CALIFORNIA BREED ALBUM/CHRIS CHARLESWORTH BLOG/JIMMY PAGE FRENCH BOOK/HI FI LOUNGE EVENT/TBL ARCHIVE – PHYSICAL GRAFFITI THE CREATIVE PROCESS /DL DIARY UPDATE
California Breed album ready to go:
California Breed, the new band formed by Glenn Hughes, Jason Bonham and Andrew Watt have their new album out on May 19th.
Here’s the info:
California Breed is the new band featuring legendary vocalist-bassist Glenn Hughes, drummer extraordinaire Jason Bonham and 23-year-old newcomer guitarist-vocalist Andrew Watt.
The band’s self-titled debut album will be released in the UK on May 19th by Frontiers Records. The album will be released in regular CD and CD/DVD Deluxe Edition formats.
The album was produced by Dave Cobb (Rival Sons, Lindi Ortega, Shooter Jennings) at his Nashville-based studio and features equal co-writing credits among the three-man line-up. “It’s proper rock”, says Hughes, “but at the same time it’s very now. I live in the moment, California Breed is where I live, breathe and where my freak flag flies.”
Talking to Classic Rock about new band member Andrew Watt Glenn added “Andrew is more influenced by Jimmy Page than Ritchie Blackmore,” differentiates Hughes, “and he also loves Mick Ronson and John Frusciante [of the Red Hot Chili Peppers]. We speak the same language and we co-wrote the songs together. He’s ready for an opportunity like this, but above all Andrew is someone that actually wants to play 120 shows a year.”
The album’s track listing runs as follows: The Way, Sweet Tea, Chemical Rain, Midnight Oil, All Falls Down, The Grey, Days The Come, Spit You Out, Strong, Invisible, Scars and Breathe.
Deluxe Edition includes “Solo” bonus track, and a DVD including 2 video clips (“The Way” and “Sweet Tea”, plus documentary).
For further unfolding details at:
See Classic Rock story at:
Chris Charlesworth Blog:
Chris Charlesworth, former Melody Maker journalist and Omnibus Press editor in chief (and ‘’music writer’’ as Classic Rock put it in their Knebworth book review), not to mention long time Zep associate and TBL supporter, has a great blog of his always perceptive views on a variety of artists and subjects -with plenty of his Led Zeppelin stories retold….I’ve heard many of these first hand from Chris over the years, so it’s good to find them all in print and in one place. Well worth a look:
New Jimmy Page book published in France:
A new Jimmy Page book has just been published in France. Written by Daniel Leseur, it collates detailed information on Jimmy’s 1960s session work. Thanks to Didier Janeault for the info.
More details here
Hi Fi Lounge/TBL Led Zeppelin Day –Saturday March 8th, 2014:
All roads lead to Dunton in Bedfordshire on Saturday as we stage a special Led Zeppelin day in conjunction with Paul Clark at the Hi Fi Lounge .
With a good turn out expected, I have tailored the timetable to be a little more informal to keep things flowing along. On the day we will be bringing along some great vinyl material, CD’s, surround sound DVD’s,Blu rays etc.
Upstairs in the demo room we will have playbacks of the official albums on 180 gram vinyl, rare outtake material, multi tracks, and regular DVD segments of rare footage including Earls Court and Knebworth.
The hi fi set up will be linked to mightily impressive PMC speakers. When I visited Paul recently, he gave me a demonstration of Whole Lotta Love – now I’ve heard that track a fair few times over the past 45 years but never in such clarity –it was like being in the control room of Olympic Studios…simply stunning! Be prepared for an incredible listening experience…
The headphones room will be tuned exclusively into a stream of Zep tracks, while downstairs in the reception area, there will be an opportunity to mingle with like-minded fans to the sound of non-stop Zep. Refreshments will also be available.
There will also be various TBL merchandise on offer, including the Knebworth, Over Europe and From A Whisper To A Scream books, recent TBL magazines and TBL T-shirts.
