastic blues rock carried a fair few influences as Ritchie turned in a few impressive Hendrix and Page licks.

Sundance were firmly in the blues rock mode and were getting into their stride when their set had to be interrupted. This was due to an ambulance and paramedics arriving to attend to Ros who was then driven away to hospital.

Sundance were followed by the Ceri Justice Band. Ceri did much to lift the mood with a set that included pleasing covers of Jolene and Walking the Dog.

In between the band changeovers ,there were a series of interviews with musicians  and people associated with John Bonham’s early days. Highlights for me included original band of Joy member Paul Lockey and Jim Simpson an early manager of Black Sabbath’s career. I was interviewed about my association with John and Zep and the Bonham family through the TBL magazine and books. I took along several photographs to illustrate a few of my experiences.

The always excellent CODA performed a hugely enjoyable semi acoustic set. That’s The Way Friends, Gallows Pole amongst the highlights and they closed with a rousing Rock And Roll. Taxi For Jesus followed and were another highlight.

As ever at events like this the camaraderie to be had being amongst fellow fans was truly inspiring. It was great to meet and chat to many fellow fans including Chris Beer, Mark Halliwell, Mike Bowen, Chris Maley and John Maley to name but a few. Unbeknown to me Chris had arranged for Russ Rees to attend – Russ and I go way back and I haven’t seen him for 48 years.

Catching up with various fans took me away from the action for a while and I sadly missed Vincent Flatts Final Drive and Eric Bell who I know went down very well. The closing act Led Into Zeppelin were excellent with impassioned vocals and great musicianship. The ensured the day on a high.

Summary:

All in all, despite the shock of Ros’s unfortunate accident, the event was a big  success and those in attendance thoroughly enjoyed this mix of great talent paying tribute to the memory of John Bonham and celebrating his 75 birthday -and also raising crucial funds for the West Midlands Teenage Cancer Trust.

Over the years Ros and David and the the John Bonham Memorial Friends team  have done so much to shine the spotlight on John’s Redditch roots. For this event special thanks go to Gemma, Lar, Neville and Teresa who worked tirelessly to keep the show on track.

So, a day of mixed emotions but ultimately the John Bonham A Celebration III event proved to be a triumph over adversity…

​Ros has been in touch and his having a hip replacement this week.  Our love and thoughts are with Ros for a speedy recovery and to all her family and husband David.

Dave Lewis – May 30 2023.

My thought on… 

Nick Drake The Life – book launch at Rough Trade East June 6 2023:

On Tuesday 6 June, Rough Trade East presents an evening of discussion for the release of Nick Drake: The Life by Richard Morton Jack.

Nick Drake: The Life is a definitive biography of the late Nick Drake. Drake was an English folk singer-songwriter who tragically died at the age of 26. Yet despite this, his three studio albums have had a profound and lasting legacy. Jack unpacks both Drake’s music and life in a comprehensive biography of the 70s musician.

Jack will be in conversation with Joe Boyd, the man who produced Drake’s first two studio albums, as well as recordings by Pink Floyd, R.E.M. and others.

Like a lot of people Nick Drake’s music passed me by in the 1970s. I did have the Nice Enough To Eat, Bombers and El Pea  sampler albums at the time but for whatever reason Time Has Told Me, Hazey Jane 1 and One of these Things First did not resonate with me back then.

Fast forward to 1985. The rep who covered the Island label releases who called on the WH Smith record department  I managed regularly left a promo cassette of upcoming Island releases. On this particular occasion the cassette included two tracks from. a forthcoming compilation by Nick Drake entitled Heaven In A Wild Flower- An Exploration of Nick Drake.  I was immediately drawn to the fragility of his voice, the sweeping string arrangements and the intricate acoustic guitar tunings.

This was music of vast emotional depth and I needed to hear more – much more…

I invested in the album upon it’s release and followed that with the Hannibal label compilation Time of No Reply.  A colleague who worked with me guided me to the three album original catalogue of Five leaves Left, Bryter Later and Pink Moon and I was well and truly hooked.

My own fascination with Nick Drake coincided with a massive rise in popularity of his work that was further inspired in the late 1990s by the use of Pink Moon in a Volkswagen TV advert.

I subsequently soaked up many an article on Nick’s legacy and read the admirable first biography of Nick Drake by Patrick Humphries published in 1997. I also enjoyed Trevor Dann’s  Darker Than The Deepest Sea: The Search for Nick Drake in 2006.  The superb overview of his work on the weighty Remembered For a While  collated by his sister Gabrielle Drake and  Cally Callomon was also much welcomed  Jason Creed’s excellent Pink Moon fanzine was another source of info.

My enthusiasm  for Nick’s output inspired me to begin writing my own thoughts. To mark its 40th anniversary In 2009 I was commissioned to write  a lengthy analysis of the Five Leaves Left album. This  appeared in the edition of Record Collector – this was a very significant personal accomplishment as it was my first major non Led Zep related  work to be published.

2004’s enlightening compilation Made To Love Magic was another superb release as was the Family Tree album in 2007 and the Fruit Tree and Tuck Box sets. I also invested in  bootlegs notably the excellent double set A day Gone By – all of which has taken me closer to the understanding of Nick’s legacy.

In short, Nick Drake’s music is a source of constant inspiration and he is right up there in the list of my favourite artists.

I was therefore very pleased a while back to hear that the eminent psychedelic rock chronicler and author Richard Morton Jack was undertaking a fresh perspective of the life of Nick Drake. I’ve long admired Richard’s diligence in producing his Flashback magazine, his work with his Sunbeam record label and his love of Zep (he wrote The Sunbeam Guide to Led Zeppelin in 2008). Over the years I’ve liaised with him on a fair few Zep related matters and he is always a joy to work with.

In the past couple of years  I’ve tracked the progress of Richard’s book on his Facebook group page.

Knowing he had Nick’s sister Gabrielle Drake on board and had also sought the input of previous biographer Patrick Humphries and searched out  many associates of Nick for their take, I had high hopes for this being the definitive word on the short complex life of this much revered musical genius.

My mounting excitement for the arrival of the book increased when it was announced that Richard would be undertaking a special launch event at London’s Rough Trade East record shop on June 6.

With the added bonus of a conversation with Joe Boyd the original producer of Nick’s first two albums this made it a must see for me.

So to the Rough Trade East record shop…

This was the third occasion I have attended a Rough Trade event – previously I’ve seen an instore performance by Patty Griffin and Robert Plant, the book launch of Barney Hoskyn’s Led Zeppelin Oral history Trampled Under Foot and a memorable Q and A with Robert Plant to mark the release of his singles box set in February 2020 just before the pandemic.

Before the start of the talk there was just time to check out the excellent Vintage Vinyl basement record store in Brick Lane and pop over to the Spitalfields pub.

While in there I got chatting to two fellow fans Shaun and Luke who were attending the event. As we chatted about Nick Drake a lady next to me turned and said ‘’Hope you don’t mind me interrupting but I heard you mentioning Nick Drake?

She then proceeded to tell me that her mum was a big fan in the early1970s and they lived in Kings Cross not far from where Nick lived in Haverstock Hill. ‘’My mum used to singalong to Pink Moon and also knew the designer of the album sleeve’’

It was lovely to chat to her and an amazing coincidence as she was not attending the event.

So into the Rough Trade shop – the area for the event was very busy with seats all taken and a lot of people standing. Author Richard Morton Jack introduced the guest speakers as follows:

Alex Henderson, Richard Charkin and Brian Wells.

All three were friends of Nick in the late 60s early 70s.

Then Joe Boyd came to the stage – the legendary record producer who signed Nick and produced his first two albums.

Richard gave some background behind the writing of the book and in a very nice touch, acknowledged the input of Patrick Humphries the author of the first ever biography of Nick l back in 1997. Patrick graciously opened up his archive for Richard to use in his research. Patrick was in attendance and received a deserved round of applause.

The format of the evening  consisted of Richard asking the guests various questions about Nick’s life and their personal experiences. Alex, Richard and Brian revealed much insight into how Nick developed as a person and musician. His early influences included Bob Dylan, The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, Davy Graham and Bert Jansch.

Joe Boyd explained the circumstances behind Nick signing to his  Witchseason label and the subsequent recording of Five Leaves Left and Bryter Later – both of which Joe produced.

”When I heard his original demo tape he gave me I was staggered’’ noted Joe.

John Wood’s crucial role as the engineer was also highlighted.

Although Nick had an aversion to performing live, Joe revealed that his early performance at the Royal Festival Hall with Fairport Convention and John and Beverly Martyn was very well received.

Inevitably the subject of Nick’s decent into depression and his ability to cope inspired much debate – the sense of isolation that prevailed as he recorded Pink Moon was evident as was his dark mood that surrounded his attempt to record again in 1974.

The Q and A from the audience prompted further discussion. One question raised was on the subject that had Nick enjoyed massive sales would his problems have eased? This was met by an empathetic yes from the guests. I asked if Joe and Nick were disappointed by the indifferent press reaction – one review compared him to Peter Sarstedt. Joe replied that he was sure at the time that Five Leaves Left would get the lead review in Melody Maker and was shocked it barely got a mention.

The discussion ended on a high note with Joe revealing how the use of Pink Moon in the Volkswagen advert exposed Nick’s music to a wider audience and Alex, Richard and Brian pondering on their final thoughts of knowing Nick. Joe also highlighted the influential role Nick’s mother Molly had on Nick’s music.

Afterwards It was a great thrill to get my book signed by Richard (who wrote some lovely personal words to me in it) and to chat with the amazing Joe Boyd.

All in all this was a captivating discussion that took the audience closer to the world of Nick Drake – as will Richard’s remarkable book which I highly  recommend.

Dave Lewis June 8 2023.

My thoughts on…
The Tom Robinson Band Esquires Bedford – June 15, 2023
I’ve long since been an admirer of Tom Robinson. Back in the late 70s he brought an intelligent edge to the punk and new wave movement – the TRB’s glorious power pop contained many a message of the times.
I bought all the early singles and loved his early 80s output too with the likes of War Baby.
He has since developed an admiral duel career with his radio presenting. The opportunity to see him perform live at our local venue was too good to miss – and what an opportunity it proved to be.
The Tom Robinson Band took to the stage in front of a very enthusiastic audience and set their stall out immediately with a romp through The Winter Of ’79. The sound was excellent with Tom’s bass upfront and a clear mix of the whole band.
Tom now a sprightly 73, looked great and sang with total conviction. Their punk inspired power pop has evidently lost none of its bite. Andy Treacey on drums and Jim Simmons organ and piano supplementing Adam Phillips lead guitar and Lee Forsyth Griffiths acoustic back up.
”How the devil are you?” he asked the assembled with an affability that would soon become very apparent.
For one of the continuing themes of the night was Tom’s engaging between song patter as he set the scene for the night. Often very humorous and full of self-deprecation, his friendly persona created an instant rapport with the audience.
Musically there was so much to enjoy – Grey Cortina was delivered at 1977 punk like pace and a cover version of Steely Dan’s Rikki Don’t Lose That Number was interpreted as Tom explained, in the style of Roxy Music as he loved both bands.
Tom made a very poignant statement about the pandemic and the difficulties it brought and those that have been lost. This had me thinking about the much missed late great Chris Robinson who was always part of the Esquires family here.
The call and response led Martin was eagerly soaked up and reciprocated. Tom then explained after the initial burst of TRB success, how his career and life hit the skids forcing him to move to Hamburg – the brilliant Atmospherics (Listen To The Radio?) was a remnant from that era and superbly performed.
Tom told a very funny tale about Eddie Grant buying his old equipment prior to a compelling run through of his 1983 comeback hit War Baby.
He also paid tribute to the original TRB band line up (‘’without them I wouldn’t be here’’) and the late departed guitarist Danny Kustow. A soaring Too Good To Be True had current guitarist Adam Phillips more than doing justice to the solo.
Fellow band mate Lee Forsyth Griffiths came into his own with an engaging solo song Silence is Death.
Another hilarious story preceded the anthemic (could it be anything else?) Glad To Be Gay. This involved Tom meeting the legendary gruff Scottish rocker Alex Harvey and how Alex at the time gave a surprising seal of approval to that controversial lament. A standing ovation followed this performance.
Whilst the themes of the above anthem may now seem slightly less relevant as Tom pointed out, many other issues remain in question. The Mighty Sword Of Justice, Still Loving You and Up Against The Wall were all performed with a rallying call stance.
Finally ‘’a medley of our greatest hit’’ as Tom put it, the rousing (could it be anything else?) 2-4-6-8 Motorway delivered in an extended arrangement that moved into a long fade and a chorus of Here Comes The Sun’’ .
They were back on for a two song encore – the poignant Only The Now contrasting with a suitably frantic Power In The Darkness, the lyrical content brought up to date with venomous effect.
Summary:
On a hot Thursday night, The Tom Robinson Band uplifted every single member of the audience with a set packed with passion.
Often profound and constantly joyous, Tom Robinson’s on stage presence is an ongoing lesson in musical integrity. It was a truly fabulous gig.
Dave Lewis – June 16,2023
Thanks to the always excellent Esquires venue for a great presentation, to Kevin Bailey and Chris and Tina West.
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My thoughts on:

