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1 April 2019 1,758 views 2 Comments

My thoughts on…

John Paul Jones, Thurston Moore & Steve Noble – a benefit concert for Resonance FM: 100 Club, London, March 28, 2019:

John Paul Jones was reunited with ex Sonic Youth guitarist Thurston Moore for the first time in a decade last night – back in 2009 they collaborated on the score for the stage show Nearly Ninety to celebrate choreographer Merce Cunningham’s 90th birthday

They linked up again for special benefit performance to aid the annual fundraising efforts by community radio station Resonance FM. The non-profit station has been broadcasting since 1998 thanks to the efforts of the London Musicians’ Collective charity.

Joining them was jazz drummer Steve Noble – I had previously witnessed Steve’s experimental percussive style when he performed with Sebastian Lexer on piano as the support act to JPJ’s Minibus Pimps appearance at the Cafe OTO London back in July 2012.

They linked up again for special benefit performance to aid the annual fundraising efforts by community radio station Resonance FM. The non-profit station has been broadcasting since 1998 thanks to the efforts of the London Musicians’ Collective charity.

Joining them was jazz drummer Steve Noble – I had previously witnessed Steve’s experimental percussive style when he performed with Sebastian Lexer on piano as the support act to JPJ’s Minibus Pimps appearance at the Cafe OTO London back in July 2012.

Tonight all three joined forces for a unique performance = and as power trio’s go, well this one can be classified as utterly relentless.

John had told me beforehand there was no set list – this was all pure improvisation and the intensity between the three was totally compelling. Improvisation number one ran for some 38 minutes. This was JPJ in full on bass mode created a growling undercurrent for Thurston to weave between.

We all know that John likes to play off the drummer and his rapport with Steve Noble allowed the piece to veer off into various directions as he strummed picked and slapped at the bass. This rhythmic pairing of the two echoed the glory days of Zep – indeed several times during the set I felt I was in the midst of a Dazed And Confused Zep circa Europe 1973 extravaganza.

During it all there were some mellow moments where Steve switched to rim shot playing – some of the soundscapes achieved reminded me of Berlin period Bowie

They then took a break – there was a great moment when I saw John leaving the stage jigging around to the sound of a reggae track DJ the legendary Jerrry Dammers began spinning.

Improvisation number 2 continued the momentum –highlights here included a section where Thurston scrubbed the strings with a pointed instrument in a violin bow way. Steve Noble’s percussion through this was just right out there – from Buddy Rich style syncopation to using the maracas as sticks – amongst it all JPJ and Thurston repeatedly changed direction of the piece with ambitious twists and turns. Thurston’s shrill guitar sound piecing through sometimes in a Tom Verlaine manner.

They were back for a shorter encore piece that again saw JPJ play off Steve in time honoured Zep fashion.

Summary: So LivingLoving Maid it wasn’t… but what it was – was in turns explosive, unpredictable and wildly exciting. Radical but easy to embrace – and that is exactly what the audience did, soaking up a truly compelling performance.

Right in the middle of it all was John Paul jones – on stage again and applying his vast musical intelligence with two likeminded seekers of something unique.

It was an absolute privilege to witness them achieving their objective.

Dave Lewis, March 29, 2019.

It was also an absolute pleasure and a privilege to personally hand over the Evenings With Led Zeppelin to John Paul Jones last Thursday prior to his 100 Club performance. John was very impressed with Mike and I’s diligence in producing this complete on stage chronicle – as I said to him it’s the opportunity for him to relive his evenings with Led Zeppelin from 1968 onwards – ‘’I shall enjoy doing so!” he laughed.


Amazingly, Thurston Moore who was in the dressing room looked over and said ‘’That’s a great book I already have if I’d known I would have brought it along for you to sign!’’

All in all it was quite a night…..

Above on stage photos by Dave Lewis, Peter Chow and Krys Jantzen


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.

Jimmy Page

Robert Plant

  • Patty Griffin spoke about Robert Plant in a new interview with the Times newspaper. “We’re talking,” she said of her former boyfriend. “You know, Robert is a good guy. He’s down-to-earth. And that voice is just magic. He doesn’t have to try; he’ll sing in the shower and sound like he does on the records. I know it sounds clichéd when you’re talking about Led Zeppelin, but he really does have a mystical, folkloric quality. He’s been doing a little genealogy and it turns out he’s half-Irish. That might help explain it.”