All in all this looks set to be a great day out for Led Zeppelin enthusiasts and hi fi fans alike…
As previously mentioned, if you are planning on attending, if you have not already done so it would be a great help if you could let me know via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
We look forward to seeing all that can make it along.
Full details here:
DL Diary Update:
As with any build up to a TBL event, it’s been a little fraught here this week with preparation and planning for the Hi Fi Lounge date. A bit of a nasty bug going around these parts has not helped with the boy Adam and the good lady Janet both feeling under par early in the week. I’m soldiering on hoping I can stay as match fit as possible for Saturday. There’s also some website tech stuff on going to deal with concerning the renewal and upgrade of the TBL web server.
Coupled with Hi Fi Lounge prep and tech issues, there’s been some intensive work on the forthcoming TBL 37 – namely the TBL 45 year retrospective focusing on the first Zep US tour expertly compiled ( as ever) by Mike Tremaglio. This is a log of those all-important first US appearances that really hones in on the immediate impact the band had. This has led to some detailed layout and design with Mick – the end result I think will be a definite highlight of the new issue – and it will I’m sure inspire you to go back to those early tapes as featured on the likes of the Live at the Whiskey A Go Go and Fresh Garbage CD’s. That’s certainly been the case with me.
There’s been a fair bit of live in ’69 Zep on the player here in the past few days. The Hi Fi lounge prep has also led me to searching out a variety of LP’s, CD’s and DVD’s to bring along. Notably the outtake stuff on Studio Magik such as the first album outtakes (the early takes of Babe I’m Gonna Leave You are just starling!). The Led Zep II multi tracks have also been given an airing – they really bring out the sheer genuius of John Bonham. As do the Zep IV alternates such as that fantastic take of Four Sticks with Bonzo’s gruff dialogue at the intro and the two versions of When The Levee Breaks.
The prospect of hearing this material and a whole lot more, on pristine hi fi in the company of like minded fans is an exciting one for sure. Health issues here permitting, I am hoping for a great day – it will certainly be a tonic to get out of these four walls, spread the TBL word and converse on the subject that dominates many waking hours here.…and of course it will be great to see the likes of the visiting Gary Foy, Gary Davies (who I haven’t seen for at least three years), Richard Grubb from Wales, Cliff the ticket man, John Ion due over from Sweden, Dena Zarans who contributed a great piece to the Knebworth book who I haven’t seen in a good few years, Ian Avey etc – full report to follow next week. DL – March 6th, 2014.
With the story of the Ron Nevison Physical Graffiti mixes being up for auction doing the rounds, here’s a timely TBL Archive special. This is my original summary of the so called ”Oh My God” tape that first surfaced in 1997 and has been much bootlegged since. The mixes discussed here appear to be similar to those that are due to be auctioned.
TBL ARCHIVE SPECIAL:
IN THE LIGHT YOU WILL FIND THE CREATIVE PROCESS…
Early 1974. England off the back of an enforced three day week. TV shutting down at 10.30 (try explaining that to the Sky satellite generation!). Limited food rationing. The Miners battle with Ted Heath. An energy crisis looming. Dark days indeed.
But not for everybody. Down in a quiet Hampshire village there was an abundant use of energy going down.- energy of both a physical and musical kind that would shape the future of the group of musicians ensconced inside the 18th century workhouse they were using to record.
This was Led Zeppelin’s lost year. The one that “Didn’t really happen” as Jimmy Page put it so modestly.
In truth it very much did happen. Not in the public glare that had seen them perform Over 70 live gigs the previous year. Instead this was a period of re-evaluation. The sabbatical. The re-assessment. The year of the no show – of record label launches and guest-appearance jam sessions. The year of no to Knebworth, but yes to pleasing themselves.
‘’It was in those dark early months of 1974 that Led Zeppelin laid down the tracks that would formulate the backbone of their next record release. – the double album known as Physical Graffiti that would emerge the following February. Many, myself included, consider it to be their premier recorded statement – a summary package that reflected every colour of the spectrum. Free from the constraints of touring, that period of recording inside Headley Grange with the Ronnie Lane mobile unit parked outside, proved to be one of the most fruitful and creative spells of their career.
