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12 April 2017 2,314 views One Comment


More on the Tres Coyotes debut gig last week – Here is an on the spot report from Ilkka Pesu: 


After arriving at the venue with my 16-year old daughter Ilona we had some time to look around as people were gathering inside the hall. On the stage there were a grand piano on stage right and a cello in the centre. My attention was aroused by the gorgeous looking Manson 5-string bass standing proudly on stage left with TC Electronic amp and cabinet beside it. There were three stools for the three musicians. As it was a classical music concert, the audience consisted roughly of half classical music friends with suits and dresses and half fans of John Paul Jones and Led Zeppelin with jeans and t-shirts (mostly men and some of them with long hair right from 1970!).

Classical music concerts start exactly on given time, but now there was a delay because there were some street blockades in the centre of Helsinki and that´s why a lot of people had trouble getting to the Savoy in time. The Chinese president Xi Jinping was in town visiting our president Sauli Niinistö and the security was naturally overblown. I heard some people were let inside the hall long after the performance had begun. Exceptional start for an exceptional concert then.

At ten past seven they walked on stage to huge applause. No star poses there. JPJ was carrying his mandolin but put it on the stand. He took the Manson 5-string instead and without any count-in you could actually hear there was a sudden burst of powerful barrage of notes and sounds and they were on! Lindberg pounded hard on the lower piano keys and Karttunen slid his left hand vigorously on the cello neck. JPJ had the honour of having the lowest sounds on the Mansons fifth string. He took control of the long fretboard of the bass and listened how the acoustics worked now that the audience was in. He took notice of what the piano and the cello were doing and didn´t try to outstage the others. Great to see that. This was how a true craftsman and a team player worked, all the time paying attention to the other players.

At this point I whispered to Ilona that JPJ seemed to be totally at ease here improvising unlike the others who instead were sitting quite stiff and seemed to be concentrating even too hard. This should be fun after all!

This was the first time I ever saw JPJ play live and I must say my eyes and ears were pretty much aimed at his direction throughout the night. I had learned my educative music lessons listening to his bass playing on the very early Led Zeppelin albums where his powerful, imaginative and melodic bass lines and runs dominated the songs and got permanently drilled deep into my ears. That strong but smooth Fender tone! This was different, the volume was very low and it was all improvisation with the other two players.

The first improvisation started to slowly quiet down, the musicians were looking at each other closely and pondering how to finish the piece. The sounds died nicely and in harmony. And that was just the first one! Huge roar from the audience, the musicians stood up and bowed. Surprise then that it was JPJ who took the mike with his soft and gentlemanly voice. “Good evening! The music tonight will be completely improvised without any safety wires or nets. We do this because we love it. We like the challenge of it. Please don´t make any sudden moves or something like that, because this is dangerous!” Laughter and applause.

JPJ got the mandolin and they went forward. Mandolin is quite loved by JPJ, but I have to say it is not one of my favourite instruments to listen to. But to see the eight-string in the hands of JPJ and hear him play it made great sense. This was a more piano and cello dominated piece with JPJ colouring the proceedings. On the next one JPJ changed to the bass again in the middle of the improvisation with Karttunen. It was here that Lindberg was sitting still and quiet at his piano and was shifting through a notation book! And after this long JPJ and Karttunen duet, Lindberg finally started to play but did it to the notations! Wasn´t this supposed to be an improvisation night? In fact, also Karttunen had notes in front of him! Well, classical music players don´t seem to find it too comfortable to throw themselves into the deep end. And this was exactly where JPJ seemed to be at home as he had been used to long improvisations with Led Zeppelin jams and especially his own tour de force, No Quarter.

Before the interval there was a written piece by Lindberg called Dos Coyotes (Two Coyotes) for piano and cello with the twist that JPJ improvised his bass on top of this opus. Now thanks to JPJ, it was called Tres Coyotes (Three Coyotes). As in all improvisations tonight the cello playing was nothing like you have heard in famous traditional cello music compositions. There were no beautiful and soothing melody lines. This was completely unorthodox handling of the instrument and there were a few moments that I feared that the cello neck could have caught fire from all the furious sliding and constant beating. Karttunen was very intensive.