Beatles/Evolver ’63 Mark Lewishon Beatles presentation at the Bloomsbury Theatre- with special guest the BBC journalist Samira Ahmed… 

It was back to the Bloomsbury Theater on Saturday afternoon for the third Mark Lewisohn Beatles presentation.

Previously, the eminent leading Beatles historian and author has covered the Abbey Road period in the 2019 Hornsey Road presentation and last October staged Beatles/Evolver ’62 – a summary of their pre fame year discussing 62 aspects of their rise.

Now comes Beatles/Evolver ’63 with the focus on The Beatles big breakthrough year. This time Mark has opted for a relatively simple format with a different guest for each of the five performances he is giving. For this Saturday afternoon he was joined by the BBC arts journalist Samira Ahmed.

The show quickly got into it’s stride with a discussion on the tape that has surfaced from an appearance The Beatles gave at Stowe School in April 1963. Samira has been involved in this story on her BBC radio programme. It was very enlightening to see photos of the afternoon show and hear a snippet of I Saw Her Standing There from the tape. Samira noted that an announcement is due imminently on exactly what is going to happen with the tape ahead.

Throughout the presentation, Mark’s accompanying visuals and interview extracts did much to illustrate the extraordinary impact John, Paul, George and Ringo had on the nation during this momentous year. It went far beyond just being a pop group writing amazingly infectious songs.

Amongst the brilliant photos shown was a  great shot of Paul McCartney being given the bumps by his fellow Beatles 60 years ago the day before his s 21st Birthday. The photo was taken outside the BBC’s Maida Vale Studios in Delaware Road on June 17 1963. Another one taken at the BBC Playhouse during a BBC session had Ringo presumably reading a humorous request with DJ Brian Matthews. Behind them Paul, John and George are laughing hysterically. This as Mark explained was yet another prime example of how the four of them so enjoyed each other’s company.

In the second half prompted by Samira, various subjects came under the radar including how important their hair styles were in making them stand out plus the popularity of the Cuban heeled boots they wore. The sheer likability of the four was also highlighted and it became so evident that they put a smile on the faces of countless people of all ages in a way no entertainer had done previously.

Several filmed interview clips were shown that really made that point including a lovely segment from the Ready Steady Go! TV show that had Dusty Springfield interviewing the four boys with hilarious results. It was this natural ability to be themselves in any given situation that so endeared them to so many. As mark and Samira commented The Beatles cultural impact was just extraordinary.

Letters from fans, contracts for appearances that year, rare colour cine film and famous photo shoots all came under the spotlight – the most famous photo shoot of that year being Robert Freeman’s iconic shot of the four of them in black polo neck jumpers as featured on the cover of The Beatles’ second album of that year With The Beatles.

This all led to a finale of a simply exhilarating  clip of The Beatles’ performing Twist And Shout (dressed in those black polo neck jumpers)  on Granada TV in August of 1963. Seeing the joyous chemistry of the four (particularly that of John Lennon and George Harrison) was both uplifting and poignant.

Summary:

The Beatles saga remains the greatest story in entertainment history ever told – and the man to keep telling more compellingly than most is Mark Lewisohn – on the Bloomsbury stage he once again enlightened us with a presentation of immense detail told with wit and integrity with the articulate input of  Samira Ahmed

As with anything Mark Lewisohn says or writes about The Beatles, a splendid time is guaranteed for all – and it always inspires me to return to their music with a renewed perspective.

Thanks Mark -thanks Samira…

Here’s to Beatles/Evolver ’64 and hopefully ahead soon, the publication of the second volume in Mark’s Beatles Tune In book trilogy…

Dave Lewis – June 19 2023

My thoughts on… 

Squaring The Circle (The Story Of Hipgnosis) 

This review is based on a preview screening of this film I had last month – spoiler alert – look away now if  you don’t want to know too much ahead of seeing the film)

After the excellent Mark Blake comes the film. Anton Corbijn’s superb documentary film traces the story of the Hipgnosis design team and its main players Aubrey Powell and Storm Thorgerson right back to their Cambridge roots. From there, their rise to being the go to sleeve designers for a host of rock acts of the day is a rapid one.

Given they were their highest profile clients, Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd loom large. There are some wry comments in new interviews from the Floyd’s David Gilmour, Roger Waters, and Nick Mason and the Zep’s Jimmy Page and Robert Plant. It says everything about the esteem their work is still held in that such often disparate parties should freely speak about them.

Central to the narrative is is the often fractious dynamic of Storm and Po’s working relationship. Po the more affable and measured and a bit of a charmer and chancer. Storm often arrogant and cantankerous -something of a tortured genius  as Paul McCartney states ”He could be a bit crabby’’

Key albums such as The Dark Side of The Moon, Wish You Were Here, Houses Of The Holy In Through The Out Door  and Band On The Run come under the radar with insightful tales.

The accompanying  music is of course compelling throughout. When The Ocean blasts out to herald the Zep sequence it caused goosebumps for this particular attendant.

The film also benefits greatly from some rarely seen vintage black and white footage of the pair in action and discussing their work – a young Bob Harris makes an appearance as the interviewer.

McCartney, Peter Gabriel and 10cc’s Graham Gouldman add their recollections while Noel Gallagher brings a contemporary view of what these album covers mean to him.

A row over money split the Storm and Po relationship and they did not talk for 12 years though thankfully they were reconciled before Storm’s passing in 2013.  An emotional Po has the final reflective word on a remarkable story.

10cc’s’ Art For Arts Sake is a most appropriate final play out. However, for Po and Storm it was always about so much more than that as this superb film clearly illustrates. Squaring The Circle vividly brings to life these iconic Hipgnosis album cover images that we know so well and is highly recommended.

Dave Lewis  – July  3 2023 

My thoughts on…

Squaring The Circle (The Story Of Hipgnosis) – preview screening and Q and A with Aubrey (Po) Powell at The Cinema at The Power Station Battersea July 11 2023..
To the very impressive newly built Power Station complex at Battersea. The occasion being the screening of Squaring The Circle (The Story Of Hipgnosis) and Q and A with Aubrey (Po) Powell.
I had already seen the film at a previous preview screening a few weeks back and on this second viewing, it was every bit as good.
Anton Corbijn’s superb documentary film traces the story of the Hipgnosis design team and its main players Aubrey (Po) Powell and Storm Thorgerson.
For Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd fans this really is essential viewing as unsurprisingly, they both loom large. There are some wry comments in new interviews from the Floyd’s David Gilmour, Roger Waters, and Nick Mason and the Zep’s Jimmy Page and Robert Plant. It says everything about the esteem their work is still held in that such often disparate parties should freely speak about them.
As mentioned before, central to the narrative is the often fractious dynamic of Storm and Po’s working relationship. Po the more affable and measured and a bit of a charmer and chancer. Storm often arrogant and cantankerous -something of a tortured genius as Paul McCartney states ”He could be a bit crabby’’
McCartney, Peter Gabriel and 10cc’s Graham Gouldman add their thoughts while Noel Gallagher brings an astute contemporary view of what these album covers mean to him.
All the key Hipgnosis designs are analysed and sound tracked by the magnificent music that brought those album covers alive – the sound system in the cinema was mightily impressive.
Po is on camera throughout the film unfolding this remarkable story with clarity, wit and often deep emotion.
After the film had been screened It was an absolute pleasure to see the man himself up on stage for a Q and A with the Mark Blake – author of the recent excellent biography Us And Them –The Story of Hipgnosis.
Mark set the scene asking Po about how the film came in to being and his hopes for it. Po stated the importance of the role of Anton Corbijn in producing the kind of film Po had envisaged.
The room was then thrown open for audience questions.
I had a question ready and before I asked it I reminded Po of the time back in 2005 when he came to my house to film some Robert Plant memorabilia
for a promo film.
My question was this:
‘’For the In Through The Out Door sleeve you travelled to New Orleans to check out a bar that you felt would be perfect for the barrelhouse concept you had in mind. The bar was the Old Absinthe House, a French Quarter juke joint.
You then came back with a series of photos that you used as a guide for a set that was constructed to rebuild the bar in a West London studio
Given that Hipgnosis had built a reputation for travelling to all manner of exotic locations to shoot their album covers, what made you rebuild the bar in London rather than shoot it in the actual bar you had visited in New Orleans?’’
Po was actually a bit stumped for a straight answer initially replying ‘’To be honest Dave I’m not really sure!
On further recollection he did say they were up against time and it well might have been a decision driven by Zep manager Peter Grant. Po added that they were all very happy with the reconstructed bar that provided the six covers that were used in the finished package – complete with that outer brown paper bag.
‘’Jimmy came down to the set and loved it’’ added Po. He also revealed there was a plan to film the set for possible promo use as this was the advent of the music video era though Zep themselves would not have been on camera.
Asked what his favourite Hipgnosis sleeve design was, Po went for The Nice Elegy sleeve shot in the Sahara desert with giant inflatable footballs. ‘’That was the one that really got us recognised’’
All in all, this was a fabulous event with Po as ever informative, affable and so proud of what he and Storm created all those years back – designs that continue to resonate across the globe. For anyone weaned on those iconic images Squaring the Circle (The Story Of Hipgnosis) is an unmissable watch.
After the Q and A Po graciously signed various books and album sleeves -my comrade Steve had a couple signed and I got Po to sign one of my In Though The Out Door paper bag sleeves (I have a few!)
It was great to chat briefly too with Mark Blake and Richard Evans a designer who has worked with Hipgnosis over many years and does much work for the Who and worked with me when I was a consultant on Robert Plant’s Nine Lives box set booklet.
Also great to meet Pink Floyd fan Chris and see Mr Peter Chow ever present at such events who I have known since the 1992 Zep London convention the late much missed Andy and I organized. Daryl sorry I missed you!
So, a fantastic occasion in equally fantastic surroundings and a night where our passion for album sleeve art and accompanying music definitely remained the same…
Dave Lewis – July 12, 2023

My thoughts on Nick Drake The Life by Richard Morton Jack… 

My thoughts on Nick Drake The Life by Richard Morton Jack…

I’ve just finished reading the exhaustive recently published biography of Nick Drake by Richard Morton Jack.

