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PRESENCE/IN THROUGH THE OUT DOOR /CODA OLYMPIC STUDIOS PLAYBACK EVENT REPORT PLUS EXCLUSIVE TBL TRACK BY TRACK COMPLETE COMPANION DISCS PREVIEW

17 June 2015 5,383 views 17 Comments

june 16 playback 3

Presence/In Through The Out Door/Coda Olympic Studios Playback Event:

 Tuesday June 16, 2015

Olympic Studios – Barnes, London. 

Hosted by Jimmy Page

Yesterday I attended the Presence/In Through The Out Door/Coda Olympic Studios Playback Event hosted by Jimmy Page at Olympic Studios in Barnes London.

Ten tracks were previewed – superbly edited together by Jimmy.

They were played on the stunning sound system arranged by Olympic’s Chris Kimsey, against a backdrop of equally stunning photos and visuals brilliantly put together by Warner Music’s Jason Morais. Jimmy then conducted a very entertaining  Q and A session hosted by Warner Music consultant on the project Robin Hurley. 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.

Friends (Bombay Orchestra)

In The Evening (Rough Mix)

Desire (The Wanton Song – Rough Mix)

Sugar Mama (Mix)

This segued straight into…

Poor Tom (Instrumental Mix)

Pod (Reference Mix)

Fool In The Rain (Rough Mix)

Bonzo’s Montreux (Mix Construction In Progress)

Two Ones Are Won (Achilles Last Stand ( Reference Mix)

If It Keeps On Raining (When The Levee Breaks – Rough Mix)

Full review of these performances  follows below.

………………………..

june 16 palyback 2

In the Q and A section asked if he was sad about the fact the reissue programme had reached its conclusion Jimmy said he felt jubilant about it

“I have spent hundreds of hours listening to get the companion discs completed; it isn’t just a band putting out a re-release with bonus tracks. It is a passionate body of work, it is cool.”

On the subject of the Bombay Sessions:

“I could see a way where we could stop in Cairo and play and record with the orchestras there. We could also have recorded in India if we could play in Mumbai at the cricket ground there, and then continue on to Australia. It was a great idea – the only thing was there was no infrastructure to do this sort of thing. The Police did go to India 12 years later.’’

On Presence:

Responding to a question I asked about the origin of the working title of Achilles Last Stand he said: I can’t remember where that title Two Ones Are One came from. It was on the tape box. It was an intense time for us recording that – with wondering if Robert would walk again. You can here that intensity on Achilles Last Stand.’’

On Coda:

”I always knew I would add a lot of material to this. The original Coda was done at a difficult time –it felt like John was still around. This new version is a celebration of all our playing.”

Asked if there was anything left in the studio archive Jimmy summarised that that was about it –though he did hint at a possible future Record Store Day release noting ‘’Something might pop up on international Record Day or something like that. But it will be a long way off.”

On the subject of the possibility of more live Zep recordings being released:

“Looking at the whole bootleg scene and knowing how much live material had already come out, and pretty good stuff at that, dealing with the studio outtakes seemed to be a more satisfying project. I knew the chronology and the quality of what was going to turn up so I could really visualize it a lot easier than all the bootlegs that are out there. This is what needed to be done – the whole Led Zeppelin world in the studio needed to be dealt with properly and seriously.”

I also asked Jimmy if during the process of locating unreleased material if there was anything he had been looking for but had not been found.

‘’I knew Jennings Farm Blues had been stolen but most things were there because I had kept them in a good order and nearby – with the bootlegged material I made it my job to know what was out there and I wanted to be sure that at least 80% was going to be completely new and unheard.’’

Asked if he missed being in Led Zeppelin:

“I haven’t been missing it for the last three years because I’ve been involved from Celebration Day all the way through to this’’

On his plans ahead:

“I won’t take it easy,” he said. “I’ll be working on the guitar now, that’s the next thing to be obsessive about. It’s clear what I’m going to be doing next; I want to do something, which involves being seen to play the guitar. It goes without saying that I would like to be doing a guitar project – I mean, better doing that than a violin project! I’ll be working on a new musical project. I’d like to do something with a guitar, and be seen. The guitar is another thing to get obsessive about.”

A final thought on it all from Jimmy:

“There were hundreds of hours of listening to set all of this up. I’m really thrilled because what it means for Led Zeppelin fans is that there’s now twice as much information as there was before, and it’s of really good quality. So as far as I’m concerned, I’ve done my job.”

All in all this was a very memorable final playback session.

………………………..

And now….

