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BEST OF THE YEAR LP AND CD RELEASES/ROUND UP OF DL TBL POSTS & WRITINGS 2020/LEMMY FIVE YEARS GONE/LZ NEWS/DL DIARY BLOG UPDATE

29 December 2020 1,535 views 8 Comments

BEST OF THE YEAR ROUND UP:

There’s been some truly fantastic albums and CD’s this past year so here’s my listings…

DL Best Of Year LP/CD releases:

These are my favourite vinyl LP and CD acquisitions of 2020 in no particular order:

Paul Weller – On Sunset  2LP

Bob Dylan –  Rough And Rowdy Ways  2LP

Bruce Springsteen – Letter To You  2LP

The Rolling Stones – Goats Head Soup reissue 2 LP

Led Zeppelin Transmissions 1969   2 CD

Led Zeppelin –   A Memory Frozen Forever –  Berlin July 7, 1980 3 LP bootleg

Led Zeppelin – More Comedy Less Work  – Live At The Festival Hall Osaka Japan September 29,1971    4 CD bootleg set

Led Zeppelin – Berkeley Daze 1st Night – 4LP bootleg set

Led Zeppelin – All Is Safe For Rock And Roll  4 CD bootleg set

Robert Plant – Digging Deep – Subterranea  2 CD

John Lennon –  Gimme Some Truth  2LP

The Style Council -Long Hot Summers  The Story of The Style Council  2CD

Cat Stevens – Tea For The Tillerman 2  LP

Paul McCartney – McCartney III LP

David Bowie Metrobolist – The Man Who Sold The World reissue LP

Bobby Gentry  – Bobbie Gentry Performs The Delta Sweete   2 LP

The Rolling Stones – 69 RSTrax  bootleg 2LP

David Bowie – I’m Only Dancing (The Soul Tour ’74) Record Store Day release 2 LP

Elton John – Elton John – RSD release 2 LP

Miles Davis – Double Image RSD release 2LP

The Groundhogs,  – Split – RSD release  2 LP

Fleetwood Mac – The Alternate Rumours RSD release LP

The Rolling Stones – Metamorphosis  -RSD release LP

The Kinks, – The Kink Kronikles – RSD release 2LP

Marc Bolan & T.Rex – Shadowhead – RSD release LP

The Pale Fountains – Longshot For Your Love -RSD release LP

Paul McCartney – McCartney 1 –  RSD release LP

Sandie Shaw – Reviewing the Situation – RSD release  2LP

The Yardbirds  – Roger The Engineer   RSD release  2LP

The Who – Odds and Sods  RSD release  2LP

Cat Stevens -Mona Bone Jakon reissue 2 CD

Cat Stevens – Tea For The Tillerman  reissue 2 CD

Derek And The Dominos – Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs 50th Anniversary Edition – 2CD

Note -pic here has the correct Led Zeppelin Berkeley Night album -the earlier one has the 2nd Night in error -too many mince pies!

Various Artists Compilations:

Looking Through A Glass Onion ~ The Beatles’ Psychedelic Songbook 1966-72 – 3CD

Peephole In My Brain ~ The British Progressive Pop Sounds Of 1971 – 3CD

Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs present Occasional Rain compilation 2 LP

Tea & Symphony -The English Baroque Sound 1968 – 1975  2 LP

Bob Stanley Presents 76 In The Shade  2LP

Various Artists -The Girls’ Scene RSD release  2LP

Box Sets of The Year:  

Robert Plant – Digging Deep – 8 singles box set

The Rolling Stones – Goats Head Soup – 3 CD and Blu ray

Elton John – Jewel Box – 10 CD box set

Fleetwood Mac -1969 To 1974 – 8 CD box set

 

 

 

Singles Of The Year:

The Rolling Stones – Living In A Ghost Town 10inch

The Rolling Stones -Scarlet 7 inch

Trust The Rolling Stones to prove in the face of adversity, that they are still the greatest singles band in the world. The arrival of the brilliant Living In A Ghost Town in April perfectly captured the prevailing mood of that first lockdown – it was the sound of 2020…

Three months later the emergence of the long rumoured Scarlet with Jimmy Page ( which I first write about in 1978 in the Sounds 4 part series) as a fully fledged bona fide lost classic brought much welcomed light – and what a track it is, full of fluid Jimmy Page guitar undertones, melodic descending Keef chords and pouting Jagger vocal- it was the sound of 1974 and what a joy it was to travel back to a simpler time…

Best Compilation:

Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs present Occasional Rain compilation 2 LP

I have to single out the work of Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs and Ace Records – their series of various artist compilations have been outstanding. Occasional Rain is the follow up to last year’s English Rain and it continues the theme of an overview of hits and misses of the early 70s music scene.

I love this sleeve note extract that really sums the era up and it could have been talking about me on any given Saturday afternoon in the early 70s in our local shops  Carousel Records and Carlows…

“Occasional Rain” puts bigger names such as Traffic and lesser-known artists (Mandy More, Shape Of The Rain, Andrew Leigh) side by side. Like its predecessor “English Weather”, it attempts to evoke the turn of the new decade, the feel of a wet Saturday afternoon at the dawn of the 70s spent flicking through the racks, wondering whether to buy the new Tull album or maybe take a chance on that Christine Harwood LP in the bargain bin (go on, you won’t regret it).

While I am on the subject, may I heap praise too on David Wells compilations on the Grapefruit label – along with the Bob Stanley Ace label relases may these incredible collections keep a coming to evoke the spirit of coveted musical past times – they are a veritable musical time machine feast…

And finally..

Thanks again to all the great suppliers of my record passion -notably Darren at the Vinyl Barn, Warren and Nerys  at the Slide Records Bedford, Nick Carruthers for all his help, the Record Store website plus Steve Livesley and Pete Burridge for sharing their fellow LP record collecting enthusiasm.

Favourite books of the year:

 

These are my favourite books of the year

Jimmy Page  – The Anthology

Galactic Ramble – Edited by Richard Morton Jack

Kris Needs – Just A Shot Away 1969 Revisited Part 2

Wild Thing – The Short Spellbinding Life Of Jimi Hendrix – Philip Norman

John Martyn – The Long Night of John Martyn – Graham Thompson

David Jensen – Kid Jensen For The Record

John Lennon/Yoko Ono  Plastic Ono Band

Peter Frampton -Do You Feel Like I Do

……………………

TBL DL POSTINGS AND WRITINGS 2020:

Here’s a round up of some of my postings and writings this past year from January to December. While I have not had the outlet of the TBL magazine for my usual writing contributions, I have used the TBL website to declare my thoughts on various releases and topics – looking back I am well pleased that despite all the difficulties here, I found the motivation to chronicle the many musical moments that have proved so inspirational during the past 12 months. It wasn’t always easy to find the muse  but when it came I produced some written work that I am proud of…

Writing about music is what I do and has been defining who I am for over 40 years – I feel privileged to have a platform to do so…

So here are some DL words and thoughts…..

OVERVIEW OF THE WEBSITE POSTINGS IN 2020:

My thoughts on…

Led Zeppelin Transmissions 1969 (Audio Vaults 2 CD set)

What we have here is one of those semi legal or not so legal packages of Led Zeppelin material. In this case as the title suggests radio transmissions recorded for the BBC in 1969 issued here on the Audio Vaults label whoever they may be. These Led Zep BBC recordings have of course already much bootlegged over the years and are also available in various configurations on the Jimmy Page compiled official Complete BBC Sessions releases of 1997 and 2016.

Over the years I have enjoyed massive affinity for these BBC sessions – going right back since I first heard them on muffled old cassettes circa 1972/3 and then in much better quality after they were aired on the iconic Tommy Vance Friday Rock Show in February 1979.

Being lucky enough to work with Jimmy on the 2016 Complete BBC Sessions release in 2016, when I was liaising with him compiling the sleeve notes ,I witnessed at close proximity exactly what these vintage recordings meant to the guitarist himself.

So to Transmissions 1969:

The packaging is fairly unadventurous – a standard blimp image on the front, fairly detailed track details, one solitary black and white 1969 group photo and some superfluous sleeve notes. The flimsy essay type round up of their early career bizarrely manages to not mention the actual BBC sessions at all. Hey fellas, you could have cribbed my notes from the aforementioned official 2016 release. The sound quality is very good with clear separation.

As for the material spread across the two CDs, well this is a clear case of what’s not to like.

It’s no understatement to say that these performances spread the Zep legacy on their home soil almost as much as the debut album. Over 50 years on they still sound utterly remarkable. There’s a unique vitality about these sessions – it captures a band on the crest of a wave – a band who knew they were good and knew they were breaking new ground with every visit to the various BBC studios during that year.

Pleasingly the five sessions represented here are in chronological order and for that reason the extent of that progression is more than evident. Disc One takes in the four BBC sessions recorded between March and June of 1969. The musical journey that goes from the epic blues covers of You Shook Me and I Can’t Quite You Baby, through to the pure invention of Whole Lotta Love and What is And What Should Never Be with so many diversions along the way is still an absolute blast to travel on  – no matter how many times I’ve heard it all before.

The big plus on CD One is the inclusion of Alexis Korner’s introduction from the March 19 Rhythm And Blues session broadcast on April 14 – this was edited out of the 2016 official release , and the quite hilariously inept interview conducted by Chris Grant for the tasty Pop Sundae session recorded on June 16  and broadcast on June 22. This is the first semi official release of this clip.

Disc Two presents the live Playhouse Theatre recording of June 27, 1969. Again there are bonus points to be had for the inclusion of the Page and Plant Interview with DJ Alan Black plus the sketch featuring Liverpool Scene’s Adrian Henry Andy Roberts and Mike Evans.

In effect this is the Radio One presentation known as One Night Stand broadcast on August 10,1969.

None of the above was used by Page for the official BBC releases. Also of note are the versions of Communication Breakdown and How Many More Times. Communication Breakdown has the refrain from The Isley Brothers hit of the time It’s Your Thing intact –for copyright reasons this was edited out of the officially released cut. How Many More Times retains Alan Black’s intro and Plant’s introduction of the band members – both of which were also edited form the officially released version.

In summary: The packaging is no great shakes but the content on Transmissions 1969 is highly recommended –not least as it presents more complete versions of some key performances. This is therefore an opportunity to invest in a catch all double CD set of virtually the entire BBC 1969 output –and all for under a tenner. Get it before it becomes rather elusive…

Dave Lewis – January 22, 2020


Catalyst: Poet Scarlett Sabet in conversation with Jimmy Page

Libreria Bookshop

65 Hanbury Street

London

Background details:

Having been hailed by Hunger Magazine as “one of the brightest new stars on the international poetry scene”, poet Scarlett Sabet has teamed up with legendary musician Jimmy Page to produce Catalyst, a radical sonic re-interpretation of work drawn from Sabet’s previous four collections, released digitally and on special edition vinyl last year (Oct 2019). Join Scarlett and Jimmy at Libreria where they’ll be discussing collaboration, the challenge of working across art forms, and the creative dynamic between artist and producer.

“What strikes me about Scarlett’s work is that it’s very cutting edge and it’s making poetry interesting again. I love both the intensity and the spiritual aspect she conveys” Van Morrison

Scarlett Sabet is a poet and performer from London. The author of four poetry collections, Scarlett has performed internationally, and has been featured in the likes of BBC, GQ, and Dazed and Confused. Her most recent release is the spoken word album Catalyst.

Jimmy Page first rose to fame as a studio musician in the 1960’s. He then joined the Yardbirds before forming and producing the seminal rock group Led Zeppelin in 1968, with whom he released nine studio albums to great international success. Page has since played on and produced multiple records and film scores, and his latest project as a producer is Scarlett Sabet’s Catalyst (2019).

……………………………..

This via my Facebook page:

So to London for the Catalyst Poet Scarlett Sabet in conversation with Jimmy Page event…and not quite the TBL on the spot report I was hoping for…

I have been trying to get out more recently and with Adam looking after the good lady Janet, at short notice yesterday I decided to go to the Catalyst -Scarlett Sabet/ Jimmy Page event at the Libreria Bookshop near Brick Lane in London.

Both Janet and I felt it might be a good move in another quest to do the normal things. I was incredibly anxious in the morning and did have a bit of a meltdown in worrying whether to go or not. I decided I would go and Steve Livesley and I ventured into London in the late afternoon

Alas it proved to be a bridge too far.

The book shop itself was very narrow and unsurprisingly very packed – too packed to make it very comfortable. We were standing in quite a cramped area not far from the door. The actual event was very interesting – Jimmy looked great. Scarlett read some of her poems and her delivery was most impressive. Her poem Rocking Underground resonated with me the most with its sharp observations of an underground tube journey: ”Trying to block out the pain, the thoughts that make you go insane”.

Both Scarlett and Jimmy spoke eloquently about their Catalyst collaboration –often with touching reverence. Scarlett explained the influence the beat poets such as Jack Kerouac, had on her work. Jimmy picked that theme up remembering the International Poetry Incarnation gig he attended at the Royal Albert Hall in 1965 featuring the likes of Allen Ginsberg. He also spoke of his interview and meeting in 1975 with William S. Burroughs.

The question and answer segment was under way when I began feeling ill. I had not felt good from the moment I got in the place and the heat, dehydration and the anxiety I am suffering from overwhelmed me. I was feeling very dizzy and had to go outside immediately. Once outside I briefly passed out. I came too and after a few minutes felt better. The staff there were very supportive. I knew though that my evening was over and I needed to be back home to Janet as soon as possible. Steve was fantastic in getting me back to St Pancras and on a fast train home and I was in by 10pm.

So another disappointing episode. Having made all the effort to get there it was such a shame I could not enjoy and report back for TBL as I intended to – on what was a captivating appearance by Scarlett and Jimmy.

Apologies to Krys Jantzen (who took the lead pic) , Alastair Chorlton, Mick ( who took the above pic) and Berni Bulow and James Cook at LZ News for not being that sociable –unfortunately it all got a bit too much for me. Thanks again to Steve for looking after me.

Today I feel drained but had to get on with stuff –I also had a counselling session which went well.

Maybe I need to take smaller steps ahead and thinking I could do this London trip was over ambitious given recent circumstance here. Once trips like these I took for granted…that seems an age away now.

The good lady Janet as ever, has been incredibly supportive and I know how much support she needs herself so for the next few days we are mainly resting up – and hoping and praying our respective healing takes a positive course….

Thanks for listening.
Thanks for all your support.
Much love from Dave and Janet xx

February 12,2020

These comments on the event via Krys Jantzen:

The claustrophobic room and mirrors everywhere certainly added to the feel of a very surreal evening. The poetry didn’t do much for me however once Jimmy got going, it strangely become clear to me that this was classic Page, talking about sonic landscapes, creating pallets that bring out the colours and textures of the sounds and my favourite quote around being asked why he didn’t put music to the poetry he said

“As a producer, why do what’s expected of you? As a produced you want to do something that has never been done before”. Classic Page.

His mention of Zep was a surprise as well as his plug for his forthcoming book. A strange surreal evening but in my view what we saw and hear him talk about with authority was classic Jimmy Page.


