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ROBERT PLANT & SAVING GRACE PLUS DONOVAN IN WEXFORD – TBL ON THE SPOT REPORT/LZ NEWS/REMASTERS 32 YEARS GONE/PRIORY OF BRION ASHBY IN A TENT 23 YEARS GONE /MY THOUGHTS ON THE BEATLES REVOLVER REISSUE/DL DIARY BLOG UPDATE

4 November 2022 1,297 views 3 Comments

ROBERT PLANT PRESENTS SAVING GRACE FEATURING SUZI DIAN

WEDNESDAY NOVEMBER 2nd 2022

WEXFORD SPIEGELTENT FESTIVAL…

So to Wexford by train, plane and car…

The backstory:

I had been weighing this one up for the last few weeks…

Robert Plant with his Saving Grace band featuring Suzi Dian announced a while back they would be performing at the Spiegeltent Festival in Wexford in Ireland – this is not far from where my very good friend Dec lives.

It occurred to us both that it would be something special if we could meet up and attend the gig -I have not seen Dec for over a year.

This would be my 125th Zep/Robert Plant gig – Dec was next to me at the sixth (Earls Court May 24 1975) and the eighth and ninth (Knebworth August 4 & 11 1979) so this was an opportunity to both share the same space again with the singer who had enthralled us both all those years back.

After many conversations here, a plan was put in place and flights were booked. Having not done anything like this for a very long time I was somewhat apprehensive – for various reasons I could certainly not have envisaged pulling anything off like this a few months back.

Dec was amazed that an artist of Robert’s stature was playing in Wexford – previously he could recall few big names appearing there other than David Gray and The Boomtown Rats at the Opera House.

Little wonder the 700 tickets sold out instantly.

So with bag packed and fond farewells said to the good lady Janet, on Wednesday morning  I checked in at Luton Airport for the scheduled 12.45 to Dublin Airport where Dec would then drive us the 100 miles to Wexford.  Alas windy conditions delayed the flight  by nearly two hours. I was beginning to think this may not be such a good idea – in fact I was beginning to feel like I did in the quest for Ashby De la Zouch back in 1999 (see below) but things moved on and I landed at 4pm. Dec did a great job navigating the Dublin traffic and by just after 6pm we were in the vicinity of the Speigaltent Festival site. A quick pint in the excellent The Sky and The Ground pub and we were ready for the action.

The venue itself was a very impressive sturdy tent construction seating 700 and it was well full by the time the support act Rory Butler appeared. A solo singer songwriter from Edinburgh in the John Martyn vein – he had an engaging style that the audience soon warmed to.

So to Saving Grace featuring Robert Plant and Suzi Dian.

What can I tell you? This 125th occasion of seeing Robert Plant perform live proved to be a very special one. I can honestly say it was one of the best gigs I’ve ever seen.

Of course, the stars all need to align for that status to be awarded and here in the wonderful setting of the Spiegelfestival they all did. The Quay side surroundings were all a bit surreal and as Dec pointed out, you could here the slight rumble of the Dublin to Wexford train very slowly passing by about 10-15 yards away with the lights from the moving carriages in the Spiegeltent’s windows.

Firstly, we were very lucky to have a front row seat right in line with the stage with no obstructions whatsoever. The sound was crystal clear and superbly mixed. The enthusiastic crowd made for a great vibe – there were of course plenty of veteran Zep fans amongst them but everyone was hugely receptive to the unique blend of folk, blues and Americana.

Last and of course not least Saving Grace were absolutely brilliant.

The Saving Grace line up arrived on stage with Oli Jefferson (drums and percussion, Tony Kelsey (guitars, mandolin) and Matt Worley (banjo, guitars, cuatro) soon to be joined by Suzi Dian (vocals, accordion, and tonight, occasional bass) and Robert Plant (vocals, percussion)

I had seen their gig back at the Hackney Empire back in April but this was on another  level. There was an intensity amongst this unit that was evident from the moment they oozed into Gospel Plough and followed that with the sensitive Cuckoo.

There was something of a set list surprise next with a recall to active duty of Four Winds Blow from the Mighty ReArranger album and given the raging Dublin winds of earlier –  a most appropriate choice.

Robert was on his spieling best with plenty of caustic ageism jokes that went down well. he looked well at ease with mic off strutting around and as for the voice -as good if not better than ever.

Out In The Woods and Too Far From You followed and then one of the first highlights of the evening – an absolute steller Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down.

It was during Robert’s delivery of the closing part of In My Time of Dying within the song that I began to have instant flashbacks. As he replicated the lines from the classic track three on side one of Physical Graffiti, I was momentarily back in my bedroom in early 1975 devouring every tortured squealed note of that stand out recorded moment.

Now it was back – ringing in my ears right in front of me as sung by the same singer all these years on in downtown Wexford.

I also realised that being in such close proximity, I was sitting totally transfixed by Robert’s vocal mastery.  Now I’ve been lucky enough to be close to the Plant action on a fair few occasions – notably Wembley Arena 1985, The Kings Head in 1993, Page & Plant Meadowlands New York 1995, The Priory Of Brion Red Lion Birmingham in 1999, and the Sensational Spaceshifters in Gloucester Guildhall 2012 – but tonight’s closeness was something else.