In Through The Final Companion Audio Discs…

Led Zeppelin:  Presence, In Through The Out Door and Coda Companion Discs – TBL Exclusive Track by Track Preview

Here’s an exclusive TBL summary of the complete contents of the final Companion Audio Discs

I have listened to each track intensely and here are my thoughts on the contents, mix differences etc.

Presence:

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Two Ones Are Won (Achilles Last Stand ( Reference Mix) 10.28

The vocal track is more upfront and with less echo and sheen making for a different texture to the vocal. The stereo effect of the guitar overdubs has a slightly different resonance. Slightly alternate overdubs in the mix at 5 min 53. The ‘’I know the way, know the way, know the way’’ overdub has yet to be added.

On the ‘’Aha aha-a’’ Robert refrain, Jimmy plays right along with the vocal creating a call and response sparring effect. At 9 mins 12 there’s an extra Robert vocal croon and more echo effects – all leading to a more defined   jangling Page finale

Summary: The guitar army cometh – and the grandiose just got even more grandiose…

For Your Life (Reference Mix) 6.28

As the riff halts each time, there’s a pronounced echo effect. Altogether a  denser mix. At 3 mins 18 additional vocal nuances from Robert. Again the overdubs are more upfront. The solo is an alternate version – the final stinging one has yet to be added. This one bends and twists on to the canvas creeping up on the listener in the process.

Summary: Always on the edge…and essential in any mix..

10 Ribs & All/Carrot Pod Pod (Pod) (Reference Mix) 6.48

Opens with low key piano from John Paul Jones. Instantly reminded me of the JPJ piano concerto type solos applied to the live versions of No Quarter in 1975 notably at Earls Court. The plaintive piano arrangement also recalls to mind his playing on Ice Fishing At Night on The Thunderthief solo album.

Mournful, forlorn and reflective, it creates a beautiful atmosphere. Jimmy drifts in at 2mins 39 with some minor descending electric strumming, quite possibly courtesy of the Telecaster B bender. Behind all that there’s an acoustic guitar – all very autumnal and Ten Years Gone- ish. Then John Bonham enters at 3 mins 01 and like Jimmy says, it will make you smile – it might even make you cry. It all leads on to something of a crescendo in an All My Love outro tempo.

So Jonesy did take the piano out of the flight case for the Munich recordings – it’s emergence throws a new light on what had previously thought to be an  18 day frenzy of guitar, bass and drums arrangements.  There was indeed some subtly going on down at Musicland Studios and here it is. One for the theorists indeed – but one things for sure, with a suitable Plant lyric this has all the makings of a classic Zep romantic offering in the Ten Years Gone/In The Light vein.

Summary: An absolute revelation.

Royal Orleans (Reference Mix) 3.01

A‘3-4’ count in and hi-hat from Bonzo and we are off for a reference mix that features a very different vocal delivery to the officially released version.

Contrary to what I initially thought, this is NOT a John Paul Jones vocal but Robert Plant applying the lyrics in a harsh bluesy manner which reminded me of Dr John. The final gruff snarl at 2.52 of ‘Oh whiskers’’ brings to a close a very unorthodox Plant vocal performance.

Summary: Robert taking on the role of the New Orleans night tripper…

Hots On For Nowhere (Reference Mix) 4.47

Both the vocal and bass are much more upfront in the mix which makes for a grittier texture. There are no vocal overdubs on the outro section just Roberts ‘Oh- ho-ho’’ – right through to a full ending after Jimmy’s guitar part as Robert adds a final ‘’Aha oh- oh- ho’’ phrase.

Summary: Still swinging without the overdubs…

In Through The Out Door:

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In The Evening (Rough Mix) 6.54

Alternate effects on the drone intro which recalls the live Knebworth arrangement giving it a more Eastern in feel.  A much cleaner vocal track with less echo – this really adds a new majesty to the piece. The guitar is also mixed higher. On the slowed up refrain with Jimmy’s guitar effects, this mix allows you to clearly hear JPJ playing that beautiful flute like keybaord motiv that could be heard on the live versions. His bass playing is also exemplary. That whole sequence from 4 mins 25 through to 5.00 is another wonderful revelation. Moving into the finale the outro sounds very live and pure – all in all, this rough mix is a total joy.

Summary: The opening statement with added clarity and intent.…magnificent…

Southbound Piano (South Bound Saurez –  Rough Mix) 4.14

In this mix the piano is right to the fore and the solo from Jimmy is much more prominent. Overall this mix highlights how much is going on here with the vocal overdubs and stomping piano adding to the busy nature. Of proceedings. A once underrated track that will command deserved renewed attention now.

