Email This Post Email This Post
Home » Dave Lewis Diary, Featured, TBL News


26 June 2019 2,464 views 7 Comments


Dave Lewis – Celebrating 50 years of music passion 1969 – 2019: Post number 3:

In praise of the cassette…

In his recent excellent book A Fabulous Creation, author David Hepworth notes the rise of the popularity in the cassette format during the late 70s/early 80s. This was inspired by the launching of the Sony Walkman and the fact that many music lovers (this writer very much included) took ownership of their listening habits by taping albums and creating compilations and mix tapes.

The earlier tape format the Eight Track Cartridge never really took off being more of an in car entertainment fix – and prone to unreliability. I do have a few of these – mainly Zep ones.

I have great affection for cassettes –indeed I still have boxes of them – a bulk of them with Led Zeppelin lives concerts on because back in the day, the cassette was the currency Led Zep tape collectors dealt in. And boy did I do some dealing…

The first Zep live cassettes I received arrived in early 1973. I replied to an advert in Sounds for rare live tapes – back came an extensive list of many artists. I had already made a contact for bootleg albums and invested in a few – this tape list though was something else.

Very quickly I built up a library of recorded Zep gigs – the Wembley 1971 show, Glasgow Playhouse and Newcastle 72 – many more would follow as I made contact with fellow Zep tape collectors and began trading with fellow fans – notably Russ Rees and Andrew Strauss. I also invested in a fair few Beatles, Stones and Dylan titles too.

The quality varied of course but that never really bothered me – as long as I could decipher what they were playing – all was good. I diligently made plain covers for these cassettes and numbered them – the first LZC001 being a recording of the BBC 1971 John Peel In Concert that I acquired in 1973.

Later there would be copious tapes of the 1975 US tour, Earls Court and the 1977 and 1980 tours. Many a gem lit up my cassette player – the 1969 BBC radio sessions, the Cleveland mixing desk tape soon to be on record as The Destroyer, outtakes from the fourth album sessions – all revealing insights into the process of how this very special band performed onstage and recorded in the studio. All this considerably aided my ever growing Zep cassette obsession.

I might state at this point I was never one for taping gigs myself. I did attempt to record the Knebworth August 4 date on my trusty and bulky Phillips recorder – however I only got an hour of it as the batteries ran out. A similar attempt a year previously at the Bob Dylan Blackbushe concert went the same way. I did tape a lot of stuff off the TV and radio – however, the TV was always a problem with back ground noise. When I taped BBC’s Film Night programme in November 1976 when they aired a clip from the just released The Song Remains The Same film, I ended up with a unique version of the Dazed And Confused extract they screened. Throughout it you can hear our budgerigar chirping away in the background!

Post Zep, the tapes kept on coming – not least from Robert Plant solo gigs and The Firm. Meeting Andy Adams in the late 1980s opened my ears to yet more rarities on this well-worn format. Andy’s sources for searching out unreleased Zep stuff were second to none.

He and I have often talk in reverential terms about the magical moment around 1989 when we sat in his place in Canvey island listening to a tape he had acquired of outtakes from Olympic Studios and Polar studios – most notably All My Love with that gorgeous extended ending. We sat there in total awe…

When Jimmy Page and Robert Plant undertook a world tour in 1995, It was still the cassette format that was used to captured much of the shows. Indeed the opening US leg even had a tapers section. Many a collector helped me with that particular cause notably Simon Pallett and Dave Fox.

However, by then the CD revolution had well and truly kicked in. With its extended playing time the CD was a perfect vehicle to present the lengthy Zep gigs such as Earls Court and Knebworth.

The market was soon saturated with Zep CD titles and record fairs in Camden and Victoria were the destination points to soak up the latest bootleg CD releases – not least the expensive and brilliantly packaged Tarantura label releases. Unsurprisingly, I invested in a stack of these underground releases. I can recall many a record fair during that era when I would leave with my pockets bulging with newly purchased bootleg CDs – and devising a way of making sure the good lady Janet did not see them as I breezed through the door!