I had warned Ilona beforehand that contemporary/modern music is not easy on the ears; a lot of melody-less tinkling and noodling and then suddenly huge bursts of mindless sounding beating on the piano etc. I asked her during the interval if she had enjoyed the concert a bit at least and to my utter amazement she said that it was so beautiful that she almost cried. These youngsters, you never know what they are really thinking! As the photographing was not allowed during the actual performance, many of us took now the opportunity to take pictures of JPJs gear near the side of the stage.

For me, the greatest moment was when JPJ took the stage alone after the interval and sat down at the grand piano. When sitting down he made funny gestures like he was a concert pianist throwing his imaginary coat tails behind the stool and had us laughing again. Yeah yeah, contemporary or modern music should not be that serious after all. What he played on the piano was nothing but brilliant. Sublime. It was a long, fully coloured and cohesive sounding piece of music that seemed to be like a near perfect composition. Gorgeous! Karttunen joined JPJ later in the piece with his strong cello playing and finally the two finished the song with a very nice ending.

For the rest of the performance there were a couple of experiments. The first one, Back To Faust, a duet with Lindberg and Karttunen, the players played snippets of Lindbergs certain compositions, but in different order and somewhere in the middle they should have crossed each other and played the same work for a moment. Did they succeed? I really don´t know, because though interesting it sounded a bit like cacophony to me. On the second experiment, all three players played their instruments to given words: there were different changing words for each musician to play along and the audience could read the changing words in real time. Interesting if not memorable.

Then it was over, two approximately 45 minute sets with interval in the middle. An encore of course, last thank yous and bows. A great night as it was the first ever concert of the band and a one-off at the time of writing. Very exciting and interesting. As I mentioned before, JPJ was at ease and very comfortable in this demanding situation while the modernists were clearly quite strained to my eyes and therefore perhaps used written notations on some pieces.

JPJ played the bass mostly with his fingers and then occasionally with a pick. He even used a stick in some pieces to achieve picking or scratching sounds. He also tried the e-bow but apparently it didn´t work out well enough because he abandoned it quickly. In this very quiet setting there was no sense in playing heavy bass guitar solos, but I confess that every once in a while during the set I wished that JPJ would have wiped the stage clean with some hair raising and ear splitting sounds from his 5-string.

John Paul Jones has been my hero since 1969, an underrated genius musician. The most capable musician in Led Zeppelin but never one to lift his own tail.  At home in the summer of 1970 listening to Led Zeppelin II I learned so much about rhythm from JPJ and John Bonham. The finesse of groove in hard rock setting. Never bettered, never even matched. I have always said that without Jimmy Page there would never have been a band called Led Zeppelin, but without John Paul Jones there would never have been the Led Zeppelin we know now. We waited quite a long time in a long line of fans to get autographs. Of course there were many fans holding Led Zeppelin albums to get them signed, Houses Of The Holy here, Coda there. (I planned to bring JPJ’s Zooma and The Thunderthief with me, but in a hurry forgot to take them with me. I nearly forgot the tickets, too!).

Good to see new generations of fans, but they´ll never have a faintest idea of the old times when there were no internet or social media. How did you get information of Led Zeppelins doings in those days? It sure was hard, I can tell, and all you actually had was the music, the official albums. Those were great days and I´m so happy to have been able to be there the first time around, in 1969.

Ilona got John smiling broadly with her witty words. I had an all too short chat with John who seemed to be pleasantly surprised and delighted to hear my words. What a great musician and person he is! I hope to hear his opera soon.



Ilkka has also transcribed some pieces from the Helsinki press: 

Here´s the first one. It was a whole page article in Helsingin Sanomat (Helsinki News) which is by far the biggest daily paper in Finland. Written by Samuli Tiikkaja, who is a journalist at HS culture department especially for classical music.



Samuli Tiikkaja HS

“It was dark then”, John Paul Jones recalls his 1970 Helsinki concert. Led Zeppelin played at Helsingin Kulttuuritalo (Helsinki Culture House) on February 23rd 1970, at the beginning of the band´s career. Jones was the bass player and the keyboardist of Led Zeppelin and the band were already on their way to be the biggest rock group of the seventies, a stadium class act. No wonder then if the memories are a bit hazy, because it was 47 years ago. At the time Led Zeppelin were gigging hard and as their popularity kept growing the musicians lived their rock star lives to the fullest.