Summary: Rollicking fun to be had here…altogether now ‘’Shala lala lalla la la’’

Fool In The Rain (Rough Mix) 6.13

Not too many differences on this – the solo is slightly clearer and more up front in the mix and generally the guitar effects are more pronounced behind Robert’s vocal. Bonzo is brilliant throughout of course.

Summary: Always an off beat percussive feast…

Hot Dog (Rough Mix) 3.17

A much more punchier mix with the harmonised vocals sounding less harsh. Bonzo’s rimshots at the end of the chorus are more to the fore. Overall this zips along with renewed gusto – there are some minor extra parts to be heard on the solo. Jonesy’s final piano sign off motiv at the close is slightly cleaner in the mix. Expect to enjoy this a whole lot more than before.

Summary: Once maligned hoedown that works – contrary to public opinion…

The Epic (Carouselambra – Rough Mix) 10.48

On this mix the guitar is the lead instrument with the synth work further back in the mix. Bonzo is also more to the fore. The link into the slowed down sequence at 4 mins 10, has Jimmy’s guitar runs chiming away with increased clarity At 6.45 there’s a double track vocal effect on the ‘’I heard the word I couldn’t stay..another day’’ line. The vocals are slightly higher in the mix but not radically so. The fade out has differing nuances from JPJ’s GX1 synth have improved separation with the synth effects echoing away.

Summary: The epic just got a little more epic…

The Hook (All My Love – Rough Mix) 5.52

Not too much to report here – a cleaner vocal track is noticeably. However this is not the much bootlegged Monitor Mix and therefore does not have the extended fade out and full ending. This mix fades as the original version.

Summary: Shame the long ending was not retained…

Blot (I’m Gonna Crawl – Rough Mix) 5.31

Less sheen on the vocal here and the solo is more upfront – highlighting the sheer brilliance of something of an underrated performance which will now enjoy rightful acclaim. Jimmy’s solo is just exquisite.

Summary: Far from a blot on the landscape – this is another another performance worthy of re investigation…

Coda:

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Companion Disc 1:

We’re Gonna Groove”  (Alternate Mix) 2.40

Utterly awesome mix – the live drums and vocals from the Albert Hall ’70 now clearly applied. In between the Sol ’82 overdubs, the original live solo can be heard to greater effect. Additional Plant shout at 1 min 35. Bonzo’s drums sounding incredible throughout.

Summary: The definitive version – simple as….

If It Keeps On Raining (When The Levee Breaks – Rough Mix) 4.14

I was expecting perhaps one of the other bootleg mixes that have seeped out over the years. How wrong could I be. This is a simply sensational initial run through from November 1970 with a totally alternate laid back swampy feel, slightly faster in tempo to the original. Robert’s vocals have a sparse low register echoed scat singing element to them, adding to the almost soundcheck run through quality of the piece.

It certainly has a total groove of its own with pummelling bass line from JPJ, Bonzo’s drumming funky as hell with a distinctive snare drum sound – fades slightly and then reappears with Robert moaning a muted ‘’Going home’’ refrain. In fact, this fades far too early – you really want it to go on and on, such is the delightful jam like quality of it all. Phew!

Summary: One of the key finds of the entire reissue programme…

Bonzo’s Montreux (Mix Construction In  Progress) 4.59

The syn drums are clearer in another punchier mix. The hi –hat is very clear towards the finale. Less effects on the treated parts. A shout from Bonzo at the close.

Summary: The art of the drummer as master percussionist …always welcome

Baby Come On Home

As first released on Box Set 2 and the subsequent package of Coda in the Complete Studio Sessions box set.

Summary: Relaxed bluesy strut from the beginning of their time..

Sugar Mama (Mix) 2.50

Thrilling slice of embryonic Zep from October 3 1968. Plant’s excited yelp setting the pace. Plenty of echoes of The Yardirds here with the 1966 single Happenings Ten Years Time Ago a definite reference point. Slightly different to the version that surfaced in lo-fi quality on bootleg in the early 90s, this has an extra ‘Sugar Mama’ from Robert at 32 seconds.

Summary: Marvel at the innocence and first time energetic blast of the embryonic early Zep…

Poor Tom (Instrumental Mix) 2.17

Instrumental take that highlights John Bonham’s simply sensational New Orleans shuffle throughout. Bluesy acoustic overtones from Jimmy and the harmonica is in there at 1 min 38.

Summary: Another opportunity to attend a John Bonham masterclass…

Travelling Riverside Blues (BBC Session) 5.11

As first released on the first 1990 Remasters box set and the subsequent package of Coda in the Complete Studio Sessions box set plus the 1997 BBC Sessions set.

