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KEZAR JUNE 2 1973 – IT WAS 47 YEARS AGO /TBL ARCHIVE -LED ZEPPELIN 2003 DVD/ SGT PEPPER IT WAS 53 YEARS AGO/HAPPY BIRTHDAY SAM!/DL DIARY BLOG UPDATE

3 June 2020 1,296 views 6 Comments

It was 47 years ago…Kezar Stadium – June 2,1973…

To the left and below, the brilliant cover photos for TBL issue 35 (a duel cover issue) taken on this day in 1973 by Dan Cuny…fantastic images of an epic outdoor show…

It was all happening in the Kezar Stadium 47 years ago on June 2 – so here’s Mike Tremaglio’s tour log for that day …

June 2, 1973 – Kezar Stadium – San Francisco, California, USA

Setlist:

Rock And Roll, Celebration Day, Bring It On Home (Intro)/Black Dog, Over The Hills And Far Away, Misty Mountain Hop, Since I’ve Been Loving You, No Quarter, The Song Remains The Same, The Rain Song, Dazed And Confused (inc. San Francisco), Stairway To Heaven, Moby Dick, Heartbreaker, Whole Lotta Love Medley (inc. Ain’t It Funky Now, The Crunge, Just A Little Bit, Boogie Chillun’), Communication Breakdown (inc. It’s Your Thing), The Ocean

Background Info:

Another massive stadium gig – this time at the old home of the San Francisco 49ers football team – Kezar Stadium. The band performed before 49,304, breaking the previous Kezar Stadium attendance record of 45,000 set by Grand Funk Railroad in 1971.

An Atlantic Records press release issued on April 4, 1973 had this show scheduled for either June 1 or 2, while the “Welcome Back” blimp ad had listed it for June 1. It was ultimately performed on June 2, 1973.

The concert has achieved legendary status through the years, no doubt partially due to the dozens of incredible photographs that had visually documented this historic show. In particular, photos of Robert Plant holding a dove in one hand and a bottle of beer and a lit cigarette in the other are among the most iconic images in rock and roll history.

Press Reaction:

Todd Tolces filed a report from San Francisco in a Melody Maker (June 16, 1973) review titled “Led Zeppelin – a limp blimp”. He mentioned that he never thought he’d see anyone outdraw the Grateful Dead in their hometown as the Dead “ARE San Francisco”, but noted that Zeppelin almost tripled their 20,000 attendance of the week before.

Tolces explained that Lee Michaels had left the stage at 1:50 p.m. with Led Zeppelin billed for a 2:00 p.m. start. Unfortunately, as Michaels was leaving the stage, Led Zeppelin were just boarding a jet in Los Angeles!

When Zeppelin finally did get onstage 90 minutes later, Tolces was hardly impressed: “Bonham did a terribly boring solo for 25 minutes with the guy at the mixer doing most of the work. And Page got his share of feedback garbage in during his solo in every song they did. The mix as a whole was lousy. I couldn’t hear Jones at all and Bonham wasn’t nearly as clear as he is on record.

                “But for all their faults there were sparks of life in the limp blimp. Plant’s voice is still amazing. That terrific scream he did near the end of ‘How Many More Times’ kept popping up again and again as he pranced fiercely around the stage.”

Charles Shaar Murray of the New Musical Express (June 16, 1973) also attended the Kezar show and had a vastly different take on the proceedings: “Led Zeppelin and 50,000 San Francisco people got together to provide one of the finest musical events I’ve ever had the privilege to attend. There may be bands who play better, and there may be bands who perform better, and there may be bands who write better songs, but when it comes to welding themselves and an audience together into one unit of total joy, Zeppelin yield to nobody.

                “Whether they’re punching out riffs of ‘Black Dog’, or stealing people’s hearts from inside them with ‘Stairway To Heaven’ (as far as I’m concerned Zeppelin’s all-time masterpiece) or tripping the audience out with those unbelievable Plant-Page guitar/vocal call-and-response set pieces, they just transmit magic to anybody within hearing range. Quite unselfconsciously, quite unobtrusively any place they play becomes a House of the Holy, a place to straighten tangled brain cells. Simultaneously, they take you right back to your rock ‘n’ roll home, and send you to some new places that already feel like home when you arrive. A very spiritual occasion indeed, and also a very physical moment.

                “For me, one of the most amazing moments of the whole show was, strangely enough, the part I expected to enjoy least. All my musical life I’ve had a strong antipathy towards drum solos. Thus, it came as a shock to find myself really getting off on Bonzo’s ‘Moby Dick’. Watching him from a few feet away, totally absorbed in what he was doing, it came back to the craftsmanship thing again. He didn’t look, as so many endlessly soloing drummers do, as if they’re playing to the gallery. He resembled nothing so much as a sculptor or a painter or anybody who’s doing anything which involves concentration, effort, and skill. John Bonham was plying his trade, doing his gig, exercising his own particular skills, doing what any gifted and committed craftsman does. It’s always nice to break through a prejudice and dig something that you couldn’t dig before.

                “Altogether, a magical concert. I suppose legions of diehard Zep freaks have known this all along, but for me it was a revelation… All hail Led Zep.”

Betty Golden of the San Francisco Phoenix underground newspaper had a different opinion in her review titled “Led Zeppelin fails to take off at giant Kezar show”. She certainly had no shortage of criticisms for the band’s performance: “One of the best of these new songs was ‘No Quarter’, powered by a slowly rolling bass and guitar bottom. As John Paul Jones opened the song on the organ, white fog surrounded him, visually reinforcing an eerie feel. Generally, though, most of the new songs dragged and did not come off smoothly. They seemed to lack direction or meaning musically, introducing one called ‘The Song Remains The Same’, Plant dedicated it to the well-known West Coast music journalists who panned their new music and told them to remain a blues band (ed. note: Plant’s thinly veiled rant at the band’s old nemesis, Rolling Stone). Offered up as a rebuttal by the band, the song jumped off at a frantic pace. Page played like lightning on a two-necked guitar but went nowhere… examples of the group’s evolution into news areas, mostly they were mindless excursions into realms of boredom and it certainly was not exciting or creative music. I don’t know if the group should necessarily remain a blues band, but their new direction is not a change for the better.

                “A nice ‘Misty Mountain Hop’ was the only bright spot in the midst of the new numbers. They then offered up an ‘oldie but goodie’, ‘Dazed And Confused’, and this was made up largely of many meaningless minutes of pyrotechnics by Page – playing electric guitar with a bow – producing a sort of outer-space, electronic sound fantasy. The stadium was filled with thunderous sounds and roaring airplanes. Page has done this sort of thing for years now, each time becoming more self-indulgent. He and the group are technically skillful, but their attempts at the ultimate in heaviness become non-musical noise very quickly during these endless solos.

“The crowd was thankful for ‘Stairway To Heaven’ which came up next, and they were held spellbound as its soft and lyrical beginning was gradually overtaken by hard, chugging rock. Led Zeppelin was clearly at their best when they did their older material. On the very next number, ‘Moby Dick’, the stage was turned over to drummer John Bonham for another excessively long and uninteresting drum solo.

                “At the end, Plant said the vibes were the best the group has experienced in S.F. since they first played the Fillmore West five years ago. The vibes may have been there, but having seen all of their performances in the Bay Area over the past five years, I found this Zeppelin concert to be musically the least satisfying of them all. This time around, they generated a lot of power, but produced little of their usually shattering, shaking rock and roll.”