I am very well versed with the Nick Drake story and have read a a number of books and major magazine articles about him over many years. The first major book on Nick was Patrick Humphries’ Nick Drake The Biography published back in 1997. It did a very admirable job in a pre -internet age.

There was always scope for a more substantial account of Nick’s life and when I heard Richard Morton Jack was undertaking such a task, I had high hopes – Richard has been a diligent chronicler and writer through his Flashback magazines, Sunbeam label projects, Galactic Ramble book and more.

To say it’s exceeded all my expectations is an absolute understatement. This 500 plus page work unravels Nick’s life and music as never before.

The book obviously benefits from the access Richard has had to the Nick Drake estate and archives, in particular the diaries and journals of Nick’s father Rodney.

However, having the resources is one thing – deploying them in a way that greatly benefits the narrative is another thing altogether. This is where Richard Morton Jack really excels. He cleverly weaves his way through the story dividing fact from fiction. The use of smaller type point to bring out the many interview quotes also adds much clarity.

Richard also applies his proven musical knowldge to place Nick’s three album recorded output into context – aided by interviews with all the key players,– producer Joe Boyd and sound engineer John Wood among them. Nick’s formative years are also discussed at length with key input from Nick’s circle of friends during his Cambridge and London days.

Where the book elevates itself from the standard music biography is how Richard uncovers the torturous journey Nick travelled from 1971 to his untimely death three years later – a journey of declining mental health that painfully affected his ability to do the things that initially drove his creativity. .

There are plenty of reasons how this decline emerged – not least the fact that Nick’s albums failed to find a wider audience. His aimless days at home at Far Leys are faithfully reported and Rodney Drake’s journals offer a stark and heartbreaking insight into how he and wife Molly saw their dear son suffer with an illness that back then, had little medical understanding. Having suffered with my own mental issues, I know only too well how the isolation and desperation of depression feels, although nothing like the scale that poor Nick endured and how his condition affected his friends and family, including of course his loving sister Gabrielle.

It’s more than evident how brave and supportive Rodney and his mother Molly were in trying to help Nick’s plight – and so sad that such support was never quite enough to change Nick’s perception of his life.

The final chapters inevitably become less about the music and more about the state of this deeply troubled man. Harrowing as it is to read – this clear analysis of his issues has never previously been exposed with such insight and honesty.

At the end of it all – as the Epilogue chapter reveals, is the lasting influence of Nick Drake ‘s music and its ongoing legacy.

Richard Morton Jack’s achievement here is on a par with the Beatles historian and author Mark Lewisohn’s work on his Beatles Tune In Volume One and anybody familiar with that book will know that is high praise indeed.

The Life combines forensic detail with a total empathy for its subject that paints a true picture of the tortured genius that was Nick Drake.

For me, this is simply one of the best biographies I have ever read and I cannot recommend it enough.

It can take its rightful place as the definitive go-to book for future generations to discover this remarkable story and of course in turn be inspired to listen to his fragile catalogue of albums – albums that I and countless others across the globe rarely go a week without returning to.

Dave Lewis – July 18 2023

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My thoughts on Love Revisited with Johnny Echols – Esquires Bedford, Friday July 14, 2023

To the always excellent Esquires venue in Bedford for a night of Love Revisited

Formerly Arthur Lee’s Love until his passing in 2006, Love have been on my radar since the mid 70s when I heard Alone Again Or. I was aware Robert Plant was a big fan when he chose their Seven and Seven Is on a Radio Birmingham interview in 1976

I invested in the Love Masters compilation  and not long after the classic Forever Changes album.  Their stock rose again in the 1987 when The Damned scored a top 30  hit with their cover version of Alone Again Or.

In 1999/2000 Robert Plant formed Priory Of Brion performing in small venues with a a line specialising in retro psych covers. This included  a number of Love songs including A House Is Not A Motel, Bummer In the Summer and Live And Let Live.

This again took me back to their catalogue of albums and they have been regulars on the player here ever since.

I had heard great reports of the Love Revisited band featuring original member Johnny Echols and could certainly not turn up the opportunity to see them perform on a Friday night at the local Esquires venue.

I’m very glad I did as right from the off, it was a case of Love is all around – was it ever.

Following an entertaining set by The Large Plants, Love Revisited took to the stage before a very exuberant packed audience. The moment they kicked into the aforementioned A House is Not a Motel they made a joyous noise. Kudos once again for the Esquires sound crew –it was brilliantly mixed and crystal clear.

Seeped in that jingle jangle West Coast sound that lit up that summer of love back in 1967, they never let up.

Singer Rusty Squeezebox has all the vocal nuances and phrasing of the legendary Arthur Lee  while old stager Johnny keeps a pace with the youthful band mates. There were constant chants from the audience of between songs of Johnny effin’ Echols, Johnny effin’ Echols’’

Talking of the audience, well here’s the thing: We’ve all seen those TV crowds shot on the likes of Glastonbury where it cuts away to capture enthusiastic attendees singing along with full knowledge of every word.

From my vantage point near the side of the stage that’s exactly how it was tonight – everybody seemed to know the words of every song and not just the big hitters.  It was a gloriously uplifting sight to behold.

There was a sizable portion of tracks from the classic Forever Changes album described by Rusty as ‘’The greatest album of all time.‘’

The Daily Plant, And More Again, You Set The Scene, Between Clark And Hilldale and Red Telephone were all played with much aplomb.

As were My Little Red Book, Cant Explain And More from the Love debut album and Stephanie Knows Me and Orange Skies from the Da Capo album – now what’s not to like about that line up?.

The final encore number Seven & Seven is was a blistering closing act of intent.

They left the stage to a whole lotta love from the audience  – not so much revisited as totally revitalised.

Afterwards, I chatted briefly with singer Rusty who was very pleased with the venue and immense crowd reaction.

Judging by this magnificent penultimate show of their current  UK tour, I can categorically state that the legacy of Love is in very good hands…

Dave Lewis – July 16, 2023

My thoughts on…

Graham Nash Sixty Years of Songs & Stories – Theatre Royal Drury Lane Theatre September 11 2023…

To the most impressive Theatre Royal Drury Lane London last Monday for 60 Years of Songs & Stories in the company of Graham Nash

In 2018 there had been a 54 year gap since I’d last seen him when I was aged seven on stage with The Hollies at the Granada Cinema in Bedford.

A mere five years have elapsed since I saw him at the Bridge Theatre that night in 2018. Of course ,many things have happened since then and many things have changed.

One thing that hasn’t changed and was plainly evident from the start of this memorable evening, was that Graham Nash’s vocal ability has not eroded one bit -it’s still a soaring with crystal clarity.

Beforehand the merchandise stall was doing brisk business and this manly mature audience created a very feel good atmosphere – there was a sense of anticipation that we were in for something special.

The man of  ‘Sixty Years of Songs and Stories’ – a sprightly 81 years old, strode on to the stage with intent and went straight into Wasted On The Way.

He was flanked by two exceptional musicians – guitarist Shane Fontayne. His previous credits include spells with Lone Justice, Sting and Bruce Springsteen. He added understated guitar parts that fitted the mood of the songs perfectly. Todd Caldwell on Keyboard was equally effective adding a warm Al Kooper Blonde on Blonde like organ feel to the arrangements.

The format of the show was quickly established – Graham paying gratitude to important figures in his life and that journey began with Allan Clarke of The Hollies with whom Graham shared his early pop success. An exquisite version of their 1966 hit Bus Stop followed.  One of the characteristics of Graham’s on stage technique was the counting in of some of the songs – with that clipped guitar strum deployed on the Crosby, Stills & Nash debut album side two opener Wooden Ships.

Graham was at pains to express his unease at performing Marrakesh Express in the light of the terrible earthquake there – he did so in tribute and respect.

It was evident during this performance how well the three voices on stage melt together – the harmonies were absolutely spot on throughout.

The uncertain state of the world was a constant theme –  Find the Cost of Freedom leading into a heartfelt Military Madness. Here Graham encouraged the audience to throw back the line ‘’No more war’’ which of course we did.

From his new album Graham introduced A Better Life, a lovely lilting song about leaving the world in a more positive environment for our children and grandchildren.

His debt and friendship with the dear departed David Crosby was referenced via a dramatic segment that took in To the Last Whale…A. Critical Mass B. Another nod to a former band mate closed the first half – a rousing  delivery of Stephen Stills’ Love The One You’re With raised the roof –there was a stellar moment here when Graham signaled over to Todd to rip into that uplifting organ solo – totally captivating.

The second half commenced with a gracious acknowledgment to Joni Mitchell and an emotional delivery of A Case of You.

From there it was a total C, S, N & Y love fest.

Neil’s Only Love Can Break Your Heart, Stephens 4 + 20, Cathedral and Just a Song Before I Go, all so delicately and brilliantly delivered.

As was the finale Our House – what a thrill to hear one of the greatest songs ever written sung by the main composer just a few feet away. This can be instantly added to my all-time favourite gig going moments.

Finally two encores.

Graham, Shane and Tod clustered around the mic for a semi acapella cover of Buddy Holly’s Everyday  (Shades here of Robert Plant and Saving Grace’s nightly similarly sung parting shot Bid You Goodnight.)

Absolutely finally ,was a communal rendering of Teach Your Children – the sentiments have not waned during the songs  53 year life and it continues to resonate as a genuine song of hope

Summary: A truly memorable  night in the company of a man who has been there and done it all. There can never be a Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young again but the legacy of their music is alive and well in the hands of one of its key components.

