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29 February 2024 873 views No Comment
Paul Martinez 1947 -2024:
Very sad to hear the passing of Paul Martinez age 76…
Paul was part of the Robert Plant band from 1981 to 985. I have many a memory of him up onstage during that era – a very talented bass player and true character. He also joined Robert Plant, Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones for their Live Aid appearance in 1985.
Leicester born Paul’s other musical credits included working with Chicken Shack with future Robert Plant guitarist Robbie Blunt, The Adverts, Paice Ashton Lord, Three Minutes and session appearances with Dave Edmunds, Maggie Bell, Peter Gabriel and many more.
There’s no doubt that Paul played an integral role in Robert Plant’s quest to establish a solo career after the end of Led Zeppelin.
His imaginative bass playing lit up many a track from Robert’s early solo albums – not least the stirring intro to In The Mood…
RIP Paul and thanks for all the great music…
Dave Lewis – February 25, 2024.


LZ News:
Here’s the latest round up from LZ News:

Led Zeppelin News Update:

Led Zeppelin

A Ferrari 246 Dino GTS previously owned by Led Zeppelin manager Peter Grant is currently up for sale at auction. The Daily Mail covered the news here and the auction listing is currently available online here.

As LedZepNews writes, bidding for the car has reached £275,000. The auction will end at 7.10pm UK time on February 29.

New Zepfan podcast episode

The latest episode of the Zepfan podcast interviews Mike Tremaglio, one of the authors of the book “Evenings With Led Zeppelin”. Listen to the episode here or embedded below.

Ep024: Mike Tremaglio, Author: Evenings with Led Zeppelin

Mark McFall

Jimmy Page

Jimmy Page will release new replica guitars with Gibson and opened its new London store

Jimmy Page has signed a “multi-year partnership” with guitarmaker Gibson that will see the company produce a new line of replica guitars based on Page’s stage-used instruments.

The first guitar that will be released as part of the partnership is a replica of Page’s 1971 Gibson EDS-1275 double neck. Expect more to follow, with Page’s “Number One” and “Number Two” 1959 Gibson Les Paul guitars prime candidates.

The partnership was announced at Gibson’s new London shop, which Page opened on February 22 with Tony Iommi and Brian May before sitting down for an on-stage interview with Gibson’s CEO.

Page’s appearance at the opening of Gibson’s new shop is the first time that he’s been seen in public since his surprise performance at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in New York on November 3.

John Paul Jones

John Paul Jones will perform with Thurston Moore on March 24

John Paul Jones has announced a third performance at the upcoming Big Ears Festival in Knoxville, Tennessee: He’ll perform with Sonic Youth member Thurston Moore on March 24.

That’s in addition to a previously announced solo performance from Jones at the festival on March 22 and a performance at the festival as part of Sons Of Chipotle on March 23.

This won’t be the first time that Jones has performed with Moore. The pair played a show as a charity performance at The 100 Club in London on March 28, 2019.

Upcoming events:

