LED ZEPPELIN III 43 YEAR ANNIVERSARY TBL ARCHIVE PART ONE /NEWCASTLE MAYFAIR 45 YEARS GONE /JPJ FORMER HOUSE FOR SALE/DL DIARY UPDATE/JAMES LAST ROCKS
43 years ago this week the Led Zeppelin III album was issued in the US, to be followed by a UK release later in the month. To mark the occasion here’s the first of a two part TBL archive special focusing on what remains a pivotal part of the Led Zeppelin catalogue.
Led Zeppelin III was released in the US on October 5th. It entered the Billboard chart at number three and by the end of the month had toppled Santana’s Abraxas album to take the top spot. In the UK it was released issued on October 23rd -the distinctive circle wheel sleeve qualified it for Atlantic’s Deluxe series with an expensive price tag of £47 shillings and 6d . This did little to deter the record buying public of the day and it entered the UK chart at number one.
Unlike the previous year, Zeppelin did not support the album with any session appearances on BBC radio, however the album did garner some surprise pre release airplay from Alan Freeman. There had been talk of issuing Immigrant Song as a single and prior the album’s release Freeman played that track plus Out On The Tiles and Celebration Day on his weekly Radio One Sunday afternoon Pick Of The Pops programme – usually dedicated to the run down of the nation’s best selling singles.
Atlantic again made provisions for a UK single and Immigrant Song did make it onto a UK acetate but a full release was once again shelved.
In the US and many other territories Immigrant Song was released as a single coupled with a left over from the Led Zeppelin 3 sessions – a semi acoustic number titled Hey Hey What Can I Do. The track was later featured on the 1972 New Age of Atlantic sampler.
The press reaction to the album was decidedly mixed. Disc and Music Echoes headline of ‘’1,11,111- Zep weaken’’ was typical of the stance taken by many journalists who could not get their head around the fact that Zep had avoided the trap of recreating Zep 2. An indigent Robert Plant went on record in the following week’s Record Mirror and under the headline ‘’ . “Plant Slams Zep 3 Critics” he vehemently defended the album.
“You can just see the headlines, cant you?” Robert remarked. “Led Zeppelin go soft on their fans’ or some crap like that. The point is that when you begin a new album you don’t know how it’s going to come out. When we conceived those numbers at Bron Yr Aur we started to see what we wanted to do with this album. It was obvious it was going to work and it just grew from there’. Now we’ve done Led Zeppelin III the sky’s the limit. It shows we can change and .it means there are endless possibilities and directions for us to go in. We wont go stale and this proves it’’’
Mixed critical reaction or not, Led Zeppelin III was a very strong seller throughout the next six months but perhaps a combination of it’s eclectic content and the lack of a massive US hit single prevented it from repeating the sales longevity of their second album either in the UK or US. Not that it bothered the principal players too much. As a creative exercise the album had been a unanimous success.
‘There is another side to us’’ Page said soon after the album’s release. ‘’Everyone in the band is going through changes. There are changes in the playing and the lyrics. Robert is really getting involved in his lyric writing. This album was to get across more versatility and use combinations of instruments. I haven’t read any reviews yet but people have got to give the LP a reasonable hearing.’’
Page’s subsequent response to the criticism was simple. They needed to further expand their musical vision. ‘’The next one will be one long track with these combinations of instruments, mandolin, banjo and so on It would last about 25 minutes with instrumental sections. It’s still in the planning stages’’
He had long since harboured the opportunity to create a lengthy track that went from acoustic to electric and speeded up in the process. In November Page and Plant made another return to Bron Yr Aur. In December 1970 he began recording initial ideas at Island Studios for their fourth album. It didn’t quite last 25 minutes, but one song which began slowly with an air of tranquility and building to a crescendo was, at eight minutes one of their longest tracks to date. They would name it Stairway To Heaven.
It’s more than evident had they not undertaken the period of transition that mirrored the diverse contents of their third album, such achievements would not have been possible.
Whilst never attaining the sales success of Zep II or the critical acclaim of Zep IV, Led Zeppelin III remains perhaps their most important work. It was the album that proved that Led Zeppelin could encompass many different styles within their rock mode foundations.
Over the intervening 43 years its influence on them has constantly been felt.
