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6 December 2023 1,302 views One Comment

It was 43 years ago …they could not continue as they were…

43 years ago this week I vividly remember taking a call from the Musician’s Only paper and being asked for a quote regarding the announcement that Led Zepplin were to disband.

These were sad times indeed – and it was about to get worse. The whole ‘Zep to split’ story would get buried somewhat when just four days later John Lennon was shot dead in New York…

Looking back at my diary entry for 43 years ago for December 4, it started off as a fairly ordinary Thursday.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘’Part of me died tonight’’

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

These were strange days indeed.

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

Since that fateful day of 43 years ago, so much has gone but so much remains and Led Zeppelin are very much in the present tense in all our lives every single day…

Dave Lewis – December 4 2023

LZ News:

Here’s the latest Led ZepNews Update

Jimmy Page

Jimmy Page announced a new model of Sundragon amp

Jimmy Page seemingly photographed in November around the time of his performance at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony (Sundragon)

It turns out that Jimmy Page’s surprise performance at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in New York on November 3 was the public debut of a new model of Sundragon Amp.

Sundragon is a company co-founded by Page with Perry Margouleff and Mitch Colby that sells high-end recreations of Page’s amps.

It seems that it was only Royal Orleans user TnT~55 who spotted the new amp behind Page, writing on November 6: “Also looks like Jimmy might have been playing some new Sundragon amps. Maybe a new model based on his Marshalls?”

Sure enough, Page and Sundragon officially announced a new, limited edition amp on November 27 that recreates the modified 1968 Marshall Super Bass amp Page used from 1969 onwards.

“After recording the first Led Zeppelin record and creating sounds that define rock guitar I needed an amp capable of reproducing this broad palette of sounds including the light and the shade in the studio and a live setting,” Page wrote in a new statement published on the Sundragon website. “Not only was the volume and tone important but it needed to have enough power to hear the subtlety of various aspects of my guitar playing.”

The newly released amp, called the Super Dragon, will be limited to only 50 half stacks autographed by Page, made from November 2023 until the middle of 2024.

No pricing for the amps was released publicly but expect it to sell for more than the $12,500 that the original limited edition Sundragon amp sold for. The company also sells a slightly more affordable unlimited version of the Sundragon amp for $3,875.

Jimmy Page seemed to relaunch his mailing list

Here’s something that flew under the radar this week: Jimmy Page quietly encouraged people on Instagram to sign up to his mailing list. The newsletter promotion was made through Page’s official Instagram account through a story that was only visibile for 24 hours. In case you missed it, you can sign up to the mailing list through this link.

Page used to have an active mailing list, sending out 20 emails between 2012 and 2020. No emails have been sent to subscribers since then.

Robert Plant

No, Robert Plant didn’t declare the end of Saving Grace last week

In last week’s email update, we discussed the competing claims about what Robert Plant said on stage on November 25 in Wolverhampton about Saving Grace. Some attendees of the show claimed Plant announced it was the band’s final show. Others said he simply remarked that it was the end of the tour.

Thankfully there is now an audio recording of the entire show on YouTube so we have some concrete evidence to work with. We transcribed the comments Plant made which seem to simply refer to the end of the band’s current tour, not the end of the band full stop.

“This is the very last show that we’re going to be doing between now and Saint Nick. So this is a very emotional moment for us,” Plant said at one stage during the show, for example.

Don’t forget, Saving Grace has been in the recording studio and Plant has trademarked the band name. Ending the band abruptly without releasing an album would have been a strange decision.

Robert Plant visited Halifax

Robert Plant photographed at Holdsworth House in Halifax in November 2023 with kitchen porter Gowan. (Facebook/Holdsworth House Hotel & Restaurant – original)

Robert Plant was in Halifax in the UK last week as he wrapped up his UK tour with Saving Grace. He was photographed at Holdsworth House, an historic Jacobean manor where he stayed “for a couple of nights”, according to a Facebook post by the venue.

Upcoming events:

  • 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.
  • April 5– “Led Zeppelin: A Visual Biography” by Martin Popoff will be published.
  • April 6– The exhibition “The Wiltshire Thatcher – a Photographic Journey through Victorian Wessex” featuring the original photograph from the cover of Led Zeppelin’s fourth album will open at Wiltshire Museum.
  • Summer 2024– Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Vienna, Virginia.
  • September 15– The exhibition “The Wiltshire Thatcher – a Photographic Journey through Victorian Wessex” featuring the original photograph from the cover of Led Zeppelin’s fourth album will close at Wiltshire Museum.

