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ROBERT PLANT DIGGING DEEP REVIEW/ LZ NEWS/TBL BACK ISSUES ON OFFER/TBL ARCHIVE: IT WAS 50 YEARS AGO – GOLDRUSH/1975 SNAPSHOT/MR JIMMY REVIEW/DL DIARY BLOG UPDATE

19 March 2020 1,326 views 6 Comments

Robert Plant – Digging Deep Singles Box Set

I’ve finally got around to assessing the contents of the recently released Robert Plant Digging Deep singles box set – so here’s my thoughts…

The Package:  

Sturdy singles size book format with front abstract cover artwork similar to that to the Shaken’n’Stirred album cover.

I am lucky enough to own a copy of the Digging Deep box set signed by Robert Plant.

Single size insert depicting the artwork for the I Believe single on the front with the contents credits listing. The eight singles are presented in either original single picture covers or  artwork relevent to the time period.

The actual singles are on generic black Es Paranza labels – with no centre. The custom Robert Plant labelled centre is suppled at the front of the box allowing each single to be made playable by inserting the centre or ‘spider’ as they are sometimes known.

It does occur to me that there is a lack of sleeve note annotation. It would have been good to see an insert with relevant sleeve notes providing an overview of the eight singles and there historical standing in his solo career – perhaps with Robert’s own words extacted from the various Digging Deep podcasts.

The Sound:

No complaints here whatsoever -fully remastered with clear stereo separation and resonance.

The Contents:

So to the contents…this is something of a greatest hits 1982 – 2005 spread over eight seven inch singles.

I’m proud to say as a long time Robert Plant fan I have purchased all of his solo work – albums and singles on the day of release. So, to have this package in my hands is a delight – across the 16 sides there are many a Plant memory that I can recall. So in reviewing each single in this package I’ve dug deep to remember what these songs meant to me at the time and how they sound today…

Vinyl 1:

Side A: Burning Down One Side

Side B: Like I’ve Never Been Gone

Like I said, as an ardent fan and long-time chronicler of his work, I’ve been with him on every step of this journey – right from the tentative beginnings of a solo career mapped out around the highways and byways of the north of England during The Honeydrippers’ ad hoc gigs in the Spring of 1981, of which I was lucky enough to attended five.

I was working as the record shop department manager at WH Smiths back in the early 80s and via the WEA (Warner,Elektra,Atlantic) rep who called on the shop I was well aware that Robert’s debut solo album was due out in the summer of 1982. In fact the singerr had told me as much when I had a meeting with him and Jimmy in the Swan Song office the previous March (another story or another day). It was the good lady Janet who I was working with back then that casually told be ‘’The WEA rep has left an album for you’. I had been off playing tennis that day and sure enough he had left an album for me…not just any album – a white label advance copy of Robert Plant’s new album Pictures At Eleven.

The thrill of placing a white label advance copy of Pictures At Eleven on my turn table on a balmy Friday evening in early June, 1982 remains a very memorable listening experience. It signaled there was life for this particular singer after Led Zep and we could all prepare ourselves for some very interesting and thrilling musical times ahead.

Burning Down One Side was a reassuring opening blast – he still had it in droves.

Like I’ve Never Been Gone was a typically emotional vocal performance highlighted by Robbie Blunt’s soaring solo. Both still sound great.

Vinyl 2:

Side A: Big Log

Side B: In The Mood

Both these cuts take me right back to the summer of 1983 – and courting days with the young good lady Janet.

By the way the good lady had a great passion for music (and laughter) that included Zep and that bought right into my world.We were soul mates form the off.

In the June Janet and I had a rendezvous with the Robert himself when we were invited to attend his filming for the TV programme The Tube. The then 18 Janet was well enthralled when we had an audience with just him prior to the recording –that was just the three of us in his dressing room. Amazing times.

As is well known, Robert decided that his performance that day was under par. However we did get to see him on TV via the appearance on June to plug Big Log – The thrill of us rushing home to watch Robert perform that night remains very vivid. After all the years of media shyness with Zep he was right in our living rooms –and on TV via the video made for both Big Log and In the Mood. The later an hypnotic groove that would become the impressive opening number on his debut solo tour. We were at the Newcastle, Oxford and the two London dates.

