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8 April 2022 2,605 views 3 Comments

Jimmy Page and Scarlett Sabet for Hay Festival Event:

Jimmy Page and Scarlett Sabet will be appearing at the Hay Festival on June 1 and 2 in conversation with Dylan Jones

Here’s all the info:

Hay Festival 2022, 26 May–5 June.

Scarlett Sabet and Jimmy Page talk to Dylan Jones


Wednesday 1 June 2022, 7pm Venue: Llwyfan Cymru – Wales Stage

Catalyst is a radical spoken word album produced by Jimmy Page, featuring poetry written and performed by Scarlett Sabet, creating a powerful, and arresting sonic landscape. “Catalyst is a sonic manifestation of Jimmy’s innovation, our time together and spirit.”– Scarlett Sabet. “I believed that the poems featured here could display a new dimension to the spoken word, her spoken word and her genius.” – Jimmy Page.

More details and tickets at:

Hay Festival 2022, 26 May–5 June.

Jimmy Page talks to Dylan Jones


Thursday 2 June 2022, 4pm Venue: Baillie Gifford Stage

From his early days as a young session musician, through his years on the world stage with Led Zeppelin, to his solo work and collaborations, Jimmy Page has lived a spectacular life in music. Throughout it all, he has amassed an extensive private archive of iconic guitars, stage costumes and personal memorabilia. In Jimmy Page: The Anthology he grants exclusive access to his archive for the first time. He tells the inside story of his phenomenal career to journalist and author Dylan Jones.

More details and tickets at:

LZ News:

Here’s the latest round up from LZ News:

Upcoming events:

April 8 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Bexhill, England.
April 10 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Folkestone, England.
April 11 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in London, England.
April 14 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Hull, England.
April 15 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Scunthorpe, England.
April 16 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in York, England.
April 19 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Bewdley, England.
April 20 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Rhyl, Wales.
April 22 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Liverpool, England.
April 25 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Middlesbrough, England.
April 26 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Halifax, England.
April 27 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Stockport, England.
April 29 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Aberystwyth, Wales.
May 1 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace at the Cheltenham Jazz Festival in Cheltenham, England.
May 7 – The Black Country Beats exhibition at the Wolverhampton Art Gallery, which is set to include Robert Plant’s career, will open.
May 13 – The Tunespeak competition to win tickets for Robert Plant and Alison Krauss’ US tour will close.
June 1 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Canandaigua, New York.
June 3 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Saratoga Springs, New York.
June 4 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Forest Hills, New York.
June 6 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Clarkston, Michigan.
June 7 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Chicago, Illinois.
June 9 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Indianapolis, Indiana.
June 11 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Columbia, Maryland.
June 12 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
June 14 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Cary, North Carolina.
June 16 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Atlanta, Georgia.
June 17 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform at the Bonnaroo music festival in Manchester, Tennessee.
June 22-26 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform at Glastonbury Festival in Somerset, England.
June 26 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform at BST Hyde Park in London, England.
June 29 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform at Roskilde Festival in Roskilde, Denmark.
July 1 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Hamar, Norway.
July 2 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Bergen, Norway.
July 5 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Rättvik, Sweden.
July 8 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform at Cactusfestival in Bruges, Belgium.
July 10 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform at the Royal Park Live festival in Baarn, Netherlands.
July 14 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform at the Lucca Summer Festival in Lucca, Italy.
July 16 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform at JazzOpen Stuttgart 2022 in Stuttgart, Germany.
July 18 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Sopot, Poland.
July 20 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Berlin, Germany.
September 4 – The Black Country Beats exhibition at the Wolverhampton Art Gallery, which is set to include Robert Plant’s career, will close.
October 5 – The French translation of “Led Zeppelin By Led Zeppelin” will be published.
Early 2023 – “A Whole Lotta Music: Life To My Ears,” the memoirs of Tight But Loose editor Dave Lewis, will be published.
2023 – A remastered and expanded 30th anniversary edition of “Coverdale–Page” will be released.

Many thanks to James Cook 

The complete Led Zeppelin News email goes out periodically. To receive it sign up here:

Led Zeppelin News Website: Check out the Led Zeppelin news website at


Robert Plant on BBC Radio 6 Music:

Robert Plant is sitting for Iggy Pop for a three week stint on BBC Radio 6 Music  -first show is Sunday April 10 at 4pm…

TBL Archive Special 1:

BBC Radio One John Peel In Concert  – It was 51 years ago…

Reeling in the year: Capturing the sounds of BBC Radio One on a Sunday night in April – The Wonder of Devotion…

Led Zeppelin BBC Radio One In Concert – It was 51 years ago this week:

51 years ago, on Sunday April 4 1971, I first heard the music of Led Zeppelin performed live and the effect was pretty shattering to the ears of a young 14 year old – not to mention rather lasting…

The occasion was the Radio One broadcast of an hours worth of live Zep for John Peel’s In Concert programme (repeated the following Wednesday in the Sounds of the Seventies evening slot).