Many thanks to James Cook 

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

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

LZ Film upgrade…

An upgrade of some amazing Led Zeppelin footage from Dallas April 1 1977…



November 23 heralded another key Zep anniversary as it was all of 41 years ago that the final Led Zeppelin studio album was released. Here’s a ”Then and now” summary of my thoughts on the release of the original album and the expansive reissue:

My Coda Then:


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

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

So began the Coda saga.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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


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

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


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


My Coda Now:

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Dave Lewis

TBL Archive Special:

Led Zeppelin IV – 52 years gone…part 3:

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

The Making Of Led Zeppelin IV:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dave Lewis -December 1 2022

It was 54 years ago today…
It was reported Led Zeppelin would be releasing Whole Lotta Love as a single in the UK on Friday December 51969. This decision was taken by the UK Atlantic Records office following the single’s success in the US.
However, manager the Peter Grant ultimately vetoed that decision though not before a few promo copies reached DJs and reviewers.
I have one of those copies in my collection dated 5 Dec 1969.
The intended Whole Lotta Love catalogue number 584 309 was later allocated to the Clarence Carter single Take It Off Him And Put It On Me which was released on 23 Jan 1970 – I have a date stamped copy of that one too.
As for the specially recorded number it was stated they were working on as a single well that never materialised either – it’s likely it may well have been Jennings Farm Blues which was being recorded at Olympic at the time and would eventually surface on the Led Zeppelin III companion disc in 2014…
My thoughts on the new Led Zeppelin bootleg vinyl set Open Your Heart To Fort Worth…
I took receipt today of the new 4 LP bootleg set titled Led Zeppelin Open Your Heart To Fort Worth.
Live in Fort Worth TX Tarrant County Convention Center March 3rd 1975.
Pigs On the Groove label – limited run of 350
Led Zeppelin vinyl bootlegs are a bit like busses. Nothing for a good while then two come along. This set is hot on the heels of the recently released Dancing Days Are Here Again Southampton 1973 box set.
Firstly the package – most impressive…in fact rather fabulous…
The front art work has four black and white shots –three from Earls Court and a JPJ one from the US tour. The back cover is an Earls Court May 23 1975 colour pic.
The cover folds out impressively to depict further US tour/Earls Court 1975 pics – there is a Jimmy shot from the 1977 US tour.
There’s an album sized 12 page booklet with more US tour and Earls Court 1975 images plus various concert ads. The text rounds up some facts and reviews including William Burroughs thoughts that appeared in Crawdaddy magazine at the time.
Also included is a full colour fold out poster – a live shot from Earls Court.
The 4 LP’S come on coloured vinyl with my set in stark gold, white, purple and green.
So to the music…
The soundboard mix is very clear with John Paul Jones keyboards pleasingly to the fore.
This early March Fort Worth appearance captures them just as they were really getting into the stride on what had been a difficult US tour.
Jimmy’s finger problems that dogged the early dates were now resolved. Robert’s voice, which had also suffered early on in the tour was improving though he takes a while to get into his stride vocally on this show. By In My Time of Dying, he is well in control and overall excels brilliantly.
The Fort Worth show kick started a series of excellent shows that took in Dallas, San Diego, Long Beach ,Vancouver, Seattle and Los Angeles.
I am a big fan of this period which a couple of months later, would culminate in the fabled Earls Court run of five concerts in May 1975 – five concerts which I was was lucky enough to be in attendance at.
This Fort Worth presentation is sourced from the soundboard recording that surfaced a few years back on various CD titles notably via the Empress Valley label.
From the start they are right on the money.
Jimmy’s return to form is evident during a fluent and confident Over The Hills And Far Away.
In My Time of Dying really gels and it’s evident they are really enjoying themselves with Robert’s between song patter at its jovial best.
The Rain Song is a peerless Plant delivery – it occurs to me as I’m playing this that the last time I heard The Rain Song, Robert Plant was singing it not too far in front of me at The Cambridge Corn Exchange three weeks back.
‘’That was a mellotron- the 21st century rock’n’ roll orchestra’’ notes Plant at the close.
Kashmir is another stand out led by ‘’The unique fingers of John Paul jones’’ as Plant put it. It’s a joy to hear Jonesy’s interjections right up front in the mix.
No Quarter takes up the whole of side D. Led by ‘’the mysterious fingers of John Paul Jones” this is the jazzy arrangement favoured at the time with John Bonham’s Fool in the Rain like percussive shuffles moving it all along and Jimmy adding an exquisite solo.
This version of No Quarter is as good a performance on a Zep boot as anything I’ve heard in a good while.
Trampled Underfoot has all the intensity that lit up those Earls Court deliveries. Moby Dick is sequenced over side E and F. Dazed And Confused is similarly spliced over two sides from side F and Side G.
Dazed conveniently re commences with the Woodstock excerpt and it really is totally mesmerising. The whole performance of this marathon is just stupendous.
Stairway To Heaven is introduced by Robert as ‘’A song that opened the doors to the timelessness of the group. It’s a song we dearly love and hope you will too’’
I certainly love it, not least as it has all the ad-libs that would light up the Earls Court versions – ‘’Our Stairway lies on the whispering wind – that’s all we got.’’
Jimmy’s solo is a twisting turning cavalcade of joy with all the EC traits intact and then Bonzo takes it to another level with a thunderous canter around the kit. Folks, what we are listening to here is the true chemistry of Led Zeppelin in all its 1975 glory…
It occurs to me again playing this, that the last time I heard Stairway To Heaven was watching the footage of Robert performing it at the at the recent Andy Taylor benefit concert.
Encore: a crunching Whole Lotta Love that moves into The Crunge which heralds a ferocious stand off between Jimmy’s shrill theremin magic and
Robert’s ‘’ohh yeah’’ squeals. Call and response never sounded so good.
Finally a frantic Black Dog brings the curtain down.
Plant: ‘’We’ve had a wonderful time –hope you have – goodnight’’
I certainly had a wonderful time listening to this and anyone who searches out Open Your Heart To Fort Worth can expect to do the same.
As I’ve said before – these multi LP sets are not for everyone and are expensive – however, ardent Zep vinyl boot collectors can buy this one with confidence because this night at Fort Worth captures Led Zeppelin on the rise to the top of their game.
As for me, with a pedigree of buying Zep LP bootlegs that stretches back to 51 years this month, this new addition to the ever bulging shelves is pretty essential.
Led Zeppelin live at Fort Worth on March 3 1975 is a genuine prelude to Earls Court and the seeds of that golden era are flowering across each of these four LP sides.…
Dave Lewis – December 6 2023


