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US AND THEM – THE AUTHORISED STORY OF HIPGNOSIS /LZ NEWS/PAGE & PLANT IN ISTANBUL – 25 YEARS GONE/ COVERDALE -PAGE 30 YEARS GONE/ EARLS COURT ’75/NEW ZEP 3LP BOOTLEG/DL DIARY BLOG UPDATE

15 March 2023 1,327 views No Comment

My thoughts on Us And Them – The Authorised Story of Hipgnosis 

The visionary artists behind Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Paul McCartney and more..

by Mark Blake 

I’ve had a fair bit of association with the Hipgnosis design team over the years.

Back in early 2005, I was at a meeting at the Virgin Megastore where I worked when I saw a voice mail come up on my mobile. When I checked it later I saw that it was from Aubrey Powell who I knew to be Po of Hipgnosis. He wanted to come here to shoot some of my Robert Plant memorabilia for a promo video he was putting together to be shown at the forthcoming South By South West event Robert would be appearing at.

Aubrey duly came over for an afternoon with an assistant and photographed a lot of my Plant material. Po also got me to set up my Dansette record player so he could film Robert’s Honeydrippers single Sea Of Love filmed revolving at 45RPM to get a retro look.

Po kindly signed copies of Houses Of The Holy, Presence and In Through the Out Door and chatted about their creation.

The resulting promo film was shown at the South by South West event in the US complete with my Dansette record player spinning Sea Of Love.

Ten years later in March 2015, I met Po at his home near Battersea Power station to interview him for the TBL mag on the 40th anniversary of the release of Houses Of The Holy. I spent a very illuminating time in his company. Po revealed a fair few stories that day though it was evident there was a whole lot more where those came from.

There have been a number of Hipgnosis photo books which offered insight to their working methods but it always felt like that these revelations were the tip of the iceberg. The story of how Po and co conspirator Storm Thorgerson loomed large over the 1970s rock world was one that I always felt needed telling in full and at last it has been.

The author Mark Blake with his past bio credentials including definitive works Queen Pink Floyd and Led Zep manager Peter Grant, has stepped up to the task with aplomb

He navigates his way though the often complex story of how this pair of contrasting characters became the go- to album sleeve designers for the likes of Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Paul McCartney and countless others.

The initial story centres around the 1960s Cambridge scene where Storm mixes with the art school crew including members who would become Pink Floyd including the wayward spirit of Syd Barrett.

By the time of their second album A Saucer full of Secrets appeared in 1967, Storm had linked up with Aubrey Powell to form the Hipgnosis design team and they came up with the album cover – the beginning of a highly fruitful relationship. Other big name clients soon came on board not least of course the mighty Led Zeppelin.

They did not get always hit it off with their clients Zep included. Storm offering a design of a tennis racket for a Zep sleeve felt insulting to Jimmy Page ”Are you saying our music is a racket?” recounts the guitarist.

However, the Hipgnosis/Zep relationship was to be a great success  producing the era defining sleeves for Houses Of The Holy, Presence and In Through The Out Door. The stories behind the creative process of this iconic album art work are diligently recalled.

Without giving the game away, there’s a constant stream of fascinating detail throughout the book. Want to know how a Robert Plant look a like was considered for that climb up the Giants Causeway? The character who played the guy in the bar on the six covers for In Though The Out Door?  The only time Po appeared on a Hipgnosis cover? The identity of the hand that features on the Lamb Lies Down On Broadway? The 10 CC cover that was rejected as a potential Genesis cover? All this and much more is revealed.

At the core of the story of course, is the often fractious dynamic of Storm and Po’s working relationship. Storm often arrogant and cantankerous -something of a tortured genius  while Po the more affable and measured. They had a number of key staff such as the late Peter Chrstopherson who became a co partner, Alex Henderson and Richard Evans who went on to work with The Who and Robert Plant. It was a tight knit team that produced spectacular results.

How the Hipgnosis team travelled to various exotic locations with all the grandeur of a Lawrence of Arabia film shoot, became the stuff of legend and tales of how they created such masterpieces as Argus for Wishbone Ash, Elegy for The Nice ,Wings’ Greatest Hits and Pink Floyd’s iconic The Dark Side Of The Moon, Wish You Were Here and Animals are faithfully dissected  – the absurdity of some of their ideas not being without humour.

Such was their extravagance in June 1973 they travelled to shoot a total eclipse in Akjoujt Mauritania for a Led Zeppelin cover idea that was never used.

In an era of on the road rock’n’roll excess Hipgnosis were also not adverse to joining in and matching the foibles of the artists they worked with and there’s plenty of juicy stories along the way. A number of musicians who worked with Po and Storm on their respective album covers add ‘I was there’  perspective including UFO’s Phil Mogg, 10 CC’s Graham Gouldman and Andy Powell of Wishbone Ash, Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and various members of Pink Floyd.

The arrival Punk with it’s simplistic artwork pioneered by Jamie Reed’s Sex Pistols covers, clearly threatened the Hipgnosis empire but it was the arrival of the compact disc in 1983 that really did for them. Shrunken artwork was never going to be their forte and they expanded into music video work and films. A row over money split the Storm and Po relationship and they did not talk for 12 years though thankfully they were reconciled before Storm’s passing in 2013.

As Po himself explains in the book’s introduction, the Hipgnosis story unfolded ” At a time in the music business when nobody said no.”

