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ROBERT PLANT & SAVING GRACE UK TOUR REPORTS/LZ NEWS/ LED ZEPPELIN IV IT WAS 52 YEARS AGO/ SOUTHAMPTON ’73 /DL DIARY BLOG UPDATE

17 November 2023 1,209 views One Comment

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

New Theatre Cardiff – November 15:

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

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

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Back track to Bert Janch tribute appearance and the Symphony Hall Birmingham

These on the spot reports via Jonathan Taylor…

An 80th Birthday Concert for Bert Jansch.
Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, London 04/11/2023.
Where to begin to chronicle this incredible evening of respect and love for the music of Bert Jansch?
Well, at the beginning, with Jacqui McShee, accompanied by Mike Piggott on fiddle and Kevin Dempsey on guitar, singing as though no time has passed since she and Jansch were breaking down Folk and Jazz barriers in Pentangle.
This will be an increasingly evident theme of this evening of celebration of Bert Jansch and his vast legacy. His music crossed boundaries and traversed genres, reinvigorating Folk standards and rethinking what might be possible through his own songs. The stellar array of musicians taking part in this night of wonder all have their own connections to Jansch, and all bring their unique viewpoints flavoured with essence of Bert.
During this concert, Martin Simpson and Louis Campbell honoured Jansch’s Folk roots with a vibrant “Angie”, and Simpson also played with Kathryn Williams as she excelled on “Needle Of Death” and “Crimson Moon”.
Bernard Butler played the most amazing Psych-Blues electric guitar with some brilliant bowed bass by Caimin Gilmore on “Poison” and “Fresh As A Sweet Sunday Morning”; James Yorkston had the Indian vocals of Ranjana Ghatak adding a mellow vibe, enhanced by the upright bass of Jon Thorne.
Sam Lee’s acapella “Blackwater Side”, sung in near darkness, was breathtaking. The pure Irish voice of Brigid Mae Power brings such beauty to “She Moved Through The Fair”, delicately played by New York guitarist Steve Gunn.
Butler returns to lead a 5-guitar ensemble of young musicians through a spellbinding “Veronica”, Yamaha acoustics weaving around one another in a bold version of this Jansch classic.
Composer and drummer Sarathy Korwar, with Tamar Osborn on Flute and bass sax and Danny Keane on Cello, brought the Jazz elements of Jansch’s work into gorgeous focus with “Black Swan” and “Osprey”.
Robert Plant has a long history with the music of Bert Jansch, and with the skilled Saving Grace (featuring the sublime voice of Suzi Dian) he brought transatlantic atmospheres (emphasising the reach of Bert Jansch’s influence) to “Gospel Plow”, “It Don’t Bother Me” (with the rare sight of Plant on bass), “Go Your Way” and a spirited “The Cuckoo” to this Jansch party.
There was so much to love and cherish about this evening. I could write much more, namecheck more of the musicians involved, acknowledge the organisers from the Bert Jansch Foundation, and recognise the great work of the stage crew. I could remark upon the skilled, funny and knowledgeable compère Stewart Lee. I could wax lyrical about how this gathering of supreme talent emphasised the enduring beauty and influence of the Jansch legacy.
But I think it only remains to say how joyous and moving the finale was, as the whole cast of musicians took the stage for “Strolling Down The Highway”. A great, uplifting conclusion to a very special evening in the company of the music of the great Bert Jansch.

Robert Plant and Saving Grace: Symphony Hall, Birmingham 05/11/2023

Fresh from their appearance at the Celebration of Bert Jansch’s music at London’s Southbank Centre the previous night, Robert Plant and Saving Grace seemed invigorated, as if the musicianship and magic of that concert had fuelled their creative energy.

