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8 January 2010 8,594 views One Comment


To mark the occasion of John Paul Jones 64th birthday last Sunday January 3rd

and Jimmy Page’s 66th birthday on Saturday January 9th, here’s a couple of respective features from the TBL archive that chronicle some of their best work. 

Happy birthday to you from us….



Jimmy Page

Ten Of The Best


This listing is extracted from the extensive Jimmy Page 60 Of The Best feature that appeared in TBL 17. The original list was compiled from votes submitted for a TBL poll and fan gathering held at the time of Jimmy’s 60th birthday. These selections remain career defining performances…play them on January 9th and beyond and it might get loud…  





Source: Physical Graffiti 1975

A remarkable creation led by Jones innovative keyboard work, Bonzo’s precise drumming and again at the heart of it all Jimmy Page. Just marvel at the way each guitar overdub reverberates across the speakers. In fact try it all again on headphones for the full effect. Instrumentally as good as it ever got. 

Clock the genius: At 6 mins 51 as Jimmy kicks in with the first of a multitude of glorious overdubbed guitar parts. 




Source: Physical Gaffiti 1975

He can do bombastic, he can do blues, he can do 50’s rcck’n’roll…well he can damn near doing anything and he can definitely do guitar melody as well as anyone. Here’s the proof.

Clock the genius: From 3 mins 12 – ”That’s right is Robert’s cue for Jimmy to burst forth in a storm of lyrical chording.




Source: Led Zeppelin 3 1970

The subtly smooth almost eerie pedal steel guitar Page developed on this track adds an achingly moving texture to Plant’s descriptive narrative. The result: rare acoustic/electric beauty. 

Page said: ”The funny thing is when Zep 3 came out we were knocked for doing a Crosby Stills And Nash thing. It was though everyone’s ears had been shut to the fact that we had been heavily acoustic on parts of the first album and on the second with things like Ramble On”.

Clock the genius: From 00.32 -the first detection of that sweeping pedal steel guitar effect that carries the song all the way.




Source: Presence 1976

One of the most outstanding group performances – and group in the sense of collective telepathic interplay that they brought to their live performances. This sounds absolutely live as they all chug down on that descending riff pattern. Plant spits out the lyrics and the solo is as vicious as some of the lyrical observations. Vital Led Zeppelin music.  

Clock the genius: From 4 mins 16.Page’s rages: Simply one of the most venomous guitar solos ever committed to tape.




Source: Houses Of The Holy 1973

In contrast to the darker edge of the previous track here we find Page all lightness and verve adding colour to the canvas with every melodic overdub. The man at his most optimistic mirroring the period where they really could as Peter Grant once said ”Go to Saturn”. At this stage of their career nothing seemed beyond their grasp.

Page said: ”It was originally going to be an instrumental – an overture to lead into The Rain Song then Robert came up with the lyrics and it all fitted. it came together really quickly. Once we decided to break it down I think we had it down in about a day”

Clock the genius: From 3 mins 47 – Jimmy’s melodic uplifting runs light up another dynamic performance.  




Source: Physical Graffiti 1975

Hearing the instrumental backing mix its again evident how cleverly Page played off Bonzo – often leaving space for expectancy and anticipation. It was often not what they played but what they didn’t. The temptation here was surely to fill all the spaces. The fact they avoided all that gives the song it’s vastness and clarity.  

Pge said: ”There have been several milestones along the way. Kashmir is definitely one of them”

Clock the genius: From 4 mins 19 – the point where Jimmy’s hypnotic riffing emerges out of Robert’s echoed cries.

Still the pride of Led Zeppelin.




Source: Led Zeppelin 4 1971

We know people have got married to it (bloody hell I was one of ’em!) – we know guitar shops had signs not to play it – we know Rolf

ridiculed it – we know Plant seems to hate it….but put aside all the baggage and try listening anew. There’s a masterpiece waiting to unveil itself all over again. The solo of course is the one that even milkman could probably whistle.

