PHYSICAL GRAFFITI OLYMPIC STUDIOS PLAYBACK EVENT REPORT PLUS EXCLUSIVE TBL TRACK BY TRACK COMPANION DISC PREVIEW
Physical Graffiti Playback Event:
Tuesday February 3rd, 2015:
Olympic Studios – Barnes, London
Hosted by Jimmy Page
Just back from this afternoon’s Physical Graffiti Listening Event Playback hosted by Jimmy Page at Olympic Studios in Barnes London – all seven tracks on the forthcoming Companion Disc were played on the stunning sound system against a backdrop of equally stunning Physical Graffiti artwork and 1975 era photos and visuals brilliantly put together by Warner Music’s Jason Morais. Jimmy then conducted a very entertaining Q and A. The event was attended by a variety of TV, radio and press representatives. John Davis, who did the mastering on the reissues with Jimmy was also in attendance.
So this is how I heard it…and yes there were several welling up moments for me as this music which has affected us all for so long came alive yet again….and no apologies whatsoever for the very enthusiastic tone here…this is the way it made me feel and it will you too……
Brandy & Coke (Trampled Under Foot – Initial Rough Mix) 5.39:
Opens with double track vocals out of both channels – generally less overdubs a very precise mix with the riffs more prominent. On the middle instrumental sequence, the riff part is on the left channel and clavinet on the right – all very defined. In fact, it’s fantastic to hear JPJ’s clavinet solo so clearly with no overdubs. There’s no guitar overdubs on the outro part. To me this has the feel of of a radio friendly single mix – and hearing Brandy & Coke aka Trampled Underfoot in this way makes Zep sound like the greatest singles band ever.
Summary: Imperious funk meets revved up riffing with refreshing clarity…
Sick Again (Early Version) 2.22:
A tremendous insight into the basic structure of the song as devised by Jimmy. No vocals – all instrumental and a totally different version to the released take. There are some overdubs and a sinewy wah wah guitar makes its presence felt. There’s a also a delightful ‘’wooshing’’ effect on the riff at 0.55. Overall this flexing of the riff foundation brings out the melodic tendencies of Page’s plangent riffing. The slightly flanged effects reminded me of The Beatles Lucy In the Sky With Diamonds. It fades with Jimmy interlocking with Bonzo’s loose and exemplary drumming and JPJ’s steadfast bass lines …you really want this to go on for another ten minutes it’s just so good.
Summary: Wonderful work in progress riff exercise for a sometimes underrated part of the Graffiti wall..not anymore..
In My Time Of Dying (Initial Rough Mix) 10.48:
A cleaner intro – the vocal coming in with added clarity to the version we know. Double tracked at times.
The delicacy of the bottleneck parts are more evident. Jonesy’s bass accentuated behind the bottleneck riff parts is also high in the mix.
As it moves into it’s stride, Robert’s vocal are striking clear and crisper providing a real live in the studio atmosphere. There’s less overdubs on Jimmy’s solo and at 5 mins 10 the density of just one single guitar deployment is raw and uplifting.
The ‘’Only wanna have some fun’’ line has more echo and then there’s less echo on the ‘’Oh my jesus’’ refrain while the ‘’Bye bye’’ ending is cleaner. I may add that throughout all this Bonzo sounds just phenomenal. It ends on that final chord but there’s no studio dialogue on the outro as featured on the version we know.
Summary: Mesmerisingly spacey mix of a towering performance…
Houses Of The Holy (Rough Mix With Overdubs) 3.51:
What we have here is a rough mix with overdubs and it’s a fascinating listen – the guitar riff is recorded with less compression giving it a much chunkier sound. Robert’s initial vocals have less echo and are pleasingly upfront and clear. Bonzo’s cowbell is much more pronounced in this mix. At 1.37 Robert’s vocal do come under the echo and they are further double tracked at 2.47. The backing vocal ”oooh oooh” is also higher in the mix and you can clearly hear a tambourine as additional percussion towards the close. Jimmy had yet to layer on his solo and it fades at 3.51.
Summary: Bright and breezy mix of one of their most commercial outings…
Everybody Makes It Through (In The Light Early Version/In Transit) 6.29:
The complete alternate version that was previously bootlegged on the Physical Graffiti outtakes that surfaced in 1997.
