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22 February 2013 15,253 views 11 Comments

Gerard Sparaco 1967-2013

I was deeply shocked yesterday to hear of the passing of Gerard Sparaco – a long time contributor and supporter of all things TBL. I know Gerard has had heart problems in the past but this indeed was a shock. He had posted reviews on the Music Collectors site earlier this week. 

Gerard’s understanding and expertise in the live and underground Led Zeppelin catalogue and many other bands and artists, was second to none. Through the Music Collectors web site, he came on board to contribute a regular review column to the TBL magazine.  He also provided the enlightening Tapes Kept a Rollin’ feature. His input brought an invaluable integrity to the magazine. Gerard also contributed to the Knebworth , Over Europe and From a Whisper To a Scream books.

His reviews on the Music Collectors site were always brilliantly informative – I loved reading his insights to titles from The Beatles, Rolling Stones, The Who, Bob Dylan  -his breadth of knowledge regarding the output of these artists and many more was quite awe inspiring.

His support of TBL and my endeavours  displayed a generosity that I valued very highly. This sharing of information and enthusiasm for our mutual interests, created a wonderful on line rapport that I and countless others will sorely miss.

 A leading light of the Zep community has gone out. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this sad time.

Dave Lewis  – February 22nd.

The Last Posting…

Gerard last post on the Music Collectors website on Febraury 19th was an advance notice of new titles due from Pink Floyd, Bruce Springsteen and David Bowie. The day before he posted a preview of an ambitious new Led Zeppelin box set due soon on Godfather. I had intended to use this for the TBL site before the sad news yesterday…so it’s posted now in tribute to Gerard…….his enthusiasm will be so sorely missed….

Godfather’s latest box set is Led Zeppelin Studio Magik:  Sessions 1968 – 1980 (Godfather BOX 18).

Their most ambitious project yet, this is an 18 disc collection with every outtake and demo that’s surfaced including those from the Led Zeppelin II era.

The liner notes offer a nice summary of the project:

Led Zeppelin built their reputation on their live show. Their studio recordings were, as Jimmy Page stated many times in interviews, a springboard for further live improvisation and exploration. Many songs (“The Rover,” “The Song Remains The Same” and “In The Light” among others) began as riffs discovered on the stage.

However, one can’t create a masterpiece with inferior ingredients. Two members of the band, Page and John Paul Jones, began their career as studio session musicians and understood how to write and craft good songs in the studio.

Page himself engineered the science of capturing a good recording in studio on Led Zeppelin.

Fans and collectors are lucky. Except for The Rolling Stones and The Beatles, no other band has as much outtake and demo material available for analysis, scrutiny, and enjoyment.

From the initial sessions for the first album in Olympic Studio in late summer of 1968 through to the sessions in Stockholm ten years later for In Through The Outdoor, all of Zeppelin’s albums and eras are represented in one form or another.

The twenty hours of music in this box set extend from extremely primitive cassette demos made in the wilds of Snowdonia to initial rehearsals in Headley Grange to perfectly polished alternate takes and mixes of classic songs.

Several attempts have been made in the past to offer a complete collection.

The first is the classic 11 CD set Studio Sessions on Antrabata. This set collected every piece of tape known at the time and presented them in a chronological, cohesive order. Despite the knock against it for using inferior sounding tapes, it remains a popular and sought after item.

Akashic attempted a comprehensive box set in the winter of 1999 called The Final Option. The project was scrapped after only five discs spread out over three titles, Meet Led Zeppelin, Scorpio Rising and The Smithereens were released. And the Akashic contained spurious Houses Of The Holy outtakes. In 2007 the Scorpio label produced the 12 CD set Studio Sessions Ultimate, an impressive update of the Antrabata set.

In the intervening years, many more tracks surfaced including the legendary Led Zeppelin II sessions and superior sounding versions of already existing tracks. Studio Magik gives a much needed overhaul of Led Zeppelin outtakes. Not only are the new sessions presented, but all of the older tracks have been given a remastering job from the best available sources and are presented in their definitive form.

 Gerard Sparaco RIP


Reunion Rumours – Part 506

Here we go again then…the reunion rumours… and all it took for it to kick in was what might, or might not be considered some tounge in cheek responses to interview Tara Brown’s questions on the Australian Sixty Minutes TV show.

My view…well I’ve seen and read enough Robert Plant interviews to know he is a master at throwing in the curve ball quote. Was he serious…?

