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3 February 2012 6,362 views 11 Comments

40 years ago this month Led Zeppelin were about to undertake a six date tour of Australia and New Zealand – riding off the back of the late 71 Japan and UK dates, they just kept on getting better. There’s plenty of remaining evidence of this amongst the various CD titles that capture those shows. There’s also a fair bit of cine film footage notably the composite sequence that accompanies Immigrant Song on the official DVD.

In amongst wading through every Zep studio album (I’m up to Zep IV so far) as I research a current Zep written project – I’ve been listening to some of the Australian gigs and they really are awesome.  The Sydney Showground gig as captured on Live In Sydney is living breathing proof of what a potent force they were at that time. I love the open air clarity of the sound as captured by an enterprising taper. There’s a whole lotta Aussie assessment coming in the next TBL.

Some cine film visual evidence of a fantastic era…
There’s a humorous moment during that Sydney show -just before Tangerine, Robert acknowledges John Paul Jones previous musical roles in cryptic fashion. ”He used to be with Peter J and the Jaywalkers – before the Boer war” …..well Boer war or not, JPJ is still getting out there and it was good to learn this past week of his upcoming gigs with Robyn Hitchcock in Warwick, Spin Marvel in Oslo and the composer portrait show at Cambridge in May.

A full on assault on the senses by a variety of Zep CD’s and vinyl has been something of a respite here in a rather tricky old week.

Have to say I’ve been struggling a bit these past few days with a persistent cough (Mr Foy has also been down with the old man flue). I guess it’s that time of year ( the cold snap is well amongst us here now) and coupled with the return of the dreaded toothache, it’s knocked the axis off here a bit –even the good lady Janet has remarked I am not looking myself.

I was hoping to drop in and see Mark Harrison at Milton Keynes hospital this week but not wanting to inflict ailments on the NHS service, I had to miss out on that (apologies Mark).  A week ago Tom Locke, Phil Harris and  Cliff ticket man Hilliard did get to visit Mark- he was in good spirits all things considered and hopefully will soon be able to return home following his broken knee sustained in a bad fall.

Mark H get’s the TBL 31 collectors cover edition to aid a speedy recovery – get well soon from all of us mate!

Back to the toothache. I did finally pluck up the courage to go and get it checked out at the dentist yesterday and low and behold the offending tooth is beyond repair and is going to have to come out –I’m booked in for said extraction in a couple of weeks and the wimp in me is rather dreading it.

The Wallbangers day out duly went ahead – although the very sad news of the death of our friend Alan Johnston that came through early in the morning cast something of a shadow over proceedings.

As it turned out, the day was surprisingly upbeat and in between more than a few toasts in tribute to the late Alan, we did the usual round of haunts in darkest Islington, which this year included a meet with a Star Wars robot, a quick paradiddle or two on a drum kit that was lying dormant on one of the pubs, a fine round of cod and chips, and more beers in a pub that had a rock disco where the plaintive tones of Black Dog, Highway Star and True Faith by New Order (it was Dec’s choice) filled the air. Then it was back home for the obligatory hangover.

May the force be with you….(during your impending hangover)

Moby Dick  or  Over the top….you decide!

Dec, Max, Phil,DL,Tom – combined Led Zep gigs attended between us 1971 – 2007 = 29 – not a bad tally.

There’s been some good stuff on TV: First the excellent How The Brits Rocked America: Go West  series on BBC4 – last week’s focus on the 1960s British Invasion was a scene setter for the 1970s onslaught of you know who…Jimmy’s comments were astute as ever and when the credits rolled accompanied by the bombast of How Many More Times it brought a shiver down the spine.  Friday’s Episode 2 looks like being more essential viewing as it focuses on Zep’s 1970’s US success and more  – here’s the BBC i-player gen etc

The BBC tribute to Jimmy Saville –Jimmy Saville At The BBC was a delightful nostalgia fest as clips of old Top of The Pops and Jim’ll Fix it episodes recalled the absolute one offness of the recently departed broadcasting legend.

Also watched the compelling documentary Britain’s Gay Footballers in which the neice of the late Justin Fashanu (the only openly gay footballer who committed suicide in 1998) looked for some answers as to why no other player has come out.

Tuesday’s Match Of The Day was also inspiring as Gareth Bale’s two goals helped see off Wigan in a 3-1 win. Last Friday TBL man Mick Bulow and I – he’s a Watford fan, exchanged merry banter via text as he saw his beloved Watford rather valiantly lose 1-0 to Spurs in the FA Cup fourth round.(bet you were not pleased with that either Mr Phil T. of Cockermouth!)