‘’Carry On’’ he emphatically sang on the opening track of the fabled Déjà vu album back in 1970 – long may Graham Nash continue to do so…

Dave Lewis –  September 17 2023

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MOJO at 30:

The new issue of Mojo is in the house and it’s a special one as it celebrates Mojo’s 30th anniversary.
I’ve been on board since that first issue back in 1993 and have read every issue since. Unsurprisingly I have stacks of them in my archive.
I’ve also been lucky enough to have a long association of contributing to the magazine in various ways – notably supplying snippets of Zep related info, consulting on major Zep features and I was very proud to be commissioned to write a review of Jimmy Page & Robert Plant’s Meadowlands New York concert that I attended in 1995.
Along the way I’ve worked with many class writers including Paul Du Noyer, Mat Snow, David Hepworth ,Mark Ellen, Patrick Humphries Mark Blake and Barney Hoskyns.
I am proud too that a number of my Zep books have been favourably reviewed in the Mojo reviews section..
30 years on from that first issue I am still an avid reader – its mix of informed commentary on the latest new music and detailed heritage features makes it a compulsive read.
This new issue has an overview of the best music in Mojo’s lifetime with various artists looking back on a certain period. Robert Plant contributes a very eloquent piece on the period of recording Raising Sand with Alison Krauss and the 2007 Led Zeppelin 02 reunion.
Mark Blake’s review of The Who’s Who’s Next/Lifehouse set is absolutely spot on.
Overall it’s another brilliant issue – Happy Anniversary Mojo and long may you live up to your slogan as being THE music magazine…

The Who, Who’s Next, Lifehouse and me..
First things first:
The Who’s Who’s Next Deluxe Half Speed Mastered Edition on heavyweight 180 gram black vinyl is a superb package.
It includes a Half Speed Mastering Certificate and the inner sleeve replicates l that came with the original 1971 release. This has a composite image of the artists featured on albums distributed by Polydor –amongst them Track Records and Atlantic Records hence the Led Zep III back cover illustrations.
I am also very much looking forward to wading through the expansive Who’s Next/Lifehouse de-luxe box set which arrived this week.
I’ve had a 50 plus love affair with the Who’s Next album. This culminated in being commissioned by Record Collector to write a lengthy feature on the story of the album back in the summer of 2011 –celebrating its 40th anniversary. I had contributed a Who Live at Leeds feature the year before.
The Who’s Next/Lifehouse sage is a complex story to tell and over 16 pages, I worked hard to bring all the strands of the story together – interviewing Who experts Chris Charlesworth and Ross Halfin in the process and Who collector Ed Hanel supplied a global Who’s Next rarities guide with help from Christian Suchatzki.
This issue 392 September 2011 is available to order here:
Looking back on it in the light of the new reissue, it’s one of the features I am most proud of.
it was written during an intense work load that year when I produced three TBL magazines, the Led Zeppelin Over Europe 1980 book (with designer Mick Lowe) and another Record Collector feature on the Led Zeppelin IV 40th anniversary in the November.
13 years on, things have slowed down somewhat here and there are other important priorities not least family, health and wellbeing – but what amazing times they were back then.
I feel so blessed to be involved in sharing my enthusiasm for the music I love – then and now…
Dave Lewis – September 20 2023

The Who Who’s Next – Life House Super Deluxe Edition listening experience update…

I feel like I’ve been let loose in the Track Records tape library circa 1972…
This is really is an embarrassment of riches with so much to enjoy
CD 1 Who’s Next remaster is magnificent. This was always an album of precise economy. Nothing out of place and nothing overdone.
How they came to achieve that economy is now fully revealed. CD 2 and 3 present the Pete Townshend Who’s Next Life House demos from 1970 -1971.
This the genesis of the story – the material Pete considered for the band to record. The purity of these recordings is startling. The big reveal for me here is how Teenage Wasteland eventually morphed into Baba O’ Riley – the 16 minute instrumental demo has distinct elements that went in to the finished recording and so much more.
I’ve been getting shivers down the spine hearing that revolving synth intro to this song for the past 50 years. Nothing’s changed… the demo is extraordinary…
The Who’s Next Life House listening experience is proving to be an amazing journey- and there’s another seven CD’s to go…phew!

Dave Lewis – October 11 2023


 

9 OCTOBER 2023 996 VIEWS 3 COMMENTS

Mr. Jimmy film screenings…

It’s been quite a week with two screenings of the Mr. Jimmy film. I attended the Saturday afternoon screening and the Wednesday  premiere.

At short notice, the director Peter Michael Dowd asked me to be involved in the Q and A session that was arranged for after the Wednesday screening.

it was fantastic to meet Peter and hear of his journey in the making of the film – here’s how it all went…

Wednesday October 18:

Great night at the Olympic Studios Cinema for the screening of the Mr. Jimmy film.

 

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The film was even more astonishing watching it a second time – the passion and ambition of Jimmy Sakurai is brilliantly captured.
I conducted the Q and A session after the film with the film’s director Peter Michael Dowd and the pioneering guitar engineer Roger Mayer who worked with the likes of Jimmy Page, Jimi Hendrix and many others – he has also supported Mr. Jimmy’s endeavors over the years. Roger recalled working with Jimi Hendrix in this very building and added his thoughts on his admiration for Mr.Jimmy.
Peter added some illuminating insights to how the film came to fruition.
The Q and A was all filmed for future use. Many thanks to the great Olympic Cinema staff, Roger and Peter and also Roger Miles who kindly opened the Olympic Records records shop for us to have a good rummage beforehand – and to all who battled with the rain to make it along – oh and of course Mr. .Jimmy himself for being the subject matter of this compelling film.
Many thanks to Peter Chow for the above pics.

To back track to Saturday October 14:

My thoughts on the Mr. Jimmy film directed by Peter Michael Dowd….

To Barnes in South London on Saturday for the premiere showing of the Mr. Jimmy film.

Beforehand we checked out the excellent Olympic Records shop across the road from the Olympic Studios. A small unit packed with stock with plenty of rare pressings.

I invested in a German pressing of The Beatles’ White album. You can never have too many copies!

Led Zeppelin III was on the player as we browsed which added to the experience. Rob at the shop told me they are trying to obtain every album that was recorded over the road at the Olympic Studios they are already 1,000 up.

I told Rob we were going to the Red Lion pub nearby and he recounted a tale of how Jimi Hendrix on an occasion when he was recording in the studio, adjourned for a drink to the Red Lion and while there he wrote The Wind Cries Mary.

Over at the pub the TBL crew of myself, the good lady Janet, Phil and Ian were joined by Julian Walker and Andreas Stocker. At the screening it was great to see Rikky Rooksby, long time TBL contributor and Earls Court veteran

So to the Mr. Jimmy film. It was screened in a very plush small viewing theatre with a mere two row capacity. We were front row and had a superb view.

Firstly though, some personal thoughts on the Led Zep tribute world.

Back in 1981 when I heard a singer called Michael White was impersonating Robert Plant I was absolutely appalled. How could it be right that someone would want to forge a career modelling himself on another singer –in this case the former singer with Led Zeppelin?

Perhaps John Bonham’s passing was all too raw back then then and eventually I did succumb to the idea and Michael did a very good job. It was plainly obvious that in the absence of the real thing there were a whole host of young musicians eager to replicate the Zep sound and catalogue.

Of course, in recent years the whole tribute band industry has exploded. There are now countless tribute bands treading the boards nightly across the globe giving audiences what they want – in the case of Led Zeppelin, some of the greatest rock songs of this or any other era.

I’ve seen many a Zep tribute and had great nights out doing so. For me the best ones  adopt a policy of performing the Zep big hitters without too much indulgence. They are the ones that go down the best in terms of audience reaction and at this point I’d mention the Coda UK based tribute band who do a top job in fulfilling that role.

As the film portrayed, that thinking was very much against the grain for Mr Jimmy. For him it really is all in the detail.

The basic story kicks off – we learn of the Japanese born Akio Sakarai’s deep interest to play guitar and perform and present Jimmy Page’s music to the highest standard – his way.

It’s immediately evident that this is a film about obsession and ambition. Being a man who knows a bit about obsession, I was immediately drawn into Akio’s world.

His attention to detail in his quest to replicate every nuance of Jimmy Page’s style both musically and visually is simply awe inspiring.

Akio takes on the persona of Jimmy Sakarai and begins performing in Tokyo clubs. There are insightful scenes of Mr. Jimmy nurturing the tone  of his Gibson Les Paul with Toshio Suzuki an amplifier expert. Equally enlightening are the conversations with his stage costume designer Rie Nakahara. Every last thread has to be as Jimmy Page wore it. The stunning embroidery by Kiyomi Osawa on the black dragon suit is also beautifully captured.

This dedication naturally extends most impressively to his playing – he is a brilliant interpreter of the Zep catalogue. We see him watching The Song Remains The Same movie endlessly to get everything spot on.

It says much for the respect  Mr. Jimmy has attained that the director has gained clearance for so much Led Zeppelin music. Early on there’s that riveting sequence from the movie of the real Zep performing the opening to The Song Remains The Same. I’ve always loved that clip and it got me right in to the Zep zone.

The real turning point in the story is the appearance of the real Jimmy Page in town in October 2012 to promote the Celebration Day film  accompanied by Ross Halfin visits a Tokyo club to witness Jimmy Sakarai performing on stage. Here we see Jimmy enthusiastically clapping along as Mr. Jimmy goes through his paces. Mr Page then chats to Mr. Jimmy afterwards and poses for a photo. It’s a fabulous sequence.

This meeting with his master sets Akio on a mission to chase his dream. He relocates to Los Angeles and joins the renowned tribute band Led Zepagain.

Here comes the difference of opinion mentioned above.

Akio want’s to perform the songs in the manner of the Zep live shows. A Royal Albert Hall 1970 Dazed And Confused – a Madison Square Garden 1973 No Quarter – you name it Mr. Jimmy has researched it.

One of the film’s engaging qualities is the focus on Mr. Jimmy reproducing various versions of the songs – it’s evident  that he’s listened intensely to the bootlegs and can reel off a 1971,1972,1973 or 1979 Stairway To Heaven arrangement at will. Not to mention the Page & Plant performance on a 1994 Japanese TV show. This aspect is a delight for Zep fans who will understand the relevance of such differences.

The members of Led Zepagain whilst in admiration of his talent, are not on the same page as it were. They want to knock out the greatest hits as that is good for business and it’s not hard to see their point. Mr. Jimmy’s plan for them to present a reimagined Madison Square Garden 1973 fourth night is jettisoned.

Does the average music fan looking for a good night out care too much which version of Stairway they are getting?

Probably not. They just want a night of celebrating Zep in it’s simplest purist form. Though I must say for me personally, I’d we quite happy to sit for three hours plus as Mr. Jimmy reeled off an Earls Court 1975 set!

Following his departure from the band Mr. Jimmy is understandably crestfallen.

To his credit, he picks himself up and attempts to form his own band with limited success.

Then comes a phone call from Jason Bonham’s management and Mr. Jimmy finally gets his just reward.

Suddenly there he is on stage blasting out the blistering solo of  Since I’ve Been Loving You (1973 version I’d say!) with the son of the drummer in Led Zeppelin belting it out behind him.

A happy ending all round…

Summary:

Back in the dark post Bonham passing days of October 1980, the notion 43 years hence that  I’d be sitting in a cinema in the location for the recording of many of Led Zeppelin’s greatest albums, watching a film about one man’s quest to play and perform like Jimmy Page would have seemed very bizarre indeed.

Truth be told it is a bit bizarre but brilliantly so.

As Robert Plant uttered before performing that 1973 version of Stairway To Heaven at Madison Square Garden ‘’I think this is a song of hope’’

Mr. Jimmy is a film of hope – a vivid portrayal of what can be achieved when you have the passion and drive to make your dream happen.

This really is a case of to paraphrase a Robert Plant lyric ‘’the wonder of devotion’’.

Hats off to director to Peter Michael Dowd for bringing this man’s often unfeasible love for his subject to the big screen – and it’s been a long journey.

The onstage live performances are brilliantly captured and the film benefits greatly from some very slick editing. The sound tracking of many scenes with old blues masters such as Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker, Elvis’ Mystery Train and even some dramatic classical orchestral pieces is also a deft touch.

Mr. Jimmy is clear proof that the evolution of Led Zeppelin continues – and watching the remarkable Jimmy Sakurai in all his glory on stage, it’s in very safe hands.

Here’s hoping this superb film has a DVD, blu ray or streaming release lined up so it can reach as wider audience as possible.

It’s a heart-warming watch – a fact that all of us in this plush Olympic Studios cinema were in total agreement with.

