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RICHARD COLE RIP /MY THOUGHTS ON RAISE THE ROOF/LZ NEWS/EVENINGS WITH LZ THE PERFECT CHRISTMAS GIFT/IT WAS 41 YEARS AGO THEY COULD NOT CONTINUE AS THEY WERE/ CODA 39 YEARS GONE/LED ZEP IV PART THREE/DL DIARY BLOG UPDATE

1 December 2021 2,132 views 2 Comments

My thoughts on…

Robert Plant & Alison Krauss – Raise The Roof (Warner Music)

So, after a 14 year break we have the follow up to the six times Grammy winning Raising Sand.

It’s been a long time coming with more than one false start. The more recent rumours that Robert Plant was back in the studio with Alison Krauss began to circulate in late 2019. Lucinda Williams let the cat out of the bag in an interview stating she had been recording with the pair. Robert also let it slip in the Q and A session he did at Rough Trade Records in late February 2020.

Following the speculation, with the first lockdown kicking it all went quiet. Then in August this year came the rather surprising news that the pair had indeed completed a new album titled Raise The Roof and it was due for release on November 19.

In October the press machine rolled into action with a cover story and interview in Mojo – many more would follow including the high profile appearance on the BBC One show.

The pair are been eager to explain where the selections for this new outing were sourced from. As was the case with Raising Sand, it offers something of a musical education.

First things first: I am sure I am not the only one who approaches this new album as more of a Robert Plant fan than Alison Krauss. Whilst I have a moderate interest in country and bluegrass it’s by no means my favourite genre. That said of course, when these two artists merge their undoubted talent the phrase ‘perfect harmony’ does not even get close – their voices blend exquisitely.

Take track one – a version of Quattro (World Drifts In) originally by Tuscon based outfit Calexico.

It’s suitably laid back atmospheric opener. Subtle backing and slide guitar and Robert and Alison in familiar vocal unison. Robert employing that close to mic breathy vocal style he first brought to prominence  on his cover of Little Hands on the Skip Spence tribute album More Oar back in 1999. All in all a captivating urgent nagging first step back.

Like its predecessor, Raise The Roof was produced by T Bone Burnett, who has previously worked with Plant and Krauss to expand their collaboration in new directions, accompanied by drummer Jay Bellerose, guitarists Marc Ribot, David Hidalgo from Los Lobos, jazz wizard  Bill Frisell, and Buddy Miller, bassists Dennis Crouch and Viktor Krauss, along with pedal steel guitarist Russ Pahl among others.

Unsurprisingly Raise The Roof does not stray too far from the Raising Sand template. The infectious rockerbilly swing of Can’t Let Go written by Randy Weeks and previously recorded by Lucinda Williams is this albums Gone, Gone Gone. All bright and breezy with a similarly irresistible groove.

Trouble My Lover from the Betty Harris Lost Queen Of New Orleans Soul album has a soft sublime shuffle rhythm with Alison much to the fore. Robert harmonising on the chorus.

Equally impressive is the version of Bobby Moore and the Rhythm Aces Searching For My Love.Wonderful backing harmonies again and an achingly beautiful Robert vocal  that ends with a  gentle guitar outro. A truly masterful performance.

Back in 2007 in my review of Raising Sand  in TBL issue 19, I noted that ‘’With such joy in their performance of the Everly’s Gone, Gone Gone, it would be a real buzz to hear the pair take on more of Don and Phil’s hits. Maybe they are saving that for a follow up’’

Sure enough there’s another Everly Brothers gem to behold. This time out they slow down the pop jauntiness of the duo’s 1965 top 3 UK hit The Price Of Love to a mournful reflective pace in much the same way they re- arranged Page & Plant’s Please Read The Letter. Alison is outstanding here with a majestic vocal.

Where Raise The Roof does album deviates slightly from the Raising Sand formula is the welcome inclusion of some English folk. Plant’s take on  Annie Brigg’s Go Your Way recalls to mind  his vocal delivery on Richard and Linda Thompson’s House Of Cards on The Band Of Joy album. There’s some deft delicate phrasing that highlights the folk sensibility he has carried with him since the days of Zep’s Going To California. I first saw Robert perform this at the Bert Jansch tribute show at the Royal Festival Hall in December 2013 – a slower arrangement with Bernard Butler on guitar.

Which leads us nicely to their cover of Bert’s Don’t Bother Me. Slow and brooding with a sensuous Alison lead.

The  version of Merle Haggard’s Go Where The Lonely finds Alison totally at home in her bluegrass country comfort zone. Last Kind Word Blues written in 1930 by  blues singer Geeshie Wiley is another Alison showcase.

Elsewhere, there are more five star vocal performances

I love the way  Robert  opens You Lead Me To the Wrong  acapella  style not unlike I Can’t Quit You Baby. There’s something of the sinister feel of Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down about this performance – a violin accompaniment adds a touch of light against the shade.

The preview single High And Lonesome is another stand out. A Plant-Burnett original, in which Burnett conjures up a Bo Diddleyesque guitar back drop as Robert takes centre stage. His vocal phrasing is just exquisite with plenty of mysterious repeated lyric refrains (‘’Does she still think of me?’’) and Alison joining in on the chorus. There’s a hint of both Howlin’ Wolf and Jimmy Reed in the bluesy feel he projects and It all drifts off into a meandering coda with some atmospheric strings underpinning the hypnotic feel of the song. There’s something of an ethereal  Zep feel here.

