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LED ZEPPELIN II COMPANION AUDIO DISC – EXCLUSIVE TBL PREVIEW/ TEAM ROCK – HMV LONDON PLAYBACK/EARLS COURT REVISTED – IT WAS 39 YEARS AGO

26 May 2014 4,897 views No Comment

box set 2

THE TBL LED ZEPPELIN REISSUES PREVIEW:

Here’s the second of the exclusive TBL Led Zeppelin Reissues previews.

This is my view of the Led Zeppelin 2 Companion Disc:

Led Zeppelin II

The Companion Audio Disc:

The second Led Zeppelin album came together during a hectic period of touring, and was recorded in a variety of studios dictated by which part of the US Zep were performing in. Studio’s visited during the making of Zep II included stints at New York’s Juggy Sound, R&D Studios in Vancouver, and A&M Studios and Mystic Studios in Los Angeles. During the band’s 1969 US tours, Page hooked up with engineer Eddie Kramer – noted for his work with Jimi Hendrix on Electric Ladyland. Kramer had also worked at Olympic Studios when Page and Jones were session musicians in the mid ’60s and his work on Zep II would afford him a ‘Director of Engineering’ credit. The Companion disc is therefore something of a studio travelogue as they pieced together the album as they were on the road.

This is what is in store:

Whole Lotta Love (Rough mix with vocal -5:39)

No cough at the intro and straight to the riff. This is a completely different vocal take. Robert incorporates the ‘’Baby you need love’’ refrain that he deployed on the BBC June session take, but this would be discarded for the final released studio version. There’s a few other ad-libs, such as ‘’Honey we’ve been sharin…’’ and if your blood does not start pumping a whole lot faster when the chorus part is due to come in well… you can’t be alive.

Where the chorus should come is a wonderfully disorientating moment because there is no chorus! Equally startling is the middle section which is devoid of the later overdubbed backwards echo effects. Instead, there’s sparse use of tympani and some neat rim shots from Bonzo. Robert is in there with the ‘’Luuuvv, Luuuvvv’’wailing, and then folks I had a complete well up moment at the playback when suddenly across the speakers Robert utters the phrase ‘’You’ve been yearning.’’ The total shock of it coming when least expected – what can I tell you. It moved me totally because with this version you really are hearing them tearing up the rule book. They know they are onto something here and the beauty of this first try out is that you can hear them tentatively building the wall of sound that would echo across a million plus stereo units come the autumn.

From the middle section the familiar stinging solo from Jimmy is absent, and they go into the fade sounding funky as hell, with Plant again echoing the ‘’Baby you need love, woman you need love’’ lines and adding other vocal nuances such as  ‘’baba ba oh baba oh’’…echoed to full effect. There’s a full ending as they wind down the piece and are unsure of quite what to do and where to end it all. Jimmy eventually pushes the faders down and this embryonic version of Whole Lotta Love eventually ends. Stunning in its sheer naivety and sparseness. This tells us so much more than we already knew about the Zep II opener, and will elevate this early Zep anthem to even greater status.

What Is And What Should Never Be (Rough mix with vocal – 4.33)

Slightly less phrasing on the first verse with the bass more prominent. There are few minor mixing differences. The stereo panning of the outro has also yet to be perfected. Nothing too radically different here.

Thank You (Backing track -4.20)

A complete backing track which brings John Paul Jones’s organ to the fore. A very similar mix to the Zep II version. It’s wonderful to hear the precision of Jimmy’s chiming Vox guitar. The acoustic picking has yet to be overdubbed on this version. It’s worth noting that these backing tracks are much more than mere ‘karaoke’ fodder- they genuinely bring it out the instrumental nuances in a way we haven’t been privy to before.