The fact perhaps that this view was totally unobtrusive – no baying fellow crowds or photographers –  just me in line with the singer I’ve followed for some 52 years. It was absolutely awe inspiring.

In fact it began to feel a little bit spiritual this bond between life long fan and performer. We go back a long way do Robert Plant and I. Being so close I could see every vocal nuance, every off mic comment, every sharp pose and it was all totally captivating and engrossing. I was on another musical plane and higher than I had been at a gig for many years.

The songs that were at the centre of this fixation included a dramatic take on Low’s Monkey and a truly fragile performance of Moby Grape’s It’s a Beautiful Day today. This was sung with breathtaking sensitivity in that breathy style he first perfected on the cover of Little Hands on the Skip Spense More Oar tribute album. What a moment that was…

Robert paid tribute to the late Ralph Stanley who he had worked with and delivered a superb take on As I Roved.

A hybrid mix of Donovan’s Hey Gyp and a Memphis Minnie workout now titled Chevrolet led into another outstanding performance.

 

Of course this band is not just about the lead singer for Saving Grace is a real collective. Throughout the set, Matt Worley’s delightful banjo technique and Tony Kelsey’s superb guitar playing continually impressed. As for Suzi Dian, her accordion contributions added more colour and then there’s her vocal rapport with Robert. Between them they have developed an almost telepathic understanding -this is very noticeable in how they constantly push each other to the limit vocally. This often manifests itself in the closing of numbers – I was near enough to see the eye contact between them as they wound down the songs in total vocal sync. It’s another unique feature of this amazing unit.

That vocal telepathy was certainly in evidence on the brilliant House Of Cards, the Richard Thompson song covered on the Band Of Joy album (”a song that means a lot to us” remarked Robert) which had a light and shade all of it’s own -. equally shared by Robert and Suzi in total harmony.

Then another stand out – a rollicking take on the Fate Of Nations track Down to The Sea with Suzi on accordion –this prompted more personal flashbacks for this writer of those great Brixton gigs of 1993.

Then it was time for a surprise and just as I had picked the right Paul Rodgers gig in Oxford in 2017 when Robert guested with Brian Johnson on Money (That’s What I want), so it was again tonight as I struck incredibly lucky.

Robert introduced the legendary Donovan. With long flowing hair, the sprightly 76 year old sparred with Suzi on the timelessly brilliant Season Of The Witch – he even threw in few lines from his 1969 hit Goo Goo Barabajagal. Donovan actually lives about 40 minutes away in nearby Bunclody. Quick aside – this is the second guest slot with Donovan and an ex Zep member -I saw Jimmy Page onstage with him at the Royal Albert Hall in 2011.

By now the crowd were up and dancing as the delightful Angel Dance ushered us through to the traditional all round the mic delivery of I Bid You Goodnight.

Wexford duly bade them goodnight..

I was very near the stage and as he came off stage Robert did nod over to me which was a very heart warming moment. Dec and I hung around talking to a few local fans all of whom were thrilled at what they had just witnessed.

Then it was back in the car with Dec to his place for an overnight stay of  a mere three hours. We were up at 3am ready to drive another 100 miles to Dublin Airport. We got there at 5.30am in good time or my flight. Fond farewells were exchanged – it had been an absolute blast. I had been in Ireland a mere 14 hours and with Dec for 12 but it had all been worth it.

My 7.20 flight was all on time and I was back home here by 10am. The Saving Grace Wexford experience was over but oh what memories…

Summary:

This really felt like a special one and I am so  thankful I made the effort to pull this off. Thanks to Dec for making it all possible and for the driving.  Thanks to Robert Plant and Saving Grace and one or two important people who helped make it happen for me.

I can honestly say I have rarely been so engrossed and captivated by a live performance such as this. A lot of factors came in to play – certainly it occurs to me that all the trials of the last few years put into perspective how blessed I felt to be in Wexford right in front of the singer of these songs. Joyous and totally life affirming.

Robert Plant’s vocal supremacy, his charisma, his rapport with the audience – all this combined to make this one of the best gigs I have ever had the privilege to witness.

All the nuances and vocal control that lit up the first of my 125 occasions of seeing him perform live way back at the Empire Pool Wembley on a freezing November night in 1971 some 51 years ago, were all present and correct.

For those fans attending the imminent Scottish dates in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Perth, you are all in for an absolute treat…

Dave Lewis – November 4,2022

Here’s the footage of the gig on YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dCqwuox1fmw

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LZ News:

Here’s the latest round up from LZ News:

Upcoming events:

November 5 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Edinburgh, Scotland.
November 6 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Glasgow, Scotland.
November 8 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Aberdeen, Scotland.
November 9 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Perth, Scotland.
December 22 – The paperback edition of “Beast: John Bonham and the Rise of Led Zeppelin” by C.M Kushins will be published.
Early 2023 – “A Whole Lotta Music: Life To My Ears,” the memoirs of Tight But Loose editor Dave Lewis, will be published.
2023 – The remastered and expanded 30th anniversary edition of “Coverdale–Page” will be released.

Many thanks to James Cook 

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

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

http://ledzepnews.com/

Jerry Lee Lewis RIP:

It was very sad to hear the passing of the legendary Jerry Lee Lewis aged 87  last week – one of the true rock’n’roll pioneers.