It’s to author Mark Blake’s immense credit that he has persuaded a number of the principal players to say yes and it’s their first hand recollections skillfully linked to form a clear narrative that makes Us and Them such a compelling saga.

In short, anyone who stared in wide eyed wonderment at the classic album cover designs of Hipgnosis will find much to enjoy here. It’s a great read that captures a bygone era of visionary design – artwork that framed and enhanced some of the most important music ever made.

Dave Lewis – March 16 2023

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LZ News:

Led Zeppelin News Update:

Here’s the latest round up from LZ News:

Upcoming events:

2023 – The second Band Of Joy album titled “Band Of Joy Volume 2” will be released, an expanded edition of the Honeydrippers album “The Honeydrippers: Volume One” will be released and the remastered and expanded thirtieth anniversary edition of “Coverdale–Page” may be released.
April 25 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Shreveport, Louisiana.
April 26 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in The Woodlands, Texas.
April 28 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival in New Orleans, Louisiana.
April 29 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Pelham, Alabama.
April 30 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Huntsville, Alabama.
May 2 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Louisville, Kentucky.
May 3 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Huber Heights, Ohio.
May 5 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Kansas City, Missouri.
May 9 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Asheville, North Carolina.
May 10 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Wilmington, North Carolina.
May 11/12 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform at the Echoland Music Festival in Live Oak, Florida.
May 13 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
May 15 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Charlotte, North Carolina.
May 18 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Charlottesville, Virginia.

May 27 – John Bonham Celebration III event in Redditch 
June 14 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Las Vegas, Nevada.
June 15 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Tucson, Arizona.
June 17 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Taos, New Mexico.
June 18 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival in Telluride, Colorado.
June 20 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Bonner, Montana.
June 28 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio.
June 29 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Vienna, Virginia.
July 1 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Bethel, New York.
July 2 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Lenox, Massachusetts.
July 3 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Portland, Maine.
July 5 – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will perform in Toronto, Ontario.

Robert Plant and Alison Krauss are also playing on July 8th at the Ottawa Blusefest in Ottawa Ontario Canada (thanks Dean for that info)

Many thanks to James Cook

For all the latest Zep and related news check out the Led Zeppelin news website at:

http://ledzepnews.com/

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TBL Archive Special  – it was 25 years ago…

TBL ARCHIVE SPECIAL :JIMMY PAGE & ROBERT PLANT LIVE IN ISTANBUL – 25 YEARS GONE…

Whenever early March rolls around my thoughts drift back to 1998 and the completely mad month it was in the chronicling of Jimmy Page and Robert Plant. It’s incredible to think this is now all of 25 years ago – it really does seem like yesterday. When I look back to that period we almost took it for granted that Jimmy and Robert would be up there on stage doing it night after night. With a US tour ahead and a UK tour to follow , they were certainly high profile that year – but as we were to discover – it was not to last. So it’s a great period to look back on  – with the late great Michael Lee on drums, this line up really gelled and with an impending new album due out, it was a very productive period. So let’s turn the clock back to 1998…

 

Now this one is a bit of an epic.  This was first published in TBL 13 – It’s an road chronicle of the TBL crew’s adventures in pursuit of Jimmy Page and Robert Plant across the and month of March 1998. This took in two dates in Istanbul – something of a zenith in my own ‘’Crazy things I’ve done in the name of Zep’’ portfolio, followed by the superb Shepherds Bush Empire gig which in turn was followed by successive TV recordings at Top Of The Pops in Elstree and TFI Friday in Hammersmith.

Incredibly this all occurred 25 years ago…

Looking back, this was one of the last real on the road assaults we undertook – there was a second UK leg of gigs in the late summer autumn which was also a real buzz but after that it got harder to just take off at short notice. Jobs, children and other priorities began to take precedent. This was definitely the period when if they were playing somewhere and we could get there, we’d be off. Great days and definitely crazy days. There some incendiary Page & Plant live performances in 1998 and we saw a good few of them. Read on to soak up a blow by blow account from the era when ‘’Walking into everywhere’’ was their motto and ours…

Part One has all roads leading to Istanbul for the beginning of another new chapter….so reach for those P & P ’98 CD’s and here we go…

More strange tales from the road: Crazy taxi drivers in search of the Bostanci Centre, power failure before the show, repeated chants of ‘’Zeppelin’’ ‘’Zeppelin’’ from the Istanbul faithful, How Many More Times back after 23 years, Saturday morning queues in Tottenham Court Road, the Empire strikes back in Shepherds Bush, Yes it’s number one it’s Top of The Pos, building a House Of Love in Elstree, followed by Rock And Roll on a Friday night TV show in Hammersmith…it all happened during the mad month of March 1998…

Thursday March 5, 1998:

This is a moment that crystallizes yet another rejuvenation. It happens towards the end of Thank You which is being performed in a slightly differing arrangement to last time. As they come out of the final verse, Robert as is customary picks up the tambourine and stands in that classic pose. Jimmy swings around with the Gibson – low slung as ever and they’re both primed for the finale… Robert glances at the guitarist expecting the solo to hit in, Jimmy for his part hesitates for about three seconds. Robert is momentarily knocked off guard and then it happens. Page takes a few steps towards Michael Lee and Crunch! He scrubs those strings’ like there is no tomorrow… like it just might be the final solo ever. Robert gives a knowing grin, picks up the flow and checks in for the final pleadings. “You’re my heart and soul, I still love you so, I wanna Thank You, oh oh oh ooh’.’