Summary: Always welcome bottleneck affected swooping delight…

Hey, Hey, What Can I Do 3.54

As first released on the 1972 New Age Of Atlantic LP plus first 1990 Remasters box set and the subsequent package of Coda in the Complete Studio Sessions box set.

Summary: Light and shady, warm and friendly – joyous from beginning to end…

Companion Disc 2

Four Hands (Four Sticks – Bombay Orchestra) 4.44

The legendary Bombay sessions finally available officially after years of bootleg appearances. Opens with a count in from an orchestra member. The stereo separation and precise quality is another revelation. Tabla drums and flute combine to add a suitably atmospheric quality to this unique instrumental version cut in early 1972.

Summary: A revelation and vivid example of their pioneering quest to push the musical envelope wherever it might take them.

Friends (Bombay Orchestra) 4.27

Again the stereo separation is evident – Robert’s vocals are crystal clear. The mystical vocal moaning’s mixed with the ethnic rhythms, makes for an eerie and compelling listening experience.

Summary: As above…

St. Tristan’s Sword (Rough Mix) 5.41

This three way instrumental work out from 1970 is built around a totally invigorating bass and drum pattern – the bass and drum syncopation between JPJ and Bonzo is just outstanding. Bonzo putting to good use his best New Orleans shuffle ala Poor Tom. Enter Jimmy for a Hendrix like feast not unlike his rampant playing on Jennings Farm Blues.  At 2 mins 18 it all breezes off in another direction with a clipped guitar effect as it chugs on with yet more scintillating Page runs in the Jennings Farm Blues tradition. There’s also a bridge part that would later to be employed on Over the Hills And Far Away.   Like the instrumental La La on the Zep II companion disc, it’s hard to assess where this piece was going.

Was it a warming up in the studio flexing of the musical muscle or a backing track being honed for the addition of Plant lyrics and vocals? It strikes me as being something of an initial pool of ideas – a Led Zep studio brain storm to see what they had and could build on. Whatever it was destined for, it’s a simply splendid example of them having a blow – and what a blow this is.

Summary: Marvel at the synergy of the players on yet another surprise…

Desire (The Wanton Song – Rough Mix) 4.09

Horse alternate vocals from Robert -overall different texture to the original with a less Leslie effects on guitar break. Playful and less rigid in structure –mainly guitar driven though the clavinet can be heard rumbling in there. Robert’s last vocal cry is slightly extended.  Different take to the bootlegged alternate take aired on the WPLJ radio station in 1975 with far superior vocal.

Summary: Dense work out of a Graffiti standard…

Bring It On Home (Rough Mix) 2.32

Straight into the riff part with Robert’s wailing harmonica – and then very much a live vocal with the singer freely expressing himself with complete  abandonment-  as he was doing nightly on stage in the US at the time. An excited ‘’Alright!’’ at 1 min.14. Bonzo tearing along with it all as the harmonica comes back in. Totally wild and chaotic with an electric ending. Superb snapshot of their on the road ad hoc studio recording methods.

Summary: Unleashed in the studio with all the intensity of their mid 1969 barnstorming live performances. Simply blistering…

Walter’s Walk (Rough Mix) 3.19

Brash instrumental take – the jittery riffing exercise that would later be applied to Hots On For Nowhere is very apparent. It’s a great moment when the riff bursts in at 2 mins 20.

Summary: It’s all about the riff…

Everybody Makes It Through (In The Light – Rough Mix) 8.33

Opens with the familiar drone of the original. What we have here is a mix that features the early ‘’Sunshine brings laughter’’ lyrics of the version of this on the Physical Graffiti companion disc matched to Jonesy’s drone links – the Elizabethan intro keyboard part having been replaced. At 1 min 42 Jonesy applies an additional keyboard motiv going into the chorus parts. No overdubs on the close.

Summary: Another work in progress snapshot of one of their finest creations…

…………………………………….

Conclusion:

So there it all is – the final Companion Audio Discs for the final three Led Zeppelin reissues. A whole feast of new listening that will take you back to the original albums with fresh perspective.

I’ll paraphrase what I said at the beginning of this reissue programme.  We all recall where we first heard these releases – and where we first purchased them. We have loved and cherished these albums for years and years. They really are like old very reliable friends. Re discovering them again in this new context, has inspired us all fall in love with them all over again. It realy has been like a renewal of our Zeppelin vows.

This music developed and presented by Led Zeppelin – be it the original albums or the companion discs – sounds as fresh and vital today as it did when it was recorded some four decades ago.

There’s something uniquely eternal about these recordings that in our minds at least, keeps us forever young.