Somebody Was Watching Over Me is a throwback to the inventiveness of the Mighty ReArranger era – the opening track of that album  Another Tribe springs to mind here. The song carries an infectious swirl throughout. Luciana Williams can be heard in the vocal shout back refrain which reminded me of previous chorus friendly Plant outings such as Heaven Knows.

Finally to the bonus tracks on the CD and Target vinyl releases: Your Heart Would Know –a straight and sweet country rendering of the Hank Williams song. Finally there’s You Can’t Rule Me a bluesy harmonica led stomp.

Summary:

So there it is – it’s not all roof raising of course and the skill is in the arrangements and vocal prowess. Nothing seems out of place or overdone.

It is better than Raising Sand? For me that’s a yes – it seems more focused and uplifting.

With Raise The Roof the subtlety remains the same – the fact that the pair bring out the best in each other is more than apparent throughout  this hour long fresh collaboration. Robert Plant has yet again extended his supreme vocal talent into another successful alliance. This album will be a late night warm pleasure in the coming cold months.

Of course he is not done yet – as he mentioned in a recent interview denouncing any thoughts of retirement.

With that in mind, here’s the DL Robert Plant future wish list:

*A  Saving Grace double album – one studio set and one live set for Record Store release in 2022

  • A live Robert Plant & Alison Krauss double album and DVD from next year’s tour.

*The completion of The Band Of Joy 2 album. Last year’s compilation set Digging Deep Subterranea included the track Charlie Patton Highway (Turn It Up – Part 1) ,which was described as being ” taken from the soon to be released album Band Of Joy Volume 2.’’ Plant stated at the time  “ At the end of the Band Of Joy tour, Patty went off to work her album American Kid and Buddy and I started creating a Band Of Joy 2 and this was one of the things that we developed along the way. It’s just the three of us. There’s Buddy, Marco Giovino on drums and myself and it’s one of about 13 pieces from that session that is hidden away in my cupboard.” Here’s hoping he unlocks that one.

*A Robert Plant solo album that revisits his early work ala Bowie’s Toy album where David went back to remake some of his early songs. I would love to see him re-record t some of the early Listen, CBS solo singles and Band Of Joy recordings  offering a fresh new slant on the likes of You Better Run, Our Song, Long Time Coming and For What It’s Worth.

By then it might be time for The Sensational Space Shifters to reconvene….

Well he did say he has no plans to retire – as he put it in a recent interview: “There’s always something new to learn, somewhere new to take it. I love it.”

So do we…long may he continue to raise the roof…

Dave Lewis – November 26, 2021


Update December 2,2021:

Richard Cole RIP:

I am so very sad to be waking to the news of the passing of Richard Cole.

Led Zeppelin tour manager and so much more.

Such a friend and support to Janet and I in recent challenging times – writer of the wonderful Foreword to the Evenings With Led Zeppelin book.

I had so many special conversations and times with him over many years  –the last being when I visited him in October. Even though his health was failing it was such an uplifting occasion as we talked about those Zep glory years – his pride for it all so evident right to the end…

”There was and always will be only one Led Zeppelin’’ are the opening words he wrote in that Foreword…

There was and always will be only one Richard Cole and he will be so sorely missed…

RIP dear Richard…

Dave Lewis – December 2, 2021

More words on Richard to follow…

Some personal thoughts…

I am so very sad to hear the passing of  Richard Cole.

Over many years Richard has always been so supportive of my Led Zeppelin writings – in 2018 he contributed the most wonderful Foreword for the Evenings With Led Zeppelin book  I wrote with Mike Tremaglio. Earlier this year  I interviewed him on the phone about the Zep Knebworth concerts for a feature I wrote for  Rock Candy magazine. This would prove to be his final word on Zep in print.

His pioneering tour managing role with Led Zeppelin and before that with The Who and Yardbirds was a crucial element in Zep’s world conquering success. For within all the much documented sex drugs and rock’ n’roll he was an incredibly shrewd operator and a highly intelligent negotiator. With the maverick manager Peter Grant and the four members of Led Zeppelin he formed a formidable team – ‘’it was always six of everything’’ he once told me.

I met him on a fair few occasions in the Swan Song office in the late 1970s. The first time was when he came marching up the stairs, took one look at me sitting in the office and proclaimed ‘’Who’s that ‘effin ice cream! (abbreviated cockney rhyming slag =ice cream feezer (geezer)

I rather shakily introduced myself as a fan and writer of my own Zep magazine. Thankfully he soon warmed to my presence. Years later we often laughed about that rather frightening (for me) indignant first crossing of paths.

When Richard moved to Kensington in the early 2000s I made contact with him again and eventually met to conduct a lengthy  interview for a US radio station. It was an illumining day and the first of many in his company. I think the fact that I came from the angle of how he got Zep from A to B on any given tour rather than all the usual stuff he was asked about, allowed me to gain his trust.

He loved telling those on the road stories and when it came to the Evenings With Led Zeppelin book he very graciously accepted my request to write the Foreword.

‘’Looking through this book brings it all back to me -city by city and gig to gig’’  he wrote. ‘’It’s like a virtual travelogue of 11 years of my life. 11 years of my life that seem barely imaginable now but 11 years I wouldn’t have missed for the world and what incredible times they were.’’

