CHARLES SHAAR MURRAY INTERVIEW FOR NEXT TBL/ ROBERT PLANT US TOUR REPORTS/INTERVIEW CLIP / YOU TUBE CLIPS/ DL DIARY UPDATE
Yesterday I met with legendary writer/author Charles Shaar Murray for an interview for the next TBL magazine. I’ve been looking to hook up with Charles for some time and during our interview we discussed his early writing career at the underground magazine Oz, how he got to play on the Oz benefit single in the company of John Lennon, his reviews of Led Zeppelin in the NME, Rolling Stones, Who, Beatles etc. He also added great insight into the times he saw Zep in LA in 1973 and at the Kezar stadium gig. All fascinating stuff and a huge thrill for me to meet and interview a writer whose work was such an inspiration to me in first wanting to put pen to paper and write about rock music myself when I was a mere teenager back in the 70s. Full interview with CSM in the next TBL.
The pic above shows Charles Shaar Murray in West Hampstead during our interview yesterday, reading his original review of Zep at Earls Court that concluded with the immortal summary ‘’Maybe the key to Led Zeppelin is this: they ‘re like a vibrator. It can get you off something ridiculous but it can’t kiss you goodnight’’. We laughed about the fact that Robert Plant name checked him from the stage advising him to ‘Keep taking the pills’ before the encore of Communication Breakdown at the May 25 show. Robert was to name check Charles again at the Knebworth August 4th show in reference to his review of Presence. More on all this in the next TBL magazine.
Charles is conducting masterclass courses in creative writing in journalism under the banner of The Hothouse Project this autumn in West Hampstead. As he explains ‘’ The Hothouse Project is a vehicle for me to pass on to new writers, both in classes and in one-to-one tutorials, some of what I’ve learned in forty years hewing at the journalistic coalface.”
Full details at:
Latest Robert Plant Presents Sensational Space Shifters US tour feedback:
Robert Plant Presents Sensational Space Shifters at Red Rocks
It’s not every day you get to stand before a living rock legend decades after his most famous musical project and arguably the greatest rock band of all time, Led Zeppelin, parted ways. During that time, Plant wasn’t twiddling his thumbs or catching up on crossword puzzles. He explored different musical paths and cultivated completely different sounds, never allowing his past musical success to dictate his future sounds – sounds so different it was hard to picture them coming from the same swinging mop of blonde locks.
Now Plant has a new project, which allows for his voice to again steal the spotlight, as the high-pitched squeals we’ve come to expect from him woke from their slumber, only raspier and ripe with age. There he stood, on the stage of Red Rocks Amphitheater with the same buoyant curls and British flair for showmanship, only this time surrounded by a different set of musicians – the Sensational Space Shifters. Plant sauntered onstage shortly after Austin psych-rock band, The Black Angels, set the tone with their sharp-edge style.
“Hey,” he shouted to the audience. “I said, HEY!”
Plant dug up the Zeppelin hits and gave his band the freedom to put a new, bluesier spin on these tried and true songs. For the first number, guitarist Liam Tyson strummed the acoustic intro to Zeppelin’s ”Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You,” sending the crowd into a frenzy. This opened up for Plant wailing “babes” and showed that he’s still capable of hitting those coveted shrieks. As the song ended, Plant set the mic stand back on the stage and looked out the crowd.
“As they say in England, here today gone tomorrow,” Plant purred, his accented speaking voice nearly as entrancing as his singing.
The band led into one of their own songs, “In the Mood,” which was received well even by those eager for more Zeppelin. They band then fired into a haunting rendition of “Black Dog,” to which Plant added tribal sounds with the help of Juldeh Camara, a musician from Gambia, who strummed a unique mix of instruments, including a single-string fiddle and a West African banjo.
“It’s such a different world without a banjo,” Plant squealed, giddy with the excitement of this new sound.
They then slipped into the first few chords of “Going to California” as Zeppelin fans sank into nostalgia and Plant crooned the tune, remaining faithful to its original style. The band also stayed true to the Zeppelin sound during “Friends” and “Whole Lotta Love,” in which Tyson wowed on one of the most recognized guitar riffs of all time. The band did take liberties with the song and peppered in samples of “Who do You Love,” before heading back into the “Whole Lotta Love” melody.
“I forgot about the altitude,” Plant huffed and looked up through the red cliffs. “Hey, up there it looks like the misty mountain top.”
The allusion didn’t go unnoticed as the crowd continued to appreciate Plant’s zany comments. At one point he even kindly greeted a moth that flew into his face. Plant showed us all that at 64 years old, he can still perform with all the excitement and energy of a twenty-something.
Plant and the Shifters closed with an encore cover of “Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down” and the ever-popular Zeppelin anthem, “Rock and Roll.” A couple sitting in front of me waved incense sticks and embraced. They told me they’d just seen Plant at High Sierra Music Festival in California and drove eighteen hours to see him again only six days later. Why?
“Because it’s Robert Plant at Red Rocks, man.” And it was Sensational.