Another harsh review was published in The Daily Review, Hayward, California (June 8, 1973). Written by Kathie Staska and George Mangrum, the article’s title, “Led Zeppelin disappoints crowd”, reflected their opinion of the gig: “As a whole, the gig was a real downer… With the audience warmed for Zepplin (sic), another dapper was thrown by a two-hour wait. With the band’s lateness and slowness in putting up their instruments, enthusiasm sunk even lower.

“A first class band would not pull that type of garbage, no matter how much stuff a group has to set up. Then when the famed rock ‘n’ roll stars did get into their act, there was a real phoniness in the air. It took even longer for the crowd to get into it.

                “Once the four English guys got into it, things did go smoothly. But, no way was Zeppelin close to the performance they put on two years ago at the Berkeley Community Theatre. They came on the stage this time and acted like rock ‘n roll slops, instead of the superstars they are.

                “There were many high points in their performance like a fantastic version of ‘Stairway to Heaven’ and a classy version of ‘No Quarter’ which featured a super effort by lead guitarist Jimmy Page. Robert Plant’s voice was unique, mixing well with Page’s guitar. John Bonham did a very long drum solo which was also a very boring and tasteless one. In Berkeley his solo was one of the great ones, which makes us wonder what happened to him.

                “The last time in they played in front of a small crowd and (it) worked out for them. This time, the whole affair looked like it was take the money and run time.”

Philip Elwood of the San Francisco Examiner & Chronicle (June 3, 1973), who had written a very positive review of their first San Francisco visit in 1969, also piled on, despite a somewhat contradictory headline, “Led Zeppelin Zooms High at Kezar”: “The quartet’s performance lacked the dynamic spark of earlier local presentations. Plant’s vocals and bodily gyrations seemed tired and routine, and drummer John Bonham and bassist John Paul Jones had trouble solidifying their back-up sounds in the early going.”

To some degree, this concert was the genesis of the bad blood between promoter Bill Graham and the band which culminated with the ugly brawl in Oakland 1977. In his autobiography, Bill Graham Presents – My Life Inside Rock And Out, Graham explained: “One of my guys had a phone on stage and he said, ‘Bill, you won’t believe this’. Then he told me that nearly everyone in the group was on the (private) plane and the plane was about to land. But at the last minute, Jimmy Page had decided that he had gotten bored with flying on the private plane. He wanted to be with just regular people. So he was coming in separately on United Airlines. They all came in one car, Peter Grant and all the bodyguards. They were about two hours late. No Jimmy Page… I was livid all day long. But I did not raise my voice once. Not that day.”

Two minutes of very distant amateur 8mm color footage and 40 seconds of 16mm color footage of ‘Rock And Roll’ from this show have been released on bootleg DVDs.

Bootleg Recordings (2 sources – 141 minute audience & 62 minute soundboard sources):

The historic outdoor gig is represented by an excellent sounding audience tape and an hour-plus soundboard of the last portion of the show (beginning with an epic thirty minute ‘Moby Dick’).

Robert Plant took a not so thinly veiled shot at San Francisco based Rolling Stone – though not by name – that “always seems to criticize poor old English groups” and dedicated ‘The Song Remains the Same’ “to the musical papers who think we should remain a blues band.”

The end of ‘The Rain Song’ is unfortunately ruined by a loud, buzzing feedback coming from the speakers. Plant ended the concert by telling the masses that “this is the best vibes since the first time we played the Fillmore (West) five years ago – so vibes are real!”

Extract from the Evenings With Led Zeppelin book

Many thanks Mike…

And finally…

I first heard Led Zeppelin’s awesome performance on June 2 1973 at Kezar Stadium on a couple of cassettes sent to me in 1974. I’ve loved this performance ever since – there’s a real swagger and verve about this afternoon open air show – so on June 2,2020 I had on the player the double album bootleg Persistence on Roon Dog Records . The cover is a bizarre parody of the Presence sleeve – the music – an atmospheric audience recording that brings it all alive…a milestone performance for sure…what a band…

Dave Lewis – June 2,2020

……………………………………

Meanwhile back in 2003…

TBL Archive Special – The Led Zeppelin 2003 DVD Release – 17 years Gone:

It’s now some 17 years ago that Jimmy Page unlocked the Led Zeppelin film archive to present the five hour double DVD set simply titled DVD. Also released simultaneously was the triple live album How The West Was Won.

Looking back, it was in incredibly exciting outpouring of material.

When it was released on May 26 2003, I had just commenced working at the Virgin Megastore in Milton Keynes. We sold a whole lot of that DVD package in the first week of release and the How The West Was Won set. The latter was cleverly targeted as a Fathers Day gift. It was my last real great instore retail Zep event – I had experienced a fair few of those going back to 1975.

Andy Edwards the drummer in the Priory of Brion, reminded me recently that the week the DVD set came out we met to conduct an interview for my then in progress Celebration 2/The Tight But Loose Files book. We met in the Virgin Megastore in Leicester and the Earls Court footage was playing on the instore TV screens. It was simply amazing to be watching this sacred footage in a commercial setting in fantastic quality after years of watching the often less than crystal clear bootlegs.

In early April 2003, TBL then webmaster Dave Linwood and I were invited by Warner Music to attend an two separate exclusive playbacks -one for the DVD and another for the How The West Was Won set. The DVD playback took place at Metropolis Studios in Chiswick where the DVD film footage had been edited. It was hosted by the co director/producer of the DVD Dick Carruthers.

We were afforded a key insight into how Dick working closely with Jimmy Page, restored the original footage at their disposal into a coherent five hour edit. From the notes we took during a compelling playback, we were able to formulate an ongoing countdown preview on the TBL website running throughout the days leading up to the official worldwide release on May 26, 2003.

So here are some of the day to day countdown previews we presented on the TBL website at the time. It captures the creative process of the project as relayed by Dick and the sense of expectation surrounding this unlocking of the archive at the time.

So back in 2003, this is how we awaited one of the most illumination periods in Led Zeppelin history all of 17 years ago…

TBL/WEB: DVD PREVIEW COUNTDOWN: with exclusive comments from co director/producer Dick Carruthers: TBL Overview Dave Linwood/Dave Lewis

38 DAYS TO GO: The Arch(Angel)elology: Buried Treasure
THE CREATIVE PROCESS: There was a lot of footage to be reviewed. Dick described being confronted by 132 cans of film and video. In Dick’s words:”Buried Treasure”. All of the Albert Hall footage was silent – there was no soundtrack. Madison Square Garden was very fragmentary. There was only cursory labeling on the cans to describe what song/shots etc was in it.To start the process, every single can of video or celluloid was digitised and then categorised by shot type (Albert Hall-drums, USA-audience etc etc). Then an attempt was made by members of the band and Dick to cross-reference shots to guide soundtracks already provided by Jimmy Page.Dick hilariously described the process: “On the silent stuff it was a case of “Oh! Page’s got the Gibson Sunburst on – is it ‘I can’t Quit You’ ?” etc. etc. Dick described initial program discussions with Page: “How do we make this into a 2 hour program?” (The answer is obvious now, Impossible!). Page was the main driving force behind the project, choosing performances suitable for the DVD as well as making major contributions to the look and feel – especially to the later footage.