Indeed, the band begin the show at Birmingham’s Symphony Hall with “Gospel Plow” and “The Cuckoo”, both played at the Jansch concert. With these lively openers, the Saving Grace stall is set out; they are here to move through the past and bring it firmly and confidently into the present, to interpret the music of others whilst emphatically placing their own mark upon it.
Saving Grace are in inspired form; Matt Worley’s acoustic guitar, mandolin and banjo join with Tony Kelsey’s guitars and mandolin in exploring the sonic possibilities of the songs, with Kelsey going deep for some gorgeously resonant, abyssal chords. Oli Jefferson on drums and percussion both drives and structures the music, and he passes the “Four Sticks” test with flying colours.
“Four Sticks”? Yes, for the first time since Plant gathered Saving Grace around him in 2019, the band are now performing Led Zeppelin songs with reimagined vitality; Tonight we are treated to “Friends”, “Four Sticks”, a spine tingling “The Rain Song” (Suzi Dian’s deft accordion playing a highlight) and in the encores “Gallows Pole” romps along in the hands of these musical craftspeople, even leaving a door ajar within the song so that “Black Dog” can sneak in for a verse.
Suzi Dian has a voice for all songs; range, clarity, phrasing and that switch between subtlety and power when needed. Whether singing, or playing accordion or bass, she has presence and is the perfect foil for the ever-charismatic Plant. Dian’s vocal on “Too Far From You” is heartbreaking.
Robert Plant himself continues to surprise and delight; tonight, during “It Don’t Bother Me”, he plays bass (prior to the Bert Jansch tribute concert I had never seen him play anything other than very occasional guitar and harmonica), and continues to sing as well as he has ever done, his voice rich and potent. As ever a between-song raconteur, an entertainer, a man so evidently comfortable in his role as band member of Saving Grace.
There is a heady blend of light and shade throughout this show. After delivering a truly powerful version of Low’s “Everybody’s Song”, Saving Grace follow it with the West Coast delicacy of Moby Grape’s “It’s A Beautiful Day Today”. There are excellent takes on Plant’s own material as “May Queen” and “Let The Four Winds Blow” join the set.
The only musical boundaries that Saving Grace have are any that they may choose to impose upon themselves.
A new arrangement of Richard Thompson’s “House Of Cards” illuminates the encores, before the now-customary acapella closer of “I Bid You Goodnight” brings the gig to a warm ending.
This Saving Grace gig has been an absolute triumph of charm, emotion, beauty and above all superb musicality.
Robert Plant’s restless soul continues to move forward into territories that we experience through the prism of his vast experience and consummate ability as a performer.

Many thanks Jonathan

Lowry Theatre Salford November 10 2023 

Report and pics from Andrew Pepworth…

Saving Grace(with Robert Plant) were awesome last night at The Lowry. Superb vocals between Robert and Suzi. Rest of band awesome musicians. They were bit more rockier than last year(when seen them at Plaza,Stockport). Led Zep Song’s “Friends and The Rain Song” sang beautifully in different arrangements. Now make a album guys!

My wife Donna said ” That was a relaxing concert and what I love about Robert is it’s not all about him just because he was in Led Zep and though  is great on his own and he lets others do their thing and he loves and admires them for that.

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LZ News:

Here’s the latest Led ZepNews Update

Upcoming events:

  • November 5– Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Birmingham, UK.
  • November 7– Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Bournemouth, UK.
  • November 8– Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Southampton, UK.
  • November 11– Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Salford, UK.
  • November 13– Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Oxford, UK.
  • November 15– Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Cardiff, UK.
  • November 16– Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Basingstoke, UK.
  • November 17– Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Cambridge, UK.
  • November 19– Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Grimsby, UK.
  • November 20– Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Gateshead, UK.
  • November 22– Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Bradford, UK.
  • November 23– Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Stoke-on-Trent, UK.
  • November 25– Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Wolverhampton, UK.
  • 2024– Robert Plant will tour with Alison Krauss.
  • January 1– ABC will broadcast highlights of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame ceremony at 8pm EST
  • March 21-24– John Paul Jones will perform at the Big Ears music festival in Knoxville, Tennessee both as a solo act and as part of Sons Of Chipotle.

Summer 2024 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Vienna, Virginia.

Many thanks to James Cook 

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

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

http://ledzepnews.com/

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TBL Archive Special:

Led Zeppelin IV – 52 years gone…

November 1971 /Led Zeppelin IV 

52 years ago this month the fourth Led Zeppelin album emerged in a slightly mysterious manner with that enigmatic sleeve. I vividly remember the excitement and anticipation of the album in the music press that month. In fact the November 6 1971 issue of Melody Maker was something of an historic issue because it contained the first UK sighting the four individual symbols that would make up the title of Led Zeppelin’s fourth album. Each symbol was featured on the end of a page – a series of teaser adverts for the forthcoming album though nobody really knew it. Now I had read a recent interview with Jimmy Page in which he had explained the album title would be made up of four runes – I did notice those symbols in that issue thinking they looked very odd – but I did not realise these were the very symbols that would become such an integral and lasting image of the band.

 

71-11-13-pg-16

It was about to get even more exciting for me with the prospect of attending the November 21 Wembley Empire Pool show. Tickets a mere 75p! It’s fair to say that this advert announcing the second date was something of a life changer for me – as things were never quite the same in our house after what I witnessed on that cold November Sunday evening all of 52 years ago.

This wasn’t just a band…

Led Zeppelin IV… 

Of all their records, Led Zeppelin’s fourth album, released in late 1971, remains their listened to and  admired work, and with sales of 38 million and counting it is also far and away their most successful. Featuring both the often maligned Stairway To Heaven and the widely admired ‘When The Levee Breaks’, the set is without question the most accessible of their catalogue and it continues to attract new listeners by the week. Few albums in the history of rock can rival its influence.

