Email This Post Email This Post
Home » Dave Lewis Diary, Featured, TBL News

PRELUDE TO EARLS COURT/EARLS COURT MAY 17 & 18 1975/HEATHROW 1977/PHIL MAY RIP/ROBERT PLANT ROY WILLIAMS TRIBUTE/ LITTLE RICHARD RIP/JPJ WEBSITE/LET IT BE AT 50/POPMASTER/DL DIARY BLOG UPDATE

14 May 2020 1,567 views 14 Comments

It’s that time of year again…

TBL Celebrates the 45th Anniversary of Led Zeppelin at Earls Court:

With the 44th anniversary of the first two Led Zeppelin appearances at Earls Court – to get you right in the zone here is a feature that first ran in TBL issue 15. It focuses on some of the key performances on the US tour of early 1975 that provided something of an indicator to the five glorious nights that would follow in May 1975…

PRELUDE TO EARLS COURT:

Led Zeppelin’s tenth American tour kicked off in Minnesota on January 18 1975 and initially their performances were hampered due to Plant’s bout of flu and Page’s injury to his finger. The situation began to improve when they reached New York some ten gigs into the tour. For the Feb 3 Madison Square Garden date Page felt sufficiently recovered to re instate Dazed And Confused to the set. Just over a week later, Plant’s relief at finally shrugging off his flu bug was evident in a very loose and informal Valentine’s Day performance at the Nassau Coliseum. As their newly released double set Physical Graffiti hit the stores they moved up another gear. March saw they really hit their stride with outstanding performances at Long Beach, Vancouver and Seattle -eventually culminating in a memorable three day stint at the LA Forum.

Throughout those February /March dates they began to further develop the set clearly displaying points of reference in their playing that would be further explored when they returned to London to play the Earls Court shows.

So having evaluated the ’75 tour tapes, I’ve highlighted the key moments from seven performances that in hindsight, clearly provided a prelude to those five glorious nights that would follow in May 1975…

Date: FEBRUARY 14, 1975:

Venue: NASSAU COLISEUM UNIONDALE NEW YORK

Performances: KASHMIR/TANGERINE (snippet)

Bootleg Reference: NASSAU ’75 (TDOLZ)

zep 75 31

”This is one that regulars that come here know quite well…but you’ve still yet to hear the recorded version…this is a track about another of life’s journeys that never end..this time in Kashmir”

Kashmir was a new number that they were obviously itching to play live and with Plant’s voice suitably recovered they turned in a majestic Valentines’ Day performance in Nassau. Page strumming down relentlessly on the Gibson behind Bonham’s castinet like drumming.

Plant showing renewed confidence to throw in the echoed vocal naunces that became such an Earls Court trademark. Listening to this delivery re -emphasis my opinion that the best live versions of Kashmir  were all played in the year it was released on record.

Tangerine was of course a surprise inclusion at the Earls Court shows performed as a four part harmony. However perhaps they were already toying with the idea of bringing it back during the American tour. For on this night prior to Stairway To Heaven Plant let out a few lines from the long deleted Zep III stage fave. ”Measuring a summers day”…adding ”I’ve forgotten the words”. It was a brief teaser for a song that would again light up those memorable May days.

Date: FEBRUARY 28 ,1975

Venue: LOUISANA STATE UNIVERSITY BATON ROUGE

Performance: NO QUARTER

Bootleg Reference: FREEZE (TARANTURA) LED ASTRAY (SILVER RARITIES)

The May 18 and 24 Earls Court versions of the JPJ opus are amongst the very best they performed. The highlight being JP’s lengthy piano concerto that led to the loose jamming amalgamation with Page and Bonham. During the ’75 US that arrangement underwent much construction as it expanded in length. On this night in Baton Rouge Jonesy began applying for the first time that pleasing neo classical solo before Jimmy waded in with a long rambling solo. The improvisation of No Quarter would further develop later in the tour when Page and Bonham introduced an uptempo jazz tempo to the piece. This Feb 28 delivery was an early example of how the track would evolve to such huge effect a little under two months hence in London.

Date: MARCH 12,1975

Venue: CIVIC ARENA LONG BEACH CALIFORNIA

Perfomance: THE SONG REMAINS THE SAME (false start)/THE SONG REMAINS THE SAME

Bootleg Reference: TRAMPLED UNDER JIMMY’S FOOT (SILVER RARITIES)

Just to illustrate that not all went according to plan every night…. on this cooking performance in Long Beach their sheer enthusiasm got the better of them as they opened The Song Remains The Same….. only to bring it to a close some one minute in.

”Just a minute that’s it ….see you again Long Beach! Yes it happened for the first time in six and a half years…does anybody remember laugher?…. the first time we came here ..er we never seem to  get things together in Los Angeles.

OK, as I was saying. Nevertheless The Song Remains …..nevertheless,ad infinitum to the power of three re occuring..The Same!’’

They did not get it wrong a second time.

What happened next was simply the business. A speed ride through the opening track of Houses and  as Plant might put it a reoccurring anthem. It sounded great here ,it sounded great in Earls Court and it still sounded great 20 years later when Page and Plant deployed it so effectively on their 95/96 world tour. This is a Zeppelin anthem that gets less acclaim than the more overplayed Whole Lotta Love, Stairway and Kashmir -but on stage it always burnt and smouldered its way into the set. Pull it out and try it for yourselves on any night…the effect as those Houses ads read is still shattering.