Here’s his awesome version of Led Zeppelin’s Rock And Roll with Jimmy Page on guitar from his 2006 album Last Man Standing…RIP…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zo1k4sQmrn8

Led Zeppelin Remasters : 32 Years Gone..

Another anniversary the Remasters releases all of 32 years old this week. I absolutely loved that period – it was so incredible to see the resurgence of interest that surrounded them – here’s some 31st anniversary thoughts…

Led Zeppelin Remastered…it was 32 years ago… 

It’s amazing to think that there was a time back in the day, that the only way of hearing Led Zeppelin’s music was via the ten original albums – ie the eight original studio albums, The Song Remains The Same soundtrack and the posthumous collection Coda.

There were no greatest hits albums, no BBC sessions, no 1972 live albums and certainly no i-tunes, Spotify HD downloads and streaming.

True the Led Zeppelin catalogue had been released on CD – though  not from the original masters and transferred via analogue tapes. The results were mixed. I did a feature in Record Collector in early 1990 reviewing the original CD’s (I’ll need to dig that one out) ,blissfully unaware that Jimmy was about to overhaul the entire catalogue for CD.

Thus the arrival in October of 1990 of the five LP CD box set and double Remasters compilations was a very big deal indeed.

I wasn’t the only one I am sure, who had not paid much attention to the studio albums in recent years. My Zep listening time was taken up analysing the many Zep shows that were appearing on CD sets and the fresh outtakes that had surfaced.

The arrival of the Remasters was a revelation. Suddenly we all realised just exactly what it was that had made this band so special.

Lapsed fans got back on the wagon –a whole new generation of younger enthusiasts also jumped aboard. Overnight Led Zep’s stock shot up…and it never looked back.

The Remasters releases were absolute game changers in the way Led Zeppelin were viewed and appreciated.

I have very fond memories of this period  – it was the point where I realised their legacy was intact. It was fantastic to follow all the media buzz that went with it including Jimmy’s appearances on MTV and the promo videos for Travellin Riverside Blues and Over The Hills And Far Away.

Op LZ

In the Our Price record store I managed Bedford we really went to town – with pre release build up and in store displays. This activity resulted in the store racking up £10,000 worth of business on the box sets and double albums. I was later awarded a triple gold disc award by Warners in the UK. Here’s a pic of the shop window in November 1990.

Like I say, I was about to produce a book that emphatically chronicled the band’s music. The book Led Zeppelin – A Celebration published the next summer was very well received…and it set me on a mission to totally commit myself to chronicling the world of Led Zeppelin that has not let up for the past quarter of a century.

This is something I wrote at the time for Record Collector. I remember putting this together – the words came tumbling out such was my enthusiasm for it all – and it remains one of my favourite pieces of writing on the band.

I’ll be bringing out the Remasters box set vinyl and CDs to enjoy over this weekend  revelling in Jimmy’s vision of – as he put it ”The same picture with a different frame”

And what pictures they are….

DL

Here’s my feature that ran in Record Collector in December 1990…

LED ZEPPELIN REMASTERED…

DAVE LEWIS REVIEWS JIMMY PAGE’S DEFINITIVE COMPILATIONS OF ZEPP’S BACK CATALOGUE

Earlier this year, I summed up my feature in Record Collector on Led Zeppelin On CD by offering Atlantic Records the following advice: “In the light of the shortcomings of the Led Zeppelin CDs, it would be good to see Atlantic embark on a re-mastering job to eliminate some of the errors that have occurred. An even better idea would be for Jimmy Page himself to oversee such a project which could easily take the format of a special box set release. Atlantic Records take note!”

At that time, I was unaware of Atlantic’s plans to produce just such a set, so it came as a pleasant surprise to learn that my request was about to become a reality. The project began to take shape when Jimmy Page was approached by the label to remaster the original Zeppelin catalogue for a compilation release. Dissatisfied with the general reproduction of the available CDs, Page jumped at the opportunity to restore his old masters to the standard he envisaged. Studio time was booked at New York’s Stirling Studio in May, where Jimmy spent a week with engineer George Marino digitally transferring the material from, in most cases, the original two-track master tapes.

The project in mind was a multi-track box set release for which Page drew up possible track listings for the other two ex-members to sanction. “I really wanted to improve the release”, Page is quoted as saying on the officially press release; “basically it’s the same picture with a different frame”. John Paul Jones added: “The songs sound as fresh now as when they were first recorded, and the new positions in the running order seem to put them in a totally different light.”

The original concept was to package 54 remastered tracks in a deluxe box package with a 36-page book of photos and essays. Atlantic’s European distributors East West were supremely keen to also issue an edited version aimed at the mainstream market. And so a condensed version with 24 tracks on a triple album and 26 on a double cassette and CD was also prepared — for Europe only.

remasters music week

This release, under the title “Remasters”, formed the major spearhead of WEA/East West’s Christmas market campaign. After all the years of avoiding the greatest hits treatment, the Zepp catalogue received the full commercial push as East West undertook a massive marketing campaign to back to October 15 release of “Remasters”. Window displays were installed, including inflatable blimps which are sure to join earlier models as collectable Zep items. Mysterious teaser adverts appeared in the music press depicting the shadow of the Zepp airship looming over several international locations, recalling the similar obscure ads placed as a trailer for the band’s fourth album. Even a TV advertisement was prepared, set to appear on screens across the country in the run-in to Christmas.