Vinyl 3:

Side A: Too Loud

Side B: Little By Little

Oh yes, two tracks from that rather difficult third album the offbeat Shaken ‘n’ Stirred released in May 1985. I remember playing Too Loud to my WH Smith fellow music enthusiasts (or anyone else who would listen) to illustrate that Robert Plant was embracing the contemporary styles of the day. Looking back, it was a bold move even if he confused his audience and band mates alike. Little By Little was in a more familiar cut and thrust style and another great live number.My vivid memory of this track is that the good lady and I were on holiday in Majorca in August 1986. We stumbled across a bar that had a video juke box and lo and behold it had Little By Little – this video had been rarely seen and it was new to me – needless to say that during our stay we visited that bar quite often!

We were second row for his September 8 Wembley Arena show – a hugely enjoyable performance incorporating a Honeydrippers segment. It was to be the final bow for the mark one Plant solo band.

Vinyl 4:

Side A: Ship of Fools

Side B: Tall Cool One

In 1987 Robert made the first of many a clean band sweep, bringing in Phil Johnstone, Doug Boyle, Chris Blackwell and co for Now And Zen, a refreshing blend of chorus-led songs that reconciled his past with the present in confident manner. At the same time, he hit the Zep legacy head on ensuring more bums on seats on the live circuit by inserting Zep numbers into his set.

I loved this period of his solo career. Many a great gig, not least the warm up show Janet and I attended at Leicester University on January 23 1988. That was the first time I was to witness him performing In The Evening and Trampled Underfoot since the Over Europe tour in 1980.

Ship of Fools remains one of his finest performances in or out of Led Zeppelin and Tall Cool One is another reminder of what a fantastic period it was to be a Robert Plant fan back then.

Vinyl 5:

Side A: Hurting Kind

Side B: Tie Dye on the Highway

Manic Nirvana released all of 30 years ago this week ( see my review here for the local paper The Beds Times) was of a very loud and proud record –and proof that he could still turn a retro trick or two. Witness both of these sides. Tie Dye On The Highway inspires memories of that memorable late June afternoon out in that field just outside of Stevenage when James Patrick Page joined him onstage. Earlier in the month, he had rocked Hammersmith Odeon. The first of two dates June 4, was the only time I’ve ever seen him upstaged. He could not top the events earlier in the day when our Samantha arrived in the world – and quite how I managed to fit both events in on that one memorable day I’ll never know!

 

 

Vinyl 6:

Side A: Calling To You

Side B: 29 Palms

Three years on, there was further reinvention with Fate Of Nations – aided by Francis Dunnery and the late Kevin Scott MacMichael, providing a melodic platform for Robert to present his most pure and organic album of his career – and my opinion still his best. Calling To You was a suitably stomping opening track with Nigel Kennedy’s shrill violin adding to the fun. 29 Palms was a classy affair and hit single. The two warm up dates he played in May at the tiny Kings Head pub are right up there in my most memorable Plant gigs.

Vinyl 7:

Side A: Song To The Siren

Side B: Morning Dew

Following the page & Plant era, he was back in solo career mode though, the song writing muse was, by his own admission, at something of a low. So he took the opportunity to revisit his pre Zep era with the Priory of Brion, working with old pal Kevyn Gammond before forming Strange Sensation with Justin Adams. It was around this time Robert began to develop a much deeper resonance to his voice, leading to the breathy style first deployed on the Skip Spence tribute, Little Hands. The Dreamland album was therefore an opportunity for him to present some of those songs he had – as he put it ‘kept in his back pocket’. Tim Buckley’s Song To The Siren and Bonnie Dobson’s Morning Due were perfect illustrations of his ability to stamp his identity on any given song. Another great live era too, the VHI Storytellers recording on June 6 2002 another standout live occasion we were lucky enough to attend.