Page said: ”Although we recorded the song at Island, it was created at Headley Grange. I’d been fooling around with my acoustic guitar and came up with the different sections which I married together. I wanted something that would have the drums come in at the middle and build to a crescendo. Also I wanted it to speed up. So I had the structure of it, ran it through Jonesy so he could get the idea and then the following day we got into it with Bonzo. My sharpest memory of working on Stairway is Robert writing the lyrics while we were hammering away at the arrangement. It was really intense and by the time we came up with the fanfare at the end and could play it all the way through Robert had 80% of the lyrics finished. It just goes to show what inspired times they were. We were channeling a lot of energy”,

Clock the genius:  5 mins 35 and the entry of that solo as Jimmy goes from madrigal to maelstrom with the switch of a guitar neck.




Source: Led Zeppelin 3 1970

Drama, dynamics and dexterity combine here to produce an absolutely flawless performance. How I’d loved to have been a fly on the wall at this session….

Page said: ”That was a hard one because I couldn’t get the right sound out of the amp. But there was an amp outside the studio door which didn’t belong to us. It was a British amp and finding that amp saved the day really. Playing the blues is actually one of the most challenging things to do. It’s hard to play something original. Since I’ve Been Loving You was a song we had played live prior to the recording sessions – yet it was the hardest track to record. The final version was a live take with John Paul Jones playing organ and foot bass pedals at the same time”

Clock the genius: 3 mins 38 from Plant’s cry of ”Watch out!” over which Jimmy lets loose with a solo of awesome artistry.




Source: Physical Gaffiti 1975

Classic romantic Zeppelin. Romantic is perhaps not the most immediate quality one associates with them, but it’s an entirely appropriate description for another lasting masterpiece. Page is in turn dreamy, sentimental, tender and idealistic in his playing. It’s that classic loud to soft quality that has carachterised so much of his best work.

Page said: ”I’m really sloppy. An illiterate guitarist really. But it doesn’t make any difference because every now and then something good will come through. All the guitar parts and layers to Ten Years Gone were all worked out as demos at home. That kept me sane. There was this balance of going on the road and coming home to rest. But the thing is my whole life was Led Zeppelin and that’s all there was to it – on the road or off.”

Clock the genius: 3 mins 25 – ”Did you ever really need somebody…really need them bad”

Clang!. Jimmy comes in with that chord and on then leads them into some of the most moving moments of their entire catalogue.




Source: Presence 1976

Tax exiles on the run, a car smash that stopped them in their tracks. From strange happenings in Malibu to studio marvels in Munich. The most dramatic 6 month period of their career.

Jimmy Page’s playing on Achilles mirrored  both the uncertainty of this period and the optimism with which they averted the crisis. It was his determination to turn adversity into triumph that ignited the whole album. At the helm was this extraordinary ten minute lament. Again it’s all four of them at their best. JPJ’s pulsating chugging  bass, Bonzo’s staccato drumming, Plant’s total vocal commitment and Jimmy….has any guitarist past of present so immersed himself so totally in a piece of music as the then 31 year old did inside Musicland studios during November 1975? This is guitar orchestration on a par with any classical composition. This is never mere rock music…this is a musician giving his heart and soul for his music. In my view and it would seem fellow fans the world over, this is Jimmy Page’s absolute artistic peak.

Play it again right now to remind yourself… will surely find it hard to disagree with its iconic number one status.   

Page said ” I know the rest of the band couldn’t see where I was going with it early on. There were two basic sections to overdub. There’s this sort of descending scale in it. I remember John Paul Jones saying ‘You can’t get a scale to do what you want’. And I remember saying ‘Believe me I know what I’m going!’

 I wanted to give each section its own identity and it came off really well. I didn’t think I’d be able to do it in one night. I thought I’d have to do it in the course of three different nights to get the individual sections. But I was so into it my mind was working properly it sort of crystallised everything. It all came pouring out. I was very happy with the guitar on that album as far as the maturity of the playing. It was really singing out. When I listen to it now I think to myself  ‘My god that solo says a hell of a lot to me’.