Heartbreaker (Rough mix with vocal 4.25)

The first thing to notice on this mix is that Bonzo is right up front and you can hear the hi hat jigging along with immense clarity. His ride cymbal parts are equally to the fore. The guitar has a real crunchy sound and you will know what I mean by that when you hear it. I would say the vocal is very similar to the released version other than one or two ad-libs such as a ‘Give it’ before the solo – which is different from the Zep II version and laid down with typical Page authority. Again, there’s a clarity about the whole thing as you here Jimmy’s delicate string work, then it’s into the fast solo with Bonzo back in for the finale.. and blam ‘’Heartbreaker, Heartbreaker …Heart!’’

Living Loving Maid (She’s Just A Woman) (Backing track – 3.11)

A basic backing track with no major overdubs –very clean take with Bonzo high in the mix. Great snare sound. It’s pleasingly unnerving to hear the silences between the verses where Plant would normally come in. This also highlights the pop sensibility of the track which could have easily been vying for top 40 singles success had they had such inclination. There’s no main guitar solo and it all moves on to a funky finale with a full chord ending rather than the abrupt close of the released version.

Ramble On (Rough mix with vocal – 4.44)

Slightly differing texture to the vocal and the bass guitar is more prominent. This basic reference mix was yet to be fully overdubbed – there’s no guitar solo here so you can hear Jimmy’s acoustic guitar strumming very effectively alongside Bonzo’s precision drumming and the ‘’I ain’t telling no lines ‘’adlib from Robert in more clarity. The fade is a simpler mix with again a few overdubs yet to be applied notably the ‘’Bluebird ‘’ insert. It fades to a full ending.

Moby Dick (Backing track – 1.38)

This presents the two sections of the officially released riff part that opens and closes the track. John’s solo is omitted – he then counts back in to the riff with a jigging hi hat –there’s a full ending as opposed to the cross fade into Bring It On Home on the official Led Zeppelin II version. This recording has appeared on bootleg, surfacing in the early 90s on a tape that also had the drum insert with an alternate solo.

La La (Outro rough mix – 4.07)

Now for something completely different.

This is four minutes of what is dubbed an outro mix – in fact, one might presume there was a vocal part before this piece or it was intended as a reference for Robert to add a guide vocal. Whatever it is –it’s a brilliant piece of Page wizardry.  It opens in untypical Zep fashion with a Hammond organ drawl from JPJ before moving into an uptempo organ led descending riff piece – reference points that I wrote down on initial hearing: Spencer Davis Group, Traffic, Derek & The Dominoes, Tommy period Who.  Then there is a moment of true magic as an acoustic guitar motiv changes the direction of it all – and let me tell you this counterpoint moment is quintessentially Jimmy Page –like that one in Swan Song where the acoustic guitar comes in. From there things just keep happening. A barrage of guitar ala In My Time Of Dying to move the tempo back up with Bonzo tearing along, then yet another time signature switch as it slows to a bluesy feel and then a step on the wah wah for a scintillating Hendrix like finale.

Folks this new recording dubbed La La is what the phrase ‘tangents within a framework’ was invented for…

There are just so many ideas going on here and it’s a tantalising glimpse of what might have been – was it some sort of idea for a single? It certainly contains some radio friendly hooks. Whatever the intention, La La is an illuminating find as it vividly demonstrates the sheer instrumental prowess of Led Zeppelin – with Jimmy Page very much at the helm driving them ever onward…and I mean driving…. get ready to add this to your playlist as the perfect roller-coaster summer instrumental soundtrack.

Summary:

One thing that became evident to me listening back to this companion audio disc, is how Jimmy has purposely sequenced the set in line with the original album – in light of that fact, it should be listened to as one complete experience rather than dipping in on a few choice cuts. The mission to explain the creative process that went into making the second Led Zeppelin album is therefore more than accomplished with many an unexpected delight along the way. In short, peering into the portal of where Led Zeppelin were at during 1969 opens up a whole new perspective. Get ready for a full viewing soon…

Dave Lewis May 26th, 2014.