Recorded three days earlier at the Paris Theatre on the back of the band’s ‘Back to the clubs tour’, at the time this was a very big deal.

Zeppelin had not appeared on a BBC radio session since August of 1969 –their return to the UK airwaves was therefore much anticipated. Especially by me, tuning in a at home on our portable radio eager to hear how they sounded on stage.

My trusty reel to reel tape recorder captured all the action blow by blow. Unfortunately due to the poor reception of the then 247 metres radio band of BBC Radio One –much of it was played out alongside the strains of several foreign radio stations drifting amongst the airwaves. I therefore ended up unwittingly with some rather unique versions of these BBC recordings!

Unsurprisingly I wasn’t the only one…

Long-standing TBL supporter Phil Tattershall has been in touch with his story:

Here’s one of the more prized items in my quite extensive Led Zeppelin collection; a reel-to-reel tape of the 1971 Paris Theatre BBC performance, recorded on the very day of the original broadcast. I remember connecting my old Etronic valve AM radio to the family reel-to-reel recorder in my bedroom that Sunday, 4th April 1971 and waiting for the broadcast to begin.  It didn’t disappoint; Led Zeppelin live for the first time – wow!

You’ll see from the picture of the reel that the tape isn’t all the same colour.  Why?  Well, my cousin Pete, who was a van driver in the early 70s, was given a job of collecting a load of junk for disposal from a London recording studio (no idea which one) and amongst it were a some boxes of old tapes of various sizes.  Blank tapes were expensive in those days (25 shillings for a five and a quarter inch reel – a fortune!) so Pete salvaged them and gave them to members of the family who had tape recorders.  My Mum and Dad claimed the five and a quarter inch reels for recording Sing Something Simple, the Black and White Minstrel Show, Pick of the Pops etc., but gave several three inch reels to me to play with. They were a variety of brands and formulations, but were the only tapes I had available to record the 1971 BBC concert, so to capture as much of the broadcast as I could, I used Sellotape to join them together and wound them on to a spare empty spool.

The pieces held together successfully, but sadly, the tape ran out during Boogie Mama in the Whole Lotta Love medley. However, I’d managed to capture a good chunk of the show for repeated listening and it served me well until I tracked down a copy of the TMQ Stairway to Heaven vinyl boot some years later

Now, as you probably know, the programme was broadcast again the following Wednesday, so you may wonder why I didn’t seize the opportunity to record the end of the show on the other side of the tape.  Well, Wednesday was the evening the local dads and kids all went to a very nice new indoor heated swimming pool in the next town and it was the highlight of my week.  (The pool in our town was outdoor and unheated – not much fun in April.)  I had the difficult choice of going swimming with the gang or missing out and staying home to record the repeat broadcast.  To my eternal regret, swimming won.  Pointlessly as it turned out, because when we got there, the pool was closed for maintenance and by the time I got home, the radio programme had finished.  Bah!
I’m probably the only person in the world who knows for sure that Hatfield swimming pool was closed on Wednesday 7th April 1971. Isn’t it strange how Led Zeppelin associations make the most trivial of incidents stick in the memory for life?

Phil – it certainly is…

My original tape has long since been lost – I have had a listen to the source above – it’s a better recording than mine though you can hear the AM background hum. I have to say hearing it in this lo fi authentic source was hugely nostalgic – it brought the sense of excitement I had as a 14 year old listening to that historic broadcast on BBC Radio One.

Back to my story…

After I had carefully set up my reel to reel tape recorder close the radio, the dulcet tones of John Peel spoke forth: ‘’This is something we’ve waited a long time for on the Sunday repeated on Wednesday show and I know it’s all going to be worth the wait. Would you welcome please Led Zeppelin.”

Oh yes we would welcome them Mr Peel. Blam! The battering ram riff of Immigrant Song reeled from the radio and I was in seventh heaven. This was Led Zeppelin live – and a riveting experience to behold.

I was already in love with their three studio albums, I had missed out on their 1969 broadcasts so hearing them live was absolute confirmation that all my enthusiasm was justified. On record they were fantastic -but their songs performed live took all into another stratosphere.

No more so than the next track that was aired. As I was later to discover via the bootlegs, this hour long presentation was edited down from a full set.

On this Sunday evening broadcast Immigrant Song therefore did not segue into Heartbreaker as was the custom of their then live act. Instead we heard Dazed And Confused. All nigh on 18 minutes of it.

