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22 February 2012 5,542 views 10 Comments

Last weekend BBC4 ran a series of jazz documentaries and there was some class footage to be seen –notably a brilliant documentary on the famous Ronnie Scott’s club, a compilation of Frank Sinatra live and rare film of Sonny Rollins.

Watching all this reminded me of how the improvisational qualities of jazz often seeped into Led Zeppelin’s performances. John Paul Jones was often the main instigator (he once told me his favourite album of all time is Miles Davis Sketches Of Spain) and John Bonham was also hugely influenced early in his career by the big band jazz drummers Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich.

One of the finest examples of this jazz improvisational style is the version of No Quarter they performed at the Seattle Center Coliseum on March 17th 1975. It’s a simply amazing amalgamation of instrumental virtuosity  – they come out of Jonesy’s classical piano solo and then lock in to an offbeat jazz groove over which Jimmy’s contribution is every bit as intuitive in his playing as those esteemed jazz greats. Have a listen to the you tube clip at the end of this post.

I’ve also been listening to more illuminating examples of the Zep instrumental finesse (thank you Ian A) on the multi track versions of four tracks from the second album that make up the recently surfaced Making Of Led Zeppelin 2 CD bootleg set.  Hearing isolated vocal, guitar, bass and drum tracks of Whole Lotta Love, What is And What Should Never Be, Heartbreaker and Ramble On reveal many new aural delights – on Whole Lotta Love there’s the theremin effect minus the finished added backwards echo, you can clearly hear the way Bonzo dropped the beat in all the right places on the drum track  and how Jonesy’s bass underpinned the riff so effectively and there’s also a  full knockabout ending.

What Is And What Should Never Be  brings out the dreamy nature of Jimmy’s solo and the concise backing vocals, plus extended vocal ad-libs from Robert on the not so fade out. Heartbreaker has a remarkable middle guitar solo and more yelps of Heartbreaker from Robert as they hit the ending. Ramble On again demonstrates Jonesy fluid bass and hearing the two guitar solo’s in pure isolation is also a thrill. All facinating  stuff and a novelty to hear – though perhaps not for too much repeated listening.

The completed fan mixes of the tracks that have surfaced have been cleverly edited together. There is the element that these are merely if you like outffakes (similar to the way several Beatles tracks were treated for the Anthology 2 set) – and it’s an odd experience listening to them – rather like walking into your room and seeing the furniture changed around –so familiar are we with the originals.

It was good to see BBC’s Breakfast News on Sunday covering a story regarding the increase in demand for vinyl LP’s The guy from Q magazine they interviewed added some valid points – MP3 files and CD’s are of course convenient (I’ve got hundreds of the latter) but the real genuine way to hear music is on an LP record. I therefore play a mix of all three formats but it’s the vinyl that really lights up the room here.

Here’s the latest playlist:

DL vinyl Top 5 playlist

1 Johnny Kidd & The Pirates – Led Zeppelin (that fun filled soundcheck always delights)

2 The Most Of – Terry Reid (brilliant late 60s compilation from the man who might well have been the voice of Zep)

3 More Golden Eggs – The Yardbirds (lots of pointers to where Jimmy was heading post 1967)

4 Live At Atlantic Studios –Detective (Michael Des Barres Swan Song act doing their live thing)

5 Mersey Beat – Various Artists (wonderful early 6o’s beat boom compilation)

DL CD Top 5 playlist:

1 The Making of Led Zeppelin 2 CDRs (studio console faders in action)

2 Haven’t We Met Somewhere Before? Seattle March 17 19 75 –Led Zeppelin (it’s jazz man..)

3 Your Time is Gonna Come – Roots Of Led Zeppelin – Various Artists  (early solo flights)

4 Mythical Kings and Iguanas – Dory Previn (packed full of lyrical honesty)

5  Best of – Marvin Welch Farrah (once touted as the UK’s C S and N – thank you John P)

It was of course sad to hear the deaths of Whitney Houston and Dory Previn. Whitney a truly class singer who in my retail heyday put many a penny in the till – and Dory –I’ve long since admired her quirky confessional styled singer songwriter 70s albums and searched out the soul baring Mythical Kings set from 1971 to play this week.

There’s been a couple of nights out here – Hats Off To Led Zeppelin warmed up a freezing Friday night at the well organised  Bedford Esquires venue – an excellent set by the boys and a good turn out of TBL crew. It was also great to meet up with Warren Grant and his lady Karen – Warren is now managing the Hats boys, of course his legendary father knew a bit about the art of rock band management.