From there, the introduction of DAT audio players and recordable CD players made it very convenient to record gigs and put them on straight on to CD.

Alas, the trusty cassette was no longer the medium by which we shared our collecting passion.

The cassette was gone…but never to be forgotten. Certainly not by me. I still have a cassette player and I still dig out cassettes to play – and they still sound great.

Some of my pivotal musical enlightenment came via the trusty cassette. Yes they were often over hissy and prone to spooling problems – but there was something uniquely compact about the cassette. Small but in its own way quite beautiful.

And this passion for cassettes was not just resigned for my Zep collecting.

Like many reading this – I made many a lovingly compiled cassette compilation. This was long before the days of iPods, iTunes playlists, Spotify etc. There was an art to getting the right join of a track via the pressing of the record and play button – I recall a very cool segue I created between Roxy Music’s Sentimental Fool straight into Elvis Costello’s Watching The Detectives and The Sex Pistols Pretty Vacant into Did You Know Wrong -the B side of God Save The Queen. Like I said, before iTunes, Spotify  etc we could be out own producers.As David Hepworth notes in his book, during the 80s sales of blank tapes went through the roof. A worried music industry set about a rather futile campaign that declared ‘’Home Taping is Killing Music. ..and it’s illegal. It was doing nothing of the sort as real music fans were formulating compilations by recording albums they had already purchased. For a brief period Island Records even abated the home taping cause by introducing a controversial 1+1 series – this cheekily put a full album on one side of the cassette while the other was left blank for the purchaser to record on it as they saw fit. Even as far back as the mid 70s, the record companies were keen to exploit the tape market. I found an EMI in house magazine recently from March 1975. It details their plans for a ‘Beatles For Sale’ campaign to promote The Beatles catalogue on cassette and eight track cartridge. As it quaintly  puts in in the opening blurb:


 As the cassette and cartridge market has developed considerably over the years, more and more people have  accepted this relatively new medium as the ‘Sounds Software of the Seventies’ we are sure that people will want to hear their favourite sounds on their new cassette and cartridge equipment. Therefore the Tape Department are proud to present their ”Beatles For Sale” campaign”

On the Zep front, in the 1990s, I lovingly produced a series of custom home made cassette compilation under the banner TBL Soundbites. These custom made tapes gathered various bits and pieces together of rare Zep and Page & Plant performances. I had a few of these made up each time to give out to TBL contributors and friends – long time TBL contributor Pete Gozzard was a massive help in putting these together – oh what fun we had in doing that. It reached six volumes and gathered together some unique content – For some of them I had full sleeve notes and track details printed. I am very proud of them.



The NME got in on the cassette compilation game by creating a series of their own –which were made available through the paper. Superbly compiled by the late great NME journalist Roy Carr, I still have and play the Dept Of Enjoyment 1984 tape and a superb jazz compilation Night People. In 1985, my very good friend Dec kicked off his record label Rorschach Testing by producing a very attractively packaged cassette compilation titled Discreet Campaigns, designed by future TBL designer Mick Lowe – this featured exclusive and rare material by the likes of New Order and the Cocteau Twins.

Back in the mid 80s, when I was writing a weekly pop column for the local paper, many local bands gave me demo tapes on cassette to review – some of which I still have. Keeping with the demo tape theme, I remember there was a cupboard full of demo cassette tapes in the Zep Swan Song offices – on one of my visits I remember coming across a demo cassette of The Q Tips, the band that featured soon to be solo star Paul Young .

