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JIMMY PAGE AT WATERSTONES BOOK EVENT/HOUSES OF THE HOLY REISSUE FEEDBACK/ROSS HALFIN EXHIBITION/IAN McLAGAN & BOBBY KEYS RIP/DL DIARY UPDATE

4 December 2014 4,654 views 4 Comments

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Jimmy Page Book Stamping Event at Waterstones Piccadilly – December 2nd, 2014. 

On Wednesday I was in attendance at the Jimmy Page Waterstones book stamping event.  There was a good turn with fans travelling for as far as Germany and Sweden. Jimmy took time to engage with every fan who came forward with a book to sign listening intently to the comments and accolades. – it was a joy to watch the reaction of those in attendance who got to meet him. I had a quick word with Jimmy and he told me he was very pleased with the reaction to the book and the reissues and when I mentioned Physical Graffiti ahead, he had a twinkle in his eye replying ‘’Yes that is all to come’’…  all in all another memorable occasion for all those lucky enough to be there.

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Led Zeppelin  Reissues Feedback:

Here is another intensive and hugely informative feedback report on the Houses Of The Holy Reissued album and Companion Disc by Ken Winovich:

‘In Depth’ review of the new Led Zeppelin ‘Houses Of The Holy’ Deluxe Box Set by Ken Winovich – December 1st, 2014.

Well, when this baby came in the mail and I opened the Barnes & Noble box, I got the same feeling as I did when I first saw this album at my cousins on Easter Sunday, April 22nd, 1973! The bright red orange Deluxe box really does it for me! But I must say I did not like the transition over to the light blue pages on the inside of the hard cover book. This must have been done because the companion disc is blue – a ‘connection’ to it if you will. I did like the black backgrounds on the ‘Complete Studio Recordings’ gray box set from 1993. I’m quickly over it when the second photo I see in the book is from Greater Pittsburgh International Airport! The band posing next to their jet in my home town! Someone incorrectly listed that as New York but I know better as I recognized our ‘Parkway West’. The blue sticker in the upper left-hand corner of the new Deluxe Box set doesn’t work for me either but as these small details have nothing to do with the music, I get over it. And yes I always liked the black stickers from back in the album days and I can still remember the ‘Physical Graffiti’ sticker packed with so many good selling points. It was the ultimate promotional sticker!

As with each Deluxe Box Set I ordered, I check for damage. And in order to avoid wear and tear, I open this one with gloves on. The inside box had blotches of production dust in about five spots. The companion CD plastic sheath was wrinkled. The slide-on white wrap’s were hastily glued and their ends were not lined up. The proof-of-purchase sticker on the back of the box was off-center. My companion album Side one has a scratch near the run-off. It may have been dropped. The white slip-on wrap to the original album has a dot under the “H” in “The”. The bottom inside cover to the book has grease stains like they didn’t stir the glue before they applied it. The last two pages of the book were stuck together on the bottom left-hand corner of a left page. There is a tear in the blue page dead center on the tour dates/credits page. But all minor. The average fan may notice a few of these minor flaws. The 80-page hardcover book is next with it’s zeppelin cutout. I carefully slide the plastic cover off.

I lay that aside for now to make sure all the contents in the box are at hand. The bright orange is awesome but I am well aware I better take care of it or it will easily start to turn white. Up next is the original ‘Houses Of The Holy’ album, made of sturdy cardboard and I smile when I see the white slip-on sleeve (called an ‘obi’). I always liked that as it adds such a fine touch of class! Plus I remember I didn’t expect it when I went to buy it back in 1973 as my cousins must have torn theirs off! But like the new Zep ‘IV’ Deluxe Box set, what a bummer the lyrics album sleeve was shelved and substituted with a lyric cardboard card! Makes me want to replace it with my UK import! Thank goodness the band didn’t cut corners with the slip-on obi. But if you thought the lyric card substitution was bad, I can only imagine what’s in store for us with the ‘Physical Graffiti’ Deluxe Box set. Expect corners to be cut as I remind myself it’s 2014 and not 1973 when things were much ‘better’. Up next is the serial numbered print. Mine is #18117 / 30000. Next is the companion album with it’s blue cover. I had to do several takes of it and I swore it was just a painting! Looks like it’s actually the album cover in blue however. Again, this companion album like the others has the cheesy just ‘purple’ back cover like a run-of-the-mill bootleg. No wonder the bootleggers finally caught on making their Zep bootleg packages much more elaborate which is a guarantee it will sell. I quickly write down the dates the songs were recorded to solve several mysteries and to re-assign anniversary dates in my annual Zep calendar. Which reminds me.