Vinyl 8:

Side A: Shine It All Around

Side B: Tin Pan Valley

I remember receiving an advance cassette of the Mighty ReArranger album and being initially a bit mystified by it. It was an intense affair that took time to register but when it did, its pure invention won me over bigtime. Both these tracks became on stage Strange Sensation standouts. I have great memories of the Radio 2 Scala Theater show and Warwick University. Shine it all around he did –  ‘’Like this’’ as that Tin Pan Valley refrain advised.

So, to summarise:

Digging Deep is a luxury method of hearing some of the big hitters of his solo career from 1982 to 2005. Vinyl fans such as myself will find it a record collecting delight.

For all his idiosyncratic traits, being a Robert Plant fan remains a richly rewarding experience. He does everything an artist should do: he enchants, he intrigues, he frustrates, he confuses and above all…he digs deep to inspire…and this box set of singles is ample proof.

Dave Lewis – March 19,2020.

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Led Zeppelin News Update:

In conjunction with the Led Zep news site, each week I will be re- producing highlights from their weekly email update news summary. This goes out every Sunday. Sign up details are below. Many thanks to James Cook.

Led Zeppelin

Jimmy Page

Robert Plant

John Paul Jones

Upcoming events:

March – Jimmy Page’s new book, “Jimmy Page: The Anthology,” will be released and the standard edition of Jimmy Page’s Sundragon amps will be released.
March 19 – Robert Plant will perform as part of Saving Grace in Tenby.
May 8 – Robert Plant will perform as part of Saving Grace at the Cheltenham Jazz Festival and Mark Lanegan’s new album “Straight Songs Of Sorrow,” which features John Paul Jones, will be released.
May 12 – Robert Plant will perform as part of Saving Grace in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
May 13 – Robert Plant will perform as part of Saving Grace in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
May 15 – Robert Plant will perform as part of Saving Grace in Chicago, Illinois.
May 17 – Robert Plant will perform as part of Saving Grace in Charleston, West Virginia.
May 20 – Robert Plant will perform as part of Saving Grace in New York.
May 23 – Robert Plant will perform as part of Saving Grace in Washington DC.
June 14 – John Paul Jones will perform as part of Minibus Pimps at the Lost Music Festival in Italy.
June 19-21 – Robert Plant will perform as part of Saving Grace at the Black Deer festival in Kent.
July 8 – Robert Plant will perform as part of Saving Grace at the Mouth of the Tyne Festival in Whitley Bay.
July 10 – Robert Plant will perform as part of Saving Grace at the Platform Festival in Yorkshire.
July 14 – Robert Plant will perform as part of Saving Grace in Edinburgh.
July 15-18 – Robert Plant will perform as part of Saving Grace at the HebCelt festival in Stornoway.
July 19 – Robert Plant will perform as part of Saving Grace in Inverness.
July 21 – Robert Plant will perform as part of Saving Grace in Aberdeen.
July 23 – Robert Plant will perform as part of Saving Grace in Fort William.
July 24 – Robert Plant will perform as part of Saving Grace in Perth.
July 26 – Robert Plant will perform as part of Saving Grace in Glasgow.
September 25-26 – The next John Bonham celebration event will be held in Redditch.

Many thanks to James Cook.

The complete Led Zeppelin News email goes out every weekend. To receive it each week sign up here:http://tinyletter.com/LedZepNews

Led Zeppelin News Website: Check out the Led Zeppelin news website at

http://ledzepnews.com/

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TBL MARKET PLACE: TBL BACK ISSUES ON OFFER:

I have been having a bit of a sort out and come across a few copies of TBL back issues.

I am offering these for sale to the highest bidder

On offer here as a set of three are the long out of print issues 13, 14 and 15

Issue 13 from 1998

Issue 14 from 1999

Issue 15 from 2001

These are open to bids as a complete set of three – TBL 13, 14 and 15

e-mail your bid to:

davelewis.tbl1@ntlworld.com

All bidding closes on March 31,2020

I will notify the winning bid by email after the closing date.

Good luck!

DL

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TBL ARCHIVE – IT WAS 50 YEARS AGO…

MEANWHILE BACK IN 1970…

Now here’s a story….Goldrush and Stamford Bridge – and a young Led Zep fan in the crowd – 50 years gone:

50 years ago on March 21,1970 , Led Zeppelin flew out for the first date of their fifth US tour.