Richard was immensely proud of his role within the success of Led Zeppelin – and his memory for those times was vivid right to the end. Often he would randomly ring me and dispute some minor detail in the book when it was in the work in progress stage and I of course always bowed to his superior knowledge – because he was there…

Much more than his role in the world of Led Zeppelin and his other management roles with the likes of The Quireboys, Richard was a loyal friend to many and away from the rock’n’roll mayhem, he was also a very  sensitive soul  – he was a tireless worker for AA, attending regular meetings to support others.

He was also aware of the affectionate and esteem he was held in within the Zep fan community and enjoyed the acclaim and rapport he had with the Richard Cole Appreciation Society Facebook group ably maintained by Sean Atkinson.

He was certainly a great friend to us here. Despite his own ongoing health issues he was always ringing to find out how Janet and I were – so sympathetic and supportive of my own mental health issues and Janet’s ongoing leg break problems.

In recent months I have been aware of how poor his health was and in October I went to visit him at his flat in Kensington.

Despite his obvious failing health he was in amazingly good spirits.

For a good couple of hours he relayed to me many a tale of being on the road, right back to his early touring days with The Who and The New Vaudeville Band – so many incredible stories and as ever relayed with much humour.

He told me that in 1974 when he had a bit of a brief falling out with Peter Grant he went off to work with Eric Clapton on his comeback tour. Now Richard was good friends with the Elvis Presley camp and Elvis himself – -having met him on more than one occasion. Eric made a request to visit Elvis and asked Richard to try and arrange it. Richard rang Elvis’ personal associate  Jerry Shilling to ask if Elvis would have an audience with the pair. Word came back from the King ‘’ Look, I know who Richard Cole is but who’s this Eric Clapton guy?’’

Such was the reputation of Richard Cole – perhaps the most famous tour manager in the history of rock’n’roll. Like I said, his pride for it and his role within it all was always so evident – right to the very end.

Last October on that bright autumn morning in Kensington it was again uplifting and inspiring to be in his company for one what would prove to be the final time. As I was leaving I asked Richard if he would sign my copy  of his Stairway To Heaven book that I brought along..

‘’To my dear friend Dave Lewis’’ he wrote.

‘’Thank you for your wonderful books and magazines over the years.

Best always, Richard – October 18 2021’’

I will treasure that for evermore…and how I will miss his phone calls and discussions on the Zep touring years. How for instance, he got Zep from a gig at the Ohio University  on May 18 1969 to performing at the Tyrone Theatre in Minneapolis the next day – his way. He was always a man of such insightful detail.

”There was and always will be only one Led Zeppelin’’ he wrote in the Foreword to the Evenings With Led Zeppelin book

‘’Whenever Led Zeppelin hit the stage it was telepathic.  For the next two and a half hours there was no better place to be than where I was, stood right next to them on those stages. Watching, waiting and ready to do anything I could to help. They were simply fantastic and I’m immensely proud to have worked with them’’

Indeed there was and always will be only one Richard Cole…

An incredibly intelligent, warm, kind generous man – he will be so sorely missed.

RIP dear Richard…

Dave Lewis – December 2,2021.


 

 

 

 

 


LZ News:

Led Zeppelin News Update:
Here’s the latest round up from LZ News:
Many thanks to James Cook.

The complete Led Zeppelin News email goes out periodically. To receive it sign up here:http://tinyletter.com/LedZepNews

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

http://ledzepnews.com/

 


EVENINGS WITH LED ZEPPELIN

The Complete Concert Chronicle Revised & Expanded Edition by Dave Lewis and Mike Tremaglio:

A GREAT CHRISTMAS GIFT!

I have a few copies left of the TBL edition for UK buyers – this is the limited edition of 100 only –personally signed by me and also including a four page insert with an interview conducted by the late Andy Adams with Mike Tremaglio and myself  about how this revised edition came to fruition.

This would make a great Christmas gift

Hurry as there are only a few copies of this TBL limited edition remaining and when it’s gone it’s gone…

Ordering link is here:

http://www.tightbutloose.co.uk/evenings-with-led-zeppelin-the-complete-concert-chronicle-revised-and-expanded-edition-pre-order-now/


It was 41 years ago …they could not continue as they were…

41 years ago this week I vividly remember taking a call from the Musician’s Only paper and being asked for a quote – these were sad times indeed – and it was about to get worse. The whole ‘Zep to split’ story would get buried somewhat when just four days later John Lennon was shot dead in New York…

Looking back at my diary entry for 40 years ago this very day it started off as a fairly ordinary Thursday.

The night before I’d been to see Rod Stewart at Wembley Arena.

Next morning December 4 1980, The postman woke me up as I shrugged off the inevitable hangover bringing an LP size package containing the latest Zep bootleg Flying High requirement – an excellent recording of the Fillmore West April 27th 1969 date.

Later I phoned Swan Song and spoke to Sian for a while though there was seemingly no major news. I then took some of  the freshly printed TBL 5’s round to the post office to send off.

Around 4.30pm a story on Radio One’s Newsbeat stopped in my tracks. It announced Led Zeppelin had released made a statement to the effect that they could not continue as they were.