If you are someone looking to market something ‘Zeppelin’, please start producing a yearly calendar with a minimum of at least a good three inch square per day per month so we hard core Zep fans can write all our anniversary items inside it! Cut corners and make a regular sized calendar and it won’t sell as good. Something on the lines of a three or four inch square will suit just fine! The HD download card was next. I jotted down the number on a small foldout I made with the previous four offerings and moved on. The CD’s are again not in their place in the bottom-of-the-box cutouts. I smile as this time, the original CD comes with the little white slip-on ‘obi’ unlike the Atlantic rush jobs from the early 80’s. It’s ends were hastily glued together and worse yet, were stuck to the inside plastic and it came off with the plastic when I tried to slide the plastic off. So the ‘obi’ on the CD was another big plus! Again I get off-center proof-of-purchase stickers instead of crooked ones plastered on the backs of everything.

And you know it would be a soup sandwich to try and remove and realign them with an xacto knife so I leave ‘well enough’ alone. I retrieve the albums and CD’s making sure all is accounted for. I slip the albums into brand new plastic vinyl album sleeves and the CD’s and HD Download card into their protective jewelry bags. I trimmed 1/4 inch (0.635 centimeters) off each end of the back contents card so I can place it inside the Box set and proceed to my computer to download the HD audio. Now the HD Downloads are the real gem here as they are the FINEST Zeppelin music available on the entire planet. The files are zipped but when unzipped, they are high quality 96 kHz 24-bit audio FLAC files. This one is 1.78 GB in size. I remind myself that the next time I do this step, it will take twice as long if not longer with ‘Physical Graffiti’. Once that’s started I will go back to the book but once again the downloads are not ready on the official Zep website. No biggie.

Just so I eventually get ‘em! So that’s the first delay in getting this review done. This hard cover book is more in line with all the stuff I picked out if I was putting it together with one big exception – no alternate or ‘rejected’ Houses Of The Holy cover artwork. I would have loved to have seen that tennis racket on the tennis court rejected album cover for a good laugh! In comparing the bands choice of what goes in the book to what I chose, I only got nineteen pages out of eighty correct – as a hard core Zeppelin fan comparing my choices to theirs. I feel there are just certain things that should be in these books to accompany that time period. Key events. So I wonder did the band get half-heartedly involved in this step? Or they just didn’t have the time? I don’t know. I love the photos of the master tape boxes front and back, the mobile recording truck, the Atlantic memos, hotel lists, my home town venue photos (I of course did not take any of them) and the tour dates memo. I double-check the tour listings to confirm Three Rivers Stadium is in there (c’mon – every Zep fan should want to see their own hometown listed, right?). Very nice book but it could have been a tad better. I would love to see all of them released in one book “The History Of Led Zeppelin” in the dimensions of an album. On to the music itself.

As with the Led Zeppelin ‘IV’ Deluxe Box set, I’m a little disappointed. My hopes of hearing an unheard of song/outtake like “Slush” went right down the drain. ‘Least for now. I start licking my chops when I read interviews of Page saying there will be ‘surprises’ in the future and what better surprise can I get musically than a Zeppelin surprise! It’s got to be ‘Coda’! And of course we all know the track “Houses Of The Holy” appeared on ‘Physical Graffiti’. But this was quite a varied album setting aside the monumental “The Song Remains The Same”. It would have been nice to hear an outtake or two in the flavor of “Black Country Woman”, “Boogie With Stu” or “Night Flight” (not these actual songs but a similar song outtake from this time period like some of these from the Zeppelin ‘IV’ era). This album had a reggae piece, the moody “No Quarter”, two pop-ish tunes, a love song and then the ‘normal’ riffer in “The Ocean”. What more could you ask for? How it got bad reviews on those ‘making of’ import DVD’s and “it doesn’t work” comment is beyond me.

They lost me on that one. Let’s hope ‘Coda’ really surprises us! Since I’m late with this bloody review because all kinds of unplanned things got in the way of my sitting down to enjoy this second series of releases (and that includes ‘IV’) – especially on the day of their release/arrival (Zep fans dread any interference to their daily ‘Zep time’), I am excited as Jimmy Page recently told Rolling Stone magazine that ‘surprises’ are ahead and they mentioned ‘Coda’ (and I hope that’s an unofficial ‘tip’ between-Jimmy-and-Rolling Stone magazine to us – in that there’s where the gems in this project will be!). So don’t get discouraged fans! Listening to the remasters glistening out of my speakers or headphones more than occupies my time and I am starting to find that I am listening to every Zep song instead of the greatest hits style songs a tad more as I learn to play them on the guitar.