This was my baptism into the free form improvisational world of live Led Zep. It was then I realised that the studio versions were just the starting point. Dazed And Confused live went off into all sorts of tangents – the drama of the slowed down intro, the violin bow episode, the call and response sequence through to the lengthy outro – it was all there.

Within the space of 18 minutes my estimation and appreciation of Led Zeppelin shot up 100%.

That trend continued as they performed a dreamy What Is And What Should Never Be, Stairway To Heaven and Going To California from their yet to be released fourth album, That’s The Way and the Whole Lotta Love marathon that had a rock’n’roll medley that included That’s Alright Mama and Mess Of Blues. Phew…

My original reel to reel tape (and the tape recorder) is sadly long gone. However, this BBC performance would emerge first on a series of bootleg LP’s (I had the BBC Broadcast LP with that great Will Stout pig cover on Trade Mark Of Quality when it initially came out in 1973) and then on a variety of CD bootleg sets and officially on the BBC Sessions album in 1997 and on the 2016 updated Complete BBC Session set.

So thank you John Peel for persuading Led Zeppelin to perform on Radio One again back in the spring of 1971. I have countless hours of live Led Zeppelin at my disposal but it’s that very first hour that still resonates as much as any, as it unlocked the (up until then) secret world of Led Zeppelin in concert. It ultimately led to a fascination for me to hear as many of their live performances as possible.

51 years on, that desire is as strong as ever – and Led Zeppelin as recorded at the BBC back in April 1971 remains one of my all time favourite Zep recordings.

On that April afternoon, as a fledgling 14 year old Led Zeppelin fan listening intently to every second of the BBC broadcast, never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined that many years hence, I would be asked by Jimmy Page to contribute liner notes to an official release of this epic recording.

That truly is the wonder of devotion…

Dave Lewis – April ,2022


TBL Archive Special 2:

Presence at 46:

46 years ago this month, Presence, the seventh Led Zeppelin album was released worldwide. To mark the occasion, here is a Then and Now perspective I collated for the 2015 reissue – 46 years on it’s still the true heart and soul of the Led Zep catalogue…


For me personally, the Presence album is and always be tangibly associated with my own circumstances of the time. Playing out my own soap opera, as an impressionable 19 year old caught up in my first love affair played out to the soundtrack of the new Led Zeppelin album.

Back in early August 1975 we were still bathing in the warm afterglow of Earls Court. That feeling was promptly curtailed when the news came through via the national press here, that Robert had been involved in a serious car smash on the Greek island of Rhodes.

It was in early September that I read in Rolling Stone that the band had decamped to Malibu to aid Robert’s recovery – and were planning to write and rehearse for a new album. Subsequent news reports had them sighted on stage in an ad hoc performance in Jersey. There was also the report in NME that they had recorded a new album in Musicland Studios – in a mere three weeks and it would be released in early 1976.

So in January 1976, I rang the Swan Song office in London to find out a release date and more details. March was sited – the Melody Maker ran a news story not long after that the album would be titled Obelisk and released in February. They were on the right lines with the title –as we know an obelisk would be the distinctive feature of a simply bizarre cover design.

Before all that, Robert Plant had given some ‘good to be alive’ interviews in New York. He mentioned one track to be titled Achilles Last Stand ”You know immortal but for the heel -or for being a heel. I mustn’t joke about it because I’m very proud of it”. 

The very nature of the title laid down its credentials – I just knew it was going to be an epic. In his review of the Presence album in Sounds, Jonh Ingram declared it would be ”A motherfucker live”. Both these forecasts would prove to be entirely correct.


Jimmy Page’ s press interview for the album staged in March were equally positive. ”It really does sum up a period for the band  A little bit of the past, a little bit of the future”.

Achilles Last Stand was indeed an epic – as I was to find out on the evening of Saturday April 3 1976. Alan Freeman had played the entire album on his Saturday afternoon show – alas I was working that day but we taped it and – the first time I heard that opening salvo unfold was in a car travelling the byways of Bedfordshire on a bright spring Saturday evening.

It sounded like something from another planet. It sounded simply magnificent.

I still have that original BASF tape. Somehow it sounded more impressive than the LP. I think it may be a slightly different mix – and there is a slight edit in Royal Orleans. During that broadcast, Alan Freeman let the whole album run without gaps or links between the tracks – there is some noticeable surface noise in evidence indicating it may have been an acetate playing.

Upon its arrival in the record department of WH Smith where I worked, Presence caused a sales rush I’d not seen in the store since – well the release of their last album Physical Graffiti. The store had a side window and that space was reserved for an entire display of the album put in by the WEA display team. How I wish I had taken a photo of that window and the bemused reaction of passers-by as they gazed a the Higpnosis sleeve design in some bewilderment.

object 3

The WEA rep that called on the WH Smith store also kindly arranged for me to receive a stand up counter display and hanging mobile – ordered direct from Swan Song in New York.  What a moment that was when it arrived and after it’s use in the shop, it was to eventually appear in my Zep shrine of a bedroom.