Well the world’s media seemed to think so and nothing sparks interest like a grand old reunion – particularly when concerning a rather popular heritage act like Led Zeppelin. So should we all be clearing our schedules for a full on 2014 re grouping….?

Never say never they do say… but for a more measured response to the usual question, here’s some quotes from Robert’s recent interview with Russell Baillie for Australian Time Out:

‘’….And, of course, there has been his brief return to being the howling voice of Led Zeppelin.

The band played a one-off highly acclaimed reunion show – with Jason Bonham taking over the drums from his father John, whose death in 1980 finished the band – in 2007 at London’s O2 Arena.

The show, its tickets sold by lottery, was ostensibly a tribute to their old Atlantic Records boss, Ahmet Ertegun. The resulting Celebration Day concert film and album finally emerged late last year, meaning Plant, Page and John Paul Jones were back in the spotlight – with Plant remaining the hold-out against what could undoubtedly be lucrative further reunion shows.

“It was good what we did and it felt okay, you know?” says Plant, patiently explaining once more why he’s not entertaining any further last blasts for Led Zeppelin.

“Did you ever see that film Grumpy Old Men? It can be like that when you have done something together and you stopped doing it when you were 32 and then half a lifetime goes by and you do a few things in between. The expectation and the media wind-up is what it is. So every time you say hello to one another the pundits are at it.

“So that bit of it is quite tedious but of course it is to be expected. But we had a good time. We played well that night. That was a fantastic thing to be able to do to, play that well and only do one gig. So it was all or nothing.”

So after that show Plant went back to touring with Krauss, then eventually back into the studio with his Band of Joy cohorts for their 2010 self-titled album.

Plant, it seems, is a man who would rather get on with the next thing that excites him than cash in on his past.’’

So there’s a calmer view…looking ahead there’s the Robert Plant Presents Sensational Spaceshifters Australian tour, and judging by his comments in the same interview there’s some compelling performances in store again and that’s what he will be focusing on in the short term…as he confirmed in the Time Out interview.

 Plant, it seems, is a man who would rather get on with the next thing that excites him than cash in on his past.

 Though online set lists of his recent touring with the Sensational Space Shifters show that Led Zep songs, like Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp, Whole Lotta Love, Black Dog, and Rock and Roll, still constitute about half his shows, albeit played by a seven-piece band which features one-stringed African violins, African banjos and the like among the usual rock band instrumentation. But he’s not being a World music cover band of himself.

 “The difference is about 300mph,” he says. “This is powerful trance-driven music centred on loops and West African rhythms, which are not some sedate prog-music excursion. It’s like a sort of West African juggernaut where Led Zeppelin finally go on holiday to Africa.”

 And if a Led Zep fan came along just wanting to hear Stairway to Heaven?

 “It will be as exciting as you want it to be. But one thing is for sure, it is relentless and it won’t be polite.”


Jimmy Page Website:

This one via Pete Makowski’s Facebook page:

Don’t forget to check out Jimmy Page official website .I’ll be back working on it next week with Matt’the wonder boy’ and promise you there will be some exciting new posts and announcements……


This report via Spin magazine:

Bonhamizer resurrects John Bonham’s drumming

If you’ve ever wondered what Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” or fun.’s “Some Nights” would sound like if late Led Zeppelin drum warrior John Bonham was behind the percussion kit, wonder no more! Thanks to the new “Bonhamizer” app, designed by programmer Paul Lamere, fans can pile Bonham’s booming drum fills onto “just about any song,” according to the “How the Bonhamizer Works” webpage. Be warned, though, the app’s creator writes “for many tracks it works really well… and others not so much.”

Currently, there are four Bonham drum patterns available: “Hammer of the Gods,” “Basic Bonham,” “Double Time Shuffle,” and “Bonham Shuffle,” all of which adjust the songs’ pacing accordingly and ratchet up the volume (to say the least). As of now, the track gallery features a number of songs, including Radiohead’s “Karma Police,” the White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army,” the Postal Service’s “Such Great Heights,” and Taylor Swift’s “I Knew You Were Trouble.” Fans can upload additional songs for “Bonhamization”.

More details at


DL Diary Update:

Sad to hear the passing of Kevin Ayers – I was never a massive fan but he was always there…with Soft machine …on John Peel.. .on Harvest Records ….and with the Whole World….RIP another key player in the 1970s musical make up…

I watched The Brits Awards on Wednesday night  –which in the past was always a big date in the music retail calendar –coincidentally Wednesday was four years to the day  that the doors closed on Zavvi/Virgin Milton Keynes  bringing my 35 year retail career to a close –here’s a pic of  the glorious Our Price shop Bedford window from 1990 –when retail was detail to coin an old prhase….