Houses and four retail one

“Houses Of The Holy” was the very first album that came out where I was already a big fan and I bought it twenty-eight days after it’s release date. This is back when I had to wait for my allowance and before my newspaper route days. I remember it so well. I thought I bought it the day of it’s release but I am mistaken. My cousins bought “Houses Of The Holy” first and our family visited them on Easter Sunday 1973 and I heard them playing it downstairs in their basement (Pittsburgh’s WDVE already debuted the album just two weeks before on Tuesday, March 13, 1973 so I was well aware of the tracks and taped any premiere songs that I could get) so I ventured down there and cousins Rick and Bobby let me hear and look at it and it was great! Prior to that, I became a serious fan in the summer of 1972 and was really hooked when Zep toured America in June 1972.

They did not come to Pittsburgh in 1972 but our number one rock station WDVE played cuts from all four of the Zeppelin albums and I taped their radio special where they selected the finest cuts from the first four albums. I was completely floored! I loved that so much that from that point on, I have been doing Zeppelin album marathons from ‘I’ to ‘Coda’ ever since and that evolved into including bootlegs by year and then videos were thrown in. It’s here that I heard Zeppelin III as well as Led Zeppelin I. “Immigrant Song” sinched it. I had already heard the second album the year it was released and a neighbor had it and this little WDVE radio special just solidified it for me. I remember I dumped the band at the Led Zep II point because I thought the people on the Zep II cover were all the bandmembers (I never heard Zep I and none of my friends had that album) but my neighbor Donny used to hold album listening sessions every weekend and we played ‘Led Zeppelin IV’, ‘Yessongs’, ‘Black Sabbath’, ‘Kraftwerk’ and ‘Pink Floyd’ a lot and I remember looking at the Zep IV “Stairway To Heaven” lyrics album sleeve and it’s then that I discovered to my astonishment that there were only four guys in the band! I played my two 90-minute Zep cassettes to death and they lasted me till spring of 1973 and I have been hooked ever since.

Remembering that Easter Sunday, I now know the exact dates when I bought all my Zep studio albums! I bought Led Zeppelin IV and II on my first trip into town early the week after Easter on Wednesday April 25th along with ‘Houses Of The Holy’. I was only twelve years old and about to turn thirteen and I had used my weekly allowance money to get them. I bought Led Zep I that friday on April 27th as Zep’s albums were so good followed by Led Zeppelin III early the following week on Monday April 30th, 1973. So when the press reports came in that Zep’s entire catalog was back in the charts and selling hotter than ever, I smiled! GUILTY! This would repeat every subsequent year they toured! And what a treat ‘Houses Of The Holy’ was. This album had a white sleeve strip you had to slip off in order to get to the album and I remember thinking “what a fine touch of class!” Whether it was to hide the child in a ‘naked’ body suit, whatever (we now learn from the actors there wasn’t a body suit). And there was a bonus inside as this was the first Zeppelin album to contain complete lyrics to every song! Another bonus! The artwork is stunning. It looks like a photo but then you can see it’s been airbrushed various colors. The orange sky gave you the impression of fresh orange fruit or candy and it’s the word ‘fresh’ that really comes out as so was the music!

When Donny got wind I bought Zep’s whole catalog he told me to bring over the rest of the Zep albums as he only had Zep IV and we were hooked. He went on vacation back in the summer of ’73’ and when he came back from Ocean City, Maryland, he gave me my first Led Zeppelin t-shirt in orchid with the Zep I era tour book cover showing Jimmy’s outstretched hand! I learned fast that the best place to get rare Led Zeppelin t-shirts was along the east coast beaches in the US! From the moment I started wearing that t-shirt, anybody and everybody liked it, commented about it, wanted it and so on! I and they were hooked! In the summer of ’73’, Led Zeppelin were coming to my home town of Pittsburgh PA with a show at Three Rivers Stadium. My other neighbor asked me if I wanted to go (Carl was four years older and was even so kind as to try and fix me up with his new girlfriend’s sister!). The four of us didn’t end up going to the Three Rivers Stadium show so I missed out on chance number one. I was still only 12 years old and about to turn 13 so I didn’t see any problem. But my parents had a fit what with the drugs and hippies clashing with police and the violence.

Then soon after a fan was found dead in the Allegheny river after a Z Z Top/Aerosmith concert and that was the end of that. My parents always had a fit when the words ‘rock concert’ were mentioned as rock was a dirty word in our house especially after the manner in which Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison had died. Hippies were trouble and skirmishes between them and the cops was all you saw on the nightly news so I could see their point. Long hair on me was out of the question and that didn’t start to happen ironically until later that same year! That summer I remember a Robert Plant paperback coming out by Circus magazine and I bought it and I got my first real education on the blues, Led Zeppelin and it’s singer. His voice had such an effect on me that I started singing along to the albums four to five times per month when the family stepped out Saturday mornings to go grocery shopping. Plus I had to babysit my younger sister when she didn’t want to go with my parents. My older sister was taking guitar lessons and the guitar started to grow on me. When she played “Stairway To Heaven” and “The Rain Song” openings, that was it. I was hooked. If she could learn it (she could read music) then so could I. I would keep trying to get the songs down exact from a vocals perspective as each week passed and I have been singing Zep ever since in the car.