After Bonzo’s death It was pretty evident that they would be splitting – I’d been in Swan Song a few weeks back and the atmosphere was one of complete loss, but hearing they had officially announced something was still a major shock.

I immediately phoned Sian at Swan Song but she was making no comment.

The diary says ‘’Fuck sake it’s over…’’

The last thing I wrote in my diary that night was equally dramatic.

‘’Part of me died tonight’’

The next week the ‘Zep to split’ news story was buried somewhat under the barrage of press for John Lennon’s tragic murder which occurred on December 8.

These were strange days indeed.

They indeed could not continue as they were…but the legacy could and of course still does…

Since that fateful day of 40 years ago, so much has gone but so much remains and Led Zeppelin are very much in the present tense in all our lives every single day…

Dave Lewis – December 1,2021


 TBL ARCHIVE SPECIAL: CODA 39 YEARS GONE:

November 23 heralded another key Zep anniversary as it was all of 39 years ago that the final Led Zeppelin studio album was released. Here’s a ”Then and now” summary of my thoughts on the release of the orginal album and last year’s expansive reissue:

My Coda Then:

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Phone calls, a meeting, the mock up sleeve, a retail competition, raffle and romance…

It was a Monday night – February 22, 1982 to be precise – when my phone rang in my bedroom. ”Hi Dave, this is Robert Plant – we’d like you to bring in some photos for a project we are doing… ”

So began the Coda saga.

Since the release of their In Through The Out Door album, for me personally, many things had happened. The TBL magazine had established itself from a crudely written and printed A5 format into an A4 glossy proper typeset magazine. There was the absolute high of having close proximity on the Over Europe tour in 1980 to the absolute low of the devastating news of September 25th and the statement that signalled it was over on December 4. I still regularly went into the Swan Song office but it had a very strange vibe. Nobody quite knew what to do.

In 1981, Robert began picking up the pieces with a return to the stage in the ad hoc band The Honeydrippers. I attended a fair few of those spring ’81 gigs and it was a great thrill to see him enjoying himself again. TBL issue 6 came out in the August but to be honest, by then my heart wasn’t really in it as it once had been. Without the buzz of the band itself and with their reputation at an all time low, it was difficult to maintain the enthusiasm. It may be hard to believe now but admitting to liking Led Zep was very unhip around these times. The musical climate had moved on, the new wave of British Heavy metal was flowering and elsewhere, electronic music from acts such New Order, Human League, OMD, Gary Numan etc was dominating the charts.

After issue 6, there was no big final decision not to do another issue – it just never happened. I was certainly no less a fervent fan – my energies at that time went into producing the best of TBL project, which became my first book, The Final Acclaim, published in late 1983.

I was aware that there was some unreleased material in the Zep archive, notably the tracks they did not use, recorded at Polar Studios for In Through The Out Door. Jimmy had mentioned this to me in Swan Song on September 18, 1980. I had no idea though, that there was a plan to release them.

Back to the phone call. It was with some shock and awe (this was not an everyday occurrence by any means!) that I took that February call from Robert. Basically, he wanted me to collate as many photos as I had of the group offstage for a project they were looking at. He did not mention at that point about an album. He asked if I was available to come into the Swan Song office that week and of course I replied I was. He made some arrangements and then called me back a couple of hours later to confirm that Thursday would be a good time to come in and meet with him and possibly Jimmy.

So it was, armed with a case full of cuttings and photos, I turned up on the afternoon of Thursday, February 24 at the Swan Song office. A buoyant Robert greeted me warmly and we got down to wading through the stuff. Jimmy duly arrived about 4pm. At one point, seeing a shot he liked backstage at Knebworth, Robert asked me who took the shot. When I replied Neal Preston, he was immediately on the phone to the US office of Swan Song to get his number. He then promptly called Neal to ask him to send over a batch of contact sheets. Robert also called John Paul Jones while I was there.

During all this, it was explained exactly what all this was about. They were going to release a final album made up of unreleased tracks. The sleeve design was to include a collage of off stage photos – hence the reason I was asked to bring in the pics. During the meeting – which also included Robert’s soundman, Benji Lefevre – I heard them discuss a track titled Walters Walk. Jimmy also told me they were considering calling the album Early Days and Latter Days. Ultimately, they went for Coda, though that original title would be deployed for the 1999 and 2000 compilation albums.

Robert also informed me he had completed work on his first solo album and in his words it was ‘’A new step forward.’’ Robert and Jimmy waded through my pics and cuttings and pulled a few out (the Bath Festival backstage pic I showed them made the final cut) and then they were off in search of rare rockabilly records in Camden. It was another afternoon for the memoirs…

Things went quiet on the project after that meeting. I did pop in to Swan Song a few times over the next few months but no news of a release for the intended album was forthcoming. The summer was taken up with the release of Robert’s debut Pictures At Eleven, and I also attended the Princes Trust charity gig at London’s Dominion Theatre, where Robert performed Worse Than Detroit. Tom and I attended the aftershow reception at which all the artists were duly acknowledged for their contributions and we were introduced to Prince Charles. Yet another very memorable occasion.

