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DAVE LEWIS DIARY: JUNE IN DECEMBER/ZEP FEST 2011/SNOW/TBL28/WORLD CUP/30 YEARS OF NOT CONTINUING AS THEY WERE

3 December 2010 6,502 views 12 Comments

It may be winter outside….but in here it’s been flaming June courtesy of the recently surfaced soundboard tape of Led Zeppelin’s opening night at Madison Square Garden on the evening of June 7th 1977.  I know exactly what I was doing that day as it was the celebration of the Queen’s Silver Jubilee and I was toasting Her Majesty in several Bedfordshire public houses. Over in America, Led Zeppelin were barnstorming their way though the first of six nights at the legendary New York venue.

On this new CD set (released as Magical Sound Boogie by Empress Valley), you can hear Robert making reference to what was happening back home just before they go into In My Time Of Dying:  ‘’Its also to be remembered that today is the beginning of the second day  of the celebrations of Queen Elizabeth’s 11’s Silver Jubilee and that’s a heavy thing for us so we’ll do this one for Liz and you’’

The New York stint of six shows were high profile affairs with all the various Zep families in tow and Roy Coleman reporting on it for Melody Maker. I remember reading his report aptly titled ‘’The Six Day war’’ over and over again. I’ve had a distant audience tape of this show for years but hearing it in soundboard clarity has been an absolute joy – one I know shared in particular by TBL contributor Mike Tremaglio who was lucky enough to be at the show.

As I waded through reams of TBL 28 text this week it’s been a constant companion. Yes some of the playing is all over the place (this is 1977 after all!) but the raggedness only adds to the charm.  The arrival of this New York set has been a stark reminder of the sheer beauty of Zep. For all the wonderful stuff that has come our way this past few months (TCV, BCC, Band Of Joy etc), there’s nothing to quite beat the sheer power and glory of the in concert Led Zeppelin. Highlights on this New York tape includes the stupendous surge through B Bumble & the Stingers classic 60s instrumental Nut Rocker in the middle of No Quarter (I’d love to have been at the first rehearsal when JPJ came up with this idea) and Bonzo is right in there with some super fast snare work. An emotional Ten Years Gone and the playful acoustic set with Black Country Woman merging with Bron Yr Aur Stomp. The Madison Square gig is no way perfect (and somebody should have ditched that darned vocal harmoniser), but it reminds me of every reason I loved this band back then and still do with a passion today –which you may have noticed.

I’m eager as ever to share that passion with like minded fans wherever I can. I am therefore very excited at the prospect of the announcement of the Zep Fest 2011 event. This is shaping up to be the largest Led Zeppelin fan gathering ever – as you will have read I am on board  for this. It’s a great opportunity to meet with fans across the water, celebrate the Zep legacy and spread the TBL word. Speaking to the organisers this past few days, their enthusiasm was more than evident alongside a desire and commitment to make this a unique event. More on all this in the new year

The snow has been falling all around us here in the UK.  Whilst it always looks wonderfully wintry and picturesque, it has brought with it the usual travel chaos. It’s not been the greatest of conditions to venture out on the old bicycle but I’ve risked life and limb to get to Mick’s during the past few days as we pieced together the new TBL. It’s going to be another trial to get out and about today. There’s a way to go yet and the aim is for  TBL 28 to be on door mats in the first two or three weeks of 2011.  We will get  Christmas out the way and then unleash an outpouring of  TBL Zep reading to kick start the new year – and trust me, there’s some very interesting stuff in this forthcoming magazine to soak up so it should be worth waiting for.  I’ll reveal more on all that shortly.

Then it’s full on into 2011. Can’t believe its December already – the next 22 days will be the usual mad rush to get everything in order, from completing the new TBL through to sorting cards and presents, making family arrangements etc. Of course with the current cold weather comes the inevitable colds and we’ve all been suffering here in the last few days and I’m full of a headcold today. Lemsip and a little bit of whiskey may well be on the agenda.