I was well aware of all this because I’d purchased a copy of Record Mirror the previous day when it came out. Under the front page headline of ‘Goldrush’ and a wonderful colour photo of Led Zeppelin from the previous December’s awards bash, it revealed the bands current plans. Interestingly enough it reported that a film crew would be on hand to capture the tour.

The story read as follow:

‘’Off to America on Saturday go Led Zeppelin. And with the group will be a film production unit which is making a film of the month long tour. The team has been trailing the group since their appearance at the Albert Hall in January. So far in the can are shots of their European tour, Jimmy Page in the studio, and Robert Plant at home on his farm. Not to mention the presentation of gold discs for million mark sales of their albums. The film, which has already been sold in America , is to tie in with the release of their next LP at the end of the year. Which could easily sell another million. And which is why some people are nicknaming it ‘’Goldrush’’. 

Film of their European tour? Jimmy in the studio?, Robert on the farm?

A film crew with them in America? There’s no evidence to suggest much of that occurred…but if  it did where’s the footage now…?

I digress: On that Saturday March 21st 1970, at the same time Zep were about to wow the audience at the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver, I was in a capacity crowd of 61,479 (their highest of that season ) at Stamford Bridge watching Chelsea triumph 2-1 over Manchester United.

It would have been nice of course to be down White Heart Lane where Martin Peters was making his debut for Spurs against Coventry (he scored in a 2-1 defeat). Peters had transferred to Spurs as part of a swap deal that took Jimmy Greaves to West Ham (who also scored two on his debut for West Ham that day at Manchester City–I’ve just watched it on you tube!). As it was, my very good friend Dave Corp in Dents Road was where I lived was (and still is as we are still in touch) a big Chelsea fan and I was more than happy to tag along with his relation to see some prime Division One action. It was incredibly exciting to see the 70s superstars of the day in action – Alan Hudson, Peter Osgood, Ian Hutchinson, George Best, Bobby Charlton,  Alex Stepney,  Denis Law,Willie Morgan etc.,

It was one of those occasions from an impressionable age that remains ingrained on my brain – not dissimilar to the way Zep memories of Empire Pool and Earls Court etc are lodged in there forever.

I can remember so much about that day in detail: the records played over the PA before the teams came on which included hits of the time Brotherhood Of Man’s United We Stand and Steam’s Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye, the atmosphere in the Chelsea paddock where we stood (a fantastic view right in the front side on to the goal) as Ian Hutchinson scored twice in the first half, the pie we had in a café after the game and the hitch hiker we picked up on the A1 going home. 50 years have done nothing to dull the memories of an awesome day for this then 13 year old.

I’ve just searched YouTube and amazingly the match is on the Chelsea TV channel – the original ITV Big Match coverage with the late great Brian Moore commenting and lo and behold imagine my delight and surprise when as the camera pans in for a Chelsea throw – I’m pretty certain I’m in view second on the left with my arm across the barrier as Ian Hutchinson takes one of his then famous long throws. This is in the exact spot where we were – the pic here is a bit blurry off YouTube but that’s me – a young Led Zep fan viewing the action.

Little did I realize that aside from the match programme, three years later I’d have another remnant of that day. This was in the form of the bootleg LP Mudslide that captured highlights of Zep’s Vancouver show of March 21st. In fact whenever I hear the opening drum roll from Bonzo,Jimmy’s guitar warm up  and Robert’s ‘’Everybody feel alright!’’ intro, I always think back to that spring Saturday in March 1970 when I was in amongst the then soccer elite in Stamford Bridge.

I of course kept the copy of Record Mirror from that week, and have the trade mark of quality vinyl bootleg of Mudslide. I also have the Chelsea v Man Utd programme.

Looking at those remnants I can almost smell the atmosphere of that day back in 1970. I can honestly say that Saturday March 21, 1970 was one of the pivotal days of my life. A day where my eyes were truly opened to the adult world .