The next I heard about the Coda album was in October when the Warner Records sales rep came in to WH Smith with the full details of the album, ready to sell it in for a November release. The mock up presenter sleeve the rep carried (and later gave me, see pic above) listed the track details and promotional campaign. It was all beginning to get a little bit exciting.

coda-retro-2

I ordered 100 copies for the shop and also booked a full in store display. I was also able to acquire a batch of posters from Swan Song which were part of a raffle prize I concocted for the store in conjunction with the local newspaper. Gary Foy was one of the winners, though I did not know him at the time!

coda-retro

The in store display looked fantastic and I wish I had taken a photo of that at the time.

Tuesday November 22, 1982. A grey November morning, and the day Coda emerged into our lives. It was also just around the time the good lady Janet and I first got together – oh yes – couple fell in love to the plaintive strains of We’re Gonna Groove. It may not have been quite like that but when I invested in every conceivable format of said album (LP, cassette, US LP, white label promo) I think Janet had an indication of how things might be ahead when it came to such matters!

I also have a copy of the album signed by Hipgnosis designer, Aubrey Powell when he came here to film some of my memorabilia for a Robert Plant video in early 2005. As he put it, ‘The End,’ or at least the end of another beginning.

coda-retro-4

In stark contrast to the way it has been with the recent reissues, the Coda album seeped out with little fanfare. As I said earlier, the fact is (mad as it now sounds) at that point Led Zeppelin were hardly held in reverential terms. Their influence would of course become evident in the years to come. It did enjoy some good reviews and entered the chart at number 4 but compared to past glories, it had a definite feeling of unfinished business. That grey melancholy front cover seemed to mirror the whole mood back then. Whilst the release of those eight cuts did spell something of a closure on the story for now, it was all a little low key.

1983 would be dominated by the return to active duty of Robert Plant with the Principal of Moments album and tour, and thus Coda was consigned to the Zep catalogue as the final part of the recorded story for now. Ahead of course, would be the re grouping at Live Aid that put them right back in the spotlight and then the Remasters 1990 releases that would seal their rejuvenation. By then for me, I was right back on it all with the writing and collating of the A Celebration book and the return in 1992 of the TBL magazine. It’s been ever onward since then…

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As for the contents of the original album there is much to enjoy and at the time it seemed like a bona fide collectors item – something rare and unreleased to cherish. The whole of side one is an absolute joy, moving from 1970 to 1972. On side two the Polar material is pure fun and the John Bonham tribute was a testament to what had been lost. If I had a complaint, it was the short running time – we now know Sugar Mama was dropped in the final selection.

 

My Coda Now:

The original album itself sounds as impressive as ever – the vinyl pressing sparkling and full of vitality. It may be short in length but for me it’s long on quality.

The real fun with this reissue is of course the Companion Audio Discs. Jimmy has used this platform to create what he has described as a celebration of the band’s career and music, and as it zips across the years, that is

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exactly how it sounds. In doing so it sparks many a Zep memory. This in effect is a Boxed Set 3, packed full of Zep idiosyncrasies.

Commencing with We’re Gonna Groove (Alternate Mix). This is an utterly awesome mix – the live drums and vocals from the Royal Albert Hall ’70 gig/show? now clearly applied. In between the Sol ’82 overdubs, the original live solo can be heard to greater effect. Additional Plant shout at 1 min 35 and Bonzo’s drums sounding incredible throughout. Alongside the rough mix take of In The Evening I would state that this version is the one they should have gone for on the official 1982 line up. It’s the definitive version – simple as.

If It Keeps On Raining When The Levee Breaks (Rough Mix) is yet another key revelation. I was expecting perhaps one of the other bootleg mixes that have seeped out over the years. How wrong could I be? This is a simply invigorating initial run through from November 1970 with a totally alternate laid back swampy feel, slightly faster in tempo to the original. Robert’s vocals have a sparse, low register, echoed scat singing element to them, adding to the almost soundcheck run through quality of the piece. It certainly has a total groove of its own, with pummelling bass line from JPJ, and Bonzo’s drumming as funky as hell, with a distinctive snare drum sound. It fades slightly and then reappears with Robert moaning a muted ‘’Going home’’ refrain. In fact, this fades far too early. You really want it to go on and on, such is the delightful jam like quality of it all. Phew! One of the key finds of the entire reissue programme.

The mix of Bonzo’s Montreux (Mix Construction In Progress) places the syn drums further upfront in a punchier mix. The hi-hat is very clear towards the finale. Less effects on the treated parts. A shout from Bonzo at the close. This is the art of the drummer as master percussionist… always welcome

Baby Come On Home was first released on Box Set 2 and the subsequent package of Coda in the Complete Studio Sessions box set. A lovely relaxed bluesy strut from the beginning of their time.

Sugar Mama (Mix) is a thrilling slice of embryonic Zep from October 3, 1968. Plant’s excited yelp setting the pace. Plenty of echoes of The Yardirds here, with the 1966 single Happenings Ten Years Time Ago a definite reference point. Slightly different to the version that surfaced in lo-fi quality on bootleg in the early 90s, this has an extra ‘Sugar Mama’ from Robert at 32 seconds. Marvel at the innocence and first time energetic blast of the embryonic early Zep…

Poor Tom (Instrumental Mix) is the previously bootlegged instrumental take that highlights John Bonham’s simply sensational New Orleans shuffle throughout. Bluesy acoustic overtones from Jimmy and the harmonica is in there at 1 min 38. Another opportunity to attend a John Bonham masterclass…

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Travelling Riverside Blues (BBC Session) was first released on the first 1990 Remasters box set and the subsequent package of Coda in the Complete Studio Sessions box set plus the 1997 BBC Sessions set. It’s a welcome bottleneck affected swooping delight…

Hey, Hey, What Can I Do is another underrated beauty. As first, released as the B side to the US Immigrant Song single in late 1970. In the UK it initially appeared on the 1972 New Age Of Atlantic LP plus the first 1990 Remasters box set and the subsequent package of Coda in the Complete Studio Sessions box set. Light and shady, warm and friendly – joyous from beginning to end…

Companion Disc 2 kicks off with the much bootlegged and talked about Bombay sessions tracks.

