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A CHRISTMAS STORY

26 December 2011 3,479 views 2 Comments

As you get over the turkey and mince pie overload – here’s a little piece of fun TBL fiction on how things might have been back in the day…

It was Christmas 1979 and Jimmy Page was feeling pretty pleased with himself.

The last of the presents were wrapped and under the tree. The turkey was all ready to cook. In the kitchen he switched on the Amstrad 7070 radio/tape deck and pressed it to radio medium wave mode.

‘’All in all it’s just another brick in the wall…’’
The familiar school kid’s chorus of Pink Floyd’s current Christmas number one single blared out.

How that song grated on Jimmy. Not because it was a bad effort – Roger Water’s The Wall concept seemed quite interesting. It was just Pink Floyd at number one in the singles chart? It just didn’t seem right.

If any of the mega selling 1970s album selling bands should be at the top of the charts surely it should be his band Led Zeppelin?

‘’We might have missed a trick there’’ he pondered. Walking through into his home studio complex, Jimmy fired up the mixing desk. As the LED lights lit up the room he smiled. This was a good piece of kit. A wise investment. Mixing the last album here had been a luxury. Quite how they would ship it all to the new house in Windsor he wasn’t sure.

He pulled a quarter inch tape reel off the shelf marked on the outside ‘’Punk Song – Polar Studios November 21st 1978’’. That was a Bonzo joke. ‘’Let’s do the fucking punk song!’’ he used to shout from behind the screens in Abba’s Stockholm studio in his gruff Midlands accent.

Jimmy loaded up the reel and pushed the fader up to nine. Phew this was powerful stuff. It made Pink Floyd sound like the Salvation Army. The track was called Wearing And Tearing. It should have gone on the album but they had decided to save it.

Then it was Jonesy who said that would be good for Knebworth. They had rehearsed it but somehow it didn’t fit the mood.

Then G came up with the idea to release it as a special single to be available at the gigs. Somehow they ran out of time. That seemed to happen a lot these days. It was never like that back in 1969. Oh no, they’d go in record and mix and then blam, there was the album.
Simple days. Anyway if they had released it, 150,000 people who attended the shows would have brought it making it an easy number one single. That would have beaten Pink Floyd’s attempt at an unlikely hit single into a cocked hat. They could have even filmed a video to go with it.

That was the latest fad now. They were all doing it. That new Police one was a good one. Walking on the Moon, yeah that was it with Sting and co walking around the NASA complex. He’d have liked getting into character for that. They could have got those astronaut suits on that the Apollo guys used. It reminded him of that old promo French poster that superimposed their heads on to an original moon shot photo.

Videos…yes. What was that recent Buggles hit? Video Killed The Radio Star. He had heard that played at Radio London when he and Robert had recorded a show for Stuart Coleman recently. It was no joke though – videos seemed to be the future. He needed to speak to Po and Storm at Hipgnosis about that in the new year. Bet they could come up with some mad ideas.

Wearing And Tearing stopped abruptly on the tape. Jimmy leaned over to fade it and then heard some laughter and banter on the tape…and then Jonesy counting in 1-2-3-4…Oh yes The Hook…as they nicknamed it. All My Love .

He had forgotten this outtake was on the same tape. He couldn’t make up his mind about that song at the time. Was it really their style? It was a bit soft….but Robert had his reasons. This version had the long fade out. Jimmy picked up the Botswana brown Telecaster that was lying on the chair in the studio. He began playing along, strumming the chords at the ending. ‘’Sometimes, Sometimes Ooh yeah, I get a little bit lonely, when I think about it ’’ pleaded Robert.

This was actually a pretty good track. They could probably do that live on stage.
Quite when that would be, well who knows? They’d thought about doing a Bull Ring in Spain but that was a wild idea. Robert had gone on about playing Manchester and Newcastle, a full UK tour. Maybe that was what was needed.

Get back to the people like they did in ‘71. But the critics would hate it.

Oh how he hated the music press. Even trusty old Chris Welch seemed a bit off these days and the Melody Maker had given In Through The Out Door a right slagging.
Jimmy had been so angry when he saw it he set light to it. Burnt the entire paper. Banished it from the house.

Yeah they’d slag us off and who needed that? Robert, Bonzo and Jonesy were talking about getting up with Paul McCartney at his Kampuchea benefit gig in London over Christmas. He’d be away on holiday in Barbados so that was a no go.

What they really needed to do was to get back to America. That’s where their audience lay. The last album had sold two million there already. He had been thinking of framing that telex he’s got from Mitchell Fox in the New York Swan Song office telling them every Zeppelin album had re- entered the Billboard chart off the back of it.