Alex Faubel /303 magazine
Above photo by Caitlin Savage
Robert Plant Sensational at Chateau Ste. Michelle Saturday Night
By Corbin Reiff -Seattle Weekly
It can be fairly said that no rock star of his generation is less fond of nostalgia than Robert Plant. Since Led Zeppelin disbanded in 1980, Plant has done nearly all that he could to step out of the band’s undeniably large shadow. And while he personally might not be one to live a life stuck in the past, he did his part to let those in attendance at the Chateau Ste. Michelle on Saturday night have their moment.
The singer and his latest band The Sensational Space Shifters delivered a set that was heavy on hits, highlighted with songs like “Going to California” and “What Is and What Should Never Be” played in updated arrangements that kept the evening from feeling too much like a greatest hits review. As is always the case for a Robert Plant show, Led Zeppelin loomed large over the festivities even if the name of the group itself remained unspoken. In an ironic twist and by sheer happenstance, as he first took the stage and launched into “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You,” two hot-air balloons happened to drift up into view on either side of the singer providing a striking backdrop to the earlier portion of the show.
Plant—as he always has—took an irreverent stance when it came to the music produced by his old band; before playing a world music flavored rendition of “Black Dog,” he welcomed the crowd and invited us all to share in a “night of soft rock and REO Speedwagon covers.” He later joked that “Rock and Roll” was an old sea chantey brought along by the Pilgrims to the New World in the 1600s.
The music itself was superb with the singer and his newest outfit playing each song in the set with a mixture of technical wizardry as well as an improvisational spirit that left you wondering where each song might go. The Willie Dixon penned blues standard “Spoonful” was covered in a spacey electronica fueled interpretation while “In the Mood” off Plant’s 1983 solo album The Principle of the Moment was kept pretty close to the jaunty original.
While the songs themselves certainly didn’t remain the same, the singer’s voice has defied the ages and each number was delivered with an authority that recalled the vocal power he summoned in his later years with Led Zeppelin near the peak of their chart dominance in 1975. Prior to the tour, Plant claimed he wanted to bring his “big voice” out again which he certainly did with gusto on the most well received song of the evening “Whole Lotta Love” performed in all its original bombastic glory.
Ultimately, the show was akin to a journey through both space and time with Plant and the Space Shifters taking us from the golden hills of California to the distant shores of Eastern Africa, the sun-scorched fields of Mississippi, and the hopped up juke joints of Chicago. While it isn’t known where Plant’s own journey might take him next, it’s certain the man isn’t ready to stop ramblin’ just yet.
Robert Plant Takes Zeppelin Songs to New Places
By Chris Talbott AP Music Writer Nashville, Tenn.
Robert Plant knows his fans want Led Zeppelin and he’s happy to comply. On his own terms. Plant is on the road this summer with a new band, The Sensational Space Shifters, and he’s offering up fan favorites — rejiggered a bit to keep him excited about the music he’s been performing for more than four decades. “You just hit it, give it a good bang,” Plant said. “It’s sort of like taking a can of wasps and giving it a good bang with a stick, and then opening the lid. It’s just like, ‘Ooooh!’ That makes me sing better and it makes me go back to not feeling that I’m a cliche, that I’m not actually just going through the motions. … This is obviously a gig but nonetheless you can still make it into a great pleasure dome for yourself, which is what I do.” Plant is on tour with The Space Shifters through July. He’s hitting Red Rocks in Colorado and the Forecastle Festival in Louisville, Ky., this week with stops in Atlanta, North Carolina and Boston before wrapping in Prospect Park in Brooklyn July 27 after successful runs in South America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.
He and former Zeppelin bandmates Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones, who ended the band when John Bonham died in 1980, incited public hope for a reunion when they appeared in London and New York together last year to promote “Celebration Day,” the film and music release of the band’s 2007 concert at London’s O2 Arena. The band testily deflected questions about a reunion. “We rode on the crest of every wave for a period of time, us bunch of guys,” Plant said in a phone interview from San Francisco. “And sadly that couldn’t last because one of the guys vanished. And so what happens now is I’m a man of the world like so many people, like in his own way Ry Cooder and Peter Gabriel. …
You pick up so much stuff along the way, you know, and you put it all together, you switch the power on and people smile and then they dance and then they sweat and then they scream, and it’s either that or sit on a stool and sing George Jones songs.”
The tour effectively marks the end of a seven-year Americana period for Plant that started with “Raising Sand,” his 2007 Grammy Award-winning collaboration with Alison Krauss and T Bone Burnett, and continued through his most recent work with girlfriend Patty Griffin, Buddy Miller and Band of Joy. The Space Shifters turn it into something of an abrupt ending. “I went back to the U.K. and I said to my pals, ‘Let’s go urban, let’s go British, let’s go African. Let’s turn the volume up and let’s just stick the fire underneath it again,’” Plant said. As the name suggests, the band brings a spacey, psychedelic and sometimes improvisational quality to Plant’s back catalog.