DL, Warren G, Karen and Dan MK TBL crew member

Dan’s rather fetching tattoo – I might have had one of these back in the day!

Hats Off To Led Zeppelin on stage Esquires Bedford February 10th

Gary could not make that one but he did his turn of TBL on the spot reporting catching JPJ’s appearance wth Robyn Hitchcock and Katy Tunstall etc in Warwick. JPJ’s next appearance is set to be with Eno at a presentation of John Cage’s Musicirus on March 3rd for which we hope to have a full TBL report – here’s a link to more details

Last Thursday we attended a local charity pub quiz over at one of our locals the White Horse. The good lady Janet and Sam, plus Tom and Denise and Marian and Terry made up our team and we did fairly well – the music round was where the pressure was on me to deliver and I have to say we got badly caught out on who sang Everlasting Love, a number one in 1968 – the Love Affair was the obvious answer but I am sure the version they played was not the Steve Ellis sung pop classic. We went out on a limb with some obscure Northern soul singer who I am sure did the original. As it turned out it Love Affair was the correct answer  – hey you can’t win them all!

Talking of winning, the annual Brit Awards ceremony was screened on TV last night. I attended the event some ten years back at Earls Court when I was in the throes of the retail music industry. Back then it was a big driver of over the counter sales. Now it no doubt spurs a fair few downloads. Looking in as an innocent bystander, I have to say British mainstream music is in a better shape than it has been for a while. The already much acclaimed Adele and Ed Sheeran rightly carried off the gongs. As usual the show ran late and the curtailing of Adele’s acceptance speech for her best Album award was somewhat farcical. It was good to see Blur recognised as the Outstanding Contribution award –shame they didn’t perform The Universal on the night -a top track.

Football latest: After refereeing the boy Adam’s match on Sunday afternoon,we came back to find out that Spurs had been held to a 0-0 draw by Stevenage in the FA Cup fifth round. It’s back to Premier League action this Sunday with a visit to Arsenal. That one will be a tough one against the old arch rivals.

It was good to hear from Mark Harrison this week – he is now back home after suffering a fall which injured his knee. I know he has been well inspired by the many good wishes that came in.

After months of on/off pain, the offending back tooth that has been troubling me has gone. It had cracked in two and was way beyond repair, so on Monday afternoon I manned up and faced the wrath of the dentist’s chair and out it came. My jaw is still well sore still and it has made me feel a bit knocked out but I need to quickly shake it off as there is a lot going on here, including plenty of writing and planning for projects ahead including the next TBL magazine.

There is lots of stuff  bubbling around which I think will kick start the TBL 2012 subscription with another captivating issue. One or two interviews I am hoping to line up should also make for essential reading.

If you have yet to re subscribe here’s the ordering link:

And finally here is some prime Led Zeppelin 1975 on stage improvisation…this is No Quarter jazz -funk style and it’s brilliant…

No Quarter – Groove

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (2 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)


  • Dan Firth said:

    Wahey, that’s my arm!

  • Dave Lewis (author) said:

    Glad you got on the Dory Previn vibe…indeed she was
    a class singer songwriter

  • Greg Purling said:

    Where has Dory Previn been all my life ? Just brilliant. Easily on a par with Joni Mitchell and Sandy Denny. Thanks Dave.

  • Kathy Urich said:

    Awesome reporting love the No Quarter Grove – great that have one of those myself. Looking forward to the new TBL – glad to hear the nasty tooth is gone.

  • Dave Lewis (author) said:

    Phil – your knowledge is vast! I still claim it was not the Steve Ellis version that was played!

  • Phil said:

    Robert Knight would be the obscure northern soul guy. On the monument label!
    Mythical Kings gets a few plays around here as well. Another Eileen fave.

  • Dave Lewis (author) said:

    Indeed they were!
    I still have all those cuttings and sleeves in the loft!

  • pete leigh said:

    Dave, you sold me the Firms first album in WHSmiths in 1985 and the box set from Our Price in 1990. Remember all those zepp related clippings you had behind the counter in smiths? oh and wicked window display in Our Price re box set. Happy days! Keep it up

  • Dave Lewis (author) said:

    Oh yes that is another cool groove for sure!

  • Hiroshi said:

    …and remember Bags Groove (Miles Davis).

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