Some of the footage need “serious digital restoration work”. Using equipment such as the Archangel video archive processor, the footage was gone through frame by frame. At first this was a cleaning up process. Although they had the original footage in most cases (more on this later), the film did have the inevitable scratches and spots. The cleaning up process, takes colour from a nearby area and transplants this over the damaged part – slowly. Over and over again. As Dick said “You just polish & polish”

All was going very well with the polishing on the Albert Hall footage until it was noticed that the process was erasing Bonzo’s drum sticks when he was thrashing around on his kit! Back to the drawing board! Or at least, back to a previously not-so-polished version.

Matching the visuals to the sound proved to be tricky: “We had to match a lot by eye” said Dick. “There are more obvious sequences where a visual provides a clue as to the song being played but sometimes you have to go with gut-feeling and the emotion of the music”.

GET READY TO MARVEL AT: Albert Hall 1970: * Those of you familiar with the bootleg DVD will be amazed at the way the audience sound fills your living room as the band walk onto the stage – the first feel of the surround-sound. * The sheer power of Bonzo’s hammerings as We’re Gonna Groove kicks in… * The subtle cross fade into I Can’t Quite You Baby * Page’s violin bow echoing as never before in full glorious 5.1 surround sound…i.e. not just left-right.

 

33 DAYS TO GO: Royal Albert Hall 1970: Footage Re-united
THE CREATIVE PROCESS: The aspect ratio of the original footage has been preserved, so Royal Albert Hall is in 4:3 aspect ratio. The Royal Albert Hall footage is still dark in places but thanks to Dick and his team it is now crystal clear. One of the main challenges with the footage were “re-uniting” the missing segments from Whole Lotta Love: “The original film was cut and used for a Whole Lotta Love promo by Peter Clifton” said Dick. (Clifton did the WLL promo as an example of what he could do with Zep footage when he was called in to work on The Song Remains movie…) The original film has since been lost. “We had to find a copy of the promo, sample it, and then colour match it with the original film and then paste it back in! Finally we had to substitute any missing frames!” A long and exhaustive processAt times, Dick expresses frustration at the “almost but not enough” segments he discovered. “We had more Albert Hall” he said, “but there were just too many holes in the footage”. “We did have to cheat now and again” he admits “but at least we did it honestly and with integrity”. Dick went onto describe some subtle and clever editing techniques whereby a two or three second gap in the footage can be filled by using slow motion and other clever effects. Having seen this for ourselves, all we can say is that the results are superb.
GET READY TO MARVEL AT: * The close up shots of Page’s speed playing during White Summer – now beautifully restored. * A wonderfully laid back What Is And What Should Never Be. * The electric intro of How Many More Times with Jonesy’s bass reverberating around the speakers..

 

28 DAYS TO GO: Madison Square Garden 1973: Remastered
THE CREATIVE PROCESS: “Despite all the previously seen footage from New York there were some big holes” admitted Dick. “Jimmy and I had to insert a bit, look for unusual shots, reprocess images to cover some of the gaps”. Presented in widescreen, fans will enjoy the re-working of Since I’ve Been Loving You and a particularly raunchy “The Ocean”. “We tried to stay away from any of the re-shot Shepperton Studios stuff – as much footage as possible is from the gigs”.“The reels we had were very fragmentary, it took us six weeks to get four songs! Some footage such as Over The Hills & Far Away were just too full of holes which was a real shame.”Watching the visuals, it is great to see that the remastered Black Dog is pure stage action this time around. (Some of you in the UK may remember a version of Black Dog being shown on a BBC-TV programme called “Pop Quiz” which was all stage action: i.e. no New York cavalcade shots. This version is different again.)

Misty Mountain Hop works because as Dick described, some shots were borrowed from elsewhere on the reels to complete the overall effect. However, this effort is well rewarded – any “fills” do not stand out at all. Since I’ve Been Loving You is completely different from the film version. Page delivered a new soundtrack processed for surround sound, so viewers should not feel they’ve been shortchanged.

The Ocean was described by Dick as “This was a f*ck of a load of work…we just about got away with it”. Viewing it with Dick, TBL can conclude that it is absolutely stunning – a real highlight of what we saw.

GET READY TO MARVEL AT: * The Transition: From the 4:3 aspect of the darkened Royal Albert Hall footage to the 16:9 aspect and a more general openness of the 73 footage. Also, the difference in the band visually in just 3 and a half years is remarkable. This transition concept is something that reoccurs throughout the DVD package and is something that Jimmy Page designed from the outset and was very keen to ensure worked well.* The Ocean: Its encore time in New York. Watch Plant pick up the rose thrown onto the front of the stage, see him preen as he and Jimmy prowl the first few rows looking at the ladies. A really raunchy version. True Hammer of the Gods stuff.* Since I’ve Been Loving You: It always lead to the great “Why wasn’t this on the Song Remains album?” debate. Still a wonderful version, and now with even better sound.

 

21 DAYS TO GO: Earls Court 1975: The Video Age
THE CREATIVE PROCESS:Taking on the Zeppelin DVD project “was a huge responsibility” admits Dick, only too aware that there are people who have been waiting for something like this for years. Getting the balance right was key here: there are collectors and casual rock fans alike interested – and both have high expectations. “Noel Gallagher (Oasis) can’t wait to see it” mused Dick.Dick quite rightly takes a great deal of pride in his work with Page. “I’ve spent nine months on this project” he says proudly pointing at the screen, “It’s beautiful – sorry – its such a shame the Telly’s f*cking dirty!!” he exclaims!We asked Dick about the soundtrack. “Page delivered a guide video track for Earls Court and Knebworth for us to work with. Later on, he delivered the stereo version and the 5:1 surround version”. “Then it was up to us here at Metropolis DVD to re-sync, encode and match it to the footage.”

Looking at Earls Court, one is instantly drawn to the different picture quality. From the grainy film shots of 73, we now get smooth crystal clear video footage from 75. According to Carruthers “Earls Court was one of the more easier segments to work with”.

Although Earls Court was a multi camera source, there were occasions when only a single camera source was usable – sometimes for quite lengthy periods. Dick explained how was not ideal as it could make the footage seem lethargic and un-dynamic. To get round this, Dick re-shot some of the video footage in super 8 and reprocessed it giving a grainy audience bootleg feel to it. This combined with tasteful slow motion and very stylistic blurring covered any small gaps. The result is a very smooth and coherent playback which keeps the viewer on the edge of his seat.

GET READY TO MARVEL AT: * The stark contrast from the chaos of Madison Square to the intimacy of the acoustic set at Earls Court – a deft piece of sequencing that captures perfectly the light and shade element of the band. * The subtle link from 1973 to 1975 via a close up of a fan at Earls Court waving his Led Zep scarf* The interplay between Robert, Jimmy and Jonesy during California and That’s The Way* The right out there on the edge delivery of In My Time Of Dying with fantastic close ups of Bonzo and Jimmy’s slide soloing.

* The completely awesome delivery of Trampled Underfoot which prompted journalist Charles Shaar Murray to observe at the time ”Apart for the Who and Stones I can’t think of any group who could have put on anything like it. Producing moments such as Trampled Underfoot during which it seemed the whole stage was just going to fall forward and crush everybody in the hall”.