DL Diary Blog Update:

Thursday November 30:

DL Charity Shop acquisitions…

Well pleased to find these bargain priced CD gems this morning…
Thursday November 30:
Black Friday treats on a Thursday at the Slide Record Shop…
I was well pleased earlier today to invest in the Black Friday Record Store Release The Faces – Had Me a Real Good Time at The BBC…
This was an outstanding request I’d put in and Warren managed to order a copy – top result…
Thanks Warren and Nerys!

Thursday November 30:

On the player the excellent Stephen Stills Live at Berkeley 1971 CD…
This came out a few months back and I’ve just caught up with it –it captures Stephen on tour in the summer of 1971 following the release of the Stephen Stills 2 album. Great set list and David Crosby guesting on two CSN classics…

Friday December 1:

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas with the new issue of Record Collector in the house – the annual Christmas special plus calendar – weekend reading sorted…

Friday December 1:
Friday CD treat…
Very pleased to take receipt of this CD gem today via my record collecting comrade Steve…
Led Zeppelin Early Days –The Best of Led Zeppelin Volume One
Chinese CD release in slip case with booklet – top stuff…
Thanks Steve!

Saturday December 2:

Braving the cold in the fair city of St Albans earlier today where a visit to the North South records market stall yielded a very welcomed LP record find…
Led Zeppelin BBC Rock Hour – Recorded live at the Playhouse Theatre London 1969. I had not seen this bootleg pressing of the famous BBC 1969 live set introduced by Alan Black – this single LP version was issued in 2020 on the Magic Dice label…
You can never have too many Led Zep BBC recordings…

Saturday December 2:

Saturday is platterday – on the player the new Black Friday Record Store Day release Faces – Had Me A Real Good Time At The BBC…
Superb sounding BBC recordings from 1971 and 1973 and a welcomed reminder of the unique chemistry of the Rod Stewart, Ronnie Wood, Ronnie Lane, Ian McLagan & Kenney Jones Faces line up – what a band they were…
Excellent package too with informative recording details and band member quotes. Good to see John Gray long time Faces expert and publisher of the Smiler mag receive a credit in the acknowledgements.
John was a great help to me when I wrote a feature about Rod Stewart’s Never a Dull Moment album for Record Collector a few years back…

Monday December 4:

It was 43 years ago today…
Thursday, December 4 1980
An official press release was issued to announce the disbandment of Led Zeppelin…
“We wish it to be known, that the loss of our dear friend and the deep respect we have for his family, together with the deep sense of undivided harmony felt by ourselves and our manager, have led us to decide that we could not continue as we were.”
43 years on, so much has gone but so much remains and oh the memories and the ongoing inspiration…
For me they were, are and always will be the best…
Tuesday December 5: 
Very sad to hear the passing of Denny Laine aged 79 – such a talent in and out of Wings…this is a fabulous clip of Denny performing a solo version of Go Now his 1964 number one hit with The Moody Blues…
RIP Denny…

Wednesday December 6:

On the player the enduring brilliance of the Miles Davis Kind of Blue album. This copy the digitally remastered edition in the CBS Jazz Masterpieces series (I have a few versions!)
This choice inspired by it being one of the albums played at the excellent Pete Burridge Record Club at the Castle last night…
Update here…
Busy here as we all are on pre Christmas stuff with cards to write, tree got go up etc. There has been much inspiration via the Open Your Heart To Fort Worth new bootleg 4 LP set. Playing through it has been a stark reminder of why I love this band with an enduring passion…my, they were brilliant that year and still are…
Thanks for listening 

Until next time…

Dave  Lewis – December 6 2023

TBL website updates written and compiled by Dave Lewis

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One Comment »

  • Ian D said:

    Sad news indeed on the passing of Denny Laine who did the near impossible job of being a foil to McCartney as well as anybody could throughout the 70s. Go Now is a solid 60s classic and he went to to write probably my fav Wings song in Deliver Your Children, was part of Rockestra with Bonzo, and had a co-write credit for Mull Of Kintyre

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