John Paul Jones

Upcoming events:

April 8 – The “Play It Loud: Instruments Of Rock And Roll” exhibition, featuring Led Zeppelin items, will open at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
April 13 – Robert Plant will release a remastered edition of “Fate of Nations” on vinyl for Record Store Day.
April 16 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Carmarthen, Wales.
April 22 – Robert Plant will release a remastered edition of “Fate of Nations” on vinyl for Earth Day.
June 13 – Robert Plant will perform in Stockholm, Sweden.
June 15 – Robert Plant will perform at Bergenfest in Norway.
June 17 – Robert Plant will perform at The Big Challenge festival in Norway.
June 19 – Robert Plant will perform in Harstad, Norway.
June 21 – Robert Plant will perform in Bodø, Norway.
June 23 – Robert Plant will perform at the Secret Solstice music festival in Iceland.
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 2 – Robert Plant will perform in Halden, Norway.
July 4 – Robert Plant will perform at the Roskilde Festival in Denmark.
August 16 – Robert Plant will perform at the Woodstock 50 festival in New York.
September 20-21 – The 2019 John Bonham memorial concert is scheduled to be held in Redditch.
September 21 – Robert Plant will perform at the Bourbon & Beyond music festival in Louisville, Kentucky.
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


This just in via LZ News:

Jimmy Page was filmed playing snippets of “Stairway To Heaven” for a new museum exhibition in New York.

Page recorded the video for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s “Play It Loud: Instruments of Rock & Roll” exhibition which will open on April 8.

However, attendees who visited the exhibition before its public opening recorded a video of Page’s playing: See link at…


TBL Archive Special 1:

BBC Radio One John Peel In Concert  – 48 years gone:

Reeling in the year: Capturing the sounds of BBC Radio One on a Sunday night in April – The Wonder of Devotion…

Led Zeppelin BBC Radio One In Concert – It was 48 years ago this week:

48 years ago, on Sunday April 4 1971, I first heard the music of Led Zeppelin performed live and the effect was pretty shattering to the ears of a young 14 year old – not to mention rather lasting…

The occasion was the Radio One broadcast of an hours worth of live Zep for John Peel’s In Concert programme (repeated the following Wednesday in the Sounds of the Seventies evening slot).

Recorded three days earlier at the Paris Theatre on the back of the band’s ‘Back to the clubs tour’, at the time this was a very big deal.

Zeppelin had not appeared on a BBC radio session since August of 1969 –their return to the UK airwaves was therefore much anticipated. Especially by me, tuning in a at home on our portable radio eager to hear how they sounded on stage.

My trusty reel to reel tape recorder captured all the action blow by blow. Unfortunately due to the poor reception of the then 247 metres radio band of BBC Radio One –much of it was played out alongside the strains of several foreign radio stations drifting amongst the airwaves. I therefore ended up unwittingly with some rather unique versions of these BBC recordings!

Unsurprisingly I wasn’t the only one.

Long-standing TBL supporter Phil Tattershall has been in touch with his story:

‘’I recorded the 1971 In Concert on April 4 off air as it occurred from an Etronic RA640 AM radio made in 1948 – using a Civic reel to reel tape recorder. You can see by my photo  You’ll see from the picture of the reel that the tape isn’t all the same  colour. The reason for that is that , my cousin Pete, who was a van driver in the 1960s, was given a job of collecting a load of junk for disposal from a  recording studio (no idea which one) and amongst it were a some boxes of  old tapes of various sizes. Blank tapes were expensive in those days  (25 shillings for a five and a quarter inch reel – a fortune!) so Pete  salvaged them and gave them to members of the family who had tape  recorders. My Mum and Dad claimed the five and a quarter inch reels for  recording Sing Something Simple, the Black and White Minstrel Show, Pick
of the Pops etc., but gave several three inch reels to me to play with.  They were a variety of brands and formulations, but were the only tapes

I had available to record the 1971 BBC concert.Soo to capture as much of the broadcast as I could, I used Sellotape to join them together and wound them on to a spare empty spool. I remember connecting my old valve AM radio to the family reel-to-reel recorder in my bedroom that Sunday, 4th April 1971 and waiting for the broadcast to begin. It  didn’t disappoint; Led Zeppelin live for the first time – wow! Sadly,  the tape ran out during the Whole Lotta Love medley, but I still had a  good chunk of it for repeated listening and it served me well until I  managed to obtain a copy of the Stairway To Heaven vinyl bootleg on the Trade mark of Quality label some years later.The In Concert programme was broadcast again the following Wednesday, so you may wonder why I didn’t seize the  opportunity to record the end of the show on the other side of the  tape.

