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IN THROUGH THE SOUNDSCAPES: LUCIFER RISING AND OTHER SOUND TRACKS – THE TBL REVIEW

12 April 2012 6,621 views 8 Comments

Lucifer rises from the underground to offer key insight into Jimmy Page’s ‘extreme and alternative’ 1970s artistic vision – as it takes the listener on a journey in through the soundscapes…

Jimmy Page – Lucifer Rising And other Sound Tracks: The TBL Review

Well it isn’t Outrider 2, but then again it was never intended to be. What we have here is something of a previously unheard missing link in the compositional history of Jimmy Page.

As he explains in the excellent sleeve notes, the guitarist has long since had a penchant for creating unorthodox soundscapes –going right back to the Yardbirds era with Glimpses on their Little Games album. This would subsequently manifested itself on stage with Led Zeppelin during the extensional improvisation of Dazed And Confused and it’s various offshoots –latterly the guitar solo extravaganzas on the 1977 tour.

So what is exactly on offer inside the sizeable package sent via Jimmypage com.?

The package:  Effective sleeve design based on Gustav Dore’s The Eagle.Thick outer cardboard sleeve, heavyweight vinyl inside. For LP enthusiasts such as myself, this is pretty much collector heaven. Informative and deep thinking sleeve notes on the inner sleeve. Each deluxe copy is hand numbered.

The music: Here’s how it unfolds over the two sides of vinyl.

The Lucifer Rising soundtrack has long since been a much maligned lost project. Page came up with the piece as a soundtrack for Kenneth Anger’s controversial movie but it was only ever aired on early cuts of the film – journalist Nick Kent reported in the NME he had attended an informal screening in Los Angeles in early 1975 where Page had shown a rough cut with his soundtrack on. Anger was allegedly disappointed with Page for only coming up with some 23 minutes of music. Page refuted such claims – the pair had a falling out and Anger brought in Bobby Beausoleil to score it instead –a young musician who went on to be convicted of murder under the influence of Charles Manson’s notorious ‘’Family’’. A poor quality bootleg of Page’s version surfaced in the 1980s.

Fast forward some 35 years: On this freshly mixed version, the basic theme of the Lucifer Rising Main Track is undercut by a drone that is similar to the In The Evening intro (particularly the live arrangement opening loop used on the Over Europe 1980 tour). It’s then further embellished by chants and mellotron and ARP Odyssey synthesiser effects. A typically bleak eerie sound texture that would have also perfectly fitted as the soundtrack to The Hermit hill climb sequence in The Song Remains The Same movie.

Side two opens with Incubus which continues the unsettling drone effects theme. Damask contains six string bowed guitar effects that hark back to the onstage exotic experiments he was applying on the guitar solo segment that preceded the performances of Achilles Last Stand on Zep’s 1977 US tour.

Unharmonics has the clipped effect that can be hard on Shadow in the City on the Death Wish 2 soundtrack (Page explains two of his ideas here would later surface on Death Wish 2 ). There’s also some precise guitar overdubs with a hint of the revolving style of the live arrangements of Over The Hills And Far Away.

Damaks (Ambient) is a dense swirling affair that nods towards the bowing techniques of the live Dazed And Confused , while the final track Lucifer Rising Percussive Return features additional white noise percussive effects and overall is reminiscent of the 1970s work of the German outfits Can and Tangerine Dream.

These sonic soundscapes were originally prepared to be matched to film visuals and they make for decidedly uneasy listening when heard in isolation. However, there is little doubt of their value as key reference recordings in the development of Page’s career.

What these avant- garde experiments starkly reveal is the expansiveness of Page’s compositional vision. It was this vision, when applied in a more conventional setting, that would light up the like of Ten Years Gone, In The Light, Achilles Last Stand and In the Evening. Indeed the back cover photo of him working alone in his home studio in Plumpton circa late 1973 (as seen in clips in the Travelling Riverside Blues promo video and on the official DVD) offers a captivating image of his often solitary quest to open up new horizons and avenues for his music.