Robert Plant Q and A with Mat Everitt – Rough Trade East record shop London – Friday February 28, 2020:

With Adam looking after the good lady Janet last Friday I ventured into London for the Robert Plant Q and A at Rough Trade East record shop. I fared better than my last London visit.  I still felt anxious at times and was not 100 percent in the zone but it was an improvement. As for Robert Plant – a very engaging hour of chat with the excellent Mat Everitt – Robert as ever proved a highly entertaining raconteur. Looking very dapper in a smart suit, he talked eloquently about his solo career and more.

The Q and A was built around the playback of extracts of selected songs from the Digging Deep singles box set with Robert commenting after each selection.

”I’m a guy who started something – after something huge…and I keep going..”

First up was Shine It All Around (from Mighty ReArranger):

Robert lauded the playing of Strange Sensation on the Mighty ReArranger album and the coming together of the Bristol sound namechecking among others Clive Deamer, Johnny Baggott, Billy Fuller and Justin Adams.

29 Palms (from Fate Of Nations):

Here Robert gave a description of the song’s location adding that the song was about ‘’A romance that kicked off and ended there’’

Tall Cool One (Now And Zen):

Recalling his work with songwriters Dave Barrett and Phil Johnstone on the Now And Zen album he said ”I think they thought I was a museum piece they could fuck around with – it was a fantastic awakening for me”

”I was embarrassed by the 1980s until about 2010”

He noted Jimmy Page’s contribution to the track and the fun he had sampling various Led Zep snippets into the song after The Beastie Boys had done the same.

On the acceptance of this track as a then staple on MTV: ”I was chest of the year in 1969, king of cock rock in 1970 and by 1988 I was ‘Heavy Rotation’ on MTV!”

Morning Dew (Dreanland):

Robert discussed the songs origins and how he helped the writer Bonnie Dobson reclaim her songwriting credits for the song. He recalled Tim Rose’s version and John Bonham’s brief stint with the singer. ”Nobody really liked The Band of Joy except us and I was a bit worried one day when Bonzo unpacked his drum kit from the van and started cleaning it – next day he was off with Tim!”

Song To The Siren (Dreamland):

Robert mentioned his admiration for songwriter Tim Buckley and also for The Cocteau Twins/This Mortal Coil version with vocals by Liz Fraser (a version used as his intro music on tour in 1985). Matt mentioned how the Tim Buckley version can be seen in an episode of The Monkees TV show on YouTube.

Talking about his vocal delivery Robert laughed ”My singing on Led Zep I was shit…well not shit but I would have approached it differently a few years on”

There then followed a series of questions that had been posed by online contributions:

Asked what song he would have liked to have to have written he named Leonard Cohen’s Bird on a Wire and Jefferson Airplane’s White Rabbit.

Asked what was his favourite performance of his career he quoted the last gig with The Sensational Spaceshifters in the US – going on to mention Led Zeppelin’s 1970 Royal Albert Hall show – ”There’s some film of that and we came on to We’re Gonna Groove.” He also remembered a  Page & Plant show in Brisbane where a lightening bolt interrupted Kashmir.

On the release of the Digging Deep singles box set he praised the vinyl format and joked ”I love vinyl,we were thinking of giving a turntable away with every copy.

 

 

There were several references to football and Wolverhampton Wanderers, notably how he had attended the Europa league match the previous night in Espanyol ( they lost 3-2 on the night but won on aggregate 6-3). The local police had penned the Wolves fans in – a request by one of his fellow fans to assist their exit ”Come on Planty tell them who you are!” failed to get things moving. Robert would of course been well pleased with Sunday’s 3-2 win at Tottenham – I of course wasn’t!

All in all, this was a hugely relaxed intimate evening in the company of Robert Plant reflecting on his career with wit and insight.

As I was a bit anxious I did not hang around too long afterwards but I was well pleased when Robert’s manager searched me out to give me a Digging Deep singles box set signed by Robert – such a kind gesture. I had already purchased a set on the night – Steve was happy to snap that copy up.

Many thanks to Steve Livesley for travelling down with me and looking out for me – and Krys Jantzen (who took the pics)  and Mick and Berni Bulow for being such great company.

Dave Lewis – March 4, 2020


Digging Deep

Here’s the full line up of the eight singles that make up the excellent Digging Deep set.

Vinyl 1:

Side A: Burning Down One Side

Side B: Like I’ve Never Been Gone

Vinyl 2:

Side A: Big Log

Side B: In The Mood

Vinyl 3:

Side A: Too Loud

Side B: Little By Little

Vinyl 4:

Side A: Ship of Fools

Side B: Tall Cool One

Vinyl 5:

Side A: Hurting Kind

Side B: Tie Dye on the Highway

Vinyl 6:

Side A: Calling To You

Side B: 29 Palms

Vinyl 7:

Side A: Song To The Siren

Side B: Morning Dew

Vinyl 8:

Side A: Shine It All Around

Side B: Tin Pan Valley

l 8:

Side A: Shine It All Around

Side B: Tin Pan Valley

I posted this last week but I am running it again here…

Just for fun…

Digging Deeper: The Other Side’s 1982 -2005

The recently released Digging Deep box set of eight Robert Plant singles is an admirable overview of his career – all superbly packed. The sixteen couplings on eight seven inch singles represents all the big hitters across his first eight solo albums from 1982’s Pictures At Elven through to the 2005 release of Mighty ReArranger. It’s a luxury way to enjoy some of Robert’s finest work and I for one will be eagerly looking forward to wading through it.

However, it got me thinking that there is vast scope to produce an alternate set of singles that represent the lesser known parts of the Plant catalogue. So I got to work in investigating these lost bits and pieces again spanning the years 1982 to 2005.

What I have come up with is eight potential seven inch couplings that each mirror the officially released versions – in so far that they are taken from similar eras. I’ve deployed obscure outtakes, various odd B sides and occasional live performances – most of which are readily available across the 66 To Timbuctoo 2003 compilation and the Nine Lives box set issued three years later in 2006. Given such a release, the majority of these performances would be appearing on vinyl for the first time.

So here purely for fun (although it would be easy to playlist these performances for your own listening delight) is an alternate version of the officially released eight single box set. This is Digging Deeper – The Other Sides…

Vinyl 1:

Side A: Far Post

Side B: Pledge Pin (live)

Far Post originally released on the Burning Down One Side 12 inch single in 1982.

Pledge Pin recorded live in Dallas in 1983 – originally released on the B side of the In The Mood single in 1983.

Vinyl 2:

Side A: Turnaround

Side B: Thru With The Two Step (live)

Turnaround recorded at the Principle Of Moments sessions in 1983. Originally released on the Nine Lives box set in 2006.

Thru With The Two Step recorded live at The Summit, Houston on September 20,1983. Originally released on the Nine Lives box set in 2006.

Vinyl 3:

Side A: Road To The Sun

Side B: Easily Led (live)

Road To The Sun recorded at the Principle of Moments sessions in 1983. Originally released on the 66 To Timbuktu compilation in 2003.

Easily Led recorded live in Dallas June 25 ,1985 – originally released as part of the Little By Little remix double pack single and 12 inch in 1985.

Vinyl 4:

Side A: Upside Down

Side B: Walking Towards Paradise

Upside Down recorded in 1988 – originally released on the 66 To Timbuktu compilation in 2003.

Walking Towards Paradise originally released as the B side to the Heaven Knows single in 1988

Vinyl 5:

Side A: Don’t Look Back

Side B: One Love

Both tracks originally released as extra tracks on the Hurting Kind (I’ve Got My Eyes On You) 12 inch single in 1990.

Vinyl 6:

Side A: Rollercoaster (demo)

Side B: Hey Jayne

Rollercoaster demo recorded at the Fate Of Nations sessions in 1993. Originally released on Nine Lives box set in 2006.

Hey Jayne originally released as the B side to the I Believe single in 1993.

Vinyl 7:

Side A: Dirt In A Hole

Side B: Last Time I Saw Her (remix)

Dirt In A Hole originally released on the UK , Australian and Japanese pressings of the Dreamland album in 2003

Last Time I Saw Her (remix) originally released on a CD single in 2003

Vinyl 8:

Side A: All The Money In The World

Side B: Red White And Blue

All The Money In The World originally released as the B side of the Shine it All Around single in 2005

Red White And Blue originally released as a bonus track on the Japanese and French pressings of the Mighty ReArranger album in 2005

19 March 2020 1,483 views 6 Comments

Robert Plant – Digging Deep Singles Box Set

I’ve finally got around to assessing the contents of the recently released Robert Plant Digging Deep singles box set – so here’s my thoughts…

The Package:  

Sturdy singles size book format with front abstract cover artwork similar to that to the Shaken’n’Stirred album cover.

I am lucky enough to own a copy of the Digging Deep box set signed by Robert Plant.

Single size insert depicting the artwork for the I Believe single on the front with the contents credits listing. The eight singles are presented in either original single picture covers or  artwork relevent to the time period.

The actual singles are on generic black Es Paranza labels – with no centre. The custom Robert Plant labelled centre is suppled at the front of the box allowing each single to be made playable by inserting the centre or ‘spider’ as they are sometimes known.

It does occur to me that there is a lack of sleeve note annotation. It would have been good to see an insert with relevant sleeve notes providing an overview of the eight singles and there historical standing in his solo career – perhaps with Robert’s own words extacted from the various Digging Deep podcasts.

The Sound:

No complaints here whatsoever -fully remastered with clear stereo separation and resonance.

The Contents:

So to the contents…this is something of a greatest hits 1982 – 2005 spread over eight seven inch singles.

I’m proud to say as a long time Robert Plant fan I have purchased all of his solo work – albums and singles on the day of release. So, to have this package in my hands is a delight – across the 16 sides there are many a Plant memory that I can recall. So in reviewing each single in this package I’ve dug deep to remember what these songs meant to me at the time and how they sound today…

Vinyl 1:

Side A: Burning Down One Side

Side B: Like I’ve Never Been Gone

Like I said, as an ardent fan and long-time chronicler of his work, I’ve been with him on every step of this journey – right from the tentative beginnings of a solo career mapped out around the highways and byways of the north of England during The Honeydrippers’ ad hoc gigs in the Spring of 1981, of which I was lucky enough to attended five.

I was working as the record shop department manager at WH Smiths back in the early 80s and via the WEA (Warner,Elektra,Atlantic) rep who called on the shop I was well aware that Robert’s debut solo album was due out in the summer of 1982. In fact the singerr had told me as much when I had a meeting with him and Jimmy in the Swan Song office the previous March (another story or another day). It was the good lady Janet who I was working with back then that casually told be ‘’The WEA rep has left an album for you’. I had been off playing tennis that day and sure enough he had left an album for me…not just any album – a white label advance copy of Robert Plant’s new album Pictures At Eleven.

The thrill of placing a white label advance copy of Pictures At Eleven on my turn table on a balmy Friday evening in early June, 1982 remains a very memorable listening experience. It signaled there was life for this particular singer after Led Zep and we could all prepare ourselves for some very interesting and thrilling musical times ahead.

Burning Down One Side was a reassuring opening blast – he still had it in droves.

Like I’ve Never Been Gone was a typically emotional vocal performance highlighted by Robbie Blunt’s soaring solo. Both still sound great.

Vinyl 2:

Side A: Big Log

Side B: In The Mood

Both these cuts take me right back to the summer of 1983 – and courting days with the young good lady Janet.

By the way the good lady had a great passion for music (and laughter) that included Zep and that bought right into my world.We were soul mates form the off.

In the June Janet and I had a rendezvous with the Robert himself when we were invited to attend his filming for the TV programme The Tube. The then 18 Janet was well enthralled when we had an audience with just him prior to the recording –that was just the three of us in his dressing room. Amazing times.

As is well known, Robert decided that his performance that day was under par. However we did get to see him on TV via the appearance on June to plug Big Log – The thrill of us rushing home to watch Robert perform that night remains very vivid. After all the years of media shyness with Zep he was right in our living rooms –and on TV via the video made for both Big Log and In the Mood. The later an hypnotic groove that would become the impressive opening number on his debut solo tour. We were at the Newcastle, Oxford and the two London dates.

Vinyl 3:

Side A: Too Loud

Side B: Little By Little

Oh yes, two tracks from that rather difficult third album the offbeat Shaken ‘n’ Stirred released in May 1985. I remember playing Too Loud to my WH Smith fellow music enthusiasts (or anyone else who would listen) to illustrate that Robert Plant was embracing the contemporary styles of the day. Looking back, it was a bold move even if he confused his audience and band mates alike. Little By Little was in a more familiar cut and thrust style and another great live number.My vivid memory of this track is that the good lady and I were on holiday in Majorca in August 1986. We stumbled across a bar that had a video juke box and lo and behold it had Little By Little – this video had been rarely seen and it was new to me – needless to say that during our stay we visited that bar quite often!

We were second row for his September 8 Wembley Arena show – a hugely enjoyable performance incorporating a Honeydrippers segment. It was to be the final bow for the mark one Plant solo band.

Vinyl 4:

Side A: Ship of Fools

Side B: Tall Cool One

In 1987 Robert made the first of many a clean band sweep, bringing in Phil Johnstone, Doug Boyle, Chris Blackwell and co for Now And Zen, a refreshing blend of chorus-led songs that reconciled his past with the present in confident manner. At the same time, he hit the Zep legacy head on ensuring more bums on seats on the live circuit by inserting Zep numbers into his set.

I loved this period of his solo career. Many a great gig, not least the warm up show Janet and I attended at Leicester University on January 23 1988. That was the first time I was to witness him performing In The Evening and Trampled Underfoot since the Over Europe tour in 1980.

Ship of Fools remains one of his finest performances in or out of Led Zeppelin and Tall Cool One is another reminder of what a fantastic period it was to be a Robert Plant fan back then.

Vinyl 5:

Side A: Hurting Kind

Side B: Tie Dye on the Highway

Manic Nirvana released all of 30 years ago this week ( see my review here for the local paper The Beds Times) was of a very loud and proud record –and proof that he could still turn a retro trick or two. Witness both of these sides. Tie Dye On The Highway inspires memories of that memorable late June afternoon out in that field just outside of Stevenage when James Patrick Page joined him onstage. Earlier in the month, he had rocked Hammersmith Odeon. The first of two dates June 4, was the only time I’ve ever seen him upstaged. He could not top the events earlier in the day when our Samantha arrived in the world – and quite how I managed to fit both events in on that one memorable day I’ll never know!

 

 

Vinyl 6:

Side A: Calling To You

Side B: 29 Palms

Three years on, there was further reinvention with Fate Of Nations – aided by Francis Dunnery and the late Kevin Scott MacMichael, providing a melodic platform for Robert to present his most pure and organic album of his career – and my opinion still his best. Calling To You was a suitably stomping opening track with Nigel Kennedy’s shrill violin adding to the fun. 29 Palms was a classy affair and hit single. The two warm up dates he played in May at the tiny Kings Head pub are right up there in my most memorable Plant gigs.