Well, Wednesday was the evening the local dads and kids all went  to a very nice new indoor heated swimming pool in the next town and it  was the highlight of my week. (The pool in our town was outdoor and  unheated – not much fun in April.) I had the difficult choice of going  swimming with the gang or missing out and staying home to record the  repeat broadcast. To my eternal regret, swimming won. Pointlessly as  it turned out, because when we got there, the pool was closed for  maintenance and by the time I got home, the radio programme had  finished. Bah!

Isn’t it strange how Led Zeppelin associations make the most trivial of  incidents stick in the memory for life?’

Phil – it certainly is…

My original tape has long since been lost – I have had a listen to the source above – it’s a better recording than mine though you can hear the AM background hum. I have to say hearing it in this lo fi authentic source was hugely nostalgic – it brought the sense of excitement I had as a 14 year old listening to that historic broadcast on BBC Radio One.

Back to my story…

After I had carefully set up my reel to reel tape recorder close the radio, the dulcet tones of John Peel spoke forth: ‘’This is something we’ve waited a long time for on the Sunday repeated on Wednesday show and I know it’s all going to be worth the wait. Would you welcome please Led Zeppelin.”

Oh yes we would welcome them Mr Peel. Blam! The battering ram riff of Immigrant Song reeled from the radio and I was in seventh heaven. This was Led Zeppelin live – and a riveting experience to behold.

I was already in love with their three studio albums, I had missed out on their 1969 broadcasts so hearing them live was absolute confirmation that all my enthusiasm was justified. On record they were fantastic -but their songs performed live took all into another stratosphere.

No more so than the next track that was aired. As I was later to discover via the bootlegs, this hour long presentation was edited down from a full set.

On this Sunday evening broadcast Immigrant Song therefore did not segue into Heartbreaker as was the custom of their then live act. Instead we heard Dazed And Confused. All nigh on 18 minutes of it.

This was my baptism into the free form improvisational world of live Led Zep. It was then I realised that the studio versions were just the starting point. Dazed And Confused live went off into all sorts of tangents – the drama of the slowed down intro, the violin bow episode, the call and response sequence through to the lengthy outro – it was all there.

Within the space of 18 minutes my estimation and appreciation of Led Zeppelin shot up 100%.

That trend continued as they performed a dreamy What Is And What Should Never Be, Stairway To Heaven and Going To California from their yet to be released fourth album, That’s The Way and the Whole Lotta Love marathon that had a rock’n’roll medley that included That’s Alright Mama and Mess Of Blues. Phew…

My original reel to reel tape (and the tape recorder) is sadly long gone. However, this BBC performance would emerge first on a series of bootleg LP’s (I had the BBC Broadcast LP with that great Will Stout pig cover on Trade Mark Of Quality when it intially came out in 1973) and then on a variety of CD bootleg sets and officially on the BBC Sessions album in 1997 and on the 2016 updated Complete BBC Session set.

So thank you John Peel for persuading Led Zeppelin to perform on Radio One again back in the spring of 1971. I have countless hours of live Led Zeppelin at my disposal but it’s that very first hour that still resonates as much as any, as it unlocked the (up until then) secret world of Led Zeppelin in concert. It ultimately led to a fascination for me to hear as many of their live performances as possible.

48 years on, that desire is as strong as ever – and Led Zeppelin as recorded at the BBC back in April 1971 remains one of my all time favourite Zep recordings.

On that April afternoon, as a fledgling 14 year old Led Zeppelin fan listening intently to every second of the BBC broadcast, never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined that many years hence, I would be asked by Jimmy Page to contribute liner notes to an official release of this epic recording.

That truly is the wonder of devotion…

Dave Lewis – April 4, 2018.



TBL Archive Special 2:

Presence at 43:

43 years ago this week, Presence, the seventh Led Zeppelin album was released worldwide. To mark the occasion, here is a Then and Now perspective I collated for the 2015 reissue – 43 years on it’s still the true heart and soul of the Led Zep catalogue…


For me personally, the Presence album is and always be tangibly associated with my own circumstances of the time. Playing out my own soap opera, as an impressionable 19 year old caught up in my first love affair played out to the soundtrack of the new Led Zeppelin album.    

Back in early August 1975 we were still bathing in the warm afterglow of Earls Court. That feeling was promptly curtailed when the news came through via the national press here, that Robert had been involved in a serious car smash on the Greek island of Rhodes.