  • February – A deluxe, limited edition version of “The Beach Boys” by The Beach Boys, including a contribution by Jimmy Page, will be published.
  • February 29 – The prize draw to meet Robert Plant and Andy Taylor and win a Banksy print will end and the auction for Peter Grant’s Ferrari will end.
  • March 1 – The winner of the prize draw to meet Robert Plant and Andy Taylor and win a Banksy print will be announced.
  • March 13 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Bristol, UK.
  • March 14 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Ipswich, UK.
  • March 17 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in London, UK.
  • March 18 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Tunbridge Wells, UK.
  • March 20 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Peterborough, UK.
  • March 21 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Nottingham, UK.
  • March 22 – John Paul Jones will perform at the Big Ears music festival in Knoxville, Tennessee.
  • March 23 – John Paul Jones will perform at the Big Ears music festival in Knoxville, Tennessee as part of Sons Of Chipotle and Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Hastings, UK.
  • March 24 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace at the Teenage Cancer Trust “Ovation” event in London, UK and John Paul Jones will perform with Thurston Moore at the Big Ears music festival in Knoxville, Tennessee.
  • March 26 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Liverpool, UK.
  • March 27 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Sheffield, UK.
  • March 29 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Blackburn, UK.
  • April 2 – “The Beach Boys” by The Beach Boys, including a contribution by Jimmy Page, will be published.
  • April 5 – “Led Zeppelin: A Visual Biography” by Martin Popoff will be published.
  • April 6 – The exhibition “The Wiltshire Thatcher – a Photographic Journey through Victorian Wessex” featuring the original photograph from the cover of Led Zeppelin’s fourth album will open at Wiltshire Museum.
  • April 20 – Jimmy Page is featured on the Yardbirds album Psycho Daisies that will be released on Record Store Day.
  • April 30 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Harrogate, UK.
  • May 1 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Stockton, UK.
  • May 3 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Coventry, UK.
  • May 4 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace at Cheltenham Jazz Festival in Cheltenham, UK.
  • June 2 – Robert Plant will perform with Alison Krauss in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
  • June 4 – Robert Plant will perform with Alison Krauss in Camdenton, Missouri.
  • June 5 – Robert Plant will perform with Alison Krauss in Lincoln, Nebraska.
  • June 7 – Robert Plant will perform with Alison Krauss in Prior Lake, Minnesota.
  • June 8 – Robert Plant will perform with Alison Krauss in Madison, Wisconsin.
  • June 11 – Robert Plant will perform with Alison Krauss in Des Moines, Iowa.
  • June 12 – Robert Plant will perform with Alison Krauss in Highland Park, Illinois.
  • June 14 – Robert Plant will perform with Alison Krauss in Toledo, Ohio.
  • June 15 – Robert Plant will perform with Alison Krauss in Burgettstown, Pennsylvania.
  • June 18 – Robert Plant will perform with Alison Krauss in Vienna, Virginia.
  • June 19 – Robert Plant will perform with Alison Krauss in Vienna, Virginia.
  • July 23 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Southend, UK.
  • July 24 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Woking, UK.
  • July 25-28 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace at the Cambridge Folk Festival in Cambridge, UK.
  • August 8 – Robert Plant will perform with Alison Krauss in Missoula, Montana.
  • August 9 – Robert Plant will perform with Alison Krauss in Missoula, Montana.
  • August 11 – Robert Plant will perform with Alison Krauss in Edmonton, Alberta.
  • August 13 – Robert Plant will perform with Alison Krauss in Vancouver, British Columbia.
  • August 14 – Robert Plant will perform with Alison Krauss in Vancouver, British Columbia.
  • August 16 – Robert Plant will perform with Alison Krauss in Seattle, Washington State.
  • August 17 – Robert Plant will perform with Alison Krauss in Seattle, Washington State.
  • August 19 – Robert Plant will perform with Alison Krauss in Eugene, Oregon.
  • August 21 – Robert Plant will perform with Alison Krauss in Murphy’s, California.
  • August 22 – Robert Plant will perform with Alison Krauss in Stanford, California.
  • August 24 – Robert Plant will perform with Alison Krauss in Paso Robles, California.
  • August 25 – Robert Plant will perform with Alison Krauss in Highland, California.
  • August 26 – Robert Plant will perform with Alison Krauss in Flagstaff, Arizona.
  • August 28 – Robert Plant will perform with Alison Krauss in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
  • August 29 – Robert Plant will perform with Alison Krauss in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
  • August 31 – Robert Plant will perform with Alison Krauss in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
  • September 1 – Robert Plant will perform with Alison Krauss in Vail, Colorado.
  • September 15 – The exhibition “The Wiltshire Thatcher – a Photographic Journey through Victorian Wessex” featuring the original photograph from the cover of Led Zeppelin’s fourth album will close at Wiltshire Museum.
  • October 8 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Bari, Italy.
  • October 9 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Naples, Italy.
  • October 11 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Rome, Italy.
  • October 12 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Florence, Italy.
  • October 14 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Bologna, Italy.
  • October 15 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Turin, Italy.
  • October 17 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Como, Italy.
  • October 18 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Bolzano, Italy.
  • October 20 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Padua, Italy.
  • October 21 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Trieste, Italy.
  • October 23 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Brescia, Italy.

And one more…

Jimmy Page spoke to ITV News on February 22 about the opening of Gibson’s new London guitar shop- see YouTube link below…

Follow Led Zeppelin News on Twitter and Facebook to stay up to date on news as it happens, and check for the latest news.

Many thanks to James Cook.


Physical Graffiti – It was 49 years ago…

TBL ’75 Snapshot Retro Review 1:

Jaan Uhelszki, Creem, 1975

ROCK’S BIGGEST bruisers, Led Zeppelin, have got another album. In rock chronology this is an Event, since the defending champions of the world’s biggest rock ‘n’ roll draw have released only six albums in the past seven years. In fact, we’ve spent eighteen excruciating months between products, pacifying ourselves with heavy rock’s second prizes – Deep Purple, Blue Oyster Cult, and BTO. And these heavy metal hitmen couldn’t begin to plug up the leaks Led Zep left when they took on an extended, self-imposed exile to some musicians’ netherworld.