Catch it when you can…

Dave Lewis – October 16 2023

25 OCTOBER 2023 1,348 VIEWS 3 COMMENTS
Robert Plant at the Cancer Awareness Trust with Andy Taylor October 21 2023…Stairway To Heaven first performance since 2007…
The former Duran Duran guitarist Andy has been having serious cancer health issues and staged this special concert to raise money for the Cancer Awareness Trust. it was staged at the Soho Farmhouse in the Cotswolds.
Robert Plant was a special guest and incredibly, he chose to perform Stairway To Heaven for the first time since the Led Zeppelin 02 reunion concert in 2007.
This is an incredibly emotional watch as are his words at the end:
‘I offer this up to Led Zeppelin -wherever they are’’ to which Andy Taylor replies ‘’God bless ‘em there’s a lot of drummers in the sky we love’’
Robert’s performance is just astonishing – Thank You, Black Dog, Stairway to Heaven and a brilliant Season of the Witch which reprises lines from Black Dog and moves into For What it’s Worth…all performed with total conviction.
The whole show was fantastic -great versions of Duran’s Wild Boys and Hungary Like the Wolf.
Well done Andy for bringing this concert together for a very worthy cause – those that were lucky enough to be there witnessed something very special indeed…
Many thanks to James Cook at LZ news for his coverage of this.
Here’s some YouTube clips:
Classic Rock posting here..
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Some personal thoughts on this performance of Stairway To Heaven…
There was something profoundly moving watching the YouTube footage of Robert Plant performing Stairway To Heaven at the Andy Taylor concert.

This was the first live public airing of the song since the Led Zeppelin 02 Reunion on December 10 2007.

Before I delve in to this subject, Robert’s entire appearance was captivating. Thank you delivered with much emotion, Black Dog hammed up brilliantly and the version of Season of the Witch segueing into a reprise of Black Dog lyrics and Buffalo Springfield’s For What it’s Worth – as in the LA Forum 1970 Blueberry Hill bootleg.

Incidentally, bassist on the night Guy Pratt noted that he has now performed Black Dog with both Robert and Jimmy Page – he was part of the touring band on the Coverdale Page Japan visit in late 1993. The band line up on the night consisted of the aforementioned Guy, former Reef guitarist Kenwyn House (wearing a dragon patterned shirt shades of Jimmy perhaps), Rod Stewart’s drummer David Palmer, Andy Taylor plus Andy Taylor’s son Andy J Taylor on guitar, singer Anne Rani and musician Dino Jelusick on keyboard and backing vocals.

So back to Stairway To Heaven…

We have all had a journey with this song over the years. Mine commenced on April 4 1971 when I heard it on my radio listening to Led Zeppelin’s BBC In Concert performance on Radio One’s John Peel show. I’d heard Jimmy in an interview describing how it had come together in various sections building to a climax. Sure enough this tentative version did just that.

I first saw it performed live on Sunday November 21 1971 at the Empire Pool Wembley – an extraordinary night. It was of course one of the stand out tracks on their just released fourth album.

It went to attain legendary status – the most played record on American radio and from 1975 the rightful finale to every Led Zeppelin live performance.

Like many of their songs the arrangement was often toyed with, not least by the singer who over time added many an ad – lib to the lyrics. As it was performed on every Led Zep show, this enabled the song to retain a freshness.

The first ad-lib I recall was when he inserted the line ”you are the children of the sun” during the version to be heard on the classic bootleg Going To California from their performance in Berkeley  on September 14 1971. From 1973 onwards ‘Does anybody remember laughter?‘’ was an expected insert after the line ‘’and the forest will echo with laughter.’’

By 1975, Robert had changed the line ‘’your stairway’’ to ‘’our stairway’’ adding the line ‘’that’s all we got.’’ As I witnessed in awe from the side of the stage during their 1980 Over Europe performances , Robert added ‘’I keep chopin’ and changin’’’ as they led into the climax.

Post Zep, Robert has sang Stairway To Heaven’’ it a mere four times – at Live Aid in 1985, the Atlantic 40th anniversary show in 1988, a sweet truncated version with Jimmy Page in a TV studio in Japan in 1994 and at the Led Zeppelin O2 tribute concert for Ahmet Ertegun where he proclaimed after the song ‘’Ahmet we did it!’’

Well now he has done it again….

The obvious question is why now and why on this occasion?

There’s no doubt it was a special occasion being a concert staged by the ex – Duran Duran guitarist Andy Taylor. Andy has had serious cancer health issues and staged this concert in aid of Cancer Awareness Trust.  As well as performing on the night, Robert donated his personal gold disc of Led Zeppelin IV for the auction –as he put it ”our not so difficult fourth album.” A part of this was featured on the video stream and it had clocked an  initial £50,000 bid.“I love this music and I still love it now very much although I get a bit coy and shy when I have to go near it because it was such a long time ago,” he said.

In an  interview with Led Zep News guitarist Kenwyn House revealed that Robert Plant chose to perform Stairway To Heaven after a wealthy donor agreed to donate a six-figure sum to charity if he did so.

So, a special occasion deems a special song for a very worthy cause.

It says everything for Robert’s ease with the  Zep legacy, that he could perform this once millstone around his neck with such dignity.

As we know Stairway To Heaven became much maligned and a victim of much parody – and let’s not mention that farcical version by a disgraced not so all round entertainer.

Although he was quick to decry it in the immediate post Zep years, I happen to think Robert is rightly proud of the song, as he is the whole Zep legacy.

Who can forget his tearful reaction to the Wilson sisters and Jason’s performance at the Kennedy Honours in 2012?

So, with none of the pressure of  performing it on a big stage and at a pressurised Zep related occasion, he was able to slot it in at this charity event with little fuss.

It worked majestically….

With an ad- hoc line up with few rehearsals, the arrangement  was always going to be more  loose than tight. That mattered little, as his vocal phrasing was absolutely spot on and what a joy it was to hear him sing this song with a calm control. Some subtle backing vocals aided the tranquil mood.

Here’s the thing – Robert Plant  sang it as though he really meant it – confident in his skin at revisiting a major part of his past. Looking good with the mic off held in that familiar pose we know so well.

I wonder what was going through his mind? I know for me it prompted so many precious memories.

There were no ad-libs this time in what was out a fairly straight rendering – the guitar solo was neat and compact and they were back in for the grand finale. Here, Robert slowed things down and the key with it avoiding any strained vocals and he even sang the last section ‘’To be a rock and not to roll’’ for a second time – making it a unique arrangement. He did retain the ”our Stairway” sentiment.

It was also unique for being the only time he has performed Stairway To Heaven without Jimmy Page…

The final ‘’and she’s buying’’  line was delivered with a delicate finesse – watching it prompted some instant flashbacks.

Momentarily I was back at Earls Court as the mirrorballs spun above them, back in that field just outside Stevenage when they came back to reclaim their crown (”so many people who’ve helped us over the years –  no more people more important than yourselves who who came here on a blind date -this is for you all of yer”) and at home in 1985 watching the TV as the camera panned out to 90,00 watching them re group in Philadelphia for Live Aid.

I  also thought about all the much missed friends and Zep comrades who are no longer around to enjoy this special moment…

All that was enough to prompt a huge lump in my throat and a tear in my eye.

Then Robert really sealed it.

Firstly he dedicated the performance to Andy

“I know that in this contemporary age of digital stuff there’s every likelihood that other people will see that,” he said, facing Taylor. “So if they do, I offer it up to you and your success and to the whole deal that has happened here today and the future of it all. And also so it’s not just that, I offer it up to Led Zeppelin, wherever they are!”

Andy Taylor replied ‘’God bless ‘em there’s a lot of drummers in the sky we love.’’

Let’s ponder on that statement…

”I offer this up to Led Zeppelin wherever they are”

It felt like he was giving the song back to his former bandmates and back to his audience – To the privileged few who were lucky enough to witness this special occasion and beyond that to countless fans like me and you.

Deep in the heart of the Cotswolds on an October Saturday evening Robert reclaimed a major part of his history and ours.

It’s likely he may never ever sing Stairway To Heaven this song again and if he doesn’t, it’s had a suitably poignant send off. There was none of the pressure of the previous post Led Zep performances. It happened for a great cause and for a great fellow Midlands based musician.

I am aiming to be up in the Midlands in a few days’ time for the Saving Grace featuring Suzi Dian gig at the Birmingham Symphony Hall.

I am eagerly looking forward to it, not least after witnessing the YouTube video of this Andy Taylor tribute. For at 75 he is singing so brilliantly and his enjoyment as to where he is at in these advancing years is both inspiring and infectious.

Knowing that Robert Plant is at one with Led Zeppelin’s most famous song makes it all just a little bit more comforting.

As the song states  ‘’If  you listen very hard the tune will come to you at last’’

I’m still listening to Robert Plant intensely – as are countless others…

Dave Lewis – October 25  2023  


My thoughts on the new Rolling Stones album Hackney Diamonds…
On the player – what else – The Rolling Stones Hackney Diamonds…
Here’s my initial thoughts on the album so far…
First thing to note is that the album packs it all in on two sides – none of this three tracks a side spread over two albums – it feels like a traditional proper album with a Side One and a Side Two…
Here we go…Side One:
Angry:
Great opener – classic Keith riff –wide screen production –co written by producer Andrew Watt.
Get Close:
Delightful shuffling funky drumming from Steve Jordan – lovely descending chorus – Mick at his leering best then in comes James King on sax –Elton’s in there on piano. This would not have been out of place on Exile…
Depending On You:
Plaintive Jagger vocal – one in the grand tradition of Stones countryish star crossed lovers tales. Sweet slide guitar adds to the mood and sweeping strings synths – a real stand out performance.
Bite My Head Off:
Aggressive rocker –similar in feel to Angry with shouty Jagger vocals – fuzz bass from Macca leads to a stinging Ronnie guitar solo. Knockerbout ending.
Whole Wide World:
Straight into another fast paced rocker. Defiant lyrics ‘’when the whole wide world’s against you.’’ Multi layered guitar solos coming in from all angles…
Dreamy Skies:
Low key vocal from Keith –Jagger on backing vocals and harmonica – reminded me of Sweet Virginia off Exile.
Side Two:
Mess it Up:
Charlie on drums and of course he’s good tonight inee…incessant chorus. This would not have been out of place on Some Girls…
Live By The Sword:
Charlie on drums and welcome back Bill Wyman on bass. Shades of It’s Only Rock’n’Roll in the riff department. Stomping outro with Elton on piano.
Driving Me Too Hard:
Another Jagger vocal tour de force – solid back beat from Steve Jordan – drifts off into a melodic Gram Parsons influenced like musical sunset.
Tell Me Straight:
Gentle piano opening – Keith vocal – bit of a moody Bruce feel here. Lovely lilting solo.
Sweet Sounds Of Heaven:
The epic. Gospel arrangement with Stevie Wonder on piano. Yearning vocal feel that builds to a crescendo. Lady Gaga joining Mike to reach the summit. False ending and then back in for a Jagger/Gaga vocal trade off with brass aiding the final blow out – most impressive.
Rolling Stone Blues:
And finally the fab three Mick ,Keith and Ronnie back to the roots Muddy Waters blues cover with harmonica. A sweet coda…
’’Gonna be a Rollin’’ and they sure were and still are…
Summary:
The whole album benefits greatly from a very contemporary production from Andrew Watt. It never feels like a hackneyed re-tread of former glories.
The star for me is Michael Philip Jagger who throughout sounds as committed to giving his all to The Rolling Stones as he was in that glorious 1968- 78 period.
The best recommendation I can offer is that as soon I’d finished this initial run through, I immediately wanted to put the needle back to Side One again….
There’s a whole lot of precious diamonds on this Hackney offering. Thank you Mick, Keith and Ronnie for making the world seem a much brighter place again…
Dave Lewis –  October 20 2023
8 NOVEMBER 2023 1,584 VIEWS 2 COMMENTS

Jimmy back on stage!