It was in early September that I read in Rolling Stone that the band had decamped to Malibu to aid Robert’s recovery – and were planning to write and rehearse for a new album. Subsequent news reports had them sighted on stage in an ad hoc performance in Jersey. There was also the report in NME that they had recorded a new album in Musicland Studios – in a mere three weeks and it would be released in early 1976.

So in January 1976, I rang the Swan Song office in London to find out a release date and more details. March was sited – the Melody Maker ran a news story not long after that the album would be titled Obelisk and released in February. They were on the right lines with the title –as we know an obelisk would be the distinctive feature of a simply bizarre cover design.

Before all that, Robert Plant had given some ‘good to be alive’ interviews in New York. He mentioned one track to be titled Achilles Last Stand ”You know immortal but for the heel -or for being a heel. I mustn’t joke about it because I’m very proud of it”. 

The very nature of the title laid down its credentials – I just knew it was going to be an epic. In his review of the Presence album in Sounds, Jonh Ingram declared it would be ”A motherfucker live”. Both these forecasts would prove to be entirely correct.


Jimmy Page’ s press interview for the album staged in March were equally positive. ”It really does sum up a period for the band  A little bit of the past, a little bit of the future”.

Achilles Last Stand was indeed an epic – as I was to find out on the evening of Saturday April 3 1976. Alan Freeman had played the entire album on his Saturday afternoon show – alas I was working that day but we taped it and – the first time I heard that opening salvo unfold was in a car travelling the byways of Bedfordshire on a bright spring Saturday evening.

It sounded like something from another planet. It sounded simply magnificent.

I still have that original BASF tape. Somehow it sounded more impressive than the LP. I think it may be a slightly different mix – and there is a slight edit in Royal Orleans. During that broadcast, Alan Freeman let the whole album run without gaps or links between the tracks – there is some noticeable surface noise in evidence indicating it may have been an acetate playing.

Upon its arrival in the record department of WH Smith where I worked, Presence caused a sales rush I’d not seen in the store since – well the release of their last album Physical Graffiti. The store had a side window and that space was reserved for an entire display of the album put in by the WEA display team. How I wish I had taken a photo of that window and the bemused reaction of passers-by as they gazed a the Higpnosis sleeve design in some bewilderment.

object 3

The WEA rep that called on the WH Smith store also kindly arranged for me to receive a stand up counter display and hanging mobile – ordered direct from Swan Song in New York.  What a moment that was when it arrived and after it’s use in the shop, it was to eventually appear in my Zep shrine of a bedroom.

A week after the release of Presence, my then girlfriend Fiona and I went to London on a Saturday to hang around the Kings Road Swan Song office -just to be near their aura -it’s what I did back then! I remember peering into the basement window of the office and seeing a poster for the album framed.

Presence went on to become our soundtrack of that very hot summer of 1976.

On in the mini bus when we went to see The Who at Charlton Athletic football ground, out on the Phillips portable cassette player by the bank when we swam in the river.

I also took the album to every party we went to, including one memorable 18th birthday party of a friend staged at a sedate village hall Here, the pulsating tones of Achilles Last Stand momentarily replaced the more dulcet tones of The Real Thing’s current disco smash You To Me Are Everything – much to the astonishment of the rather less rock orientated young ladies to be found dancing around their hand bags!

I also made a rather bizarre Presence fashion statement. In November ,when it came to showing my colours as it were in dressing up to attend The Song Remains The Same film premiere at London’s Warner West End (where we had queued overnight to get tickets), I came up with a rather novel idea. The cardboard black obelisk Object that had come with the aforementioned hanging mobile was strung arund my neck to join the Page like white scarf I was wearing. It must have looked faintly ridiculous though Jimmy seemed impressed when I thrust it his way when they came up the stairs to take their seats at the cinema that night!

Unsurprisingly, bits of cardboard obelisk mixed with scarves did not catch on around the Kings Road. However, my empathy for the seventh led Zeppelin album did not wane one bit.

The release a mere six months after Presence of The Song Remains The Same, did overshadow the Presence album for a while. I was all over the live soundtrack and subsequent screenings of the film – but when I returned to it a year or so later, Presence still sounded the business.

In the intervening years, I’ve remained incredibly loyal to Presence, often justifying its greatness in print and in the pub!

It was one of the first Zep albums I acquired on CD around 1988 and by then, it had become my near fave Zep album.

I for one was not surprised when at the 02 reunion, the previously unplayed live For Your Life enjoyed all the plaudits it so deserved as being one of the evening’s undoubted highlights. I’ve always had a great affinity for that track.