In August 1994 when Page & Plant reunited for the MTV Unledded filming ,Friends, Since I’ve Been Loving You and That’s The Way were part of the set. In revisiting the Snowdonia area to record some of their MTV Unledded tracks in, Page & Plant repeated the sleeve credit that had adorned the Led Zeppelin III album for the accompanying No Quarter Unledded album. Before introducing a version at the MTV filming of That’s The Way Plant told the audience ‘’This was written on the side of a Welsh mountain in a cottage about half an hour before the young lady furiously taking pictures in front of me was conceived.’’ He was referring to Jimmy’s daughter Scarlet now a photographer and another precious remnant for that trip to Bron Yr Aur
Page & Plant They also performed Hey Hey What Can I Do on their subsequent 1995 US tour. In 1999 John Paul Jones sang a version of That’s The Way on his solo dates supporting King Crimson. Since I’ve Been Loving You was performed at the 02 reunion concert and Tangerine and Gallows Pole were staple parts of Robert Plant’s Band Of Joy tour.
Plant has also drawn a parallel between his eclectic Band of Joy album and the mood captured on Led Zeppelin III. ’’I think of the Led Zeppelin III era. ’There was a dynamic about the Zeppelin III period where we could go from reflective acoustic stuff to some heavy shit … “Hats Off To Harper, Gallows Pole … I’m not interested in doing late-middle-age cabaret. I want it heavy and spooky. There should be some mystery, big and deep, that makes people’s skin tingle.’’
The affinity for the third Led Zeppelin record is a lasting one. It’s a trip that has had a massive impact on both artists and listeners alike. It was the true turning point in their career and four decades on Led Zeppelin III can rightly take its place lines up as one of the pivotal albums of the era.
LED ZEPPELIN III: THE FAIRPORT CONNECTION
Led Zeppelin enjoyed a strong alliance with the folk/rock legends Fairport Convention. Both Robert Plant and Jimmy Page were admirers of their work and there’s little doubt that albums such as What We Did On Our Holidays and Liege and Lief were a huge influence on them both and in turn the Zep III album. Sandy Denny would go on to famously duet with Plant on Battle of Evermore on the led Zeppelin 4 album. Fairport were also the opening act for their penultimate UK appearance at Knebworth on August 4th 1979.
Fairport Bassist Dave Pegg who took over from Ashley Hutchins in 1969 hailed from the Black country area and had played with John Bonham in the band Way Of Life in the mid 60s.
Just prior to the release of Led Zeppelin III, a memorable jam between both bands took place. It occurred after the famous Zeppelin performance at the Los Angles Forum that was captured n the bootleg Live On Blueberry Hill
After making one of their most successful appearances at the Forum,the band moved on to an after gig meet with Fairport Convention. Fairport were recording a live album at the Troubadour Club and Robert, Jimmy, John Paul and Bonzo all agreed to jam during their second set. Fairport’s Dave Pegg remembers Page borrowing Simon Nicol’s Gibson L5 and having trouble with it as it had a wound third string. Nichol recalls: “Dave Mattack’s bass drum had been totally solid the whole night but I saw it jump forward three or four inches on Bonzo’s first strike!”
Mattacks recalls, “When John played my drums there was very little distinction between my three toms. And although he was playing very hard, which does make a difference; my drums were tuned way too low. The drums just sounded soggy. I remember getting off stage, hearing him play and thinking, ‘Oh, they don’t sound very good.’ He was beating the shit out of them; he played great but the drums didn’t sound too hot. I got back up and it was my lovely Super Classics-heads all dented!”
The set list of this historic jam included the traditional folk tune Banks Of The Sweet Primroses, plus covers of Hey Joe, Morning Dew, Mystery Train and That’s Alright Mama. John Wood and Joe Boyd were supervising the recording of the show on Wally Hieder’s mobile studio and the tapes were rolling throughout the jam. Pegg recalls: “It was obvious there was a sound recording truck and I was just waiting for Peter Grant to go and break my legs or something, but he never said a dicky bird!” The tape of the jam allegedly ended up in the hands of Peter Grant. Fairport’s set was later released as a live album in 1977 as Live At The L.A. Troubadour. The album was revamped and reissued in 1986 as House Full – Fairport Convention Live At The LA Troubadour 1970. Sadly, the Fairport/Zeppelin live jam tapes have never surfaced.
LED ZEPPELIN III: THE INFLUENCES:
In mining the songs for their third album, Led Zeppelin looked to a wide range of sources.