Finally, it’s worth mentioning the impact cassettes had on the music business during the late 70s and 80s. Managing a record shop I saw first-hand how the trend particularly for the more middle of the road artist such as Abba and The Carpenters, switched from vinyl to cassette – boosted by the convenience of the format for in car play and Sony Walkmans. As David Hepworth points out in his book, in 1989 the cassette was the most popular music carrier in the USA with 65 percent of the market, CD was second with 26 percent and vinyl a poor 9 percent. It was a similar story here in the UK. Cassettes and then CD’s accelerated the premature killing off of vinyl. I vividly recall respacing the Our Price shop floor in 1991 to accommodate more CD room at the expense of vinyl.

Technology eventual deemed the cassette format all but redundant. Like I said, gone but not completely forgotten. In recent times there’s been something of a minor cassette revival There is an annual Cassette Store Day event to celebrate the format – a limited edition Prince cassette was made available for this year’s Record Store Day. They are still out there…

As is well known, I love LP’s and singles – I also still love CDs and I still love cassettes – all of these formats have and continue to bring me great listening joy.

I may be in a minority in sticking with cassettes but there’s a deep sense of pleasing nostalgia to be had by playing an old fave on what was once such a tried and trusted format. Indeed many of the cassettes I have hold exclusive music I have nowhere else to source from.

One example of this is while I have multiple copies of  the Led Zeppelin’s Presence on vinyl album and CD, there is still something very special still about the cassette recording I made of the album as it was aired in advance of it’s release on the Alan Freeman show on the afternoon of Saturday April 3, 1976.

There’s a unique authenticity about that cassette as it reels its way around the deck. It recalls simpler days when music came to us in a simpler method.

Right, I’m off to snap in that TDK cassette one more time with feeling. It’s only the compact cassette – but I like it…like it…yes I do…

Dave Lewis  – June 18, 2019


Over Europe 3

Feather In The Wind – Led Zeppelin Over Europe 1980 book relaunch:

This week marks the 39th anniversary of the final Led Zeppelin tour – a low key 14 date trek taking in Germany, Belgium, Holland, Austria and Switzerland.

To celebrate this anniversary, I am relaunching the Feather In the Wind book – the price is a bargain £12.50 including postage and packing.

Note – stock of the book is now running down so if you have yet to check out the book now is the time!

This is a fantastic opportunity to invest in the definitive account of the tour at a bargain price – essential  Led Zep summer 2019 reading.

For those who have yet to indulge, to give you a flavour of the contents – here is an extract of chapter three – my on the road account written at the time and first featured in TBL issue 5.

Led Zeppelin Over Europe 1980:

Frankfurt Festhalle – It was 37 years ago …

Flashback to the Frankfurt Festhalle, Germany – on the evening of June 30th, 1980 around 8pm:

I am in the confines of the grand Festhalle venue in the heart of Frankfurt and I am standing no more than ten feet away from the four members of Led Zeppelin. The occasion is the tenth gig on the current tour of the band who have reigned supreme as the world’s greatest live rock attraction for much of the past decade. However the 1980s are upon us, and many things have happened since Led Zeppelin undertook their last full scale tour some three years ago.

The musical landscape they one stood over like a colossus, has changed radically. The onset of punk rock and new wave has challenged the status quo of the mega-bands – the so called dinosaur acts.
In fact, Robert Plant will make reference to the dinosaur tag on more than one occasion on this tour. Aside from the new wave of bands who rely on sharp, incisive three minute blasts of power pop, a new movement of rock outfits, spawned on the hard and heavy riffs that powered Zeppelin to the top, are in the wings ready to take dislodge their crown.
Within the next twelve months, the likes of Def Leppard, Iron Maiden, Saxon, Diamond Head, etc., will begin to dominate the music press in a similar manner in which Zeppelin were once courted, ushering in a movement that will be termed ‘’The new wave of British heavy metal.’’

Led Zeppelin are performing in Europe in an attempt to thwart such challenges and re-establish themselves as a working band. That aforementioned last tour, a gargantuous trek across America in the summer of 1977, attracted a combined audience of nearly one million. Last August over 200,000 came to pay homage to them over two Saturday gigs at Knebworth.
Things, though, have moved on considerably, even since then. This tour has garnered little publicity back home, and though a hardcore of UK followers have made the trip over, by their standard this is a very low key affair.