COMMERCIALISE:

But East West did fail in the final quest to fully commercialise this “Remasters” package: they did not receive the blessing of Page, Plant and Jones to issue a U.K. single. The plan was to issue “Stairway To Heaven” on December 2 as a four-track CD single and 12″ picture disc, with “Whole Lotta Love”, “Immigrant Song” and “Good Times Bad Times”. Although the classic Zep anthem would have been a strong contender for the Christmas No. 1 spot, the no-U.K.-singles rule prevailed. This collection of tracks subsequently surfaced in two already well-in-demand U.K. promo items. The first is a four-track 10″ pressing (Atlantic LZ 2), housed in a black sleeve depicting the specially commissioned Mission Control-designed colour illustrations that mirror the images of the band’s famous four symbols. There is also a four-track promo CD single (Atlantic CD LZ 1), packaged in a cardboard oblong box. Both items are definitely prime additions to any Led Zeppelin rarities collection.

The condensed “Remasters” set duly surfaced on schedule, and entered the U.K. album chart at No. 10. As a layman’s introduction to the group, its track listing does include the majority of Zepp classics, though I was surprised to find that “When The Levee Breaks” and “The Ocean” — two tracks which have been heavily sampled by other artists, and have this found their way to the forefront of the Zepp canon over the last decade — had both been omitted. I personally would have viewed these tracks as more historically representative than lesser stepping stones such as “Celebration Day” and “Houses Of The Holy”

While there can be little complaint about the overall musical content of “Remasters”, or the typically offbeat sleeve design concept of the Zepp shadow looming over a mysteriously carved cornfield, the lack of any track details on the sleeve is a disappointment. Despite the fact that Atlantic’s press release for the condensed set promised “extensive sleeve notes” on the vinyl edition, purchasers of “Remasters” are afforded none of the intensive recording data to be found in the box set booklet. There is not even any indication as to which album each track came from. As the set is obviously aimed at the less committed fan, surely this would have been a simple device to draw attention to the entire Zep catalogue.

Unfortunately, omissions such as these present “Remasters” as something of a cold marketing ploy issued to cash in on the peak consumer period. Compared to the deluxe box set package, it certainly pales considerably. At nigh on £20 a throw, “Remasters” should have been presented with far more information, and some additional alternate photos. That’s particularly the case, given the fact that completist collectors will need this set as well as the extended box, as it strangely contains one remastered track not to be found anywhere on the box set — namely the first album opener, “Good Times Bad Times”. The fact that all the different formats of “Remasters” are scheduled to be deleted on March 31 1991 will also add to its desirability to the keen Zep enthusiast.

And now to the box set itself, simply titled “Led Zeppelin”. This is beautifully packaged in a strong 12″ box with a slightly different view of the ‘Zepp over cornfields’ scene. The accompanying 36-page book is also of superb quality and contains some wonderful photos. The three essays by noted American critics Robert Palmer (who coincidentally also wrote notes for the Rod Stewart “Storyteller” set), Kurt Loder and Cameron Crowe are admirable summaries of the band’s career. However, for all his “front row seats to the Zepp experience”, Crowe manages in the space of eight pages to document wrongly the date of the release of “Houses Of The Holy” (March ’73, not May), the date and location of their meeting with Elvis (L.A. in May ’74, not Las Vegas in 1972), the date they flew to Stockholm to begin recording “In Through The Out Door” (November ’78 not January), and the date of Live Aid (July ’85, not ’87).

While it’s great to see a full track rundown of when and where each track was recorded, some errors again creep in. Two of them can be put down to the confusion some researcher had about the different way dates are printed in the U.K. and U.S. — the recording date of the Albert Hall rehearsal take of “I Can’t Quit You Baby” was actually January 9 1970 (9/1/70 in U.K. usage) and not September 1 1970 (9/1/70 in American eyes). Similarly, the recording date of “Bonzo’s Montreux” becomes December 9 1976 instead of September 12. Elsewhere, printing gremlins creep in on the “Gallows Pole” entry which has it being recorded in 1972 and released on “Led Zeppelin 3” in 1970. I would also question the actual release dates^ of some of the albums in the U.S. discography — the soundtrack album, for instance, being a month out. This may seem like nitpicking, but I cannot be alone in finding such errors annoying, particularly as “Led Zeppelin” was designed as a definitive retrospective.

And the music? In compiling 54 tracks, Page was faced with the difficult task of knowing what to leave out. Obviously everyone has different favourites and a set list like this is always going to be disappointing. For me, the biggest letdown is the lack of tracks from “Physical Graffiti”, by their own admission Led Zeppelin’s premier achievement on record.

But what is included is a truly wondrous cross section of the musical diversity that coloured the Zeppelin catalogue during their 12-year reign. In remastering the tracks, Page has added a punch and clarity that the original CDs sorely lacked — without tampering with the original tapes, so there is no remixing here aside from the new Bonzo creation, which I’ll come to in a moment. The cleaning-up of the analog tapes also greatly helps the light and shade of tracks like “The Battle Of Evermore” and “Ten Years Gone”, while Page has restored the correct studio banter to the ending of “In My Time Of Dying”.