Folk guitarist Bert Jansch had long since been admired by Jimmy Page – ‘’Bert tied up the acoustic guitar in the same way Hendrix did the electric’’ he once commented. There’s little doubt that Page derived his Led Zep 1 Black Mountain Side acoustic showpiece from Janch’s arrangement of the traditional Irish Black Waterside from his 1966 LP Jack Irion. Page’s acoustic work on the likes of Bron -Y Aur- Stomp yielded the influence of Jansch and another folk guitarist Davy Graham. It was Graham who pioneered the altered tuning style DADGAD – a tuning Page would incorporate on his early Zep live show piece White Summer and later Kashmir.
Another English folkie Roy Harper was of course afforded an affectionate back handed compliment when they named the album’s closing track after him. Jimmy and Robert had seen him appear at the Bath Festival in 1970 and had long admired his unique singer songwriter talent. He would continue to loom large as a trusted confidante within the Zep camp. Both Page and John Paul Jones went on to contribute to Harper albums and perform on stage with him. Page played at his 1974 St Valentines Day gig and post Zep collaborated with Roy on the Whatever Happened To Jugular album. Back in 1970 ,when it came to a title for the bottleneck blues skit they had recorded for Led Zeppelin III they affectionately nodded in Roy’s direction and named him in the title.- Hats Off To (Roy) Harper. Plant’s vocals on this track were also influenced by delta blues guitarist Bukka White’s 1937 recording Shake ‘Em On Down. A source he would use again on the Physical Graffiti opening tack Custard Pie
The tradition blues tale Gallows Pole that opened side 2, was discovered by Page on an album titled 12 String Guitar released in 1962 by American acoustic performer Fred Gerlach. The track was originally recorded in 1939 by iconic blueman Leadbelly as Gallis Pole. Other recordings include a version by mid 60’s jazz and blues singe Odetta who recorded it under the title Gallows Tree. It can be found on her album At The Gate Of Horn. It was also covered under the title Hangman by an African American singer Dorris Henderson who performed on the UK folk circuit in the mid 60s. Henderson collaborated with another acclaimed folk guitarist John Renbourn and it appeared on the B side of her 1965 debut single, a cover of Paul Simon’s The Leaves That Are Green.
LED ZEPPELIN III: WHAT THE PAPERS SAID
‘’Led Zeppelin III is here after a year of eager expectation and it’s disappointing. Perhaps it’s because we have waited so long and expected too much. Perhaps we’ve associated the group with Led Zeppelin II –so that anything different is non- acceptable. Perhaps Led Zeppelin II was their unapproachable Sgt Pepper. Anyway Led Zeppelin III is different. It’s more acoustic and the overall effect lacks that funky exciting live feeling they captured before. Even with the Michael taken out of Roy Harper with Page on bottle neck (Hat’s off To (Roy) Harper),the album seems to lack sparkle. Don’t Zeppelin care anymore?’’ Reviewing Panel, Disc and Music Echo
‘’I listened to Led Zeppelin III and wondered weather I had the same record as Disc’s anonymous reviewer. It would have been very easy for Planty and co to whip out another LP of heavy repetitive riffy music. With Led Zeppelin II and bits of Led Zeppelin I , they were the innovators of a speedy manic music that has spawned a mass of lesser and endlessly tedious imitators – some of whom have been very successful with it. Led Zeppelin III could have been the same too and sadly many people would have preferred that. It’s safer if it’s familiar I suppose because no judgement is required of the listener. Led Zeppelin III seems to me to be the best Zeppelin LP by far. It required courage to do acoustic things and add strings’’
John Peel, Disc and Music Echo
There was a brief spate of almost exclusively electric Zeppelin on their second LP. This excellent return to the quality displayed on the first record happily brands their third as a satisfying masterpiece of original strategy. The award for re discovering melody and achieving perfection goes to the bearded bravados. Lon Goddard, Record Mirror
‘’One can only applaud them for side stepping what might be the obvious course, although it remains to be seen how far Zeppelin lovers will go along with what is a pretty drastic switch in direction. This is a subtle album, the grab you by the lemon Zeppelin having seemingly disappeared up the final feedback of Led Zeppelin II. From what may prove to be an important turning point in the groups career, I am left with several memories – high amongst them being the nuances that have crept into Robert Plant’s vocals, the delicate artistry of Jimmy Page’s acoustic work and the textural quality of the new style arrangements.’’ Roy Carr, New Musical Express