It could also be argued that without this process of experimentation in, as he puts it ‘the extreme and alternative’, Page may not have achieved the depth of compositional brilliance attained on the aforementioned Zep epics.

Lucifer Rising And Other Soundtracks therefore offers key insight into the mind of a musician who has constantly expanded the barriers of electric and acoustic guitar playing. As he states it in the sleeve notes – ‘’I had an interest in underground everything’’.  Lucifer has duly risen from the underground to tell us a little more about Jimmy Page than we already knew…

And of course that thirst to hear and know more remains unquenchable. Now that the Death Wish 2 and Lucifer Rising soundtracks have emerged from the Jimmy Page.com archives, the question is of course – what might be served up next?  Well….over the past few months Jimmy has aired tantalising extracts on his web site of work in progress home demos of Sick Again, The Wanton Song and Ten Years Gone . There’s also been clips from sessions such as the 1999 Depot rehearsal recordings with the late great drummer Michael Lee. There could be scope to gather such work in progress demos and sketches into an album that again presents a portrait of the artist at play.

Also on my wish list would be a career expanding box set that chronicles the 1960s sessions he often logs and goes through The Yardbirds into Zeppelin and beyond – in effect a 50 year career overview with rarities and outtakes. Now that would be something special.

Ultimately I am sure we all also crave new music from the man and it would be fantastic for that to happen. There is little doubt though, the establishing of Jimmy page.com has offered a unique platform for the once reticent and private musician to re- connect with his vast fan base.

The release of the Lucifer Rising And Other Sound Tracks LP is another significant milestone in the recent reaffirmation of Jimmy Page, musician and composer. Long may his underground archives rise up to enlighten and inform.

Dave Lewis  – April 12 2012

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8 Comments »

  • Jan Christian said:

    Hi Dave. Is the B-side exclusive to this record? Thinking about the bootleg record that came out years ago, whether this one had any extra songs on it. Thanks. JC.

  • steve goldsmith said:

    The possibility of future releases raises the same questions that I previously aired;
    It would be better to issue one standard format so that everyone gets the same item.
    This could be achieved by asking the subscribers to this sight to order any product prior to manufacture and tailoring the numbers produced to the demand.
    It is grossly unfair to artificially create ‘collectors items’ by producing unreasonably small numbers of ‘limited editions’ with no realistic chance of obtaining them. There should be more respect for collectors, especially people who subscribe to the Page site.
    The risk is that people will get fed up and not bother with scrambling around for any more of it, and wait for a cd or pirate cd issue. That would be both unfortunate and destructive.

  • Steve said:

    “It could also be argued that without this process of experimentation in, as he puts it ‘the extreme and alternative’, Page may not have achieved the depth of compositional brilliance attained on the aforementioned Zep epics.”

    Orpheus in the underworld ?

  • Jez said:

    Best most insightful piece on the man I’ve ever read. Thank you Dave.

  • Kathy Urich said:

    Wonderful review Dave. Jimmy continues to surprise and astound us with his immense talent. Still waiting for the release of the O2 footage, though I have had many a glimpse.

  • Dave Lewis (author) said:

    Mark -thanks mate -I take that as a huge compliment from someone who understands their music as astutely as you do my friend.

  • Mark Harrison said:

    If these words don’t prove BEYOND DOUBT that outside of the band you Dave have NO equal in knowledge and sheer love of the AWESOME FOURSOME I’ll EAT MY HAT
    This is possibly the best piece I’ve EVER read on this site!
    Love ya mate!
    Mark

  • Steve "The Lemon" Sauer said:

    “Also on my wish list would be a career expanding box set that chronicles the 1960s sessions he often logs and goes through The Yardbirds into Zeppelin and beyond – in effect a 50 year career overview with rarities and outtakes. Now that would be something special.”

    You said it, man!

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