SURPRISES:

Some of the anomalies and surprises to be found in this mammoth collection include the fact that the timings of many tracks here are vastly different to the claims on the original albums. For instance, “Kashmir” (previously listed as 9’41”) now appears as a correct 8’31”, though the tracks are absolutely identical. The only piece amongst the 54 which I have noticed being different to the original is “Nobody’s Fault But Mine”. The “Remasters” take is 12 seconds longer than the “Presence” original due to the inclusion of an extra guitar riff chorus on the intro. Elsewhere, the three-second white noise count-in on “Immigrant Song” is deleted here, as is the eight-second intro to “Tangerine”. But the warming up of guitars on “Black Dog” is present, and sounds much more pronounced than before.

It’s interesting to hear familiar classics placed in a different light — “Heartbreaker” now segues instantly into “Communication Breakdown”, for example, rather than “Livin’ Lovin’ Maid”, while “The Song Remains The Same” drifts into “Ten Years Gone”. The sequencing of the tracks does, as John Paul Jones noted, put them in a new context.

Finally, some new delights. In merging John Bonham’s “Moby Dick” with his later “Bonzo’s Montreux”, Page has produced an affectionate tribute to the late drummer, achieved with Synclavier programming at Atlantic’s studios in New York earlier this year. Some might question whether he should have tampered with the originals, but the finished track mixes elements of Bonham’s developing technique over seven years. It’s also a joy to hear the “Zepp 3” leftover “Hey Hey What Can I Do” — a warm semi-acoustic groove previously only available on the B-side of the U.S./European “Immigrant Song” single, and on the long-deleted “New-Age Of Atlantic” sampler LP.

rem 1

Also included are two much-bootlegged BBC recordings, which sound superb. “Travelling Riverside Blues”, a Page/Plant arrangement of the old Robert Johnson blues classic, is a prime mid-’69 remnant with a spiralling Page slide guitar riff and some dominant Bonzo bass drum patterns — all now heard to their full effect for the first time. “White Summer/Black Mountain Side” comes from the live Playhouse Theatre show recorded on June 27th 1969, and brings back many nostalgic Zep memories.

Of course, there will be a school of thought that Page should have used this box set project to issue more unreleased gems — many of which have turned up on top quality bootleg CDs over the past year. There was also scope here for the much vaunted chronological live album idea which Page often hinted at in the latter Zepp era. Though there may be few fully-fledged studio tracks with finished vocals in the vaults, recent bootlegs have proved that there are some tantalising alternate takes which would have added spice to the set. “Led Zeppelin” is superb in its own right, but many enthusiasts will view it as a missed opportunity to hear more enlightening live and studio cuts. Certainly one CD of rare material would have made the whole thing much more worthwhile.

My personal choice of a bonus rare CD of material which is known to exist would have lined up like this: “Communication Breakdown” (live Royal Albert Hall, 1970); “Jenning’s Farm Blues” (electric studio rehearsal of “Bron Y Aur Stomp”, 1969); “Blues Medley” from the “Hats Off To Harper” session (1970); “No Quarter” (instrumental studio out-take, 1972); “Over The Hills And Far Away” (live in Dallas, 1975 U.S. tour); “Tangerine” (live, Earls Court 1975); “Trampled Underfoot” (live, Earls Court 1975); “The Song Remains The Same/Sick Again” (live, New York 1977); “Ten Years Gone” (live, New York 1977); “Train Kept A-Rollin’ ” (live, Zurich 1980); “All My Love” (alternate extended version, 1978). But maybe Jimmy is saving that lot for the “Re-Remasters”!

Overall, despite the misgivings about the track listing, some irritating errors in the booklet and the difficulty of pleasing collectors old and new, the “Led Zeppelin” box set is a worthy investment, and compares well with similar packages by other artists. Certainly, in restoring the Zeppelin catalogue to CD with the sound quality it deserves, Page has done a superb job. With the incredible resurgence of interest in the band in recent times — they must surely be the most popular defunct band outside of the Beatles — the set is sure to be in huge demand.

This collection will stand as a lasting testament to the sheer diversity of Zeppelin’s recorded work. It should also prompt re-examination of epic works such as “Achilles’ Last Stand” and “In The Light”. The latter track’s final few minutes, capturing Jimmy’s overdubbed guitar parts rippling across Robert’s chorus, the Jones drone and Bonzo’s timely hammering, is perhaps the most impressive section of the entire 54-track set. And it sounds glorious.

Will they reform? Will there be a live chronological video to supplement this release sometime next year? The remastered “Led Zeppelin” set should keep all Zepp fans riveted to their turntables as we await the next chapter in a story that is far from over.

Dave Lewis – October 1990

Dave Lewis is the author of a forthcoming book on Led Zeppelin titled “Led Zeppelin — A Celebration” (to be published by Omnibus Press, spring 1991).

First published in Record Collector December 1990

More Remasters memories:

It was 32 years ago…

The scene in the Our Price record shop in Bedford that I managed on this day 29 years ago – for on October 15, 1990 the first ever Led Zeppelin compilation set was released – the double album Remasters,.to be followed two weeks later by the 4LP/CD box set. It opened up Zep to a whole new market..and boy did we sell some Zep product as Colin Stonebridge, Justin Cromie and Jason Foster will remember…great music retail days they were…

It was 32 years ago 2:

The scene in the Our Price record shop window in Bedford on this day 29 years ago – for on October 15, 1990 the first ever Led Zeppelin compilation set was released – the double album Remasters..to be followed two weeks later by the 4LP/CD box set.