Watched the Zurich World Cup Bid Announcements live with Adam here yesterday with unfolding dismay. The BBC Panorama programme, alleging corruptness amongst the FIFA executives was hardly good timing, but having seen the morning presentations of which David Beckham and Eddie Afekafe did such an admirable job, I thought we had done enough. It was therefore a crushing blow to see the bid fall apart before our very eyes – no disrespect to Russia but it all seemed so wrong.  I was in a London pub that day in 2005 when the announcement was made that ‘’the city of London’’ was deemed fit to host the Olympics. What a contrast this all was – it left a terribly empty feeling.

On the player here aside from Zep New York ’77 (thank you Takemi), a bit of The Faces Nods As Good As A Wink/Ooh La La albums, Duane Allman Anthology on vinyl (purchased from JB’s in London for a bargain £5 recently), Bill Fay (a sort of Nick Drake meets Ray Davies obscure 1970 album- thank you John P.) and the very fine Wings Band On The Run album which I purchased on December 1st 1973 the weekend it came out. On TV in amongst the barrage of X Factor/Celeb Get Me Out Of Here, there was a gem of a documentary: JFK The Making Of Modern Politics which saw Andrew Marr assessing how JFK’s ‘style over substance’ approach to winning the 1960 presidential election and how it influenced today’s politics.

Good to see the new issue of Record Collector with my lengthy Making Of Led Zeppelin 3 feature out in the shops. Nick Anderson’s rare pressings guide is superb. The issue also has a Diggin’ For Gold feature compiled by yours truly on the rare Physical Graffiti WMET alternate sleeve discovered by Record Mecca’s Jeff Gold. I also reveal the details of a very rare alternate sleeve I have of that celebrated album in my collection.

On Saturday it will be 30th anniversary of the announcement that Led Zeppelin could not continue as they were – a sad day that I remember only too well. My diary entry for December 4th 1980 reads ‘’A part of me died today’’. At the time little did I, and countless other fans realise how much their influence would sustain to be a living and breathing thing three decades on. Remarkably that’s the effect this band continues to have.

I’ve just played the version of Stairway To Heaven from the New York show. It features Robert’s ‘’Does anybody remember forests’’ ad lib and a meandering lyrical solo from Jimmy. It sounds brilliant. They were brilliant. They still are brilliant.

Led Zeppelin could not continue as they were ….but continue they do in oh so many ways…and 30 years on from that  announcement our lives are considerably enriched by that fact.

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12 Comments »

  • BillyR said:

    Have to agree with Kenny – some of the 1977 shows are shocking but they are still the ones most listened to on my ipod. One of the things which made the band so captivating was that no two shows sounded the same – something always changed, whether deliberate or not. For new fans wanting to hear Page at his peak I would go back a few years !!

  • ledhed58 said:

    Jimmy Page is the greatest ” Sloppy” guitar player there ever was and I will take his playing any day over the likes of Eric “God” Clapton or Keith Richards or anyone else. Jimmy has ALWAYS played with that most important quality us musicians can have – love for our instrument and emotion in our playing…Long live Jimmy Page and the greatest Rock and Roll band the world has ever seen..LED ZEPPELIN.

  • Shayne Smith said:

    I love it when I hear live recordings of Zep and they sound sloppy. That’s what makes live recordings exciting. It’s not an exact copy of the album and it has its own edge in its own way. As Dave says its a report on the band on that night in that period of their career. The 1977 U.S. tour is legendary for many things. Precision on stage is not one of them.

    Long live Led Zeppelin!!
    Shayne S
    Newport Beach,CA,U.S.

  • Kenny said:

    HI Dave,

    Thanks for the reply. Appreciated. Zepdom is a wide church and as you’ve done more to help promote and keep alive the band’s name – especially during the wilderness years when I used to send Postal Orders to you for TBL – so I sincerely apologise if I offended you in any way, I was just pointing out my POV for new fans who might listen to this free bootleg and get the wrong impression of Zep live. Yes of course you did point out that the playing was all over the place and it was far from a perfect night but you loved the exuberance. My take on it is it is misplaced to laud a performance, exuberant or not, where the guy with arguably the greatest talent for playing live and loud of all time (and my idol) had descended into a state where he was so out of it (or had such a damaged finger 🙂 he could not deliver for the people who paid to see him perform. He’s made up for it since then of course!