Our friends Lou Anne and Frank Reddon have been in touch to flag up that Franks’s superb book Sonic Boom -The Impact Of Led Zeppelin is out now as an e-book for Kindle , i Pad and mobile devices – here is a news story on that:

On the player here – mainly the aforementioned old Zeppola to accompany the current all-encompassing writing task. Getting re aquianted with each of the Zep album’s is proving an illuminating task.  It’s reminded me of the interview I conducted with Charles Cross talking about how he set about the similar task when writing his book Shadows Taller Than Our Souls. This is what he had to say:

DL: In reassessing their entire catalogue, did you come away with a fresh perspective on their music?

CC: Absolutely. I’d listened to each of these albums hundreds if not thousands of times before. But I took the entire catalogue away to a cabin in the woods (not unlike Bron Yr Aur), with no phone, no cable, no internet, and no roadies (like Zep’s Wales ventures). It did have electricity though, and the setting helped me approach the albums with new ears.

I have not had the luxury of tucking myself away in a log cabin in such isolation, instead I’ve been listening intently in the TBL work station situated in our dining room (with the odd interruption of Adam barging in from school and the good lady Janet lighting a candle or two –it’s a women’s thing) but hey the effect has been equally liberating.

It’s easy to take for granted the contents of those original albums – they are part of my DNA and have been for years –decades in fact….but  they’ll still be little moments that jump out and surpise again.

Examples:  Robert’s impassioned ‘’I know what it’s like to be alone’’ at 2 minutes 10 seconds on Good Times Bad Times….that moment  he cries ‘’Suck!’’ at 1 min 24 on Communication Breakdown….the entry of Jimmy’s spiralling overdubbed guitars on Ramble On (2.25)… Jonesy’s fluid ascending bass lines on Immigrant Song (0.46 to 0.52)… Bonzo’s entry on Black Dog (0.13)…Jimmy’s chiming guitars at 2.26 on When The Levee Breaks…and many many more…

No log cabin required. Getting to grips with the aural delights of Led Zep III on glorious vinyl  as I scribed away on the current project in the TBL work station last night.

Here’s the top 5 round up of what’s been on the TBL work station deck:

DL Top 5 Vinyl Playlist:

1  Remasters box set – Led Zeppelin (still remarkable)

2  The Missing BBC Sessions – Led Zeppelin (raw and unruly in 1969)

3  Tribute to Johnny Kidd and the Pirates –Led Zeppelin (playful soundcheck when anything went)

4 Go For Broke –Ian Matthews (mid 70s delight from the ex Fairport singer)

5  Court And Spark –Joni Mitchell (always a warm pleasure on cold nights)

DL Top 5 CD playlist:

1  Complete Studio Recordings –Led Zeppelin (the whole story)

2: Live In Sydney – Led Zeppelin (down under and downright brilliant)

3  At The Beeb – David Bowie (love the early stuff on this)

4  Love ‘Em or Hate ‘Em –CD compilation (handed out by my fellow Wallbanger Phil H. at our reunion –contains Springsteen’s great version of Jimmy Cliff’s Trapped -cheers Phil!)

5 Himself –Gilbert O Sullivan (thank you John P- much maligned  quirky UK 70s singer songwriter who knew a good line in melody and is still out there doing it –isn’t he Phil and Eileen?!)

February is here and as usual there’s a lot to do. Various issues have got in the way of the schedule a bit (not least recent events and feeling under the weather ) so here’s a catch up of what’s going on and where I am at:

Then As It Was Led Zeppelin At Knebworth 1979 the revised second edition is in the planning stages. This is going to be a major overhaul as we switch the design to full colour and add in various new text pieces and visuals. There’s a lot of work to get through to do it justice -looking at what we can do with the resource material this is going to be a major revamp and a very worthy additon to the TBL bookshelf.

Realistically I hope to have the new edition ready for publication during the summer. All pre orders have been logged and as received on going will all be allocated the lowest numbers of the run. I will keep updating on the progress here and of course when it’s ready to go inform all pre order customers.

Possible Celebration Days reunion: I did mention that this event would be worth marking – I can’t see this evolving into any convention type event (unless somebody wants to take it on!) but It would be good to have a pub meet in London mid May – most likely Saturday May 12th. More on this as it evolves.

TBL magazine subscription  2012:

Firstly many thanks for all those who have re subscribed for the 2012 issues – if you have yet to do so here’s the link

Your support as ever, is much appreciated.

The reaction to the recent TBL 31 has been fantastic – some of the best feedback to a TBL mag I can recall – in fact Maggie Bell was in touch last week so say how much she enjoyed reading her interview.

There are some copies of the limited TBL 31 collectors cover edition but get in soon as they are selling out. Here’s the link.

Looking ahead there’s some great stuff lined up – I was discussing the next TBL Investigates topic for TBL 32 with Mike Tremaglio last week – and it’s another enlightening one that is going to require the editor putting in further leg work to unravel fact from fiction. In amongst signing off my current Zep writing project (more  details of this one soon ) and everything else, over the next few weeks we will begin to piece together the next issue for May publication.