Now, just as cold turkey has begun to lose its chill. Zep are back with a package deal: a double album and an American tour. The announcement provoked unchecked carnage in the under-eighteen age group, primarily directed at long black limousines, uniformed adults, and popcorn sellers. Throngs of potential ticket-buyers foamed with anticipation, their palms growing sweaty, their eyes glassy.

Days passed without the appearance of Physical Graffiti. Then the first shipment arrived late one Thursday. The fans descended on Marty’s Records downstairs from CREEM like dragonflies, clustered around the cash register, furtively clutching the album to their heaving bosoms, slobbering and drooling down the shrinkwrap. Worried parents contemplated a vaccine, but once Physical Graffiti touched the turntables the mysterious malady subsided. The stricken nodules were lulled into a state of tympanic euphoria.

Physical Graffiti can stand on its own historically without the support of Zep’s five other million sellers, but inevitably the cuts on this album will be scrutinized with Nancy Drew-like precision in search of a successor to ‘Stairway’ or an equal to ‘Rock and Roll.’ Graffiti is, in fact, a better album than the other five offerings, the band being more confident, more arrogant in fact, and more consistent. The choice of material is varied, giving the audience a chance to see all sides of the band. Equal time is given to the cosmic and the terrestrial, the subtle and the passionate.

The exotic and musky ‘Kashmir’ is intriguing in its otherworldliness. Jimmy Page’s grinding, staccato guitar work sounds like a cosmic travelog to spiritual regeneration, swelling around the lyrics, which are heavily laden with mystical allusions and Hessean imagery. Although ‘Kashmir’ is certainly the best cut on the album, it could be trimmed without losing any of its mesmeric effect, because at some point the incense grows a little murky, and the slow burning guitar degenerates into opulent cliches, causing the instrumental interludes to echo an Exodus soundtrack.

Not all of the cuts are exercises in advanced audial basketweaving, but trace a musical cycle running from Page’s grandiose productions to basic drunken boogie. ‘Trampled Underfoot’ is seemingly effortless funk that is rescued from mediocrity by the elaborate punctuation of Page’s guitar. His fingers traverse the neck of his instrument with a velocity so violent that only a machine could improve upon it. Each batch of notes he pulls from his guitar is uniquely his own, personal as a thumbprint. Just as unique are Plant’s laments and his sexual heaves and sighs that turn the lyrics of a simplistic rocker like ‘Wanton Song’ into an introspective, personal statement. ‘Custard Pie’ and ‘Boogie With Stu’ are macho masterpieces in the tradition of the strutting, swaggering English flash blues formula pioneered on Zeppelin’s early albums. ‘Night Flight’, ‘Sick Again’ and ‘Ten Years Gone’ smack of pop picaresque, much in the manner of Rod Stewart’s ‘Every Picture Tells a Story’ – vignettes and transient insights, slices of a popstar’s life.

Led Zeppelin moves in strange ways. Sure they’re gutsy, ballsy, and flamboyantly aggressive, always spiked with a lot of eroticism, but they’re also cerebral…by way of the glands. They have this unique ability to wind you up and prime you for a full-throttled tilt. You rocked, you rolled, and oh mama those juices flowed – but you also listened to the words.

Surprisingly, in an era where disposable bands and itinerant musicians constantly play a game of musical chairs, Led Zeppelin is a unit – the same four members for the past seven years. Their longevity is due to a kind of magnetism, magic if you will. That rare chemistry was evident even at their first rehearsal, where they fit together like jigsaw pieces, transcending their common R&B backgrounds to achieve a gut-wrenching new synthesis. Lisa Robinson describes it as a case in which “the Beatles battled the Stones in a parking lot and Led Zeppelin won.” Zeppelin make more noise, has more guitar gimmickry, more sexuality, more flash, and generates more violence than any of their competitors, so that they are more than mere musicians, simple superstars. They have become the longest-lasting model for those culturally bankrupt ‘trendies’ to follow. Underage masses walk, talk, dress and dope like Zep. They have become a necessary trapping for the terminally hip, as well as providing the audial backdrop for any social gathering.

A Led Zeppelin album is like a select invitation to a key club of rock ‘n’ roll, where the kohl eyed gypsy Jimmy Page is finally accessible through his smoky guitar solos. Robert Plant preens and moans, lusts and longs for lost memories…and takes you along. Like a sonic vortex, Zeppelin draws you into their private caprice, spiraling, coaxing your willing psyche into a suprasensory haven where you can taste and savor this dream stuff that superstars thrive on. This is not pop music, but a harder stuff, more heady and potent, like a round of whiskeys and coke. Zeppelin are avatars in a cultural vacuum.