  • Dave Lewis (author) said:

    Kenny
    Completely respect your opinion on this – however I would say though that I do point out at times it’s all over the place and it was far from a perfect night.
    The 1977 tour was far from perfect for lots of reasons. In fact for me Led Zeppelin were never about perfection -part of the charm was that it could off the rails at any point -which it often did.
    This is therefore clearly not the era to go looking for if you want to hear Page’s most fluid playing, which I think anyone with a vague knowledge of their history will know.
    What this soundboard does successfully capture is the whole ramshackle camaraderie of the group at that time – bum notes or not, their exuberance was infectious and that is what I love about this performance.

  • Kenny said:

    As a zep fan of over thirty years standing it is nice to read your diary which shows once again your great enthusiasm for your subject. But there is an element of the Emperor’s New Clothes in your review of the Magical Sound Boogie show that is now available – I got it too and sat down to listen. And, oh God it brought back all those terrible memories of finding out (via many a botleg from around that time bought on cassette) that Jimmy really was not in good form around 77 (that’s an understatement, he lost it totally), his playing on Magical Sound Boogie is anything but Magical. In fact it is an awful show from Page and this CD is sad to listen to for fans of his. Bum notes, forgotten runs and even riffs he had nailed in previous tours are poorly executed and just plain blundered in this newly issued soundboard, and the band as a whole is not playing well together – sounds as if they had not rehearsed for months before this show. I know it is free but for anyone who appreciates Page and Zeppelin’s legendary musicianship – this is dire. Keep up the good work but a little more realism int eh reveiws please…. I’d hate some new fans to hear this and think that this awful noise is what Zep were like live through their whole career. They weren’t.

  • Kjartan said:

    Where can I listen to this soundboard recording of the 1977 concert?

  • Jim Sloane said:

    Your right Dave – the music and spirit of Zeppelin lives on for sure ! Looking ahead I wonder what Jimmy’s new music will be like?

  • Kathy Urich said:

    Dave, signed on for 2011 TBL thanks as always for a the great read. Looking forward to TBL 28 in the mail and of course Jimmy’s book. I’ve been told by my better half that the book is my Christmas, Birthday, Valentine’s Day gift in one, perhaps I’ll wrap it up and put it under the tree…Oh who am I kidding Id peek anyway. Regards.

  • Sean Kay said:

    Thanks for all the hard work Dave. I was at the June 10th show at the garden. A show (rock and roll circus) I will never forget it is a landmark in my life and youth. Its always great news to hear of some new dicoveries from that tour and mostly that garden run. Take care and happy holidays to all!
    Sean, New York

  • Michael Rae said:

    Commiserations on England losing the out to Russia in the World Cup bid.

    Nonetheless, you should consider England lucky, Dave. England doubled Australia’s vote.

    England received two out of twenty votes in losing to Russia. Australia lost out to Qatar with only one vote out of 22!

    I will say no more other than I have a great desire to draw the very thick veil of discretion across the Ashes Test series currently under way here in Australia…

    I’m very much looking forward to TBL 28 and you’ve set me the challenge of rearranging my travels in May to attend the DC event.

    Seasons Greetings to all in TBL-Land and my sincere thanks to Dave and Gary for another great year supplying Led Zeppelin information of unequalled quality matched with obvious joy.

    Michael, Melbourne

  • RichardG said:

    Your diaries are always an engaging read Dave, the legacy continues to inspire us all to new horizons. Wish I could make it to Washington, sounds like it will be a blast. Must talk very nicely to the good lady about all the cultural highlights the city has to offer (like Zeppelin Conventions obviously!) – it’s a big ask but we’ll see what we can do…

    I’m currently “acquiring” EVSD-550/551/552 and will give a good blast tomorrow in reverence of that historic day…

    As a Welshman, I shared some of your disappointment yesterday which puzzled me somewhat…maybe I’m going soft in my old age!

    A hearty thanks for your effort, keep up the good work, and an early Merry Christmas to you, yours and all of us like-minded souls in TbL land!

    Best, RG

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