The song grinds to a halt and there’s the singer shaded by the golden spotlight soaking up the applause – and to his left the guitarist happy and smiling, knowing the joy he has brought to the audience.

And Istanbul surrenders. Just as in the past, Mannheim has surrendered… Sydney has surrendered… Los Angeles has surrendered… Wembley has surrendered… Sheffield has surrendered… You name the location – their music has touched every culture and country they’ve come into contact with.

Surrendered to the sheer power and glory, that these two musicians have been championing for nigh on thirty years. From the earliest days of Led Zeppelin through to this latest and long awaited new incarnation. And right now it still feels and looks so utterly convincing. Dancing Days are here again? Too true they are.

Yes it’s been a long time. To be precise, it’s been 949 days since I’d last heard that final cry of Thank You ring out aloud. Back then it was in the confines of Wembley Arena in July 1995 – the final night of the Unledded UK tour. Since then they’ve gone through some changes… and we have to. Back in January though, the wheels began to roll again with the announcement of an eight date Eastern European tour.

Initially I had little thoughts of going over. The expense and logistics seemed to halt any such notion. Gradually as I kept writing out the tour dates for the TBL Newsletter Extra, it began to get a little exciting. Unsurprisingly, others were feeling the same way and various options opened up. There was the offer of a drive from the UK to attend the Prague and Katowice date (thank you Steve ). That proved too difficult in terms of how long I’d be away.

The opportunity to attend the first date in Zagreb also proved impossible due to work schedules. Then the ever enthusiastic Mr. and Mrs. Foy came up with the Istanbul package, by no means cheap, but viable in so much that I’d only need to be away from Janet, Sam and Adam for three days. Permission from the Totnes HQ was granted (Janet in at number one, yet again, as the Most Understanding Wife of All Time). With Turkey not being so very far away from the projected air strikes, I did have a rather worrying time when the unrest in the Gulf blew up (any projected Istanbul bootleg being jokingly forecast as being titled The Human Shield by one wag) but thankfully that all died down. Frantic arrangements were drawn up, many an international call to Istanbul logged and before I knew it, I was waving the family good-bye yet again in search of the musical inspiration that continues to be a reason for being – rather than having been – as the singer once so astutely put it.

So it is I find myself on a plane bound for Athens over night leading into March 5. What with coping with my work schedule over the past few days to free up these days, I’d had little time so far to get really excited about it. The three and a half hour flight provides time to reflect. This is the seventh night of the tour. So far the reports have been enthusiastic – though not without some reservation. Like many others I was a little disappointed at the set list structure being very much along the lines of the ’95/6 jaunt. On closer inspection it’s apparent that there are nine songs being performed that I have yet to see Page and Plant play live. I’d been lucky enough to receive an audience video of the Budapest show so I had a good idea of the set list and stage set up. Burning Up and Walking Into Clarksdale? Bring them on…

Reading matter on the way over includes the NME which has a full page ad for the Uncut magazine. And there they are on the cover… “The Old Devils Are Back” is the cover boast. They are back but not quite in our sights yet. The Foys and I have to endure a three hour stop-over at a deserted Athens airport at three in the morning. Finally we are on the hour long flight bound for Istanbul and we duly arrive in the city at 9am. The first perilous taxi drive follows. The traffic out there is quite frightening with constant horns being tooted and pedestrians darting in-between the cars. Give me my push-bike back in Bedford any day.

Eventually we check in and get settled. In the afternoon it’s over to the Merit Antique Hotel for the Press Conference. The Turkish press is afforded a playback of the album as they await the arrival of the pair. Around 3pm Jimmy and Robert saunter in apologizing for being late and for the next forty five minutes fend off the most inane questions.

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One of the first is “Where is John Paul Jones?” Understandably this irritates them immediately. “Believe it or not that’s not the first time we’ve been asked that question” is Plant’s reply. Jimmy only becomes interested when someone asks about the Puff Daddy Kashmir project. “We set up a studio satellite link with LA and it sounded really good.” At one point, Plant takes a few pictures of the assembled with his own camera. Having fielded the questions they’re off to the venue to prepare for the show. We strike it lucky by (and I kid you not!) seeing a sign on the main road a few hundred yards down that proclaims “English Pub”. It wasn’t quite the Fox and Hounds back home but it’ll do nicely as the adrenaline pumps up.

The venue itself is situated a few miles over the city in the Asian area of Bostanci. The gig is scheduled for 8.30 so one for the road around half five seemed well in order. We couldn’t have been more wrong! The taxi drive over to the centre was nearly enough to make me want to take up smoking.

Stress levels were at their highest as we battled traffic congestion that made the M25 look like a B road. The poor taxi driver was also having trouble trying to find the place. Several times he snatched up one of our tickets and rushed out to passers-by.

Cue visions of the ticket being snatched away and leaving us in a state of limbo! Eventually, after viewing the sights of down-town Istanbul at length, and after nearly two hours, the dome-like building that is the Bostanci Centre draws into view.