Date: MARCH 19, 1975

Venue: PACIFIC ARENA VANCOUVER

Performance: WOODSTOCK (insert)

Bootleg Reference: PLEEASE (SILVER RARITIES)

”By the end of the tour I felt I could sing anything”.

Proof of that statement came nightly within Dazed And Confused. The San Francisco excerpt had long been a feature of the early part of the piece, but on this tour they began experimenting even further. Plant introducing another hippie anthem to proceedings -the Joni Mitchell pean to Max Yasgur’s farm and a hit for Crosby Stills, Nash & Young. The Zep arrangement was still built loosely on the melody employed for San Francisco-Plant bending the words to fit the structure. Against Page’s eerie minor chord strumming it became one of the most atmospheric parts of their performance. Plant’s repeated ”Back to the garden” refrain merging into the violin bow episode amongst the dry ice. The Vancouver performance was a blueprint for the equally dramatic versions performed at Earls Court run. During this part of the tour Plant also took to singing The Eagles Take It Easy and during the final LA stint he crooned a 50’s like To Be Loving  before moving into Bob Marley’s I Shot The Sheriff. As he put it -he could sing anything…

Date: MARCH 21, 1975

Venue: SEATTLE CENTER COLISEUM

Performances:ROCK AND ROLL/SICK AGAIN/OVER THE HILLS AND FAR AWAY

Bootleg Reference:SEATTLE SUPERSONIC (GEMA) 207.19 & 214 (COBLA STANDARD)

This Seattle show was simply one of the best gigs of their latter era.

Proximity editor Hugh Jones was there and relayed the events in a superb feature titled ”At The top of their game” in issue Vol 6 no17.

If proof was needed then this opening segment brings it all alive – as it epitomises what a potent three pronged entrance these songs really were. Rock And Roll segueing into the new sheer brutality of Sick Again with Plant teasing ”Do I look the same”, and then the opening speech followed by the ”Beginning of a dream and it starts here (R.Plant -Earls Court May*17) or on this occasion .”What we intend to do is to relive our pent uppedness on stage, and then to relieve it later on after the gig elsewhere. Now the thing is what we intend to do is to give you a cross section of what we’ve been trying to produce and write over the last six and a half years.

As you know the material varies greatly and so you will appreciate that we take it from one extreme to the other….and what better way to start than to gaze out onto the horizon and see what tomorrow may bring”

To quote Hugh Jones ”in those last few sentences Robert Plant may well have encapsulated Led Zeppelin as well as anyone ever has. The physical, the musical, the pretension and the arrogance-all backed up with music as varied and as good as his word for the next four hours”.

So the the regal intro of  Over The Hills And Far Away -the Page solo as always flickering and twisting into previously un investigated territory. Then a swirling finale with Plant crying out ”Samantha Samantha” perhaps a reference to the fun they were about to enjoy offstage as he put it And on this night in Seattle it all just burst forth with that knowing arrogance .To use that old Zep’75 maxim it all underlined the fact that it wasn’t just a case of them being the number one band on the planet…the real point in question was just how far whoever was at number two lagged behind.

Date: MARCH 25 1975

Venue: THE FORUM INGLEWOOD LOS ANGELES

Performance: TRAMPLED UNDERFOOT

Bootleg Reference: THE SEX MACHINE (LEMON SONG)

The May 24 ’75 delivery of Trampled was an incredible Page tour de force and again one of the most potent performances of their latter era. All through the US tour though, they were stretching the limits of the improvisational possibilities of this piece rendering the album version almost redundant. On this penultimate night of the tour Page, Jones and Bonham locked horns to produce a frightening barrage of noise over which Plant ad-libbed in required style. ”Give it to me, give it to me”

Nobody described the live delivery of this track better than noted US scribe Lisa Robinson when she astutely observed that ”Trampled with its Come Together like rhythm sounds as if The Beatles battled the Stones in a parking lot – and Led Zeppelin won”

Date: MARCH 27 1975

Venue: THE FORUM INGLEWOOD LOS ANGELES

Peformances: IN MY TIME OF DYING/SINCE IV’E BEEN LOVING YOU/STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN/WHOLE LOTTA LOVE/BLACK DOG

Bootleg Reference: TOUR DE FORCE (RABBITT)

The final riot night of the US tour was a mass celebratory affair with the band fully aware that with this tour they had turned adversity into triumph. From the moment Linda Lovelace cutely introduced them onstage to Plant’s parting ”We’re coming back baby” comment, this was a true prelude to what the UK was about to be served.

They even gave a hint of Earls Court fashion by introducing his Miss Selfridge cut off shirt and Page wearing the Dragon suit trousers that would become such a visual imprint of May ’75.

Their confidence was subsequently overflowing as they attacked the new In My Time Of Dying, Plant throwing in a few lines of You Shook Me.

”Anybody remember?” he asks at the end as he would a month later in SW5.

The version of Since I’ve Been Loving You was a real bonus and something sadly that Earls Court did not receive.

”A change in the programme- we were gonna do…..but this is a blues and I think this is where we first came in”. An impromptu set revision that delighted the LA audience.

A rare latter day stand alone delivery (in 1972/73 it had been segued with Misty Mountain)) recalling the majesty of Blueberry Hill at this very venue five years back. Rarely played in ’75 they ached their way through the old Zep III standard -Page’s solo as precise and inventive as that night back in September ’70.