‘’ I keep nursing this love–hate attitude towards Led Zeppelin. Partly from genuine interest and most indefensible hopes in part from the conviction that nobody that crass could be all that bad. Their third album deviates little from the track laid by the fist two, even though they go acoustic on several numbers. In fact when I first heard the album my main impression was the constant anonymity of most of the songs – no one could mistake the band but no gimmicks stand out with any special outrageousness as did the great gleefully absurd orangutang Plant cum wheezing guitar freak out that made Whole Lotta Love such a pulp classic. Immigrant Song comes closest with it’s bull-dozer rhythms and Bobby Plant’s double tracked wordless vocal crooning echoing behind the main vocal like some cannibal chorus wailing in the infernal light of a savage fertility rite.’’ Lester Bangs, Rolling Stone
Written and compiled by Dave Lewis
Led Zeppelin III TBL Archive Part Two to follow…
Another milestone…45 years ago today this was happening
FRIDAY OCTOBER 4th, 1968
MAYFAIR BALLROOM, NEWCASTLE
Local newspaper The Evening Chronicle listed the gig as ‘‘The Yardbirds featuring Jimmy Paige (sic) at last back from their USA tour’’. Support acts were listed as Terry Reid’s Fantasia (replaced nearer the time by New York Public Library),Junco Partners and Downtown Faction. Reid of course had turned down the opportunity to join Jimmy Page’s new group.
It would appear this may have been an outstanding commitment gig owing from the Yardbirds early 1968 UK gigs. Via the Undergound Uprising Zep website, fan David Hope revealed the following information: ‘‘I was contacted by a person who claimed to have seen Zep in Newcastle in 1968. He told me he thought he was going to a Yardbirds show as that was how the gig was advertised. When the band took the stage no one knew who the singer was as he certainly did not look like Keith Relf. The singer informed the crowd The Yardbirds had split up and introduced the new group as Led Zeppelin and himself as Robert Plant. The music was shockingly different with .Dazed And Confused. the highlight and they played two encores’’
This is the earliest British appearance of the group in the Page, Plant, Jones, Bonham line up. The Mayfair itself was demolished in 2000 to make way for a multiplex cinema.
Text from the Concert File book by Dave Lewis & Simon Pallett.
David Morton, TBL subscriber and Remember When Editor of the local Newcastle newspaper The Newcastle Evening Chronicle has commemorated this milestone with an excellent double page spread in the paper this week– it includes input from John Woods, the drummer of support act the Junco Partners. He comments: “On the night we shared a dressing room back stage with them and they were a good bunch. “We all watched John Bonham on the drums and I just remember thinking what a killer drummer he was. He had so much power and feel. For a four-piece they were loud as hell which is what I like. I thought ‘these guys know what it’s all about’.
You can read the whole story at this link:
Former home of John Paul Jones up for sale:
Plenty of coverage for this one – the former home of John Paul Jones is up for sale for a cool £3 million. The Crowborough mansion in East Sussex can be seen in JPJ’s location shots in The Song Remains The Same movie.
Here’s the news story:
It is a Georgian mansion that was built by members of the British aristocracy and was lived in by rock royalty.
Now Warren House in Crowborough, East Sussex, is on the market for £2,950,000.
Surrounded by 11.6 acres of land, the house in the heart of the countryside has six bedrooms, a swimming pool, tennis courts and a separate flat to entertain guests.
After it was built in the 18th century by Countess Castle-Stewart, the Grade II listed property was home to Greek shipping family the Pateras and it was once used as a hotel.
Then it became a musician’s choice when John Paul Jones, the bass guitarist from Led Zeppelin, moved in.
It was also owned by Adam Faith, a British teen idol and film star from the 1960s, who passed away in 2003.
Estate agents Chesterton Humberts say it is ‘a magnificent home surrounded by glorious gardens with majestic views over the Ashdown Forest.’
Rock and metal scribe Neil Daniels has been in touch about his latest book -here’s the info:
Rock ‘N’ Roll Sinners is the third and final chapter in a trilogy of books featuring insightful and highly entertaining interviews with some of the world’s most successful and respected rock and metal scribes. Ever wondered what it takes to be a rock journalist? In this extensive collection of interviews, seasoned rock author Neil Daniels has interviewed over 40 rock and metal journalists from around the world.