Precious memories indeed…and now I can now add the YouTube clip to that list of memories – filmed proof that I was indeed right there…the crowd clip with me with my arm on the barrier is at 4mins.44 as Ian Hutchinson takes one of his long throws…

I’ve just spoken to Dave on the phone and we shared again those memories of 50 years ago today..

Here’s the YouTube clip link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TEx3B7Zvj34&fbclid=IwAR06sm-Hd1R6FeIOD0K1ANAO521HG_JwZLpKg61cXG_Tzo5jXg7V6GMagUY

Dave Lewis – March 19,2020.

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MEANWHILE BACK IN 1975…

TBL ARCHIVE: 

 TBL Led Zep 1975 Snapshots:

Prelude to Earls Court:
Olympic feb 7

This week of 45 years ago saw Led Zeppelin on a real high – and thankfully these performances in Seattle and Vancouver have been captured on tape across countless bootlegs…

These are amongst my favourite Zep performances and listening to them this week has been an absolute joy. This was the prelude to Earls Court and they were just on firing on all cylinders……

Just to backtrack to a memorable snapshot from the Long Beach gig:

Date: MARCH 12 1975

Venue: CIVIC ARENA LONG BEACH CALIFORNIA

Performance: 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 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.

MONDAY MARCH 17 1975

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON

SEATTLE CENTER COLISEUM

Set: 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/Trampled Underfoot/Moby Dick/Dazed And Confused (inc. Woodstock)/Stairway To Heaven/Whole Lotta Love – The Crunge – Black Dog.

Background details: A  superb performance with the band totally on top of their game.

Hugh Jones, editor of Proximity, recalls: “The start of the show was extremely aggressive, and it was evident almost immediately that they were ‘on’. Nothing sluggish about this performance. Robert’s voice sounded surprisingly low, but he was singing well, and the whole band sounded very tight’’.

Snapshot Listen: How it sounded today.

Another prime 1975 performance – playful, inspiring and unpredictable. No Quarter with John Bonham pushing Jimmy to the limit, riffs of Fleetwood Mac’s Green Manalishi in a marathion Dazed And Confused (38 minutes and counting!) – Robert zipping in James Brown’s Lickin Stick during Whole Lotta Love.

WEDNESDAY MARCH 19 1975

VANCOUVER, CANADA

PACIFIC COLISEUM

Set: 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/Trampled Underfoot/Moby Dick/Dazed And Confused (inc. Woodstock)/Stairway To Heaven/Whole Lotta Love – The Crunge – Black Dog.

Background details; “Ladies and gentlemen… the Canadian return of Led Zeppelin” booms from the speakers as the band take to the stage, firing on all cylinders. “And how is Vancouver. Is it full of beans?” asks Plant. ‘In My Time Of Dying’ is excellent tonight and Plant extends the ending with vocal gymnastics.  ‘Kashmir’ is dedicated to… “Richard Cole, our tour manager – a good upright British citizen! This a song from Physical Vancouver – the new LP.   An extended ‘No Quarter’ is once again one of the highlights. Bonham tonight is introduced as “the king of jazz – one of the finest percussionists in Led Zeppelin today.”

Snapshot Listen: How it sounded today: I remember Robert being quoted as saying ”By the end of the tour I felt I could sing anything”.

Listening to this utterly sensational performance of Dazed And Confused there is ample proof of that statement.

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…

THURSDAY MARCH 20 1975

VANCOUVER,CANADA

PACIFIC COLISEUM

Set: 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/Trampled Underfoot/Moby Dick/Dazed And Confused (inc. Woodstock)/Stairway To Heaven/Whole Lotta Love – Heartbreaker.

Snapshot Listen: How it sounded today.

Another outstanding performance. The pace was set by an aggresive stomp through ‘Rock And Roll’ and never lets up.

No Quarter is now reaching epic proportions, tonight extended to 26 minutes. Whole Lotta Love is highly improvised tonight and includes brief snatches of James Brown’s ‘Lickin’ Stick’, as well as a Plant war cry from ‘Immigrant Song’ and the riff from ‘Ozone Baby’. After a fierce Theremin battle with Plant, Page then leads straight into ‘Heartbreaker’. ‘Black Dog’ is not performed tonight.