So to complete the cycle – on July 31 Presence, In Through The Out Door and Coda are coming – get ready to strip away the years and party like it’s 1976, 1979 and 1982…

Dave Lewis  – June 17, 2015.

…………………….

Until next time…

Keep listening, keep reading…

Dave Lewis/Gary Foy –  June 17, 2015 

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17 Comments »

  • Ed Zeldenhuis said:

    I may be a bit late to the party here but thanks for your excellent and thorough review of these releases. I feel that the last two Zeppelin studio albums are underrated classics. There is a lot of relatively unexplored music here and your summary is spot on. Made me want to listen to it all again.

  • John Augustine said:

    Along withe Swan Song, Lost in space, and Fire, I really wished he included the alternate All of my love take with the great guitar solo included on ITTOD release or Coda.

  • Mike Wilkinson said:

    Regardless of what has or hasn’t been put out there by Jimmy, we’ve only got two more days to wait.
    Gonna be a good weekend I feel 😉

  • Roger Berlin said:

    Thank you for your all news, Dave.
    Roger Berlin

  • Stephen said:

    Hermit, I don’t think he hinted at releasing any live material, on any sort of scale:

    “Looking at the whole bootleg scene and knowing how much live material had already come out, and pretty good stuff at that, dealing with the studio outtakes seemed to be a more satisfying project. I knew the chronology and the quality of what was going to turn up so I could really visualize it a lot easier than all the bootlegs that are out there. This is what needed to be done – the whole Led Zeppelin world in the studio needed to be dealt with properly and seriously.”

    A typical Jimmy non answer.

  • The Old Hermit said:

    Stephen,

    Jimmy didn’t specifically rule out any future live releases, just not any on the scale of the remasters releases (in other words, no multiple live releases like some bands, who continue to release vintage live performances), it doesn’t mean, for example, that an Earl’s Court live album sometime in future can’t or won’t happen.

    With regards 1972 or 1973 live releases, you already have both; ‘How The West Was Won’ recorded in June 1972, and ‘The Song Remains The Same’ recorded in July 1973…

  • Larry said:

    You outdid yourself on this one, Dave. GREAT entry. From the words eye view of the event with Jimmy, to the outstanding and detailed commentary on the companion audio, this was a terrific and exciting read! Thanks as always!

    I really hope we’ll see Jimmy back in action with the guitars one of these days. He would make a lot of fans pretty happy with that…

    Is it July 31 yet? 😉

  • John said:

    I wish someone at this event had asked Page why “Swan Song” from the Physical Graffiti sessions wasn’t included on Coda. I realize it’s bootlegged, and that the emphasis for Jimmy was putting out stuff that nobody has heard before, but this song is legendary, and there has been some previously bootlegged material on these reissues.

    The same goes for the “Physical Graffiti” sessions track “Take Me Home” (which is killer), and “Fire” from the ITTOD sessions. I realize that these two tracks were just rehearsal takes that were never “properly” recorded, but again, rehearsal takes have been included on these reissues.

  • Wools said:

    Dave,
    Well done mate. Your description of the event made me feel that I was there! I always go to you for all things Zep, I cannot thank you enough!

    Wools
    Las Vegas, Nevada

  • Mahatma said:

    Thank you so much, Dave, for the insights! Simply amazing. Can’t wait to listen to it all!

  • Stephen said:

    My heart sank a wee bit when I read about his lack of enthusiasm for more live releases. I think what every fan has craved is a live album for every year they toured. The best live performances from 72 on one disc, then 73, then 75, etc. That would be a fitting live companion to the work he has done on the studio material. Then the legacy would be complete.

  • Ed-Washington DC said:

    Renewing our Zeppelin vows, old reliable friends, keeping us young…

    Very apt and inspired writing and worthy of its topic, Dave.

  • Graham Rodger said:

    Heard some of these tracks this afternoon on the Radcliffe and Maconie show… Four Hands sounded fantastic.

  • Mark Williams said:

    Well done Jimmy on being the ‘ Mightier Re-arranger ‘ (!) on these superb re-issues but for sure now is the time to put the past to rest and move forward with new music. We all wait in anticipation – hopefully won’t be too long now.

  • The Old Hermit said:

    It’s a pity no-one asked Jimmy why the live rendition of ‘White Summer/Black Mountain Side’ included on the 1993 expanded ‘Coda’ has been omitted from the new remastered release…

  • Dave Lewis (author) said:

    Thanks Jez!

  • Jez Firth said:

    Dave the amount of effort you continue to pour into your Zep output is truly breathtaking. Thanks mate

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