I have a fair few copies of this album, including one that retains the original shrink wrap –and another that has an inscription by Aubrey Powell the co-designer of the sleeve –this says ‘’What’s that obelisk exactly?’’ –a reference to the mysterious sleeve. This was signed for me by Po when he came here to film some memorabilia for a Robert Plant video in 2005. Recently I’ve picked up a Chile pressing with a single sleeve and full title and track listing sticker. I also have a copy personally signed to me by Jimmy Page.

So to the album:

The thing about Presence  is that it was the product of adversity. On the run from the UK tax system, Plant injured in a car accident, tour cancelled, all energies quicky funnelled into making an album as quickly as possible.

For Jimmy Page,this adversity spurred on a surge of creative drive.

It was an act of defiance and protection. Their whole existence as a band was now in question. Plant’s car cash had rendered them unable to perform live –  something they had always taken for granted. Page suddenly became the absolute leader again. It was at that point he must have realised above all the craziness that surrounded them, it was the band, the music and the ability to perform together that was the whole reason for being in Led Zeppelin. Indeed for him inventing Led Zeppelin in the first place.

That realisation ignited Page’s creative muse and motivation to the extent that he wanted the album to be completed quicker than anything they had recorded since the debut album. His reaction was to take a firm hand grip of the Munich recording sessions, leading them in much the way he had at Olympic in 1968, many of the arrangement occurred in the studio as they were recording. When the studio time ran over, he wrapped it up with a massive overdub session with engineer Keith Harwood.

That urgency and spontaneity made for little time for the experimentation of the past.

For on Presence there are no boogies with Stu, no hat’s off to Harper’s. No funk or reggae parodies – no mellotrons or synths. Just full on full power Led Zep. The basic bass/drums/guitar/vocal approach gives the record a very live feel – leading to my conclusion that Presence is the nearest they got to capturing over a complete studio album, the unpredictable edge and power of their on-stage performances.

It’s also stock full of Jimmy Page’s genius guitar rages. Achilles Last Stand, For Your Life and Nobody’s Fault But Mine are all as good as anything he has ever applied himself to.

Given the circumstances it was recorded under, this seventh Led Zeppelin album was an amazing achievement – it’s an album that reflects the real heart and soul of Led Zeppelin.

Presence… Now:

unboxing four

So to this new remaster – and as was the way with Physical Graffiti, I played it through non stop at full blast. Sound wise, it has the same new sheen that has characterised the previous reissues.

Achilles retains the majesty and mystery that so transfixed us way back.

For Your Life has that undeniable dark lyrical edge has it grinds its way through its six minute duration. The Page solo here still sounds like one of his best …maybe THE best – unfolding with incredible venom.

Royal Orleans is full of funk on a lighter level punctuated by Page Jones and Bonham pounding out the riff, over which Plant unfolds the humorous story of road fever goings on in a New Orleans hotel. Bonzo’s conga drumming is right to the fore half way through and benefits greatly from this new remaster.

Over on side two, Nobody’s Fault But Like Mine is graced with a truly startling introduction as good as any track anywhere. For all their early blues musings they never dressed up an old blues tune more inventively than when they re wrote Blind Willie’s Nobody’s Fault. Lemon squeezing Delta dealings merge with Page’s sonic guitar technology. Absoluyely masterful. 

In the 50s singer Ral Donner skit Candy Store Rock, we find them just turning themselves on – playing on a 50s groove in the manner they approached the countless off the cuff juke box faves within many a Whole Lotta Love live medley. On the new remaster this a revelation – as the echo effect of Plant’s vocals zip right across the speakers.

The pure intuitive swing of Hots On For Nowhere reflects its very live in the studio construction and as Charles Shaar Murray so astutely noted in his NME review of the time, brings to mind ”What Glenn Miller would have sounded like if he had played in a murderously heavy four piece rock band”.

Leaving the understandably downbeat Tea For One, a slow blues reflecting Robert Plant’s hurt at being away form his family. ”Time goes very slowly when you cant kick a ball or kick a roadie even kick your drummer so time has been the teacher and I’ve been the pupil” he noted at the time.

Summary: This new Presence remaster only goes to emphasis how great an achievement this seventh Led Zeppelin album was, and is. A crucial album in the catalogue which will rightly attain many accolades in the coming days and weeks. Folks – you are going to absolutely love this one…

Companion Audio Disc Content:


So to the Companion Disc Audio content:

For Your Life (Reference Mix) 6.28

As the riff halts each time, there’s a pronounced echo effect. Altogether a  denser mix. At 3 mins 18 additional vocal nuances from Robert. Again the overdubs are more upfront. The solo is an alternate version – the final stinging one has yet to be added. This one bends and twists on to the canvas creeping up on the listener in the process. Always on the edge…and essential in any mix..