Four Hands (Four Sticks – Bombay Orchestra) opens with a count in from an orchestra member. The stereo separation and precise quality is another revelation. Tabla drums and flute combine to add a suitably atmospheric quality to this unique instrumental version, cut in early 1972. A vivid example of their pioneering quest to push the musical envelope wherever it might take them.

On Friends (Bombay Orchestra) the stereo separation is again well in evidence. Robert’s vocals are crystal clear. The mystical vocal moanings, mixed with the ethnic rhythms, makes for an eerie and compelling listening experience.

The much rumoured to exist St. Tristan’s Sword (Rough Mix) turns out to be a three way instrumental work out from 1970 and is built around a totally invigorating bass and drum pattern – the bass and drum syncopation between JPJ and Bonzo is just outstanding. Bonzo putting to good use his best New Orleans shuffle, a la Poor Tom. Enter Jimmy for a Hendrix like feast, not unlike his rampant playing on Jennings Farm Blues. At 2 mins 18 it all breezes off in another direction with a clipped guitar effect, as it chugs on with yet more scintillating Page runs in the Jennings Farm Blues tradition. There’s also a bridge part that would later be employed on Over The Hills And Far Away. Like the instrumental La La on the Zep II companion disc, it’s hard to assess where this piece was going. Was it a warming up in the studio flexing of the musical muscle or a backing track being honed for the addition of Plant lyrics and vocals? It strikes me as being something of an initial pool of ideas – a Led Zep studio brain storm to see what they had and could build on. Whatever it was destined for, it’s a splendid example of them having a blow – and what a blow this is.

Desire (The Wanton Song Rough Mix) has some hoarse alternate vocals from Robert – overall a different texture to the original, with less Leslie effects on guitar break. Playful and less rigid in structure – mainly guitar driven, though the clavinet can be heard rumbling in there. Robert’s last vocal cry is slightly extended. Different take to the bootlegged alternate take aired on the WPLJ radio station in 1975 with far superior vocal.

Bring It On Home (Rough Mix) 2.32. It’s back to one of those on the run sessions that made Led Zep II such a lively concoction. It’s straight into the riff part with Robert’s wailing harmonica – and then very much a live vocal with the singer freely expressing himself with complete abandonment – as he was doing nightly on stage in the US at the time. An excited ‘’Alright!’’ at 1 min 14. Bonzo tearing along with it all as the harmonica comes back in. Totally wild and chaotic, with an electric ending. Superb snapshot of their on the road, ad hoc studio recording, this is Led Zep unleashed in the studio with all the intensity of their mid 1969 barnstorming live performances. Simply blistering…

Walter’s Walk (Rough Mix) is a brash instrumental take – the jittery riffing exercise that would later be applied to Hots On For Nowhere is very apparent. It’s a great moment when the riff bursts in at 2 mins 20 – in fact, with Walter’s Walk it’s all about the riff, as you know.

Finally, Everybody Makes It Through (In The Light Rough Mix) Opens with the familiar drone of the original. What we have here is a mix that features the early ‘’Sunshine brings laughter’’ lyrics of the version on the Physical Graffiti companion disc, matched to Jonesy’s drone links – the Elizabethan intro keyboard part having been replaced. At 1 min 42 Jonesy applies an additional keyboard motif going into the chorus parts. No overdubs on the close. Another work in progress snapshot of one of their finest creations…

Summary: So, there it all is – a unique presentation collection that mirrors every facet of the Led Zeppelin cannon, and a fitting end to this reissue programme.

Conclusion:

I’ll paraphrase what I said at the beginning of the reissue programme. We all recall where we first heard these releases – and where we first purchased them. We have loved and cherished these albums for years and years. They really are like old very reliable friends. Rediscovering them again, in this new context, has inspired us all to fall in love with them all over again. It really has been like a renewal of our Zeppelin vows.

This music developed and presented by Led Zeppelin – be it the original albums or the companion discs – sounds as fresh and vital today as it did when it was recorded some four decades ago. There’s something uniquely eternal about these recordings that, in our minds at least, keeps us forever young.

Dave Lewis


TBL Archive Special:

Led Zeppelin IV – 50 years gone…part 3:

To mark the 50th anniversary of the release of Led Zeppelin IV here’s a TBL archive feature – first compiled for TBL issue 15 though not used at the time – it eventually appeared in the my Celebration II – The Tight But Loose Files book. Here’s part 3 -the final extract…

The Making Of Led Zeppelin IV:

zep4-12The four symbols that would form the album title were first introduced to the rock media via a series of teaser press ads in the weeks leading to the album’s release, each depicting a particular symbol alongside a previous Zep album sleeve. When the album was released, the wordless title caused much confusion. It appeared in the press under various names including The New Led Zeppelin album, Led Zeppelin IV, Four Symbols, Runes and even Zoso; though some music papers did make the effort to reproduce the actual symbols themselves.