As I had a vested interest (I was writing the Led Zeppelin A Celebration book a the time) I made sure we racked up the sales – much of the window came from my collection – including that rather splendid Japanese poster of Jimmy Page on the right…all this contributed to me being awarded a triple gold disc by Warners for my efforts to ensure Led Zeppelin were right back at the forefront of record, CD and tape buyers…where they have remained ever since

It was 32 years ago 3:

Remasters Led Zeppelin Exclusive Our Price Bedford Memorabilia Pack:

To create something of an exclusive for buyers of the Led Zeppelin box set  at the Our Price  record shop I managed in Bedford we created a special Led Zeppelin memorabilia pack to give out to buyers of the set -100 only all individually numbered.

Under the title ‘Our Price Remembers Led Zeppelin’ the pack contained a number of fascmile reproduction Led Zep ads and cutting. These were drawn from my collection and I took them to the local photo copy shop Jaycopy (who had produced the early TBL magazines). It took hours of cuttings out to produce the 100 sets. I also wrote a three page 54 FACTS BEHIND THE TRACKS guide drawn from material in my then in progress Led Zeppelin A Celebration book the book – this was photocopied off my word processor. The outer envelope was designed by the then assistant manager at the shop Colin Stonebridge. This all went down very well with local buyers as we sold over 100 sets in the first week at £54 a throw.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The triple gold disc I was awarded by Warner Music in the UK for my contribution to the sales of the Remasters releases –notably the £54 priced 4CD/LP box set –in the Our Price Store I managed in Bedford we generated over £10,000 sales during the opening weeks of release… not bad for a store of just 980 square feet. Great retail days they were…

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Priory Of Brion in a tent – It was 23 years Ago:

23 years ago on the afternoon of Sunday October 31st 1999, I found myself travelling in a taxi across the Leicestershire countryside seemingly lost. This was not a good situation as the prospect of seeing Robert Plant, who was performing in a tent in the vicinity in the next half hour was fast disappearing.

ashbyfolk

Earlier I had met the enigmatic and legendary Leicester based musician Kevin Hewick who was leading me with all good intentions on this wild goose chase(Hi Kevin!). He had heard that Robert and The Priory Of Brion were booked for an appearance at the Ashby Del La Zouch Folk Festival in a tent in Moira near Leicester. It sounded the perfect way to spend a Halloween afternoon.

This was an era when if Robert Plant was playing a gig, I would move heaven and earth to be there.

However our taxi driver host was finding said location very hard to locate. Where were sat navs when we needed them, or for that matter mobile phones?!

Anyway, thankfully it all came good – we found the venue and the tent with about fifteen minutes to spare…and on a pleasant Sunday afternoon Robert duly delivered one of the most captivating gigs I’ve ever seen. Witty, relaxed, reflective and singing with passion and verve the songs that as he put it, he’d had stored in his back pocket. It was an absolute joyous occasion. – pic below by Krys Jantzen.

Robert Plant in a tent on a Sunday afternoon….whatever next? How about Robert Plant on a Saturday night in a pub lounge bar because bizarrely that’s what was in store two weeks later when we saw him play at the Red Lion in Birmingham.

The Ashby Del la Zouch and Red Lion shows remain right up there in my all time best gig going experiences – something I re iterated to Kevin when I spoke to him on the phone a few weeks back. I’d also like to mention that back then the wonderful much missed Hayley was looking after the Our Price shop in Bedford that day enabling me to go on this mad escapade -one of many days that she did that for me . These memories would not have been possible without her loyalty and kindness.

Dave Lewis, October 28 ,2021


My thoughts on the new Beatles Revolver special edition box set…

Back in 1976 in their ground breaking Beatles book The Beatles Illustrated Record authors Roy Carr and Tony Tyler declared that in their opinion Revolver was far and away the best Beatles album.

Back then being somewhat obsessed with their 1967 -1969 period, I couldn’t really see the logic in their preference for the 1966 release. I guess I had a bit of catching up to do and in the intervening years I have come to acknowledge Revolver’s greatness. This has been considerably aided by the variety of reissues and upgrades in sound that have surfaced – notably the 2009 reissues. In fact, I purchased the first four Beatles albums that were released by EMI in 1987 on the then new Compact Disc format even before I had a CD player.

Now comes this expansive 5 CD set –the latest in a series of quality Beatles repackages that have all greatly benefited the input of producer Giles Martin. The reliability of his ears in a ‘like father like son’ fashion  have long been established via his stunning work on the remixing of the likes of Sgt Pepper and Abbey Road.

In the same way his famous Father George demonstrated a deft touch in making The Beatles sound so exquisite, Giles Martin has pulled off another triumph with this latest attempt to make a very good thing sound even better.

There’s purity about this new Revolver mix that brings out every nuance of a record so brimming with creativity.

Purity is a key word here because what The Beatles brought to the table in the spring of 1966 was a stack full of  song writing excellence. Across the 14 tracks there is an economy in every arrangement. Everything is in its place because it needs to be – even when they expanded their minds and their vast audience with the pioneering Tomorrow Never Knows. There’s no  excess here and no over indulgence and it was all recorded in the space of just three months from April through May to June. It was in hindsight the last of their carefree days as just around the corner was the controversy of John’s ”Bigger than Christ” comments that were taken out of context to cause much backlash on what would be their final US tour. After 1966 things got a whole lot more complicated.