To be continued…

……………………………

Classic Rock Magazine:

The new issue of Classic Rock has a two page preview piece on the Led Zeppelin reissues written by yours truly.

clasic rock reissues

 

 

Team Rock/ HMV Led Zeppelin Reissue Playback Friday May 23rd 2014:

This final UK playback was staged in the upstairs room of the HMV store in London’s Oxford Street. It was decked out with a series of Led Zeppelin type script logos against the white lighting – most impressive.

It was good to see Nicky Horne who was hosting the event. Nicky now has a five day show on Classic Rock Radio. Nicky was suitably impressed when I revealed it was 39 years almost to the day that he had introduced Led Zeppelin on stage at Earls Court. Later the EC Bedford three – that’s me Dec and Phil (Tom was on hol) posed with Nicky with Dec’s original ticket that he had brought along.

The event was very well attended with a good mix of younger enthusiasts all eager to hear this unreleased Led Zeppelin music. At short notice I invited along Andy Adams – Andy co organised the 1992 LZ London convention and was a massive collector on the scene back then –  I had not seen him for 11 years so it was great to catch up. Plenty of other TBL people made it including Eddie Edwards (of Simply Led/Garden Tapes fame) Richard Grubb from Wales, Mick Bulow, Ian Avey, Krys Jantzen, Mark Winslade,  James Cook (of LedZepNews) and Andy Elliot. The pics here – with Mick Bulow, Andy Adams and Eddie Edwards  – and with Nicky Horne ,Phil and Dec.

andy a

hmv team 2

hmv team 1

Nicky took to the stage to deliver a passionate into – his affinity for it all shining through. The eight previews  (as aired at the previous playbacks), were duly aired though the PA – there were no visuals on show and it was slightly surreal to see the bank of people in front of the stage getting right into the music but with an invisible band as it were on the stage…slightly bizarre!

Each performance went down a storm, with the biggest cheers ringing out for Whole Lotta Love and Since I’ve Been Laving You.

Afterwards we adjourned to a nearby pub where tales of the old Camden and Victoria record fairs were recalled, alongside talk of favourite bootlegs, gigs and the usual vinyl Zep obsessions.

Predictably such talk went long into the evening, and it was a 12.40 am train back to Bedford. On the train,  I found myself in a carriage with a group of youngsters age 18 to 20 odd –I got chatting with them, they told me they had been to see the Artic Monkeys gig at Finsbury Park – on asking what my favourite music was I duly produced the TBL flyer and they quite impressed with this particular old dinosaur.

We had some good natured banter and they told me about the band they were in, impressing their girlfriends with ambitions to be the next big thing.  Being amongst their youthful exuberance I couldn’t help but think that this is how we were 39 years ago travelling back from Earls Court – cheeky, and with a zest for all that lay ahead…it was a quite a poignant end to what has been a remarkable week – quite weather such a fuss will be made over the Artic Monkeys in 39 years, well only time will tell..

As for Led Zeppelin , as I have so vividly witnessed this past week, their unique magnetism pulls ever stronger….this really is yet another massively significant  period in their long history  and over the next few days that fact will be in evidence throughout the globe. Then as at Earls Court way back when, they still hold the magic…

DL

Talking of which…

Meanwhile…back in 1975…It’s that time again …..and here’s part 2 of the TBL Earls Court Archive special…

TBL CELEBRATES LED ZEP AT EARLS COURT 39 YEARS GONE:

FRIDAY MAY 23rd 1975

TICKET: GALLARY BLOCK 98 ROW F SEAT 6

Ticket Price £1.00

So imagine waking up on a Friday morning with the prospect of over nine hours of live Led Zeppelin in store over the next three days.

Talk about the weekend starts here!

But that was the treat in store as we went to catch the train on Friday May 23rd for EC gig 3. Earlier I’d had a passport photo taken in a booth in town suitably dressed in Earls Court T shirt – I was due to fly out with my friends to sunny Loret De Mar in a week’s time.