Soon after, I was in my first band – ‘Metal Rainbow’ (and we never played a single Deep Purple song!) and half our set was Zep! What I immediately noticed was how quickly one was craving for a new Zeppelin album. Hell, after hearing songs like “Immigrant Song”, “When The Levee Breaks”, “Black Dog” and “Heartbreaker”, who wouldn’t? It was like a drug. I had to have a fix. It was that bad. And I was spoiled having bought the first five Led Zeppelin albums in less than a week and a half! Imagine! Other than that, I only had ‘Whole Lotta Love’ on a 45 single and I think I bought ‘Black Dog’/’R & R’ on 45 singles as well in the early stages. Then the tour press reports started coming in. Led Zeppelin were storming across America and I smiled knowing I chose the right band to be my favorite. And I proudly began to proclaim it to all my friends. And nobody dared argue over Zep being the best because I had the stats and figures to prove it. The whole purpose of me picking one band was to avoid buying 500 albums just for a couple cool songs on each! And it got out of hand any way when I discovered bootlegs three years later! Plus I never did solve that problem because I would end up spending $15-$30 per bootleg and would ‘Now and Zen’ get screwed with a poor quality sounding bootleg! ! ! But that didn’t really matter because once every decent bootleg was obtained, anything Zeppelin was the desire and even a poor sounding bootleg of a kick-ass performance was worth it’s pence in gold (like Boston ’69 – “Dazed And Confused”)!

Of all the book illustrations, I went over on my choices by seventeen pages. So I had 97 to their 80 official pages. I only chose 1/4th of the actual photos and illustrations Zep had chose that actually ended up in the official book which makes me think these were rushed. What’s nice about this album is it has such a nice variety of songs. The lyrics made it even better and that of course had me scurrying to get the lyrics to the first four albums done. No wonder the first Zeppelin sheet music book came out in ‘Led Zeppelin Complete’ right when ‘Houses Of The Holy’ was released! The demand was there! And it started with Zep ‘IV’. That only added to the mystique of the band as there were still no books other than the Plant paperback. Ritchie York’s biography was about to arrive by 1974-75.

Now on to the music. No other album in Zep’s entire catalog has been included in their live shows more than this one. Well, if the tour included an acoustic set then Zep ‘IV’ and ‘Houses’ are tied. But if it was electric-only like 1973, then ‘Houses Of The Holy’ wins!

“The Song Remains The Same” – The master tape box lists “Overture”. This song is the powerhouse of the whole album. I still scratch my head trying to figure out how Page ever even came up with it. It’s like NOTHING you’ve ever heard before from any other band in history. Bonham’s cymbals are shimmering as Page’s 12-string electric churns away. Live – it kicked ass. Plant comes in near the middle and he’s mixed in such a way he sounded like he was up near the ceiling at first in the left-to-right sonic spread. Plant’s singing on this album is so unique and it’s a joy to hear it remastered here and the doubleneck sounds like it’s some heavenly glistening multi-stringed harp or lyre. Listen to Plant’s “Ah…ah….ha….ah…ah….oooh…..ah” just about at the end right before the last “Ahhhhh”. Fantastic!

“The Rain Song” – I wait with anticipation for this one to start and it’s an absolute delight! Plant, Jimmy and John Paul just shine in this song’s beginning. Hearing the Martin acoustic strumming, the 12-string acoustic and electric all separated apart but astoundingly clear….this is where audio Zeppelin was meant to be! My compliments again to Jimmy Page! The orchestration by John Paul in the middle is superb! He was an absolute gem on the Zeppelin recordings and really stands out. You will get no finer audio experience of “The Rain Song” than this FLAC file! Wow! You can even hear Bonham brushing his kit with ‘brushes’ instead of sticks! Can’t wait to hear Jimmy’s delicate acoustic ending! “Talk….talk…talk” as Plant and Company turn it up. Jimmy’s electric after “But I love you so” sounds great in the right channel. One of my favorite parts – “Upon us all…” in Plant’s trademark style! “Ooooh-ooooh..yeah—eee—eah”! After Jimmy’s delicate ending, you can hardly catch your breath as the lovely beginning of “Over The Hills And Far Away” is next! Fantastic!