The fact that much of the album was made in a mysterious, run-down, 18th century workhouse in the middle of rural Hampshire only adds to its legacy. It’s the product of a band given absolute musical freedom to do as they wished in an environment that encouraged the development of their ability to blend acoustic and electric influences within a rock framework, which they did more successfully than any other act before or since.

As a complete work it remains their most focused statement. From Page’s unimpeachable riffs, through Jones musical invention and 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 – November , 2023 


More Four at 52

This one from 2021…

OFFCIAL PRESS RELEASE NOVEMBER 8, 2021:

(aka Led Zeppelin IV)

Celebrates 50 Years

It’s Been A Long Time Since I Rock And Rolled…

Untitled, undeniable, and unstoppable. Led Zeppelin’s fourth studio album, better known as Led Zeppelin IV, arrived 50 years ago on November 8, 1971.

Led Zeppelin IV remains one of the most creatively influential and commercially successful albums in the history of music. As an artistic statement, the record struck a chord that continues to resonate globally among music fans while inspiring generations of musicians.

Commercially, Led Zeppelin IV is a juggernaut, selling more than 37 million copies worldwide. In the U.S., the album was recently certified 24x platinum by the RIAA, ranking as the fifth best-selling album of all time as well as the best-selling album by a British artist (tied with The Beatles aka The White Album). Outside America, the album is certified diamond in Canada (x2); multi-platinum in Australia (9x), the U.K. (6x), and France (2x); platinum in Argentina, Brazil, Italy, Norway, Poland, and Spain; and gold in Germany (3x).

Led Zeppelin IV also topped the album charts in the U.K., Canada, and the Netherlands, and peaked at #2 in Australia, Denmark, France, Sweden, as well as the U.S., where it remains the best-selling album of the band’s catalog.

Before the success and accolades of 1971, the band first spent the fall and winter of 1970 writing and recording Led Zeppelin IV, with early recording sessions beginning in London at Island Studios in December 1970. A month later, the band moved to Headley Grange, a country house in Hampshire, England. They converted the house into a recording studio and used the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio to record most of the album’s basic tracks with engineer Andy Johns, who also engineered some of Led Zeppelin II and III.

Jimmy Page, who also produced the album, says: “After the brief stay that Robert and I had at Bron-Yr-Aur cottage [while working on Led Zeppelin III], I could see a situation where we all resided at Headley Grange and had a recording truck. I was keen on this whole idea of using it as a workplace so you could concentrate totally on the effort of making the music, while residing at the location.”

“It was all a bit experimental,” John Paul Jones says. “But it was the first time we’d actually stayed together. Before, we were recording in studios…and it was always hotel, studio, hotel, studio. We’d never been in one place and had recording facilities there. So that was really a new way of working for us, and I think it was a really good way. We just had this huge old room with a big fireplace with all the equipment set up. And you could just wander down and start stuff up if nobody was there, or if somebody else would turn up, there would be a bit of jam. There was music making in some way all the time, which, as you can see by the result, worked out pretty well.”

This unconventional (for the time) approach gave the group more freedom to capture spontaneous performances and moments of inspiration. Of the writing of “Stairway To Heaven”, Robert Plant recalls:

“I was sitting next to Jimmy in front of the fire at Headley Grange. He’d written this chord sequence and was playing it to me. I was holding a pencil and paper and suddenly my hand is writing the words ‘There’s a lady who’s sure all that glitters is gold…’ I sat there, looked at the words and almost leaped out from my seat. Looking back, I suppose I sat down at the right moment.”

The band also found ways to use the acoustics of Headley Grange to their advantage. Most famously, drummer John Bonham was recorded playing “When The Levee Breaks” in the formal entrance hall of the house using microphones hanging nearby in a flight of stairs. Today, it is one of the most-famous drum sounds in the world and has been sampled countless times by artists across multiple genres including Beyoncé, Beastie Boys, Massive Attack, J. Cole, Björk, and Eminem.

When the basic tracks for the album were finished, the band returned to London to record “Stairway To Heaven” and added overdubs to the Headley material at Island Studios. Soon after, Page traveled to Los Angeles to work on the initial mix of the album at Sunset Sound studios before later returning to Island Studios for additional mixing. The final mix was then delayed until July to accommodate the band’s spring and summer tours.

One of the most memorable parts of the album artwork was the four symbols used on the inner sleeve and album label to represent the four band members.

“There was a really nice little book of signs and symbols,” John Paul Jones says. “So, we decided to choose our symbols from this book appropriate to each member. So, Bonzo [John Bonham] and I dutifully went away, and we actually chose symbols which were kind of the opposite of each other graphically, which was quite strange. And then, of course, Robert and Jimmy designed their own. They all had their own personal meanings.”