On the home straight it was nothing less than a victory stomp. Stairway played as was the case as Earls Court as though Plant believed every word, and the final incendiary Whole Lotta Love/Black Dog medley with the added visual spectacle of that neon lit sign. Images and sounds that London would soon delight in.

Acknowledging their enthusiasm,  Plant told the final LA audience ”It’s really nice to know that we’re giving you what you are giving us because after tonight I think we’ve got three gigs in England. I don’t believe well work again for quite a long time, so this has got to be good”.

That last night in  LA  was indeed good…very good ….and Earls Court would be even better.

Dave Lewis – first published in TBL issue 15


And then… Note below the NME’s May 17 issue centre spread below compiled by the late Roy Carr and the late legendary Howard Mylett. I thought I knew a bit about Led Zeppelin until I met dear Howard…

may 17

TBL Celebrates the 45th anniversary of Led Zeppelin at Earls Court:

Turning the clock back 45 years:  Saturday May 17th 1975:

Setlist: Rock And Roll/Sick Again/Over The Hills And Far Away/In My Time Of Dying/The Song Remains The Same/The Rain Song/Kashmir/No Quarter/Tangerine/Going To California/That’s The Way/Bron-Y-Aur Stomp/Trampled Underfoot/Moby Dick/Dazed And Confused (inc. Woodstock)/Stairway To Heaven/Whole Lotta Love – Black Dog.

May 17th a dull rainy Saturday. Left Bedford around 4pm on the train and met then girlfriend Fiona in London for the long awaited return. I’d been counting the days down since March and now here we were hours from seeing and believing. We were inside the arena from around 7pm and the next hour was a slow one – I’d brought a programme and t.shirt.The programme with the illuminating text from Tony Palmer really whetted the appetite and had some amazing photos.

Finally when the stage burst into action following Bob Harris’s intro just after 8pm, well it was the moment my life switched into colour after the previous 18 years had been viewed in grainy black and white.

We had a good view high up to the right looking down towards Jimmy’s side. They were a little nervous and it was evident Jimmy was having lead trouble in Rock And Roll, but once they settled in it was all and more I’d hoped for. The video screen high above the stage was something I’d never seen at a gig before and I found myself gazing in awe at the memorable images flashing on screen- and wishing it was being broadcast on TV.  I’d played Physical Graffiti non stop since it had come out so seeing In My Time, Kashmir and Trampled played live was just awe inspiring. Tangerine was an unexpected treat as was the whole acoustic interlude. Having no idea what the set list would be  only added to the pure wonderment of seeing Led Zeppelin live before my very eyes.

Initial opening night impressions:

John Bonham’s incredible drum sound, Robert’s warm rapport with the crowd and the way he totally dominated the stage.. After this somewhat shaky start they quickly regained confidence and the new numbers from Physical Graffiti, In My Time Of Dying and Kashmir set the standard. The latter’s Eastern-sounding riff rose into a thick, booming sound that reverberated throughout the entire arena. As the tapes of the shows so vividly reveal, that booming sound was very much an Earls Court characteristic, a sound so solid that when Page laid down a chord you could practically lean on it.

EC jr2

The marathon Dazed and the laser lights shooting through Jimmy’s violin bow. By the evening’s end the early nerves had all but evaporated, to be replaced by a relaxed atmosphere which found JPJ playfully offering a few bars of The Teddy Bear’s Picnic as Robert introduced ‘Stairway To Heaven. Plant was now regularly adding the line “That’s all we got” to the final verse prior to Page’s solo. Whole Lotta Love  featured a few riffs from The Crunge prior to Jimmy’s theremin battle. An unsurprisingly nervous start but with plenty to build on.

We got back to Bedford at 2am and I was already counting down the hours to when we would be back in their company again.  There were just 18 hours to tick off.

The Led Zeppelin Earls Court experience was underway…and boy life was good…

Dave Lewis – May 17, 2018

“Apart from The Who and The Stones I can’t think of many bands who could have put on anything like it. During moments like Trampled Underfoot it seemed the whole stage was just going to fall forward and crush everybody in the hall.” Charles Shaar Murray, New Musical Express.

may 18

TBL Celebrates the 45th anniversary of Led Zeppelin at Earls Court:

Turning the clock back 45 years..

Sunday May 18, 1975

Setlist: Rock And Roll/Sick Again/Over The Hills And Far Away/In My Time Of Dying/The Song Remains The Same/The Rain Song/Kashmir/No Quarter/Tangerine/Going To California/That’s The Way/Bron-Y-Aur Stomp/Trampled Underfoot/Moby Dick/Dazed And Confused (inc. Woodstock)/Stairway To Heaven/Whole Lotta Love – The Crunge – Black Dog.

In the morning I’d got the Sunday Observer with the colour suppelment magazine with that Tony Palmer feature in.

”Led Zeppelin bigger than The Beatles?” proclaimed the front cover. What a compliment…and a rightful accolade.

On the train at 5pm in the afternoon with fellow fan Nic and his girlfriend.

Hung outside Earls Court amongst the the programme sellers and poster stalls before the show -bought a bootleg badge which was as big as a dinner plate. Wore it with pride for years!