Old songs, new songs and hot songs

Outside there are lengthy queues to gain entry and much scurrying around. Soon we are in the arena and the excitement really begins. The Bostanci Centre holds around 4,000. Already there are a number of fans huddled around the front. The actual structure of the building reminds me of the St Austell Coliseum. There’s terracing around each side and even the far back terracing is in close proximity to the stage. The audiences are a mixture of young Turks grateful for any kind of rock event in their vicinity and older looking fans weaned on Zep 4. The average age I’d say is around 25. There’s also quite a strong young female presence. Amongst all of these of course are some old friends.

It never fails to amaze me this devotion to the cause – and how certain enthusiasts (or loony’s!) decamp to whatever country, state or town Page and Plant inhabit.

Tonight the Bostanci is quite full but comfortable. We endure the half hour support act onslaught of progressive rock (i.e. what Marillion would sound like if they’d been born in Turkey) which actually goes down well with the locals. There’s the usual milling around the stage from the roadies – and it does begin to get very exiting when Jimmy’s Theremin is tested – and when the guitar tech straps on the Gibson for testing.

I’ve worked out that this is something like the 60th occasion I’ve been privileged to watch Page and Plant perform live either as Led Zeppelin, on solo tours or as part of the Unledded project. That’s 60 shows, across 26 years. And here we are again. How will it be? I mean how long can they continue at this pace? It’s a re-occurring question these days. Being far from home in a completely foreign country only goes to heighten the excitement and anticipation as the lights go low and the familiar Egyptian intro music booms out.

The answer to the above questions arrives in just about the time it takes Robert Plant to whip the microphone off it’s stand and strut in regal pose seconds into the opening number Wanton Song.

I get a mental flashback to the sense of awe at the opening of previous Zeppelin events – notably Cologne in 1980. Because, this is another rejuvenation.

As they stomp through the opening number it’s immediately apparent how much more focused this 1998 set up is. This is Page and Plant functioning in a four piece rock band again and boy does it rock. And they look good too. I’d had reservations about Plant’s earlier appearance in the tour with the baggy pants, but tonight he looks every inch the veteran star front man. Long sleeved pattern shirt and leather pants tucked into boots; Page with black T-shirt, perhaps a little paunchier, but hey, this lot have a combined age of 104! It could and maybe should look faintly ridiculous. But somehow it just doesn’t. It just looks like it should do – two superb musicians performing with an enthusiasm that simply defies the years.

They don’t need to justify being up there. The crowd reaction does that as they leap up and down in time to Robert’s pogo-ing. The opening salvo of Wanton Song, Bring It On Home, Heartbreaker (first time I’ve seen that played live since August 4 1979) is an immensely exiting segment. It’s Plant who is the immediate eye opener. In 1995 he was content to often hug the mike stand and recoil from those old poses – perhaps rendering them relevant only to a bygone age. Not tonight. He’s up there agile as ever and strutting mike in hand with supreme confidence. Jimmy shares that confidence playing with a fluency that we could only have dreamed of a few years back. It may not be note perfect and there are one two early fluffs but nothing that blows the momentum. The PA sound is also a revelation – crystal clear and exposing the quality of Plant’s vocals.

“Good evening Istanbul. Tonight we’d like to do some new songs, some old songs and some hot songs.”

Ramble On inspires more pogoing down the front – and it’s still a great tune. There’s a switch of guitar (a new addition to the guitar army: a PRS model with tremolo arm) for the new Walking Into Clarksdale. Another delight with its rockabilly guitar and deft change of tempo. Here Page lays back and shoots out the first real solo evoking memories of The Yardbirds latter days with its fluttering style.

It’s worth explaining at this point the stage lay-out and lighting. Gone is the big cloth backdrop. The stage rig relies on the lighting alone to shadow it. The lighting itself is really impressive. Clever uses of solo spot-lights are supplemented by on stage spots that are often used to illuminate the crowd. Simple but effective. From our vantage point up on the terracing by the left hand side of the stage it provides many visual flashbacks as the silhouetted figures wallow in the light.

The next number evokes a great cheer from the crowd but it’s a controversial moment. We’re hearing the familiar electric keyboard motif of No Quarter played · la Zeppelin circa 1973. Opinions will be divided on the merit of this inclusion which is perhaps a little close for comfort. I’m sitting on the fence here because they pull it off very well. Jimmy’s solo is very spirit of MSG ’73 and his grin seems to confirm his pleasure at dishing that one out again.

The acoustic interlude follows with Plant on a stool and Page sitting down with the acoustic. Keyboard player Phil Andrews supplies the mandolin. Going To California garners a huge audience response and is followed by a wonderfully nostalgic Tangerine (first time I’ve heard it played live since May 25 1975)- Plant off the stool, dragging the mike around.

Thankfully Robert avoids the “In olden days” spiel for Gallows Pole, opting for that tale of how the song travelled up the Mississippi Delta to the UK story. This is a track I got played out on during the ’95 tour. it sounds fresher in a more simplified arrangement and both of them are well animated for the speeded up finale.

It’s back to the full force of the riff infested Burning Up from the new album. Page excels here as he churns out the smoldering riffs that lead the song. Michael Lee is also impressive underpinning it all with a solid time honored tom-tom fills. Only Plant suffers a little – sometimes straining on the chorus although he is supplemented later by what appears to be some sampled backing vocals · la the album. Babe I’m Gonna Leave You follows and is a real highlight. Faultlessly delivered, with all the required dynamics and a twist in the arrangement that allows Page to turn in a very bluesy Since I’ve Been Loving You type solo.