Vinyl 7:

Side A: Song To The Siren

Side B: Morning Dew

Following the page & Plant era, he was back in solo career mode though, the song writing muse was, by his own admission, at something of a low. So he took the opportunity to revisit his pre Zep era with the Priory of Brion, working with old pal Kevyn Gammond before forming Strange Sensation with Justin Adams. It was around this time Robert began to develop a much deeper resonance to his voice, leading to the breathy style first deployed on the Skip Spence tribute, Little Hands. The Dreamland album was therefore an opportunity for him to present some of those songs he had – as he put it ‘kept in his back pocket’. Tim Buckley’s Song To The Siren and Bonnie Dobson’s Morning Due were perfect illustrations of his ability to stamp his identity on any given song. Another great live era too, the VHI Storytellers recording on June 6 2002 another standout live occasion we were lucky enough to attend.

Vinyl 8:

Side A: Shine It All Around

Side B: Tin Pan Valley

I remember receiving an advance cassette of the Mighty ReArranger album and being initially a bit mystified by it. It was an intense affair that took time to register but when it did, its pure invention won me over bigtime. Both these tracks became on stage Strange Sensation standouts. I have great memories of the Radio 2 Scala Theater show and Warwick University. Shine it all around he did –  ‘’Like this’’ as that Tin Pan Valley refrain advised.

So, to summarise:

Digging Deep is a luxury method of hearing some of the big hitters of his solo career from 1982 to 2005. Vinyl fans such as myself will find it a record collecting delight.

For all his idiosyncratic traits, being a Robert Plant fan remains a richly rewarding experience. He does everything an artist should do: he enchants, he intrigues, he frustrates, he confuses and above all…he digs deep to inspire…and this box set of singles is ample proof.

Dave Lewis – March 19,2020.


Bob Dylan…

Now this is much needed unexpected Friday inspiration…

This via Bob Dylan’s YouTube channel..

Greetings to my fans and followers with gratitude for all your support and loyalty across the years. This is an unreleased song we recorded a while back that you might find interesting. Stay safe, stay observant and may God be with you. – Bob Dylan

So here’s a new previously unreleased Bob Dylan track nearly 17 minutes long, his longest track – The topic is the assassination of JFK and the lyrics name check The Beatles, Patsy Cline, Dizzy Miss Lizzy, Tommy, The Acid Queen, Etta James and a host of others…

Meanderingly beautiful and one of his best vocal performance in years…

Here’s the link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3NbQkyvbw18

Dave Lewis -March 27,2020



Roy Williams…RIP:


I am so very sad to hear the passing of Roy Williams aged 73 – the long-time front of house sound engineer for Robert Plant and many others – and an integral part of the Midlands music scene for many decades.

I first met Roy in May of 1981 when I attended five Honeydrippers gigs that month. This was the ad-hoc R and B line up Robert Plant chose as his first step outside of the recently disbanded Led Zeppelin. The line-up was made up of mainly Midlands musicians and Roy acted as the booker and tour manager of this low key venture. It was evident from being around the band’s entourage that he was a much respected part of the whole set up – and that he had a deep bond with Robert

That bond would later extend to him taking on front of house sound engineer duties for the singer. At any Robert Plant gig I was at, a glance over to the sound desk to acknowledge Roy was as much a part of my Plant gig going experience as a delivery of Whole Lotta Love.

‘’Hello Dave’’ Roy would exclaim post gig in that gruff but welcoming manner. A set list in hand and a few choice anecdotes for me to take away. He was well aware of my chronicling of Robert’s career and the TBL magazine – copies of which I always made sure he received.

Roy was a man of much loyalty and I felt it such a privilege that he would often call me to relay information – always careful to inform me of what I could or could not print. During the Priory Of Brion era in 1999/2000 –another low key Plant touring band, he would often call to purposely tip me off as to where the band would next be playing thus ensuring a ready made audience via the news spreading on the TBL website.

On that night of nights at the 02 Arena on December 10,2007 when Led Zeppelin reformed for that one night only occasion in memory of Ahmet Ertegun, it was only fitting that Roy should play a major part in the presentation – sharing the front of house sound mix with Big Mick Hughes from the Metallica camp.

A few months prior to that memorable event, I was privileged to be invited by Roy to attend his 60th Birthday party. Staged on February 14 2007 at the famous JBs club in Dudley, this took the format of a reunion gig for The Honeydrippers with Robert Plant and a line up including Robbie Blunt plus support from and Mike Sanchez and the Big Town Playboys. It says much for the esteem Roy was held in that Jeff Beck who Roy had worked with, took time to turn up and perform a quite astonishing three song secret support slot.

The fact that Roy took the time to phone me the next day and provide full information of all who took part that night, also says everything about his pride of the local musicians he worked with. He diligently wanted to make sure I duly acknowledged everyone involved in my subsequent TBL review..

In recent years, Roy would occasionally phone me out of the blue to relay the latest Plant and Zep related activity. He kept me well in the loop about the progress of the John Bonham Memorial in Redditch, a project he was heavily involved in. On every single call, there would always be that sense of loyalty to all concerned in making sure I processed such delicate information in the correct manner.

I would like to think I never let him down…

Though he was not in good health, a few months back Roy phoned to relay details of a film festival happening in Bewdley. Sadly I was not able to make that. It was the last time I spoke to him.

As well his involvement with Robert Plant, Roy helped the careers of many a local Midlands bands and among many others worked with Seasick Steve and Roland Gift of The Fine Young Cannibals. His understanding of the heritage of music was also second to none, as was his wit and wisdom.

Over the 42 years of publishing the TBL Led Zeppelin magazine, I have had association with many people whose jobs have revolved around the world of Led Zeppelin and that of Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and John Paul Jones. I can honestly say that few have been as helpful or as kind to me as Roy Williams.

He was the Midlands man of music, a man of extreme loyalty and a man of immense kindness… he will be much missed but long remembered and loved by all who were lucky enough to know him…

RIP Roy…and thanks for making the music sound so good…

Dave Lewis April 29,2020

Photo via Lemon Squeezing website


My thoughts on Simon & Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water album at 50…

Bridge Over Troubled Water came into my life in the early months of 1970 when I was 13 years old.

First as a single that quickly rose to number one on the UK chart and then as an album that spent over 200 weeks on the UK album chart. Back then, every Friday after reading the NME I would write the charts out in the order I liked the songs all in careful longhand with precise label details. This was all documented in what I labelled the ‘David Lewis Chart Book’. During 1970 the names Simon and Garfunkel were mainstays of that particular process. I dearly wish I had that particular book now but it slipped through the archive somewhere.

The Bridge Over Troubled Water single was one those epic tracks that stopped you in your tracks – a record you had to listen to all the way through from the plaintive piano intro through to the final piecing chord not unlike the crescendo ending of The Beatles’ A Day In The Life. So beautifully sung by Art and with a piano accompaniment by Larry Knechtel that instrumentally, could easily pass as a piano concerto.

I was already well aware of who Simon and Garfunkel were through the Mrs Robinson single (and theme to The Graduate a film I would much enjoy watching when I was older)and The Boxer – a hit the previous year in 1969. That particular year was my real grand awakening to the delights of pop and rock music. This inspired a musical passion that to this day remains my DNA.

My introduction to the Bridge Over Troubled Water album in 1970 initially came via Richard Conway, the then boyfriend of my late sister Margaret. They would go on to marry in 1972.

Back in 1970, Bridge Over Troubled Water was part of their courting soundtrack and when it was on the player at our house I was equally enthralled. The album was also regularly on the radiogram at a friend’s house via his brother’s copy.

The fact is, in the early 70s a majority of homes in the UK (and US and everywhere else for that matter) had a copy of either Bridge Over Trouble Water or the subsequent massive selling Simon and Garfunkel Greatest Hits in their collection.

Richard, soon to be my brother in law, was a massive fan, particularly of Paul Simon and through visiting their home frequently, I got to hear Simon’s brilliant 1972 solo album and in the equally brilliant follow up There Goes Rhymin’ Simon which was released in 1973.

That same year I purchased a biography of Paul Simon titled Now And Then. Written by the much respected broadcaster and writer Spencer Leigh, it was a huge influence on my own ambitions to put pen to paper.

Though a fairly slim paperback clocking in just over a hundred pages, it was an insightful overview of Paul Simon’s career. Spencer was very strong on analysing the music, composition and vocal skills of both Simon & Garfunkel – I was very inspired by his easy flowing prose.. It was the type of book I felt I could write and in my bedroom I set about writing my own biography of Jimmy Page. I never quite got to complete it but parts of that text written when I was 16 years old, I incorporated into the ‘Jimmy Page Master and his Art’ chapter in my Led Zeppelin A Celebration book published in 1991. So thank you Spencer.

Spencer Leigh’s biography fuelled my enthusiasm for Paul Simon’s music manifold. Two years on when I was aged 18, Paul Simon’s Still Crazy After All These Years album was a melancholy soundtrack to the trials and tribulations of my first intense love affair.

On June 18 1982, Simon & Garfunkel performed a comeback concert at Wembley Stadium. Margaret and Richard were in attendance and I vividly recall that back here,on that day my mum and dad and me looked after their children Simon and Justine – my nephew and niece.

Sadly, Margaret and Richard’s marriage ended a few years later and tragically, they would subsequently both die far too young.

Unsurprisingly, whenever I hear Bridge Over Troubled Water by Simon and Garfunkel I think very fondly of my late sister Margaret and her late ex-husband Richard and how we listened to that album and other Paul Simon records back in the early 70s.

That esteemed Bridge Over Troubled Water album is now celebrating its 50th anniversary and to acknowledge that fact, CBS have reissued the original album on 18 gram gold vinyl – it’s one of the few albums I’ve purchased this year and it’s been an absolute joy reacquainting myself with the contents.

Like all great albums its attraction and longevity lies in its quality and completeness. Nothing is out of place on these eleven cuts – not a second is wasted. There is absolutely no filler. The sheer economy in the delivery of each composition is awe inspiring.

The title track could be over familiar in say the way Stairway To Heaven and Bohemian Rhapsody are over familiar but hearing it a fresh on this new reissue – it’s enormity and breadth won me over again completely.

From there – this album is simply a tour de force…

El Cóndor Pasa (If I Could) is an arrangement of an 18th century Peruvian folk melody that Simon first heard by South American group Los Incas. He wrote new lyrics and it has a beguiling hypnotic quality running throughout. A cover version by Julie Felix became a UK hit at the time.

Equally impressive is the relentless percussion that undercuts the delightful Cecilia – a quaint tale of the merits of free love. As a newly ensconced teenager I didn’t quite understand all that back in 1970

Keep The Customer Satisfied with its startling ‘’Gee but it’s great to be back home’’ opening line and full on brass arrangement, is yet another highlight and subject of another great cover version by Marsha Hunt.

In stark contrast, the plaintive So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright so beautifully sung by Art brings side one to a natural conclusion.

This, in the days when the contrasts of side one into side two was all important.

Side Two opens grandly with The Boxer – their hit single in 1969. A another beautiful song with evocative lyrics that takes the listener on a journey across New York – note the subtle use of an early moog synthesiser.

The B side of the boxer single Baby Driver takes it all up a notch – one of those bright and breezy excursions they were so good at delivering.

The stark solitude of The Only Living Boy in New York is perfectly captured by Paul Simon’s soaring vocal and that pleading refrain ‘Half of the time we’re gone, but we don’t know where’’, Masterful.

It’s back to the quirky for Why Don’t You Write Me which delights in its jaunty pleading manner. However, behind the lighter touch was a darker message to Garfunkel via Simon and a pointer to their drifting relationship. Paul was none too happy that Art had delayed recording of the album when he took an acting role in Mike Nichols’ film of the Joseph Heller novel Catch 22.

The delightful November 1969 live in concert delivery of The Everley Brothers Bye Bye Love follows. A last gasp shot of on stage solidarity.

This all cross fades into Song For The Asking – an achingly beautiful hymn like finale.

Bridge Over Troubled Water would prove to be the final Simon and Garfunkel studio album. 50 years on it still sounds utterly incredible.

At a time when we are all navigating very troubled water, it’s themes of joy, solitude, isolation, and salvation resonate with deeper clarity than ever.

Something I know both Margaret and Richard would have agreed with…

This piece is dedicated to them both…

Dave Lewis -May 7,2020


Let It Be at 50:

The Beatles’ final studio album Let It Be celebrated its 50th anniversary on May 8 – here’s my thoughts on one of favourite albums and what it means to me…

Let It Be and me…

I’ve had something of a 50 year love affair with The Beatles’ Let It Be album.

It all began way back in April 1969 when The Beatles released a new single titled Get Back. As previously chronicled, this was the inspiration for me to  get right back into music after a brief infatuation with The Dave Clark Five when I was seven years old.

James Bond,Thunderbirds,The Daleks and football took over for a while but aged 12 I was ready to tune in once again

It was Get Back that really attracted me back to music. I had heard it on Tony Blackburn’s Radio One breakfast show and repeatedly on the juke box in our local café.

I recall an advert in the NME that proclaimed it as ‘’The Beatles as nature intended.’’ What also attracted me to the record was the distinctive green Apple label design – and the B side that displayed the core of an Apple. Having been drawn to that beautiful image I was forever asking older friends to put The Beatles’ B sides on the Juke box – this is how I came to be very familiar with Don’t Let Me Down, Old Brown Shoe and Come Together –the flip sides of Get Back, The Ballad of John And Yoko and Something, the trio of singles released by The Beatles in 1969.

In September of that year The Beatles issued their Abbey Road album. An older friend bought it and I listened at his house in wonder at it’s amazing contents – not least the medley on side two.

The NME had already flagged that The Beatles next album would be titled Get Back and comprise of recordings made in early 1969 to accompany a film of the same name. This was planned to be released in 1970.

During the early months of 1970 I eagerly scanned the news pages of the NME for more news. It transpired the album and film would now be titled Let It Be and in early March 1970 the Let It Be single was issued backed with the quirky You Know My Name (Look Up the Number). The single came in an eye catching picture sleeve. I of course loved the single and the accompanying film clip of it shown on Top of the Pops.

On April 10, the Daily Mirror broke the story that Paul had quit The Beatles. The acrimonious reasons behind the split dominated the pop headlines over the next12 months. The Beatles had out grown The Beatles and as Lennon would put it – the dream was over.

However, there was one more Beatles album release and it came on May 8, 1970. Let It Be was packaged in an outer cardboard box that contained a deluxe book and the actual record catalogue number PX1. It sold for a penny less than £3.

Far too much for my pocket money but the same older friend did buy it and we marveled at that package, the book and the album’s contests. Let It Be for me sounded like a great album -with it’s off mic comments and raw playing, tender moments, jams and quirky singalongs –the informality of it all touched a chord – this was The Beatles presented in a unique way as never before.

However, not everyone was enamored with this final chapter. The NME called it a cheap cardboard epitaph. To this day I disagree with such a notion.