The second night saw them settled into the run. Over The Hills And Far Away developed into an early set template on each successive night. Loaded with rock steady authority, with Page at his most spontaneous, supplemented by  Bonham and Jones holding down the bottom line, and hinting at the rhythmic tempos they would develop for Candy Store Rock on the Presence album. Page’s double-neck guitar poses during The Song Remains The Same and would give the attendant photographers plenty of famous images while The Rain Song saw the guitarist draped in blue light, casting another memorable portrait, a solitary figure in the spotlight ringing out some sweet familiar notes. Add to that an intensive and incessant In My Time Of Dying (Plant’s ”I must have done somebody good” line resounded in my ears all the way home).

ec no quirter

The outstanding performance of May 18, though, was No Quarter as immortalised on the subsequent Red Devil vinyl bootleg. Never before had JPJ immersed himself in this showpiece with such subtlety and grace, the defining moment being the point where he came out of the classical sequence, at around 3mins 45, to play a cluster of descending notes that rippled from the grand piano and into the Earls Court air.

The acoustic section found Plant at his loquacious best, unfolding tales of the origins of Going To California (“So we went to Wales and when we got there we wrote songs about California”) and That’s The Way (“So we were sitting on a grassy bank looking across the unspoiled countryside”). Dazed And Confused was also developing its own unique Earls Court quality. Page’s delicate, melodic guitar passages leading into Woodstock remain an evocative reminder of the times that still brings on the chill every time I hear the tape 41 years on.

During Whole Lotta Love they kicked into the rhythm of The Crunge as they had done briefly the previous night but now further developed Plant’s echoed “I’m just trying to find the bridge” lines. A crunching Black Dog brought show number two to a close after some 195 minutes on stage.

We just managed to get the last train back and in for 2.30am. Two down and incredibly…three still to go!

Dave Lewis – May 14, 2020

“In six and a half years Led Zeppelin have grown to be the biggest band in the land and judging by the excellence of their performance at Earls Court, one of, if not THE most exiting live act in the world. I guess I came on the right night. It’s difficult to describe the magic or atmosphere of that Sunday. It was one of those gigs that will remain scarred on my brain forever.” Pete Makowski, Sounds.

More Earls Court Archive next week…


And then this happened…

TBL Archive : Heathrow Airport – 43 years Gone:

43 years ago on Tuesday May 17,1977 , I awoke with the day’s mission being to hook up with the members of Led Zeppelin – and incredibly that is exactly what happened.

As this story that appeared in TBL issue 18 explains, any plans to actually go out and see them perform live in America had been thwarted by a serious lack of funds. My then wages of £22 per week earned working on the record and tapes department at WH Smith in Bedford was never going to get me to Madison Square Garden.

As a mad keen fan of just 20 years old, I knew there had to be another way to see them. With invaluable help from Unity McClean at the Swan Song office, I hatched a plan to go to Heathrow Airport to wave them off as they began the second leg of the tour.

I got the idea from all those newsreel films of The Beatles being waved off from airports by loads of screaming girls. I did not envisage too many screaming girls being there but I did think it was a relatively feasible way of seeing them.

Unity very kindly supplied me with the timings and so it was on Tuesday May 17, I set off from Bedford to achieve my quest. I stopped off at the Swan Song office to catch up with Unity. I even got involved in running a few errands – not uncommon whenever I visited. I was dispatched to the local Kings Road newsagent to buy copies of the first day’s edition of the Evening Standard. This was to check that they had carried an apology for a mistaken identity story involving a false Robert Plant story they had run with the previous day.

Unity was well pleased to find it in there and immediately biked over a copy to Peter Grant. Back in the office Unity gave me various photos to get signed. I then took the tube to Hatton Cross and boarded a bus from there to get to the terminal. Back then there was no direct tube line into Heathrow.

I arrived at Heathrow just after 4pm. A Welsh fan Russ Rees and a couple of friends were there. Outside the main doors John Bonham was holding court by one of the limos chatting to Richard Cole. John Paul Jones arrived wearing a union jack cardigan – it was the Queen’s Silver Jubilee year and patriotism was well high. Unity later told me Jonesy had laughed when he had seen the pics I took as the jacket had fallen to pieces soon after.

Robert kept up the royal theme wearing a badge of the Queen. Robert arrived soon after looking every inch the rock god. The first photo shows me following him across the road -Robert carrying his own luggage –  he only had to ask and I’ve gladly helped him out !

The mood was very upbeat and friendly. I talked to Robert about how the tour was going and he relayed how much they were enjoying it. A roadie came in on the conversation and Robert mentioned how much he liked Maria Muldaur’s Midnight At The Oasis song.

Robert and JPJ were more than happy to sign my photos and pose for a pic. I’m carrying the photos I took along and look at those badges – dinner plate size! I’m wearing the jacket I regularly wore for work.  I look as proud as a peacock and that’s exactly how I felt. It was just incredible to be in their company – my idols right next to me!

Robert kept on joking about Jimmy’s whereabouts as he was running late. ”Where’s Patti Page ”? he kept repeating. Jimmy arrived in a Range Rover driven by his driver Rick Hobbs. He looked a little unsteady in a white suit but soon began joking and chatting with the others. I chatted to him for a couple of minutes.

I finally left them as their flight was called around 6pm. it was an absolutely thrilling experience and I made my way back to Bedford in something of a daze. I was due to play in a Wallbangers football match that night but arrived too late -not that it mattered too much as we won 11-0!