With a foreword by the best-selling British author and journalist Joel McIver, Rock ‘N’ Roll Sinners – Volume III is a worthy historical document for the serious enthusiast and can be used as a handy reference guide for the aspiring rock and metal writer.
Volume II features brand new and exclusive interviews with Chris Charlesworth, Sylvie Simmons, Stevie Chick, Kris Needs, Bob Nalbandian, Julian Gill and Mark Yarm, amongst dozens of others.
Further details at
Dave Lewis Diary Update:
With the Knebworth book at the printers it’s been full on with TBL 36 text and initial design this week. There have also been one or two ventures out… myself , Tom Phil and wife Eileen and Ian Avey had an excellent day at the London Olympia record fair last Saturday. I got some very nice bits and pieces including James Gang Best Of, Ronnie Wood Give Me Some Neck (which Ian Avey reminded me was advertised in the Zep Knebworth programme) and Robert & Alison Raising Sand on double vinyl. I passed though on this Classic Records 180 gram pressing of Physical Graffiti at an asking price of £225 –ooerr!
Best finds of the day –I am avid collector of anything on the Swan Song label and I always check the Bad Company albums at fairs and usually they are on UK Island – a major find then when on different stalls, I first found a copy of Straight Shooter on Canadian Swan Song followed a few minutes later by the Bad Co album on US Swan Song – £3 each – result! I also spotted this very nice copy of In Through The Out Door on Atlantic issued in India – it was around $0 and I passed on that too though looking on ebay this commands a much higher fee…I’ll be on that one again sometime…
with Ian Avey and the rather expensive Zep Classic vinyl and a copy of the excellent Jimmy Page Session Man LP which was on sale for £100 -I got my copy in 1979 for I think £10.
A bit of TBL history also turned up at the fair – A copy of In Through The Out Door contained the flyer I produced for TBL 8 issue back in 1993 –Coverdale/Page / Fate Of Nations Boxed Set 2 era…can’t believe that’s all of 20 years ago …
The vintage 1993 TBL flyer I stumbled across inside a copy of In Through The Out Door at the fair – I remember writing that issue like it was yesterday…
After a day of TBL 36 text on Monday, it was great to spend a relaxing evening in the local Bedford Arms on a Monday night where Deep Purple keyboardist Don Airey performed a superb jazz set with assorted excellent local players.
Don lives nearby in Cambridgeshire and in between his more high profile roles, often jams locally. The highlight of the evening for me was a lovely stroll through Miles Davies’ Milestones. Don made it all look so effortless – absolute class …
Always a welcome site… the annual Bedford Beer & Cider Festival staged at the Bedford Corn Exchange is once again upon us .
I’ve been going since 1979…yes I am a bit of a larger drinker but I do have and have had much affinity for the traditional real ales over many years (I love pubs!)…after another day of TBL 36 text and design, I popped into the first afternoon/early evening of the Fest and a little Exmoor Gold went down very well…and I was there last night with my good friends the Harris brothers Phil & Max for a bit more of the dark stuff – the taste of which was slightly hampered by a bit of a head cold that I’ve developed. No matter – it was a great evening and that’s that box ticked for another year…
Incidentally, back in 1962, the venue of the Bedford Beer & Cider Festival played host to a certain Parlophone recording group who went on to do fairly well… the venue also welcomed Cream and The Who in 1966. There’s pop history amongst those hops….oh yes…
In the coming days there will be concentrated focus on TBL 36 text and design, so I need to shake this head cold off quickly – and tomorrow ( Saturday) the boy (man!) Adam and I are making a whirlwind early morning trip down to Eastbourne via Brighton on the train to attend an open day at the University of Brighton campus which Adam is planning to attend next year.
I was talking to my good friend and fellow purveyor of obscure vinyl Pete Burridge on Monday night at the Don Airey gig about obscure Zep cover versions and the fact there was in existence a version of Immigrant Song by German bandleader James Last –I mentioned this to Gary Foy the next morning and lo and behold he has unearthed it -– surely one of the great medleys of all time as Immigrant Song segues into Deep Purple’s Strange Kinda Woman…classic! The fun starts at 1 minute 09…the search is on now for this album oh yes!
Until next time…Keep listening, keep reading…
Have a great weekend
Dave Lewis/Gary Foy –October 4th, 2013.
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