But now John Paul Jones, 71, is coming to Helsinki with completely different aims in his mind. He will take the stage with his bass and mandolin on Wednesday night and with two top musicians from the classical music genre. Cellist Anssi Karttunen, composer-pianist Magnus Lindberg and John Paul Jones form an atypical supergroup Tres Coyotes. The name is a modification of Lindberg and Karttunen´s joint concerts in which they used to perform Lindberg´s cello and piano works as Dos Coyotes (Two Coyotes). So Jones has now become the third coyote.

The musical idea of Tres Coyotes differs from that of Dos Coyotes: it is improvisation. “It is like a journey to the unknown” John Paul Jones says by phone in London. “It is completely improvised music: no keys, no discussions beforehand. There is a beginning and an end and between them a long strange journey.” The musicians really don´t even want to talk about the music beforehand because they want the music to be as fresh and surprising as possible. “Yes, that´s the idea although the possible talks wouldn´t really matter. Anyway, the decisions are made on that moment when we are playing. Otherwise it wouldn´t be improvisation at all for that matter.”

It all began in 2013 in Stockholm, Sweden. The Polar Music prizes were given to Youssou N´Dour and Kaija Saariaho, whose music Anssi Karttunen has been performing quite a lot. John Paul Jones happened to be moderating the public discussion and somehow the musicians started talking about improvisation. At Sibelius Academy Karttunen has been organizing Creative Dialogue workshops in which composers and performers work together. The workshop is taking place every year in turn in Järvenpää, Finland and in Santa Fe, United States. Karttunen and Lindberg tempted Jones to join the workshop last year in Santa Fe. “I was there helping out classical musicians to improvise, because it isn´t always natural for them. Nobody there was in his own comfort zone.” A year ago Tres Coyotes performed its first concert at the end of Creative Dialogue workshop. “Yes, but that was an occasion for students. Now in Helsinki there will be our first public performance”, John Paul Jones tells.

At first it may seem odd that a member of Led Zeppelin, a pioneer of hard rock music, is collaborating with these high calibre musicians of art music. However, John Paul Jones has made versatile music all the time during his career. In Led Zeppelin he handled many instruments like bass, keyboards and mandolin. In the 1960´s he used to work as a studio musician and arranger and already then he wrote orchestrations for other artists. He has continued to work for others also after Led Zeppelin and among other things he wrote the string arrangements for R.E.M. and their mega selling album Automatic For The People (1992).

He has also made solo albums and collaborated with well known rock music figures. For instance, he formed Them Crooked Vultures with Dave Grohl (Nirvana) and Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age). The band released an album in 2009 and there was even talk about a second album although nothing has happened yet. “We had a really great time and we´d like to move on if only all of us could find the time for that. But for the moment there are no plans.”

For the time being John Paul Jones is mostly interested in classical music. “I have just finished my opera that is based on the Ghost Sonata play by August Strindberg”, Jones tells. “There´s a full sized orchestra and also classical singers in there. All we need right now is just one Opera House to get the opera in production and then performed. We already have some front line Opera Houses as subscribers.” Jones tells he has just written a new song for an old music group led by tenor John Potter. There are singers and lute players in the band.

Led Zeppelin ceased to exist after drummer John Bonham died in 1980. After that the band have played together only in a few special occasions such as Live Aid in 1985, but have never performed more regularly. The most remarkable reunion was in 2007 when Led Zeppelin played a memorial concert for their record company Atlantic´s head Ahmet Ertegun (1923-2006). John Bonham´s son played the drums in that concert. “Jason was the real star of that concert” Jones says. “As a drummer he is made of the same wood as his father. I had to learn those songs all over again and Jason knew them better than any of us.”


This is the second one, a concert review in Helsingin Sanomat 7.4.2017 written by Vesa Sirèn. He is a well known and very appreciated journalist at HS culture department for mainly classical music. I like his writing, he is very versatile and writes easily good articles just about everything. And the good thing is that from my experience he likes good rock music and he´s a fan of Led Zeppelin.

The article here is an abridged version of his review that was published in the HS web pages right after the concert. I had the chance to read it before it was moved behind the HS pay wall which I don´t subscribe to. The printed version is naturally shorter because the space is limited but there are other matters that may have caused him to write a “cleaner and friendlier” version.

In the first and longer version Sirèn was surprisingly harsh on the two Finnish modernists and brought forward his dissatisfaction because the musicians played to written notations in an improvisation concert. Was it improvisation at all from their part? I don´t think the writer wanted to burn any bridges, so he might have thought again about his review and that´s why softened his stand for the printed version. In the longer version he pondered quite nicely what improvisation in general actually is.