The next day I relayed these tales to my Mum and Dad and then girlfriend Fiona. In the morning I was back behind the counter selling records at WH Smith while Led Zeppelin took to the stage in Birmingham Alabama. There’s some amazing cine film of that gig and when I watch it I always marvel at the fact that I was one of the last people to talk to them in England before they left for yet another trail blazing tour of America.

Exactly two years to the day of the first Earls Court concert, I had experienced yet another incredible occasion in their company. Like all these occasions, it enhanced my enthusiasm to follow this group and it’s music with increasing passion love and devotion.

43 years on from that remarkable experience, that passion love and devotion remains ever strong….and that afternoon in Heathrow Airport is a memory that shines ever brightly…

DL – May 14 , 2020


Phil May RIP:

This very sad news has just come in…

So very sad to hear the passing of Phil May of The Pretty Things aged 75. Their 1960s singles Rosalyn and Don’t Bring Me Down were classics of the era.

My interest in The Pretty Things was heighted when they signed to Led Zeppelin’s Swan Song label in 1974. I saw them support Status Quo at the Ipswich Gaumont Theatre on May 20 1975 –in the week between the five Led Zeppelin Earls Court concerts.
As my very good friend Phil Harris and I both worked in record shops the Warner/Atlantic rep ( Swan Song Records was distributed by Atlantic) who called on our shops took us and Fiona De Boltz came too (Fiona was also with me at the five Zep concerts and Phil was next to me in the second row at the May 24 Zep Earls Court show )

Quo were of course great but my main attraction was to see a fellow Zep Swan Song act during a big week of Zep activity and The Pretty Things were amazing – they had branched out into a mellow and versatile outfit. I love both the Swan Song albums Silk Torpedo and Savage Eye and have all their Swan Singles. They played Is It Only Love that night – their then recent single which should have been a massive hit …it sounds very poignant tonight…RIP Phil

Dave Lewis May 15, 2020.


Robert Plant tribute to Roy Williams:

Very touching words….via Robert Plant on twitter…

”It is heartbreaking to lose Roy who has spent so much of his professional and personal life in my company from mid teens onwards. Most importantly he gave me support and encouragement as I attempted to get back into the game after the dreadful and sad passing of John B”.


Little Richard – RIP:

It was very sad to hear the passing of Little Richard aged 87. A true pointer of rock’n’roll and an influence on countless artists

Jimmy Page paid this tribute:

RIP Little Richard, a very sad loss. My thoughts are with his loved ones

It’s Little Richard’s songs that pioneered rock’n’roll. I got to hear him and his band at the Newport Lounge in Miami and boy were they good.

Led Zeppelin occasionally included their version of Long Tall Sally in their set notably at the Royal Albert Hall performance on January 9 1970 and at the Bath Festival in June of that year.

I asked Mike Tremaglio if he could detail when and where Zep covered songs by Little Richard live and here’s the info:

…- Jenny Jenny (1) –               – Montreux March 7, 1970

– Long Tall Sally (4) –             – Newport, Rhode Island, July 6, 1969

–   London, England, January 9, 1970

–   Copenhagen, Denmark, February 28, 1970

–   Bath Festival, Shepton Mallet, England, June 28, 1970

– Oakland, California, September 2, 1970

– Rip It Up (1) –                       – LA Forum, June 25, 1977

I’ve just been reading Chris Charlesworth’s brilliant Little Richard obituary on his always excellent Just Backdated blog – he notes that Noddy Holder was a big fan and that Slade’s first major UK hit in 1971 Get Down And Get With It was heavily included by Little Richard’s 1967 version. It reminded me that the esteemed local musicologist and fellow record collecting buddy Pete Burridge had first alerted me to Little Richard’s version titled Get Down With It when I was round at his wading through records a couple of years back …and what a great performance it is from the late great pioneer of rock’n’roll – RIP…


New John Paul Jones re launched website:

John Paul Jones has re-launched his website and excellent it is too…check it out at:

https://www.johnpauljones.com/?fbclid=IwAR1mQKM8OcDHwD9kJV0UJpn10ELxwezb2n7omMjX86D7TkTqbYEIuGeeYVE


Let It Be at 50:

The Beatles’ final studio album Let It Be celebrated its 50th anniversary on May 8 – here’s my thoughts on one of favourite albums and what it means to me…

Let It Be and me…

I’ve had something of a 50 year love affair with The Beatles’ Let It Be album.

It all began way back in April 1969 when The Beatles released a new single titled Get Back. As previously chronicled, this was the inspiration for me to  get right back into music after a brief infatuation with The Dave Clark Five when I was seven years old.

James Bond,Thunderbirds,The Daleks and football took over for a while but aged 12 I was ready to tune in once again

It was Get Back that really attracted me back to music. I had heard it on Tony Blackburn’s Radio One breakfast show and repeatedly on the juke box in our local café.

I recall an advert in the NME that proclaimed it as ‘’The Beatles as nature intended.’’ What also attracted me to the record was the distinctive green Apple label design – and the B side that displayed the core of an Apple. Having been drawn to that beautiful image I was forever asking older friends to put The Beatles’ B sides on the Juke box – this is how I came to be very familiar with Don’t Let Me Down, Old Brown Shoe and Come Together –the flip sides of Get Back, The Ballad of John And Yoko and Something, the trio of singles released by The Beatles in 1969.

In September of that year The Beatles issued their Abbey Road album. An older friend bought it and I listened at his house in wonder at it’s amazing contents – not least the medley on side two.