“Over The Hills And Far Away” – Original title “Many Many Times” and many times we get to hear the chimey fingerpicking and strumming on this fine Zeppelin classic. When the 12-string acoustic comes in it’s delivered with gusto. I always loved Plant’s lyrics like this and other songs in Zep’s catalog where he’s singing to a lady! Love Plant’s trademark style and this album separated him from all the rest. When we got to ‘Physical Graffiti’ he distanced himself even further from his nearest competitors. Jones’s bass never sounded better in the middle as the guitar solo starts. I love how Jimmy Page pans some of Zep’s classics like “Whole Lotta Love” and this one as well. As the Zeppelin words of wisdom blare out “mellow is the man”, what a fine treat on this rainy day! It’s the bright orange cover, the crystal clear remastered tracks and the whole sonic experience! Wow! As fine as one can hear Zep on this entire planet.

“The Crunge” – I love John Paul Jones’s bass on this and Jimmy’s funky guitar. Many reviewers don’t like this song but I do. Again, Plant continues his assault on his nearest vocal competitors by delivering another superb Plant-ish style track! “Ooh…tell me baby…what choo want me ta do?” Listen to the “ahh” after “Mr. Pitiful”. Yeah! “Wooooo…ooooo she’s my baby…let me tell ya….she lives next door”. And John Paul’s organ sounds great in the remaster. And another Zeppelin trademark – Jones’s organ is played regular on the left channel and an octave higher overdub on the right! Fantastic!

“Dancing Days” – Again, John Paul Jones’s bass on this song is a real treat. Just four notes and they kick butt. Again, Plant’s vocal style and emphasis is awesome. Listen to the word “POWER” sung with an attitude. And how he sings “only” as ‘oon-lee’ or “alright” as ‘all-ride’. “Dear!” “Ahhh…ah.” Jimmy’s slide only makes it better. “You told ‘yer mom’r I’d get cha home….” Jones’s synth in the left channel sounds great. Love that bass slam topped with Bonham’s nice beat! What a delight! Not a single bum song!

“D’yer Ma’ker” – I tip my hat to Bonham as he delivers a fine drum opening. It’s not “When The Levee Breaks” but it’s just right. Love this drum sound especially on the snare. Would love to know how they got this sound. The Glyn Johns drum mic’ing technique? Nope cause I tried it. Since I started out on singles and 45’s as a kid, this song was my immediate favorite till I actually got the album and got into albums. This song was so catchy back in the spring of 1973, I was singing this one all the time. Plant’s coos of “Don’t..go” are the most. And just when you’re enjoying that the songs shifts to a rougher edge with dunt-dunt-da-dunt “When I read the letter you…”. Awesome. Classic Zeppelin stomp and it’s Bonham that really makes the song work. If I didn’t know better, you would think Bonham and Plant were doing this one back in the Band Of Joy days. They just work so fine together on this one. Jimmy’s one-fret slides downward drive it along well. Fantastic!

“No Quarter” – Now the real treat. The moody and sinister “No Quarter”. I love listening to this on a foggy night and that’s probably because of the ‘Song Remains The Same’ movie. Page’s guitar sounds like it’s run through some kind of synthesizer. Of course we don’t know how as most of the guitar mag interviews are wasted on babble by the interviewers doing their usual ‘summarization’ of Page’s contributions to rock and his impact as if they finally revealed to us the ‘secret’ that we all already know rather than getting answers to long sought questions. Can’t wait to hear that synthesizer note after Jones winds down his piano solo and the grand piano solo sounds superb with visions of Liberace or Van Clybourne. The synth’s as Page dabbles in a guitar solo sound awesome. Nice high pitched synth splash on the left before Jones starts his final synth sequence. Ahhhh….there it is! Sounds like a zipper going up! I have never heard this album better and it is surely going to get more play.

“The Ocean” – Wow. I never saw 40 minutes go by so fast! What a treat on this rainy day as I arrive at a classic Zeppelin piece in “The Ocean”. Every kid in high school loved singing part or all of this song! I can remember my high school classmate Andy singing this in the hallways along with ‘Black Dog’ much to the annoyance of my teachers. And it was my fault as I would point out all the unique vocalizations Plant does on this album and I could see Andy was ‘hooked’. Just listen to the Bonham-Zeppelin ‘stomp’ on this one! It’s got such a fine thrust as they all come in on the money. Wow! A classic Zeppelin track. And the way Plant struts on stage in the movie on this one, it’s exactly like I pictured it! Shame it took all these years to get that video/audio bonus track onto the movie. Again and for the last time on this album, Plant separates himself from the competitors. I can’t decide if he’s inhaled a little balloon helium before singing this one? What do all of you think? It sounds so un-natural but then again we’re talking about Robert Plant here. Fantastic! “Hittin’ ‘uon’ tha’ moon-shine….rockin’ in tha’ grain”. Superb. This was Plant’s album and I am beginning to see why at this stage Led Zep was a slam-dunk decision for me when I finally decided ‘this is my ultimate band’ and from then on, they became my numero uno! “My futz out-side tha’ doh-er” Jimmy’s echoed low string in the left channel just completes the track. I wonder if he tuned it down an octave or two to get that ‘bottom’ low end sound. And just when you think that’s it, the “ooooh…ooooh’s” come in. Fantastic! Fine jam by Page on the right channel before the ‘Doo Wops’ begin. “Oh…..it’s so good!” Yes it is! Forty-one….count em’….years later! Very few bands can do this. THIS is why Led Zeppelin are back in the spotlight. The best. Remastered. Better than ever. The passage of time doesn’t matter. It’s only got better. Thank you Robert – Jimmy – John Paul – and John. Thank you!