As for The Brits…it just seemed to lack any spark –whilst it’s admirable that British music is in good health via the success of Adele, Emili Sande, Ben Howard etc…these artists do seem to lack any real charisma –maybe it’s another symptom of the age where success does not come via the years of gigging that defined the old wave.

Thoroughly enjoyed BBC4’s documentary on the Please Please Me 50 years on recording and the excellent Brian Epstein story. On the player: the beautiful Celebration Day vinyl….Glen Campbell Reunited with Jimmy Webb CD (thank you John P), David Bowie Golden Years compilation DVD (I’m looking forward to hearing his new single next week) and The Sweet Anthology DVD (than you again John P) –they made some class singles after the hits dried up ie Action, Turn It Down etc… also plenty of Houses of The Holy tracks and sessions (thank your Ricahrd G for you CDrs) as I wrap the feature I’ve been working on.

Also been assessing the content for the  next TBL magazine and there’s some great stuff evolving.  On top of all that, I have begun collating material for the second edition of the Knebworth Then As It Was book. This is the priority TBL book project ahead – more on all that soon.

Here’s some  very nice  words about TBL 34 from the pen of the celebrated rock writer and Zep biographer Mck Wall via his Blog:

‘’After two nights running of absolutely no sleep, arrived at work in a complete daze. Decided there was no point trying to write so set about instead going through the nine – NINE – plastic bags’ worth of receipts, correspondence, bills, and go knows what that have piled up around my feet these past couple weeks.  Sometimes this is bad… another credit card bill that didn’t get paid on time. Sometimes this has benefits, like stumbling across the latest issue of Dave Lewis’ excellent Tight But Loose Zeppelin fan mag. Dave never delivers anything less than enthralling in his mags, but this issue – No. 34 – may just be his best. Unbelievably good stuff in there on Pagey, Plant and Jones, from the new DVD to the Obama Kennedy Centre deal. Even interviews with Ross Halfin and Brad Tolinski. PLus loads of other stuff. You know it must be good when you look up and you’ve been sitting cross-legged on the floor for an hour reading it instead of doing whatever it is you meant to do. Check it out….

Dont miss out…TBL 34 is available via this link:

 And finally…

Here’s a superb cine film clip here of Led Zeppelin on stage in Chicago September  5th 1971 that has surfaced via the official site –watch for the guest appearance at the end….

Until next time…

Have a great weekend

Keep listening, keep reading…

Dave Lewis/Gary Foy

February 22nd, 2013.

if you are reading this and have yet to link with the Tight But Loose Facebook page be sure to request/add us. The TBL Facebook is another key part of the TBL set up with updated stories/additional pics etc to keep you on top of the world of TBL.

To view additional photos and TBL info be sure to hook up with the Tight But Loose Facebook page (add us as a friend) at!/profile.php?id=1611296783

Also follow Dave Lewis/TBL on Twitter – LedzeppelinTBL


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  • Dave Lewis (author) said:

    Greg many thanks for those very nice comments which make it all worthwhile…

  • Greg purling said:

    A great many of us already know this I’m sure, but it’s worth reminding – we are truly blessed and spoilt in being able to have our favourite band documented by such a stellar fanzine in TBL. Fascinating and compelling content is backed up by first rate design, all of which must surely make it the fanzine to which all others aspire. How lucky we are ! All those involved should take a bow – your efforts both online and in print really are greatly appreciated.

  • Collectors Music Reviews » Blog Archive » We are still in Shock said:

    […] from TBL site: Gerard’s understanding and expertise in the live and underground Led Zeppelin catalogue and many […]

  • Hiroshi said:

    It is sad to hear the regular TBL contributor having passed away. Far from a completist myself, Gerard’s comprehensive, concise but informative review greatly helped me to keep in touch with what was happening on the ever-chaotic Led Zeppelin bootleg front nowadays. May his soul rest in peace…

    Been waiting for a while to see an appropriate post to come around, where I could send my comment to (are you not putting a post, “TBL34 feedback thereafter” of a sort, Dave?), here is my add-on thought on Mike Tremaglio’s tour retrospective: Japan 1972;