Famously, the untitled album was issued with no text on the front or back covers, including the band’s name or an album title – a radical idea at the time.

“After the release and success of the third album, we were still getting negative reviews about the albums and concerts in certain trade journals in America,” Page recalls. “And even after the third album, it was being said that we were ‘a hype’ and one thing and another. It was slightly aggravating. It seemed as though it would be an interesting proposition to actually put out an album with no information on it at all…and see how it would sell.”

“The cover means whatever people want to read into it.” said John Bonham around the album’s release. “For me it means: ‘I’d rather live in an old house than a block of flats.’ My personal view is that the album is the best thing we’ve ever done. I love it. It’s the fourth album and it’s the next stage we were in at the time of recording. All the albums have been different and to my mind this is the best and that’s not trying to be big-headed or flash.”

ABOUT LED ZEPPELIN

In 1968, Jimmy Page formed Led Zeppelin, one of the most influential, innovative and successful groups in modern music, having sold more than 300 million albums worldwide. The band rose from the ashes of The Yardbirds, when Page brought in Robert Plant, John Bonham, and John Paul Jones to tour as The New Yardbirds. In 1969, Led Zeppelin released its self-titled debut. It marked the beginning of a 12-year reign, during which the group was widely considered to be the biggest and most innovative rock band in the world.

Led Zeppelin continues to be honored for its pivotal role in music history. The band was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1995, received a Grammy® Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005, and a year later was awarded with the Polar Music Prize in Stockholm. Founding members Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and John Paul Jones – along with Jason Bonham, the son of John Bonham – took the stage at London’s O2 Arena in 2007 to headline a tribute concert for Ahmet Ertegun, a dear friend and Atlantic Records’ founder. The band was honored for its lifetime contribution to American culture at the Kennedy Center Honors in 2012. In January of 2014, the band won their first ever Grammy award as Celebration Day, which captured their live performance at the Ertegun tribute concert, was named Best Rock Album.

Led Zeppelin IV – 52 years gone…

Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin IV

To mark the 52nd 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.

The Making Of Led Zeppelin IV – Part One:

On the evening of Saturday, September 19, 1970, the four members of Led Zeppelin took a final bow before leaving the stage of New York’s Madison Square Garden. It signalled the end of a massively successful US tour, their two performances at the Garden alone netting each of them around $30,000 – not bad for six hours work. Their second album had been a fixture on the album charts on both sides of the Atlantic, racking up sales of over a million in both territories. The previous June the group’s bill topping appearance at the Bath Festival had cemented their reputation on home soil. Readers of the then hugely influential Melody Maker had just voted them as the top act in their annual pop poll, ending years of dominance by The Beatles.

There was simply no doubt about it. Led Zeppelin were now the biggest band in the world.

Then came the backlash…

In early October their eagerly awaited new album, Led Zeppelin III, hit the stores. Its bold agenda in combining the familiar, trademark heavy rock dynamics with more acoustic textures confused both the public and press alike. Headlines such as “I… 2… 3 Zep weaken” were rife as this new direction confused and, to some degree disappointed, critics.

Though Zep III sold well initially it did not to have the across-the-board appeal of their first two albums. Never entirely at ease with the press, Page and Plant were particularly sensitive to the criticism. “The headlines are saying Zep goes soft on their fans or some crap,” remarked Plant to Record Mirror at the time. “The point is when you begin a new album you never knew how it’s going to come out.”

For Page the third Zeppelin album signalled the beginning of a new era. “There is another side to us. This album is totally different to the others and I see this as a new direction.”

Plant again: “Now we’ve done Zeppelin III the sky’s the limit. It shows we can change, we can do things. It means there are endless possibilities. We are not stale and this proves it.”

Brave fighting talk – but quite how their following would react long term to this new direction was at the time still in question. After the initial glow of success they were at something of a crossroads, making their next album crucial. Page later reflected: “With Zep III we thought we’d made a great album – in fact we knew we had. At the time, though, it was said we had started playing acoustic instruments because Crosby, Stills & Nash had just come through and we were ripping them off. I know the record company expected us to follow up ‘Whole Lotta Love’. But we never made a point of trying to emulate something we had done before.”

Sensibly they took their time in recording the crucial fourth album. To recharge their batteries manager Peter Grant refused all offers to tour over the coming months. This included turning down flat a cool one million dollars to appear on a New Year’s Eve I concert to be relayed across the world via satellite. Years later | Peter Grant noted: “I got approached for the band to perform a show in Germany on New Year’s Eve 1970 that would be relayed to American cinemas. The offer got up to a million dollars but I found out that satellite sound can be affected by snowstorms so I said no. The promoters couldn’t believe it, but it just wasn’t right for us.”

Aside from a day out in October to accept a clutch of gold discs from a Parliamentary Secretary for their part in sustaining the country’s healthy balance of exports, the group laid low.