* Stairway performed with immense pride with knowing looks between Page and Plant

In summary the Earls Court footage captures Zeppelin at their most extravagant and thrilling- totally on top of their game and performing with supreme confidence. It’s just sensational viewing…..

 

13 DAYS TO GO: Knebworth Park, Hertfordshire 1979: The Dinosaur Revival
THE CREATIVE PROCESS:“We had a number of multi-camera angles for this – it was the best covered of the shows we had” admits Carruthers. “There was some audience footage which have used as well”. Page and Carruthers had the most to play with here. There were 16 camera sources complete with a guide soundtrack on each. In addition there was a fan-shot 8mm cine film too. Watching the film, there are some lovely touches interspersing close-up and footage from further back footage to great effect. Those of you familiar with the fuzzy bootleg videos will love the new presentation. At last, twenty four years on(!) we have a properly mixed and directed souvenir – courtesy of Page and Carruthers. Knebworth ’79..if you were there, get ready to relive it…if you weren’t you soon will be…
GET READY TO MARVEL AT: The sound presentation of Knebworth – Page has made it really come alive. The “dinosaur” lives! (Remember this was the punk era back in the UK in 1979 – many music magazines were declaring any song over 3 minutes long as irrelevant!)*Great atmospheric crowd shots as the action fades from Earls Court to that field outside Stevenage four years later*Rock And Roll – Wonderful interplay between the four of them – lots of smiles and knowing looks – they knew they still had it and this performance is ample proof – Great audience shout backs enhanced by the 5.1 surround sound. Bonzo’s solo at the end – sheer percussive genius *Plant preening through Kashmir – with clever pan outs from clear pro-shot video to fuzzy audience 8mm – and then back again.. All seamlessly edited * Achilles – quite simply Jimmy’s show…sweating, cringing, thrilling…the spirit of the whole track dancing through his fingers -the drive from the whole band and their endeavour to get back to where they belong captured in this striking visual tour de force.

This footage will prompt fresh investigation of the 1979 Led Zeppelin….the In Through album…the Copenhagen warm ups..the Knebworth shows – musically erratic and under rehearsed they may have been, but on this part of DVD we see the spirit was still very much willing. More than enough visual evidence that they still had the desire to impress.

 

 

1 DAY TO GO: ALL THE OTHER BITS
THE CREATIVE PROCESS:“We had some really nice stuff that didn’t belong anywhere else” says Dick as he shows us the Heartbreaker end-credits montage. To the music of Heartbreaker we get an array of 2 to 3 second clips from 70,73,75 and 79 as well as “fan footage” and other news-reel type clips. The montage will no doubt will keep the visual historians interested – as well as shuffling back and forwards with the pause controls! Page and Carruthers have really bought into the whole DVD format: just browsing throught the menus throws up all sorts of interesting footage and “secrets” such as the LA Forum 77 cine of Song Remains The Same.One menu item shows what appears to be home cine film of a typical UK town (is it Edinburgh??) – and then four familiar looking blokes are seen strolling down the road on the opposite side.
GET READY TO MARVEL AT: The sheer attention to detail on each menu. They’re worth watching in their own right.The additional footage, understandably not up to the standard of the main presentations but still worth watching nonetheless.A great menu showing the boys arriving in Iceland with Moby Dick blasting away in the back. Other menus show the boys backstage at various venues.

With thanks to Dave Linwood.

More 2003 DVD TBL Archive to follow.

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Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – it was 53 years ago:

This week marks the 53rd anniversary of The Beatles Sgt Pepper album – I’ve been playing it all week and it really does sound as fresh as ever.

Here’s some thoughts from myself and fellow long time TBL supporter and massive Beatles fan Paul Humbley that I ran to celebrate the 50th anniversary.

TBL Celebrates Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band  at 50:

I’ve been aware of The Beatles album Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band for 50 years. Back in early June 1967 I was at a friends house playing Subutteo table football one of my big passions of the time. His older brother was holding an LP record as we called them back then. I had a quick look at it – I realized it was The Beatles – it’s colourful cover was certainly eye catching and the reverse had all the words to the songs printed on it.

After a flirtation with pop music when I was 7 and 8 I had moved on to football and my other passions included , Thunderbirds ,The Man From Uncle and James Bond.  did not hear the album then – but I was aware that it was something important.

A couple of years later in early 1969, music was back on my agenda big time led by The Beatles and The Rolling Stones and many of the top 40 artists of the day -and later that year Led Zeppelin entered my radar. I first heard Sgt Pepper on a huge radiogram at a friends house in our street.

It sounded incredible.

Of course it also looked amazing with the elaborate front cover, the inner cut outs – the Sgt Pepper vinyl also looked very different  -it was one of the first records I noticed that had no banding of tracks -it all merged into one.

I was hooked.

When I started work in June 1972, Sgt Pepper was one of the first albums I bought. In 1978 I bought the limited edition picture disc version that was issued. In the 1980s I bought various Sgt Pepper bootlegs -as I wanted to hear as much as of The Beatles as I could from that period.

In August 1983, the good lady Janet and I attended The Beatles at Abbey Road show staged inside Abbey Road. This unique presentation featured various then unreleased Beatles outtakes including A Day In The Life -it was incredible exciting to be in the actual location where the actual album had taken shape.

On June 1, 1987, I purchased the CD version that was issued to mark the 20th anniversary – and in the Our Price  shop I managed in Bedford we really went to town with in store displays etc. It’s worth mentioning I had no CD player at the time but was planning on getting one which I finally did that Christmas.

The arrival of The Beatles catalogue on CD and particularly Sgt Pepper was a turning point in the mass acceptance of the CD as a serious and lasting music carrying format

In 1988 I was lucky enough to be in Abbey Road Studio number 2 again for the launch of Mark Lewishon’s groundbreaking Beatles Recording Sessions book. This was a log of every Beatles recording session which Mark compiled after having the luxury of hearing all the session tapes. Amongst many revelations it chronicled that the George Harrison track Only A Northern Song was recorded during the Sgt Pepper sessions and was once considered for the final track listing. It would eventually emerge on the Yellow Submarine film soundtrack.

I was back in Abbey Road in late 1993 for another book launch event -Mark Lewishon’s Complete Beatles Chronicle. Bizarrely, on the same day Jimmy Page and David Coverdale were in Studio 3 mixing the Coverdale -Page album.  I bumped into to David and chatted for a bit – Jimmy was busy in the studio – I told David I was here for a Beatles book launch. Years later when I spoke to Mark about this he informed me he had a request to show the book to Jimmy and David – a direct result of me informing the Coverdale man about it!

The 1995 release of  The Beatles Anthology  volume 2 offered a host of alternate mixes from the Sgt Pepper period. When I tell you I am the sort of guy that get’s rather excited when I hear John Lennon mumbling ”sugar plum fairy,sugar, plum fairy” as a count in to the Anthology 2 version of A Day In The Life you will realise I am relishing the prospect of dissecting the new Giles Martin produced remix along with the previously unheard work in progress versions of many of the tracks.

I recently acquired a bootleg CD that presents the actual broadcast of the BBC’s Light programme preview of Sgt Pepper broadcast on Saturday May 21. I was otherwise engaged on that day as a ten year old watching Spurs beat Chelsea 2-1 in the FA Cup Final.