Jimmy Page made a surprise on stage appearance at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony in New York last Friday. He initially appeared on a video link to induct Link Wray and then took to the stage to perform Link’s Rumble ..

Jimmy Page commenting on his appearance at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame… 

I was asked to induct Link Wray into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame @rockhall; a guitarist, instrumentalist and songwriter that I’d admired from the very first taste of the Rumble.
I first heard it when I was 14, roaring from a jukebox in my hometown of Epsom. As a guitar instrumental the attitude of it was totally unique in its mystery, imagination and execution — it had a profound effect on me.
Link Wray and Rumble stand alone at the pinnacle in the world of instrumentals and I was thrilled to stand on stage in New York with drummer Anton Fig and bassist Tim Givens at the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame last night to induct one of my heroes.

My Thoughts on Jimmy Page performing at the Rock And  Roll Hall of Fame ceremony…

What an absolute joy and utter surprise to see Jimmy Page back on stage last Friday night for the first time in eight years.
After giving a very dignified speech in inducting Link Wray, he walked on stage with the Gibson double neck in hand and proceeded to perform the Link Wray classic Rumble.
Back in 2008, he played air guitar to this on a clip for the It Might Get Loud movie filmed in his music room.
Now all those mannerisms displayed back then were being acted out in a live performance.
The classic leaning back pose – the thrusting arm motion familiar to millions who have watched the various film footage from the glory of Led Zeppelin days – notably performances of The Song Remains The Same.
As for his playing – fluent and delicate and suitably aggressive when required, scrubbing across the strings in the Link Wray tradition –occasionally duplicating Link’s moves. All through ithe really seemed to be reveling in the spotlight again..
By my reckoning, this was the first time he has used the Gibson double neck in a public performance since that night of nights back at the 02 in December 2007.
After watching the admirable Jimmy Sakurai do his thing in the Mr Jimmy film –this was a case of will the real Jimmy please stand up?
And he has over a few spell binding minutes that for me and no doubt countless others confirmed one thing …
Jimmy Page is still the Lord of the Strings…
Dave Lewis – November 4 2023.
Pics via YouTube
YouTube clips here…
Many thanks to Ken Winovitch
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Robert Plant Presents Saving Grace featuring Suzi Dian UK Tour…
  
Robert Plant presents Saving Grace Featuring Suzi Dian – second night of the UK tour – G Live Guildford November 2
Kry’s Jantzen pics and words…
Great gig in Guildford. Robert in superb voice and in great storyteller mode.
He signed off with ‘Thanks for coming out. We’re Saving Grace and we come from the land of the ice and snow’.

 

Robert Plant Presents Saving Grace featuring Suzi Dian…

  

Robert Plant presents Saving Grace Featuring Suzi Dian – second night of the UK tour – G Live Guildford November 2
Rob Titley pics and words…
What a night!
We were lucky enough to have second row seats.
Everyone On top form, both voices absolutely beautiful. Robert forgetting the name of the album Angel Dance was on & who wrote House of Cards – Suzi assisted with informing him it was Richard Thompson name!
Four Zeppelin covers, two RP album tracks & one Alison Krauss (It Don’t Bother Me) and what a performance by every musician on stage.
His between song stories were great. I would say the whole band is significantly more confident than when I saw them two years ago.
After 50 years of attending gigs, this was one of my absolute highlights of live music….

My thoughts on the Birmingham Symphony Hall  gig – November 5 2023

My thoughts on the Robert Plant Presents Saving Grace featuring Suzi Dian gig at the Birmingham Symphony Hall – November 5 2023
Thanks to Richard Grubb for the above photos.
To Birmingham and the excellent Symphony Hall venue (I was last here 13 years ago for the Band of Joy gig.)
This occasion was for the Robert Plant Presents Saving Grace Featuring Suzi Dain experience…and what an experience it was…
I last caught up with Saving Grace a year ago in Wexford. It was evident from the off that they have welded into a compelling musical unit.
The drama began with Robert and Suzi walking on from either end of the stage and meeting in vocal harmony for the opening Gospel Plow.
Robert looked relaxed with mic off in familiar pose as they moved into The Cuckoo. An intensive delivery highlighting the instrumental prowess of every player – Oli Jefferson (drums and percussion, Tony Kelsey (guitars, mandolin) and Matt Worley (banjo, guitars, cuatro) – a chemistry that works wonderfully well.
Let The Four Winds Blow from the Mighty ReArranger album was an early highlight – Robert applying some time honoured ‘Aha ah Aha ’ phrasing in the ‘Achilles’ mode.
Friends was the first of the Zep interpretations. This is the major set interjection from the previous times I’ve seen the band.
Let me tell you this is not some mere trading of former glories, this is a singer at ease with his past and this delivery of the Zep III standard was suitably hypnotic.
Suzi is just the perfect foil for Robert and the way they locked in to the cover of Low’s Everybody’s Song was just masterful.
Robert had one or two Midlands tales to tell including how he worked on tarmacking the Birmingham roads prior to his break into the big league with Zep – and how he admired the psychedelic bands of the era and that led to a compelling cover of Moby Grape’s It’s a Beautiful Day.
So what can I say about The Rain Song?
Sharing the same room as the former singer with Led Zeppelin as he performed one of their most celebrated compositions was simply life affirming.
It was made all the more delicate by Suzi’s accordion playing.
Like the recent Stairway To Heaven performance, this airing of The Rain Song prompted a stream o instant memories of past performances of this epic – Earls Court, Knebworth, Over Europe and Unledded among them.
It Don’t Brother me heralded the unusual sight of Robert on bass (‘’Ill try not to dribble’’) and Four Sticks was another joyous Zep throwback – performed in the arrangement of the Page & Plant era. His delivery of lines such as ‘’Ooh yeah, brave I endure -ooh yeah, strong shields and lore’’ was a vocal tour de force.
A spirited stomp through Angel Dance closed the main show. They were back for one of the highlights of the night – a stupendous version of Richard & Linda Thompson’s House of Cards. Here Robert And Suzi caressed each line of the song in total harmony.
A playful Gallows Pole followed with a few ad-libs from Black Dog throw in for good measure. The all around the mic finale of And We Bid You Goodnight signaled the end of a quite magical gig.
‘’Keep a coolin’ – all the hits in 90 minutes’’ were the last quips from the singer as the band exited the stage.
Unlike the 90 minutes of a football match, there was no VAR required to sum up this one.
The decision was never in doubt…
Saving Grace with Robert Plant and Suzi Dian were utterly brilliant.
Dave Lewis – November 6 2023
17 NOVEMBER 2023 1,046 VIEWS ONE COMMENT

Robert Plant presents Saving Grace featuring Suzi Dian UK tour on the spot reports…

New Theatre Cardiff – November 15:

Just back from something of a whirlwind trip to Cardiff – and what another amazing night in the company of Robert Plant and Saving Grace featuring Suzi Dian…

The Cardiff New Theatre was a suitably intimate venue for a night of sheer magic.
So many moments to savour…
The masterful vocal interplay between Robert and Suzi. The sheer perfection of the whole band’s musicianship. The subtle chorography and lighting that ends certain songs – I’ve seen this a few times now but its’ startlingly effective every time.
Plenty of humorous Plant quips including an affectionate retelling of how he and John Bonham could not get in the venue of an early Zep Cardiff gig as they were not suitable attired.
The intense Everybody’s Body’s Song was duly dedicated to the late Mimi Parker of Low. It was great to hear The May Queen recalled to active duty from the Carry Fire album.
The Rain Song…oh yes The Rain Song – I was lucky enough to be in close proximity to hear and see every vocal nuance and breath that Robert applied to a simply stunning rendition. It prompted memories of previous Plant vocal perfection I’ve witnessed over the years – Going To California at Earls Court in 1975, Ten Years Gone at Knebworth in 1979, Thru With the Two Step at the Newcastle City Hall in 1983 to name a few.
A nod here too for Suzi’s accordion playing that beautifully compliments the mood. ‘’It’s a a pretty song FFS” was Robert’s to the point one line summary.
Four Sticks was another magic Zep throwback with Robert garnering every ounce of tension in the slowed down ‘’And when the owls cry in the night” sequence.
The Los Lobos cover of Angel Dance was an uplifting finale before the encores – Richard Thompson’s House Of Cards, oh how much do I love this song with Robert and Suzi’s duel vocal blending to such brilliant effect.
A stomping Gallows Pole with Black Dog and ‘keep a coolin’ ad libs took it out on a massive high before the reverential And I Bid You Goodnight sent everyone off into the Cardiff night with a warm glow.
‘’This is a good gig isn’t it?’’ commented Robert in rather self deprecating manner. Good? Make that magnificent. With Saving Grace, the singer is applying his craft in a joyous musical union.
There are six gigs remaining of this remarkable UK tour – I reiterate what I said after the Birmingham gig. If you are lucky enough to be attending, you really are in for such a treat…
Dave Lewis – November 16 2023.
Pics by Richard Grubb