© Jaan Uhelszki, 1975

 TBL ’75 Snapshot Retro Review 2:

Led Zeppelin: Physical Graffiti

John Tobler, ZigZag magazine March 1975.

NOW I SHOULD make clear in this context that I’m not by nature a fan of this band in the same way that I like Van Morrison or Love. My position is one of deep respect, mind you, and while I was heard to say some harsh things about Beck copyists, etc, when the first album came out, such notions no longer seem to apply. I feel that I would have to perform a masterpiece of justification if I wanted to put L.Z. down, and in all honesty, there’s no fuel for that particular fire.

I suspect that someone somewhere will go into that old thing about making one great album out of two flawed same, as used with the Beatles’ White Album and so on, but again, I can’t subscribe, and this is where the review really starts. There are fifteen tracks on display here, and three of them, accounting for about a third of the playing time, appeal to me so much that were they on one side of the record, I would find it difficult to play anything else until I knew them from every direction. Specifically, these are ‘In My Time Of Dying’, ‘Houses Of The Holy’, and best of all, in a class shared with only a dozen or so tracks in my entire musical existence, ‘In The Light’.

That’s not to write the rest off in a terse few words but for my part, the record would be breaking down fresh barriers if it was all as good. It’s a question of stand-outs, and if you can imagine putting ‘She Loves You’ on the first Beatles album, you’ll see what I mean. Without my three choice cuts, the album would be of very good quality. Perhaps a little routine, but certainly to be among the critics’ choices at the end of the year. With the tracks included, it gets a distinct lift off, and while it’s just as certain to figure similarly in critical and public polls, we’re all getting a bonus for which we should be grateful. I would say with certainty that prolonged playing will produce several more tracks which will become highly pleasing, but it all comes down to what makes the biggest initial impact. And that’s not to say that the three I’ve mentioned have a singalong chorus.

Beyond saying “Get it if you’re even vaguely into this type of confection,” there’s not much to add. Jimmy Page as producer has to be one of the most tasteful people there is, and he continually rejects the temptation to fall into Black Sabbath traps, He also plays the guitar with consummate brilliance, and perhaps that’s part of the key to Led Zeppelin. They are all musicians of the highest calibre, and the length of time taken to produce this package is a testimony to the fact that second best for them is as bad as nowhere. One for your lists.

© John Tobler via


Facts Behind The Tracks:

To aide your listening enjoyment – as taken from the Led Zeppelin From A Whisper To A Scream book…

Custard Pie Page, Plant

As well as tapping the Bukka White songbook for the ‘shake  ‘em on down’ refrain, other sources of inspiration can be traced to Sonny Boy Fuller’s ‘Custard Pie Blues’, Blind Boy Fuller’s ‘I Want Some Of Your Custard Pie’ and Big Joe Williams’ version of the song, ‘Drop Down Mama’. This was the song’s working title.

Jimmy Page’s guitar solo is filtered through a then recently acquired ARP guitar synthesizer.

The Rover Page, Plant

This dates back to 1970, when it ’ was rehearsed as an acoustic blues piece before being recorded at Stargroves with Eddie Kramer for the fifth album. When it didn’t make the final ‘Houses Of The Holy’ selection, Page returned to it in 1974, overdubbing and re-mixing the basic track with Keith Harwood.

The curious “Guitar lost courtesy Nevison… Salvaged by the grace of Harwood” sleeve credit would appear to be a reference to certain mixing difficulties they may have had here – Nevison being engineer Ron Nevison.

In My Time of Dying  Bonham, Jones, Page, Plant

This was a traditional song totally reworked. A version can be found on Bob Dylan’s first album,. The lyrics include reference to Blind Willie Johnson’s Jesus Make Up My Dying Bed.

A stunning live delivery of this track drawn from their May 1975 Earl’s Court shows can be seen on the 2003 Led Zeppelin DVD

One the Companion Disc  there is a spacey initial rough mix of In My Time Of Dying.

Houses of The Holy Page, Plant

Left off the album of the same name  but  recalled for the double set. It retired no further re-mixing, having been tied up by Eddie Kramer as far back as the Electric Lady sessions in June 1972.  In order to create the layered guitar intro and fade, Jimmy used a Delta T digital delay unit.

The Companion Audio Disc  presents the Houses Of The Holy Rough Mix With Overdubs version.