    For the Japanese, talking about Led Zeppelin’s second — and ultimately, their last — tour of our territory would be impossible without calling for a sense of bitterness, a pain. The general consensus among the old timers who were there to see the show was one of disappointment, especially for those who had experienced the unsurpassable performance of the previous year. It was the Japanese who were treated to some of the most celebrated, sublime shows of their entire career — but it was also the Japanese who witnessed Robert’s fall from grace in a most dramatic way when his once miraculous voice started to lose the higher register range more evidently than anywhere else in the world. 
    Through these dates, Robert was seen struggling to sing and failing to reach the certain pitches he wished for (I assume that the reason for Over The Hills And Far Away and Immigrant Song being dropped from the Nagoya show is that both songs were too much for his ravaged vocal cords to perform four days in a row). Coupled with the bulk of the shows being less-than-stellar performances of the group, it terribly damaged the overall reputation of the tour. 
    The very favorable, inspired Osaka second night almost saved the day, however, that they rushed through and cut short the tour’s last show in Kyoto the following day to get back to Tokyo just didn’t help. A number of the comments articulated among the general public back then, fans and media alike, were, to put it mildly, less than flattering. If their planned third Japanese visit of December 1975 had materialized, it could well have dispelled the bad fume arisen from the 1972 tour — alas, as history unfolded, it was not to be.

    As a (literally) final note, according to one concert-goer’s recollection, for the brief, only encore in Kyoto, Robert was singing Immigrant Song without top, bare chested, which the eyewitness thought was “very sexy”. And that was the last sight and visual image of the group performing live in person, etched in the eyes of the Japanese…Led Zeppelin’s “Land of the Rising Sun Saga” ends there.

  • Chris Hager said:

    In my eyes, Gerard’s brilliance and generosity to the large world of music collectors was unparalleled. I first remember reading his reviews on Underground Uprising and loving them. They were authoritative and unbiased, which were convictions he kept forever. His generosity was demonstrated vividly through CMR, a free website he conceived, managed and stocked with countless hours of dedication, asking humbly for a “cup of joe” donation after reviews to help fund the site. His regular contributions to TBL are yet another example. I was fortunate enough to know him on a personal level before he moved to Arizona, and am going to miss him.

  • Graham Rodger said:

    I can’t believe the news about Gerard’s sad passing. The Music Collectors Reviews website is one of my favourites, I’ve checked it every day since 2007 and bought countless Floyd/Zeppelin titles on the back of his excellent and insightful words.

  • Larry said:

    Sorry to hear of Gerard’s passing…far too young…his work was invaluable to all of us in the collecting community and he will indeed be missed. All the best to his family and friends.

    Reunion…yeah, that’ll happen real soon…once Jimmy and Jonesy can be located…

    Plant is a master of the throwaway quip, he and Tara Brown were both in Flirt Overdrive, and then Robert just throws another one out there. Then of course the media does what they do, which is just take anything they can and try to make something out of nothing. That said, the 60 Minutes piece was a very enjoyable interview and the chemistry between the two was rather evident to say the least…

    The Chicago 71 film is another terrific artifact! And the new TBL is superb as ever! Thanks as always Dave.


  • Andrew R said:

    Very sad about gerard sparaco i too read a lot of his reviews via the collectors website.Bought a fair few titles on his recomendation alone.He will be sadly missed.If my maths are correct he was 46? which is ridiculous and chilling at the same time.Rest in peace Gerard.

  • Steve said:

    Thats awful ,i was gobsmacked when I just read this,best wishes go out to all his family.

  • Mark Harrison said:

    Hmm – reunion. My kneejerk reaction to Robert’s comments was that he was just teasing the good looking interviewer.. Just now I watched again the “Charlie Rose” interview on CBS with the three of them from last year. There is no doubt that there is a “glint” in Robert’s eyes when questioned about the band I haven’t seen for a LONG time. This may be caused by the fact they were all together on the show which was a rarity in itself and/ or because of all the plaudits they received last year after Celebration Day. I listened carefully again as to what was actually said and I return to my initial reaction. In order for there to be a “reunion” there HAS to be new music and given timescales do we HONESTLY believe that will happen?
    The overwhelming favourable reaction to Celebration Day aligned with the Kennedy Center Honour I think genuinely surprised them but it will be me who is surprised if they did play again….

  • russell ritchin said:

    very sad news on gerard i always loved his reviews and insights into
    many artists such aas the who/dylan & of course led zep he will be sorelly missed by im sure many music lovers thru out the world.
    I totally agree brits award show definetlly lacked something and
    did not really hold my intrest as in past years.

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