The group consists of four players Plant used before his Americana period — guitarists Justin Adams and Liam Tyson, bassist Billy Fuller and John Baggott on the keys — and recent additions, drummer Dave Smith and Julmeh Camara, a specialist in traditional African instruments from Gambia. Once the run ends, Plant may return to the studio for a follow up to “Band of Joy.” He says he’s already completed an album’s worth of material with Miller and will soon take 20 songs with him to Los Angeles where he’ll begin work with a producer he coyly would not name. “I’m going to make an amalgam of all these various elements I’ve been creating, then I’m going to get a guy who has a bag of fairy dust and sort of chuck it over the whole thing so that it melds together,” Plant said. “I need a personality that runs right through the whole lot and I think I know exactly who is going to do it, and how and when. And then I’ll go back and be an archaeologist on the Welsh border for a little bit.”
Robert Plant You Tube Clips
Babe I’m Gonna Leave You
What is and What Should Never Be
Before playing the Santa Barbara Bowl with the Sensational Space Shifters, Robert Plant granted a rare on-camera interview to filmmaker Russ Spencer.
There’s some illuminating observations here…
Robert Plant VH1 news item:
This one via the Dudley News:
Rock legend Robert Plant donates guitar for charity auction
A Singed guitar belonging to rock legend Robert Plant will soon be up for grabs at auction.
Plant, who was schooled in Stourbridge, donated his Ibanez guitar to prolific fundraiser Tony Meehan after they met at a Terry Reid gig at the Robin 2 in Bilston.
The two bonded over their birthplace of West Bromwich but when Plant found out about Mr Meehan’s fundraising activities over the past few years he was eager to help.
Mr Meehan, who has raised £85,000 through marathons and other sponsored activities, said: “Following our meeting I was absolutely blown away that on the spot Robert agreed to donate the signed Ibanez guitar.
“What a thoughtful and kind gesture by such a legend. An amazing opportunity to own a guitar from such a great man, surely not to be missed.”
A date and place for the auction is yet to be finalised but all proceeds will be split between Macmillan Cancer Support and the neonatal unit at New Cross Hospital in Wolverhampton.
To make a bid on the guitar, email firstname.lastname@example.org
DL Diary Update:
There’s a variety of projects on the go here right now and it’s been a case of flitting from one to the other and spinning the plates as required. The Knebworth book rolls on with a fair few pages now in design and looking good. There’s been some research work on The Rolling Stones feature that I need to get well underway now and as ever, the distribution hat has been worn as the initial TBL T- shirt orders came through. If you haven’t ordered yet be sure to get in there for the coolest Led Zep T-shirt of the summer -if you’ve received yours – send us a pic on the TBL Facebook or email. There was also, at short notice the inspiring trip out to West Hampstead yesterday to interview Charles Shaar Murray for the next TBL magazine as seen above .
All that against the backdrop of some very welcomed nice weather. The good lady Janet and I ventured out Saturday to the lovely city of St Albans and basked in the Saturday sun. I made a trip to the newly opened Empire Records , a fine vinyl outlet where I added another sampler to the DL collection namely the Warner Brothers Music Show compilation issued to support the tour of the same name in early 1975. This features the likes of Little Feat, The Doobie Brothers, Montrose and Tower Of Power. A bargain at £1.99.
Above – a man needs his little treats! At Empire Records St Albans last Saturday.
On Sunday afternoon, like millions of others ,we were enthralled here by Andy Murray’s Wimbledon triumph –one of the great sporting performances and what relief it was when he finally got that third set.
Thoroughly enjoyed the BBC1 Alan Yentob Imagine profile of Rod Stewart. There was great early black and white film of the then young Rod the Mod including footage of the old Marquee Club with Long John Baldrey. Rod as ever came over as a man who loves what he does and through all the peaks and troughs of his career, he has never lost of sight of that. This is one rock star where no angst is required. The 1976 Old Grey Whistle Test Christmas concert that was also shown was a hugely nostalgic blast from 1976.
Looking at the excellent Russ Spencer interview segment with Robert Plant, it strikes me Alan Yentob would do well to consider a similar profile of the esteemed singer from the Midlands – that Santa Barbara footage has some astute observations and when he is that reflective mode, Robert’s words are always full of wisdom. Looking over the many You Tube US our clips has put me right in the mood for the forthcoming just announced Sensational Space Shifters UK gigs. Tickets were duly purchased very quickly here as we scrambled the TBL crew (Gary, Tom, Phil, Michaela, Cliff) for late August and early September trips out to Bristol and Wolverhampton –which as of today is 48 days and counting.
Our Samantha has also graced the TV screen his week. BBC 1 had a profile of the remaining candidates in The Apprentice series. Sam’s newspaper The Herts Advertiser has been covering the local candidate Luisa Zissman and Sam can be seen talking about this in the programme. It’s the BBC i-player at
On the playlist, plenty of early 70s Rolling Stones to aid research, Mick Ronson’s two solo albums on CD (thank you John P), the aforementioned Warner Brothers Music Show sampler LP and Zep wise a bit of the summer of 1973 via Three Days After.
It’s back on to matters of the Knebworth book and Stones variety in the coming week –here’s some working progress sample design pages of the forthcoming Knebworth book which I am hoping to get out for late autumn. You can pre order at this link:
Until next time…Keep listening, keep reading…
Have a great weekend…
Dave Lewis/Gary Foy – July 12th , 2013.
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