The NME had already flagged that The Beatles next album would be titled Get Back and comprise of recordings made in early 1969 to accompany a film of the same name. This was planned to be released in 1970.

During the early months of 1970 I eagerly scanned the news pages of the NME for more news. It transpired the album and film would now be titled Let It Be and in early March 1970 the Let It Be single was issued backed with the quirky You Know My Name (Look Up the Number). The single came in an eye catching picture sleeve. I of course loved the single and the accompanying film clip of it shown on Top of the Pops.

On April 10, the Daily Mirror broke the story that Paul had quit The Beatles. The acrimonious reasons behind the split dominated the pop headlines over the next12 months. The Beatles had out grown The Beatles and as Lennon would put it – the dream was over.

However, there was one more Beatles album release and it came on May 8, 1970. Let It Be was packaged in an outer cardboard box that contained a deluxe book and the actual record catalogue number PX1. It sold for a penny less than £3.

Far too much for my pocket money but the same older friend did buy it and we marveled at that package, the book and the album’s contests. Let It Be for me sounded like a great album -with it’s off mic comments and raw playing, tender moments, jams and quirky singalongs –the informality of it all touched a chord – this was The Beatles presented in a unique way as never before.

However, not everyone was enamored with this final chapter. The NME called it a cheap cardboard epitaph. To this day I disagree with such a notion.

On Thursday June 18, 1970 I went to the Granada cinema in Bedford to see the Let It Be film. We had the day off school as Britain was going to the polls to vote in a general election that saw Edward Heath gain a shock Conservative win over Labour’s Harold Wilson.

It was also Paul McCartney’s 28th birthday.

The film was a poignant farewell – the highlight being the final footage of them performing live on the on the rooftop. I loved the film for its illuminating inside look at The Beatles at work.

Over the next few years, The Beatles Let It Be era was never far off my radar.

When I started buying bootlegs in 1972, alongside the Zep titles, I eagerly invested in The Beatles Get Back Sessions and the curiously titled Renaissance Minstrels Vol 1 , Both these albums contained various outtakes and unreleased material from the Let It Be/Get Back period.

They provided key insight to this captivating last gasp. The likes of The Walk and Teddy Boy sounding like lost jewels.

Fast forward to Christmas 1975 –the BBC screened the entire film on Boxing Day and it looked fantastic.

During that first TV showing I even listed down for my own reference all the songs that appeared during the film – I still have that hand written note as can been seen here.

The BBC screened it again four years later on Boxing Day 1979. On that occasion  my very good friend Dec taped it all on his newly acquired video recorder. When I got my own video recorder rented in 1981, Dec made me a copy of the Let It Be film – I now had all that marvelous footage at the flick of a button.

The bootleg CD explosion in the early 90s led me to many more recordings of the Get Back/Let It Be period as title after title appeared – notably a complete version of the fabled January 30,1969 rooftop gig – and the Let It Be film on DVD. I also have a bootleg of the original Get Back album as first proposed by producer Glyn Johns – complete with the intended cover of that photo of them in early 1969 at EMI in Manchester Square -re creating the Please Please Me cover shot. The 1969 image was later used for The Beatles red and blue compilations issued in 1973 (I bought both of those on the release date).

Mark Lewishon’s astonishingly detailed The Beatles at Abbey Road and The Beatles Chronicle books offered up vital accurate information of the 1969 sessions. I was lucky enough to meet Mark and attend two launches of his books inside the hallowed walls of Abbey Road Studios itself. In 1983 I also attended EMI’s The Beatles at Abbey Road presentation inside studio number two where so much of the Beatle magic had been created.

Over the years, The Get Back saga has continued to fascinate me and I’ve invested in a fair few books and magazines about the subject. The official Beatles Anthology made available some of those unreleased recordings I had craved on those bootlegs. Paul McCartney then re-invented the album by releasing Let It Be Naked – a fresh pre Phil Spector mix of the stark original versions of the Get Back/Let It Be project. I avidly soaked up that one with it’s 20 minutes of bonus recordings.

In the October 2010 issue of Mojo, they covered the final Beatles era in a superb feature. This issue was made available with an accompanying and CD vinyl album -Let It Be Revisited. This was a re imagining of the original album by a variety of artists including Beth Horton, Wilko Johnson and Judy Collins. The vinyl run came in a limited edition of 1,000 and I eagerly snapped that one up – I am always a sucker for Beatles cover versions.

I of course have various pressings of the album – notably a French pressing and the US pressing with the gatefold sleeve.Until just recently one has remained elusive.

That is the original UK release in the box set package. Very good condition copies go for over £400. Due to the flimsy nature of the cardboard and book binding, most copies are somewhat flawed. There was a very good conditioned copy sold at the local Bedford Slide record shop a while back  for £200.

In January 2019 I had a big result.

Flawed or not, I could not pass up an original Let It Be box set I came across at a recent Victoria Record Fair. Though nowhere near mint it wasn’t too bad. The outer cardboard box is somewhat trashed but acceptable. The Get Back book is in surprisingly good condition with no loose pages and the record is very good. This was on offer for what I consider a bargain price of £30. I managed to knock the guy down slightly and secured it for a mere £25.

Now that’s bargain and in Beatles collecting terms, one of the very best I’ve had.

So, at long last I have the original package that all those years back I marvelled and have been obsessed with throughout my 51 years of music passion.

To own it  as The Beatles put it ”as nature intended” is an absolute thrill.