So there’s a fair bit going on – I’ll do my best to keep you up to date on all this.

Next Friday February 10th, I plan a trip down the local venue Esquires in Bedford to see The Hats Off To Led Zeppelin – the TBL MK contingent will also be coming over and we look forward to seeing all that can make it.  Incidentally Hats Off have just announced that Warren Grant the son of Peter Grant, is taking on management/promotional duties for the band.


The day before (Feb 9th) is the esteemed  Gary Foy’s birthday and I am sure you will join me in wishing the erstwhile TBL news editor and all round central TBL player many happy returns for next Thursday.

Before all that, on Monday Feb 6th there’s a poignant trip to Stamford for Alan Johnston’s funeral. Writing those words is a stark realisation of the very sad events of the past few weeks and our thoughts go out to Emily, Flo and Arthur.

It will be of much comfort to be in the company of so many of Alan’s friends as we pay our respects to a man whose life should have been so much more of a long song…..and whose tune has ended too soon for us all….

DL – February 3rd 2012

Alan Johnston 1961 – 2012

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (1 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)


  • Kam said:

    Happy birthday gary!

  • RichardG said:

    Happy Birthday Gary!

    Hope you have a rockin’ day – thanks for all your TbL efforts…

    Best, Rich

  • Steve P said:


    Good stuff.

    One thing that I am forced to write about is the BBC 4 documentary. The Jimmy Page interview was great BUT, I intend to find out who the sound recordist was and ask him a few questions. It sounded like it was recorded in a warehouse and was to me unacceptable as quality sound. If I had delivered that quality of sound I would have had a producer or director ring me very upset. As a recordist, one is meant to carry mics, sound blankets and various bits of equipment that in the absence of any RECCE or prep would enable one to overcome the distracting ambience that was audible in the location that the interview took place. OK the shot was at times slightly wider than on some of the other interviews but that is no excuse. I can also see that seeing as Jimmy was wearing a scarf that it would be difficult to pin a mic on him but there are ways around this. The sound quality on Jimmy’s interview spoilt an otherwise great piece of television. I wonder what Jimmy thought of it seeing as he is one for very high standards in production and if he knew what it was sounding like when it was being recorded. I do like to let my sound ‘breath’ and give it life but only where it warrants it, and that to me is not in an interview situation when your interviewee has such good information/stories to tell. In my experience most interviewee’,s actors presenters, producers, and directors are only to willing to accommodate a sound recordist who is not happy with what he is getting in the way of sound for there production.

    Did anyone else notice this

  • Hiroshi said:

    Thank you for your kind word.
    I’m now posting my fourth, probably last comment to TBL 31 OUT ON THE STREETS -INITIAL REACTION AND DISTRIBUTION UPDATE topic, regarding 1971 Japanese tour. Enjoy or cringe!

  • Dave Lewis (author) said:

    The Gilbert O Sullivan revival starts here!

  • Phil said:

    Will be rocking to Hats off to LZ one month and Gilbert in Cambridge the next!!

  • Dave Lewis (author) said:

    Steve -that is indeed a class song for sure!

  • Steve said:

    Gilbert O Sullivan you say, well can I direct you to his song “Nothing Rhymed” as its as good as anything a certain P MCCartney ever done 🙂

  • Dave Lewis (author) said:

    Thanks for your great feedback and opinions as ever – I still love that old Going To California vinyl!

  • Hiroshi said:

    TBL #31 is definitely the best issue I’ve ever read.

    Dave, sorry that I’m such a nuisance, a pain in the arse…I assume, though, that part of your latest comment here, “some of the best feedback to a TBL mag I can recall” is meant to be aimed at mine. Oh the sweet delusions of grandeur!

    On TBL 31 OUT ON THE STREETS -INITIAL REACTION AND DISTRIBUTION UPDATE topic (up here on 16 Jan), I sort of ventured on a one-man commentator effort on the issue, posting three unashamedly long comments on different articles where, to quote Dave, I tried to “unravel fact from fiction”. There I submitted some important information that was not widely known, especially outside of Japan. Unfortunately, when I posted them, the topic was not new any more and it hasn’t garnered many visitors so far. Therefore, let me suggest those who haven’t checked it to do so and spread the news far and wide.

    The truth is, contrary to the popular belief, 1971 Berkley (Non-)Community Theatre shows were among the low points of the otherwise brilliant American tour of the said year…

  • Michaela said:

    Great piece Dave , thanks again . A happy birthday Gary from all of us in MK……hope to see you at the gig in Beford next Friday. Dan and I looking forward to seeing Hats Off to LZ! They are a great band ,and now managed by Mr Grant!
    vinyl on OUR decks at the minute ….The Song remains the Same and the Foo Fighters …Medium Rare!

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