A week after the release of Presence, my then girlfriend Fiona and I went to London on a Saturday to hang around the Kings Road Swan Song office -just to be near their aura -it’s what I did back then! I remember peering into the basement window of the office and seeing a poster for the album framed.

Presence went on to become our soundtrack of that very hot summer of 1976.

On in the mini bus when we went to see The Who at Charlton Athletic football ground, out on the Phillips portable cassette player by the bank when we swam in the river.

I also took the album to every party we went to, including one memorable 18th birthday party of a friend staged at a sedate village hall Here, the pulsating tones of Achilles Last Stand momentarily replaced the more dulcet tones of The Real Thing’s current disco smash You To Me Are Everything – much to the astonishment of the rather less rock orientated young ladies to be found dancing around their hand bags!

I also made a rather bizarre Presence fashion statement. In November ,when it came to showing my colours as it were in dressing up to attend The Song Remains The Same film premiere at London’s Warner West End (where we had queued overnight to get tickets), I came up with a rather novel idea. The cardboard black obelisk Object that had come with the aforementioned hanging mobile was strung arund my neck to join the Page like white scarf I was wearing. It must have looked faintly ridiculous though Jimmy seemed impressed when I thrust it his way when they came up the stairs to take their seats at the cinema that night!

Unsurprisingly, bits of cardboard obelisk mixed with scarves did not catch on around the Kings Road. However, my empathy for the seventh led Zeppelin album did not wane one bit.

The release a mere six months after Presence of The Song Remains The Same, did overshadow the Presence album for a while. I was all over the live soundtrack and subsequent screenings of the film – but when I returned to it a year or so later, Presence still sounded the business.

In the intervening years, I’ve remained incredibly loyal to Presence, often justifying its greatness in print and in the pub!

It was one of the first Zep albums I acquired on CD around 1988 and by then, it had become my near fave Zep album.

I for one was not surprised when at the 02 reunion, the previously unplayed live For Your Life enjoyed all the plaudits it so deserved as being one of the evening’s undoubted highlights. I’ve always had a great affinity for that track.

I have a fair few copies of this album, including one that retains the original shrink wrap –and another that has an inscription by Aubrey Powell the co-designer of the sleeve –this says ‘’What’s that obelisk exactly?’’ –a reference to the mysterious sleeve. This was signed for me by Po when he came here to film some memorabilia for a Robert Plant video in 2005. Recently I’ve picked up a Chile pressing with a single sleeve and full title and track listing sticker. I also have a copy personally signed to me by Jimmy Page.

So to the album:

The thing about Presence  is that it was the product of adversity. On the run from the UK tax system, Plant injured in a car accident, tour cancelled, all energies quicky funnelled into making an album as quickly as possible.

For Jimmy Page,this adversity spurred on a surge of creative drive.

It was an act of defiance and protection. Their whole existence as a band was now in question. Plant’s car cash had rendered them unable to perform live –  something they had always taken for granted. Page suddenly became the absolute leader again. It was at that point he must have realised above all the craziness that surrounded them, it was the band, the music and the ability to perform together that was the whole reason for being in Led Zeppelin. Indeed for him inventing Led Zeppelin in the first place.

That realisation ignited Page’s creative muse and motivation to the extent that he wanted the album to be completed quicker than anything they had recorded since the debut album. His reaction was to take a firm hand grip of the Munich recording sessions, leading them in much the way he had at Olympic in 1968, many of the arrangement occurred in the studio as they were recording. When the studio time ran over, he wrapped it up with a massive overdub session with engineer Keith Harwood.

That urgency and spontaneity made for little time for the experimentation of the past.

For on Presence there are no boogies with Stu, no hat’s off to Harper’s. No funk or reggae parodies – no mellotrons or synths. Just full on full power Led Zep. The basic bass/drums/guitar/vocal approach gives the record a very live feel – leading to my conclusion that Presence is the nearest they got to capturing over a complete studio album, the unpredictable edge and power of their on-stage performances.

It’s also stock full of Jimmy Page’s genius guitar rages. Achilles Last Stand, For Your Life and Nobody’s Fault But Mine are all as good as anything he has ever applied himself to.

Given the circumstances it was recorded under, this seventh Led Zeppelin album was an amazing achievement – it’s an album that reflects the real heart and soul of Led Zeppelin.

Presence… Now:

unboxing four

So to this new remaster – and as was the way with Physical Graffiti, I played it through non stop at full blast. Sound wise, it has the same new sheen that has characterised the previous reissues.