Had I tuned in back then on that Saturday afternoon I would have heard the legendary DJ Kenny Everett interviewing Ringo, Paul and John about their new LP. Listening to it 53 years on the air of optimism and sheer wonderment of these new Beatles recordings is more than evident. It’s an amazing timepiece that captures the impact this album was having on DJ’s and fans alike.

For this album really was a game changer in so many respects. It was the first real complete album presentation with every song making its presence felt in sequence – and yes a concept album of sorts as The Beatles took on the persona of Sgt Pepper and his band.

There had of course been many an important album before it – not least The Beatles own catalogue and the likes of The Rolling Stones Aftermath, The Beach Boys Pet Sounds and Dylan’s Blonde On Blonde. All major musical statements but Sgt Pepper was something else.

Over the years , Sgt Pepper as had its critics. I vividly recall the noted journalist (and one of my journalist heroes) Charles Shaar Murray denouncing it in a retrospective review in the NME under the title ”Silly Charlie and the not so red hot Pepper’.

Some say Revolver has better songs, the sprawling White Album more scope and Abbey Road as being more polished. I myself have sited the White Album as their best album and my favourite – this new round of Pepper pandemonium might just challenge that.

Put simply, Sgt Pepper is The Beatles finest creation as a group. There’s a wealth of unified creativity running throughout the album that they never quite attained again.

I duly purchased the new remaster in Fopp on Saturday -the double vinyl set which has a second disc of outtakes.  This presents alternate version of the Sgt Pepper album in the same sequence as the original album – a Companion Disc if you please – and right in line with Jimmy Page’s concept with the Led Zeppelin reissues – Mr McCartney must have been eyeing those!

I have yet to have a really detailed listen but on initial plays the new remix sounds sound’s really sprightly with an improved instrument separation. There’s so much to admire on Sgt Pepper – the harmonies for instance, marvel at the vocal interplay on With A Little Help From My Friends and It’s Getting Better.

Along  the way there are so many things going on – from riding in newspaper taxis to undertaking ten somersaults on solid ground. Oh and there’s a certain poignancy that I am closer to 64 and ‘doing the garden digging the weeds’ than I was when I last listened to that sweet McCartney paean to old age.

It’s going to be an absolute delight to re-discover these sounds of the summer of 1967 that still resonate so effectively.

They’d love to turn you on –  and 50 years on, Sgt Peppers one and only Lonely Hearts Club Band show no signs of stopping – and a splendid time is always guaranteed.

Dave Lewis – May 29, 2017.

 

TBL Celebrates Sgt Pepper at 53: 

Following my piece on the remixed re-released Sgt Pepper album – here’s a very informative overview from long time TBL contributor and Beatles expert Paul Humbley -written at the time of the 50th anniversary.

Over to Paul…

Let me introduce to you, the act you’ve known for all these years. Discovering Sgt. Pepper.

Being born in August 1964, I was not quite three years old when ‘Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ was released on June 1.1967.

So no, 50 years ago I wasn’t rushing to my local record shop to pick up a copy of the new Beatles album. However with parents who had wide and varied musical tastes – jazz, pop, musicals, singer song writers, in fact anything. I grew up in a home filled with music. That matched to an uncanny memory for music related facts – release dates of records, labels, catalogue numbers, all stored in my memory ready to be called off at the drop of a hat -really sad I know, but it does mean I have two distinct memories of listening to the radio back in 1967.

My first memory is hearing ‘Simon Smith and His Amazing Dancing Bear’ – Alan Price. The second is hearing ‘When I’m Sixty-Four’. No not by The Beatles, instead a cover by actor Bernard Cribbins. Of the two, the later song is the most significant. A cover of the Paul McCartney song featured on side 2, track 2 of ‘Sgt. Pepper’. This cover version never made the UK charts. However, according to the date printed on the label of the promotional copy of this Parlophone record. It was released the day after the Beatles original, June 2, 1967. Little did I know then, how important hearing this song would be in my life long musical journey?

My personal introduction to ‘Sgt. Pepper’ the album followed a similar path to how the album reached the public back in 1967. After six months of no new material, a lifetime in the 60’s pop scene. The Beatles issued a taster for the album in February. Although ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ / ‘Penny Lane’ where never included on ‘Pepper’, they were among the first songs recorded when sessions began in November 1966. Four months later the album appeared in June, The first album of new material to be released since Revolver 10 months earlier. In a world which demanded an artist release at least two albums and three singles in a 12 month period. This six month period of recording was unprecedented. In fact the media reported that the fab four were losing their magic and not able to come up with new songs. Little did they know what was in store?

I have been a Beatles fan since April 15, 1974, the date when the BBC premiered the animated feature ‘Yellow Submarine’ on UK television. By the time the film finished I was hooked and my collection was starting to be built from the records I could find in my parents collection. Over the next couple of years I collected together a few vinyl albums and singles and a number of cassette tapes recorded from albums borrowed from friends and relatives.

It was March 1976 when my induction into the psychedelic world of ‘Sgt, Pepper’ began. In February of that year The Beatles contract with EMI expired. EMI wasted no time in repacking and reissuing all 22 original Beatles singles in March, together with a new addition for the UK market, ‘Yesterday’. Within weeks all 23 singles had entered the UK Top 75 and for the first time I was able to purchase Beatles records while they featured high in the current singles chart.

My first selection was the aforementioned ‘Yesterday’. With the second being and a single containing two songs I had no recollection of previously hearing, ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ / ‘Penny Lane’. Why did I make this choice? All these rereleased singles came in generic green picture sleeves. The only difference being, the rear sleeve image changed to reflect the ever evolving fashions the band adopted. The sleeve for ‘Strawberry Fields’ featured an image of the fab four sporting moustaches and John using a cine camera. For some reason this image intrigued me, as it was not a formal pose like the other featured images. Unbeknown to me at the time, I was purchasing the single almost 9 years to the day after its original release, give or take a few weeks.

Hearing the disc for the first time on Dad’s prized Fidelity UA5 music centre (the 3 in 1, turntable, cassette and stereo radio systems, which were the mp3 players of there day). I had one of those rare experiences when you discover a piece of music and it has an unforgettable effect on you. To this day when I hear John sing the opening lines ‘Let me take you down…’ it gives me goose bumps. What I was experiencing, was what record buyers had back on February 17,1967. This new direction in sound for The Beatles, was the first fruits of the bands extended recording sessions in EMI. Sessions which evolved into Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts club Band.

Back in 1967, ‘Pepper’ the album, followed ‘Strawberry Fields 4 months later, on June 1. Similarly for me 9 years later in 1976. My first encounter with ‘Pepper’ followed four months after I encountered ‘Strawberry Fields’, in July of the long hot summer of 1976.

Discovering The Beatles as I had in the mid 70’s, was great timing on my part. Since the official split in 1970, the solo Beatles were never far from the singles and album charts. Paul released his fifth album ‘Wings at the Speed of Sound’ in March 1976. Over the next few months the hit singles ‘Let’Em In’ and ‘Silly Love Songs’ would gain blanket coverage on UK radio and climb high in the charts. This resulted in my dad coming home from work in July 1976, with a copy of that new Wings album together with a Beatles album. Both loaned from a work colleague. That Beatles album was ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’.