Anyway, he praised JPJ and admired his ability to accommodate himself to any possible musical situations, like the concert at the Savoy. He mentioned that improvisation is more than familiar to JPJ because he has been used to improvising as he “played in the most furious rock band of all furious rock bands.” I loved that. There was even a video link to the Led Zeppelin´s Supershow 1969 clip as an example of improvisation in a rock band context.

Here is what was published in the HS print.



Led Zeppelin bassist meets the superstars of Finnish contemporary music. On stage: star cellist Anssi Karttunen and house composer with the London Philharmonics Magnus Lindberg. As a duo they have performed as Dos Coyotes around the world, but now they are Tres Coyotes, because with them they have the legendary John Paul Jones who is also known as a studio wizard and composer of classical works. For once you can get really excited before the show, because we have been promised there will be pure improvisations the whole night. Together they have performed just once before, in Creative Dialogue student workshop in Santa Fe.

The opening improvisation doesn´t give us good promises for the rest of the night. After an energetic intro Anssi Karttunen is playing fast scale runs up the neck to the upper register of the cello, but Magnus Lindberg is faint at the beginning. The improvisation lasts nearly ten minutes and is texture based, but dies away beautifully and in harmony. This is ominous for the whole concert: as younger men they probably would have squeezed out intensive highs after another. Now the gentle and more quiet parts seem to be the most natural moments.

On the second improvisation Jones switches to mandolin which brightens the overall sound. But now what? Lindberg is looking at written notes as he is playing a duet with Jones! And then Lindberg and Karttunen play Lindberg´s composition Dos Coyotes right from the notes so that Jones improvises on top of them. At first Jones seems to be more like a party crasher but eventually he brings in some added musical values. The differences between the musicians´ personalities are becoming clear: Jones seems like he is ready to play the whole concert without any written notes. Which he is doing all the time, by the way. On the other hand he doesn´t play with as many nuances as the Finns that are used to exact and detailed written instructions to play to. Lindberg starts playing a thousand times better when he gets the written notes in front of his nose. Karttunen improvises quite naturally, but is forced to play more milder tones when following the detailed note writings.

Jones warned us. “No keys, no discussions beforehand”, he claimed in the interview in Helsingin Sanomat. However, there´s a planned plot in the concert. Later I get to see a paper in which the “track listing” is written down, although it is very suggestive like “John´s intro, duet with piano and cello etc.”.

After the interval Jones shines at the grand piano dueting with Karttunen and uses jazz and Debussy references. Then Lindberg and Karttunen play an experiment named Back To Faust. It points at Lindberg´s radiophonic work, Faust, but the idea is to play different Lindberg works: the composer starts with his first Piano Concerto and Karttunen with Zona. Little by little these friends are moving musically nearer to each other to play the same work together somewhere during this piece. The high point of the concert is an experimental idea created by the composer and a Santa Fe student. Each musician gets different written words or instructions to play along with and these inspire even Lindberg to play experimentally and rich, now without written notes.

An interesting concert but not without problems. It probably gave the trio some new creative impulses, not forgetting the musician heavy audience.


Many thanks to Ilkka for his input and his photos taken with John Paul Jones

On stage photos and poster photo by Juha Levonen


Robert Plant Website – Announcement Due?

The Robert Plant website is currently adorned with a plain black background with the words ”Any time now…”

This would indicate an announcement of some kind is due soon – watch that space…



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

Led Zeppelin

Robert Plant

Robert Plant was spotted in New York this week, and he was seen close to Electric Lady Studios. Plant was last seen at the recording studio in February 2014, and his last album came out in September of that year. So it looks like we’re on track for a new Plant album by the end of this year.

  • Robert Plant will be interviewed on an upcoming episode of former AC/DC singer Brian Johnson’s new show. Johnson’s new show, “Brian Johnson’s Life On The Road,” will be shown on Sky Arts and will “lift the lid on the stark realities of life on tour.” The episode featuring Plant will be shown on Sky Arts on June 2. Find out more about the series here.