No punk rockers and new wavers to contend with over there. Oh no – just The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac and Van Halen with that flashy guitarist. ‘’I could still show him a thing or two’’ Jimmy mumbled as he fluently moved his fingers up and down the frets.

America: Los Angeles, the Hyatt, Seattle, the Edgewater, New York, the Plaza. But Robert wasn’t going to go with any of that. Not after all the trouble in Oakland last time. They didn’t need that craziness again. They just needed to play. Like the old days.

The tape ground to a halt. The phone began ringing. He let it ring for a while and then picked it up.

‘’Hi Jimmy its Peter. Merry Christmas’’.

‘’Merry Christmas G’’

‘’Jimmy, I’ve been thinking, how do you fancy a run around Europe in the summer?’’

‘’What’s that involve G?’’

‘’Well I reckon we can do about a dozen gigs. I’ve been talking to Fritz Rau the top promoter in Europe, he said they’d be no fuss. Three or four thousand seater places mainly. Cologne Sporthalle, a couple of bigger ones maybe the Festhalle in Frankfurt and Munich. Santana and Zappa and Roxy Music are doing that circuit too.

What do you think?’’
‘’Yeah sounds great and no fucking press’’

‘’Yup no press. We can leave those fuckers behind. Tell nobody, just pitch up. I’m hoping Richard will be up to it. Some of the Bad Co crew are on hand too around then. We can scale it down a bit . Just take a 120 lamps and a few spotlights. That’ll please Showco. I’ve got a good feeling about this.’’

‘’Yes but…what about America?’’.

‘’Well that’s it really. We’ll get Robert up and running again on this tour – like he used to be, you know really full of himself. John won’t be away from home too long and Jonesy, well he’s probably fed up with the school run. It’s ideal. Then when Robert sees how good it can still be, I reckon convincing him we need to go back to America will be a doddle.’’

‘’G this sounds great. Feels like a bit of a rejuvenation. That’s what we need’’.

‘’I know. We proved we were still the best at Knebworth, now we need to go out and there and show ‘em what we can still do.’’

‘’I’m up for it. This is what we need to do. Get back out there playing.

This has been the best Christmas present I could have asked for.’’

‘’I’ll send the new Bentley back then!’’

Oh no please don’t!

‘’Jimmy we’ve been looking out for each other since we were stuck in that fucking Greyhound bus going across America with the Yardbirds. The 1980s will be no different. In fact I’m thinking of calling the US tour ‘’The 1980s Part One’. Short bursts of touring will really suit us. This new decade is going to start just like the old one did.’’

‘’G that’s great. Merry Christmas –I’ll see you when I get back’’

‘’Yeah Jim have a good one yourself and all the family’’

Jimmy put down the phone. He could hear Chas And Dave’s Christmas show wafting through from the TV in the lounge. Chas and fucking Dave! How did he stand for that at Knebworth? They were doing a rocked up cockney version of Silent Night. He pulled the studio door shut.

Jimmy then pulled the Gibson Les Paul out of its case and plugged in the amp.
His hands almost instinctively hit the chords of the old Johnny Burnette classic Train Kept a Rollin’. The one they had jammed on at that first rehearsal in Gerrard Street way back.

He pressed down on the wah wah pedal emitting a howl of feedback.

God that felt good.

Oh yes they just had to do this one again on stage. Maybe even open with it like they did in the early days.

1980 – It was going to be like 1968 all over again. He’d show the critics.

They were going to be a working a band – his band.

They were going to be Led Zeppelin again.

America was theirs for the taking
Good old G, he always had a plan smiled Jimmy to himself.

He replaced the Gibson and shut the studio door.
Back in the lounge on the TV Chas and Dave and their guests were doing a conga to that ridiculous song Gertcha.

He grinned as he bent to switch the TV over.

‘’There’s no fucking way you’ll be supporting us next year!’’ he laughed.

The channel switched to a Christmas carol concert. ‘’We wish you a merry Christmas and a happy new year’’ sang the choir.

Jimmy sat down to take in the festive sounds.

Happy New Year.

Yes thought Jimmy…1980 that’ll be a happy new year….a happy Led Zeppelin.

Surely nothing can stop us now?

……..

A piece of fun TBL fiction for the season –  the real chain of events that unfolded in 1980 can be found in detail in the book Led Zeppelin Feather In the Wind – Over Europe 1980

Hope you have all been enjoying the festive season and continue to do so into the new year (DL)

 

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2 Comments »

  • LEDbyZEPPELIN said:

    …Great story….(would be even better with some animation)…and what better way to promote ‘Led Zeppelin Feather In the Wind – Over Europe 1980’….so to everyone reading this…please buy this book…..it’s brilliant..

  • Michaela said:

    . What a cool story …can’t wait for the next installment…although I think I know how it all ends , sadly …in the meantime …
    Merry Christmas one and all x

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