It’s difficult for me to understand now, but it was the Wings album that I wanted to hear first. Within a few days both were recorded onto blank cassette tapes, Curry’s the electronics retailers own brand of C60. Maybe it was because the Wings album was new and my friends didn’t understand why I was obsessed with and old band from the 60’s. To eleven and twelve year old’s the Beatles having split six years ago, made them ancient. Or because within days I was away on holiday on the Isle of Wight with school mate Alan and his family. Whatever the reason ‘Pepper’ took a back seat for a few weeks.

Gradually over the coming weeks I started to pick up on the magic of ‘Sgt. Pepper’. Over the next couple of years that C60 cassette tape would be on constant rotation. I would however have to wait until Christmas day 1977 to receive my first vinyl copy.

It was then that I started to realise that my cassette copy sounded different to the vinyl record. Some songs sounded faster. Background noises audible on one, were not present on the other. Slowly as my Beatles knowledge grew, I worked out that what I had recorded was a mono copy of Pepper. While the vinyl pressing was stereo.

Over the last 40 years my Pepper collection has expanded far beyond the wildest dreams of the 12 year I was back in 1976. Multiple vinyl and CD pressings have been joined by reel to reel, cassette and 8 track tape formats. 20th anniversary box sets and audiophile pressings have also joined my hoard. Plus of course those under the counter albums and CD’s, featuring recording sessions and alternate mixes which have leaked out of EMI over time.

Fixing A Hole and Getting Better? – My view of the 50th Anniversary Reissues

For an obsessive collector like myself. Do the new 50th anniversary issues have anything to offer? The answer to that is a big YES. Since news broke at the start of the year, that the anniversary would be celebrated. It soon became apparent this was going to be a celebration of a Beatles album like no other.

With a selection of releases to please dedicated casual fans, die hard collectors, or young music fans wanting to understand what all the fuss is about. The 1CD, 2CD, 2LP and Deluxe 4CD, Blue Ray & DVD box set covers all bases.

The media focus has been on Giles Martin and his new stereo mix. As Beatle historians know the mono mix of ‘Pepper’ has always been considered the approved version, As George Martin spent approximately three weeks mixing the album for mono and during many of the mono mixing sessions either one, two, three of four Beatles were present. Compared to the stereo mix which was produced in a few days.

Unlike the stereo mixes George Martin created for earlier Beatles albums. The stereo separation used on the original 1967 mix was not the hard vocals on one channel and instruments on the other, particularly noticeable on the original stereo mixes of ‘Help’ and ‘Rubber Soul’. Over the years this primitive mixes came under a lot of flak. Indeed when the first Beatles CD’s were issued by EMI in 1987. George Martin remixed both of these albums, so that they had a stereo separation suited to modern ears. Indeed when listening to the placement of the instruments and vocals of the original 1967 ‘Sgt. Pepper’ stereo mix, the separation is very tame. With the majority of the vocals placed centrally.

When you compare both the original 1967 stereo and mono mixes. The mono sounds more powerful, with a denser sound. One thing however that both mixes have in common. Is due to the 4 track recording process used, and the constant bouncing down of one 4 track tape to another. Is that both suffer with a muddy sound on the instruments and backing vocals.

In order for me to assess Giles Martin’s 2017 stereo remix I reacquainted myself with the original mono mix via an original 1967 UK Parlophone vinyl pressing. Then I listened to the original stereo mix played from my 1977 pressing. From the pressing ID in the run out grooves it is clear that this copy is cut from the original Harry Moss master lacquerers. Harry being the EMI engineer who cut the majority of Beatles album masters. Then while listening to the new 2017 mix I A/B compared with a high resolution digital file of the 1982 Mobile Fidelity UHQR Stereo master and a similar file of the Nimbus Supercut pressing from 1984. I avoided the 2009 remasters as I have never been a fan. They are all that is wrong with too many digital remasters of classic albums. Too loud, with no subtlety and painful on the ears.

For me, the biggest revelation of the new Giles Martin Stereo mix, is that those layers of instruments and backing vocals come to life. By going back to the individual 4 track session tapes, Giles has created a mix which breathes new life in to the music. It’s like looking at an old master which had been restored. You see revealed the true colours of the painting which the artist had intended you to see. The sound of Ringo’s drums is now much clearer. The bass drum and cymbals shine through. You can hear him tap the drum skins with brushes during ‘When I’m Sixty Four. Back in 1999 Peter Cobbin assisted by Paul Hicks remastered the soundtrack of Yellow Submarine. The accompanying Yellow Submarine Songtrack album featured 4 songs from ‘Pepper’ and was universally praised for the quality of the remix work they had undertaken. Now18 years later, these mixes although good, still suffer from the muddy sound, which Giles Martin has now eliminated.

Many of the Beatles original stereo mixes don’t have the same power of the mono. With this new stereo mix Giles has successfully recreated the power of the mono mix in the stereo domain. The majority of new mix keeps all the elements, lead vocals, lead instruments, background vocals, and orchestrations in the centre of the stereo image. There is no extreme panning of sounds from left to right. Just a very clean, open, but powerful mix.

As with Ringo’s drumming, Paul’s bass guitar is a revelation. In the Anthology TV series / DVD. Paul McCartney explains that due to this new recording technique of layering sounds and bouncing down a full 4 track tape to another to create multi, multitrack recording as you would find in a modern studio. He had the opportunity to play melodic bass lines which complemented each song. Rather than just underpinned each song. These bass lines now have a greater definition and clarity.

The vocals throughout now have a new dynamic to them. Despite the layer of sounds employed on ‘Pepper’ the vocals you hear are live, no auto tuning back in 1967. The new mix now brings these vocals to life. It’s like you are there in the studio standing at the microphone next to John, Paul, George and Ringo.

Having now lived with the new stereo mix for four days, the tracks which continually impress me are ‘Fixing A Hole’, ‘She’s Leaving Home’, ‘When I’m Sixty Four’, ‘Good Morning, Good Morning’ and ‘A Day In The Life’.

With the exception of the single disc CD. These new 50th anniversary editions don’t stop at the new stereo remix. George Martin described the process of recording ‘Sgt. Pepper’ as “Painting pictures with Sound”. What we are presented with are the initial sketches from which these sound paintings were based. The skeleton frame of each song, before the Beatles and George Martin built the final master. For the casual fan expecting an alternate, stripped down ‘Sgt. Pepper’, you will be disappointed. What we hear are raw takes direct from studio sessions tapes. Allowing the listener to eavesdrop on how John, Paul, George and Ringo. together with George Martin, Geoff Emerick and the technicians at EMI crafted the album.

For the 2 CD edition the listener is treated to an outtake from each song in the same running order as the finished album, together with an outtakes of ‘Strawberry Fields’ and ‘Penny Lane’. For the box set aimed specifically at the obsessional fan. You are presented with multiple versions of each song across 2 CD’s. Sequence chronologically as the recording sessions took place between November 1966 and April 1967.

Now Beatles fans are a difficult bunch to please (a bit like Led Zep fans!- ED). They moan when opportunities are missed to open the EMI tape vault. Then moan when they do get presented with new material. One thing that becomes clear very quickly when you listen to all the unreleased material presented in these anniversary packages. Is that George Martin did the right thing when he collated together ‘Sgt Pepper’ studio sessions for the ‘Anthology’ project back in the mid 1990’s. At the time he was criticised for editing together small sections of multiple takes of songs to create new mixes. As you would expect from George Martin, he was right. Although from a historical perspective the outtakes presented across these anniversary packages deserve to be included, in truth are a hard listen and I doubt will receive regular repeated plays from casual fans.