In late October Page and Plant returned to the idyllic cottage half way up a mountain in South Snowdonia known as Bron Yr Aur. It was here that earlier in the year they had conceived many of the songs for Zep III. This return visit again found them ensconced around the open fire with acoustic guitars in hand preparing material for the next record.

They already had a backlog of completed and work-in-progress ideas, amongst them a lilting, Neil Young-influenced: titled ‘Down By The Seaside’, ‘Hey Hey What Can I Do’, a semi-acoustic country stomp and, in the same vein, a song called Poor Tom’. ‘The Rover’, then an acoustic idea with idealistic lyrics, was another song waiting to be honed. John Paul Jones had been working on a brooding keyboard piece that would later emerge as ‘No Quarter’, while Page had began demoing a lengthy instrumental track which started off tranquil but built to a crescendo. We all know how that idea flourished, initially they considered a double album, and Page even toyed with the bizarre idea of issuing the album as four separate EPs. After the Zep III backlash they were immensely keen to lay down some fresh new material.

In December they booked initial studio sessions at Island Studios. The Basing Street location was fast becoming the most in-demand studio in London and they had recorded much of Zeppelin III there the previous May. Page, though, was also looking to record on location with The Rolling Stones’ newly built mobile recording unit. “We started off doing some tracks at Island then we went to Headley Grange, a place we had rehearsed at. We took The Stones’ mobile. It was ideal.  As soon as we had an idea we put it down on tape.”

Headley Grange, a largely derelict 18th century manor house, was situated in deepest Hampshire. A three-storey stone structure built in 1795, it was once a workhouse known as Headley Poor for the aged and infirm, and in 1870 it was bought by builder Thomas Kemp who converted it to a private residence and. renamed it Headley Grange.

In the wake of the ‘getting it together in the country’ trend that acts such as Traffic had pioneered in the late Sixties, the place  began to be used as a rehearsal venue for the likes of Fleetwood  Mac and Genesis. It was Fleetwood Mac who suggested the premises to Page.

Plant reflected: “Most of the mood for the fourth album was brought about in settings we had not been used to. We were living in is falling down mansion in the country. The mood was incredible.”

So on a cold January morning early in 1971, accompanied by a handful of roadies plus engineer Andy Johns (brother of noted producer Glyn Jones who had worked on the first Zeppelin album), Page, Plant, Jones and Bonham convened on the old workhouse to set up and record material for their fourth album. Parked outside was the Stones’ mobile studio looking not unlike some vintage army intelligence unit.

Engineer Andy Johns recalled the idea behind going there in an interview with Guitar World: “I had just done Sticky Fingers with the Stones and we’d used the mobile truck on that. So I believe 1 suggested using the truck to Jimmy. We had used Mick’s house at Stargroves but Jimmy didn’t want to stay there because Mick wanted too much money. Then Jimmy found this old mansion so we brought the truck there.” They did eventually record at Stargroves the following year for the Houses Of The Holy album.

John Paul Jones has less positive memories of their stay at the Grange. “It was cold and damp. I remember we all ran in when we arrived in a mad scramble to get the driest rooms. There was no pool table or pub. It was so dull but that really focused your mind on getting the work done.”

On hand to monitor the recordings was Ian Stewart. Stu, as he was affectionately known, was a long time backroom associate of The Rolling Stones – and had even been in an early line up of the group prior to Andrew Oldham grooming the younger band members for success. Stu was an accomplished jazz and blues pianist, and his battered old upright piano was packed alongside the Zep gear in preparation for the likelihood of a jam session or two. The relaxed nature of the whole set up deemed this inevitable.

zep 1971 photo call

Early on during the warm up sessions, John Bonham began banging out the cymbal led introduction to Little Richard’s ‘Keep A Knockin”. Ian Stewart joined in the fun, adding a Jerry Lee Lewis barrelhouse piano backdrop. Jones and Page picked up the mantle, adding Scotty Moore-like guitar runs from the, golden era of Sun Records. Plant soon cut in with a vocal line, but instead of tripping effortlessly into one of the many rock’n’roll standards that they performed live on stage he screamed out nondescript lyrics built around a chorus of “It’s been a long time since I rock-‘n’ rolled”. Within minutes they knew they had something, as Page remembers: “We were doing something else at the time but Bonzo played the beginning of a Little Richard track. We had the tape running and I started doing that part of the riff. It ground to a halt after 12 bars but we knew we had something – Robert came in with the lyrics and within 15 minutes it was virtually complete.”