“Do you like Jazz?’’ is Plant’s odd request that makes more sense when they enter the Coltrane like beginning of How Many More Times. Now this is really something. They haven’t played it in full since 1975 and the audience soaks it up with perhaps the younger element very familiar with it as part of the BBC set. Page wields the violin bow for the eerie middle section and then it drifts into a delivery of In The Light (· la the Calling To You/Whole Lotta Love medleys of last time out). There’s a great moment when they both cluster together in Achilles like tandem before the pressures back on for the up tempo ending which again raises the crowd to a frenzy – a fact highlighted by the spot-lights that engulf the audience in bright light.

“This is our new single, and it’s one of my favorite new numbers,’’ announces Plant over the looping Arabic intro to Most High. This is already becoming something of a ’98 tour signature tune. Page’s revolving guitar riff kick starting them into an infectious trek through some proven ground. It’s a track that carries all the pomp and extravagance of past Arabic adventures and the crowd immediately clue-in on it’s infectiousness.

“Thank you for your hospitality in your country – we’ve got to say goodnight.’’ Page keeps the sparkle Trans performance Gibson on to fire out the riff of the hit single that wasn’t. Yes it is Whole Lotta Love. It’s over familiarity could easily grate on me – but it never fails to have us pumping the air with it’s barnstorming riff which in turn leads to the Knebworth revamp section “1234 da da da dadadum” – you know the one. Then Page stalks over to the Theremin for a last bout of expected showmanship. Lights up, handshakes, hugs and farewells. Then they are gone.

And then it starts, a slow rumble first then building to a crescendo: “Zeppelin… Zeppelin… Zeppelin… Zeppelin”. The repeated cry goes up. It’s along time since I’ve heard this sort of eager reception.

They return for a beautifully restrained Thank You. Performed in a new arrangement that finds Page hanging on to every solo. Then there’s that great moment of hesitancy before he scrubs out the final run. More exits left, more chanting and then it’s welcome to Rock And Roll. (“This is how we say… Oh no not again…’’); Page has saved up the energy for this one as he duck walks across the stage pausing for a couple of mini jumps (at least 4 inches off the ground!) while Robert milks the crowd for the “Lonely lonely” parts. In fact there’s one great final visual image – Robert goes down on one knee and then jumps up and grabs the mike in a pose that’s identical to the Neal Preston photo to be found on page 104 of Cross And Flannigan’s Heaven And Hell.

“Istanbul Goodnight!’’

There’s a real warm glow about the audience as they shuffle out. And something of a mini Zepp Convention ensures as the UK central Europe clan gather excitedly. I point out a young lady of around 18 who I had seen dancing enthusiastically throughout the show. Led Zeppelin had clearly played their final American tour years before she was born. But that’s always when it really hits me. To see a new generation inspired by this music just as we’ve been inspired years before. Yes the wheel rolls. It’s enough to make you feel bulldog British proud.

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Mr Foy outside the venue…

Friday March 6, 1998:

A few hours later we are outside a very wet and miserable Bostanci Centre. After yesterday’s pleasant weather it comes as something of a surprise. In fact I’d have been well advised to have worn the new leather coat that one of the eager local tradesman had hoisted upon us when we checked out the local McDonalds earlier. The rain coupled with some unfortunate stress I’m having to deal with makes the morale somewhat low.

Quick aside: This involved an incident  where we inadvertently (it was a genuine mistake!) took a ride from the hotel to the second gig in the tour bus that was meant for the road crew – thus leaving them to get taxis to the venue. Unsurprisingly this did not go down too well and I had some explaining and apologising to do rather quickly – I can laugh about it now but back on the day it was stress city believe me! The complete story is one for the memoirs for sure…like I said these were crazy days!

Still, the show must go on. Well nearly. Tonight it’s evident that there are many more in attendance. It also seems to be a younger age group overall. Things begin to get a little bit scary when around 8.30 the whole place is plunged into darkness. This does no favors to those trying to gain entry by the main door. A series of heavy pushing and shoving results in a few people being carried out for medical assistance.

The lights come back on partially. And announcement from the stage informs that the area has been hit by a power cut and the PA is being powered by an emergency generator (shades of Copenhagen ’79). Thankfully the lighting improves and the support act kick off around 9.30. By the time the stage is cleared ready for Page and Plant the arena is packed to over-flowing with little room for manoeuvre. I’d say at least 2,000 more are in tonight, which makes for some uncomfortable viewing but luckily I manage a good spot to the right of the stage.

Around 10.15 PM the lights go down and we’re off again. Page retaining the black T-shirt garb; Plant has switched to the dark with white trim T-shirt he’d worn on earlier dates with the leather trousers.

The show runs very much to last night’s structure. If anything Robert’s performance is even more impressive. During Heartbreaker he does one classic shimmy across the stage that ignites the crowd into a huge roar. “This is the last night of the tour… so let’s have some fun.’’

On Burning Up he hits the notes perfectly sparring with Page’s trademark licks and riffs. Tonight’s crowd offer up most response to No Quarter, Babe I’m Gonna Leave You (especially the final Stairway tease) and How Many More Times (“Do you like jazz… Liars!’’) Robert throws in a quite breathtaking accapella verse from In My Time Of Dying before the In The Light insert.