On Thursday June 18, 1970 I went to the Granada cinema in Bedford to see the Let It Be film. We had the day off school as Britain was going to the polls to vote in a general election that saw Edward Heath gain a shock Conservative win over Labour’s Harold Wilson.

It was also Paul McCartney’s 28th birthday.

The film was a poignant farewell – the highlight being the final footage of them performing live on the on the rooftop. I loved the film for its illuminating inside look at The Beatles at work.

Over the next few years, The Beatles Let It Be era was never far off my radar.

When I started buying bootlegs in 1972, alongside the Zep titles, I eagerly invested in The Beatles Get Back Sessions and the curiously titled Renaissance Minstrels Vol 1 , Both these albums contained various outtakes and unreleased material from the Let It Be/Get Back period.

They provided key insight to this captivating last gasp. The likes of The Walk and Teddy Boy sounding like lost jewels.

Fast forward to Christmas 1975 –the BBC screened the entire film on Boxing Day and it looked fantastic.

During that first TV showing I even listed down for my own reference all the songs that appeared during the film – I still have that hand written note as can been seen here.

The BBC screened it again four years later on Boxing Day 1979. On that occasion  my very good friend Dec taped it all on his newly acquired video recorder. When I got my own video recorder rented in 1981, Dec made me a copy of the Let It Be film – I now had all that marvelous footage at the flick of a button.

The bootleg CD explosion in the early 90s led me to many more recordings of the Get Back/Let It Be period as title after title appeared – notably a complete version of the fabled January 30,1969 rooftop gig – and the Let It Be film on DVD. I also have a bootleg of the original Get Back album as first proposed by producer Glyn Johns – complete with the intended cover of that photo of them in early 1969 at EMI in Manchester Square -re creating the Please Please Me cover shot. The 1969 image was later used for The Beatles red and blue compilations issued in 1973 (I bought both of those on the release date).

Mark Lewishon’s astonishingly detailed The Beatles at Abbey Road and The Beatles Chronicle books offered up vital accurate information of the 1969 sessions. I was lucky enough to meet Mark and attend two launches of his books inside the hallowed walls of Abbey Road Studios itself. In 1983 I also attended EMI’s The Beatles at Abbey Road presentation inside studio number two where so much of the Beatle magic had been created.

Over the years, The Get Back saga has continued to fascinate me and I’ve invested in a fair few books and magazines about the subject. The official Beatles Anthology made available some of those unreleased recordings I had craved on those bootlegs. Paul McCartney then re-invented the album by releasing Let It Be Naked – a fresh pre Phil Spector mix of the stark original versions of the Get Back/Let It Be project. I avidly soaked up that one with it’s 20 minutes of bonus recordings.

In the October 2010 issue of Mojo, they covered the final Beatles era in a superb feature. This issue was made available with an accompanying and CD vinyl album -Let It Be Revisited. This was a re imagining of the original album by a variety of artists including Beth Horton, Wilko Johnson and Judy Collins. The vinyl run came in a limited edition of 1,000 and I eagerly snapped that one up – I am always a sucker for Beatles cover versions.

I of course have various pressings of the album – notably a French pressing and the US pressing with the gatefold sleeve.Until just recently one has remained elusive.

That is the original UK release in the box set package. Very good condition copies go for over £400. Due to the flimsy nature of the cardboard and book binding, most copies are somewhat flawed. There was a very good conditioned copy sold at the local Bedford Slide record shop a while back  for £200.

In January 2019 I had a big result.

Flawed or not, I could not pass up an original Let It Be box set I came across at a recent Victoria Record Fair. Though nowhere near mint it wasn’t too bad. The outer cardboard box is somewhat trashed but acceptable. The Get Back book is in surprisingly good condition with no loose pages and the record is very good. This was on offer for what I consider a bargain price of £30. I managed to knock the guy down slightly and secured it for a mere £25.

Now that’s bargain and in Beatles collecting terms, one of the very best I’ve had.

So, at long last I have the original package that all those years back I marvelled and have been obsessed with throughout my 51 years of music passion.

To own it  as The Beatles put it ”as nature intended” is an absolute thrill.

It inspires so many memories of those halcyon days of 1969/1970.

Those memories are ignited every time the needle touches down and John Lennon’s plaintive cry of ‘’I did a pygmy by Charles Hawtry and the deaf aids – phase one in which Doris gets her oats’’ signals the entry of The Beatles performing Two of Us – on our way home.

In acquiring that Let It Be box set it felt like it had finally come home – and it, and I have memories longer than the road that stretches out ahead…

Dave Lewis – May 14, 2020



Now this is what I call an inspiration…

My thoughts on…

Led Zeppelin-  More Comedy – Less Work: Live At The Festival Hall Osaka Japan September 29,1971

4 CD long box package Transatlantic Records

I’ve come a little late to the party when it comes to the recent soundboard tapes that have surfaced from Led Zeppelin’s tour of Japan in 1971. I recently acquired the Please Please Me 6 CD set via the Eelgrass label and I am looking forward to wading through this expansive set of recordings of their September 28, 1971 performance at the Festival Hall in Osaka.

The following night, the last of the Japanese tour has appeared on a variety of releases, most recently as 929 How The East Was Won – this I have on a double CD set, again via Eelgrass that presents the soundboard source.

Now there’s a much longer presentation of this celebrated performance under the title More Comedy Less Work.

It presents the near complete performance with a mix of the aforementioned soundboard source plus the so called multi-track stage recording and a couple of extracts from the September 28th show. All this has been achieved via a Winston tape overhaul. For those who are unaware, Winston is an avid fan who is highly skilled at improving the sound of Zep bootleg recordings. Over the years Winston has widely and freely shared his remastered recordings, many of which have been acclaimed as definitive versions.

With that prospect in mind I could not resist the opportunity to delve into this new version. Especially as I was able to take receipt of this long box package during one of the daily walks the good lady Janet and I embark on to strengthen her leg. A slight detour allowed a social distance rendezvous not far from our house with our trusted supplier and hey presto, said package was in my possession.

I am of course looking forward to soaking up the previously mentioned 6CD Please Please Me set that chronicles the previous night ( I will report back on that one in due course), but my eagerness to hear a complete September 29 Osaka presentation had me ripping off the outer cellophane ready to get intimate with the three CDs. Note a fourth CD in the package showcases an Up Close radio show from 1992 and a Jimmy Page interview from 2017.

The reasons for my enthusiasm are simple:

For a start, all self-respecting Led Zep fans know that the three city, five show Japanese tour the band undertook in September 1971 was very special. Across those gigs they varied the set list considerably, throwing in all sorts of one offs and unique cover versions. The night of September 29 was no exception, in fact being the final night they really went to town.

The basic set list is also pretty much as it was a mere 53 days on from this memorable Osaka 1971 performance when on the night of Sunday November 21, I was lucky enough to witness Led Zeppelin live for the first time on a night of pure electric magic at the Empire Pool Wembley.

During this period Led Zeppelin were right on top of their game – and then some…

These were the nights where they sought as Jimmy would put it, that fifth element. There’s a hunger and vitality in the playing – a sense of wonderment at what they could achieve and how far they could push the boundaries. There was nothing they could not attain musically, their ambitions were infinite.

Other factors: Robert Plant’s vocal register was at its highest and most potent – a quite remarkable instrument in itself that he deployed to maximum effect.

The interplay between Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and John Bonham was at a new peak of creativity..

They had a brand new fourth album in the can and ready for imminent release and they knew it was good – and of course they were more than eager to preview material from it.

In short, their confidence was absolutely sky high and boy did it show…

Now my relationship between Led Zeppelin and this Japanese tour goes way back. In 1976 I first got to hear what it sounded like via a bootleg LP.

Led Zeppelin A Cellarfull Of Noise – Live In Japan was a single LP on the Kornyfone label. I purchased it from the Sounds Ahead record shop in Marlborough Court just off Carnaby Street – a tiny record shop that specialised in under the counter releases.

Unfortunately this recording of the fabled September 29 Osaka show was strictly lo-fi and it also played slightly slow. It did however open my ears for the first time to the potency of their playing and also included that bizarre interlude when John Bonham went missing. ‘’Where’s Bonzo?’’ proclaimed Robert repeatedly prior to a drummer-less performance of Tangerine.

Things did improve considerably with the acquisition of the various September 29 audience sourced CD set that surfaced in the 1990s. Last year came the much welcomed new double CD of soundboard highlights. It’s always been one of my all-time fave Zep gigs.

Now the oddly titled More Comedy Less Work presents the full show in genuine Winston style.

The packaging itself is fairly rudimentary   – a cartoonish illustration with an overhead airship on the front of the digipack long box. The Led Zeppelin script is lifted from the Led Zeppelin III cover and a sticker indication noting that this is a limited run of 300 portrays the group image featured on the back of that album sleeve. The back cover has some brief explanatory notes about how the recording was pieced together. An eight page booklet has small photos from the tour and reproduces the 1971 Japanese tour programme, though in very small black and white thumbnail type pics.

Some further explanatory notes about the unique content of the set list would have been an asset. It’s all in the Evenings With Led Zeppelin book and TBL issue 31 thanks to Mike Tremaglio’s diligent chronicling.

As for the music, well, let them take you there ….to the Festival Hall in Osaka for the final night of what had been a highly successful tour.

I am well versed with this performance via the previous recordings but hearing it complete in such quality is an absolute revelation.

Right from the moment you hear Bonzo exclaim ‘’Louder, louder’ the listener is hurtled right into the action and let me put it on record from the off: This performance of Immigrant Song may well be the best ever – Plant’s echoed shrill is a pure joy, Bonzo pushes it all ahead in tandem with JPJ and as for Jimmy… the moment he opens up the wah wah for a truly scintillating run is one of the all-time great Zep live moments. The unrelenting energy of it all is just extraordinary.

From there, well it’s a total tour de force. Everything that is great about the band – everything that they have learned to harness in a mere three years is all here. The matchless confident stomp of Heartbreaker really hits the mark – as does the slow burn blues rock of Since I’ve Been Loving You. The seamless patch in of Black Dog from the 28th keeps the momentum flowing.

Dazed And Confused is a cavalcade of electric magic – there’s no other words to describe it, and there’s a drop in for a one off extract of Pennies From Heaven. It’s worth noting here that whenever Zep extended the studio versions of their catalogue, as they did many times – it always came out sounding like a development rather than an indulgence – and there’s no finer example of that than this marathon performance.

Stairway To Heaven is a suitable regal delivery and Celebration Day is always great to hear from this era – actually whenever I hear it I am always reminded of the opening sequence at Knebworthon August 4, 1979 when it made a welcome return to the set.

The acoustic set offers blissful light and shade acoustic harmony moving through That’s The Way and Going To California followed by that aforementioned amusing interlude where Bonzo goes missing prior to a sweet Tangerine. What follows is a rare piece of Zep concert history: the only known live delivery of the Led Zeppelin III staple Friends –which is followed by an ad hoc short cover version of Smoke Gets In Your Eyes.

A strident What is And What Should Never Be ushers in a complete Moby Dick – the master Bonham and his art..

The Whole Lotta Love medley is a 31 minute veritable Zep Spotify playlist. Try this for a starters: Elvis Presley’s I Gotta Know segued into Twist And Shout performed as The Beatles used to, followed by Benny Spellman’s Fortune Teller. Again via Mike Tremaglio’s research in the Evenings With book we know this trio are ‘one and only’ recordings, save for a 40-second snippet of Fortune Teller which was (also played in Oakland on September 2, 1970 concert. As they had done during the first show in Tokyo, the band also throw in the rarely played live Good Times Bad Times and a blues wailing You Shook Me.

Finally, after an emotionally draining Thank You this three hour show concludes with Rock And Roll – another preview from their upcoming fourth album and a first time outing on this Japanese tour.

The September 29 Black Dog is added on in the multi-track version.

To summarise:

So what we have here is a near complete representation in the best sound quality yet of one of the truly great evenings with Led Zeppelin.

I’ve been playing non-stop since I got my hands on it -and what a much needed inspiration it’s been..

Whilst Led Zep and related artists are never far too away from the player here, this is the first real genuine new Led Zep aural experience I’ve soaked up in a good while. It’s a recording that offers a stark reminder of why I have invested so much time and energy into chronicling this band these past 50 years – and why Mike and I spent a sizable amount of our waking hours over a five year period producing the 576 pages that made up the Evenings With book. It’s one of those times when the power of music – and there’s no finer music than Led Zeppelin at full throttle live in concert in my book – gets right to the soul and provides such inspiration, and as we all know, in these unprecedented times any inspiration right now is much welcomed…

More Comedy Less Work will rightfully take its place alongside the Fillmore West April 27, 1969 performance , Plays Pure Blues (Texas International Pop Festival August 31, 1969), Live On Blueberry Hill (LA Forum September 4, 1970) and Going To California (Berkeley September 14, 1971) as my go-to fix when it comes to the in- concert appreciation of the first three years of Led Zeppelin’s existence.

In a world of current confusion one thing certainly remains ever constant – listening to Led Zeppelin perform live in 1971 is a truly wonderful thing… and this overwhelming September 29 performance of that year is more than ample proof…

Dave Lewis – May 25, 2020


 

I took receipt of this new 3 LP release of the Berlin July 7 1980 performance on Thursday so… 

My thoughts on…

Led Zeppelin

A Memory Frozen Forever

Casino Records Limited Edition 3 LP 180 gr gold vinyl 350 only.

This is the latest in the Casino Records series of Led Zeppelin vinyl presentations. Previous releases have included This follows their excellent Berkeley Days Second Night package in a limited run of 400, I Told You Baby Long Time Ago – Scandinavia March 1969 limited edition of 450 on clear splatter vinyl and The Night Stalker – LA Forum 1975 issued last October in a run of 400 -1 to 200 on gold vinyl – 201 to 00 on clear vinyl. The first two had excellent content and packaging – the Night Stalker was a little bit underwhelming in the presentation.

By and large this one is much improved in the packaging department.

The cover is a colourful triple fold out affair with mostly relevant 1980 Over Europe tour photos taken from a variety of gigs on the tour and an informative and brief sleeve note. Some of it is based on the text in my Feather In The Wind book.

It also has a facsimile 10 x 8 insert of the look out warden official tour poster (based on a front over of Picture Post magazine). The reverse has an Over Europe ’80 visual with the tour dates – this is not an official poster and it’s shame they did not include a facsimile of the other official tour poster that was sold at the gigs depicting four photos taken from the pre tour rehearsals – this is reproduced on the fold out cover.

The actual labels reproduce the look out warden visual and the outer polythene cover also has a sticker stating the numbered copy in the run –mine is 320 of the 350.

However there is one big clunker. The cover photo of John Bonham is clearly a photo from the 1977 US tour – a real shame as the back cover has a very good Bonzo shot that I know is taken from the Berlin gig. That one surely begged to be on the front cover. On further inspection I’d say one of the inside covers of John Bonham is a 1977 shot. This may be a bit nitpicky but it’s nonetheless an annoying lack of attention to detail.