To be continued…

Dave Lewis

LED ZEPPELIN IV WHAT THE PAPERS SAID

A guaranteed million seller well before release, perhaps in theory even before it was recorded, this long awaited fourth Zeppelin album is of greater importance than their controversial third LP. If Zep III gave the first indications that their music was by no means confined to power rock then this new album consolidates their expanding maturity. The eight cuts here follow through with unbridled confidence, expounding in greater details the ideas formulated on the previous album. Once again Led Zeppelin is airborne and the flight course looks very favourable. Roy Carr, New Musical Express

It might seem a bit incongruous to say that Led Zeppelin, a band never particularly known for its tendency to understate matters, has produced an album which is remarkable for its low keyed and tasteful subtlety. But that’s just the case here. The march of the dinosaur that broke the ground for their first epic release has apparently vanished. Taking along with it the splattering electronics of their second effort and the leaden acoustic moves that seem to weigh down their third album. One of the ways in which this is demonstrated is the sheer variety of the album. The got it down all right – this one was gold on the day of release. Not bad for a pack of Limey lemon squeezers. Lenny Kaye, Rolling Stones

After such a long wait one had begun to get a little worried about Led Zeppelin’s fourth album. What had gone wrong? After such a time lag and such mounting expectancy could it still be good? The answer is yes. It is brilliant. It is by far their best album to date, and has a depth and maturity to it which can only result from recording and performing experiences. It has many moods and many styles and seems far more emotionally loaded than any of their other albums – they seem to convey wisdom through experience into their music now. Caroline Boucher, Disc and Music Echo

LED ZEPPELIN IV –

zep4-12

RARER THAN HENS…

THE ULTIMATE RARE PRESSINGS

Research by Nick Anderson:

Led Zeppelin IV was originally released in the UK on 19 November 1971 on the red and plum Atlantic label which was distributed by Polydor Records. Due to various labelling mistakes there are minute details to look out for when identifying genuine early pressings. Here is a summary of what to look out for:

1) Atlantic/Polydor 2401012 – red/plum labels, first pressing, first labels (£300)

The text “Led Zeppelin” is positioned towards the bottom of the label, below the track listing.
The “Under licence from Atlantic Recording Corpn., U.S.A” text is above the white line in the red part of the label.
Full publishing credits were omitted – only ‘Kinney Music Ltd’ is listed.
The first labels have an “Executive Producer: Peter Grant” credit.
“Misty Mountain Hop” is spelled correctly.
Side one has ‘’Pecko Duck’’ etched into the run out groove and side two has ‘’Porky’’ etched into the run out groove, which are the signature marks of English cutting engineer George Peckham. The vinyl matrix numbers are the earliest A//3, B//3
2) Atlantic/Polydor 2401012 – red/plum labels, first pressing, first labels with correction stickers (£150)

A “Led Zeppelin” sticker is placed in the top half of the label underneath the ‘Four symbols’ and above the “Atlantic Recording” credit,
A “Kinney Music Ltd/Superhype Music Inc. Produced by Jimmy Page” sticker is placed over the original Led Zeppelin, producer and executive producer credits on the lower half of the label.
3) Atlantic/Polydor 2401012 – red/plum labels, first pressing, second labels (£100)

The “Led Zeppelin” credit is printed in the top half of the label.
The “Atlantic Recording” credit is moved into the central white band.
The full “Kinney Music Ltd/Superhype Music Inc” credit is included.
The Peter Grant credit is removed.
“Misty Mountain Hop” is misspelled as “Misty Mountain Top”.
4) Atlantic/Polydor 2401012 – red/plum labels, first pressing, third labels (£65)

The fourth variant red/plum label is the same as the corrected third variant, but with the “Misty Mountain Top” misspelling corrected to “Misty Mountain Hop“.

5) Atlantic/Polydor 2401012 – red/plum labels, first pressing, fourth labels, stickered sleeve (£75)

Some corrected plum/red 2401012 fourth label pressings came with a sticker (white with red printing) on the sleeve with the Atlantic logo, K50008, audio information and record label credits. This was outstanding stock acquired by the Kinney group from Polydor and duly stickered on the sleeve with the new Kinney catalogue number – see details below

Note – the inner sleeve on all original pressings is a buff colour matt finish with flip over back. Later issues had no flipover back and for a brief time switched to white.  The gatefold outer sleeve is a matt finish – later issues have a sheen.

6) In 1969, Warner Bros.-Seven Arts was sold to the Kinney National Company. Kinney (later to be known as Warner Communications) combined the operations of all of its record labels. The following year, Kinney bought Elektra Records and its sister label Nonesuch Records, and assembled the labels into a group known as Warner-Elektra-Atlantic, also called WEA for short, or Warner Music Group. In early 1972 the distribution of the Atlantic label in the UK was switched from Polydor Records to the newly formed Kinney set up under the WEA (Warner/Elektra/Atlantic) banner. All catalogue numbers were changed to a simple K prefix and number with Led Zeppelin IV taking on the new catalogue number of K50008 with green and orange labels. Of note to collectors here is Atlantic K50008 – green/orange labels, second pressing, first labels, transitional stamper (£75)

This pressing has dual matrix numbers – both the first pressing 2401012 and later K50008 matrix numbers are included in the run-out grooves.
The ‘Four symbols’ are omitted from the label.
“Misty Mountain Hop” is again misspelled as “Misty Mountain Top”.