The days in between the first two gigs had been pretty non stop. Tuesday at short notice, Fiona, Phil H and myself  went to see Swan Song artists The Pretty Things support Status Quo in Ipswich with the Atlantic rep who called on the WH Smith record department I worked in. Next day he brought in to the shop 30 copies of the limited edition UK Trampled Underfoot single – yet another bonus!. Thursday was spent soaking up the music press with the arrival of the NME and Melody Maker front covers (those cover pics were just awesome!) – The excitement just didn’t stop.

After the frantic pace of attending the two first gigs, Friday seemed a much more relaxed affair and I took much more in. The weather was good too and beforehand  Fiona and I drank a bottle of wine in Hyde Park. Then it was to SW8. The view this time was the opposite side to last week and we scrambled down a few tiers taking some empty seats. A full on if slightly distant but clear view on Jonesy’s side. From the moment Plant gave out an excited Immigrant Song ”Aha ah” squeal as Bonzo and Jimmy did the usual warm up, well it was so evident they were up for it. Fashion note: For this night only Robert wore the cherry wrap around shirt he’d favoured on most of the ’75 American tour.

”Last week we did a couple of warm up dates for these three nights. We believe that these were the first three gigs sold out, so these must be the ones with the most energy stored up because you’ve been waiting”. That opening Plant speech was met with tremendous applause.

Highlights: Another truly scintillating Page solo in Over The Hills (one of the very best ever), Plant’s You Shook Me reference at the end of In My Time, the image of Page swathed in blue light up on the screen delicately picking out The Rain Song with such lyrical finesse, Tangerine yet again so moving, the intimacy of the acoustic set and a Dazed And Confused that reverted back to the San Francisco interlude.

This time we did miss the train (a trend that would continue) and we hung around Kings Cross finally getting back to Bedford at 4.30am. It was now Saturday May 24th and this one was going to be the big one. Second row seats beckoned. Who needed sleep with that prospect ahead…?

TURNING THE CLOCK BACK 39 YEARS

SATURDAY MAY 24 1975

TICKET BLOCK AA ROW B SEAT 8

Ticket Price £2.50

My friend Dec had queued up for these tickets for this one over night when they went on sale in March. Seven of us went from Bedford (Hi Dec,Tom and Phil!) We went shopping in Oxford Street where I brought a pair of hip mirror shades for the Lorret holiday to follow. Then it was over to Earls Court in the afternoon – one of our crew Gary Felts had made a top hat ala Slade’s Noddy Holder with Zep photos around it which got plenty of attention in the pub beforehand.

So into the arena – walking along the aisles and up to the front of the stage, well you can imagine the feeling. We were just so close to Bonzo’s drum kit-and the amp set up. It was so amazing. I was second row to the right of the stage – Jimmy was literally a few yards way. We posed for a photo in front of the stage before the show.

The photo shows the Bedford Crew in front of the Earls Court stage May 24th 1975 – DL with mirror shades and patchwork jeans, Dec with a slightly Bay City Rollerish  school scarve  Phil H with denim coat as advertised in NME and Gary Felts with custom made Zep top hat. Photo being taken by Tom Locke. We are having (one of ) the time (s) of our lives….

boys ec

So what can I say – being in such close proximity to one of the highest profile gigs Led Zeppelin ever performed, well it was beyond compare really.

Images ingrained on my brain for 38 years: Watching Jimmy slither across the stage as they hit Sick Again, Plant seemingly lost in a trance right in front of us as Page did the solo in Over The Hills, dry ice seeping above us over the front rows in No Quarter (should have bottled it –imagine that on eBay!), Jimmy holding the Gibson double neck aloft during the Song Remains intro, the stand up microphones being brought out for the four part harmony of Tangerine, being so close to them clustered together for the acoustic set (incidentally listen to the various soundboard bootlegs – just before Going To California Robert introduces the song saying ‘’This is a song about the would be hope for the ultimate…for the ultimate’’ – after which you can hear a distant yelled squeal just before somebody starts whistling – that’s my squeal folks!), Trampled Underfoot and the revolving lighting creating a real sense of speed, the normally reserved Dec next to me going crazy in a manner I’ve not seen since, Page’s violin bow and going ”Ahhh’! as the lasers spiraled above us. The last few moments of Stairway as the mirrorball created that swirling spinning effect and thinking I must have died and gone to heaven!