John Paul Jones

John Paul Jones (seated) performing as part of Tres Coyotes in Helsinki, Finland on Wednesday night (Instagram/valiulis_) John Paul Jones played his debut show with his latest musical project, Tres Coyotes, on Wednesday night in Helsinki, Finland. Tres Coyotes is an improvisational musical group with cellist Anssi Karttunen and composer Magnus Lindberg.
Jones and the other members of the group gave a press conference on Tuesday where they talked to the media about the project. That press conference was covered in Finnish publications Helsingin Sanomat and Ilta-Sanomien. Here’s the full Helsingin Sanomat article, which we read using Google Translate and spotted that John Paul Jones said he has now finished work on his opera. One fan interviewed Jones on that day and wrote online about Jones completing his set of Led Zeppelin autographs.
We haven’t seen any video or audio of the Tres Coyotes performance, but here’s a review in Helsingin Sanomat and a Finnish fan’s blog post about the show. This post from Tight But Loose says Jones played bass, mandolin, and grand piano during the show. Jones stayed after the performance to autograph items for fans and pose for photos.

Upcoming events:

April 16 – John Paul Jones will perform at the PRÉSENCES électronique music festival in Paris as one half of the band Minibus Pimps.
April 22 – Jimmy Page and The Black Crowes’ “Live at Jones Beach” and Beverley Martyn’s “Picking Up The Sunshine” will be released on vinyl for Record Store Day.
April 30 – Jimmy Page Records will release “The Beginning…”, a 1961 Chris Farlowe studio session produced by Jimmy Page
May – The March 21, 1975 Seattle soundboard bootleg “Deus Ex Machina” is rumoured to be released this month.
May 23 – A photo of Jimmy Page appears in the new photo book by Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready, which will be released today.
May 27 – Unrestored footage of Led Zeppelin performing at the Royal Albert Hall in 1970 will be screened there as part of an event about the director Peter Whitehead.
June 2 – Robert Plant will be interviewed on “Brian Johnson’s Life On The Road” on Sky Arts.
June 23 – John Paul Jones will perform at the Sun Station Vadsø festival in Norway.
June 24 – John Paul Jones will perform at the Sun Station Vadsø festival in Norway

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


Stairway To Heaven – Led Zeppelin Masters UK Tour: 

The  ‘Stairway To Heaven: Led Zeppelin Masters’ tour kicks off next Tuesday in Manchester. I am aiming to be at the London palladium show the next night.

Fronted by vocalist Vince Contarino and bolstered by the might of the thirty-five-piece The Black Dog Orchestra, Led Zeppelin Masters is an ambitious concert presentation.

The complete UK dates line up as follows:

Tuesday April 18: Manchester Bridgewater Hall

Wednesday April 19: London Palladium

Thursday April 20: Bristol Colston Hall

Saturday April 22: Newcastle City Hall

Sunday April 23: Edinbugh Usher Hall

Monday April 25 : Birmingham Symphony Hall

Tuesday April 26 Southend Cliffs Pavilion

Wednesday April 27: Plymouth Pavilions

Ticket details are avaialbel form their website see link at

Here’s an interview with Vince Contarino, lead singer with The Black Dog Orchestra, ahead of the debut UK tour for ‘Stairway To Heaven: Led Zeppelin Masters’:

I’m looking forward to your UK tour with the Black Dog Orchestra. How did the collaboration come about?

To answer that question, we must go back to 2004 when we first decided to play the music of Led Zeppelin with an Orchestra. We had been playing as the “Zep Boys” for almost 20 years in pubs, clubs, theatres and some outdoor festivals, so we were looking to do something different. It wasn’t as much as we wanted to make the gigs   bigger but as much as we wanted grandeur.

With an orchestra, we could play all the dubbed tracks on a Zeppelin studio track and, at the same time, bring together two different musical performance cultures.

We played our first orchestral show in Adelaide, Australia, with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra in 2005 and it was a resounding success with the public.

The rest as they say is history. We have gone on to perform many more of these shows across Australia and now here we are getting ready for the UK. The most exciting phase without doubt so far.

 You’ve performed as a ‘Zeppelin’ tribute act for over 30 years. You must have been one of the first tribute acts in the world?

This could be true. I had never heard the term “Tribute Act” until a few years later when suddenly there was deluge of tribute bands flooding the scene. I can only speak for scene in Australia, but I think it has become unsavoury and in many cases just done for easy attention and monetary gain. Having said that, only acts that entertain and give audiences what they come to gigs to receive will survive the long haul.