10 Ribs & All/Carrot Pod Pod (Pod) (Reference Mix) 6.48

Opens with low key piano from John Paul Jones. Instantly reminded me of the JPJ piano concerto type solos applied to the live versions of No Quarter in 1975 notably at Earls Court. The plaintive piano arrangement also recalls to mind his playing on Ice Fishing At Night on The Thunderthief solo album.

Mournful, forlorn and reflective, it creates a beautiful atmosphere. Jimmy drifts in at 2mins 39 with some minor descending electric strumming, quite possibly courtesy of the Telecaster B bender. Behind all that there’s an acoustic guitar – all very autumnal and Ten Years Gone- ish. Then John Bonham enters at 3 mins 01 and like Jimmy says, it will make you smile – it might even make you cry. It all leads on to something of a crescendo in an All My Love outro tempo.

So Jonesy did take the piano out of the flight case for the Munich recordings – it’s emergence throws a new light on what had previously thought to be an  18 day frenzy of guitar, bass and drums arrangements.  There was indeed some subtly going on down at Musicland Studios and here it is. One for the theorists indeed – but one things for sure, with a suitable Plant lyric this has all the makings of a classic Zep romantic offering in the Ten Years Gone/In The Light vein. An absolute revelation.

Royal Orleans (Reference Mix) 3.01

A‘3-4’ count in and hi-hat from Bonzo and we are off for a reference mix that features a very different vocal delivery to the officially released version.

Robert Plant applying the lyrics in a harsh bluesy manner which reminded me of Dr John. The final gruff snarl at 2.52 of ‘Oh whiskers’’ brings to a close a very unorthodox Plant vocal performance. Robert taking on the role of the New Orleans night tripper…

Hots On For Nowhere (Reference Mix) 4.47

Both the vocal and bass are much more upfront in the mix which makes for a grittier texture. There are no vocal overdubs on the outro section just Roberts ‘Oh- ho-ho’’ – right through to a full ending after Jimmy’s guitar part as Robert adds a final ‘’Aha oh- oh- ho’’ phrase. Still swinging without the overdubs…

Which leaves one performance left to dissect: 

Ones Are Won (Achilles Last Stand ( Reference Mix) 10.28

The vocal track is more upfront and with less echo and sheen making for a different texture to the vocal. The stereo effect of the guitar overdubs has a slightly different resonance. Slightly alternate overdubs in the mix at 5 min 53. The ‘’I know the way, know the way, know the way’’ overdub has yet to be added.

On the ‘’Aha aha-a’’ Robert refrain, Jimmy plays right along with the vocal creating a call and response sparring effect. At 9 mins 12, there’s an extra Robert vocal croon and more echo effects – all leading to a more defined   jangling Page finale. The guitar army cometh – and the grandiose just got even more grandiose…

So let me leave this overview of  Presence on an Achilles note. 

So much has happened since I first heard that epic performance for the first time some 42 years ago on a spring Saturday evening. In a world where the only thing that’s constant is change, for me Achilles Last Stand still acts as something of a standard bearer of their music.   

The defining moment of the defining band…and now the final mesmeric chord progression performed by Jimmy Page at the close of a Led Zeppelin masterpiece, marches relentlessly on in this new remaster of the Presence album – still searching for that place to rest the search….  

 ”Where the mighty arms of Atlas hold the heavens from the earth”

Dave Lewis.

The Mystery Of The Object: That Bizarre Sleeve.

In the January 17 issue of Melody Maker, a news report suggested that the forthcoming Led Zeppelin album would be titled Obelisk and was due for release on February 20. Although they were a good six weeks out with the release date, and the eventual album title, the rumour of Obelisk gave hint to the actual sleeve design. For the sleeve would feature an obelisk (dictionary defined meaning: monolithic shaft of stone, square or rectangular in section with pyramical apex or simiar shape) or as Swan Song would dub it “The Object”.

The first visual evidence of this was leaked to Sounds in early March. “US adverts for the new Zeppelin album look like a scene from an early Sixties breakfast cereal ad” is how they described the illustration. By now the album had been officially titled Presence and Atlantic’s marketing team were advising of the delays in a press release as they tried to co-ordinate their sales campaign, stating that “Led Zeppelin oversee all and every detail of the production of their albums to ensure the end result is nothing short of excellent. Finally, on April 6 1976, the full extent of the bizarre gatefold sleeve was revealed alongside the seven new compositons it housed.