The band’s hectic schedule of that year continued unabated. In August they were back in America for their seventh US tour. Page was in buoyant mood and playing brilliantly. “Once the album was completed and mixed I knew it was really good,” he said. “We actually went on the road in America before the manufacturing process was completed and somebody at Atlantic Records said, ‘This is professional suicide for a band to tour without an album.’ In retrospect that is rather amusing!”

The new material was already making an impact, and Page still recalls with pride the reaction they got to Stairway when they performed it at the Los Angeles Forum for the first time. “We played Stairway’ at the Forum before the album was out and around a third of the audience stood up and gave us a standing ovation. It was then that I thought ‘actually this may be a better number than I’d imagined’.”

Equally successful was a three-city, five-concert first visit to Japan. Here they performed some of the most enjoyable concerts of their career – away from the glare of the press and the intensity of America, they were able to stretch out and extend their set list, throwing in off-the-cuff versions of Smoke Gets In Your Eyes, Cliff Richards’ Bachelor Boy and The Beatles’ Please Please Me and the only logged love performance of Zep III;s Friends. It’s fair to say there were now two distinct entities to the group – the tight recorded unit as found on record and the improvisational and spontaneous live act that would go on to delight audiences around the globe.

After a short break, to round off a very productive year, Peter Grant booked a 16-date UK tour that nicely coincided with the eventual release of their long delayed, long awaited fourth album. The tour kicked off in Newcastle on 11 November and took in two memorable nights at London’s Wembley Empire Pool.

Despite the delays and the negative reaction to the previous album, it was clear that the band’s popularity had not declined at all. Demand for tickets was overwhelming. All 9,000 seats for their 20 November Empire Pool show sold out in under an hour. A second was added and they could have easily slotted in a third had their schedule allowed it.

Their stage presentation now featured each of their four symbols – on Bonham’s bass drum Jonesy’s organ, Jimmy’s speaker cabinets, and Plant’s feather symbol adorning the PA. Page also took to wearing a specially knitted jumper depicting his Zoso symbol. The set list now included Rock And Roll in the main set (now under its correct title), alongside Black Dog, Stairway and Going To California.

Talking about the album to Chris Welch of Melody Maker, Bonzo was hugely enthusiastic: “My personal view is that it’s the best thing we’ve ever done. It’s the next stage we were at the time of recording. The playing is some of the best we have done and Jimmy is like… mint!”

The culmination of the whole year’s efforts were the two significant five-hour shows in London’s Empire Pool on 20 and 21 November – the largest indoor UK audiences they had played to at that point. Dubbed Electric Magic, they were supported by Maggie Bell’s Stone The Crows plus Bronco on Saturday (whose line-up included future Plant solo era guitarist Robbie Blunt and original Band Of Joy member Kevyn Gammond), and Home on Sunday. Also, on both nights, Grant had booked some novelty circus acts, including performing pigs and plate spinners. The pigs – with huge ruffs around their necks – didn’t really cut it; indeed, their only real contribution was an unpleasant smell in the stage area. Thankfully Zeppelin fared better.

‘’It was an amazing couple of shows’’ recalls Maggie Bell, lead singer of Stone The Crows (co-managed by Peter Grant). ‘’ They were the biggest dates we had played and we went down a storm. Those were great shows for us and it was at a point where we were really taking off, and obviously it was a privilege to share the stage with them all.’’

Sadly, Crows guitarist Leslie Harvey died the following May in an electrocution accident at a gig in Swansea. Maggie would later sign to Zep’s Swan Song label.

Roy Hollingworth Of Melody Maker was unstinting in his praise for the Wembley Saturday show: “This was an English band playing like crazy and enjoying every minute of it. They played just about everything they’ve ever written. Nothing – just nothing was spared. This was no job. This was no gig. It was an event for all.”

A memorable poster was produced for the event and sold for 30p – it now changes hands for over £1,000 on the collectors market – and the newly established Virgin Records set up stalls to sell the just-released fourth album. Here and around the country, much to Atlantic’s relief, fans had no trouble identifying the nameless artwork of the new record as it sailed to the number one album spot.

After the disappointing press reaction to their third album, Led Zeppelin IV was very well received. Even Rolling Stone, never a great supporter of the band’s work, relented. The review by Lenny Kaye, then would be rock journalist and future Patti Smith guitarist, was surprisingly positive. “Out of eight cuts,” wrote Kaye, “there isn’t one that steps on another’s toes, that tries to do too much at once. And [there are] a couple of songs that when all is said and done, will probably be right up there in the gold-starred hierarchy of put ’em on and play ’em again. Describing one of those tracks, When the Levee Breaks, Kaye added “Led Zep have had a lot of imitators over the past few years, but it takes cuts like this to show that most of them have only picked up the style, lacking any real knowledge of the meat underneath.”

Led Zeppelin IV climbed to the number one spot on the UK chart on 4 December 1971, where it stayed for two weeks before being dislodged by Electric Warrior by T Rex… it went on to spend 61 consecutive weeks on the chart.