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My thoughts on…
 
LED ZEPPELIN – DANCING DAYS ARE HERE AGAIN
(Wonderland 4LP vinyl box set – limited edition of 300)
Some 51 years after I invested in my first Led Zep bootleg (Live on Blueberry Hill) I was well pleased today to add a new title to the collection – the new four LP bootleg package of the soundboard recording of Led Zeppelin’s performance at the University Refectory, Southampton, on January 22 1973.
This was a date added to their 1972/73 UK tour and significantly, was officially recorded for possible future release. This tape was considered for official release in 2003 as a live companion set to the five hour 2DVD set. Ultimately Jimmy went with the Long Beach and Los Angeles Forum recordings made in June of 1972 for the How The West Was Won release.
It’s a little known fact that a small part of the Southampton show actually made its way onto that release – the mellotron part was dubbed on during ‘Stairway to Heaven’. As Mike Tremaglio commented in the Evenings With Led Zeppelin book ‘’Evidently, Page must have decided that Jones’ mellotron, used for the first time on the Fall 1972 Japan tour, added a special vibe to the song’.
The January 22 1973 Southampton gig did surface on bootleg in 2007 notably on the One More Night release which was also released on vinyl.
Now comes this expansive new bootleg release via the Wonderland label. Dancing Days Are Here Again will be much welcomed by vinyl Zep bootleg collectors as the One More Night set is hard to come by.
The cover artwork reproduces the poster that was produced for the concert that has a bizarre Nazi connection. Allegedly, Peter Grant was upset with the association and had the posters removed.
There’s an insert with track details and a review of the time by John Clark via the University of Essex /Wessex Scene. The records are on red blue and yellow vinyl.
In both performance and sound quality it’s right up there with the best of ‘em and this transfer is a remastered version from in 2019. Robert Plant’s vocals are outstanding throughout and the multi track recording is mixed to bring out all four band members with clarity and depth.
The eight LP format does split Dazed and Confused and Thank you over differing sides by the edits are not too jarring.
The highlights of which there are many, include a rousing Since I’ve Been Loving You, previews of the soon to be released Houses Of The Holy tracks over The Hills And Far Away, The Song Remains The Same/The Rain Song and Dancing Days, a marathon Thank You with Jon Paul Jones on mellotron, a rare for time fervent run through of How Many More Times plus a truly blistering Communication Breakdown encore.
This January 22 973 recording can rightly claim to be something of a great lost live Led Zeppelin album and anyone investing in this new package will find it more than lives up to its Dancing Days Are Here Again title.
This is Led Zeppelin firing on all cylinders in one of the last small venues they would play – ahead lay mega stadiums and mega audiences. As such,
It’s an historic recording and a very welcome bootleg LP release.
Dave Lewis – November 14 2023
23 NOVEMBER 2023 923 VIEWS ONE COMMENT
More on the spot reports…
Robert Plant Presents Saving Grace Featuring Suzi Dian:
Cambridge Corn Exchange – Friday November 17 2023
To Cambridge for a final sighting on this UK tour of the remarkable Saving Grace.
It was great to have the good lady Janet with me – this was her first Robert Plant gig since 2002 –the Storytellers filming for VH1 all of 21 years ago.
In that time since I’ve added another 45 gigs to my overall tally of 127 occasions of seeing Robert perform live – tonight was gig number 128 and it was yet another superb one.
I really am running out of superlatives to describe the effect of this band and again there were many highlights – Let The Four Winds Blow, Friends and the intense cover of Low’s Everybody’s Song setting the standard.
Moby Grape’s It’s a Beautiful Day Today was delicately delivered as of course was The Rain Song. On the home straight the Bert Jansch cover It Don’t Bother Me had Robert applying as Suzi described it ”occasional bass” and Four Sticks was just sensational – no other word for it.
An infectious Angel Dance, a dramatic House of Cards, a playful Gallows Pole and the customary all in a huddle for And We Bid You Goodnight brought the show to an end.
And Cambridge bade them goodnight with a standing ovation…
‘’No sleep until bedtime’’ was Roberts’s wry parting shot.
Needless to say the good lady was mighty impressed and now understands why her husband has had 45 nights out in Robert’s company since her last sighting – she did make one request – can they do The Battle Of Evermore next time? I’d go along with that as I think Suzi would bring a lot to that one.
So ends my journey of this latest saga of Saving Grace. A saga that began back in February 2019 when I saw them support Fairport Convention at the St Albans Arena. From there I took in the Hackney Empire show last year and a remarkable night in Ireland at the Spiegeltent Festival in Wexford when Donovan came on to perform Season of The Witch.
So what is it about this unit that makes it so special? For a start Saving Grace is a real collective. Throughout the set, Matt Worley’s delightful banjo technique and Tony Kelsey’s superb guitar playing continually impressed –as did Oli Jefferson’s subtle but forceful percussion work.
As for Suzi Dian, her accordion contributions added more colour and then there’s her vocal rapport with Robert. Between them they have developed an almost telepathic understanding -this is very noticeable in how they constantly push each other to the limit vocally. This often manifests itself in the closing of numbers. You can see the eye contact between them as they wound down the songs in total vocal sync. It’s another unique feature of this amazing unit.
Suzi Dian is every bit an effective and inspiring vocal foil for Robert as Alison Krauss – for me personally even more so as the purity of her vocal style brings a delightful English folk feel to the proceedings.
As for Robert Plant – he really is singing as good if not better than ever – all the nuances and vocal control that lit up the first of my 128 occasions that I’ve been lucky enough to see him perform live, way back at the Empire Pool Wembley on a freezing November night in 1971, are present and correct.
So thank you Robert, Suzi, Matt, Tony and Oli – it’s been an amazing couple of weeks with the gigs I caught in Birmingham, Cardiff and Cambridge – it would be nice to think that a Saving Grace album is on the schedule ahead.
For those attending the final dates in Grimsby, Gateshead, Bradford Stoke on Trent and Wolverhampton, a very special evening is assured…
Dave Lewis – November 18 2023
Pics by Steve Livesley -thanks for getting us there Steve!
My thoughts on the new Led Zeppelin bootleg vinyl set Open Your Heart To Fort Worth…
I took receipt today of the new 4 LP bootleg set titled Led Zeppelin Open Your Heart To Fort Worth.
Live in Fort Worth TX Tarrant County Convention Center March 3rd 1975.
Pigs On the Groove label – limited run of 350
Led Zeppelin vinyl bootlegs are a bit like busses. Nothing for a good while then two come along. This set is hot on the heels of the recently released Dancing Days Are Here Again Southampton 1973 box set.
Firstly the package – most impressive…in fact rather fabulous…
The front art work has four black and white shots –three from Earls Court and a JPJ one from the US tour. The back cover is an Earls Court May 23 1975 colour pic.
The cover folds out impressively to depict further US tour/Earls Court 1975 pics – there is a Jimmy shot from the 1977 US tour.
There’s an album sized 12 page booklet with more US tour and Earls Court 1975 images plus various concert ads. The text rounds up some facts and reviews including William Burroughs thoughts that appeared in Crawdaddy magazine at the time.
Also included is a full colour fold out poster – a live shot from Earls Court.
The 4 LP’S come on coloured vinyl with my set in stark gold, white, purple and green.
So to the music…
The soundboard mix is very clear with John Paul Jones keyboards pleasingly to the fore.
This early March Fort Worth appearance captures them just as they were really getting into the stride on what had been a difficult US tour.
Jimmy’s finger problems that dogged the early dates were now resolved. Robert’s voice, which had also suffered early on in the tour was improving though he takes a while to get into his stride vocally on this show. By In My Time of Dying, he is well in control and overall excels brilliantly.
The Fort Worth show kick started a series of excellent shows that took in Dallas, San Diego, Long Beach ,Vancouver, Seattle and Los Angeles.
I am a big fan of this period which a couple of months later, would culminate in the fabled Earls Court run of five concerts in May 1975 – five concerts which I was was lucky enough to be in attendance at.
This Fort Worth presentation is sourced from the soundboard recording that surfaced a few years back on various CD titles notably via the Empress Valley label.
From the start they are right on the money.
Jimmy’s return to form is evident during a fluent and confident Over The Hills And Far Away.
In My Time of Dying really gels and it’s evident they are really enjoying themselves with Robert’s between song patter at its jovial best.
The Rain Song is a peerless Plant delivery – it occurs to me as I’m playing this that the last time I heard The Rain Song, Robert Plant was singing it not too far in front of me at The Cambridge Corn Exchange three weeks back.
‘’That was a mellotron- the 21st century rock’n’ roll orchestra’’ notes Plant at the close.
Kashmir is another stand out led by ‘’The unique fingers of John Paul jones’’ as Plant put it. It’s a joy to hear Jonesy’s interjections right up front in the mix.
No Quarter takes up the whole of side D. Led by ‘’the mysterious fingers of John Paul Jones” this is the jazzy arrangement favoured at the time with John Bonham’s Fool in the Rain like percussive shuffles moving it all along and Jimmy adding an exquisite solo.
This version of No Quarter is as good a performance on a Zep boot as anything I’ve heard in a good while.
Trampled Underfoot has all the intensity that lit up those Earls Court deliveries. Moby Dick is sequenced over side E and F. Dazed And Confused is similarly spliced over two sides from side F and Side G.
Dazed conveniently re commences with the Woodstock excerpt and it really is totally mesmerising. The whole performance of this marathon is just stupendous.
Stairway To Heaven is introduced by Robert as ‘’A song that opened the doors to the timelessness of the group. It’s a song we dearly love and hope you will too’’
I certainly love it, not least as it has all the ad-libs that would light up the Earls Court versions – ‘’Our Stairway lies on the whispering wind – that’s all we got.’’
Jimmy’s solo is a twisting turning cavalcade of joy with all the EC traits intact and then Bonzo takes it to another level with a thunderous canter around the kit. Folks, what we are listening to here is the true chemistry of Led Zeppelin in all its 1975 glory…
It occurs to me again playing this, that the last time I heard Stairway To Heaven was watching the footage of Robert performing it at the at the recent Andy Taylor benefit concert.
Encore: a crunching Whole Lotta Love that moves into The Crunge which heralds a ferocious stand off between Jimmy’s shrill theremin magic and
Robert’s ‘’ohh yeah’’ squeals. Call and response never sounded so good.
Finally a frantic Black Dog brings the curtain down.
Plant: ‘’We’ve had a wonderful time –hope you have – goodnight’’
I certainly had a wonderful time listening to this and anyone who searches out Open Your Heart To Fort Worth can expect to do the same.
As I’ve said before – these multi LP sets are not for everyone and are expensive – however, ardent Zep vinyl boot collectors can buy this one with confidence because this night at Fort Worth captures Led Zeppelin on the rise to the top of their game.
As for me, with a pedigree of buying Zep LP bootlegs that stretches back to 51 years this month, this new addition to the ever bulging shelves is pretty essential.
Led Zeppelin live at Fort Worth on March 3 1975 is a genuine prelude to Earls Court and the seeds of that golden era are flowering across each of these four LP sides.…
Dave Lewis – December 6 2023
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My thoughts on The Faces – Had Me A Real Good Time At The BBC…. 

One of my gig going regrets is that I never got to see The Faces live. I have seen Rod Stewart on a fair few occasions since 1978 but The Faces eluded me –some friends saw them at the Edmonton Sundown in 1973 but I missed out.

This new Faces album Had Me A Real Good Time At The BBC – a recently released limited pressing on orange vinyl Black Friday Record Store Day, is a very welcomed reminder of how good they were. It presents some the best Faces BBC performances drawn from the original masters.

There have been plenty of bootlegs of their various BBC sessions and in Concert recordings – I have a few in my collection but this is the first official release of this material. It covers various Faces BBC appearances across 1971 and into 1973.

Side One captures a session for the BBC Radio One Sounds of the Seventies show recorded on April 20 1971 and broadcast on May 3.It kicks off with Had Me A Real Good Time from the then recently released Long Player album. Stock full of the raunch and roll they virtually patented back in that era They were always good for a vocal ad-lib and knockabout ending and it’s all present here with Rod signing off  nonchalantly ‘and I went home’.

Robert Johnson’s Love In Vain I am well familiar with via The Rolling Stones excellent version on the live Get Yer Ya Ya’s Out album. The Faces version is no less affecting. Rod sings close up to the mic and Ronnie is absolutely right on it with the slide guitar solo. Until I played this, I thought the Stones was the boss version – it’s now got competition.

Oh Lord I’m Browned Off (originally the B side of their 1971 Maybe I’m Amazed single) is a funky Booker T like funk instrumental. It’s a showcase for Ian McLagan and a reminder of what an important part of their sound his keyboard work was. Kenney Jones offers up a shuffling beat and tight drum solo and then it all rides off into the sunset.

The Faces version of Paul McCartney’s Maybe I’m Amazed was always a live Faces showpiece and this BBC session is no exception. Ronnie sings the first line then in comes Rod and then there’s some duel vocal harmony -an example of the collective spirit that prevailed within the band.

Mac and Ronnie add their parts and Rod’s back for the final reprise. This is not just the best McCartney cover version ever but one of the great cover versions of all time

Side Two commences with a strident stomp through the Womack’s It’s All Over Now (and 1964 Rolling Stones number one). Mac’s organ is up front and right in the groove providing the foundation for some jamming. This is from John Peel’s Sunday In Concert programme aired on May 23 1971

Too Much For (A Hen Pecked Man)/Street Fighting Man is from the BBC 2 Sounds For Saturday -The Music Of The Faces TV presentation recorded in late 1971 and broadcast on April 1 1972.. An elaborate arrangement that merges the Ike Turner song with the Jagger/Richard classic and again a vehicle to go off on a tangent – the latter bearing little resemblance to the Stones version.

Fast forward to 1973 and another In Concert appearance broadcast on April 21 1973. This was to be their final BBC session and one of the last appearances with Ronnie Lane.  Twisting the Night Away is a joyous delivery of the Sam Cooke standard and Rod’s comments at the end ‘’Not finished yet!’’ carries a certain irony.