Put simply though, The Beatles were always one step ahead –even at a time when the competition was rife with the development of The Beach Boys on Pet Sounds  and the emergence of  the American west coast sound of The Byrds and Jefferson Airplane plus the maturing compositional strength of The Kinks and The Who. As Mojo reported in their recent coverage of Revolver ‘’The Stones and The Who ‘’visibly sat up’’when they heard Tomorrow Never Knows” McCartney reports in 1966 ‘’We also played it to Cilla who just laughed!’’

It might have been laughable in a ‘oh what ever will they do next’ kind of way but it was seriously ahead of the game…

It’s perhaps significant that the first track they worked on as they reconvened to make the album on April 6 ,1966 was the aforementioned Tomorrow Never Knows  then known simply as Mark 1. It’s equally significant that they placed Tomorrow Never Knows as the closing track –it was the perfect parting shot and a clear indication that The Beatles’ world was about to go day – glow.

As Paul McCartney observes in his perceptive foreword in the magnificent accompanying book, ”in 1966 we were becoming used to recording and loved being in the studio.” Conformation that they were now enjoying the freedom of the studio more than ever before and performing live was now something of a chore.

Revolver was released on August 5, 1966 – a mere 25 days alter they played their final paying live show at San Francisco’s Candlestick Park. Incidentally, Revolver was also released a week after England had triumphed over West Germany to win the World Cup – what a time it was to be a part of swinging London. That sense of optimism prevails throughout this album.

Every performance showcases  The Beatles at the top of their game from the uplifting , George’s sharp and sardonic Taxman, the stark beauty of Eleonor Rigby and For No One, the surreal She Said She Said – the list goes on and on – I Want To Tell You, Here There And Everywhere, Good Day Sunshine  I might add that in this new mix John Lennon’s vocals never sounded better particularly on I’m Only Sleeping and Dr. Robert.

I love Paul’s comments in his foreword in the accompanying book:

”At this time the sun seemed to be shining every day to Good Day Sunshine summed up our feelings and the whole of a generation”

And now there’s more…

Two CDs worth of early takes, outtakes and work in progress fragments.

Back in  1988, Beatles scholar Mark Lewishon produced a ground breaking book The Beatles The Complete Recording Sessions -The Abbey Road Years. It was ground breaking in that for the first time, the Abbey Road Beatles tape archive (and that of the select few other studios they worked in such as Trident and Olympic) was made available to a relative outsider. Mark diligently logged every session and the findings were duly featured in the book.  It was an absolute revelation and there were many details of offcuts, outtakes and alternate takes. It was a mouth watering read and there were so many times when I longed to know how such material might sound. Indeed it set me off on a quest to search out many a studio outtakes bootleg.

Thankfully, in recent years the official various extended reissues and the Anthology series have revealed many an alternative treasure. This special edition Revolver is stacked full of them as presented on the two CDs of Sessions.

So now what were mere words on a Mark Lewishon page are now living breathing artifacts.

We can hear the remarkable development of Tomorrow Never Knows (Take 1) through Mono Mix RM 11 – the evolution of Got to Get You Into My Life from First Version) [take 5]to take 8 – the fascinating Rain (Take 5 – Actual Speed) and then Rain (Take 5 – Slowed Down for Master Tape),

Then there’s the joyous And Your Bird Can Sing including the giggling version, s a lovely early acoustic led take of George’s Love You To (working title Granny Smith) and an enchanting sequence that chronicles the development of I’m Only Sleeping.

Perhaps most impressive of all is John’s Yellow Submarine (Songwriting Work Tape – Part 1) [mono]. The evergreen wacky children’s singalong beginning life as plaintive Lennon lament – who knew?

Both Session CDs are full of  surprises that brings every listener closer to the creative process that these songs underwent to achieve such greatness.

Finally, there’s a CD EP that profiles the brilliant Paperback Writer/Rain single which was recorded as part of the Revolver sessions and issued as a stand alone single in the June of 1966. Stereo and mono mixes that bring out the clarity of those harmonies on the A side and Paul’s strident bass and Ringo’s superlative drumming on the B side.

So there it is, Revolver as we have never before heard it before  –  and the words that spring to mind are astonishing, exhilarating, exuberant, thrilling and daring – words that fall so easily on to the page when it comes to describing the timeless magic of The Beatles.

On this latest Beatles reissue extravaganza, their magic is sprinkled across this entire contents of this wonderful 5 CD package.

Once again, it’s the act we’ve known for all these years reaffirming their status that in an ever changing challenging world, The Beatles remain a truly inspiring constant.