In addition to the 2017 remix and studio outtakes you also receive within the deluxe box set. The original mono mix. A 5:1 surround mix which I can’t play due a lack of compatible playback equipment. A copy of the 1992, 25th anniversary ‘Making of Sgt. Pepper’ TV documentary. Which now makes my rather warn out VHS tape recording and pirate DVD complete with Japanese sub titles, redundant. Finally there is a truly magnificent book all housed in a beautiful box replicating an EMI Tape library box.

Yes there are some negative aspects about these anniversary sets. The selection of outtakes presented on the 2CD set could have been improved. Featuring the full ‘Hums’ session, rather than tagging a single ‘Hum’ to the end of the ‘A Day In The Life – Take 1’. The ‘Hum’ being the original idea to close ‘A Day In The Life’ before the piano chord was recorded. Take 1 of ‘Within You, Without You’ should have been swapped with the version featuring George coaching the assembled musicians. The 2017 stereo mix of ‘Penny Lane’ sounds too bright and not a patch on the excellent 2015 mix of ‘Strawberry Fields’ presented. While finally, whoever approved the dub of the rare and unique USA promo mono mix of ‘Penny Lane’ recorded from a worn out and distorted copy of the original vinyl 45, needs shooting. The infamous audiophile bootlegger, Dr Ebbetts presented collectors with a very clear dub on his ‘US Singles Collection’ set back in 2001.

All in all, what Apple and Giles Martin have presented is a very worthy release to honour ‘Sgt. Pepper’ on its 50th anniversary. It is leaves me wanting to revisit and listen again in depth and explore The Beatles back catalogue all over again. I also find it hard to believe that John, Paul, George and Ringo were aged between 24 and 27 when they recorded this masterpiece. How creative they and George Martin were back then 50 years ago! Lets hope that with 22nd November 2018 being the 50th anniversary of the ‘White Album’, that Apple and Giles Martin work on an equally impressive set to honour that great work.

After that I think it’s time for tea and meet the wife!

Postscript:

I wonder how many people record shopping back on the 1st June 1967, headed for the ‘Bs’ in the LP section, but passed by Beatles and Sgt. Pepper and instead headed to ‘BO’ and picked up the first long playing record album on Deram of a young wiper snapper going by the name of David Bowie? His debut album was released on the same day as ‘Sgt Pepper’….

 Paul Humbley

Many thanks to Paul for that wonderful overview.

Some final words on Sgt Pepper written by me on the TBL/DL Facebook page on June 1,2017:

On  the player – what else?…and it’s truly magnificent –the new mix punchy with greater separation of the instruments and vocals. Record 2 The Sgt Pepper Sessions is just fantastic – with the same line up of tracks as the main album, a Companion Disc if you will (now where has that idea been used before!

It’s an illuminating and enlightening experience. It’s the creative process with pleasing off-mic chat from the boys and George Martin , false starts and alternate arrangements. Backin 1988, the brilliant Beatles author Mark Lewishon produced The Beatles Recording Sessions book based on his enviable task of listening to every Beatles session tape at Abbey Road – I used to wonder how amazing that must have been – well Record 2 The Sgt Pepper Sessions has given me some idea,–it really is like being in the studio next to them and some of the off mic chat particularly from the so sadly missed John and George, is incredibly moving and sends shivers down the spine

So it’s the act we’ve known for all the years and their story continues to enthral – Sgt Pepper Remixed is a revelatory, celebratory listening experience – and 50 years on, a splendid time is still guaranteed for all….Dave Lewis – June 1, 2017.

……………………………..

Today Thursday June 4 is our Sam’s birthday  – 30 years old…

That indicates that it was 30 years ago when I saw Robert Plant upstaged for the only time – the evening gig at Hammersmith Odeon I attended was very good – but it was not in the same league as the afternoon events with the birth of my daughter Sam at 2.30 pm.

I should never have really been at the gig but somehow I managed to fit it all in. I’ve told the tale many a time and forgive me for relying it all again but it was a mad day for sure!

These are the circumstances Samantha Elizabeth Lewis entered the world 30 years ago in 1990.

30 years ago on Monday June 4th 1990 I awoke with the prospect of a couple of Robert Plant gigs ahead over the next two nights. These were the London dates Robert was playing in support of the Manic Nirvana album. Tickets were sorted, arrangements made – I was planning to hook up with the TBL crew in Hammersmith.

It’s actually worth mentioning at the time I was ensconced in writing the A Celebration book as well as managing the local Our Price record shop. It was certainly full on then.

The good lady Janet was pregnant and our first born was due in July. Well it didn’t quite work out like that. On that morning of June 4th twenty four years ago, Janet informed there were stirrings… and sure enough there were. So of we went to Bedford North Wing hospital where we were informed that our forthcoming bundle of joy was ready to enter the world. With all notions of the gig ahead banished (honest!) I steeled myself for a lengthy labour (well not me as it were!)

sam pic 2

Things moved quickly and at 2.30 pm with impeccable timing, our daughter Samantha Elizabeth was born.

A lot of you out there know the rest… Sam is tiny and beautiful….mother and baby are doing well…anxious new father will only be in the way and heads on the train for …yes you guessed it Hammersmith Odeon – arriving to the shock of the TBL crew…just in time for the gig. The look on the faces of various TBL people ,Tim Davies, Nigel Glazier and Kry Jantzen among them, as I had a pre gig toast for the new Lewis arrival was quite a picture.

As I mentioned this was the only time I’ve ever seen R. Plant upstaged – as good as he was he didn’t match the afternoon proceedings!

Pushing it a bit more – I was back the next night for gig number two celebrating Sam’s birth with a large intake of Directors ale. Later in the month I was at Knebworth with Mr Foy for the Robert & Jimmy’s reunion. What with the World Cup Italia 90, World in Motion at number one (Cue the John Barnes rap : ‘’You’ve got to hold and give – but do it at the right time – You can be slow or fast but you must get to the line’’) – that June of 30 years ago was some month….

It wasn’t too long before Sam realised this Led Zep caper was a little bit important to her Dad. In the above pic we are together in 1991 at the time of the publication of the A Celebration book –which was being written as she entered the world.

Sam would also go on to have an affinity for the written word (a bit like her Dad) and works as a freelance journalist. I have to say one of her additional skills of being able to teach Yoga did not come from me – my aching limbs are not supple enough for all those movements!

Today will be celebrating here and it will be a joy to be together …

Happy 30th Birthday Sam!

 

………………………………………………..

Dave Lewis Diary Blog Update:

Last Saturday’s activity:

Saturday is platterday – on the player and getting in the mood for tonight’s Celebration Day YouTube Watch Party – Led Zeppelin The Grand Levitation triple coloured vinyl bootleg from an audience source of the December 10 2007 02 reunion show – inspiring many a memory of that night of nights…

Led Zeppelin 10 Britain’s Got Talent 0…

Saturday night TV doesn’t get much better – watching the Celebration Day  YouTube Global Watch Party playback was incredibly exciting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

They are, were and always will be the best..and watching that incredible film again just proved it…

Also on the player, Paul McCartney and Wings Red Rose Speedway 2 LP remaster with extra tracks. I bought the original upon release in May 1973. Back then I bought any solo Beatles related releases as they appeared and I love this period of Wings from this album through to Back To The Egg .