A totally different work in progress arrangement with John Paul Jones’ Elizabethan harpsichord keyboard sequence being later replaced by the drone links. Alternate lyrics with pleasing typical Plant couplets such as ‘’Sunshine brings laughter, rain clouds bring me down, I know forever after I need the light keep me brown, oh mama I get so lonely in the rain feels so blue. I want u remember I’m your one and only hey babe love you true’’. These lines are delivered in his best optimistically romantic style.
Very much a Headley Grange mix with live drumming. Some elements of this version were retained for the re make –notably Bonzo’s drum parts and Jimmy’s guitar melody.
It’s a totally invigorating moment when Plant comes in to sing the lines ‘’In the light, everybody needs the light’’
And then more alternate lyrics ‘’Oh girl stop your crying, oh woman dry your eyes oh tomorrow the sun will be shining you won’t remember all the tears yer cried. ‘Sweet mama I’m coming home”
Then into the refrain again ‘’With the light everybody needs the light, the light…’’
The closing moments from 5.42 to 6.29 with John Bonham’s relentless drum fills are some of the very best applied to any Led Zeppelin track.
Those that have heard it before already will know this is a phenomenal piece – those that haven’t… well the pleasure will be all yours -it’s just sensational.
Summary: An unabashed joy from start to finish – this pleasingly inventive initial arrangement adds new colour to the canvas of one of their finest achievements …
Boogie With Stu (Sunset Sound Mix) 3.39:
The mandolin is well to the fore in this mix – you can hear the precise plucking right from the off while the piano and vocals are both further back in the mix. On the outro, the mandolin is again well prominent and the barrelhouse piano from Ian Stewart brought up. Fades early with no laugh at the end as on the released version.
Summary: A barrelhouse of mandolin and piano led fun…
Driving Through Kashmir (Kashmir Rough Orchestra Mix) 8.41:
That intro is immediately grandiose -the vocal remains in the centre of the mix while in the riff parts and the strings are more prominent. From 4.06 to .25 it sounds altogether crisper and chunkier and all beautifully dramatic and the closing orchestral overdubs are clearer going into the fade.
Summary: Progressive rock in the true sense of the word and this mix is further confirmation of the fact that this composition remains the pride of Led Zeppelin…
Jimmy’s Q and A conducted with Warner consultant Robin Hurley, revolved around several Graffiti related topics raised by questions from the attendees. – he was also asked about playing again and humorously noted he needed to get match fit. Talking about how he and the late Keith Harwood had mixed the Physical Graffiti album in this very location he poignantly added
”It feels like coming home”
More on all this in the next TBL posting -for more pics from the event see the TBL Facebook pages. The Led Zeppelin Physical Graffiti reissue is released on February 23rd.
This is another round of fascinating sound pictures housed in a new frame and suffice to say it was an absolute privilege to hear it all in this setting.
40 years on…hearing is still believing – Led Zeppelin were, are and always will be the best…this insight into the creative process of Physical Graffiti is yet further proof …the message is clear – get ready to party like it’s 1975…
Dave Lewis, February 3rd 2015
Robert Plant and The Sensational Space Shifters – Two UK Forest Live summer dates announced:
Robert Plant and The Sensational Space Shifters will perform two special dates as part of Forest Live, the summer concert series promoted by the Forestry Commission. The concerts began in 2001 at four Forestry Commission venues. The festival is now looking forward to its 15th season, with Forest Live gigs take place at seven fantastic forest locations. The gigs are well known for their eclectic range of international artists, amazing atmosphere and their stunning locations. All profits from the festival go directly into looking after our forests.
Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters will appear at Forest Live on:
Friday 10 July – Westonbirt Arboretum, near Tetbury, Gloucestershire
Saturday 11 July – Cannock Chase Forest, near Rugeley, Staffsordshire
Tickets cost £48.50 (plus £4.85 booking fee) and go on sale from 9.00am on Friday 6 February from 03000 680400 or buy online at:
Details also at Robert’s official website:
Until next time…
Keep listening, keep reading…
Dave Lewis/Gary Foy – February 3rd 2015
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