Please see my “First Impressions’ and “Companion Disc’ reviews for this Deluxe Box Set. I’m also going to follow this review with a ‘Half-way’ point assessment in the Zeppelin Remasters review (the entire Atlantic catalog of the first five albums).

So all-in-all, I really was happier with this Deluxe box set than with Led Zep ‘IV’ one and the feeling that I was a little short-changed on the first half of the remasters (from “Led Zeppelin I” to “Houses Of The Holy”) went away. Plus knowing that the double tour-de-force of ‘Physical Graffiti’ is up next and will include the John Paul Jones on vocals track “Lost In Space”, I am ‘back-on-track’ with excitement and with a Zep fever, waiting with much anticipation for the final half of the band’s catalog (the Swan Song portion of their catalog). Who knows what lies ahead but 2015 is sure to be just as exciting as 2014 has been! And my slightly disappointed ratings just went up past Zep ‘IV’ on this one! Can’t wait to hear “I hear the dogs of doom a howlin’ more…ooooh….ore!” And I crank it up for the last “I hear tha’ dog’s a doom a howlin’ more!” Superb!

Scale of 1 to 5 with 5 the best:

Content: 4.8
Audio: 5
Satisfaction: 4.8

I always liked the ‘Houses Of The Holy’ album and cover. For me, it was the bright orange color which reminded me of fruit and candy. So when I did a negative of it which was a no-brainer seeings how the band was doing the companion covers, I could see it was going to be blue and blue is my favorite color. So I like it! There was a bit of disappointment not seeing “Slush” on here or any other unreleased gem as I feel this was a pivotal album for Zep as they just about reached the top of the mountain and any unreleased song from that period was sure to be good.

The Song Remains The Same (Guitar Overdub Reference Mix) – Very powerful. The perfect song to kick off the album and it does the same for the companion disc. Jones’s bass is up front and in your face! But this version had a way to go yet to finish out the guitar overdubs. Yet it is so close to the original, I knew exactly where and when to come in with the lyrics to sing it because of little cues I’ve memorized in the past….ah….forty one years! . Jimmy stops for some reason at the 4:45 mark. My guess is an edit? What’s nice about these tracks with no vocals is you get to hear with clarity those parts of key Zeppelin songs that you never heard before because Robert’s voice is so powerful.

The Rain Song (Mix Minus Piano) – Fantastic! Robert is dead center, not off to the side in the official mix. The clarity is great and allows you for the first time, to get inside of the core of the song and it’s delicate details. And this song is a masterpiece. I can remember the first time I played it. It was utter delight, hearing the guitar picking glide over the orchestrated parts played by Jones. The lyrics are just enough and did not ruin the song with babbling about. And the whole band comes in very nice near the end which was one of their key ingredients with which they slayed their live audiences – dynamics. Songs often moved along at a steady pace and then the band would bring it down to a barely noticeable whisper and then crank it up! This is a “light and shade” classic Zeppelin moment and only they could pull it off well. This is a love song here and just how do you come in slamming the instruments hard in a love song and expect to get away with it? Only Zeppelin could do it best. What a treat!

Over The Hills And Far Away (Guitar Mix – Backing Track) – Can’t wait to karaoke this! Very powerful. You can hear the power chords very well. I love the bass as the guitar solo starts and is always one of my favorite moments within this song including the beginning with the acoustic hammer-ons and pull-offs. Jimmy is such a fine rhythm strummer I don’t think there is a finer example of that in the Zeppelin catalog than in this song. It’s closest competitor being ‘Gallows Pole’ off the third offering. The high pitched 12-string D-chords on the 7th and 9th fret just do it for me. They really place this song into a very fine perspective. One thing I always felt was that the guitar solo tone wasn’t quite right. That solo had me guessing – is Jimmy Page playing that or is John Paul Jones doing a bass solo or a solo on one of his many stringed instruments like the stand-up bass? On a few Zeppelin tracks in their catalog, there are moments where I was confused. How are they doing that? What’s going on here at this moment in this or that song and this was one of those examples. When I got the ‘Led Zeppelin Complete’ sheet music books, I ran to these spots but of course they were no help so I had to wait for the Tab books to come out. A most obvious example would be Page’s use of special tunings. I can remember when I started out on guitar and got to the low E note and realizing “that’s lower than the low E!” Yes. It is. And that’s what’s so great about Zeppelin. Different tunings. Great individual muscianship. They slayed the Melody Maker listener polls every year. Best band. Best producer. Best live group. Best guitarist. Best bass player. Best keyboardist. Best drummer. Best vocalist. No wonder.