Finally from an In Concert recorded on February 8  a cover of The Temptations (I Know )I’m Losing You – always a highlight of any Faces show and a platform for a tight and compact Kenney Jones drum solo.

‘’The Faces -.still the best rock n’roll band in the world for those of us that care’’ is John Peel’s final accolade.

Summary:

This is a truly excellent snapshot of The Faces in their pomp, all superbly  recorded and remastered and produced by Rob Caiger. It’s good to see the long term Faces/Rod chronicler and Smiler magazine editor John Gray in the credits for his input. John was a great help to me a few years back when I wrote a feature on the Rod Stewart Never a Dull Moment album for Record Collector.

Now here’s the really good news.

The latest issue of Mojo has a news feature headed ”Faces vault opens for unheard outtakes galore”

It reports that the aforementioned Rob is preparing new deluxe remastered extended editions of The Faces catalogue working, closely with the surviving members and the estates of the late Ian McClagen and Ronnie Lane.

In the piece Rob offers this perceptive view when he states ”They had a very unjustified reputation of being sloppy. The weren’t.

What this series is going to show is how on top of their game The Faces were while having a good time. We’re going to be correcting a few myths and adding to the story – when this stuff comes out properly mastered I think it’s going to get a new respect for just how good this band were”

Had Me a Real Good Time At The BBC is the first step to restoring The Faces reputation and giving them their much overdue regard – the prospect of more of the same is a mouthwatering one –  meanwhile my advice to any fan of the band is to seek out this limited edition release – you will not be disappointed…

Dave Lewis – December 12 2023 

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Coverdale Page Japanese reissue….

I was well pleased to purchase a copy of the recently released Japanese pressing of the Coverdale Page album. This a Sony Music label pressing on clear blue vinyl spread over 2 LPs. Complete with Japanese and English lyric sheet and insert.
I have great memories of this being released back in March 1993 – incredible to think it’s all of 30 years ago. I had an advance tape of this and remember the visiting Larry Ratner (photographer and publisher of the Led Zeppelin Live Dreams book back then) getting very excited as we played it through.
My original preview review I wrote for Record Collector in March 1993 can be seen above.
There was no doubt it was the best Jimmy Page performance on record for years and it still sounds brilliant – Coverdale too was right on top of his game. A definite career highlight for them both.
Ultimately it was all a bit short lived but it kick started Jimmy into action and would lead to the Page & Plant Unledded era. It was this album that gave him his confidence back.
There’s been talk of an extended box set edition but nothing has materlsied on that.
Meanwhile this is the next best thing – many thanks To Graeme H for sorting this one for me…
Dave Lewis December 18 2023 
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LZ News:
Here’s the link to the latest LZ News post which maps out what we can expect from the world of Led Zeppelin in 2024…
2023 was an interesting year for fans of Led Zeppelin. While we didn’t get any official band releases or any word of the release of “Becoming Led Zeppelin”, we did see Robert Plant touring the US with Alison Krauss

 

Read full story

Henry Smith and Eddie Kramer were interviewed on podcasts

Two new podcasts episodes released recently will be of interest to Led Zeppelin fans.

The first is an interview with former Led Zeppelin roadie Henry Smith that was published on the Moments That Rock podcast.

Moments that Rock featuring Henry Smith, Jimmy Page’s right hand man throughout his career shares amazing stories of growing up with LED ZEPPELIN !

Tony Michaelides

Episode

The second is an interview with record producer and engineer Eddie Kramer that discusses his work with Led Zeppelin that was published on The Vinyl Guide podcast.

Ep429: Eddie Kramer – Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin & more

Nate Goyer – The Vinyl Guide

Episode

Robert Plant

Robert Plant went to a football match on December 9

Robert Plant was photographed attending the Wolverhampton Wanderers vs Nottingham Forest football match in Wolverhampton on December 9.

Full Saving Grace show recording emerges on YouTube

A complete audience recording of Saving Grace’s November 11 performance in Salford was posted on YouTube this week. You can listen to it below:

Upcoming events:

  • 2024– Robert Plant will tour with Alison Krauss.
  • January 1– ABC will broadcast highlights of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame ceremony at 8pm EST
  • March 22– John Paul Jones will perform at the Big Ears music festival in Knoxville, Tennessee.
  • March 23– John Paul Jones will perform at the Big Ears music festival in Knoxville, Tennessee as part of Sons Of Chipotle.
  • April 5– “Led Zeppelin: A Visual Biography” by Martin Popoff will be published.
  • April 6– The exhibition “The Wiltshire Thatcher – a Photographic Journey through Victorian Wessex” featuring the original photograph from the cover of Led Zeppelin’s fourth album will open at Wiltshire Museum.
  • Summer 2024– Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Vienna, Virginia.
  • September 15– The exhibition “The Wiltshire Thatcher – a Photographic Journey through Victorian Wessex” featuring the original photograph from the cover of Led Zeppelin’s fourth album will close at Wiltshire Museum.
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This one via Ikhnaton on the Royal Orleans website…count me in for this…
December 31 footage from the Led Zeppelin Pontiac April 30 1977 performance to be aired…
In 2022, I started to discuss with the two guys behind Speedy youtube channel. My goal was to have all Speedy films scanned properly, or at least the most interesting ones. After some very long discussions, they agreed to sent us the reels, one by one. We did the Genesis 76 one and the famous Pink Floyd Hamilton 75, and many more, all at our own expense. But the most interesting part was yet to come: the led zep films, and oh boy, there was a LOT.
This is where Ledzepfilm help came in, and his help was really precious, he did the sync on all the films, of course, but he also helped us A LOT on the financial part, as getting all these films scanned was … Incredibly expensive.
My first idea was to have Pontiac released for Christmas 2022, but we only obtained the films in 2023. So the Christmas release was postponed. But then again, for no real reasons, it was again postponed for a release after Christmas 2023. But now, the release date of Pontiac 77 is settled : 31 December 2023. Be ready !
Lots of work were done to the films, so they looks as good as possible and we all hope you’ll enjoy them as much as we did !
Please thanks the speedy’s guys, LZF and all the people who want to stay anonymous involved in this project.
And of course, thanks to the late Jim Kelly for all the incredible films he shots.
Don’t hesitate to subscribe to their Youtube channel:

Remembering the late great legendary Lemmy – nine years gone on December 28:

I was privileged to be in his company a couple of times – notably at the Classic Rock awards at the Roundhouse in 2011. Lemmy was there that night to pick up an award. I had a few minutes with him (this pic was taken then) and asked him for a quote about Led Zeppelin IV for the then forthcoming TBL issue 30 which was celebrating the album’s 40th anniversary. This is what he told me:

”I can remember being down the Speakeasy club with Jimmy quite a few times and Bonzo would be around too. They were just the best musicians and that album is one of many of theirs that still sound amazing. They were a fucking amazing band”

The same could be said for his band -RIP Lemmy…

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DL Diary Blog Update:

Thursday December 21:

The new issue of the always excellent Shindig! magazine is in the house and it’s a Love thing going down – Count me in…

Friday December 22:

Friday treats at the always excellent Slide Record Shop in Bedford…the last purchase of the year – the recently released Bob Dylan Another Budokan 1978 double album superb stuff – thanks Nerys Bannister and Warren Alsop

Friday December 22:

Great to see our good friends Steve Livesley, Dave Crockett Jenny Fisk and Anne Marie at The Ship for a pre Christmas drink this afternoon…

Friday December 22:

On the player marking the 51st anniversary tomorrow of when I attended my second Led Zeppelin gig – Merry Christmas Mr. Jimmy -two CD bootleg recording on the Lemon Song label –good for the time audience recording and inspiring plenty of memories of my 16 year old self soaking up the adult rock world where Zep ruled…

Saturday December 23:

Saturday is platterday – on the player and getting in the party mood with the brilliant Faces album A Nod’s as Good as a Wink…to a Blind Horse…

Saturday December 23:

Saturday is platterday (and tomorrow!)
Some Christmas singles from the DL collection that will get a spin in the next couple of days here…

Saturday December 23:

An early Christmas present…
Well pleased to receive the reissue on Demon Records of the superb 1966 Kelth Relf solo single Shapes In My Mind…first heard this on The Yardbirds Golden Eggs bootleg album when I got it in 1974…great to have a copy on a single – thanks Mr Andrew Ricci for this one!

Saturday December 23:

Great to hook up with Phil Harris and Nick Carruthers for a pre Christmas drink this afternoon – records, gigs and music were high on the agenda!

Sunday December 24:

This is a superb nostalgic CD set I picked up at Sister Ray Records in Berwick Street recently…
1962 British Hit Parade Part 1 January –June on the Fantastic Voyage label.
Extensive 5 CD set this includes every record to debut on the UK chart between January and June 1962.
This was the pre Beatles/beat boom era where the likes of The Shadows, Adam Faith, Cliff Richard, Joe Brown, Roy Orbison etc ruled the charts – alongside a host of quirky offerings and TV themes.
150 tracks across 5 CDs and all for just £3.99 – top result!
I’ve just searched out a copy of Volume Two to complete this set…
Tuesday December 26:
Some Boxing Day retro charts nostalgia – UK singles and album charts on this day in 1972…have a great day one and all…
Wednesday December 27:
Here’s a beauty I had for Christmas…
We Can Work it Out – Covers Of The Beatles 1962 – 1966 – Various Artists 3CD on the Grapefruit label…
This collects an extensive 85 covers of The Beatle’s catalogue from 1963 – 1966 – clamshell box set – superb sleeve notes with many cover reproductions
As a massive collector of Beatles’ covers this is right up my street – I have a few of the tracks here on seven inch singles I’ve collected but there’s many new discoveries here –Adam Faith covering I Wanna Be Your Man who knew!
I’d welcome a volume 2 covering the years 1967 – 1970 – for now this is a brilliant set that will assist in my recollecting search for future Beatle’s covers on 45s
Thank you our Sam for this one!
Wednesday December 27:
Another fab Christmas present…
Bobby Gillespie Presents Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down CD…
Great compilation put together by the Primal Scream front man for the Ace label in 2015.
Eclectic mix covering Gene Clark, The Byrds, Little Feat, Ronnie Wood John Barry, Gram Parsons, Kris Kristofferson and more – perfect for Sunday mornings or any other…
I’ve been meaning to get around to buying this for a good while –thanks John Parkin for sorting this one for me!
Wednesday December 27:
Another fab Christmas present – superb collection of timeless David Bowie photos by the brilliant Kevin Cummins live on stage and off covering the years 1972 to 1987 – thanks Steve Livesley for this one!

Update here:

So as the curtain comes down on 2023, once again on behalf of the good lady Janet may I offer thanks for all your incredible, inspiring and heart-warming support and kindness which means so much to us here. We wish you a hopeful, healthy and safe new year…

Thanks for listening 

Until next time…

Dave  Lewis –  December 28 2023

TBL website updates written and compiled by Dave Lewis

Follow TBL/DL on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/tightbutloose.loose

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2 Comments »

  • Graham said:

    Thank you Dave for all your tireless work in keeping the Zeppelin community up to date with news and reviews throughout the year. Your passion and commitment is unrivalled and we all appreciate the huge effort you put into TBL.

    Best wishes to you and Janet for 2024!
    Graham

  • John Webster said:

    Hi Dave,

    Great round up of the year. Here,s to 2024.
    I shall keep an eye out for the Hipgnosis book as didnt actually know it existed.
    If you do actually look to sell any items I will be happy to help with the purchasing.

    Have a great New Year

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