A relaxed atmosphere-that would yield fresh experimentation. As Plant put it at the time: “Over a period of a month we managed to spend at least three days a week, recording, in between various calamities and the Roy Harper Valentine gig. Some artists like to sit down and plan an album. We just can’t do that. Our music is more an impromptu thing. You know, it drops out of your mind, it falls out of your .head, and onto the floor, and you pick it up as it bounces. That’s how it works. But what else can you expect We hire this recording truck and trudge off to some, crude old house in the country. The last thing you expect is the music to fall right into place. But eventually it does”.
Anything that can take us back to that period that takes us closer to the process that brought forth such an embarrassment of riches is very welcome indeed.
Therefore anticipation has been high on the collecting circles over the past few months that a previously unheard batch of outtakes from these 1974 sessions was about to emerge. We were not to be disappointed.
There has been previous outtake material from this era – bootlegged a decade or so on the Tangible Vandalism vinyl release. The bulk of the tracks featured were early rehearsal run thoughts. But the emergence of this tape of newly discovered alternate takes offers a whole new dimension on the way it really was down in that workhouse in those energy crisis fuelled months.
This 33 minute remnant from that lost year is a startling discovery. As illuminating in its way as any live or studio material that has emerged in this decade. And easily the most important studio find since the Studio Daze CD. It emerges with these credentials because it tells us much more than we already know about the creativity of the group during that period. And the underlining link throughout the tracks is the performance of one John Henry Bonham.
Listening to his powerhouse contributions to these studio performances, it’s not hard to see why years after his untimely demise he remains the greatest rock drummer of all time. It’s so obvious he was at the centre of so much of their development during this period. As Plant recalled years later: “Some of the great stuff came from Bonzo taking a hold of the thing and making it work from a drums point of view”
“It was just an amazing drum sound” as Page acknowledged at the time of the Remasters box set release. “Nobody else could have created that sex groove and many have tried”.
The material here is made up of the following components: Two basic tracks complete aside from their eventual overdubs, one instrumental backing track, one completely alternative version and a run through of a legendary unreleased Page led instrumental. That stark description almost devalues the epic proportions of what this tape offers. As for the actual sound quality, well it’s far removed from previous extracts from this era. Not quite A1 but most acceptable – full and rounded with just a hint of top end. Allegedly, this was a tape owned by Robert Plant and given to an associate of the band during their 1975 US Tour.
So let’s dissect this alternate Graffiti:
Trampled Underfoot and Custard Pie are the complete songs delivered minus overdubs. In this starker content both of them seem to present a much gutsier edge than the officially released versions. That’s not to say they’re superior- just different. One thing’s immediately apparent. The raw aggression of both these deliveries make Led Zeppelin sound like the greatest garage band in the universe – grunge long before grunge was even thought about. As Robert commented at the time of the Swan Song launch, “There’s a lot of fire about this album. People have been saying what’s happening to the real Zeppelin. I suppose the word is raunch really. Well there’s a lot of that present again. We did some real belters with live vocals some really off-the-wall stuff”.
And “Raunch” is an apt description for this version of Trampled Underfoot. Basically what we get here is the finished master minus any guitar overdubs and mixed in a way that presents Robert’s vocal in a grittier style. His vocal is mixed in a double track method that exposes the roughness of his vocal chords at that time. This of course is the early ’74 Headley Grange period – possibly post Plant vocal chord operation, (see page 100 of The Concert File for the full story). As previously noted, Bonzo is just magnificent driving his way through the tempo while John Paul Jones’ clavinet is also much more prominent in the mix, enhancing the Stevie Wonder technique of that period (check out Stevie’s Talking Book album) that the song is allegedly influenced by. In the spring of 1974, Page took this master into Olympic Studios, duly added the guitar overdubs, and came out with one of the most instant numbers of the entire album. A future stage favourite, another UK single that wasn’t and another career milestone. I mean, who could have imagined them coming up with this hybrid mix of rock and funk (as Nick Kent observed there was a definite Kool and the Gang influence at play here) say around the time of the third album?