Most High is also enthusiastically received spurring Plant to raise the tempo as they hit the finale. Prior to delivering the new single, Plant had welcomed over various record company people who had come here for the weekend. During Whole Lotta Love Jimmy does a quick guitar change mid song from the red sparkle Trans Gibson to the light brown model.

“We’ll try and see you in the summer when we’ll play outside and the tickets will be cheaper,’’ explains Robert as they re-appear for the encores of Thank You and Rock And Roll. “I guess this is why we’ve been doing this for 30 years,’’ is Robert’s comment as he surveys the adulation. It’s obviously a moving moment for him as he hauls up Ross Halfin on stage to photograph the crowd, for perhaps his own posterity.

The usual bows and waves… and the 1998 Eastern European Tour is over.

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Saturday March 7, 1998:

Reflections on the plane journey back. Well as I’d hoped this Page Plant project has moved on.

It really does feel like a four piece rock band again and the focus is clearly on the two principal players. There are definite parallels to the rejuvenation Zeppelin attempted in Europe all those years ago.

This is very much a stripped down show from ’95 in the same way that the Over Europe tour was very much stripped down from the Knebworth shows. Seeing all this in a foreign country has been a real eye-opener and confirmation once again that this thing is an international phenomenon that shows no sign of waning. The flight back is a little tiring – I pass the four hours by managing to finish off an excellent novel by Charles Higson called Getting Rid Of Mister Kitchen.

It takes over an hour to recover our baggage through Heathrow and finally it’s home and back to reality with our  Samantha’s evening school disco to attend.. Here the plaintive tones of Aqua, All Saints and The Spice Girls replace the likes of Most High, Burning Up and Walking Into Clarksdale. Suddenly Istanbul seems a million miles away….

Dave Lewis -March 1998

PART TWO TO FOLLOW: Queuing by the sick, Shepherds Bush, Top Of The Pops and TFI Friday.

First published in TBL 13

Reading through all that it’s incredible to think that I managed to pull all this off in the midst of a 50 hour week managing the Our Price store in town and supporting Janet with the young Sam and Adam. It was a balancing act for sure but I didn’t really dwell on it too much -I just did it as my enthusiasm and zest was at a real peak. Despite some difficult situations that occurred I am so glad I can look back on this amazing period with such great affinity – it was certainly one of the maddest months during a mad time – but oh what fun was had and what musical inspiration they provided..

Dave Lewis – March 2023

 


 

Coverdale Page – it was 30 years ago:

I have great affinity for this period. Like many of us, I was very unsure about David Coverdale and I am not a big fan. I do recognise he is a class vocalist and he certainly brought the best out of Jimmy when it was really needed.

Here’s my very enthusiastic review from the time that appeared in Record Collector.

‘’If you were one of the many who began to lose faith in Jimmy Page in the mid 80s’’ I stated,’’ this is where you can start to pick up the pieces. Coverdale Page is simply his most substantial project since the demise of Led Zeppelin’’

Back in that early spring of 1993 I can vividly recall the excitement of receiving an advance cassette of the album via journalist Chris Welch. That wide screen riffing  soared out of the speakers and it was so re assuring because we had the true Lord Of The Strings back. Despite one or two dips – Feeling Hot and Whisper A Prayer For The Dying grated a bit there was some amazing playing and most of it holds up well.

Given the egos and management demands on both sides,iIt was probably destined to be a short lived venture and as we all know, it was not too long before Jimmy rekindled his association with Robert – the Coverdale Page album is a unique one off  and one is till get a great buzz from.

In my review I went on to say:

‘’I defy any Zep fan not to break into a huge grin when confronted with the delightful idiosyncrasy of Page’s riffing on the opening track Shake My Tree. It’s archetypal jimmy Page as we know him best – a status maintained throughout this very welcome return to form’’ 28 years ago today the Coverdale Page album was released – at the time I heralded this as a massive return to form for Jimmy Page…

28 years on when I played this track today that grin remains the same…

Here’s an extract from the chapter Jimmy Page In The 90s that appeared in my book The Tight But Loose Files -Celebration II – this chronicles the Coverdale Page saga…

In early 1991 meetings were held with Plant and Jones to discuss a reunion. Faith No More drummer Mike Bordin was earmarked for the hot seat at the back but much to Page’s frustration Plant eventually vetoed the idea, opting to pursue his solo career.

When it was evident that Robert would not relent, Page shifted his thoughts to putting together a new band. He waded through scores of demos from singers but couldn’t find anything that inspired him. Then, in a bizarre twist to the story, he linked up with ex-Deep Purple and Whitesnake singer Dave Coverdale. Plant and Coverdale had been involved in several press spats over the years, with Plant criticising Coverdale for aping his style. Even Page was bemused by Whitesnake guitarist Adrian Vandenberg using his trademark violin bow technique. “When I saw the video for that track (‘In The Heat Of The Night’) and the part where the guy starts playing with a bow, I actually fell around laughing. That’s how silly it had become.”