It was a similar story in America, though it was with some irony that Carole King’s multi-million selling soft rock album Tapestry kept it from reaching number one.

Not that it really mattered – the airplay generated by Stairway To Heaven ensured the album remained in the Billboard top forty album chart for the next six months. Peter Grant steadfastly refused to issue the track as a single, knowing that restricting its availability to the LP alone would inevitably add to its sales.

So from the adversity of the Led Zeppelin III backlash, Zeppelin triumphed.

Some four decades on its influence is still paramount, not least with the three ex-members. Over the years, the three ex-members have repeatedly retuned to the songs. Page and Plant attempted an ambitious remake of The Battle Of Evermore with Indian singer Najma Akhtar on their initial MTV Unledded reunion and also performed versions of When The Levee Breaks and Four Sticks. Robert Plant was still regularly performing Black Dog, Rock And Roll, and Misty Mountain Hop on his Band of Joy tour this year – the latter was also revived when Page linked up for his much acclaimed tour with The Black Crowes. On his solo tours, John Paul Jones has performed instrumental versions of Black Dog and When The Levee Breaks.

As a complete work, Led Zeppelin IV remains their most focused statement.

It’s the product of a band on a quest for absolute musical freedom. Working in an environment that encouraged the development of their ability to blend acoustic and electric influences within a rock framework – something Led Zeppelin did more successfully than any other act before or since.

The eight cuts possess an economy and subtly that defines their sound. From Page’s unimpeachable riffs, through Jones’ musical invention, Plant’s clarity of vocal to that titanic John Bonham drum sound – Led Zeppelin IV still emits a freshness that belies its age.

Dave Lewis


DL Diary Blog Update:

Thursday November 25:

Charity shop bargain today  – the 1975 Richard and Linda Thompson album Pour Down Like Silver, the Island Remasters version on CD from 2004. I added in a couple of Elvis CDs to make up the three for a £1 – thanks to Pete Burridge for directing me to this selection in town…

Thursday November 25:

 

On the 47th anniversary of his passing it was perhaps meant to be that I should discover a copy of Patrick Humphries’ Nick Drake biography in the Oxfam shop earlier today – I have the 1997 hardback edition but I will enjoy re- acquainting myself with Patrick’s account – the first major biography on Nick…

Friday November 26:

Black Friday Record Store Day releases secured this morning at the always excellent Slide Record Shop in Bedford as follows:

Dusty Springfield – The Complete Atlantic Singles 1968-1971

Carole King – In Concert, Live at the BBC, 1971

David Crosby & Graham Nash – Wind On The Water

The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Paris 1967

A superb crop – thanks as ever to Nerys and Warren for the usual great service…

Saturday November 27:

Saturday is platterday – marking his birthday today –  on the player  Jimi Hendrix Experience Paris 67 – a Black Friday Record Store Day release yesterday as purchased from the Slide Record shop in Bedford and sounding mighty fine…

 

 

 

Saturday November 27:

Sorting out some singles…you can never have too many Beatles and Apple Singles…

 

Monday November 30:

DL Box Set of the week:

I’ve been wading through some CD box sets from the DL collection to pick out one a week to play…

This week marking the 20th anniversary of George Harrison’s  passing –   the truly awesome recent All Things Must Pass super deluxe CD box set with 5 CDs that cover the original album in a superb new mix, plus session rehearsals, outtakes and jams. Fabulous stuff indeed.

This one will be of much inspiration in the week ahead…

Update here…

I’ve been busy chipping away at the preparation for the Robert Plant photo book porject. I haven’t got to viewing The Beatles Get Back series as yet but I am hoping to fit that in soon. I really enjoyed the excellent Alan Hull documentary on BBC 4 – very moving and a great reminder of his much missed songwriting talent.

Alongside the above LP and CD selections, there’s also been much needed musical salvation at hand from the following:

Lindisfarne -Finest Hour (great compilation with the likes of Alan Hull’s Lady Eleanor etc.)

Frank Sinatra – Sinatra and Company CD

Robert Plant & Alison Krauss – Raise The Roof

Bob Dylan – Planet Waves CD

Affinity – Affinity 4 CD box set reissue

Richard & Linda Thompson I Want To See the Bright Lights Tonight CD

Steely Dan – Katy Lied LP

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

Dave  Lewis – December 1, 2021.

TBL website updates written and compiled by Dave Lewis

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2 Comments »

  • William said:

    Great review of the outstanding ‘Raise the Roof’ album, thank you. Agree with your wish list, and would add a Honeydrippers follow-up to the list, as well as the 2 fully completed solo albums Mr. Plant said are fully complete & mixed. A possibly realistic list of future releases could be:

    1} Saving Grace album
    2} Band of Joy II album (mostly complete already)
    3} Sensational Space Shifters album (band has 40+ pieces of music to start from.)
    4} Honeydrippers album/EP (this would be another surprise hit)
    5} Alison Krauss follow-up (they must have many songs from both albums that did not make the cut)
    6) 2 solo albums Robert has said is completed and mixed and ready to release (unreleased music).

  • Billy McCue said:

    Minor addition, mate. The alt take of The Wanton Song was also played on WLIR-FM here in New York (Long Island, to be specific). You can hear the DJ announce the song at the end of this YouTube recording: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=33S2BhtcEHo

    Cheers,
    Billy

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