The encores with the neon sign lighting up…Plant strutting over to our side in Black Dog and looking straight at us and smiling.

It was just too much. We left in a dazed state -how could we not? – we had just seen Led Zeppelin at the ultimate vantage point. Nothing else mattered right then.

Certainly not rushing for the train. We predictably missed the last one back and slept on the station amongst several disgruntled Scotsman –sore at the 5-1 England defeat.

Finally it was back to Bedford at 8am. The party was drawing to an end, but there was a final memorable date with Earls Court remaining…and one that final EC experience really would cement for all time my addiction for this band.

ENGLAND 5 SCOTLAND 1

There were other events going on aside from Zep at Earls Court on that epic Saturday. In the afternoon England beat Scotland 5-1 at Wembley – a result that made for quite a few depleted and drunken Scots as we made our way to Earls Court. For the record England’s scorers were Beattie, Bell, Johnson and two from Gerry Francis. (Sorry Billy F!)

The England line up that afternoon read: Clemence,Whitworth,Beattie,Bell,Watson,Todd,Bell,Channon,Johnson,Francis,,Keegan,sub Thomas.

Can’t say Bonzo would have been too excited over this result. ”I think football’s a load of bollocks” was his no nonsense summary as they came back on for the encore.- a retort to the numerous soccer references Plant had made on stage during the gigs.

Some 24 years later history would repeat itself when I watched England triumph 2-0 over Scotland at Hampden in the Euro 2000 play offs before setting off to see Robert perform with the Priory at the Red Lion Birmingham. In stark contrast to Earls Court’s 17,000 ,there were just 300 were in the pub that night in November 1999.

TURNING THE CLOCK BACK 39 YEARS

 SUNDAY MAY 25 1975

TICKET FIRST TIER FRONT STALLS BLOCK 19 ROW DD SEAT 35

So the party was nearly over. Got up at 1pm and on the train at 5. Very busy around Earls Court – the unofficial programmes and posters were doing brisk business.

We had an excellent view for this last swan song – a straight face on view on the back tier front stalls. I remember vividly Alan Freeman’s introduction ”We are here today because you and I have great taste…”.

There was a sense amongst us all of this show being the last as Plant put it in his opening speech for ”A considerable time”. ”Still there are always the 1980’s” – what an ironic statement that was to prove.

The arrival of that soundboard tape of this performance few years ago revealed that the band were completely at ease that final night. Free from the pressure of the opening gigs, clearly looking forward to their summer break and respective tax exile travels and content in the knowledge that their public acclaim at home was at a new height, well they could just lay back and enjoy it.

That’s exactly what they did performing with a great sense of camaraderie. Given that freedom, this performance easily rivaled the previous night and often exceeded it. May 24th remains my personal Earls Court favourite but May 25th was perhaps the best group performance of the five nights.

Great moments on the final run in: Page’s free form solo on over The Hills – right out there as he closed his eyes and drifted off – thoughts maybe of life in the Agadir the next week…Another refrain of You Shook Me at the end of In My Time…the San Francisco insert back in for what would be the final full version of Dazed And Confused ever played. An emotional Stairway with Plant’s moving reference to his daughter Carmen ”A song to a little girl who sits there and who wonders what it’s all about”…and then the encores.

When it was apparent they were coming back again after Black Dog we rushed down to the side of the stage and had a great view of Heartbreaker and Communication Breakdown. The latter with its stop start reggae scat signing middle section was just utterly sensational.

I’ve just watched the DVD of that encore segment – for pure out and out Zeppelin in their own world and nothing else mattered vibe – it may be the best footage of them ever captured.

”And its goodnight from him….”