To the music – and what we have here is an undoubted historical artefact

On Monday July 7 1980, Led Zeppelin took the stage for the final night of the tour – and what would ultimately be the last ever Led Zeppelin performance with John Bonham.

The sound quality is excellent being the soundboard source used for the CD versions. Very pleasingly  and unlike the Night Stalker release, virtually all the in between chat is present and correct. I noticed a slight edit in the intro to Trampled Underfoot. To have lost the in between chat would have been a real shame as Plant’s very upbeat and humorous comments say a lot for the general atmosphere of this last night of the tour. He seems genuinely pleased at to how it has all gone – a fact Peter Grant noticed as on the flight back because he got the nod from Robert that a US tour was now viable. Sadly that was not to be. Aside from Jimmy’s usual intro to Black Dog, he also has a words to say as he tunes up for White Summer – this spiel is also left intact. So it’s full marks for the actual presentation of the concert across these six sides.

Overall, it’s an upbeat and interesting swan song performance. Robert Plant is on excellent form and in a jovial mood. At times they do seem to rush proceedings and there are moments of sloppiness – there is also a bit too much reliance on the vocal harmoniser effect which sometimes clouds the clarity of Plant’s voice. However, there is much to enjoy about this final performance because when it’s good, it’s very good indeed.

Being lucky enough to attend five of the shows (though sadly not this final one) I have much affection for this tour  and I personally love the set list. Highlights here include the opening burst of Train Kept a Rollin and Nobody’s Fault But Mine, the stand alone Rain Song and All My Love with that gorgeous extended outro.

Despite Achilles Last Stand being strangely dropped from the set, this was still the longest performance of the tour notably due to some lengthy extended work outs – Trampled Underfoot is a prime example as Page, Jones and Bonham lock into an incessant groove.

Listening now to what would be there last moments together as a band is a moving experience, not least because of the striking content of the final performances of Stairway To Heaven and Whole Lotta Love -both of which are worth the price of admission alone –  because both are delivered in unique arrangements.

Stairway clocks in at over fourteen minutes, half of which is given over to a rambling and totally mesmerising Page solo. It was easily the longest on the tour. Similarly unusual is the version of Whole Lotta Love, somewhat appropriately the last ever song the original Led Zeppelin quartet performed live as a band.

It begins with Page aping the intro of The Who’s Anyway, Anyhow Anywhere and leads on to a rare, totally medley- less arrangement that clocks in at 17 minutes. A mid-section jam has JPJ beefing up a funk riff over which Page teases with the Theremin and then opens up the wah-wah effects. Plant keeps up the pace with suitable primal screams and Bonzo pounds away relentlessly.

These final moments sees them drifting off into their own little world, almost oblivious of the audience. It was as if some sixth sense intuition was telling them that this would be the very last chance to play together and they didn’t want it to end. The camaraderie of recent weeks seems to will them to keep the flame burning for as long as they can on this tour. It triggers a nostalgic throwback to the experimental Zeppelin of the early 70s.

These impromptu performances are clear indications that far from being washed up, the 1980 Led Zeppelin still had that unique creative spark to improvise at will -and to make that improvisation a development rather than an indulgence  –  something that had been in their make up right from the start.

Sadly it all had to end.

“Eye thank yew. Thank you very much Berlin. Thank you very much everyone who’s worked for us and put up with us and all those sort of things, and er… goodnight!”

Summary: It strikes me had they have had the energy for it (and they clearly didn’t) this would have made a very welcome final live official album perhaps for release on the first anniversary in 1981.

As it stands, this is an equally welcome unofficial release that captures on record for the first time a very significant and historic performance. This final night in Berlin is a timely reminder on this 40th anniversary that Led Zeppelin still had new ground to cover and places to go…

Dave Lewis – June 25,2020.


Boy Dylan… 

My thoughts on the new Bob Dylan album Rough And Rowdy Ways…

Bob Dylan

Rough And Rowdy Ways (Columbia)

The first Bob Dylan album I bought with hard earned cash was Self Portrait. The 1970 covers based double album mish mash that confused his audience and critics alike. It prompted the writer Greil Marcus to open his review of the album in Rolling Stone magazine with the immortal line ‘’What’s this shit?’’

Maybe I was easily pleased aged 16 but I actually loved it so you could say I am used to Bob Dylan’s artistic quirks. I might add the second Bob Dylan I purchased not long after, was the legendary bootleg Live at the Royal Albert Hall 1966 so that put my particular credibility way back up.

The fact is the career of Bob Dylan has been fascinating me for the past 50 years and it continues to do so.

In recent years my appreciation of Bob Dylan’s studio work has centered on the superb Bootleg Series of retrospective releases – the last of which was the magnificent Blood On The Tracks set.

I very much enjoyed his Sinatra’s covers album Shadows n the Night and I always follow his career – I am glad he still out there performing though I have long since experienced that for myself – I checked out around 1992 on that score not before experiencing some concert highs the 1978 Blackbushe appearance being the most memorable.

He is the greatest living poet and he is right up there in my favourite artists of all time – and always will be.

Now comes a new album Rough And Rowdy Ways – his 39th studio album of which I am proud to say I own a bulk of.

Like so many aspects of this pandemic world, this one comes with its own set of circumstances. It was preceded by the unexpected arrival on Friday March 27 of the streaming of an extract from it. I say extract more an epic. For Murder Most Foul is the longest ever studio track he has composed.

Along with The Rolling Stones’ Living In A Ghost Town, for me it’s been the defining musical moments of the past three months. The shock, bewilderment and sheer awe which I experienced when listening to it for the first time – a mere three days after the announcement of the UK lockdown, will long live in my memory. We will return to that subject presently.

Any appreciation of the modern Bob Dylan now comes with the added challenge of dealing with the quality of his voice. Once a delightful distinctive nasal whine, in recent times it has often been reduced to a frog in the throat falter. Age does wither us all, so the first question in approaching this new set of songs has to be – how is the voice shaping up Bob?

The answer?

Pretty well..

I am very pleased to say throughout the album he applies a seasoned deep toned burr with, as Chris Charlesworth noted in his Just backdated review, a similar texture to Tom Waits.

The sparse backing on the album fits the mood with this line up of players:

Charlie Sexton – guitar

Bob Britt – guitar

Donnie Herron – steel guitar, violin and, accordion

Tony Garnier – bass

Matt Chamberlain – drums

So to the album…

I Contain Multitudes sets the plaintive mood , all serene and reflective and like Murder Most Foul, stock full of cultural references – The Rolling Stones , David Bowie and Indiana Jones among them.

The line ”Keep your mouth away from me ‘’ carries a certain poignancy given these modern times. Overall it’s a comforting opener that caresses you in to this latest Dylan planet wave.

False Prophet carries that timeless R and B chug and groove Dylan is such a master at conjuring up. It recalls the relentless stomp of New Pony from the Street Legal album which is no bad thing.

My Own Version Of You is another low key affair taken at a slow walking pace. Now here’s a thing –the descending melody line is very similar to Dazed And Confused – not the Page led Zep arrangement but Jake Holmes folksy original.

I’ve Made Up My Mind To Give Myself To You…

Never one to write a straight love song this one has a slow wistful feel that draws you right in from the start. The vocal is slightly treated in a manner that took me back to Oh Mercy’s Most Of The time. The tender nature of his vocal is just achingly beautiful – so fragile and delicate in its delivery.

Brush stroked drums and a crooning backing adds to what could be described as a Lay Lady Lay for the modern era. The title really speaks to me as this is a mantra I have found myself relating to the good lady here given her circumstances here in recent months. I am in no way ashamed to say  playing this for the first time It moved me near to tears. it’s as good as anything he has done in the last 40 years.

Black Rider is another melancholy crooned affair in the style of Sinatra’s One For My Baby –the influences on those covers albums has obviously not been wasted on him.

Goodbye Jimmy Reed is an utterly delightful R and B stomp – up tempo and bluesy with a pleasing roller coasting Rainy Day Women strut to it.

Mother Of Muses follows – all stately and subtle with a deep dreamy vocal.

Crossing The Rubicon – back to the blues for a sometimes semi spoken drawl in the Tom Waits tradition (In the Neighbourhood springs to mind) with pleasing lyrical couplets.

Key West (Philosopher Pirate) – a warm pleasure with accordion accompaniment as the singer  goes in search for love and inspiration on ”that pirate radio station coming out of Luxemburg’’.

Then there is Disc Two…

Murder Most Foul –the already much heralded marathon that unfolds over a sparse piano and violin. At nearly 17 minutes long, his longest track ever .The main topic is the assassination of JFK and then it leads on to all manner of lyrical references with name check for The Beatles, Patsy Cline, Dizzy Miss Lizzy, Tommy, The Acid Queen, Etta James and a host of others…Meanderingly beautiful and captivating.

Summary:

In these ‘new normal’ days boy do I need this new Bob Dylan album. It speaks to me just as Blood On the Tracks and Slow Train Comin did all those years back when I was going through the pain of young love. I needed those albums so much back then and I need this one now to temper moments of delusion and mental seclusion.

Here’s an aside and a personal one. When Janet went into surgery to have her broken leg pinned on December 10 last year two days after her accident, I came home from the hospital and wrote a heartfelt letter to her. It’s something I felt I really needed to do. I wrote it with Blood On the Tracks on the player. Never did an album of music so fit the mood.

”So bleak outside I wrote ”and Bob Dylan Blood On The Tracks on the player –‘’All because of a simple twist of fate’’ he sings on one song on that album and how that phrase resonates after what has happened in the last 72 hours.”

There’s something deeply connecting when listening intensely to Bob Dylan. I feel I know him and I know he knows us…and wants to guide us..

Here he is guiding us again. This is an album  that alternates between semi spoken shimmering croons and free falling R and B grooves. Lyrical references abound, the voice similar to Tom Waits  and as Charles Shaar Murray noted in his review shades of Dr John and Screamin’ Jay Hawkins. lyrically there is much to analyse and I am sure the serious Bob cats out there will spend hours doing so. The total playing time clocks in at 70 minutes making it double album length,

The overall production echoes the sparseness that Daniel Lanois brought to Oh Mercy and Time Out Of Mind . The Johnny Cash Rick Rubin produced striped down American Recordings album is another reference point here.

In  these crazy uncertain times, there will be many occasions ahead when musical salvation will need to be at hand. I’ll therefore be looking repeatedly to Rough And Rowdy Ways to accompany me when I feel the need, as another Dylan (Thomas) put it, to ‘rage at the dying of the light’.

At 79 he may not be as he once sang, forever young but Bob Dylan remains forever compelling and this new album is a work of rare reflective beauty.

Dave Lewis – July 1, 2020


thoughts on the new Paul Weller album…

Paul Weller On Sunset (Polydor)

Listening to a Paul Weller album is like wading through his record collection and a very illuminating one at that. Influences always abound and his newly released 15th solo album On Sunset is no exception

Going right to the days of The Jam the esteemed Mod father has never been slow to work in a previously good idea –witness 1980’s Jam single Start single which cheekily borrowed the riff from The Beatles Taxman.

On this new album the likes of Sly Stone, Curtis Mayfield, Donny Hathaway, Roy Ayres, The impressions Traffic, Floyd, Bowie, Slade, The Kinks, Madness and McCartney all get a look in.

That’s not to detract to the originality of this work. Weller cleverly weaves in these influences throughout the ten songs but never loses sight of his own identity.

It opens with the ambitious seven minute Mirror Ball. This is a song cycle built on free flowing meandering soundscapes –stopping off for various abstract interludes that echo shades of psych era Pink Floyd and the keyboard work of Brian Auger. This is all mixed in with some fuzz guitar heroics ending on a sweet piano and synth coda

Baptiste is a taut soul tinged funky excursion build around a similar structure to Stanley Road’s Broken Stones.

Old Father Thyme has plenty of poetic reflections. ‘’In this time of confusion hang on to what is real’’ states the singer in a timely piece of advice.

This is all set against a mid tempo funky wah- wah backdrop with periodical multi dubbed hand claps that lit up more than one Style council outing.

Village is warm and friendly and soulful. An incessant funk riff with up front drumming prevails throughout and that never lets go.

More has guest vocals from Julie Gros of French pop collective Le Suerhomard. Weller’s own vocal is up front and breathy. The lengthy outro has a Santana like guitar solo.

An atmospheric sea breeze and plaintive acoustic guitar ushers in the title track On Sunset. Lyrically we find the singer on Sunset strip thinking back to The Jam’s first US visit. Flute and vibes add a Traffic like feel and. It all makes for a dreamy and poignant flashback with the string arrangement by Hannah peel adding to the melancholy mood.

Equanimity a delightfully quirky affair projects a Kinks like whimsy. The good lady pointed out to me there’s also something of a Maxwell’s Silver Hammer in the song structure but don’t let that put your off. There’s a very welcome cameo from Slade legend Jim Lea who injects some violin licks that are right out of Coz I Luv You. Dreamy

Walkin’ an up beat stop jaunty affair with descending Hammond organ from honorary Style councilor Mick Talbot and a sax solo from Lee Thompson of Madness.

Earth Beat has something of a Style council bouncy lilt with guest vocalist Col3trane adding a contemporary slant.

Finally Rockets is a low key slightly mournful offering with more reflections there’s a hint of Bowie’s Rock’n’Roll Suicide in the arrangement.

Summary:

There’s an experimental edge to this record fueled by his association with the avant-garde Ghost Box label that ensures it’s never less than interesting and more often than not massively uplifting.

What always impresses about Paul Weller is his sheer musicality and that effortlessly ability to connect with his past but remain very much the present. On Sunset will go some way to making up for the inevitable cancellation of Paul Weller’s planned August appearance in Bedford Park.

It will also act as the sound of Summer 2020 and beyond. In these strange times we all need a measure of comfort and familiarity to hang on to and for me this new Paul Weller album offers exactly that…

Dave Lewis  – July 7, 2020


1970 Snapshots: Affinity with John Paul Jones involvement..

As I have often mentioned the year 1970 is one of my musical favorites – as a 13 year old going on 14 it was a year of massive musical discovery. I have made a point of collecting many of the singles and albums I recall from the time and I’ve also often searched out recordings made that year that I didn’t catch up with at the time.

So here’s the first in a series of what I’ll call 1970 Snapshots:

Affinity by Affinity:

I’ve been looking for a vinyl copy of the excellent album by Affinity recorded in 1970 for a good while

Flashback magazine main man Richard Morton Jack first alerted me to this album a few years ago – and I had a CDR of it

Original pressings on the Vertigo label are hard to come by however the excellent reissue label Repertoire had produced an excellent reissue – complete with the fold out sleeve with its mysterious front cover image. It also has a swirl type label based on the classic vertigo label design.

On this album the band featured vocalist Linda Hoyle –Linda was the voice behind the much aired Shredded Wheat TV advert ‘’There are two men in my life’’ which us of a certain vintage will well remember. Linda made an appearance on the Michael Parkinson show performing it in 1971.