The Crunge (Rough Mix – Keys Up) – I can hear a studio tech say something like “One more, say the right yaught?” “If you’d like to.” “Try it.” Again, more clarity. So these remasters with companion discs offer every Zep fan the clearest Zep audio or clearest picture on the planet via two avenues: the first being 24-bit 96 kHz crystal clear audio – the finest available on the planet and second – alternate mixes that can still offer clearer audio because of how they were mixed that you would otherwise never have heard. A guitar here or vocal there are brought forward more to stand out in the mix than they are on the originals. And what a treat that is!

Dancing Days (Rough Mix With Vocal) – Another fine performance from John Paul Jones on bass. The bass at the start of the song although just three notes is so powerful and is one of my favorite John Paul Jones Zep moments. It’s hard to believe it but he’s actually guiding the beat whereas a drummer usually does that. Jones plays fine percussive bass. This could be a drum riff but Jones is doing it with his bass.

No Quarter (Rough Mix with JPJ Keyboard Overdubs – No Vocal) – Can’t wait to karaoke this one. We get to hear John Paul Jones’s playing brought to the front in this nice mix. If you never heard Zeppelin live and I can remember back when I hadn’t, you were like “this guitar solo or keyboard solo is gonna be short (album version)”. On the album, they kept them basic. But live! Wow! Talk about cutting loose! Led Zeppelin were also the best band I have ever heard that improvised well live. When some bands were even lip syncing their live shows by playing to an actual tape so they could fake the entire performance and take it easy on their tours, Zeppelin were showing up night after night, playing their songs, improvising and night after night the arrangements were slightly different. They were never afraid to try different avenues in the songs. And that’s what was a real treat!

The Ocean (Working Mix) – Page and Jones play the riff on this song so in sync, that the low bass notes combined with Jimmy’s killer guitar tone, add a lovely rhythmic growl on the end of each riff that is so hard to describe yet it’s the classic ingredient that powers this song! I absolutely love it! When you have Page and Jones playing in sync just like they do on say the “Immigrant Song” or “Heartbreaker” and this one as well, and you throw in John Bonham’s powerful foot, what do you think is gonna happen? Instant hit. And there is no finer an example than “The Ocean”. It’s an easy fan favorite and that’s why. Plant’s vocal seems turned down a bit and it gives us a chance to delight in the interplay between Bonham with Page and Jones. You can almost picture John Paul and Jimmy on each side of Bonzo, facing him as it was recorded. I loved Plant’s singing on this album. It’s got a Janis Joplin feel to it. I don’t know how Robert got that shrill on the word “sunshine” but it’s cool. Plant’s “Oooh, yeah!” is delivered like he got goosed. I don’t like the guitar in the LEFT channel just before the ‘la la’s’ start. We get a clearer look at the outtro that starts to end the song with the Do-wop woo hoo’s.

So with this companion disc, there was a little disappointment but not near as much with Led Zeppelin ‘IV’. So we’re now at the half way point in the remasters program and I have to say there’s a bit of a let down. Led Zeppelin IV and Houses Of The Holy were two hugely important albums for the band as they were now on top and yet there was nothing new to hear in the way of unreleased tracks which makes me think they must have been poor unfinished tracks. The first album companion was kind of a bummer for me as well because I really was hoping to hear ‘Chest Fever’ or the rocking “Flames’ or even ‘My Baby’ but we learned they were never recorded. Although the live Paris show saved the day, I would have preferred the Fillmore West show from April 1969 instead. But upon hearing that the next release will include John Paul Jones singing “Lost in Space’ and that Presence will have two unreleased gems on it, that should have me brimming with excitement again! So in the end, these companion discs are still relevant as we fans really have a clearer picture of what was going on in the studio when these records were being constructed and when you combine them with all the bootleg material, they give us a real treat!

Scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being best:

Content: 4.8
Audio: 5
Satisfaction: 4.8

……………………….

ross exhib

Ross Halfin Exhibition at The Great Frog jewellery stores:

Ross Halfin has an on going exhibition and collaboration with The Great Frog jewellery stores. I popped into the London Ganton Street store on Tuesday.