Zeppelin had created a series of enigmas with their controversial and striking sleeve designs. For Presence they went right out on a tangent. The idea was conceived by Storm and Po of the Hipgnosis design team who’d worked on the Houses Of The Holy sleeve. The concept came about after a group meeting between Hipgnosis, Peter Grant and George Hardie (a fine art designer who had worked on the first Zeppelin sleeve). It was apparent to Storm and Po that Zeppelin projected an almost unseen presence of power – the brief was to translate that presence into a visual illustration.

Storm takes up the story. “What we came up with was the idea of placing an item from one time or another into a surrounding from another time. So we chose all those pictures from the Forties and Fifties and contaminated them with the presence of the black obsessional object. The black object stands as being as powerful as one’s imagination cares it to be and we felt Zeppelin could rightfully feel the same way about themselves in the world of rock music. So, in those scenes The Object. as we dubbed it, was essential to all parts of the society. And those people in the scenes were trying to discover what The Object was – and how its presence was felt.

“The front and back pictures were shot by us. The back cover girl was the same child model we’d used in the Houses Of The Holy shoot. All the inner spread photos were lifted from US magazines such as Life and Look. The object was pointed on by Richard Manning – Jimmy Page actually asked us to alter the shape of the design of it and the title Presence was their suggestion. I think the whole sleeve concept was very appropriate for Zeppelin. The band are a very powerful band, musically and socially, and the black object is a definite thing of power. Its pervasive presence and mystery appealed very strongly to them.”

Jimmy was in agreement with most of their ideas. “It came out of that conversation when Hypgnosis said we had a very positive force. The fact that four people can create an effect. there’s definitely a presence there – and that was it. They came up with The Object and wanted to call it Obelisk. I held out for Presence. You think about more than just a symbol that way.”

In designing The Object, Hypgnosis were commissioned by Swan Song to have around 1,000 of them made as a three dimensional promotional items. Not all of them were welcome in the Zeppelin households.

object one

The mystery prompted Rolling Stone reporter Cameron Crowe to call the London Swan Song office. He reported the following: “Richard Cole answered the phone ‘I’ve no idea what it all means. I’m not sure they even know. Hold on for Robert”. Cole clamped his hand over the phone and returned to the receiver. ‘This is great’. Plant came on and exclaimed, ‘I’m glad people are wondering what it means. The most I can say though is that everybody should work it out for themselves – it’s not hard to work out especially for our Kubrickian fans.’ Plant’s comments seemed a clue that The Obiect is Zeppelin’s miniature modified version of the monolith featured in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. Designer Aubrey Powell denied this. ‘Didn’t think of that – I just had a tremendous feeling when we took it to them that this design was absolutely right for the band at this point in time’. Back to Plant ‘Whatever you want to say, it says it. The Object can be taken in many ways. Let’s just say we like plucking these mysteries out. We used symbols on the fourth album. They’re fun and add to the music. But there’s not much fun in knowing everything is there?’”

The Kubrick 2001 theme was also taken up by an hilarious Earth News radio special broadcast in the US at the time of the album’s release. Here’s some of that dialogue: “The Object is black… and twisted and obviously worse for wear and tear since its original appearance in 2001. To look at it on the pictures decorating the new Led Zeppelin album it would seem The Object is now back in the year 1950 or thereabouts. Robert Plant has contemplated The Object perceiving in it the messages that others might discover in The Pyramids of Egypt. ‘It’s been ever present throughout time,’ he told us. ‘We just took one moment in time in which to illuminate its presence in society.’

“The Object may not be welcome everywhere – it appeared recently in the home of John Bonham who told us this story. ‘While I was away my wife received one of these Objects in the post and put it on the table. There was tape machine running, recording the children singing, and when they played it back, there was another sound on the tape altogether so there’s something to think about. In fact Pat put it outside the house we won’t have it in the house at all.’ So be forewarned! If Led Zeppelin’s music is sounding a little strange to you lately it may be because of that Object on the cover. If so, follow the lead of John Bonham’s wife and put the album sleeve out of the house.”

In the UK this speculation was taken up by Sounds who asked readers to write in with their own explanations. The results are published here in full – glancing at them some 20 years on, one can only marvel at the eccentric reaction all this Object scrutiny prompted. It was another episode in the grand Zeppelin guessing game. Did it really mean something, or was it all part of their playful desire to add to the mystique?