Back to the album –there’s also a Led Zep connection to report here as John Paul Jones is involved in the arrangements of two track –brass arrangement on the track I am And So Are You and string arrangement on I wonder if ill care as much.

The album itself is an exotic mix of jazzy rock. Linda Hoyle has the sort of expansive soul rock voice that served both Julie Driscoll and Curved Air’s Sonja Kristina so well. I Am And So Are You written by Lindisfarne’s Alan Hul,isl s a busy opener with the aforementioned bold vibrant brass accompaniment.

Night Flight (no relation to the Zep track of the same name10 alternates between drifting melody and a keyboard workout by Lynton Naiff that brings to mind Brian Auger’s work with The Trinity.

A version of the Everly Brother’s I Wonder If I’ll Care As Much has the plucked string effect that JPJ brought to The Rolling Stones She’s a Rainbow. The atmospheric Mr Joy is another highlight with dreamy floaty vocals.

Mo Foster’s bass and Mike Jupp’s guitar head off on a typical early 70s tangent on Side Two’s opener Three Sisters. Next up their delivery of the Lovin’ Spoonful’s Cocaunut Grove is a meandering affair with Linda’s vocals playing off Lynton’s organ.

Finally another cover a version of Dylan’s All Along The Watchtower made famous of course by Jimi Hendrix.

Affinity stamp their own identity on it playing it speedily and somewhat free form as to make it unrecognizable.

It’s a performance that typifies the musical freedom this era allowed for. It was 1970 and anything went and this album by Affinity is very much of its time. All feather cut hair, wah wah guitar and plaintive organ. It could have lined up as the soundtrack to those early 70s films such as Permissive that are staples of the British Film Institute catalogue.

Linda Hoyle left the band and recorded in 1971 a solo album Pieces Of Me again released on the vertigo label –now much sought after. Affinity made some further recordings that released as archive recordings. Linda released another solo album The Fetch in 2015.

Dave Lewis – July 7,2020


The Rolling Stones with Jimmy Page – Scarlet premiere on Zoe Ball BBC Radio 2 show: 

On Wednesday July 22, Zoe Ball’s Radio 2 show became the first radio station to air the previously unreleased Roiling Stones track Scarlet featuring Jimmy Page.

Zoe had phone conversations with Mick and Jimmy

Mick relayed that he had forgotten the details of the session and had contacted Jimmy to fill him in on it all.

Jimmy stated that it had emerged from a session at Ronnie Wood’s house. Asked what he had been doingin the Lockdown Jimmy said he had  been indexing his books and playing some guitar. There was talk of the 02 reunion and the not unsurprising comment that it’s unlikely they will paly together again.

Here’s some more Scarlet info via the Jimmy Page official website published on July 22::

On this day in 2020, Scarlet by The Rolling Stones, featuring me, is released.⠀

⠀I was invited to Ronnie Woods’ house in Richmond to do a session in October 1974. It was said that Keith Richards and Ian Stuart (Stu) would be there. It sounded a good opportunity to catch up with old friends.⠀

⠀There was Keith Richards on electric guitar, myself on electric guitar, Rick Grech on bass and a drummer and engineer I had not met before. Keith kicked it off and I began to mould a riff around his guitar part to augment the arrangement. It began to lock-in pretty soon with the musicians and we all got a successful take that evening. I’d had a good time working with Keith. ⠀

⠀It was said they were continuing the following night at Island Number 2 Studios in London. I said I’d go and play some guitar soloing on it. I arrived early on that evening and got to do it straight away within a few takes. It sounded good to me and I left them to it.⠀

⠀Mick made contact with me recently and I got to hear the finished version. It sounded great and really solid.⠀

⠀I’m happy they chose to release it as part of the forthcoming Goats Head Soup 2020 album. It’s an ultra-rare appearance of me outside Led Zeppelin in the ’70s.

……………………….

My initial thoughts on Scarlet – The Rolling Stones with Jimmy Page…

One thing to get straight –this is not an outtake from the Goats Head Soup album. The tape box from island Studios identifies the session as being recorded on October 5 1974 – more than a year after the release of Goats Head Soup. I would say this is something of a happy accident and was found when they investigated the masters of the Soup sessions.

I’ve certainly known of its existence since November 1974 when Page mentioned the Scarlet session in an interview in the NME with Nick Kent – I duly logged it in the extensive discography I contributed to for

the Sounds four part Led Zep special published in September 1978.

It kicks off with that familiar syncopated Keith riffing all loose and funky and then there’s the pleading Jagger swagger on the chorus ‘’Scarlet why yer tearing my heart to pieces’.

Vocally he is right on top of the game here. Jagger has revealed there are newly added maracas in the mix. I’d like to think the vocal track is genuinely from the time and not newly layered.

There’s something of a Loving Cup Exile feel about it all and as Tim Davis mentioned, it also carries the knockabout effect of Ronnie Wood’s I Can Feel The Fire which was also cut in 1974 at The Wick for Ronnie’s solo album I’ve Got My Album Own Album To Do

The laid back hypnotic drive of Rick Gretch’s bass and the drummer reported to be Bruce Rowlands keeps the momentum flowing throughout. Though he is mentioned on the tape box, I cannot hear any evidence of Ian Stewart’s keyboards here.

Jimmy’s sinewy overdubbed guitar lines recall the clipped eloquence of the solo on Down By The Seaside.

In the press blurb Jimmy Page states that ‘’Woody was living at a house called The Wick there was an invite to do a session. It was with Keith so I said ‘tell you what I’ll bring my guitar along and I’ll lay the solo parts on it”.

One wonders if he took along the Gibson Les Paul or perhaps the Fender Stratocaster he was favouring at the time – many of the overdubs on Ten Years Gone mixed a few months earlier, were via the Stat. Whatever guitar he employed, it sounds archetypal Page and brings much to the party.

So that’s Scarlet – an authentic bona fide lost gem.

Upbeat, infectious and invigorating and recorded at a time when the possibilities for both The Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin were infinite…

I’ve been playing it all day and grinning from ear to ear…in these crazy times it’s an inspiration to behold…

Dave Lewis – July 22, 2020


My thoughts on Jimmy Page The Anthology…

Genesis Publications (Limited Edition sold out  – standard edition to be published October 13 in UK October 19 US)

This is Jimmy’s second book for Genesis following the publication of Jimmy Page by Jimmy Page back in 2010 – all of ten years gone. Jimmy described that previous volume as ”A  visual documentary to reflect my contribution to music.”

In his introduction to this new volume Jimmy states’’ As a result of archiving, this book is a continuation of the story mapped out in my first volume Jimmy Page by Jimmy Page. It has given me the opportunity to showcase the detail behind the detail.  I wanted to include items from my personal archive that have played a part in my career over 60 years to give the detail behind the detail.’’

Let me state right from the off the detail is simply astounding. While Jimmy Page by Jimmy Page was a visually pleasing collection of career spanning photographs, Jimmy Page The Anthology offers so much more.

Like its predecessor, it commences with a photo of the young Jimmy Page as a choir boy and ends some 390 pages and 60 years later with a  written aftermath and a comprehensive guitar and equipment glossary. ”On reflection” concludes Jimmy ”I feel so lucky to have been able to do something that has been my passion throughout my life, to make a success of it and through that to bring pleasure to the people who have heard my work and to whom my playing has meant so much. When people talk about lifetime achievement, well that’s what it is”

In between, every aspect of his lifetimes achievement as a musician comes under enlightening scrutiny.

The format of the book works on several levels – as a brilliantly presented visual log of every guitar and guitar related studio equipment he has employed and as a pictorial history of all the key stages of his long career with rare on and off stage images including examples of his stage outfits.

Most importantly of all, it’s supplemented throughout by anecdotal insights from the man himself which provides a fascinating running commentary. This extensive 70,000 words of text alone would add up to a captivating biography – when merged with the stunning pictorial layout it makes for a quite magnificent portrayal of all aspects of his 60 years plus career.

Throughout the book, Jimmy draws from his extensive personal archives. For a very busy man it’s quite incredible how much memorabilia he has amassed –and more importantly retained. Original diaries, memo books and sketch pads allow him to paint an accurate picture of the times. This is especially effective during his early years. Logs of his early gigs and session appointments really bring the era to life particularly when merged with rarely seen vintage photos. The captioning of all this material of some 600 images is clear and concise -the photo quality superb..

Amongst the many highlights from the early 1960s era, there’s the original BBC correspondence for his 1958 appearance on the Huw Weldon show, an early poster of his early group The Redcaps supporting Red E. Lewis in 1960 , correspondence relating to his link up with beat poet Royston Ellis, details of early acetates from recordings with Neil Christian and The Crusaders, demo pressings of his sessions with the likes of Dave Berry and Marianne Faithfull, session studio data of his work with Jackie De Shannon.

This spotlights another of the books strengths – the extensive visual re-production of rare acetates white label and rare pressings drawn from Jimmy’s massive collection – indeed I have had first hand evidence of him snapping up such items at record fairs. Yardbirds acetates, Led Zep album white labels, rare picture sleeve singles, foreign pressings etc light up many a page. For a record collecting connoisseurs like myself, this is pure manna from heaven.

Musos will similarly marvel at the array of vintage guitars he owns or has played that also feature throughout – the Graziso Futurama from his teenage years,  the Dan Electro, the Gibson Black beauty, the Harmony Sovereign acoustic the dragon painted Fender Telecaster, the Gibson Les Paul number one and the Gibson double neck are all discussed at length alongside many a lesser known guitar he has employed on stage or in the studio. I was personally well pleased to see that my 2005 TBL Earls Court journal publication is featured on page 257 to illustrate Jimmy playing his Lake Placid Fender Stratocaster.

As previously mentioned, every aspect of his career is presented with all major landmarks present – his 1965 solo single, meeting Jeff Beck,  joining The Yardbirds, the coming together of Led Zeppelin and the subsequent glory days of the 1970s. Whilst a bulk of the book centres on this high profile period, the post Zep period also gets due recognition –  the Death Wish 2 soundtrack , the Arms concerts, Roy Harper, The Firm, Outrider, Coverdale Page, Unledded and Walking into Clarksdale with Robert Plant, the Black Crowes collaboration, the Led Zeppelin 02 reunion, the Beijing Olympics closing ceremony with Leona Lewis etc. All basses are covered right up to his work on the Led Zeppelin reissues and last year’s Play It Loud exhibition.

However well versed you are with his story, this book offers many little known insights. A second teenage TV appearance on the Carol Levis show for ATV in 1959,  his initial affinity for the sitar and Indian music, details of his first US visit, Yardbirds and early Zep work sheets, proposed Zep set lists, which particular guitars he used and when and so much more. The revelations just keep on coming, all told in Jimmy’s relaxed warm prose – the wonderment of his achievements constantly shining through.

The picture that emerges is of a genius musician whose aspiration, vision, energy and fortitude has created an outstanding body of work. That body of work has never before been so diligently chronicled in one volume.

It really does tell us so much more than we knew about how James Patrick Page has created his enduring legacy.

The standard edition is published on October 19. If you are an admirer of his work, it’s not a case of deciding to invest in this book – it’s how quickly you will do so…

This is without doubt one of the most impressive and illuminating pictorial publications ever produced on any musician, anywhere, anytime.

Put simply, if you are reading this you need it in your life…

Dave Lewis – August 6,2020.


Recent DL acquisition…my thoughts on…

New Moon’s In The Sky – The British Progressive Pop Sounds Of 1970

3 CD set on Grapefruit Records

1970 is perhaps my favourite music al year – as a 13 year old going on 14 it was a 12 month period of so much musical discovery. This 3 CD compilation which I recently picked up is therefore of much interest.

It gathers together a total of 70 tracks by UK acts issued during 1970 –some from familiar acts such as The Tremeloes, Status Quo, Stray, Hawkwind The Hollies, Curved Air, Atomic Rooster Marmalade and The Move – others well obscure – Cressida, Ancient Grease and Love Street to name but a few.

Along the way there are plenty of rare gems to be found –being a big collector of Beatles cover versions Penny Arcade’s version of the Let It Be track is most welcome and The Fut’s Have You Heard The Word – long rumoured to have been a Beatles recording (in fact I have it on a Beatles bootleg of the same name ) it’s actually an Australian duo Tin Tin with vocal assistance from producer Maurice Gibb. The very fine United States Of America written by Lindisfarne’s Alan Hull and recorded by Affinity on Vertigo is another highlight – I recently acquired a reissue of this rare album which has arranging credits for John Paul Jones.

This expansive musical cavalcade is made sense of by David Well’s wonderfully detailed sleeve notes which observes:

‘’The term progressive pop he rightly observes was already being used by 1967 to describe rock music that retained a pop sensibility but was more artistically ambitious than the traditional top twenty mind-set. But the beginning of the Seventies that elevated approach had been redefined as progressive rock a far broader church that housed many acts who were determined to eschew any commercial considerations.

New Moons In The sky concentrates on the more song based recordings to emanate from British studios during 1970 whether from a pure pop for the people perspective or the more concise melodic end of the mainstream rock scene’’

That is very good assessment and certainly sums up the way this 13/14 year old soaked up the music of that year. I was very much moving away from the top twenty sounds into a more challenging musical sphere but my need for melody was always present (and still is).

1970 was also the year that I really became obsessed with Led Zeppelin and it strikes me that something like Out On The Tiles from Led Zeppelin III (released in October 1970) would sit perfectly well amongst this company. Amongst all the cut and thrust of their full on rock assault, Page and co could always turn a hand to a progressive pop sound.

With every track superbly anecdote in the booklet, there is much to learn and much to soak up from a collection that defines the way we listened in a transitional year for music a year as David Wells again hits the nail on the head when he states ‘’felt like the end of something rather than the beginning.

The beginning was waiting in the wings via the likes of Bolan, Bowie and Slade but that is another story for another volume…

Dave Lewis  – August 13, 2020


My thoughts on a new Rolling Stones bootleg double album…

The Rolling Stones, ‘69RSTrax’ (No Label CD and Soundcraft LP) 

I’ve been searching out outtakes and rare recordings of The Rolling Stones since my initial obsession with bootlegs aged 16. Around that period I invested in a fair few albums on the Trade Mark Of Quality label including Beautiful Delilah, Smooth, Summer Reruns and Bright Lights Big City – all of which offered much enlightenment.

The complex copyright arrangements between ABKO Records who own much of their 1960s output and the Stones own label, has prevented any major official anthology box set offerings. There have been some very worthwhile Stones official releases via their website and the forthcoming Goats Head Soup deluxe version has some previously unheard fresh material notably the much published Stones/Jimmy Page collaboration Scarlet.

Now comes 69RS Trax a new double album based on recordings that were briefly dumped onto the internet on December 31 as a 50 year copyright get out – a policy also flavoured by The Beatles and Bob Dylan

This extensive archive of mainly 1969 recordings were only briefly available on line but that was long enough for enterprising fan forums to snap them up and hey presto, they were very quickly emerging as unofficial bootleg CDs and now on a double vinyl set.