Trampled Underfoot Jones, Page, Plant

This has a lyrical theme that highlight the workings of motor car and its relation with the sexual act, a theme explored by Robert Johnson in his 1936 recording ‘Terraplane Blues’. The working title for Trampled Under Foot was Brandy And Coke .

John Paul Jones’ clavinet contribution was inspired by  the use of the instrument  on Stevie Wonder’s Superstitious and Billy Preston’s ‘Outta Space’.

A special limited edition single coupling Trampled Underfoot with Black Country Woman was issued as a promotional tool in the UK at the time of their five Earls Court shows in May 1975.

In the US, Trampled Underfoot was released as a single reaching number 38 on the Billboard chart.

An initial rough mix of Trampled Underfoot under the working title of Brandy & Coke can be heard on the Companion Disc.

Olympic 10

Kashmir Bonham, Page, Plant

This was initially demoed in instrumentals form with John Bonham in late in 1973.

Robert Plant wrote the lyrics on the road to Tan Tan while holidaying in South Morocco immediately after the 1973 US tour, it was initially titled ‘Driving To Kashmir’

It enjoyed further success in 1998 when Page utilized the basic riff of ‘Kashmir’ for collaboration with rapper Puff Daddy. This new version used on the Godzilla soundtrack reached number 2 in the UK singles chart.

This arrangement has been much deployed as TV and radio background link music notably on the UK X Factor TV show.

Kashmir was the grand finale at the Led Zeppelin reunion staged in tribute to the late Ahmet Ertegun on December 10th, 2007.

Jimmy Page can be seen performing and explaining how the song came together in 2008 on a soundstage in front of Jack White and The Edge for the It Might Get Loud documentary film.

A rough orchestra mix  under the working title of Driving Through Kashmir can be hard on the Companion Audio Disc.

In The Light Jones, Page, Plant

Another creation that was honed down from various ideas. Rehearsal versions offer alternate lyrics such as ‘ In The morning’ while another rehearsal take leads with the refrain ‘Take Me Home.’ A work in progress version titled  Everybody Makes It Through  (In The Light Early Version/In Transit) can be  heard on the Companion Audio Disc.

Bron Y Aur Page

A short winsome acoustic solo, was written by Jimmy Page at the cottage in South Snowdonia in 1970 during the preparation for Led Zeppelin III’  It was recorded at Island Stusios. This was used as a background soundtrack in the sequence in The Song Remains The Same movie in a sequence as they traveled in limos to the Madison Square Garden.

It was briefly part of their acoustic set on the sixth American tour in August/September 1970.

Down By The Seaside Page, Plant

Another song written at Bron-Y-Aur in the Spring of 1970. Originally conceived as a Neil Young-influenced acoustic strum – this electric arrangement was recorded at the time of the fourth album sessions.

Robert Plant’s lasting affinity for the song led him to record a new version in 1994 with Tori Amos for inclusion on the official Led Zeppelin tribute album Encomium.

Ten Years Gone Page, Plant

Jimmy page had initially honed the guitar orchestration at his Plumpton home studio ready to record. Robert Plant added the moving narrative about an age old love affair..

It was performed live on stage on their 1977 US tour and at Knebworth in 1979 – the arrangement featured John Paul Jones on a three necked guitar designed by guitar maker Andy Manson.

Night Flight Jones, Page, Plant

This was recorded during sessions at Headley Grange for the fourth album. Lyrically it reflected Plant’s thoughts on the threat of nuclear war.

Never played live during the Zep era, some 23 years after its release Jimmy Page & Robert Plant finally performed it live at their ULU London show on October 30th, 1998 and a few other shows on their European tour of that time.

A version by the late Jeff Buckley can be heard on the expanded edition of his Live At Sin-e album.

 The Wanton Song Page, Plant

Original tape boxes have this track listed as being titled Desiree – possibly a namecheck for Desiree Serino, the future spouse of fellow Swan Song act Bad Company drummer Simon Kirke.

Page’s guitar effects include the use of backwards echo during the solo and refrain, and also playing through a Leslie speaker to create the organ effect.

Boogie With Stu Bonham, Jones, Page, Plant, Stewart, Mrs Valens

A loose jam recorded at the same sessions which produced ‘Rock And Roll’ for the fourth album. The Stu was  Ian Stewart, the Rolling Stones’ tour manager and resident boogie-woogie keyboard player, playing barrel-house piano. Heavily based on Richie Valens’ Fifties hit ‘Ooh My Head’ (check out the La Bamba movie), hence the credit to his widow. The slapping guitar came from an overdub session with the ARP guitar synth. Robert came up with the working title ‘Sloppy Drunk’. The song was credited to all the band plus Mrs. Valens and Ian Stewart. Allegedly, the credit to Valen’s mother Connie Valenzuela was due to the fact they had heard she had never received a royalty for her son’s hits.