Achilles retains the majesty and mystery that so transfixed us way back.

For Your Life has that undeniable dark lyrical edge has it grinds its way through its six minute duration. The Page solo here still sounds like one of his best …maybe THE best – unfolding with incredible venom.

Royal Orleans is full of funk on a lighter level punctuated by Page Jones and Bonham pounding out the riff, over which Plant unfolds the humorous story of road fever goings on in a New Orleans hotel. Bonzo’s conga drumming is right to the fore half way through and benefits greatly from this new remaster.

Over on side two, Nobody’s Fault But Like Mine is graced with a truly startling introduction as good as any track anywhere. For all their early blues musings they never dressed up an old blues tune more inventively than when they re wrote Blind Willie’s Nobody’s Fault. Lemon squeezing Delta dealings merge with Page’s sonic guitar technology. Absoluyely masterful.

In the 50s singer Ral Donner skit Candy Store Rock, we find them just turning themselves on – playing on a 50s groove in the manner they approached the countless off the cuff juke box faves within many a Whole Lotta Love live medley. On the new remaster this a revelation – as the echo effect of Plant’s vocals zip right across the speakers.

The pure intuitive swing of Hots On For Nowhere reflects its very live in the studio construction and as Charles Shaar Murray so astutely noted in his NME review of the time, brings to mind ”What Glenn Miller would have sounded like if he had played in a murderously heavy four piece rock band”.

Leaving the understandably downbeat Tea For One, a slow blues reflecting Robert Plant’s hurt at being away form his family. ”Time goes very slowly when you cant kick a ball or kick a roadie even kick your drummer so time has been the teacher and I’ve been the pupil” he noted at the time.

Summary: This new Presence remaster only goes to emphasis how great an achievement this seventh Led Zeppelin album was, and is. A crucial album in the catalogue which will rightly attain many accolades in the coming days and weeks. Folks – you are going to absolutely love this one…

Companion Audio Disc Content:


So to the Companion Disc Audio content:

For Your Life (Reference Mix) 6.28

As the riff halts each time, there’s a pronounced echo effect. Altogether a  denser mix. At 3 mins 18 additional vocal nuances from Robert. Again the overdubs are more upfront. The solo is an alternate version – the final stinging one has yet to be added. This one bends and twists on to the canvas creeping up on the listener in the process. Always on the edge…and essential in any mix..

10 Ribs & All/Carrot Pod Pod (Pod) (Reference Mix) 6.48

Opens with low key piano from John Paul Jones. Instantly reminded me of the JPJ piano concerto type solos applied to the live versions of No Quarter in 1975 notably at Earls Court. The plaintive piano arrangement also recalls to mind his playing on Ice Fishing At Night on The Thunderthief solo album.

Mournful, forlorn and reflective, it creates a beautiful atmosphere. Jimmy drifts in at 2mins 39 with some minor descending electric strumming, quite possibly courtesy of the Telecaster B bender. Behind all that there’s an acoustic guitar – all very autumnal and Ten Years Gone- ish. Then John Bonham enters at 3 mins 01 and like Jimmy says, it will make you smile – it might even make you cry. It all leads on to something of a crescendo in an All My Love outro tempo.

So Jonesy did take the piano out of the flight case for the Munich recordings – it’s emergence throws a new light on what had previously thought to be an  18 day frenzy of guitar, bass and drums arrangements.  There was indeed some subtly going on down at Musicland Studios and here it is. One for the theorists indeed – but one things for sure, with a suitable Plant lyric this has all the makings of a classic Zep romantic offering in the Ten Years Gone/In The Light vein. An absolute revelation.

Royal Orleans (Reference Mix) 3.01

A‘3-4’ count in and hi-hat from Bonzo and we are off for a reference mix that features a very different vocal delivery to the officially released version.

Robert Plant applying the lyrics in a harsh bluesy manner which reminded me of Dr John. The final gruff snarl at 2.52 of ‘Oh whiskers’’ brings to a close a very unorthodox Plant vocal performance. Robert taking on the role of the New Orleans night tripper…

Hots On For Nowhere (Reference Mix) 4.47

Both the vocal and bass are much more upfront in the mix which makes for a grittier texture. There are no vocal overdubs on the outro section just Roberts ‘Oh- ho-ho’’ – right through to a full ending after Jimmy’s guitar part as Robert adds a final ‘’Aha oh- oh- ho’’ phrase. Still swinging without the overdubs…

Which leaves one performance left to dissect:

Ones Are Won (Achilles Last Stand ( Reference Mix) 10.28

The vocal track is more upfront and with less echo and sheen making for a different texture to the vocal. The stereo effect of the guitar overdubs has a slightly different resonance. Slightly alternate overdubs in the mix at 5 min 53. The ‘’I know the way, know the way, know the way’’ overdub has yet to be added.