This double album in a limited edition of 300 via Soundcraft Records, comes in an attractive package – the cover is an outtake from the photo session that produced the Through The Past Darkly cover. Inside, there’s a nice spread of 68 period photos most of them from the Goddard One Plus One film. The sleeve notes offer anecdotal info for each track but disappointing is written in something of a cod English style and is hard to understand.

The 16 performances spread over the four sides offer some major insights into the coming together of material from the golden 1968 – 1970 period – which basically covers the Beggars Banquet, Let It Bleed and Sticky Fingers albums –much of it is previously unheard.

That is certainly the case with the opening track – a run through of Ruby Tuesday, the B side of the Lets Spend The Night Together single released in early 1967. This is probably from a rehearsal session for the Rock n Roll Circus TV special. A sparse acoustic piano led arrangement with tremendous input from Charlie Watts.. The vibrant run through Sympathy For the Devil is also likely to be from the same December 1968 session,

Elsewhere from 1969 there’s a cracking take of Honky Tonk Women with an alternate Jagger vocal and different lyrics and the ‘’Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie’’ chorus refrain favoured on the live Hyde Park version

Also of much interest is a backing track version of Country Honk. This features Ian Stewart on piano and has the barrel house piano feel that he brought to Led Zep’s Boogie With Stu released on their Physical Graffiti album. A May 1968 take on Love In Vain has a loose and playful feel. Instrumental takes of Stray Cat Blues, Let It Bleed and Midnight Rambler capture the work in progress process.

Then there’s the role reversal of Keith on vocals on Gimme Shelter and Mick on You Got The Silver. Another alternate take of Gimme Shelter has Mick double tracking the lead parts in the same manner he applied to Street Fighting Man. A Wild Horses with added strings does not work that well and the versions of Brown Sugar and Wild Horses marked as Hot Rocks takes bring little to the table.

Side 4 presents 20 minutes of Mick coaxing the best out of the Lonon Bach Choir as they run through their parts that lit up the opening and closing sequences of You Can’t Always Get What You Want. As a studio insight it’s interesting to hear how the they strived for the end result.

I’ve saved the best to last- a March 1969 Olympic Studios take of Sister Morphine –this is a longer version with Keith on dobro and is on a par with the version that appeared on Sticky Fingers.

Summary: 69RS Trax is a bit of a mixed bag – some very interesting stuff combined with some less interesting offerings and along the way a few gems that really shine a light. I’ve been collecting Stones outtakes and unreleased rarities long enough to know that with these unofficial releases, that is often the case. Overall though there’s much to enjoy.

Dave Lewis – August 19,2020  


The new Robert Plant compilation Digging Deep Subterranea is released on Friday  October 2…

Here’s the line up::

CD1:

Rainbow

Hurting Kind

Shine It All Around

Ship of Fools

Nothing Takes the Place of You *

Darkness, Darkness

Heaven Knows

In the Mood

Charlie Patton Highway (Turn It Up – Part 1) *

New World

Like I’ve Never Been Gone

I Believe

Dance with You Tonight

Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down

Great Spirit (Acoustic)

CD2:

Angel Dance

Takamba

Anniversary

Wreckless Love

White Clean & Neat

Silver Rider

Fat Lip

29 Palms

Last Time I Saw Her

Embrace Another Fall

Too Much Alike (Feat. Patty Griffin) *

Big Log

Falling in Love Again

Memory Song (Hello Hello)

Promised Land

  • PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED

The previously unreleased tracks Nothing Takes The Place Of You (written by New Orleans musician Toussaint McCall and recorded for the acclaimed 2013 film, Winter In The Blood), Charlie Patton Highway (Turn It Up – Part 1) taken from the Band of Joy Volume 2 album due next year and a duet rendition of Charley Feathers’ rockabilly classic, “Too Much Alike” featuring Patty Griffin.

This is the first Robert Plant career over view for some 17 years – the 2 CD Sixty Six To Timbuktu which took the story up to 2003. This new set replicates seven of the tracks from the 2003 compilation. The contributions come from the following albums

Pictures at Elven – 2 tracks

The Principle of Moments – 3 tracks

Now And Zen – 3 tracks

Manic Nirvana- 2 tracks

Fate Of Nations – 5 tracks

Dreamland – 2 tracks

Mighty ReArranger – 2 tracks

Band Of Joy – 4 tracks

lullaby and the Ceaseless Roar – 2 tracks

Carry Fire – 2 tracks

There’s nothing from the much maligned third solo album Shaken’n’Stirred – I would have liked to have seen the underrated Sixes And Sevens included.The Honeydrippers and the Alison Krauss offshoot projects are al by passed.

Overall,this is a timely moment to step back in time and review his achievements of the last decade an beyond. I am always a sucker for such compilations and there will be much to enjoy, not least the three previously unreleased tracks.

Dave Lewis, October 1,2020


DL Diary Blog Update:

This piece by Ben Macintyre caught my eye in The Times recently:

Obsessive collectors are a national treasure…

Our attics are overflowing with antiques, stuffed animals and old comics but there’s always room for more ..

‘’Why do individuals collect?

To hold back time. To build up temporarily through the preservation of inanimate things, a personal museum, a small private history.

Collecting is both fulfilling and endless and no collection is ever complete – which merely reinforces the joy of the exercise. ‘’

That statement certainly applies here – as the good lady Janet knows only too well…

Whilst I do not have many antiques or stuffed animals, I am always on the look out to add to my personal museum and private history artefacts such as:

LP records, 7 inch singles (especially Beatles cover versions), 12 inch singles, CD’s, cassettes, eight track cartridges, DVDs, vintage music papers and magazines, record shop bags, badges, 1960s and 70s UK comics and football programmes, James Bond Aston Martin DB 5 model cars, Subbuteo table football teams and accessories, not to mention anything at all of a Led Zeppelin variety…

If, as an obsessive collector that makes me a national treasure, I am more than happy to accept the title and bestow it on a fair few people I know who share similar collecting passions…

It makes our world go round…and there’s always room for more


My thoughts on the new Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band album Letter To You…

My association with the music of Bruce Springsteen goes back to October 1975 and the release of his Born To Run album. I had read all the CBS hype about Bruce being the future of rock’n’roll and when the album arrived at the WH Smith record department I worked at, I was very eager to give it a spin.

It did not disappoint – the widescreen sound, the passionate lyrics, the amazing E Street band – it all connected. Here was an artist who told it like it was right from his soul. Very quickly I invested in Born To Run and his previous two albums Greetings From Asbury Park NJ and The Wild, The Innocent and the E Street Shuffle.

From there I enjoyed many a Bruce moment – his 1980 The River album spoke to me in a way few albums had before or since – his show the next year I caught at Stafford Bingley Hall was a total tour de force as was the performance I was lucky enough to witness at Aston Villa football ground in 1988. 187’s Tunnel of Love album is another of his albums that I much admired.

I have to say in recent years Bruce has dropped off my musical radar although I still occasionally revisited the classic albums. This decrease in interest said more about me than it did Bruce. Like a fair few of my fave artists, my all-consuming Zep interest often made it hard to keep up as there were only so many hours to listen to the abundance of Zep related albums and CDs I waded through.

I still very much admired Bruce from a far and was pleased he was still out there lending his power to all –in 2009 I watched his Glastonbury performance on TV in total awe. In 2015 I invested in the superb box set The Ties That Bind – The River Collection. The River is right up there in my all time fave albums.

Last year I finally made an effort to get back on the Bruce wagon. The reviews of his Western Stars album drew me right back in and I invested in a new Bruce album for the first time in many a year. I loved the stark string arrangements and around it was great to be back in his musical company.

So the news that he had a new album ready was a very welcomed prospect – even more so knowing he had the E Street back in tow. So say hello once again to Roy Bittan, Nils Lofgren, Patti Scialfa, Garry Tallent, Stevie Van Zandt, Max Weinberg, Charlie Giordano and Jake Clemons. Letter To You was recorded in a matter of days  in his  studio last November.

It’s an excellent 2 LP vinyl package with a 12 inch booklet with full lyrics

It kicks off pretty much where Western Stars left off. The short One Minute You’re Here. Bruce enters in a stark Nebraska fashion, his deep burr of a voice immediately resonating. The phasing of the verses reminded me of Sinatra at his most melancholy – in fact this opener would line up well alongside Frank’s One For My Baby. The lyrics portray that feeling of loneliness and the need for redemption.

‘’Baby, baby, baby,I’m so alone, Baby, baby, baby, I’m coming home’’

The entry of Letter to You is like switching TV channel.Here we have the familiar drive and uplifting spirit of a full blown band arrangement and hey, the E Street Band are in the house again. The effect is like pulling on a comforting winter coat and boy are we all going to need to wrap up warm in the coming weeks and months.

The urgent nagging Burnin’ Train” has some soaring duel guitars and a knockabout ending right out of The River era

The Power of Prayer opens with calming piano intro before it swaggers into action. This is something of a template for much of the album’s content – plaintive intros then a crescendo of E Street bombast. Love the final lines of this one;

‘’Last call, the bouncer shuts the door

This magic moment drifts across the floor

As Ben E. King’s voice fills the air

Baby, that’s the power of prayer’’

The delightfully titled House of a Thousand Guitars again kicks off with a sparse piano accompaniment that builds as the band enter – the repeated refrain of the title is a pure delight.

Rainmaker storms in on a surge of multi layered vocals. ‘’Sometimes folks need to believe in’’ the man sings with much intent.

There are three song s on the album that were written and demoed in the early 1970s – a couple for his CBS audition. All three clock in at the six minute mark are a throwback to the rambling Dylan like arrangements that lit up his first two albums.

Janey Needs a Shooter was covered by ex Hollie Allan Clarke on his 1974 solo album. This has an epic quality to it that reminded me of Backstreets with it’s cascading Blonde On Blonde organ and harmonica. If I Was The Priest starts with the line ‘’There’s a light’’ which reminded me of The Bee Gees To Love Somebody before the rolling thunder of the E Street Band take it all up a level. Song For Orphans is another slice of Dylanesque poetic rambling – the melody here recalls to mind Bob’s Is Your Love In Vein.

That leaves three songs that capture The Boss is a very reflective mode

Last Man Standing is a poignant lament to his late departed fellow band member Geirge Theiss of his first band The Castiles. As the title implies he is now the last man standing of that unit. Suitably wistful, there’s a timely arrival of a Clarence like soaring sax break. Keeping it right in the family it’s performed by his nephew Jake.

Ghosts is a wonderfully uplifting homage to former band bands and the process of performing live.The accompanying video with its cut in of live performances and crowd reactions is very moving. The whole atmosphere of the track is one of pure exhilaration. There’s even a nostalgic cry of ‘’1,2, 1,2,3,4’’ as Bruce counts them all back in for a final climax. This of course would make a great live number and here’s to the day that thousands of people can sing out the lyrics with hands held high -‘’ Meet your brother and sister on the other side.’’

The closing track I’ll See You in My Dreams has the same title as the much covered 1920s written song which Joe Brown has popularised, notably with his rendition at the George Harrison tribute concert in 2002.

This is an entirely different song but no less moving. Bruce signs off with heartfelt candour – and these words resonate greatly for love and loss.

The road is long and seeming without end.

The days go on, I remember you my friend

And though you’re gone

And my heart’s been emptied it seems

I’ll see you in my dreams’’

Summary:  In these unsettling and uncertain times, there’s immense inspiration to be had when our long trusted musical heroes still deliver – with Letter To You Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band have more than delivered.

It’s one of those albums you just don’t want to end –and need to replay soon as possible.

The themes of camaraderie, reflection and redemption that echo throughout these 12 songs are themes that everyone will relate to – I certainly do…

Amongst his early band mates, Bruce Springsteen is, as he sings the last man standing – but there is no doubt he is still standing tall and proud and so he should be because Letter To You is an absolute triumph.

Dave Lewis – November 4,2020.


 

Led Zeppelin Berkeley Daze 1st Night 4 LP bootleg box set: 

Here’s my thoughts on the recently released Berkeley Daze 1st Night 4 LP bootleg box set… 

48 years ago this month I purchased my first ever Led Zeppelin bootleg. It was the famous Live On Blueberry Hill on the Trade Mark of Quality label on colored vinyl. I paid £6 for it via a postal order to a mail order outlet I saw advertising in Sounds music paper. It’s arrival on Thursday December 14 1972 was a red letter day for sure.

Thus began a never ending quest to unlock the live archive of Led Zeppelin via the bootleg medium.

In January 1973 I invested in the Going To California double album bootleg from the same source. To be precise it arrived on January 19 1973 – these dates are important and all logged in the diary. This has remained one of my all time fave Zep albums. Come the bootleg CD explosion I subsequently picked up various versions on CD.

In 2017 I was well pleased when the Casino Records label produced a two LP vinyl reissue. The packaging and content of Berkeley Daze 2nd Night was first class.

The news that the first night of this two night run at the Berkeley Theater was due in a 4LP box set was a mouthwatering prospect

So last Friday November 5 I took receipt of this limited 4 LP bootleg box set Led Zeppelin Berkeley Daze 1st Night.

Here are my thoughts on it all…

My copy is the Blue Aquamarine vinyl edition number 72 of 200 only

There’s also a crystal vinyl version again 200 only.

It’s packaged in a sturdy outer box set

Inside there’s a four page 12 inch size insert with two live 1971 live shots and a familiar 1972 shot of Jimmy and Bonzo in a limo – minor nitpick here – shame they could have not kept to the 1971 era. There’s an informative sleeve note and on the reverse the 1971 group promo shot from the time and a pleasing reproof the Bill Graham presents advert for these shows and others.

Also in the box is an insert card with the famous Wm Stout artwork with a signed signature

The sound quality:

This is the complete recording spread over eight sides as featured on the 2 CD sets that appeared on the Godfatherecords label.

Whilst not as clear as the stereo audience recorded second night immortalised on the Going To California bootleg and issued via this label in 2017 as a 2 LP vinyl set Berkeley Daze 2nd Night, this is still a very acceptable audience recording – slightly distant but with plenty of top end vitality -as used on previous CD releases.

The music: This night has always been overshadowed by the high profile availability of the second night. This new release will redress the balance as it’s an absolute stellar performance with plenty of set list delights.

I am so familiar with the second night’s performance via the various Going To California and like many reading, this can recite all the Plant in between song comments.

I do own the 2 CD Berkeley Days 1st Night presentation on the Godfatherecords label – this new vinyl version provides the opportunity for a fresh analysis and there is much to be thrilled by…

It all begins with band introductions by promoter Bill Graham.

As expected Jimmy’s name receives the biggest response – there’s no doubt that his Yardbirds pedigree had established his name on the West Coast.

Immigrant Song is of course a blistering opening

Robert’s shrill quintessential rock howl dominates – at this point in their career, the power of his vocal delivery was simply unstoppable. Jimmy takes on the extended solo and there’s shades of the riff work he applied to The Yardbirds live delivery of Mister You’re a Better man Than I. Plant’s enthusiasm is evident as he comes in with an ‘ooh year alright’ squeal as they hit the home straight.