FRIDAY MARCH 21 1975

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON

SEATTLE CENTER COLISEUM

Set: 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/Since I’ve Been Loving You/Trampled Underfoot/Moby Dick/Dazed And Confused (inc. For What It’s Worth – Woodstock)/Stairway To Heaven/Whole Lotta Love – The Crunge-Black Dog/Communication Breakdown – Heartbreaker.

Background details: It was back to Seattle for another steller show with much improvisation. ‘No Quarter’ is a highlight with Jones and Bonham randomly incorporating a jazzy rhythm during the solo improvisation. ‘Trampled Underfoot’ now includes some lyrics from ‘Gallows Pole’. ‘Dazed And Confused’ includes snatches of Buffalo Springfield’s ‘For What It’s Worth’ as well as ‘Woodstock’, and the longest encore section of the tour is performed tonight.

Hugh Jones of Proximity recalls: “Following ‘No Quarter’, Robert called for a change in the programme, causing a little confusion on stage. ‘There’s one song that we’ve done twice in, in… I suppose since we got ripped off for all that bread in New York, ages ago. And because we really dig playing here, and for no other reason, we’re gonna do it again now. I don’t think anybody else in the band knows about it yet, it’s a little bit of change in the… sorry about that, John! You see, right on the spot! It could be ‘Louie Louie’ but instead it’s a thing from the third album… ‘Since I’ve Been Loving You’.

“Following a brutal ‘Trampled Underfoot’ and Bonzo’s marathon ‘Moby Dick’, more confusion appears to be occurring onstage. Robert shouts for an ovation for Bonzo, then asks in a casual tone, ‘Is everybody, uh, enjoying themselves?’ Jimmy is talking urgently with a group of people just off stage, and at one point seems to lift his guitar in the air as if to throw it down, obviously perturbed about something. Unfazed and still in his conversational tone, Robert observes ‘Mr Page is having a fit’. Apparently, we found out later, a local fan made Jimmy a gift of a beautiful Les Paul guitar, which turned out to be stolen from a high school music teacher. During the evening the instrument was confiscated at Sea-Tac airport as it was being shipped back to the UK (or so the story goes), and for some reason Page was interrupted during the show to be informed of this.”

Snapshot listen: How it sounded today:

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

If proof was needed then the 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 .

There is also a truly remarkable sequence to be heard during the middle section of ‘Whole Lotta Love’ on the night of March 20, 1975, at a show in Vancouver.

In the space of three minutes just before Jimmy Page’s Theremin solo, Robert Plant initially leads them through a spontaneous version of James Brown’s ‘Licking Stick’, which incorporates their own funk rhythm from the ‘The Crunge’. He follows that with a random war cry from  ‘Immigrant Song’. And then with equal spontaneity the Jones, Bonham & Page rhythm section interlock for a riff sequence that would be recalled some three years later for the track ‘Ozone Baby’ which eventually saw the light of day on the Coda album.

It was this air of unpredictability within their performances, which made Led Zeppelin such an engrossing live act throughout their career.

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.

Dave Lewis  

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Still in 1975…

45 years ago on Saturday March 15, 1975  my very good friend Dec got up very early to travel to Earls Court to be in this queue for tickets to see Led Zeppelin – I was working so Dec did the job and a very good one he did too returning with second row tickets for the Saturday May 24 performance. Phil Harris and Tom Locke secured their tickets via Dec. the countdown was on – as was my quest to get tickets for the other four nights which I am pleased to say all worked out. Five Glorious Nights lay ahead…and I’m still revelling in them 45 years on…

 

 

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Review of the ‘Mr. Jimmy – Led Zeppelin Revival’ Hard Rock Cafe Pittsburgh PA show – March 6, 2020 by Ken Winovich