An alternate mix of Boogie With Stu from the Led Zeppelin IV Sunset Sound Studios Mixing sessions can be heard on the Companion Audio Disc.

Black Country Woman Page, Plant

Ever on the look-out for off-the-wall recording locations they took to the garden at Stargroves for this session in the spring of 1972. The resulting take was nearly shelved when a plane cruised overhead, but as the opening dialogue reveals, it was all captured for posterity.

Prior to release ‘Black Country Woman’ was sub-titled ‘Never Ending Doubting Woman Blues’. This was a reference to a final spoken tag left off the finished version which had Robert proclaiming, “What’s the matter with you mama, never-ending, nagging, doubting woman blues.”

Sick Again  Page, Plant

A mid tempo-rocker based on Plant’s lyrical observations of the 1973 US tour and the ladies that surrounded them. It’s powered by a series of Page runs and some ferocious Bonham percussion. The live performance of this track , drawn from their Knebworth 1979 shows is stand out moment of the 2003 DVD release.

A short instrumental run through of Sick Again (Early Version) can be heard on the new Companion Audio Disc.

Written and compiled by Dave Lewis

My thoughts on the recently opened  HMV Store 363 Oxford Street…

Last week I paid my first visit to the recently opened HMV store at 363 Oxford Street.
For many years, this was the site of their flagship store. It then relocated on the opposite side of Oxford Street and in the 1980s there was a second superstore further up the road. HMV lost these key locations amidst the financial difficulties the brand underwent a decade or so back
At one point, the whole chain looked to be going into administration and there was a real threat it would disappear totally. It was saved by the maverick intervention of Canadian Doug Putman. He revitalized the chain and got it back on track.
Back in my music retail days for which I put a 35 year shift in, HMV was a big rival to WH Smith, Our Price and the Virgin Megastores -all stores I worked in.
I always greatly admired their in store layouts and stock policy. In fact I very nearly joined the chain in 1984 when I was headhunted by then managing director Brian McLaughlin.
I decided to stay with WH Smith being a loyal sort and that did pay off for me as it would lead me to working at Our Price which at the time was a very progressive and forward thinking chain – I loved my 18 years there (mainly managing the Bedford store) as I did my final 7 years at the Virgin megastore in Milton Keynes.
HMV made much use of what we used to term retail theatre. There was no finer example of that than in the Oxford Street stores. I spent many an hour and cash there back in the day. It was an exciting environment to shop in.
This latest HMV Oxford Street store opened last November. So here are my findings:
The ground floor is stacked with all sorts of accessories – t shirts, collector figures etc. A mere smattering of vinyl LPs and CDs so initially not much for me to look out for. I would imagine they parade this stuff at the front of the store as it’s a low margin winner but it certainly didn’t scream serious music retailer at me.
So to the basement floor which has vinyl LPS, CDs and audio equipment.
The vinyl racks are pretty full and the offer here is 3 vinyl LPs for £55 – 2 for £40 or £27.99 for a single LP purchase. However, the Zep LPs comprised of just Zep I,II and IV. Not much of a representation in a flagship store.
The vinyl space is shared with plenty of CDs on display. I liked the quirky showcard above them that proclaims ‘Never Mind The Streaming Here’s the CDs’ – a clever Sex Pistols parody.
There’s a lot of CD stock here with around 12 Zep titles. I was surprised to see no prices on the front of them as is the norm. I asked an assistant what the prices were and he abruptly replied ‘they are on the back.’ That made me feel a bit stupid – this goes against the trend of just about any shop I’ve been in. I guess they must have their reasons.
For a format that has been somewhat devalued in recent years (there are many CDS to be at bargain prices in charity shops,) HMV seem to be sticking with the format.
Another floor has Games, DVDs and books –the book offer is 2 for £7. Again, the presence of a lot of DVD stock surprised me as this format is another charity shop favourite.
Fundamentally, I am hardly their ideal customer being a collector of retro albums, singles and reissues but I just felt it was all a bit lifeless and bland. There was certainly a lack of retail theatre and very little imagination in the displays.
One end panel did have a Brits nominees theme but that was about it. This is something they used to do really well and that the nearby Fopp shop in Cambridge Circus does do well with themes such as The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Jazz releases etc
What we have here is a well-stocked entertainment store which will have its appeal, particularly for the tourist market. I’m glad the chain seems to be doing ok and hope they sustain that. For me, the music presentation lacked the sense of passion for the product HMV were once so good at.
Particularly in comparison to the Fopp store which packs in so much more in a much smaller space. If was running the operation, I would be sending the HMV manager down to Fopp to show what can be done to make the retailing of great product accessible, exciting and desirable. The odd thing is that as far as I know, though Fopp is owned by JD Sports, HMV still has a controlling interest in the Fopp stores.
As I said, I am glad that HMV has a presence on Oxford Street again and are still trading in a fair few towns. I hope the Oxford Street store does well and for the casual buyer it may well fit their requirements and live up to its ‘’Never mind the streaming’’ claim…
Dave Lewis – February 27 2024