In the UK, a pressing plant error resulted in a few hundred pressings of Led Zeppelin IV appearing on the Asylum label. This again occurred in 1972 when distribution of the Atlantic label was switched to the Kinney stable under the WEA imprint (Warner, Elektra, Atlantic). Asylum was an offshoot of the WEA set up and most notably The Eagles’ label. Thus, Asylum Zep IV UK pressings on the K50008 catalogue number are highly prized amongst collectors and are valued at around £150.

Amongst the many worldwide pressings of Led Zeppelin IV, a handful of highly prized rare pressing variations have surfaced.

zep-four-pressing-two

In the late 1970s, Dave Sands, a young apprentice builder working at Jimmy Page’s home, was handed a unique promo pressing of Led Zeppelin IV by the guitarist himself. ‘’I was 19 and working as an apprentice builder for a local Sussex building firm,’’ recalls Dave. In the spring of 1978, we undertook some work to build a recording studio for Jimmy Page at his Plumpton home. While we were there Jimmy gave me a t-shirt and a batch of albums. The t-shirt was from their 1977 US tour, while the albums included Led Zeppelin II (the rare pressing which has Lemon Song listed as Killing Floor), Led Zeppelin III and IV, Houses Of The Holy, Presence, The Song Remains The Same, and the first Detective album issued on Swan Song. All were on the usual Atlantic and Swan Song labels except the Led Zeppelin IV album (this appears on a plain cream label with track listing).

Jimmy’s generosity put Dave in possession of a unique Led Zeppelin IV promo pressing. This copy has the same typography and label design used for the advance US promo Atlantic pressings sent out at the time of the album’s release but, significantly, the label is a distinct yellow colour as opposed to the more common white label US promos. It comes packaged in what appears to be a mock up single sleeve. The back cover has the same design as the officially released inner sleeve with track listings. The front cover has the symbols and track listing printed on the front cover unlike the wordless standard sleeve design. The regular US white label stereo promos go for around £100, so this rare version obtained directly from Page himself is of much greater value and would easily triple in value at auction.

Another very rare pressing anomaly occurred in Canada where a unique gold and black vinyl multi coloured pressing of the fourth album surfaced a few years ago. This is almost impossible to value as it has not changed hands since it was discovered, but it is fair to assume that should it come onto the market it would be likely reach a price up to £1,000.

Rare pressings guide Compiled by Nick Anderson


My thoughts on…
LED ZEPPELIN – DANCING DAYS ARE HERE AGAIN
(Wonderland 4LP vinyl box set – limited edition of 300)
Some 51 years after I invested in my first Led Zep bootleg (Live on Blueberry Hill) I was well pleased today to add a new title to the collection – the new four LP bootleg package of the soundboard recording of Led Zeppelin’s performance at the University Refectory, Southampton, on January 22 1973.
This was a date added to their 1972/73 UK tour and significantly, was officially recorded for possible future release. This tape was considered for official release in 2003 as a live companion set to the five hour 2DVD set. Ultimately Jimmy went with the Long Beach and Los Angeles Forum recordings made in June of 1972 for the How The West Was Won release.
It’s a little known fact that a small part of the Southampton show actually made its way onto that release – the mellotron part was dubbed on during ‘Stairway to Heaven’. As Mike Tremaglio commented in the Evenings With Led Zeppelin book ‘’Evidently, Page must have decided that Jones’ mellotron, used for the first time on the Fall 1972 Japan tour, added a special vibe to the song’.
The January 22 1973 Southampton gig did surface on bootleg in 2007 notably on the One More Night release which was also released on vinyl.
Now comes this expansive new bootleg release via the Wonderland label. Dancing Days Are Here Again will be much welcomed by vinyl Zep bootleg collectors as the One More Night set is hard to come by.
The cover artwork reproduces the poster that was produced for the concert that has a bizarre Nazi connection. Allegedly, Peter Grant was upset with the association and had the posters removed.
There’s an insert with track details and a review of the time by John Clark via the University of Essex /Wessex Scene. The records are on red blue and yellow vinyl.
In both performance and sound quality it’s right up there with the best of ‘em and this transfer is a remastered version from in 2019. Robert Plant’s vocals are outstanding throughout and the multi track recording is mixed to bring out all four band members with clarity and depth.
The eight LP format does split Dazed and Confused and Thank you over differing sides by the edits are not too jarring.
The highlights of which there are many, include a rousing Since I’ve Been Loving You, previews of the soon to be released Houses Of The Holy tracks over The Hills And Far Away, The Song Remains The Same/The Rain Song and Dancing Days, a marathon Thank You with Jon Paul Jones on mellotron, a rare for time fervent run through of How Many More Times plus a truly blistering Communication Breakdown encore.
This January 22 973 recording can rightly claim to be something of a great lost live Led Zeppelin album and anyone investing in this new package will find it more than lives up to its Dancing Days Are Here Again title.
This is Led Zeppelin firing on all cylinders in one of the last small venues they would play – ahead lay mega stadiums and mega audiences. As such,
It’s an historic recording and a very welcome bootleg LP release.
Dave Lewis – November 14 2023