 Just what was going on there!”

Clock the genius: 9 mins 49 as Jimmy rings out those final mesmerising chord ”Where the mighty arms of atlas hold the heavens form the earth”.

The defining statement of the defining guitar hero.



Copyright Dave Lewis/TBL 2010. Not to be used without permission.

Taken from Tight But Loose  17 – back copies available via this link



John Paul Jones:

From Zeppelin to Zooma…and onwards


This piece was written for TBL 16 in 2002 just after the release of the Thunderthief album. It mirrors the diversity of John’s output across a CD’s worth of material. From Zeppelin to Zooma and onwards …the deftness of his talent remains the same…


Though John himself is far to busy with his current projects to cast much of an eye over his past achievements, the breadth of material he has been involved in is quite startling. From the early sixties sessions and solo single, through Zeppelin onto Madeline Bell, REM, The Mission, Diamanda Galas, and the countless production credits he’s racked up over the past 15 years, there is vast scope to compile a three or four CD John Paul Jones Anthology.

An official anthology may not be on the agenda but the release of The Thunderthief is a timely moment to stand back and view the accomplishments of John’s varied career.

To that end here is a single CD’s worth of material that reflects the near 40 year career of the man and his music unfolding from the primitive 60’s beat boom beginnings through Zeppelin and on into to the sophis-tication of Zooma and The Thunderthief. This is the TBL John Paul Jones sampler of the story so far – 16 selections spanning four decades.



John Paul Jones, 1964

Available on Strung Out Instrumental Diamonds Vol 2 – CMD


The one off 1964 solo single – a cover of US surf band The Astronauts produced by Andrew Loog Oldham. A typical beat boom 60’s style instrumental that could have graced any Brit-pop flick of the time.


Little Games

The Yardbirds, 1967

Available on Little Games/

The Yardbirds – EMI


Issued in the summer of 1967 this fine Mickie Most production features a string arrangement by JPJ that locks horns with Jimmy Page’s guitar sound in a manner they would repeat years later on Kashmir. Back then Page was leading the Yardbirds through their final months together -when it came to revamping the line up a year later, JPJ was well up for ending his days as the top session arranger of the era to join Page full time. The rest as they say…


She’s A Rainbow

The Rolling Stones, 1964

Available on The Rolling Stones/Their

Satanic Majasties Request – Decca

One of the more high profile session appearances and rightly credited on the original sleeve. JPJ applies an almost baroque classical string arrangement to this colourful slice of summer of love pysch.

One of the few durable pieces from a confused Stones period. Revived in the late 90’s as the music for an Apple Mac ad campaign.


Bus Stop

Graham Gouldman, 1968

Available on The Graham Gouldman

Thing – Edsel


More of the Jones string orchestra – a delicate addition to the 60’s tune-smith and later 10cc member’s album of his own versions of the songs he offered to others. This ’66 hit for The Hollies find’s Gouldman slowing the song down against JPJ’s superb string arrangement.


Your Time is Gonna Come

Led Zeppelin, 1969

Available on Led Zeppelin Atlantic


Sessions where out-groups were in and the group to join was The New Yardbirds soon to be renamed Led Zeppelin. Alongside his prowess as a bass player Page was keen for Jones to aid their sound with additional keyboards.

This opening track to side 2 of the classic debut album is dominated by JPJ’s Hammond work from its churchy intro through to the hypnotic fade.


No Quarter

Led Zeppelin, 1973

Available on Led Zeppelin/Houses

Of The Holy – Atlantic


Four years later and the ground covered had been immense. They had complete control to do exactly as they choose and out of the end-less studio experimenting there emerged this synthesised Jones creation quite unlike anything they’d done before. It still stands as one of the most impressive Zeppelin creations.