On the ‘’Aha aha-a’’ Robert refrain, Jimmy plays right along with the vocal creating a call and response sparring effect. At 9 mins 12, there’s an extra Robert vocal croon and more echo effects – all leading to a more defined   jangling Page finale. The guitar army cometh – and the grandiose just got even more grandiose…

So let me leave this overview of  Presence on an Achilles note. 

So much has happened since I first heard that epic performance for the first time some 46 years ago on a spring Saturday evening. In a world where the only thing that’s constant is change, for me Achilles Last Stand still acts as something of a standard bearer of their music.

The defining moment of the defining band…and now the final mesmeric chord progression performed by Jimmy Page at the close of a Led Zeppelin masterpiece, marches relentlessly on in this new remaster of the Presence album – still searching for that place to rest the search….

”Where the mighty arms of Atlas hold the heavens from the earth”

Dave Lewis – April ,2022


The Mystery Of The Object: That Bizarre Sleeve.

In the January 17 issue of Melody Maker, a news report suggested that the forthcoming Led Zeppelin album would be titled Obelisk and was due for release on February 20. Although they were a good six weeks out with the release date, and the eventual album title, the rumour of Obelisk gave hint to the actual sleeve design. For the sleeve would feature an obelisk (dictionary defined meaning: monolithic shaft of stone, square or rectangular in section with pyramical apex or simiar shape) or as Swan Song would dub it “The Object”.

The first visual evidence of this was leaked to Sounds in early March. “US adverts for the new Zeppelin album look like a scene from an early Sixties breakfast cereal ad” is how they described the illustration. By now the album had been officially titled Presence and Atlantic’s marketing team were advising of the delays in a press release as they tried to co-ordinate their sales campaign, stating that “Led Zeppelin oversee all and every detail of the production of their albums to ensure the end result is nothing short of excellent. Finally, on April 6 1976, the full extent of the bizarre gatefold sleeve was revealed alongside the seven new compositions it housed.

Zeppelin had created a series of enigmas with their controversial and striking sleeve designs. For Presence they went right out on a tangent. The idea was conceived by Storm and Po of the Hipgnosis design team who’d worked on the Houses Of The Holy sleeve. The concept came about after a group meeting between Hipgnosis, Peter Grant and George Hardie (a fine art designer who had worked on the first Zeppelin sleeve). It was apparent to Storm and Po that Zeppelin projected an almost unseen presence of power – the brief was to translate that presence into a visual illustration.

Storm takes up the story. “What we came up with was the idea of placing an item from one time or another into a surrounding from another time. So we chose all those pictures from the Forties and Fifties and contaminated them with the presence of the black obsessional object. The black object stands as being as powerful as one’s imagination cares it to be and we felt Zeppelin could rightfully feel the same way about themselves in the world of rock music. So, in those scenes The Object. as we dubbed it, was essential to all parts of the society. And those people in the scenes were trying to discover what The Object was – and how its presence was felt.

“The front and back pictures were shot by us. The back cover girl was the same child model we’d used in the Houses Of The Holy shoot. All the inner spread photos were lifted from US magazines such as Life and Look. The object was pointed on by Richard Manning – Jimmy Page actually asked us to alter the shape of the design of it and the title Presence was their suggestion. I think the whole sleeve concept was very appropriate for Zeppelin. The band are a very powerful band, musically and socially, and the black object is a definite thing of power. Its pervasive presence and mystery appealed very strongly to them.”

Jimmy was in agreement with most of their ideas. “It came out of that conversation when Hypgnosis said we had a very positive force. The fact that four people can create an effect. there’s definitely a presence there – and that was it. They came up with The Object and wanted to call it Obelisk. I held out for Presence. You think about more than just a symbol that way.”

In designing The Object, Hipgnosis were commissioned by Swan Song to have around 1,000 of them made as a three dimensional promotional items. Not all of them were welcome in the Zeppelin households.

object one

The mystery prompted Rolling Stone reporter Cameron Crowe to call the London Swan Song office. He reported the following: “Richard Cole answered the phone ‘I’ve no idea what it all means. I’m not sure they even know. Hold on for Robert”. Cole clamped his hand over the phone and returned to the receiver. ‘This is great’. Plant came on and exclaimed, ‘I’m glad people are wondering what it means. The most I can say though is that everybody should work it out for themselves – it’s not hard to work out especially for our Kubrickian fans.’ Plant’s comments seemed a clue that The Obiect is Zeppelin’s miniature modified version of the monolith featured in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. Designer Aubrey Powell denied this. ‘Didn’t think of that – I just had a tremendous feeling when we took it to them that this design was absolutely right for the band at this point in time’. Back to Plant ‘Whatever you want to say, it says it. The Object can be taken in many ways. Let’s just say we like plucking these mysteries out. We used symbols on the fourth album. They’re fun and add to the music. But there’s not much fun in knowing everything is there?’”