 You recently played three sold out shows at the Sydney Opera House, which is a testament to the reputation you’ve built in Australia. Did you ever imagine that was possible when you first started out all those years ago?

Never dreamed or dare to dream that. All we wanted to do was a couple of shows at the local pub and have some fun playing the music we loved of what we believe to be the greatest rock band ever.

Understandably, ‘Zeppelin fans are very protective about the music. With you also being fans, how important is it for the band to show respect and honesty to both the music and the performance?

The performance must be true to the Led Zeppelin catalogue and how those songs were recorded. Even though Zeppelin is blues based – and blues is all about the moment and how one expresses themselves individually – we believe we must stick to the script, so to speak. We may express and interpret certain themes a little different from the original, but overall we need to play the compositions as recorded on the albums so the audience is satisfied. We are strict on this and yet we still have room to move within the confines of the recorded material.

Unlike many other tribute bands, you don’t impersonate the band but allow your own personalities to come through. Was this always part of the plan?

It was never even a consideration. We are musicians not actors. The music is what is important to us not the clothes or fashion of a bygone era. The performance can only be honest if we are real and celebrate and communicate with the audience using the composition, not the alter egos of Led Zeppelin themselves.

Does that mean that there is more emphasis on the music and your musicianship, rather than trying to play a role?

Absolutely, the music is everything unless of course we want to take the piss – and I would rather take the piss out of myself than say Robert Plant or Jimmy Page. I have way too much respect for them.

 The addition of the 35-piece orchestra adds a new depth to the music and makes for an amazing spectacle. How did you approach the project and arrangements with the orchestra?

The arrangements are the brain child of Nicholas Buc. He was the man that sweated over those and he has done a wonderful job – superb, in my opinion. The band and Nicholas discussed dynamics and different versions of the Led Zeppelin songs so we could find a good custom fit. Compositions like ‘Song Remains the Same’ and ‘Rain Song’ for instance are different on the live album as compared to the studio versions. We wanted to keep elements that we love from both. And of course there are endings that need to be written especially for the fade out songs. In places Nic has added some subtle orchestrations and some that just smack you in the face. The obvious one is ‘Kashmir’. However, there is ‘Achilles Last Stand’ that just keeps on building. The beauty of having an orchestra!

Are there, therefore, some new interpretations on the old classics?

Yes, indeed, but as I mentioned, some of the changes are subtle and then there are moments that come out of nowhere that simply take your breath away. That’s the wonder of music and introducing unexpected elements that enhance and lift and take you by surprise.

 How much are you looking forward to bringing the show to the UK?

We are super excited. We have a crew here in Australia that for logistic reasons we cannot take with us. They are offering the blood of their first born to come – hahaha! We the band are beside ourselves. Some of these concert halls like the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester and The Bristol Colston Hall and Newcastle City Hall were gigs that Led Zeppelin did themselves. I’m sure they would have done the London Palladium, too. We are nervous, too, because we want to put on a show that honours and reflects Led Zeppelin with integrity, passion and honesty. We want to be fighting fit and in good form. We are very much looking forward to the UK. In fact, it can’t come soon enough.


Here’s my thoughts on the Viva la Revolution CD promo:

One Stop Led Zep 1975 Snapshot demonstrates how they strived to get right back on top their game…  

Viva La Revolution (Empress Valley – promotional Only )

Subtitled ‘The Soundboard Revolution proudly presents The Best Of Led Zeppelin’, this is ten track promotional sampler of previous highlights from the series of Empress Valley 1975 US soundboard releases plus one new preview more on that later). It’s packaged in an attractive repro of the William Rimmer Evening Fall of Day Swan Song painting.

Basically, this is a snapshot of the state of play on stage with Led Zeppelin in America in early 1975 – the prelude to Earls Court. It’s sequenced in the order a of typical 1975 Zep set list up – but being a one CD only, the marathons such as No Quarter, Moby Dick and Dazed And Confused are absent.

As we all know, the opening weeks of that tour were blighted slightly by Jimmy’s injured finger and Robert’s flue problems that affected his vocal performance.

The chosen few here are from the February and March gigs when things were decidedly on the up.

Robert’s vocal though are still a problem as they stomp through the delivery of Rock And Roll that opened the Landover show at the Capitol on February 10. Sick Again is flown in from the Fort Worth March 3 show. JPJ’s bass lines are well to the fore and Bonzo and Jimmy lock horns in pure rhythmic delight towards the close.