The exhibition celebrates photographs of iconic musicians wearing The Great Frog Jewellery at their flagship stores in London and Los Angeles – from 1978 to present. On display are various pictures taken by Ross of  Metallica, Iron Maiden, Aerosmith, Motörhead, ZZ Top, Slash, QOTSA, Arctic Monkeys and more. All prints are for sale framed or unframed in signed limited editions. The locations are

London:

10 Ganton Street

London W1F 7QR

Los Angeles:

7955 Melrose Avenue

California 90046

(323) 879 9100

More info at:

www.thegreatfroglondon.com

………………………

Bobby Keyes 1943 – 2014

Very sad to hear the news of the passing of Bobby Keyes age 70 –he was an integral part of The Rolling Stones sound – particularly in the early 1970s – marvel at his playing from 3 mins 02 on the YouTube clip below of Coming Down Again. RIP Bobby…

Ian McLagan  1945 – 2014

The passing of Bobby Keyes was followed by the shock another very sad passing – that of Small Faces/Faces keyboardist Ian McLagan age 69 – another huge loss – I’ve been listening to Ian’s keyboard contributions to some of my favourite bands for over 45 years. Mac of course also worked with The Rolling Stones. Another leading light and true character has faded away. RIP. Here is Ian pictured with Robert Plant –

ian robert

………………………………………………….

DL Diary Update: 

 There was a  little bit of Black Friday vinyl therapy last week and luckily I beat the Black Friday queue to secure this copy of the Jimmy Page Special Early Works album at the excellent Vinyl Barn in Bedford.

We had an excellent night at Haynes International Arena (ok Village Hall!) A very good turn out, atmosphere was great and Whole Lotta Led were on top form. The range of vocalist Lee Pryor was most impressive and drummer Charlie Hurt added all the necessary power to their sound. The set list was also refreshing as it was good to hear less obvious crowd pleasers such as Houses Of The Holy and All My Love. The TBL stall did a bit of business and thanks to Phil, Cliff and Tom for helping out. A top night all round.

Aside from the trip out to attend Jimmy’s Waterstones Piccadilly event, it’s been a week of packing orders, and planning ahead for the TBL 2015. There are still a few things to firm up on various things but I hope to have a clear idea of what will be on the agenda TBL project wise, over the next couple of weeks.

On the player, Led Zeppelin Zep IV and Houses of The Holy vinyl (by the way I am waiting until Christmas now to open the deluxe box sets!), plus The Beatles At The BBC sets on CD – and as it’s 34 years ago today that they announced they could not continue as they were -there will be plenty of Led Zeppelin on – because without John Bonham, they indeed could not continue as they were…but while so much has gone…so much remains…

In the light of the sad passing of Bobby Keys and Ian McLagan, I’ll also be paying tribute with some early 70s Rolling Stones including Sticky Fingers and Goats Head Soup – Bobby’s playing on the latter album is just sublime – witness the beautiful Coming Down Again – and Mac’s work will also be on – so many great tracks such as Lazy Sunday, Bad’n’ Ruin, Love Lives Here, Cindy Incidentally etc.  There’s a bit of respite tomorrow when my good friends Dec, Tom, Phil,Max and Dave head into London for our annual Wallbanger football team reunion day – somewhere along the way in the darkest recess of the pubs in Islington, we will pause for a toast to Bobby and Ian and John Bonham  – musicians who shaped the soundtrack to our lives…now all sadly gone…

DL – December 4th, 2014.

………………………………

YouTube clips:

Ian McLagan – 1945 – 2014 

The Small Faces – Tin Soldier: 

Ian  Mclagan – Glad and Sorry

Bobby Keys – 1943 – 2014

Coming Down Again:

Brown Sugar Live 1972:


Until next time…

Keep listening, keep reading…

Have a great weekend

Dave Lewis/Gary Foy – December 4th , 2014.

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4 Comments »

  • Roger Berlin said:

    Super, Dave thanks for all.
    Roger Berlin

  • Ria said:

    TBL rocks it from every corner of our little green planet~I recall when Robert did not know what TBL was~ he asked me how I knew he was at that particular venue ~with PoB~ in the Uk ~ I traveled there from the US~ I promptly informed him of this great web site that led me ther (; we had a moment back then and it was good~(* Thank U TBL 4 all this great stuff ~Keep Rock’n it~*

  • Nigel Castle said:

    Ken’s reviews are incredibly detailed to say the least. What is he listening to the music on/through? Is it a modest system shall we say or something high end?

  • Roger Berlin said:

    Thank you Dave, for all.

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