There were new developments afoot and Trampled Underfoot was one of the most successful.
Custard Pie meanwhile found them reaffirming their blues roots (reference points include Blind Boy Fuller’s I Want Some Of Your Pie and Bukkla White’s Shake Em On Down) in a concoction of out and out riff led energy that cooks and smoulders from the moment Page kicks in some very 60s Kinks like licks. The version here is again near to finished master minus overdubs mixed with more echo and featuring an entirely different Plant harmonica solo and has a full ending. It lacks the ARP synth effect employed by Page on the overdubs but this mix does present Jonesy’s clavinet effects clearer than ever before. It had me leading off on a tangent on how this must have looked in the studio (house!) at the time – and if there had have been an accompanying video shot, would we not be looking at the jovial Plant strutting around Jimmy’s Gibson shadowed by a grinning Jonesy and Bonzo mouthing out the words in sheer bliss, knowing that they have stumbled on an instant groove – a groove that allowed them to just kick in and recreate within four walls, what their ever increasing audiences were subjected to time and time again on stage. This Custard Pie outtake sounds like it could have been recorded on any night of their ’73 tour, capturing all the vibrancy of their best live work. The fact that they managed to capture that vibe whilst ensconced in the Headley workhouse is a testament to their total compatibility for the mobile studio recording methods.
“One day when we were rehearsing for some album that we really didn’t know too much about, Bonzo came in with this really nice driving tempo. Really laid back sort of “shoom shoom”. And we thought mandrax? No. And having been travelling a little bit to get the feel of foreign lands, the song developed from that ‘shoom shoom’… and with a touch of the east, a little bit of cholera on the arm… and what we had left was Kashmir”. (Robert Plant from the Earls Court stage, May 24th 1975)
That “shoom shoom” tempo is heard in possibly greater effect than ever before on the instrumental version of Kashmir presented on the tape. This is not the Driving To Kashmir Page Bonham demo mentioned by Jimmy in the celebrated Trouser Press interview in 1977 (though who knows – maybe that will surface one day). What we get is a complete instrumental run down beginning with Bonzo’s “1-2-3-4″ count in. This version’s backing track sounds very much like the finished version. However it’s a real novelty to hear just the three of them (Jonesy on bass) bearing down incessantly on that classic mesmeric riff. It’s much easier to hear Jimmy scrubbing across the strings while in the percussion department the whole thing is a startling exercise in Bonham expertise with that phased timpani ringing out. At around 3.18 you can make out Robert briefly joining in the background. At the end of the slower mid part ((i.e. where the “woman talking to ya” ad lib would appear) there’s a supreme moment as the three of them grind to a halt for a about a second before Bonzo crashes them back in and that riff kicks in again.
If they ever get around to doing an Anthology film, I want to hear this version of Kashmir blaring out as the camera pans around that stairway in Headley Grange, recalling the moment when that “shoom shoom” tempo came alive.
In an interview conducted mid-way through the sixth album sessions, Robert commented that they may have come up with what might loosely be described as ”The New Zeppelin Classic” i.e. a successor to Stairway. “Well we’ve got the ground work for another one. I’ve got to get myself on one of those Edwardian steam boats and go choogling around Hong Kong Harbour. Maybe sitting in a ricksaw could do it. All I know is that I’ll need to be 100 per cent in the right place to get it done. It may not be ready for this album. We’d like to think it will wind up being a monumental track… Maybe it is already”
Though that statement could have been applied to more than one of the new tracks (not least of which the Swan Song epic), it’s conceivable that In The Light might have been the song he was describing.
At the time of release, In The Light was said to be Jimmy’s favourite track of the whole set. It’s a shame they never got around to performing a proper live version. Of all the band’s more epic constructions, this opus is perhaps the most underrated and underplayed. More recently it’s gained something of a renewed prominence – indeed Robert inserted lyrics from the track within several of the CallingTo You /Whole Lotta Love medleys on the 95/96 world tour. The arrival of this complete alternative version only adds credence to the fact that this really is one of their most outstanding compositions.