The Kubrick 2001 theme was also taken up by an hilarious Earth News radio special broadcast in the US at the time of the album’s release. Here’s some of that dialogue: “The Object is black… and twisted and obviously worse for wear and tear since its original appearance in 2001. To look at it on the pictures decorating the new Led Zeppelin album it would seem The Object is now back in the year 1950 or thereabouts. Robert Plant has contemplated The Object perceiving in it the messages that others might discover in The Pyramids of Egypt. ‘It’s been ever present throughout time,’ he told us. ‘We just took one moment in time in which to illuminate its presence in society.’

“The Object may not be welcome everywhere – it appeared recently in the home of John Bonham who told us this story. ‘While I was away my wife received one of these Objects in the post and put it on the table. There was tape machine running, recording the children singing, and when they played it back, there was another sound on the tape altogether so there’s something to think about. In fact Pat put it outside the house we won’t have it in the house at all.’ So be forewarned! If Led Zeppelin’s music is sounding a little strange to you lately it may be because of that Object on the cover. If so, follow the lead of John Bonham’s wife and put the album sleeve out of the house.”

In the UK this speculation was taken up by Sounds who asked readers to write in with their own explanations. The results are published here in full – glancing at them some 20 years on, one can only marvel at the eccentric reaction all this Object scrutiny prompted. It was another episode in the grand Zeppelin guessing game. Did it really mean something, or was it all part of their playful desire to add to the mystique?

Whatever it was, you can hardly imagine anyone getting worked up about a sleeve design in this miniatured CD jewel box age. Back then these things seemed to matter as anyone weaned on double gatefold sleeves in the Hipgnosis/Roger Dean/lsland era will testify. However, just when it seemed we were all about to get mixed up in the pretension of all this Object lark – it was firmly debunked by popular satire rockers of the time Albertos Y Lost Trios Paranoias. In a superb spoof on the artwork of the official Zeppelin UK ads, the group advertised their new album with the illustration of “The Thing” – an upright version of The Object all under the slogan “The Albertos Give It To You Straight”.

After seeing that, I can imagine the likes of the more down to earth Bonham reversing his decision to keep that obelisk out in the garden, laughing out aloud at this scam and explaining something along the lines of “I think The Objects a load of bollocks”.

Great art or a load of bollocks? The mystery of The Object (if indeed there was one) certainly kept us all bemused and amused long after the album had drifted from the charts during the late summer of 1976.

And finally…

As mentioned above, In 2005 I met with Hipgnosis co -designer Aubrey (Po) Powell when he came here to film some memorabilia for a Robert Plant promo video. While he was here, he kindly signed some of my Zep album sleeves and when it came to the Presence sleeve he wrote on it mysteriously ”What’s that obelisk exactly ?”Here’s a pic of the sleeve.

Dave Lewis – April ,2022

People’s Front Of Zeppelin Latest: 

Here’s an update from George Fludas at the People’s Front Of Zeppelin

Hi Dave, I wanted to share this video with you that we recently completed and posted on our YouTube channel. It’s a 28 minute version of Dazed done completely remotely.

View the clip on YouTube at the link below

We also have a new website….

Many thanks to George – they really do come up with consistently amazing clips -this one is very impressive indeed…

DL letter in Shindig! magazine:

Great to see the letter I recently wrote to Shining! Magazine printed in their new issue.
It’s a follow up to the Lindisfarne feature in issue 125. This highlighted that the pre Lindisfarne group Downtown Faction had supported The Yardbirds ( soon to be Led Zeppelin) at the Mayfair Ballroom in Newcastle on October 4 1968.
Here’s the letter:
Loved the Lindisfarne feature by Chris Groom in issue 125
As a long term Led Zeppelin chronicler and author I was interested to read about Downtown Faction supporting The Yardbirds at the Mayfair Ballroom in Newcastle on October 4 1968.
This gig came to light a few years back as I was researching the book Evenings With Led Zeppelin The Complete Concert Chronicle I co wrote with Mike Tremaglio.
It’s very significant date as it was the first UK date performed by the newly revamped Yardbirds line up that Jimmy Page had brought together featuring Robert Plant, John Bonham and John Paul Jones. At this point they were still being billed as The Yardbirds though by the end of the month they would be performing under their new name as Led Zeppelin.
The advert that was in the feature stated that Terry Reid’s Fantasia – this had a certain irony about it as Reid had been Page’s first choice as vocalist for his new line up – Reid had recently signed with Mickie Most and turned the job down – he did recommend Page check out Robert Plant.
Interestingly enough, when we further researched this gig for inclusion in the book it came to light that for some reason Reid pulled out and did not appear on that night. He was replaced by The New York Public Library ( originally hailing from Leeds) ) as the subsequent adverts in the Evening Chronicle confirmed. (see attached)
The lucky few who were in attendance that night not only witnessed the fledgling Lindisfarne members in Downtown Faction but also the UK debut of a group line up destined to rule the 70s…
Keep up the great work
Dave Lewis