Anxious not to let this Earls Court experience end, we hung around the front of the stage. Going home was not an option. We had spent some considerable hours in this building over the past week and we did not want to let it go. And there was a vague notion just maybe… well surely it can’t possibly happen but maybe we could get a glimpse of our heroes…

Incredibly, as the arena emptied we were able to walk through the black curtain at the side of the stage –with no security guards around we were able to walk unchallenged through to the backstage area which comprised of various luxury caravans.

There sitting on a limo was Robert Plant – blue sparkled jacket, white scarf and draped in bracelets and rings looking for all the world like a Greek god. Being right in front of Robert at that moment was just incredible. An unforgettable moment. After getting over the sheer shock of seeing him and choking back the tears of disbelief and sheer wonderment at being next to the singer in the biggest band on the planet and my hero – I asked  when would they be playing in England again. ”There’s a lot of traveling to do first” was his reply. We walked across to the entrance where the aftershow party was taking place with Plant and his wife Maureen and Rusty from Showco .Robert sang a few lines from Kashmir as he scuttled through the entrance. We also saw Bonzo, Jonesy and Jimmy arrived along with Chris Squire from Yes ,Bob Harris and Jeff Beck.

 EC 2012 3

Above -Robert and Maureen at the Earls Court party not long after I had been in their company…

Knowing they would have to come out at some point we waited outside the party entrance. There was no way we were going anywhere until then!

About 3am I took a walk around the building and with no one around I was able to slip back into the arena –the entrance I took brought me direct onto the stage – yes incredibly I found myself on the Earls Court stage – now deserted except for some PA gear and Jonesy’s grand piano. It was an amazing feeling looking out from the actual focal point from where hours earlier Led Zeppelin had performed from. Standing where they had stood…

Eventually we saw them all leave the party at around 4am. Jimmy looking frail in white suit but keen to acknowledge the remaining fans – one of them asked how his finger was – ”oh fine now it’s so nice you all care”. Jonesy and Bonzo signed autographs and Robert looking rather out of it, was ushered through to the limos. That was our final view of Led Zeppelin at well after 4am on the morning of May 26th 1975.

…and coming down wasn’t easy!

Monday May 26th was thankfully a bank holiday and after arriving back home at 7.30am I then slept all day. The real cream on the whole week had been the fact I’d met them all and got their autographs – there was no plan of action to do that, it had just all slotted into place. Relaying it all to everyone back in Bedford was quite strange as it all appeared quite dream like. But it really did happen and I have the autographs to prove it!

Days later I was in the heat of Loret De Mar on a the Wallbanger lad’s holiday. My fellow Earls Court attendees Phil, Tom and Dec were with me and Phil brought along the tape he’d made of the May 24th show he recorded next to me at Earls Court on a primitive cassette portable. It rained once in Loret and we all piled into his room to hear the tape. A bizarre experience as Earls Court came alive again in foreign surroundings. Incidentally alongside reveling in the late night discos (one of them was called Moby Dick!), the highlight of the holiday was the batch of Zep Spanish pressing singles I uncovered in the local record shop- it just never stopped!

Once back home I began scribbling down some notes on my Earls Court experiences. -this would eventually form the basis of the Earls Court feature in the first issue of Tight But Loose. Inspired by the likes of Nick Kent and  Charles Shaar Murray, I started to formulate a feature I dubbed Earls Court Relived. As my mate Tom often says ‘’You know the rest’’

So that was the week that was – Led Zeppelin five times in the space of seven days. To say it has had a lasting effect on me is an absolute understatement. It really was the moment my life switched into colour.

There would be many memorable  episodes ahead, but perhaps nothing quite like with the sheer uncomplicated joy and optimism of that week in May 1975 all of 39 years ago.

For me and many others lucky enough to be there…they were, are and always will be the glory days of Led Zeppelin.

I was 18 years old…and I am considerably older than that now but the memories of that week 39 year ago shine ever brightly with each passing year…

Dazzlingly so…

Dave Lewis May 25th 2014

 

The greatest encores ever played….

and finally…

Until next time…

Have a great week

Keep listening, keep reading… Dave Lewis/Gary Foy – May 26th, 2014.

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