The genesis of In The Light has of course already been exposed by the In The Morning/Take Me Home early run through in the Tangible Vandalism album. Those versions were attempts on both the lyrics and the structure of the piece. This new delivery of In The Light is a complete alternate version (which could be loosely termed ”The Elizabethan arrangement”) and put simply sounds magnificent.
I first played this back after returning late at night after being interviewed for The Concert File by Bob Harris. The combination of the sheer adrenaline from that encounter with the whispering legend, coupled with the heavy nostalgia of discussing Zeppelin’s Whistle Test connections etc. made this initial playback a truly memorable one – on a par with the first time I heard Achilles Last Stand. It’s one of those performances that inspires open mouthed appreciation. And here’s why:
Firstly rather than the electric keyboard drone of the official version, this take is driven by an almost Elizabethan harpsichord keyboard motive from Jonesy – one of those great underplayed Jonesy contributions (Other examples: the keyboard effect on the slowed down part of the 79/80 live versions of In The Evening and the mock phantom of the opera closing arrangement of the live Over Europe version of All My Love). That in itself is a major discovery. Then Robert comes in with the opening lyrics, slightly phased ala the studio Song Remains. The lyrics here are completely different to both the In The Morning/Take Me Home variety and the finished official version. They are also less sophisticated than the “Sing a song of salvation” theme of In The Morning and the “If you feel that you can’t go” on rap of the official take. Basically Robert seems to be expressing the virtues of the sunny weather as opposed to the rain (“Sunshine brings laughter, rain clouds bring me down”) and as I sit here constructing this on a wet August bank holiday I can relate to that…
The sketchy nature of the lyrics hint that this version may even have been the very first attempt at a guide vocal before they further experimented with the In The Morning/Take Me Home lyrical ideas.
Following the phased intro, it then all clicks into the familiar bombastic riff exercise and it’s Bonzo again leading the way pushing the singer’s confidence along. The guitar and drum tracks sound almost identical to the finished master and were probably retained for the final mix. There are some vocal alterations on the chorus with Plant first repeating the “In the light” phrase twice and then changing it to “With the light” on the final refrain. He comes in slightly early with the “Shoo wop a do… everybody needs the light” line before the finale which is minus the multi dubbed guitar parts that so enlightened the released take.
This provides further opportunity to marvel at Bonham’s drum patterns as they crash around the kit “Oh” exclaims the singer before it all grinds to a halt. Suffice to say this is a marvellous alternate take with Jonesy’s Elizabethan links shedding new light on an old friend. Given a little work on the lyrics, it could have rightly taken it’s place proudly on the album. As it turned out, they scrapped this version and started again this time placing the emphasis on the drone effect. The fact that it was discarded says much for their insistence to further experiment and strive for new sounds during this period.
As for this alternate take – one has to wonder why Page did not recall it for active duty on Coda – it also strikes me it would also have made a great bonus on the new Whole Lotta Love CD single.
Instead it was left to languish without our knowing. It also begs the question -how many other great complete studio alternate takes of their songs do they have lining the archive?
Finally there is another legendary unheard classic to dissect. Before we get to discuss what’s now emerged – it’s worth back-tracking the rather turbulent history of this Page led instrumental.
Following the completion of their 1973 US tour, it was reported that the group were contemplating ideas for their next album. One of them allegedly centred around a long instrumental which would be based upon Page’s Yardbirds tour de force White Summer. At the official launch of Swan Song the following May, Page was giving out the story that the label name had been adapted from the aforementioned instrumental epic which was being recorded for their new album “I’d been recording this long instrumental and somebody shouted ‘what’s the title’. I shouted back ‘Swan Song’ and everybody stopped and said what a good name that would be for the album. From there it got carried over to being the name for our label”.