It may have been a cold and damp night outside at the Hard Rock Cafe at Station Square in Pittsburgh PA last friday night, but under the roof, it was smokin’ red hot inside when the Led Zeppelin tribute band ‘Mr. Jimmy’ took the stage at 8:05 PM. They delivered a sizzling 2.5 hour set hearkening back to Zep’s 1972 U. S. Tour to another sold out show on their Spring East coast tour and they didn’t disappoint. I’d seen Pittsburgh’s own Bled Zeppelin starting back in ’07 at RPM’s in Bridgeville, followed by another Zep tribute band ‘The Led Zeppelin Experience’ at the Ritz Theatre South Side and then the ‘Led Zeppelin II’ at the Altar Bar in the Strip District. But I saved the best for last. All Zep tribute bands have a heavy job to do. First, they have to get the Led Zeppelin music down and that in itself is no easy task. Then they have to try and emulate the original band members in look, image and likeness. Yet all Zep tribute bands are unique in their own right. Some add their own personal musical touch, embellishments and deliveries while others stick to just the hits or album formats. If you’ve seen Zepparella’s ‘When The Levee Breaks’ on Youtube, you’ll see what I mean (great video). Good bands. But very few can accomplish a carbon copy of a Zeppelin live set and take it all multiple steps even further. Mr. Jimmy did just that friday night. To capture the magic of a classic live Led Zeppelin show is no easy task. That’s because every tour, the band improvised at every live show. But the one band member who really improvised live was Jimmy Page. But die hard Zeppelin fans know and love all the various tours, setlists and costumes from each year of their 12-year career, laying exact equipment gear changes all aside. But at the root of every roadblock Zep tribute bands must face is the fiery flashy quick improvised guitar work of it’s original guitarist Jimmy Page and that’s where you can separate the men from the boys. On albums, Jimmy Page kept it simple (thanks to top 40 radio!) but live, he improvised. A ton. I don’t know how he does it, but Mr. Jimmy’s Akio Sakurai has to be pounding out between 250,000 to 500,000 guitar notes as he obliterates the entire fret board of his Gibson Les Paul and Doubleneck guitars. He’s the master at duplicating Page’s blazing licks. But he can’t possibly do that if his rhythm section falls apart. For starters, drummer Cody Tarbell anchored the quartet’s foundation with a heavy rock steady beat. Toss in bassist/keyboardist/mando player John Paul Joel and the recipe is almost finished. Vocalist August Young tops it all off and you’re finally there.
But just like Page buried himself tirelessly in Led Zeppelin with his production skills and creativity, Sakurai has buried himself in a heavy study of all things Page. His attention to detail is astonishing. You could say he’s the only Zep tribute band guitarist with a Jimmy Page Zep Tribute Band Phd. He’s the real deal. When you see him live with his tribute band and consider what all he does, it’s mind boggling. He dresses like Page to the letter. He plays like Page to the T. Yet while doing all that he somehow still manages time to strike the classic poses or toss in all the classic Page moves that fans loved while even in the most awkward positions. How his mind can handle all that plus in front of a live audience is absolutely mind boggling. All while cranking out the 250,000 to 500,000 red hot guitar notes! So what if my counts off +/- 25,000 notes! Who’s got the time? Go get a robot with plenty of random access memory, four arms with 10 fingers in each hand and count ’em yourself. All night I kept staring at Sakurai’s guitars, watching his fingers dazzle all over the fret board and he never misses a beat. I don’t care if there was a mistake. Every musician is entitled to a few. I couldn’t see any (the violin bow was another story) through the crowd in front of me. As long as there are no train wrecks and there weren’t, that’s just great. During his ‘Dazed And Confused’ bow solo, Sakurai’s bow strings snapped. Like a true professional, instead of caving in with all eyes watching, he kept smacking the guitar because he knew the bow rod could still get the strike sound and he calmly reached back to his drummer who handed him a spare fully stringed backup bow! Which he got because the tech man Joe was on the ball! Now that’s a professional(s)! All while not even missing a beat. The rest of the band were just as good. There were no instrument change delays during the acoustic set and the crew were on top of things. Drummer Cody Tarbell did the classic John Bonham arm/stick cross-overs during his 10-minute ‘Moby Dick’ drum solo and if it would have been 15 or 20 minutes in length, I wouldn’t have cared as it was so good. Singer August Young held his own on the opening tough number ‘Immigrant Song’ with it’s Viking war battle cry while also vocal scatting throughout the night along to the notes Sakurai played from his guitar. Young added a fine vocal touch to the outro of ‘Going To California’ while bassist/keyboardist/mandolinist John Paul Joel was so solid you could forget about any boomy bass ‘boo-boos’ or unfinished musical ‘trail-offs down another alley way’ while the rest of the band stood puzzled at the alley way’s entrance. No. Simply put, they were all in sync. Nice and tight.
The band may have been confused at times if the audience wasn’t clapping but it was because they were so spellbound by what they just saw, their mouths open, fallen to the floor ‘cept for the few guys up in the front row who wanted it all and that’s what they got! That’s what one and all came to see. A band gelling on all cylinders. I can’t wait to see the band many more times again doing all the different flavors from the various tours ’68-’80 of Zep’s 12-year career. Although ’73 is my personal favorite, they do a good bit of them and even Led Zeppelin’s own Jimmy Page said Zep were playing at their peak on that ’72 U S Tour. But with this particular tribute band, they’ve got the best Jimmy Page guitarist that even Hollywood can’t get (anyone recall the Plant from the ‘VINYL’ TV show?). These guys were so good friday night, they could have blown off the stage many of today’s rock bands and even could have held their own up against many of the dinosaur rock bands of the past. You can always tell when you’ve seen a great show by how long it takes you to ‘come back down’ from it. With drugs or booze not even in the equation at this all-ages show, perhaps there was a young kid up there – front row, who’s about to pick up his first instrument inspired by the band’s performance. All I know is I’ll be ‘Dazed And Confused’ for a few days and more. I looked at my friend after the last encore and said “Well?” She said “Worth every penny!” It was for the General Admission ticket price we paid. I needn’t have worried. The 3rd time’s always the charm (excluding the 1st Pittsburgh Zep Tribute band). Brilliant guys! Just absolutely brilliant!
‘Mr. Jimmy’ Alphabetically:
Bass/Keyboards/Mandolin-John Paul Joel
Guitars-Jimmy Sakurai
Drums-Cody Tarbell
Vocals-August Young
Mr Jimmy photos via John Bechtold -poster photo via Ken Winovitch.
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DL Diary Blog Update:

The escalation of the coronavirus crisis in recent days – coupled with the ongoing measures being announced by the UK Government, has changed all our lives dramatically – and will continue to do so.

I know all of us have our own personal fears and concerns.We are very worried about our Sam who is in in London and here Janet, Adam and I are doing what we can to stay safe and I sincerely hope you are too – wherever you are reading this from.

Our thoughts and prayers are with you all as we face the difficult weeks and months ahead.

Dave Lewis – March 19,2020 

Until next time, stay safe have a great weekend

Website updates written and compiled by Dave Lewis

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6 Comments »

  • Dave Lewis (author) said:

    Great memories there Paul and many thanks

  • paul aspey said:

    The digging deep box set brings back so many memories , I was lucky enough to be invited to a green room meet and greet on the Manic nirvana tour ,just to be in the same room as Robert looking splendid in a Jimmy page T shirt , also bumping into the road crew at a posh hotel we stayed at for the record company Christmas bash me thinking i will by them all a drink twelve vintage ports later i know why Robert keeps a close watch on his pennies . so many memories i still pinch myself to think i was a small part of it all
    Dave you are and always will be a Legend and a Great Friend

  • Dave Lewis (author) said:

    Many thanks Gary stay safe and healthy too..

  • Gary Davies said:

    Just checked that you tube vid of the Chelsea and Man U match, and that’s deffo a young Lewis whippersnapper at 4:44. You always seem to have the knack of being at the right place at the right time. Love to you, Janet, Sam and Adam……and also thoughts and best wishes to all in the wider Zep community in these scary times.

    Stay healthy and safe.

  • Dave Lewis (author) said:

    Thanks Wools as ever

  • WOOLS said:

    Dave, much thought and prayer to you, your and the entire TBL community! A wise sage once said;
    “I think passion and love and pain are all bearable, and they go to make love beautiful!”
    Be safe my friends….

    Wools

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