DL Diary Blog Update:

Friday February 23:
Friday treats at the always excellent Slide Record Shop…
I was well pleased today to invest in the Hum-Dono LP by Joe Harriott/Amancio D’Silva Quartet.
This is the 2023 Trunk Records Records reissue described on the cover by label owner Johnny Trunk as ‘’The Best British Jazz LP of all time”’
After reading the recently published superb Labyrinth – British Jazz On Record 1960 -75 book by Richard Morton Jack, I’ve been inspired to search out some key British jazz releases and this one was top of the list. The sleeve art work is featured on the front cover of the book.
Alongside Richard’s wise words in the book, my fellow collecting comrade Lee Abrahams also recommend this one.
I’d seen this copy in the window of the Slide Record shop in town earlier in the week and went back to buy it today and what a splendid experience it was.
Nerys informed me that they had acquired an original 1969 copy of Hum – Dono in a jazz collection they sold in the shop about a year back. It sold for a hefty £800. Subsequently the owner of that original copy offered the sleeve to be adapted for use on this much welcomed reissue – such is the rarity of the original.
Nerys also told me to look out for a Record Store Day album by Amancio D’Silva.
In this age of online ordering it was a real delightful experience to buy this LP in a proper record shop and engage in chat about the product – something I was used to doing every day when I managed the various record shops I worked in back in the day.
It’s gratifying to know that the art of good customer service and knowledge continues to is thrive within the walls of the Slide Record shop in Bedford…
Thanks Nerys and Warren…

Saturday February 24

This looks interesting tonight on Sky Arts… the preview here mentions Dusty Springfield’s input to their signing to Atlantic -she was friends with Atlantic Records producer Jerry Wexler who went on to sign Zep -Dusty spoke highly of Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones both of whom had worked with her on sessions…

Saturday February 24:

Saturday is platterday..on the player loud and proud ..what else…Led Zeppelin Physical Graffiti as released 49 years ago today. I purchased it from WH Smith’s where I worked on the record department…
This is the original copy I purchased back in 1975 and It still sounds amazing – as it would – it’s my favourite album of all time. A few pops and crackles only adding to its authenticity
Over the 15 tracks this double album contains every aspect that made Led Zeppelin so special…then, when I was 18 years old and now I am 67… for me they are, were and always will be the best…
Saturday February 24:
DL/TBL Physical Graffiti throwback…celebrating the release of Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti 49 years ago today…
You can never have too many copies of Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti …and I have a few…

Friday February 24:

On the 49th anniversary of the release of my favourite album of all time – a pic to mark the occasion…

Saturday February 24:

On the 49th anniversary of the release of Physical Graffiti it was only fitting that I secure some Zep product at the excellent VIP record fair in Bedford toady – Led Zep II and Song Remains The Same US pressings and Remasters double CD in original large case – my very good friend Phil Harris who was next to me when we were in the second row watching Zep at Earls Court on May 24 1975 bagged a very nice Faces 2 Originals Of double set – top fair all round!

Sunday February 25:

I had a feeling the Led Zeppelin In The Light documentaries screened last night on Sky Arts might feature me as a talking head. I did a few of these filmed inserts around 2005. Lo and behold there I was on a few clips – the younger DL waxing lyrical about the Zep albums…hope it didn’t give anyone any nightmare’s though Gaz Morris (guitarist in the excellent Rod and The Facez tribute band ) who took this pic said he nearly chocked on his curry when I appeared!

A couple more pics here via Andreas Stocker and James Grundy…


There are two more episodes being aired this Saturday – look out for me again!


Sunday February 25:

Sunday sounds on CD – marking his Birthday today and loading up the brilliant George Harrison All Things Must Pass 50th Anniversary deluxe CD set – my favourite post Beatles recording…

Sunday February 25:

DL/TBL Physical Graffiti throwback…celebrating the release of Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti 49 years ago..