Dave Lewis – November 1,2022 

——————————————————————————————————————————————————————

DL Diary Blog Update:

Friday October 28:

Friday treats at the Slide Record shop…
Mission accomplished
My pre- order for the 5 CD Beatles Revolver box set has been fulfilled at the always excellent Slide Record Shop in Bedford – and complete with a rather splendid exclusive free poster.
My, I am very much looking forward to wading through this expansive set of pure Fab Four delight – thanks as ever Nerys and Warren!
The Beatles…the band that just keep on giving – and inspiring…

Friday October 28:

This afternoon while Janet was shopping in the Dunelm store near to where I used to live in Dents Road, I strolled down to the nearby Bull pub for a pint – lo and behold two ex Silver Jubilee school / Dents Road boys were in there – Matteo De Martino (his Dad still lives in Dents Road) and Stuart Ayres (who still lives there.)
I had seen Matteo at the Silver Jubilee school reunions but Stuart I had not seen since about 1973 – so it was great to catch up.
I reminded Stuart that in 1969, along with another friend the late Tony D’arcy, we hatched a plan to form a group and apply to appear on the TV talent show Junior Showtime (l will be telling the full story in the DL memoirs.)
I was very impressed that when I asked Stuart if he recalled the song we rehearsed in our plan for pop stardom, he instantly came up with the answer – Wonderful World Beautiful People by Jimmy Cliff –a hit at the time which we rehearsed with Stuart and Tony on vocals and me using the fire guard in Tony’s house as a makeshift drum kit.
Suffice to say, we never made it on, as the reply to my letter that we might audition for the programme stated that we needed to know which key we would be performing our intended song in and what backing musicians we were going to use. We had no clue as to how to match those demands – alas, our bid for pop stardom was over!
All in all this meet this afternoon with Matteo and Stuart was a lovely nostalgic and unexpected reunion…
Saturday October 28:
Saturday is platterday…in keeping with the Beatles theme here after the arrival of the magnificent Revolver set yesterday – on the player some early morning John Lennon –the 1974 Walls And Bridges album sounding mighty fine…

Saturday October 29:

A top day at the VIP record fair in Bedford – you can never have too many copies of The Age of Atlantic sampler album – this one an Austrian pressing with Kinney/Warner sticker – you gotta love LP records…

Sunday October 30:

At the always excellent VIP Record Fair in Bedford yesterday it was great to catch up with a fair few fellow record collecting comrades – pics here with Cliff Hilliard, Graeme and Pam, Steve Livesley, Ian Avey and Ian Dixon… a top day indeed.

Sunday October 30:

Sunday sounds on CD…
Loading up the Sessions One CD of the superb-amazing new Beatles Revolver reissued five CD box set.
There’s some simply amazing outtakes and work in progress versions across the two Sessions CDs that reveal so much about the creative process that went into this 1966 masterpiece…

Tuesday November 1:

Recent DL acquisitions from the excellent VIP Record Fair in Bedford last Saturday…
The Age of Atlantic -Various Artists sampler including Led Zeppelin, Yes etc LP – Austrian pressing plum and orange Atlantic label –Kinney/Warner sticker.
Long John Baldrey It Ain’t Easy CD 1971 release produced by Rod Stewart and Elton John –reissue CD with extra tracks
David Bowie and Ava Cherry – Once We Were Lovers – The Olympic And Sigma Sessions CD on the Golden Eggs label
Laura Nyro –Eli And The Thirteenth Confession – expanded and remastered edition advance promo CD (thanks Steve L)
Miles Davis & John Coltrane – The Best of Miles Davis Coltrane & John Coltrane (1955-1961) CD

Those will be contributing to the November playlist…

Update here:

As can be seen above – an incredible week here with the Ireland road trip (and train and plane trip). It really was an incredible visit and even though I was only in Ireland for some 14 hours and with Dec for 12 – we really did have the best of times – and the gig was just amazing. I am feeling very blessed indeed.

It’s back on to the November work load here with a lot to do – I’ll have an update on the Five Glorious Day -Led Zeppelin at Earls Court May 1975 book publishing schedule soon.

Thanks for listening 

Until next time…

Dave  Lewis –  November 4, 2022

TBL website updates written and compiled by Dave Lewis

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3 Comments »

  • Hiroshi said:

    I saw Dec in person in Wexford, 23 July, 2017, for the first and only time so far. After attending U2 Joshua Tree revisited concert at Croke Park in Dublin the previous day, I travelled to Wexford by train to catch David Gray solo acoustic performance at the Opera House. We met up on High Street in the afternoon and went to the pub nearby. We share our mutual love for New Order, and the reason why I wanted to see him was because I was so impressed by the photo memoir book of Dec and his mates following the band all over the country through the ‘80s (the ‘Bedford New Order clan’), which he self-published in ultra limited edition (100 copies, I think). My motivation being as such, our conversation was centred around post-punk/New Wave/alternative stuff rather than Led Zeppelin and other old school ‘60s/‘70s rock music. A good time was had by us before I waved goodbye to him and walked to the Opera House. David Gray was fabulous that night.

    Another little but lasting memory from Wexford is my visit to the tourist information office the day after. I was wearing the iconic Sun Studio T-shirt that I bought when I visited the building in Memphis, TN in 1997. The lady at the counter who gave me some sightseeing tips recognized it, telling me that she also had visited the studio. It turned out that she was an enthusiastic Elvis fan. So it goes.

  • Rich Farquhar said:

    Dave,

    Always enjoying reading your vinyl finds at record fairs and stores. And what you are spinning that week. We share the same taste in bands for sure. Hope to visit those stores one day! You seem to always find amazing stuff.

    All the best,
    Rich Farquhar
    Atlanta GA USA
    West Ham Supporter

  • Ed Connolly said:

    Hi Dave,

    Just watched a full version of “Bring It On Home” from Bath Festival 1970
    by Led Zep! on YouTube.

    It is available on a Channel called Arthur Rudenko.

    It also has uploads of Zep footage in Australia 1972 !

    Cheers

    Ed

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