The opening riff Heartbreaker is greeted by mass applause and off they rattle with surging gusto.

It’s worth noting that the crowd reaction can be clearly heard on this tape as opposed to the September 14 Going To California recording.

Long time TBL contributor Hiroshi noted a few weeks back that he felt these Berkeley nights were hampered by a lack of crowd reaction. This recording challenges that notion. The audience are boisterous and noisy throughout.

Jimmy’s solo an amazingly fluid piece of guitar mastery –complete with that customary delightful sidestep into the 59th Street Bridge Song and Bouree. The moment they come back in for the final verse is pure electric magic –Robert’s echo drenched vocal screeching it all to a halt.

Since I’ve Been Loving You is driven by John Bonham all the way and the tape captures the clarity of his booming bass drum and snare.

‘’We got a new album coming out in about three weeks time. There’s been so much messing around, trying to get a cover.’

Following a rampant Black Dog,a suitably on the edge Dazed and Confused clocks in at 21 minutes and is a similar arrangement to the next night.

A tentative Stairway to Heaven is given prime mid set space. It’s always interesting to hear the song in a less than reverent setting – the crown perhaps slightly baffled by it’s meandering intro – by the song’s climax though they are totally won over as the crown reaction is warm and receptive.

Jimmy’s newly acquired double neck guitar stays on for a thundering Celebration Day – though the tape here is a little overloaded.

‘This is where we sit down’’ explains Robert getting into some banter with the crowd.

Eventually they settle into a delicate delivery of That’s The Way which is followed by an equally fragile rendering of Going To California.  John Paul Jones’ mandolin playing to the fore.

A strident romp through What Is And What Should Never Be leads to the percussive stampede that is Moby Dick.

Whole Lotta Love is preceded by a short ad hoc jam on a riff that might well have been something they were working on at the time – it has a Walters Walk feel about it.

The Whole Lotta Love medley is in keeping with the arrangement of the time as they channel the spirit of Ricky Nelson and Elvis and later Willie Dixon respectively on Hello Mary Lou,Mess of Blues and You Shook Me.

A ramshackle encore of Communication Breakdown that includes a snippet of Gallows Pole closes proceedings

‘’Good night San Francisco.’’

Summary:

 

This release on vinyl is a welcomed vinyl record package – and collectors of vinyl Zep bootlegs will be keen to seek it out.

I will say there is a lot of getting up to change sides and this way of listening to a compete Led Zep performance is quite fragmented.

There’s of course no doubting the quality of the performance. I personally love this era as it brings back vivid memories of my first in concert experience of Zep when I witnessed the second night of the Electric Magic on the night of November 21 1971 – a couple of months after the US tour and their first Japanese visit. Those dates in late September saw them stretch out their sets with all sorts of playful covers.

This then is Led Zeppelin live on stage in 1971 at the top of their game as presented on 4 vinyl records -and the collector novelty of that will be more than enough attraction to draw in 400 potential recipients of this very nicely packaged limited box set.

Dave Lewis – November 12, 2020


My thoughts on the new Paul McCartney album McCartney III…

I’ve been listening to Paul McCartney’s solo work for 50 years.

I vividly remember the storm that broke out in the music press when, through a self-interview that coincided with the release of his debut solo album McCartney. Paul made it very clear he had no plans to write with John Lennon or work with The Beatles.

On his 28th birthday June 18 1970, I went to see The Beatles Let It Be film at our local Granada cinema. It was a poignant experience and I vowed that whatever solo projects they embarked on I would be right there with them. Over the next couple of years I was enthralled by the likes of George’s All Things Must Pass and The Concert For Bangla Desh ,John’s Imagine, Ringo’s run of singles that began with It Don’t Come Easy and Paul’s Another Day single and the Ram album.

I embraced Wings almost as a new Beatles – From 1973 I bought every single and album on the day of release. I had much listening pleasure with those albums – Wild Life, Red Rose Speedway, Band On The Run, Venus And Mars, Wings At The Speed Of Sound, London Town, Back To The Egg – all of which remain much loved records in my collection.

Post Wings, there was also much to enjoy including the McCartney II album, Tug Of War, his collaboration with Elvis Costello Flowers In The Dirt, and Off The Ground. In January 1990 I was lucky enough to see his concert at Wembley Arena.

In recent years I’ve dropped off a bit with his solo work but I’ve soaked up a lot of his reissues, notably Ram and Band On The Run. In 2014 I wrote a major cover feature for Record Collector celebrating its 40th anniversary (with some great input from my very good friend and Beatles expert Paul Humbley.) In October I was well pleased to acquire a copy of the McCartney album reissue – the half speed mastered edition made available as part of the third drop of this year’s Record Store Day.

Now comes McCartney III…

I was drawn to this from the early reports that came though. Macca had recorded an album during the first lockdown and given the circumstances, he had played everything himself in the manner he did on that first McCartney outing of 50 years back.

So firstly the packaging – a very stylish affair with a gatefold sleeve that features various photos of the recording process mainly taken by daughter Mary – all very fitting as she is the tiny baby featured on the sleeve of the 1970 album inside Paul’s jacket.

I’m pleased that it comes pressed as a single album as opposed to a double. This bucks the trend of most modern day releases that are spread over four sides for enhanced quality. There’s something very comforting and old school about this single record approach and I did not sense any lessening of the sound quality myself.

It opens with the non-script mostly instrumental Long Tailed Winter Bird. It’s led by a repeated guitar motiv behind loose free flowing percussion which confirms Paul’s status as the second best drummer in The Beatles.

Find My Way has an infectious Wings like melodic shuffle and Beach Boys falsetto vocals.

These some telling lines here such as ‘’You never used to be afraid of days like these but now you’re overwhelmed by your anxieties.’’ Now that’s a line that resonates deeply with me and no doubt many others.

The arrangement on this track is characteristic of the album’s feel with lots of double tracked vocals – and while we are on the subject, age has slightly withered the McCartney voice in recent years though there’s a pleasing quivering vulnerability about it. Also prevalent throughout the album are lot of deliberate sounding overdubs – it’s evident these songs were constructed in a skeletal do it yourself style with the intention of fleshing them out later.

Pretty Boys is a quaint melodic affair while Woman And Wives is down beat and slight but engaging nonetheless.

The dubiously titled Lavatory Lil is the sort of up-tempo romp that in the latter Beatles period, the laconic Lennon would have put in the granny music category of Ob-la Di Ob-la Da and Maxwell’s Silver Hammer. Allegedly the song is about someone Macca knew and obviously does not hold in high esteem. Polythene Pam it’s not but it does have a fun element.

Closing side one is Slidin’, a grinding rocker and something of a throwback to the equally grinding Old Siam Sir from the Back To The Egg album

So far, so just a little bit ordinary…

The good news is that side two ups the quality considerably.

It commences with the lengthy Deep Deep Feeling. It reminds me of Paul Weller’s Mirrorball from his recent On Sunset album. This is more like it – a genuinely challenging piece that crosses time signatures and is experimental and dreamy with piano and acoustic guitar embellishments. The vocal arrangement is full of captivating harmonics – perfect for the subject matter of endearing love. A firm thumbs up all round here.

There’s more inspiration ahead in the guise of the White Album as the next three performances all mirror the eclectic nature of the 1968 Beatles opus. The Kiss Of Venus merges the link like quality of Wild Honey Pie and Can You Take Me Back with the acoustic sweetness of Blackbird. A plaintive harmonium adds to the retro feeling.

Seize The Day has a familiar Beatles like descending chord sequence and some of those odd but memorable Macca rhyming couplets –‘’Yankee Toes and Eskimos’’ recalls to mind similar quirky lines such as ’’Puppy Dog Tails In The House Of Lords’’ from 1987’s Once Upon A Long Ago.

Deep Down is an atmospheric piece with pleasingly lazy Ringo style drumming in the Free As A Bird vein plus brass effects, hand claps and upfront vocals.

Finally there’s reprise of the opening track Winter Bird which leads into When Winter Comes, a melodic acoustic piece revisiting the charm of Heart Of The Country from the Ram album – this was originally worked on in 1992 with George Martin.

Summary:

By his own admission this is not a proper full album – more a series of sketchpad ideas that given the time he had on his hands, Paul made something of. That he has crafted them into coherent finished product says much for Macca’s enduring musicality.

Back in 1970 the NME described the McCartney album as a warm pleasure. 50 years on that is an apt description for McCartney III – it’s an album I’ll be returning to as the long cold days and nights ahead take hold.

In these crazy times, Paul McCartney is a comforting constant in my life and no doubt millions of others too…and McCartney III only enhances that fact…

Dave Lewis – December 22,2020

2020 TBL round up compiled by Dave Lewis December 29,2020. 


Remembering the late great legendary Lemmy – five years gone on December 28:

I was privileged to be in his company a couple of times – notably at the Classic Rock awards at the Roundhouse in 2011. Lemmy was there that night to pick up an award. I had a few minutes with him (this pic was taken then) and asked him for a quote about Led Zeppelin IV for the then forthcoming TBL issue 30 which was celebrating the album’s 40th anniversary. This is what he told me:

”I can remember being down the Speakeasy club with Jimmy quite a few times and Bonzo would be around too. They were just the best musicians and that album is one of many of theirs that still sound amazing. They were a fucking amazing band”

The same could be said for his band -RIP Lemmy…


LZ News:

Led Zeppelin News Update:

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

http://ledzepnews.com/


Reason To Be Cheerful in 2021…

Here’s another reason to be cheerful in 2021

This is a teaser clip from the LedZep Film guys – this looks really great – more to follow in 2021…

Here’s their update info on this:

From the production team that brought you BADGEHOLDER BLUES, we are in the process of putting together Thumping of the Pistons, the best of Led Zeppelin’s U.S. 1975 tour. Coming 2021.

Check out the teaser clip here…

Led Zeppelin: Thumping of the Pistons – Teaser Clip (Coming 2021) – YouTube

………………………..

2021 more reasons to be cheerful – here’s some things I am looking forward to over the coming year…

The forthcoming release of the Immigrant Song /Hey Hey What Can I Do official  single…

The Ross Halfin Led Zeppelin Vinyl The Essential Collection book…

More news of the release of the official Led Zeppelin Documentary…

New archive releases from Bob Dylan (1970 50th Anniversary Collection 3 CD set due Feb 26 and George Harrison  – the All Things Must Pass  remastered version being lined up…

The Peter Jackson Beatles Get Back film which is due in August…

Celebrating the 50th anniversary of Led Zeppelin IV and Stairway To Heaven…


DL Diary Blog Update:

Update here:

Christmas came and went as it does and we were thankful here to enjoy it as best we could – and we very much did that.

One again this was all led by the amazing good lady Janet – lighting up my Christmas in her own special way as she has done for the past 38…here’s a pic of us on Christmas Day…

There was some drama in this area over the Christmas period when Bedford became a major news story due to the flooding of the Great River Ouse.  The village Adam lives in with his girlfriend just outside Bedford was one of the worst hit areas. This photo of the river I took on Boxing Day morning shows the extent of the river levels – the highest here for nearly 25 years. Thankfully despite more rain, the levels lowered the next day and have been manageable since. It was certainly a scary situation for a while.

 

 

There were lovely presents to open – knowing of my fascination with samplers and compilation albums John Parkin searched out a superb Polydor Records sampler from 1973 and Andrew Ricci sent over the equally superb Tea And Symphony  -thank you -you very kind people!

 

 

 

 

 

Also under the tree here was the fantastic 10 CD Elton John Jewel box set and the excellent Fleetwood Mac CD box set 1969 To 1974.

I’ve been planning some TBL things

As a new year beckons and we are all hoping for some better days – here we are hoping Janet’s broken leg recovery continues and her leg strengthens -it’s been a bit sore recently – I have some heart scans coming up and my mental health issues on go and I am trying to get on track with all that – of course, we are all concerned about the infection rate and sincerely hope the vaccine roll out brings relief and protection. As ever, our thoughts go out to you all to stay safe and well.

 

As 2021 dawns, let’s hope this optimistic line from track three, side one of The Who’s Tommy will prove to ring true

”I’ve got a feeling ’21 is going to be a good year”

Once again many thanks for all your incredible, inspiring and heart-warming support and kindness this past year which means so much to us.

On behalf of the good lady Janet may I wish you all a hopeful safe new year 

Thanks for listening – stay safe and well you very lovely people…

Dave  Lewis – December 29, 2020

Until next time, stay safe and stay well…

Website updates written and compiled by Dave Lewis

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8 Comments »

  • Dave Lewis (author) said:

    Lee many thanks

  • Lee Clarke said:

    Hi Dave–thanks for the great updates-love the pic of you and Janet! Yes, I do hope 2021 is better for all of us. Happy Birthday to JPJ–75!! Long may he run

  • Dave Lewis (author) said:

    Dave many thanks

  • VHP said:

    Hi Dave,

    Happy New Year to everyone – and I completely agree with your quote from The Who – 21 has just got to be better – please!

    I really like your review of Bruce Springsteen’s new release Letter To You. I did read that it was recorded as a live band with no overdubs, and to my ears (what I have heard on Radio 2 * Planet Rock) it sounds amazing. Must go and buy it. I remember seeing Bruce at Wembley Stadium (’85) the weekend before Live Aid and it was such an amazing show. Although I had been going to gigs for quite a number of years it was my first stadium gig, and I was seriously impressed with the sound quality, and how Bruce made it feel like we were all in a much smaller venue. His ability to project himeself made everyone feel a part of the show.

    Along with seeing The Who (several times) Led Zep (at the O2) and Pink Floyd (Earls Court ’94) seeing Bruce is up there in my top 10 of gigs I have been to.

    It was good to read in a recent interview that Jimmy has ‘reconnected with the guitar’ during the pandemic – but that doesn’t meant that he will be out there any time soon. I think I am correct when he was talking about John Miles being able to cover all aspects vocally of Jimmy’s career during the Outrider tour. And if he ever went out again – and he wasn’t saying that he would do – but if he did then someone like John would be good.

    Anyway – I am looking forward to the rescheduled Jeff Beck gig in June 2022. Only 18 months away!!

    Take care everyone please and stay safe.

  • Chris Cook said:

    Hi Dave

    Thankyou for another year of Zep related wonderment.

    Just to say I heard a nice cover of “Friends” by David Neerman and the Ensemble Vocal Sequenza 9.3 from their album ‘Noir Lac” on the radio in France a few evenings ago.

    https://www.francemusique.fr/emissions/banzzai/made-2020-air-Lakecia-Benjamin-Keith-Jarrett-Vincent-Peirani-Matthew-Halsall-and-more-90502

    Keep on enjoying the music and stay strong

    Chris

  • Graham Walker said:

    Happy New Year to you and your family Dave, I hope it is an enjoyable and healthy one!

  • Dave Lewis (author) said:

    many thanks Charles

  • Charles Tattersall said:

    Dave this is fascinating stuff and some great writing. I wish some of these LZ bootlegs were officially available as they are very hard to find! Keep up the good work and all the best for 2021.

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