Tonight, though, they are playing one of the larger venues on the tour. The 13,500 capacity Festhalle . Ten years ago, Zeppelin became the first band ever to play this venue and their return is much anticipated by the German audience. Tonight’s crowd is also boosted by the presence of a number of US servicemen based at the nearby US Army base where Elvis Presley did some of his time for Uncle Sam way back when.

Understandably, the four members look a little apprehensive as they mill around the short stairway that will soon usher them on to the stage. This is the second show of the tour that my friend Tom and I are taking in. Twelve days ago, we witnessed their vibrant second night in Cologne. Since then the tour has not been without it’s problems. Last Friday, John Bonham collapsed on stage in Nuremberg after just 16 minutes and the show was cancelled.
When we met with security man Dave Moulder earlier in the day, he was keen to play down the events saying John had merely suffered from nervous exhaustion. A show in Zurich last night appears to have gone well. The heavily bearded drummer seems his boisterous self as he banters with Robert Plant. Plant is again wearing the green cap sleeve top and jeans attire that has been his ever present uniform for the tour. He too looks upbeat, if a little bit nervous. John Paul Jones, with suave short hair and smart shirt, is interacting with them. Jimmy Page is dressed in a white suit with a green top and matching green sneakers. He looks slightly sweaty, but is smiling warmly as the imposing frame of manager Peter Grant points out the all important presence of Atlantic Records Ahmet Ertegun – the man who has guided their career at the label from the very beginning.

The lights are dimmed, and road manager Phil Carlo shines a torch through the dark and leads them up to the stage. Bonzo climbs the rostrum to the drums, Jonesy turns right where his tech assistant Andy Ledbetter straps on the Alembic bass, and Jimmy Page walks onto the stage to the left, followed by Robert Plant.

As they walk into the glare of the spotlights, those assembled in the Frankfurt Festhalle finally view all four members of Led Zeppelin and the place erupts.

Guitar tech Ray Thomas straps on the Gibson and Jimmy moves to the effects pedals. A few snare shots and bass shuffles from John Bonham is the signal for the guitarist to lean back and exhort a fierce moaning wail from the Gibson. Robert stakes a stance to his immediate right –the spotlights pick out the pair in regal splendour  and then BLAM!

They launch into Train Kept A Rollin’, the old Johnny Burnette barnstormer The Yardbirds used in their heyday, and indeed Zep played on their first US tours. Now it is being revived to kick start what will be two hours of full-on power and excitement.

Tom and I are extremely fortunate to be watching all this action unfold just a few mere feet from the stage. As the band begin their ascent to the stage, Peter Grant acknowledges us and nods approvingly as Dave Moulder ushers us to the side of the stage. In effect, we have been allowed into their tight-knit inner sanctum.

Watching Led Zeppelin live on stage from this ultimate vantage point is, unsurprisingly, an astonishing experience and one that we will repeat in Mannheim and Munich later in the week.

To be continued…





Extract from the book Led Zeppelin Feather In The Wind – Over Europe 1980 by Dave Lewis.

Book ordering Details – ORDER AT THIS LINK:


Jimmy Page awarded Kerrang! Icon award:

Jimmy Page was in attendance at the annual Kerrang! Awards last week to accept the Icon Award – here’s the info:


Led Zeppelin News Update:

In conjunction with the Led Zep news site, each week I will be re- producing highlights from their weekly email update news summary. This goes out every Sunday. Sign up details are below. Many thanks to James Cook.