It inspires so many memories of those halcyon days of 1969/1970.

Those memories are ignited every time the needle touches down and John Lennon’s plaintive cry of ‘’I did a pygmy by Charles Hawtry and the deaf aids – phase one in which Doris gets her oats’’ signals the entry of The Beatles performing Two of Us – on our way home.

In acquiring that Let It Be box set it felt like it had finally come home – and it, and I have memories longer than the road that stretches out ahead…

Dave Lewis – May 14, 2020


John Parkin on Radio 2’s PopMaster:

Congratulation to my very good friend, TBL contributor, long time fellow record collecting buddy and all round top man John Parkin from Crowle near Scunthorpe who won Thursday’s Popmaster quiz on Ken Bruce’s Radio Two show this morning with a great score of 36 – thanks for the shout out for Janet and I mate! Here’s John and I are pictured a couple of years back discussing the usual…well done John!

 

 


DL Diary Blog Update:

More on Let It Be…

May 8, 2020…

On the player last Saturday The Beatles Let It Be – which was released 50 years ago today. Back then I could not afford the 59 shillings to buy the box set package this initially came in.

I’ve been looking for one for years and got lucky early last year at the Victoria Fair snapping this one up for a mere £25. Not mint condition by any means but very acceptable and the accompanying book is in fine condition – as mint copies go for upwards of £500 this is one of my best ever bargain buys… and I love everything about it

It inspires such great memories of being a mad keen Beatles fan aged 13
50 years on I’m still mad keen on them… and playing Let It Be this afternoon has brought back the carefree innocent days of 1970 with heart rendering clarity…

Here’s some other records I played on what I term Saturday is platterday …

Saturday is platterday – on the player here some early morning Elvis –the superb American Sound 1969 Record Store Day release which captures his fantastic Memphis sessions of that year that produced Suspicious Minds, In The Ghetto and Kentucky Rain etc ..he was right back on it…

Saturday is platterday – after watching the brilliant Definitely Dusty documentary on BBC 4 last night on the player this morning Everything’s Coming Up Dusty…what a singer…

Saturday is platterday – on the player the rather splendid Robert Plant album Dreamland from 2002 –full of great cover versions such as Dylan’s One More Cup of Coffee…
Saturday is platterday – on the player The Allman Brothers Band 6 LP box set Dreams and with the sun shining a winning combination.
I got this a couple of years back at the Bedford VIP record fair and what a beauty – some slight box damage but a bargain at £15

 

 

 

I came across this one doing some TBL research recently  – NME listings January 1979…under Special Notices:

I wonder if Bob Atkins ever did contact Iris?

I’m glad to say 250 people did contact me at 52 Dents Road Bedford to buy the first ever issue of Tight But Loose my newly founded Led Zeppelin fanzine all of 35p – a bargain…and all hand written by the editor – that’s me..
From small acorns..

Update here:

I had a terrible emotional meltdown here on Wednesday when depression took a firm hold of me…

I felt worse than I have in months -probably since that awful weekend of December 6/7/8. I completely lost it – on the floor crying for ages – it all got on top of me. All the issues I’ve been carrying around for years and the negativity  that goes with it, more recently the shock of Janet’s accident back in December and trying to cope with all that – not wanting to see anyone (when we could) – not being the person I so want to be – feeling useless and pathetic, constantly crying, not being able to enjoy anything properly, attempting to write and do my job but not getting far or motivated, trying so hard but never holding on to the positives for long, trying to update the TBL website and do Facebook posts but not always feeling like it or having my heart in it, feeling utterly selfish for feeling depressed when so many are worse off than me, feeling I’ve let everyone down. All that is then coupled with the fear and uncertainty of the coronavirus situation and all the worry that goes with that which I know we all share.

I often look at past photos of me and so want to be the man I see in those photos – a man who had a zest for life, family, friends, writing and being creative… it often feels like that man has gone and I just cannot find him…certainly not on Wednesday…

I know I am feeling sorry for myself and that is not good. Janet and Sam did their best here to get me back on track and are amazing and I did calm down and pick myself up as I have to…

I am not looking for sympathy as I know there are so many people worse off and we have much to be thankful for. Not least the support of many friends from far and wide. I did recover on Thursday and dearly hope I can avoid another lapse like that – but it’s not easy. There are many good days but then I can slip back into the negative thoughts that bring me down again.

I also know it’s only me and my attitude that can help me and I’ll keep trying to be strong for Janet ,Sam and Adam. Five months on, Janet is making progress and as mentioned before is now using one crutch and we are hoping the healing process is continuing.

As is evident above and on my Facebook posts, I do try and immerse myself in the music of which of course I am lucky enough to be surrounded by. I do get much inspiration from sharing my musical thoughts and it’s a welcome diversion from all the negativity. Ahead, I aim to get some TBL product plans in place and I hope to have news of all that soon.

There are always inspirations, so on a much brighter note I’ll close on those…

Some Inspirations these past few days:

A much welcomed phone call and update from TBL contributor and all round top man Richard Grubb…

A chat with John Parkin after his victory on the Radio 2 PopMaster quiz…

Watching the brilliant Definitely Dusty documentary with the good lady Janet last Friday night…

Watching an interview with the incredible fundraiser for NHS Charities Together, Colonel Tom Moore – he has a book coming out in September titled with typical optimism Tomorrow is a Good Day. His dignity and humility is awe inspiring and in these emotional times moves me to tears….