In what may have appeared as an act of sheer spite, Page defected to the Coverdale camp. It was more likely a marriage of convenience. “I got a call from my manager suggesting I meet with David Coverdale. So we had a meet to just see how it went socially. We thought we’d give it a couple of weeks – and if it didn’t work out we’d shake hands – I just hoped it wasn’t going to be me that couldn’t pull it off.” Conveniently, both artists were signed to the Geffen label whose A&R man John Kalodner instigated a meeting in March 1991 in New York. Page had been seen around the area jamming with local band The Reputations at the China Club and Les Paul at Fat Tuesday’s club.

There was enough rapport from that initial meeting for them to decamp to Coverdale’s Lake Tahoe home where the ideas started flowing. “The first day we wrote ‘Absolution Blues’ and it got better from there,” he said. They next went to Barbados where they penned ‘Barbados Blues’, later to be retitled ‘Pride And Joy’, and a whole batch of other songs.

In May the pair appeared on stage at a Poison/Slaughter show in Reno. The encore jam included Zep’s ‘Rock And Roll’. Page also turned up at a cub in Reno to jam with local band Solid Ground.

Within weeks they had began rehearsals that led to recording sessions commencing in Vancouver. They initially sought The Who’s John Entwistle to play bass at the sessions but when he was unavailable they brought in former Montrose and Heart drummer Denny Carmassi and Bad English bassist Ricky Phillips. The album’s recording was somewhat fragmented due to personal reasons – Page’s marriage was breaking down and Coverdale’s mother died. In early 1992 Page attended the Hall of Fame induction of The Yardbirds in New York, joining an all star jam that included Neil Young and Keith Richard.(he would return in 1995 with Plant and Jones to accept Zeppelin’s induction). In March he joined Harry Connick Jnr on stage at Miami’s Knights Center, jamming on a couple of blues numbers. Further sessions for the album took place in Miami and it was eventually mixed and completed at London’s Abbey Road studio in the autumn. Page also took time to compile the second box set of Led Zeppelin studio recordings, bringing in Coverdale Page engineer Mike Fraser to mix the previously unreleased Zep 1 outtake ‘Baby Come On Home’.

Reflecting on the Coverdale Page album he said, “I wanted to present the best I could get out of myself. And there is no doubt that we coaxed the best out of each other. It’s the best I’ve played since the days of Led Zeppelin.”

The completed Coverdale Page album was issued on Geffen in March 1993. It was the most focused performance on an album by Page in years, his playing ranging from the nondescript ‘In Through The Out Door’ leftover riffs of ‘Shake My Tree’ to the descending chord passages of ‘Take Me For A Little While’. It was a remarkable performance, encompassing all the dynamics that lit up his best work. Coverdale’s agile style made it easy for Page to weave his finely tooled riffs around, a throwback to the days when hard rock meant just that.

Coverdale and Page undertook a round of promotional interviews and ambitious plans were unveiled for them to play a 45-date tour in the US. The optimism soon petered out, however, when the album soon faded from the charts and disappointing ticket sales led to the tour’s cancellation. They did get to play a seven-date Japanese tour in December but by then the short-lived collaboration was at an end. The inability of the pair’s respective managements to agree on a future strategy was the root of the problem, as Page noted: “It’s the powers that be, the relative managements involved. All I know is what is recommended to me at the end of the day. I was up for playing anywhere but there’s nothing on the table after our Japanese dates.” With the planned Coverdale Page tour unable to hold off the effects of a US recession, what was conceived by Geffen as an obvious money raking exercise now had less potential. The powers that be, as Page put it, obviously saw little commercial future in the project.

The gigs in Japan (with a band compromising Guy Pratt on bass, Brett Tuggle on keyboards and Danny Carmassi on drums) featured a cross section of Zeppelin and Whitesnake tracks plus material from their album. Page’s performances were very encouraging. He was clearly rejuvenated, hammering out old Zeppelin numbers such as ‘Kashmir’ and ‘In My Time Of Dying’.

There had been rumours that Page would next undertake a solo project with Killing Joke’s Jazz Coleman and the Cairo Orchestra but that came to nothing. With the Coverdale link looking less likely to progress, Page received a surprise call from Plant who had received an offer from MTV to appear on their Uplugged series. He felt to do justice to the Zeppelin material in this setting it would require the vital ingredient of his old partner.

On route to rehearse with Coverdale for the Japanese tour, Page met with Plant in Boston in late ‘93 and agreed to renew their partnership for the MTV show, later to dubbed Unledded.

By the early spring of the following year Page and Plant were back rehearsing together. In April they appeared on stage together at the Alexis Korner benefit show in Buxton. The MTV project gave them ample scope to reinterpret the Zeppelin catalogue with the assistance of an Egyptian ensemble and English orchestra. Two special shows in late August at the London Studios provided the bulk of the material for the show. They also recorded additional songs in Marrakesh and Wales.

The Coverdale Page alliance was to remain a one album project.

Dave Lewis  from the Tight But Loose Files – Celebration II book published by Omnibus Press in 2003.


Meanwhile back in 1975……

 

 

 

 

 

 

48 years ago on Saturday March 15, 1975  my very good friend Dec got up very early to travel to Earls Court to be in this queue for tickets to see Led Zeppelin – I was working so Dec did the job and a very good one he did too returning with second row tickets for the Saturday May 24 performance. The countdown was on – as was my quest to get tickets for the other four nights which I am pleased to say all worked out. Five Glorious Nights lay ahead…and I’m still revelling in them 48 years on…

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New  Led Zeppelin 3LP bootleg release announced by the Casino Records label:

Due out April…

LED ZEPPELIN “STORMING THE BIG APPLE” 3LP

Recorded live at Madison Square Garden, New York City, NY, September 19th, 1970.