Led Zeppelin

Jimmy Page

Robert Plant

Upcoming events:

June 25 – Robert Plant will perform in Tromsø, Norway.
June 27 – Robert Plant will perform in Svalbard, Norway.
June 29 – Robert Plant will perform in Svalbard, Norway.
July – The 45th issue of Tight But Loose magazine will be released.
July 2 – Robert Plant will perform in Halden, Norway.
July 4 – Robert Plant will perform at the Roskilde Festival in Denmark.
July 13 – Robert Plant will perform at the Rhythmtree music festival with Saving Grace on the Isle of Wight.
July 18 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace at the Galway International Arts Festival in Ireland.
July 19 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Waterford, Ireland.
July 21 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Kilkenny, Ireland.
July 22 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Cork, Ireland.
July 24 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
July 25 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Dublin, Ireland.
July 28 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace at the WOMAD festival in the UK.
August 4 – Tight But Loose editor Dave Lewis will hold a fan meetup in London to mark the 40th anniversary of Led Zeppelin’s Knebworth performances.
September 13 – Robert Plant will perform at the Harvest Jazz & Blues Festival in Fredericton, Canada.
September 15 – Robert Plant will perform at the CityFolk festival in Ottawa, Canada.
September 17 – Robert Plant will perform in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
September 20 – Robert Plant will perform at the Outlaw Music Festival in Indianapolis.
September 21 – Robert Plant will perform at the Bourbon & Beyond music festival in Louisville, Kentucky.
September 23 – Robert Plant will perform in Clear Lake, Iowa.
September 25 – Robert Plant will perform in Moorhead, Minnesota.
September 27 – Robert Plant will perform in Missoula, Montana.
September 29 – Robert Plant will perform in Spokane, Washington.
October 1 – Robert Plant will perform in Salt Lake City, Utah.
October 3 – Robert Plant will perform in Bend, Oregon.
November – The “Play It Loud: Instruments Of Rock And Roll” exhibition will move to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Many thanks to James Cook.

The complete Led Zeppelin News email goes out every weekend. To receive it each week sign up here:

Led Zeppelin News Website: Check out the Led Zeppelin news website at


Led Zeppelin The Day I Was There  book :

Here is Chris Charlesworth’s review of the book:

Here are the book ordering details:

Led Zeppelin – The Day I Was There – Special limited edition hardback numbered from 1-500 and signed by the author.

Richard Houghton’s sixth book in the I Was There series is a collection of over 500 eyewitness accounts of seeing one of the most successful, innovative, and influential rock groups in history – Led Zeppelin.

With fans recalling memories of the earliest Yardbirds and Zeppelin shows at UK and European clubs right through until the O2 Ahmet Ertegun Tribute Concert in 2007. With personal photographs, memorabilia, fascinating anecdotes, and fan stories that have never been published before.

Publication date: June 16, 2019. Price: UK £24.99 US  $32.00

Ordering details at:


New Billy Kulke book:

Letz Zep singer Billy Kulke has a new book out – here’s the info:

The second book in the ‘Backstage’ series by Liverpool born Billy Kulke, best known as the charismatic vocalist for Letz Zep. The number one tribute to Led Zeppelin. Even Robert Plant said it was like watching himself onstage ‘I walked in, I saw me’ was his comment.

This book tells of the bands rise from humble beginnings to performing on the biggest stages in the world, From London to Sydney, Moscow to Paris, also performing at the Official Led Zeppelin launch Party for the Mothership CD. Letz Zep where also honoured and humbled to headline at the ‘John Bonham – A Celebration’ Concert to remember the life and legacy of the great Zeppelin percussionist.

In this sequel, Letz Zep are about to embark on their biggest and most ambitious tour to date. To drive their ship to new lands. A tour that take in 40 countries on 4 continents. So, what is it like to be part of a band that tours the world? Meeting the members of Led Zeppelin. An insightful  view from the stage, the crowds, backstage….but what goes on behind the scenes?

Full of highly amusing ‘laugh out loud’ tales from one of the hardest working and successful bands touring today. Billy continues to spill the beans on the backstage antics of the band with great hilarity. The scrapes they get into, but more importantly, the way they get out of it!  An insightful and fascinating read for anybody with an interest in the genre.