Various correspondence with Mike Tremaglio -when it comes to the subject of researching any aspect of Led Zeppelin’s live legacy  – nobody does it better…

Record banter on the phone with my very good friend and fellow record collecting buddy Steve Livesley

A social distance chat with Bedford’s top musicologist, very good friend and fellow record collecting buddy Pete Burridge when I saw him down the Embankment on one of my bike rides.

Talking of which – last Saturday there was some much needed early morning exercise on the bike to clear my head and in a world of confusion and change, one thing remains ever constant –the sheer beauty of Bedford Embankment and the suspension bridge, made even more so with its ”Thank You NHS’’ sign.

It moved me very much being there and the words of that wonderful Ray Davies/Kinks song came to mind – ‘’Thank you for the days’’…. enjoy yours today…

 

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

Dave Lewis, May 14, 2020

Until next time, stay safe and stay well…

Website updates written and compiled by Dave Lewis

Follow TBL/DL on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/tightbutloose.loose

The TBL/DL Facebook page has regular updates and photos – be sure to check it out

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)
Loading...

14 Comments »

  • Dave Lewis (author) said:

    Ed many thanks for that info

  • Ed said:

    Dave i keep forgetting to email you this info to pass along to all the zep readers so ill post it here myself if you dont mind

    for those of you who have xm satellite radio channel 27 (aka deep tracks) has gone 24/7 led zeppelin for the entire month of may

    i will pass along my opinion of it — would be nice if they had done a beatles style station in which they cover zep and the solo material (include the firm coverdale/page etc)

    with such a nice catalog to choose from they really play some songs WAY to much ( as it stands right now i dont want to hear babe im gonna leave you for about a year–lol) and some songs that you expect to get “overplayed” have not — there are some quotes that you hear from page/plant/jones that sound like they were made recently (maybe exclusively for this??)

    overall its great to finally have an all zep station as several other artists have them as well it just needs to be tweaked a little bit thats all on a scale of 1-10 i would give it a firm (no pun intended) 7+

    they do include some tracks from the companion discs of the re releases and some from the celebration day release as well

    hopefully this is just a test run and we will get a permanent station

    enjoy everyone and stay safe

  • Dave Lewis (author) said:

    Andy you have been such an inspiration to me over so many years -thank you for your very kind words – it’s your enthusiasm and zest for all things Zep that has driven me on many times Andy – you are a very cherished friend and such a cornerstone of the Zep community -your words mean such a lot to me…

  • Andy Adams said:

    Reading your heartfelt and incredibly honest words has filled me with so many emotions my dear friend. For the 32 (and counting!) years its been a privilege to know you and immensely proud to call you my friend, we’ve shared some amazing times. With the anniversary of ‘Celebration Days’ just around the corner I’m reminded of what an amazing achievement it was and it was only possible because of you, Dave. Your drive and utter devotion to the cause pushed me on and on and we did something timeless and memorable. Thank you.

    I have always aspired to do the best I can on paper, blogs and the rest and it’s always aiming at the benchmark, the pinnacle. And that’s you my friend. The Worldwide community that is TBL is as perfect a tribute to you as it is a vibrant and truly global connection. I’m immensely proud to be a part of this wonderful celebration and see from those tiny acorns you planted what mighty oaks stand proud around us.

    I know how tough things are my friend, but I’m with you always. Like this awful pandemic, there is a bright light and a way forward and through. You’ll get there Dave, I know it. Take care, and much love to you and Janet.

    And I hope, no expect for us to meet and wind on down the road together very soon my friend.

  • Dave Lewis (author) said:

    Karl many thanks for your kind words

  • Karl Lowa said:

    Dave I want you to know that your lifes work has been absolutely essential to any serious researcher or fan of one of the most powerful forces in 20th Century music. Your contribution to this body of work cannot be underestimated and for that I thank you.

  • Dave Lewis (author) said:

    Wools thanks so much

  • WOOLS said:

    Dave,
    I am so glad you are here. The many, many days that you have granted me in reading your words has brought me so much enjoyment! Dave Lewis you matter!

    Wools

  • Dave Lewis (author) said:

    Many thanks Julian for your very kind comments which mean a lot

  • Dave Lewis (author) said:

    Many thanks Dave

  • Julian Walker said:

    A wonderful entry and update to the always wonderful TBL. Essential reading on line and in print. As ever Dave the worldwide community of great Led Zeppelin fans thanks you immensely for everything that you do and give to us. And rest assured of all our constant support and loyalty, especially as you are going through such terrible times personally, and being incredibly brave and open about it all. Belive me when I say there is light at the end of the dark tunnel, and we are all willing you on to get there.

  • Dave Roberts said:

    Dave, thanks for the memories from 1975 and 1977. You bring the reader along on your journey. I particularly love the 1977 Heathrow story. Stay safe…,,,,, Dave

  • Dave Lewis (author) said:

    Ian many thanks for that very kind comment …

  • Ian in NZ said:

    Dave, from my fav film Its a Wonderful Life: “no man is a failure who has friends” – which makes you one of the most successful people around.

Leave your response!

Add your comment below, or trackback from your own site. You can also subscribe to these comments via RSS.

Be nice. Keep it clean. Stay on topic. No spam.

This is a Gravatar-enabled weblog. To get your own globally-recognized-avatar, please register at Gravatar.