That was the last that was heard on this project for some time.- Physical Graffiti being released the following February with no room for the in-progress epic. However Page did refer to it again after the release of Presence. Talking to Chris Welch in October 1976 he had this to say:
“I’ve spoken before about a long piece I’d written. It was to have gone on Presence. I had it all planned out and arranged but it was too dangerous to rely on because of the time factor. I knew how much time would be needed for overdubs and it wasn’t the sort of thing John Paul Jones and I could put together. I wanted to orchestrate the guitar and put it through various treatments. The original idea was to have four sections coming back to the same theme each time. There would be four separate melody lines dealing with the seasons. Robert will do the lyrics. I know I can work the whole thing out from the trial runs I’ve laid down. Its a really exciting prospect.”
Swan Song therefore may well have been in contention for the album they would have recorded in the fall of 1977 – before the tragic events that curtailed the US tour. Whatever finished state it was in, that number remained in the can and it’s again surprising that Page felt no desire to try and complete it for the 1982 posthumous release Coda.
However the basis of Swan Song was eventually deployed in a composition co- written with Paul Rodgers known as Midnight Moonlight. This was the epic number released on The Firm’s debut album – and premiered on the US leg of the ARM’S tour in late 1983 when it was introduced as Bird On A Wing. A nine minute marathon, it did carry elements of instrumentation that Page had used on the live versions of White Summer as far back as 1970.
The released version of Midnight Moonlight should have heralded a new triumph for Jimmy in his new collaboration with Rodgers – but like much of The Firm’s output it promised more than it delivered. It did contain some beautiful moments but ultimately emerged as a mish mash of ideas hampered by a poor production and excessive female backing vocals. It did work better as a live vehicle notably on the 1988 Outrider tour where Jimmy’s renewed fluency hinted at the true potential of this long talked about masterwork.
That potential is now exposed better than ever before with the arrival of two takes of the Zeppelin studio version.
Previously Swan Song had only been exposed by an acoustic demo that surfaced from Jimmy’s private home recording tapes. The versions here appear in a primitive mixed and overdubbed state hinting that full completion was not all that far way.
Version One on this new tape opens with Page’s acoustic drifting – and then Jones/Bonham rhythm section kick in – with all the deft syncopation that is and was Zeppelin. Bonham again adding a vital swing to the whole movement of the piece. The pace lets up for Jimmy to solo on the refrain that would become the Bird On A Wing chorus. Indeed it’s a moment of sheer delight when the familiar chords are delicately applied. The second segment kicks back in with Page again leading the descending riff (incorporating the bass acoustics to be heard on Ten Years Gone) eventually introducing some simply beautifully drifting overdubs – hinting again at the majesty this piece would have embraced in a full tilt Zeppelin classic arrangement. It’s also apparent that the addition of suitable Plant lyrics and vocals would have greatly enhanced the track – giving rise to Page’s 1976 comments of the song being divided into differing sections.
Swan Song as recorded in 1974 is a tantalising glimpse into what can now rightly be described as the great lost epic. As wonderful as these excerpts are – there’s still the overriding factor that this piece was clearly in an incomplete state, and despite Jimmy’s recall of the idea years later, it remains something of an unfinished symphony. It would be great to see Jimmy and Robert return to the tape and properly complete the song for inclusion on a future Page/ Plant release. The chances of that though are pretty remote… so we are left with these Swan Song sixth album session outtakes revealing a hint at what might have been.
So ends this illuminating peep behind the Graffiti windows. One could argue that much of this material was never considered for mass listening and are clearly work in progress tapes. But as was revealed so conclusively by The Beatles Anthology series – such outtakes material can often reveal a texture and atmosphere that admirably compliments the officially released versions – and most importantly of all, offers vital evidence into the creative procedure that duly made these songs what they were.
That fact can certainly be said of this ”Oh my God” tape – which like all the vital unreleased material really does add more colours to the canvas that was so clearly exposing the new sound of Led Zeppelin back in the early months of 1974.
Dave Lewis – August 25th, 1997
Originally written for Tight But Loose 13
In The Light…..alternate version
Swan Song….parts one and two
Until next time…Keep listening, keep reading…
Have a great weekend…
Dave Lewis/Gary Foy – March 6th , 2014.
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