Available on amazon in paperback and kindle versions, also available on New World Music.


DL Diary Blog Update:

In her role as freelance journalist, our Sam had a piece in last week’s Mail On Sunday. It’s a review in the Holiday pages of her visit to the Karkloof Safari Villas and Spa in Pietermaritzburg in South Africa…and very good it is too – nice one Sam!

As chronicled above,  39 years ago this week the Led Zeppelin Over Europe 1980 tour was well underway and I was lucky enough to attend five of the shows.

39 years on from that memorable tour here I am still very much immersed in the world of Led Zeppelin

At StudioMix last Tuesday June 18, working with TBL designer Mick Lowe on various TBL projects ahead…there was a pause for reflection on the photo in the Feather In The Wind Over Europe 1980 book from the Cologne gig of 39 years ago ….as framed and signed to Mick by Jimmy Page behind me

Another pic from StudioMix – working on the TBL 45 with  TBL designer Mick Lowe. Over the past few days there’s been some  intensive work on the layout and design. We have also started work on the forthcoming Then As It Was – Led Zeppelin At Knebworth book revamped package – more details of that one coming soon. There has also been another project that I am working on that needs to be completed on a tight deadline. It really is full on here at the moment but from all this workload there’s some very good stuff ahead.

TBL 45 is shaping up to be something really special – due out August – pre order at the link below.


Dave Lewis – June 26, 2019

Until next time, have a great week

TBL Website updates compiled by Dave Lewis

with thanks to Gary Foy and James Cook

Follow TBL/DL on Facebook:

The TBL/DL Facebook page has regular updates and photos – be sure to check it out.

And follow TBL/DL on Twitter

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)


  • Dave Lewis (author) said:

    Hiroshi great story!

  • Hiroshi said:

    Belated but let me tell you here that I am a proud owner of Discreet Campaigns, the cassette compilation produced and released by Dec, along with his one-off fanzine, Rorschach Testing, that was published around the same time in the mid-Eighties. Back in the day, as a keen post-punk/New Wave listener I frequented the import record shop in Osaka city centre and bought both items there.
    Little did I know that, more than thirty years afterwords, on one fine July afternoon in 2017, I would meet up with the man who made them in Wexford, Ireland, the day I visited the town to see David Gray at the National Opera House after attending the U2 Joshua Tree revisited concert in Dublin the previous night, and had a nice chat with him at a pub. Every cassette tells a story!

  • Graham Rodger said:

    My teenage years were spent borrowing cassettes from my local library up here in Carlisle during the 1980s. Every album I have ever formed a deep attachment to… from Led Zeppelin III to Dark Side Of The Moon… all started with me originally borrowing the tape from the library.

  • Dave Lewis (author) said:

    You got it Ian!

  • IanD said:

    “Home taping is killing music” they said. The joy and the frustration of the cassette was that the listener was forced to play the whole thing IN SEQUENCE, no skipping to Stairway here. The best mix tapes were a work of art, often with art work. Carefully pre-planned, no filler but with enough peaks and troughs to keep it interesting, and never, ever cutting the last song on side one in the middle of the solo because the tape had run out. That was true commitment to your significant other, that Alexa just can’t replace.

  • Dave Lewis (author) said:

    Thanks Larry!

  • Larry said:

    Great write-up on those old cassettes Dave. I remember those days well. I still have a few of them that I kept for sentimental reasons (including a few of those old TBL classics!) but not many. Another interesting thing, a few of the old commercial cassettes still sound warmer than their CD counterparts! Many (too many) commercial CDs provide ear fatigue with the high end of the music too jacked up. But I guess that’s another topic for another time!

Leave your response!

Add your comment below, or trackback from your own site. You can also subscribe to these comments via RSS.

Be nice. Keep it clean. Stay on topic. No spam.

This is a Gravatar-enabled weblog. To get your own globally-recognized-avatar, please register at Gravatar.