It sounds great this morning as the sun shines outside. It brings back so many vivid memories of discovering so much amazing music as a music obsessed 16 year old…what a period of musical enlightenment that was…and that music from that era still lights up my world just as it did 47 years ago…

 

I remember reading an interview in Sounds where Paul explained the original idea was to have been a double album. I always wondered how that might have turned out –the answer is here as it’s been re configured as an 18 track double set –based on Paul’s original double album idea and complete with authentic acetate style hand written labels.I got this a few months back at the always excellent Fopp in London’s Cambridge Circus reduced to £24, an absolute bargain.

Oh how I miss visiting Fopp and the surrounding record shops Sister Ray, Reckless Records and Sounds Of The Universe and then toasting my purchasers in the nearby TBL office (aka The Spice Of Life pub ) …but it cannot be – instead I’ll relish in catching up on so many great albums and singles and CDs that I am lucky enough to be surrounded by…

Update here:

Regrettably I had a bad bout of depression on Sunday afternoon – just had to go to bed – I was not feeling good on Monday so I went on a long bike ride about 9 miles into the nearby villages of Bedford. It was a real tonic -some inspiring phone calls from some dear friends helped as did as ever, the good lady Janet who got me out of the gloom yet again.  While most days recently have been good when I sink into depression I really sink and it can come on very quickly which is quite alarming.

As street markets are now allowed again, Darren’s Vinyl Barn returned to Bedford Market on Wednesday. I was apprehensive about going but I really wanted to support Darren and turned up yesterday with all good intentions. Alas, when I arrived I had a bad bout of anxiety and could not face it and had to leave.  Visiting the Vinyl Barn and purchasing records has been a highlight of my week going back over five years. Not to be able to enjoy something that I love is upsetting to say the least. Hopefully, things might change yesterday my anxiety was too much…as I’ve mentioned before, everyday things we took for granted become mountains to climb and it is so frustrating.

On a brighter note, my right ear problem has cleared. Thanks to all those who offered advice, in particular Andy Waring who pointed me in the direction of an Otex drops and syringe pack. After persevering with it for ten days we finally had a breakthrough and with the good lady Janet’s help, consistent syringing did the job. It is a huge relief to be hearing in full stereophonic sound again. Many thanks to Andy who saw my post on here about the ear problem and was kind enough to get in touch.

There’s been some calls with Mick to discuss the TBL projects ahead and the good lady Janet and I have been out on some short walks to help strengthen her leg..

On Tuesday morning there was an early rendezvous in Bedford Park with the boy Adam to bring along his tennis racket as he was playing this morning. At my age my playing days are over – he would beat me far too easily!

It was the first time I’ve seen him in a while and great to catch up…

 

School was out for ever…it was 48 years ago…

I’ve been feeling somewhat reflective in these strange times we find ourselves in ..so here’s some thoughts on the day I left school all of 48 years ago on June 5, 1972…

 

On that day in 1972 I walked into Silver Jubilee secondary school for boys and informed the headmaster I was leaving. During the half term holiday I had gone to the youth employment agency and sourced a full time job – a job as storeman at British Home Stores in Bedford town centre -£11.50 a week which to me sounded a fortune.

So the next day aged 15 and 272 days, I went out into the big wide working world. The next two and half years were a true rites of passage as I learned about life, ladies, pubs and much more.

I really enjoyed the job at British Home Stores but of course what I really wanted to do was to be involved in music – like my friend Phil who worked in the local Carlows record shop. When an opportunity came to work as sales assistant on the record department of WH Smith I applied and got the job. That would be the beginning of an immensely fulfilling career in music retail that began on October 28 1974 and would end some 35 years later on February 20 2009 when I was made redundant with the closing of the Virgin/Zavvi megastore in Milton Keynes.

Back to that final day at school. I was something of an average academic. I was particularly poor at Maths but I did excel at English and History (both of which would hold me in good stead ahead). Overall, I enjoyed all my schooldays and was very proud of representing both my junior school  Kingsbrook and Silver Jubilee at football being the team goalkeeper –I also made many a lasting friendship (note: if you were at the school you would have know me by my nickname Dobber). I was not keen on staying on and taking exams –I wanted cash and a paid job – not least to fuel my already obsessive passion for buying records. I left in the fourth year which was allowed back then with no qualifications whatsoever. Coming from a very working class background, further education was not something high on the agenda as jobs back in that era were plentiful.

On that day 48 years ago, the headmaster Mr Sherwood shook my hand and wished me good luck and off I went. For me ‘’school’’, as Alice Cooper would put it so eloquently a few months later was ‘’out for ever’’

One thing that resonated with me from my four years at Silver Jubilee was a comment one of my form teachers wrote on one of my annual end of term school reports. ‘’He is easily satisfied with his own efforts’’ it stated.

Now I always thought that did me a bit of a disservice..…

So here’s the thing:

Please excuse this blowing of my own trumpet, but If being ‘’easily satisfied with my own efforts’’ means carving a successful 35 year career in music retail, going on to establish a freelance writing career, editing and publishing my own long running magazine that reaches out to over 30 countries, being the author and co-author of numerous highly acclaimed books on Led Zeppelin, talking about that subject on various TV and radio stations including BBC Radio 2 and being featured on the BBC Six O Clock News when Zep reformed for one night only in 2007, marrying the most amazing lady and bringing up two wonderful children, being blessed with many lifelong friends (some of who were with me at school), being in touch with countless like-minded people across the globe who share my music passion …well then maybe that teacher had a point…

I’d still like to think he was being a bit harsh….

And finally…

Some inspirations this past week…

Watching the Led Zeppelin Celebration Day YouTube Global Watch Party playback on Saturday night with the good lady Janet…

Supportive phone conversations with Richard Grubb, Barry Farnsworth, Pete Burridge and Dec Hickey…

A surprise rendezvous with Rob Jones who was assistant manager at the Our Price shop when I was manager in the late 1990s and all round top man. We shared some amazing music retail times together…

The new issue of Record Collector arriving through the door…

My right ear finally clearing (thank you Andy)…

Thanks for listening – stay safe and well you very lovely people…

Dave Lewis –  June 4, 2020

Until next time, stay safe and stay well…

Website updates written and compiled by Dave Lewis

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6 Comments »

  • Dave Lewis (author) said:

    Thanks Ian

  • IanD said:

    Quick Shout out to English Actor Micheal Angelis who passed away 30 May, best known for his rolls in Boys From The Black stuff and taking over from Ringo Starr as narrator of Thomas The Tank Engine. His brother Paul voiced Ringo in the Yellow Submarine film.

    Thanks for the updates Dave and Happy Birthday Sam

  • Dave Lewis (author) said:

    Thank you Bruce!

  • Bruce S said:

    We are all satisfied with your efforts!!
    Big Fella!!

  • Dave Lewis (author) said:

    Louis many thanks for your very kind comments…

  • Louis Wilkes said:

    Hi Dave, a great read as always. The info you pack into your weekly blog is amazing and an inspiration to seek out sounds old and new. Sounds like you have an almighty network of friends around you, testament I’m sure to you bring a great person. Keep taking it one day at a time. What you do is valued by many.

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