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DL Diary Blog Update:

Wednesday November 8:

On a day where the Led Zep IV cover art work was in news – in London today I could of course not leave this copy of the album on CD – £1 – I’ll take it ! You can never have too many!

Wednesday November 8:

Great to meet up in Covent Garden today with Dec Hickey and Pete Davies both former players of Wallbangers FC circa 1976 -77…stories have been told!

In Covent Garden with Dec Hickey and an absolute pleasure to pass on a demo copy of Joe Cocker’s 1968 single Marjorine – I knew this is one of Dec’s fave singles and I’d found this copy in Sister Ray records earlier – what a joy it was to hand it to Dec – our bond of 7 inch singles goes back nearly 50 years to 1974 ….you gotta love the bond of music…

Thursday November 9:

The new issue of Uncut is in the house – cover feature and supplement on the 1978 Bob Dylan tour – count me in…

Saturday November 11:

It’s a Happy Birthday to our very good friend Mr Billy Fletcher – Led Zep connoisseur, long time TBL supporter, ardent Glasgow Rangers fan and all round top man – Happy Birthday from Janet and I Billy – have a great day mate!

Saturday November 11:

It’s a Happy Birthday today to the great Yardbirds member and photographer Chris Dreja.
Back in August 2015, I was lucky to meet and chat with Chris at the Led Zeppelin From The Beginning 1963 – 1975 Photo Exhibition at Proud Gallery in Gallery:
I interviewed Chris for the TBL mag about his group photo that adorns the back cover of the Led Zeppelin 1 sleeve. The pic here shows me with Chris admiring that iconic photo…
Saturday November 11:
Saturday is platterday…on the player marking The Beatles return to number one on the UK singles chart – one of their previous 17 number ones, the brilliant coupling of Revolution and Hey Jude from 1968…
Saturday November 11:
On Friday April 20 1973, I went in to Carlows Records in Bedford and purchased the two double albums The Beatles 1962 – 1966 and The Beatles 1967 – 1970 – commonly known as the Red and Blue albums and released that day priced £3.99 each.
Over 50 years on, it was a joy earlier today to visit the always excellent Empire Records in St. Albans and re-invest in the newly released repackaged double Beatles CD sets.
I have the double vinyl box set due but while I await that, I had to have these CDs – they are superbly re- sequenced with additional tracks from the originals.
A Dave Clark Five promo album on the US Epic label completed a very fine day of nostalgic music purchases…you gotta love ‘em..
Tuesday November 14: 
Great to see my fellow record collecting comrades and Bedford musicologists Dec and Pete in the Castle this afternoon – earlier I had another Charity shop result – a US copy of the Led Zeppelin III album complete with Atlantic group inner sleeve – £17.99 – top result!
Wednesday November 15:
Ahead of tonight’s Robert Plant Saving Grace gig in Cardiff my good friend Richard Grubb who lives nearby has taken me to Abercynon -my Dad was raised here and we often visited when I was young – I first came here in 1965 and was last here in 1988 so this is a very nostalgic place to be with many memories of my late Dad Trevor Lewis – these were his roots and looking around I felt his presence …all very life affirming….
Update here…
As can be seen above something of a whirlwind week – thanks to so many people who made it so special for me -not least Richard Grubb for making it possible for me to go back and revisit my Dad’s roots -something I have wanted to do for many years…
Thanks for listening 

Until next time…

Dave  Lewis – November  17 2023

TBL website updates written and compiled by Dave Lewis

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One Comment »

  • Graham Rodger said:

    I’m extremely gutted that I won’t be able to see Saving Grace in Gateshead on Monday night, due to illness. Been looking forward to this show for ages, especially after reading so many glowing reviews on this site. If you want to attend the Gateshead date but couldn’t get tickets, I’ve listed my pair for resale at face value on the SeeTickets website (pdf document will be emailed to you do that you can print your own tickets following payment):

    https://www.seetickets.com/rd/event/robert-plant-presents-saving-grace/glasshouse-international-centre-for-music-sage-1/2741817

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