From there we hop over to Vancouver for a very fluent Over The Hills And Far Away from the Snow Jobs CD set as recorded on March 19. Jimmy’s baroque solo twisting and turning in pleasing fashion.

A day later they were on a roll at the same venue as they stomp through a vibrant In My Time of Dying. Robert’ s vocal are noticeable improved.

It’s back to February for that awesome St Valentine’s Day show at Nassau Coliseum. A performance that inspired them to take on an impromptu Since I’ve been Loving You. Rarely played during this era it’s a joy to hear and there’s a great plant ad-lib after he sings the line ”I’m about to lose my worried mind” after which he adds  ‘’I seem to remember I used to say for five minutes’’.

The Dallas March 5 recording of The Rain Song from the Days Confused set follows – all melodic and caressing in familiar fashion.

From a day earlier we then get treated to Trampled Underfoot at the Garden from that seminal Flying Circus set – the first Empress Valley 1975 soundboard release that surfaced in 1999. This is an absolute speed fest as Jones’ relentless clavinet battles it out with Jimmy’s manic wah wah playing. File under F for frantic.

A suitable regal delivery of Stairway To Heaven from the March 17 Seattle show follows – JPJ’s mellotron is high in the mix.’’That’s all we got left’’ is Plant’s familiar prompt to let Jimmy take over for a solo that contains many of the nuances he would perfect for the Earls Court versions.

The encores are represented by a typically crunching Black Dog from the Long Beach March 11 show and then comes the real attraction of this promo set.

The previously unheard (in this quality) delivery of Heartbreaker from the marathon and brilliant Seattle March 21 show. A mouthwatering side order before the main course due in May which will present the whole show under the title Deus Ex Machina. It’s an eight and a half blitz with an elongated Page solo that is often bluesy and always ballsy in true virtuoso style.

So what is it that makes Led Zeppelin in 1975 such a big deal for me?

For a start, it was the first real flexing of Led Zeppelin in juggernaut mode. Everything about it was vast – the 40 foot stage, the drum riser , JPJ’s extended keyboard line up, the sartorial look with John Bonham in the Clockwork Orange boiler suit, Jimmy’s various dazzling outfits and Robert with the wrap around demi god tops. For me, Zeppelin really came into their own on the big arena. The whole dynamic of the band was built for grandiosity.

This vastness of the operation asso transcended to the music. The increased depth of their repertoire gave them the scope to really stretch out and expand and in 1975 the ensemble playing of the four was at a new height –even though they battled injury and illness.

When it really switched into overdrive ( ie Nassau, Vancouver, Seattle and LA) they really were on a roll. Set list wise their eagerness to transfer songs from the newly released Physical Graffiti album into fresh stage faves ( ie In My Time Of Dying, Kashmir) made for some incendiary performances. They allowed that vastness to get a little bloated in 1977 – but in the opening months of 1975 when they were firing on all cylinders it worked on every level – and it set them up a treat for those five glorious nights at Earls Court.

Viva La Revolution is therefore a hugely enjoyable primer, capturing a period where Led Zeppelin strived to get right back on top of their game and when they achieved that objective the results were pretty spectacular.

It’s a one stop snapshot that I will be returning to again and again for that 1975 quick fix.

Dave Lewis – April 5, 2017


Brian Matthew 1926 – 2017: 

It was very sad to hear the news of the passing of Brian Matthew aged 88.
I’ve been listening to DJ Brian Matthew since I was aged 7 in 1964 when he hosted Saturday Club on the old Light programme. The Yardbirds often appeared on his Saturday Club show and Jimmy Page was interviewed by Brian in 1969

For so many years Brian Mathew was THE radio voice and sound of the 60s – an absolute broadcasting legend ..RIP

J. Geils 1946 – 2017:

It was also very sad to hear the news of J Geils aged 71. The J Geils Band made some great records in their time – they rivalled the Stones for rock and raunch during the 70s. Another sad loss.


DL Diary Blog Update:

I was out and about on Saturday – in the morning at the Harpenden Record Fair while at night it was to St Cuthbert’s Hall in Bedford to see Bootleg Boss – a tribute to Bruce Springsteen – here’s my thoughts on that one:

The Bootleg Boss Bruce Springsteen tribute act made for a hugely enjoyable night at the excellent St Cuthberts Hall in Bedford. The first set was mildly low key but highly entertaining as they romped through the backwaters of the Bruce catalogue – The River, Brilliant Disguise, Fire, Thunder Road all sounding impressive. The vocalist Kev was very authentic and the sax player added that Clarence a Clemons touch.