Whatever it was, you can hardly imagine anyone getting worked up about a sleeve design in this miniatured CD jewel box age. Back then these things seemed to matter as anyone weaned on double gatefold sleeves in the Hipgnosis/Roger Dean/lsland era will testify. However, just when it seemed we were all about to get mixed up in the pretension of all this Object lark – it was firmly debunked by popular satire rockers of the time Albertos Y Lost Trios Paranoias. In a superb spoof on the artwork of the official Zeppelin UK ads, the group advertised their new album with the illustration of “The Thing” – an upright version of The Object all under the slogan “The Albertos Give It To You Straight”.

After seeing that, I can imagine the likes of the more down to earth Bonham reversing his decision to keep that obelisk out in the garden, laughing out aloud at this scam and explaining something along the lines of “I think The Objects a load of bollocks”.

Great art or a load of bollocks? The mystery of The Object (if indeed there was one) certainly kept us all bemused and amused long after the album had drifted from the charts during the late summer of 1976.

And finally…

As mentioned above, In 2005 I met with Hipgnosis co -designer Aubrey (Po) Powell when he came here to film some memorabilia for a Robert Plant promo video. While he was here, he kindly signed some of my Zep album sleeves and when it came to the Presence sleeve he wrote on it mysteriously ”What’s that obelisk exactly ?”Here’s a pic of the sleeve.

Dave Lewis – April 4, 2018 





DL Diary Blog Update:

it was great to take a call from Michael Kirschner last week. Michael was ringing for a catch up from Hamburg. Michael can be seen here next to John Paul Jones and Robert Plant in a pic taken in Mannheim on July 3 1980. Michael was working for the WEA record label on the Led Zeppelin Over Europe tour. In the early 70s he ran the Sunshine record shop in Oxford and promoted various bands and artists including Sandy Denny, John Martyn and The Eagles first UK dates . It was great to reminisce about the Over Europe tour and more… There’s a great interview with Michael in my Feather In The Wind Led Zeppelin over Europe 1980 book.

A truly epic evening last Thursday at the Resonance FM benefit gig. It was great to hook up with various TBL crew including Richard Grubb, Dave Linwood, Greg Purling, Paul Stevenson plus Raf Accour from Boot Led Zeppelin, Simon Wicker of Coda, Guy Haslem, Krys Jantzen Peter Chow, Horace Austin over from the US and the legendary Bucks Burnett also travelling in from across the water and James Cook of LZ News. It was also great to meet musician Glyn Kerry Groves and Bob Dury (son of Ian Dury). Glyn had with him recently purchased Dan Electro guitar – which of course I had to have a strum on – here’s a pic taken in The Spice Of Life of Glyn – the aforementioned guitar and Richard Grubb.

Prior to our 35th wedding anniversary on Sunday,the good lady and I had a fantastic couple of days in Brighton with our very good friends Max and Julie. On Saturday morning we came across the Vans shop and not thinking they would stock them, I casually asked if they had the range of recently produced Led Zeppelin branded Vans footwear.

To my surprise the ssistant pointed to the shelf and there they were. The good lady Janet had previously mentioned I was too old to ‘get down with the kids’ with these items but hey what the hell…


I tried on the symbol emblazoned low tops but they old had size 7. However, the did have size8 in the hi tops and they felt and looked great and a purchase was made. I did inform the manager that I had a bit of a Led Zep connection and he was mightily impressed. ”We do have some merchandising you can have” he casually mentioned. ”I’ll take it!” was my eager reply and out he came with a Led Zep I cover designed unit they used to display the Zep Vans footwear (see below). Getting it home on the train was not easy buy hey it had to be done!




Still suffering from hay fever which has also turned into a bit of a cold – I need to throw that off as quick as I can as it’s April and there’s a lot to do including more work on the next TBL issue 45 and I am also gearing for Record Store Day with 12 days to go …here’s hoping I will have the new 180grm reissue of Fate of Nations in my hand as I did the original which I managed to find in Black Barn Records in Northampton three years back…

The countdown continues…


Dave Lewis – April 1, 2019

Until next time, have a great week

TBL Website updates compiled by Dave Lewis

with thanks to Gary Foy and James Cook

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  • Dave Lewis (author) said:

    Mike indeed!

  • Mike Wilkinson said:

    You know you’ve arrived Dave when Thurston Moore wants YOUR signature, rather than vice versa!

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