Update here:

In between getting into a routine looking after Janet I’ve been catching up on various things that passed me by last month with everything going on here – and some of these kept me going when the going got tough when I was self isolating…

So some current inspirations here:

The Uncut Ultimate Music Guide  To Robert Plant  – some very good writing here though once again some blatantly inaccurate picture captions grate on me – (fellas run it by me next time, I come cheap). The reappraisals of his solo albums are very good and have taken me back to the likes of The Principle of Moments, Shaken ‘n’ Stirred Now And Zen, Manic Nirvana, Dreamland  and Mighty ReArranger….

The Uncut Ultimate Companion to Ziggy Stardust – this really is an awesome publication that gets deep into the Ziggy myth via some retro Bowie pieces from 1971 to 1973 from the NME and Melody Maker….

Continuing the Ziggy era theme the two recent bootlegs The Ziggy Stardust Companion and The Aladdin Sane Companion – these came my way via my record collecting comrade John Parkin – cheers John!

The Beth Hart Tribute To Led Zeppelin album – more of my thoughts on that one soon…

George Harrison All Things Must Pass 50th anniversary CD set – always a go to masterpiece when the chips are down – let it roll my sweet George…the Mojo cover feature on George is also excellent…

Chris Charlesworth’s Just Backdated blog – his memoir posts on the years 1980 – 1983 are just delightful…

Classic Rock Issue 300 – Ultimate Celebration – this includes a new interview with Jimmy Page…

The Beatles Essentials Mojo Collectors Series – another excellent career summary publication

Also on the player:

The Beatles White Album -inspired by the Mojo Essentials mag

Nick Drake – Pink Moon – inspired by the recent Uncut feature Pink Moon at 50

The Kokomo albums Kokomo and Rise & Shine – I’ve been on the look out for these albums for a good while and struck lucky when I picked these up in a charity shop just before I got Covid – this is the Brit Funk outfit that grew out or the remains of Arrival the early 1970s vocal hit makers. Kokomo were also involved in the sessions for the Bob Dylan Desire album.

Bad Company – Rock’N’Roll Fantasy -The Very Best of Bad Company – the new Rhino reissue of the excellent 2015 2 LP best of set…

Led Zeppelin Houses Of The Holy and Presence – a pair of releases that considerably brightened up the spring schedules of 1973 and 1976 respectively and are guaranteed to still sound as effective with each passing anniversary ….and they have certainly sounded inspiring as ever this past week…

Playing music, reading about music and wriitng about music -it’s my DNA…


On behalf of the good lady Janet may I offer a sincere thank you for all the very supportive comments and kind wishes we have had following the post here last week about her recent full hip replacement operation…

Much love from Dave and Janet…

Thanks for listening – stay safe and well you very lovely people…

Dave  Lewis – April 8, 2022

Until next time, stay safe and stay well…

TBL website updates written and compiled by Dave Lewis

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  • William K Cromwell said:

    Dave, we’ve communicated several times about the greatness of Presence. I bow to Physical because of the volume (and greatness!) of the material, but if Presence were a double album with THAT kind of hard guitar/drums material, it would certainly be my desert island disc. To be fair, it was my first LZ album, my first ‘as it was released’ LZ record, so I have a special fondness for it. That said, though, it remains a go-to. Jimmy at his best, Bonzo at his best . . . and Jimmy’s PRODUCTION at its best. Love that meaty, bassy sound. It kills on my Bose speakers. Take care.

  • Steve Hall said:

    Hi, Dave,

    Like you, I first heard Presence when Fluff Freeman played it straight through on his Saturday radio show but, unlike you, I didn’t have the brains to record it at the time!!! I knew I had to buy it as soon as it came out!! I remember that day clearly because my team, Manchester United (sorry!!!!), had beaten Derby in the semi final of the FA Cup, so it was a double celebration for me.

    All the best, as always, to you and Janet – keep on keeping on!

  • Charles Tattersall said:

    Dave – good to hear from you again, and best wishes to you and Janet for her speedy recovery. Your article on Presence has persuaded me to get hold of the remastered cd – I have had it on vinyl for a while but always found it a bit inaccessible compared with their other material. But historically it’s important, a sort of comeback album after the tragedy of Robert’s accident, and I hope I can do it justice this time.

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