Some thoughts on what Physical Graffiti means to me 49 years to the week it was released back in February 1975.
I was a mere 18 years old and learning about life with every waking day…
I was obsessed with music (still am!) and no more so than the music than that created by my favourite group Led Zeppelin.
The previous October I had been lucky enough to secure a dream job – working in the record department of our local WH Smiths – I absolutely loved it – talking about records, handling records, filing records ,odering records, selling records…
It was a timely entry into a profession I would spent a glorious 35 years in not least because Led Zeppelin had a new record due out. I of course knew all this as I had been following the story in the music press for the past year.
It was to a double album known as Physical Graffiti. In November the WEA record company rep who called on the shop showed me a mock up of the cover he was using to sell the album in.
My then manager Dorothy a lovely lady in her 40s was quite taken with my obsession with this group and asked my opinion – I of course replied it would be a very big seller. Our order of 50 copies was placed.
Then there was the waiting. Ah yes the waiting. Initially it was set for November 29th 1974. That date passed and nothing. Then it was going to be January 10th 1975 and so it went on until finally on a grey February morning, I took receipt of the record boxes delivered that day at WH Smith where I worked. And there in a parcel marked WEA/CBS Distribution was a box full of that beautiful double album.
Had it out of the box immediately – took it down the pub lunchtime to show everybody.
Oh yes this was the big one – a massive outpouring of new Led Zeppelin music.
It ushered in a memorable year that would peak with those five glorious days in May when for ten hours over two weekends at Earls Court, I was able to view Led Zeppelin live in all their magnificence.
Since then Physical Graffiti has been a constant in my life. Not long after its release, the WEA rep who called on WH Smith where I worked kindly gave me the original sleeve artwork mock up which still takes pride of place in my collection. On holiday in Spain that year I could not resist handing over a pocket full of pesetas for the Spanish pressing. I have it on cassette and 8 track cartridge and a fair few pressings from various countries.
When I first got a CD player in 1988 it was one of the first CDs I purchased. The emergence of the Tangible Vandalism rehearsals bootleg in the early 80’s was a shot in the arm in a less than vibrant Zep period, and the first time I heard the 33 minutes of outtakes that surfaced in 1997 remains one of my most memorable listening experiences.
There have also been numerous live Graffiti special moments…
Selections from Physical Graffiti played live over the years have also provided some of my all time fave gig going moments.
Ten Years Gone and Sick Again at Knebworth, Trampled Underfoot at Leicester University in ’88, Kashmir at the MTV Unledded filming, The Wanton Song at Later With Jools ‘98, Night Flight at the ULU in ’98 , In My Time of Dying at the 02 Reunion.
In today’s internet driven social media world of instantly accessible everything, it’s easy to forget the impact a mere record could have.
A mere record? Physical Graffiti could never be a mere anything.
It’s a living breathing, masterpiece.
So happy 49th Birthday Custard Pie, The Rover, In My Time Of Dying, Houses Of The Holy, Trampled Underfoot, Kashmir, In The Light, Bron Yr Aur, Down By The Seaside, Ten Years Gone, Night Flight, The Wanton Song, Boogie With Stu, Black Country Woman and Sick Again.
These 15 performances continue to enrich my life and countless other Led Zeppelin fans across the globe….
They are, were and always will be the best…
Monday February 26:
It was 59 years ago today…
February 26 1965 saw the release of the Jimmy Page solo single She Just Satisfies/Keep Moving…here’s some press coverage from the time…

Monday February 26:

On the player spinning at 45 RPM and marking its original release 59 years ago today – the Jimmy Page solo single She Just Satisfies – this one the Record Store Day reissue…

Update here…

It’s been a real joy to celebrate the 49th anniversary of Physical Graffiti – the feedback on Facebook etc has been great too – proof that this fabled double album is still held in the highest esteem by countless fans across the globe. It remains one of the true high points in the career and my does it still sound brilliant.

This weeks playlist as follows:

Led Zeppelin – Physical Graffiti  -2LP

Joe Harriott/Amancio D’Silva Quartet – Hum Dono – LP

Nick Drake – Five Leaves Left – CD

The Yardbirds – Little Games -LP

Jimmy Page -Session Man -2LP

All You Need is Covers – Songs of The Beatles – Various Artists – 2CD

Thanks for listening

Until next time…

Dave  Lewis –  February  29 2024 

TBL website updates written and compiled by Dave Lewis

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