In The Light

Led Zeppelin, 1975

Available on Led Zeppelin/Physical

Graffiti – Swan Song


After surviving an early mid life crisis with his plans to quite the band, JPJ turned adversity into triumph with yet more innovative sounds destined to embellish the epic double set Physical Graffiti.

In The Light is an emotive mid tempo piece built around a rotating JPJ inspired keyboard drone – what might be described as the rock equivalent of the bag-pipes. Bizarre as it sounds it worked superbly. Winchester Cathedral’s loss was Led Zep’s continuing gain.



Led Zeppelin, 1979

Available on Led Zeppelin/In Through

The Outdoor – Swan Song


With the band still in some disarray after all the tragedies and lay-offs, JPJ found himself almost by default right at the helm of their Polar Studio recorded comeback set. This nigh on 12 minute epic comes full of weird and wonderful keyboard sounds courtesy of a freshly invented GX1 keyboard set up. It’s more than a pity they could not have built upon the better moments of what would be their final studio recording.



John Paul Jones, 1985

Available on Scream For Help – Atlantic


JPJ returned to the heady impossible riff structure of Black Dog for his first post-Zep work wisely investing in Page’s talents to elaborate on the riff. It all hints at what Led Zep may have sounded like had they survived into the ’80’s.


Spaghetti Junction

John Paul Jones, 1985

Available on Scream For Help –



An urgent bass and organ riff complete with a typical ’80’s drum machine production. Enter James Patrick again to layer on a suitable Death Wish/Firm era abstract solo. All weirdly engaging.


The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite

REM, 1993

Available on REM/Automatic For The

People – Warners


One of the four exquisite string arrangements JPJ scored for Michael Stipe and co on their multi platinum Automatic collection.

Peter Buck recalls that when JPJ turned up at Bobby Brown’s Bostown Studios in Atlanta to work with them nobody really noticed REM – all the hip hop kids were in line waiting to get their Led Zep CD’s signed.


Do You Take This Man

Diamanda Galas with John Paul Jones, 1994

Available on The Sporting Life – Mute


JPJ’s penchant for the unusual and avant-garde is well illustrated in this collision with the shrieking vocalist. The beginnings of the Zooma era can be detected in the rumbling bass dominated backing track that accompanies Diamanda’s vamped-up marriage vow vocal.


The Smile Of Your Shadow

John Paul Jones, 1999

Available on Zooma – Discipline

Global Mobile


A new chapter of the JPJ story unfolds with this moody mellow piece featuring JPJ’s lap steel guitar. Builds slowly before climaxing with a winding solo and then gentle mandolin coda. The Zooma album was proof, if proof was needed, of his immense musicianship. Unledded’s loss was the Fripp label’s gain.



John Paul Jones, 1999

Available on Zooma – Discipline

Global Mobile


A defiant throwback to the In Through era- Tidal bursts in on a barrage of impossibly dexterous bass riffs before the introduction of a quite manic synth solo which never lets up until it all suddenly stops.



John Paul Jones, 2002

Available on The Thunderthief – Discipline Global Mobile


Another elaborate multi-faceted instrumental dominated by a meandering electric mandolin solo later crossing borders to take on a Celtic almost Riverdance like feel that all drifts off into the sunset. Definitive JPJ mood music.


Ice Fishing At Night

John Paul Jones, 2002

Available on The Thunderthief – Discipline Global Mobile


A perfect showcase for both John’s increasingly confident vocal delivery and his prowess on the grand piano, recalling the improvisation that lit up many a live version of No Quarter in the Zep heyday.



Copyright Dave Lewis/TBL 2010

Not to be used without permission.

Taken from Tight But Loose issue 16. Back copies available for the special price  of £4 UK, £5 USA/rest of world  £6 – to order email    

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One Comment »

  • Steve (Champaign,ILL.) said:

    Led Zepplin was the soundtrack of my youth & teen years.No group will ever come close to the stories & energy in the music. I discovered this website while reading”When Giants Walked The Earth” Finally, a worth while website!!! Feed back welcome!!

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