Afternoon Show (2pm)

For the first time on vinyl, complete audience recording

including tour concert poster replica and liner notes.

200 NUMBERED COPIES

LIMITED EDITION 3LP YELLOW VINYL 180 Gr. TRIFOLD SLEEVE

200 NUMBERED COPIES

LIMITED EDITION 3LP TURQUOISE VINYL 180 Gr. TRIFOLD SLEEVE

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

DL Diary Blog Update:

Friday March 10:

Just catching up with this gem that I’ve had for a couple of weeks…-
Led Zeppelin “The Sigils”-4 CD Slip Case edition of Odense 1971, Tarantura label
This has the recently surfaced May 4, 1971 performance at the Fyens Forum, Odense, Denmark.
Includes the rarely played live Four Sticks and Gallows Pole – a good audience tape for the time and the performance is blistering – and usual fabulous Tarantura package..
Full line up:
RAW TRANSFER
Disc 1;
01. Introduction
02. Immigrant Song
03. Heartbreaker
04. Since I’ve Been Loving You
05. Dazed And Confused
06. Black Dog
07. Stairway To Heaven
Disc 2;
01. Going To California
02. That’s The Way
03. What Is And What Should Never Be
04. Four Sticks
05. Gallows Pole
06. Whole Lotta Love
07. Audience
08. Communication Breakdown
REMASTERED TRANSFER
Disc 1;
01. Introduction
02. Immigrant Song
03. Heartbreaker
04. Since I’ve Been Loving You
05. Dazed And Confused
06. Black Dog
07. Stairway To Heaven
Disc 2;
01. Going To California
02. That’s The Way
03. What Is And What Should Never Be
04. Four Sticks
05. Gallows Pole
06. Whole Lotta Love
07. Audience
08. Communication Breakdown

Saturday March 11:

Saturday is platterday – remembering the late great Keith Emerson seven years gone today – so on the player some early morning ELP – the rather splendid Pictures at an Exhibition album …this one a US pressing on the Atlantic label…

Saturday March 11:

Saturday treats at the Slide Record Shop:
Picked up this gem this morning at the always excellent Slide Record Shop in Bedford…
This is the new configuration just out on on vinyl of the David Bowie Hunky Dory album now titled A Divine Symmetry (a line in the song Quicksand) with a revised track listing and alternate mixes.
Very much looking forward to dissecting this fresh take on one of my favourite Bowie albums
Thanks Nerys and Warren!
Saturday March 11:

DL Saturday charity shop find – could not leave this very fine copy of the Cat Stevens album Catch Bull at Four in the racks – original 1972 pressing with gatefold sleeve and Island Records inner bag… reduced from £2.99 to £1.49 – I’ll take it!

Saturday March 11:

More DL Saturday LP record finds…these three from the excellent Thirsty Records in Bedford…
The Summit Year of the Child charity compilation album on the K -Tel label includes Led Zeppelin’s Candy Store Rock and tracks from Pink Floyd, Thin Lizzy, Wings etc. I like the fact someone has written 30/1/80 on the sleeve as that was when it was released…and the week I first purchased a copy..
The Wishbone Ash Live Dates double album original 1973 MCA pressing – the sleeve is a bit worn but it plays fine..
Genesis And Then There Were Three original 1978 pressing on the Charisma label…
£1 each? I’ll take them!

Sunday March 12:

More on my LP record finds yesterday…
On closer inspection of the Wishbone Ash Live Dates double album original 1973 MCA pressing that I paid £1 for – the back cover appears to have been autographed by members of the band – now that is some find and some bargain for a quid – you gotta love this record collecting lark!

Monday March 13:

 

Great to be back in the TBL office also known as The Spice of Life….

Monday March 13:

Great to see Billy Fletcher And Alison Fletcher David Linwood Rudi O’Keefe Dave Fox at the TBL office also known as the Spice of Life pub in Soho – many a Led Zep story was told!

Wednesday March 15:

Update here:

As can be seen above, it was a real tonic to be in the company of some key TBL people on Monday night. I had not seen Billy and Alison for about five years and it’s always a pleasure to see TBL website creator Dave Linwood.

Got a bit of hay fever right now as I get it early in the year. Elsewhere a fair bit going on with people to see and various things to write and the DL memoirs to keep chipping away at.

As usual there’s musical inspiration to hand and here’s the current DL playlist…

Led Zeppelin – Boxed Set 2 -2CD

Page & Plant – The Second Coming Glastonbury 1995  – 2LP

Robert Plant – Osaka 1984 –  2CD

The Yardbirds – Heart Full of Soul – Best Of – 2CD

Rory Gallagher – Rory Gallagher – 2CD 50th anniversary edition

Taste -Pop History Vol 9 – 2LP

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – CNSY 1974 CD

10cc – The Things We Do For Love – Ultimate Hits and Beyond – 2CD

Simon & Garfunkel – The Essential Simon & Garfunkel – 2CD

Various Artists – The Best Of Rare Mod 3CD

Thanks for listening

Until next time…

Dave  Lewis –  March 15 2023 

TBL website updates written and compiled by Dave Lewis

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