After the hot buffet(Bruce’n’Buffet – you gotta love it!) it all ramped up a notch – and more – Born in The USA was the calling card for the dancefloor to fill and from then on in the Bruce anthems kept coming – Out On The Streets, Because The Night, Hungary Heart, Glory Days hitting the mark as did a grand finale of Born To Run and Twist And Shout – all delivered with passion and panache. The assembled lapped it up. Proof again that a classic rock catalogue delivered with the intent Bootleg Boss demonstrated makes for a great night out….

DL – April 9, 2017.

Before that there had been Friday treats at Hitchin Market – with Darren’s Vinyl Barn taking a break, it was to a very sunny Hitchin today with the good lady Janet – and while the lady shopped, I was able to score the usual Friday vinyl fix and what a fix it was – a pair of very fine Chris Farlowe albums – a compilation of his early work with The Thunderbirds and the 14 Things To Think About Chris Farlowe album, original UK pressing on the Immediate label – result! Chris of course has The Beginning album produced by Jimmy Page and released via Jimmy’s website at the end of the month – a whole lot more to follow on that subject via TBL soon….

On Saturday,the first Harpenden Record Fair was well attended with a variety of stalls. It was good to see Who author and expert and long time TBL supporter Andy Neil. I also met Glen Povey – Glen runs the entertainment s at the Harpenden Public Halls and is also a much respected Pink Floyd author/chronicler. We have had many an email conversation but I’d never actually met him and we had a good old chat – Glen is one of the consultants on the forthcoming Pink Floyd Exhibition being staged at the V and A.

At the Fair, I came across a rather splendid Sandy Denny CD box set a bargain at just a tenner – another result!

A very busy week here with a couple of extra projects thrown in the workload plus more on the Evenings With LZ book design. Recent progress has been good and we are well into 1970 – on we go!  This pic from StudioMix shows some of the January 1970 layouts as designed by Mick Lowe and collated together with co -author Mike Tremaglio.

After a day of working on the book I cycled over to nearby Kempton to see Adam play for Bedford Albion against Kempston – a keenly contested one each draw. Adam (number ten in the pic) scored Albion’s goal, an absolute scorcher that flew in the net – it was some strike – superb !







Easter/April  Playlist:

Here’s the DL playlist for the Easter weekend and the weeks ahead- a combination of some old faves and newly acquired goodies I need to catch up with  – these gems will be reverberating around the TBL hub here as we tuck into our Easter eggs…

Led Zeppelin – Viva La Revolution  (Empress Valley CD promo)

Led Zeppelin – Feel All Right – Live In Montreux  (Eat a Peach CD set)

Led Zeppelin – Presence (Swan Song LP)

Elvis Presley – The Stax Sessions  (RCA Deluxe CD set)

Dusty Springfield – Dusty In Memphis..Plus (Phillips LP)

Stephen Stills – Live At Shepherds Bush  (Atco/Rhino CD)

Chris Farlowe  – 14 Things To Think About  (Immediate LP)

Chris Farlowe and the Thunderbirds  (Charley compilation LP)

Spencer Davis Group – Autumn ’66  (Fontana LP)

David Bowie – Live Nassau Coliseum ’76  (Parlophone 2LP)

Julie Driscoll & Brian Auger & The Trinity – Open  (Atco LP)

Terry Reid – The other Side Of The River – (FDR/Rhino LP)

Yes – Yesterdays  (Atlantic LP)

Aretha Franklin  – I Say A Little Prayer (Atlantic LP)

David Crosby Lighthouse (UP/Verve LP)

Bruce Springsteen – Born To Run (CBS LP)

The Beatles – Anthology 1 (Apple 3 LP)

Strangely Strange But Oddly Normal – Island Records Anthology  ( Island CD set)

A Happy Easter from us to you…

Dave Lewis – April 12 , 2017

Until next time –  have a great Easter weekend…

TBL Website updates compiled by Dave Lewis

with thanks to Gary Foy and James Cook

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You Tube Clip:

The first Trailer for THOR RAGNAROK with a bit of the Hammer Of The Gods…


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