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14 August 2018 3,250 views 10 Comments

Robert Plant on the occasion of his 70th birthday:

Robert Plant is 70 years old on Monday, August 20…

From his initial forays in the Midlands scene in the mid 60’s leading to his first record being released in 1966, through to his vital contribution to Led Zeppelin and on to an always compelling solo career, Robert Plant has occupied a unique position at the forefront of the music world for over five decades…

During the past 12 months he has taken the Carry Fire album on tour with the Sensational Space Shifters around the globe to universal acclaim. His desire to delight his audiences with that unique voice and on stage presence is as vibrant as ever.

Happy Birthday Robert from all of us to you…

To mark the occasion – here’s a couple of playlists

Playlist 1:

Firstly the top ten I compiled for the Classic Rock website in 2016– an impossible task of course to get it down to just ten – apologies in advance if your fave is missing!

The Top Ten Robert Plant Solo Songs:
By Dave Lewis

Outside of his Led Zep legacy, Robert Plant has enjoyed a highly successful solo career – encompassing synth pop, blues, folk and African influences along the way. All performed with a vocal conviction that ranges from delicate fragility to full on rock power. Here are ten of his best solo moments…

10. Tye Die on the Highway (1990)

This is Plant’s nod to the peace and love generation he was a part of in the 60s. For extra authenticity, it includes samples direct from the Woodstock stage of the legendary hippie peace activist Wavy Gravy (‘’we must be in heaven!’’). An uplifting throwback to his hippie flower kid days.

9. In The Mood (1983)

Early on in his post Zep career, Plant was more than keen to step outside his comfort zone. This very 80s sounding synth led piece is one such example. Plant cleverly works around the hypnotic quality of the song with a vocal performance of deft agility. It also made for a great opening live number on his early solo tours.

8. Song To The Siren (2002)

For the mainly covers led Dreamland album, Plant took on several of the songs he had as he put it, been keeping in his back pocket. This stunning arrangement of the Tim Buckley classic, tests Plant’s’ vocal control to the max. To his absolute credit, he never wavers once.

7: Calling To You (1993)

Opens with some minor key strumming before this exhilarating rocker really kicks in. Plant stamps his authority with a relentless vocal attack. At the fade Nigel Kennedy enters proceedings to add a quite manic violin solo and is that a cry of ‘’Oh Jimmy!’’ from Plant right at the close?

6. Big Log (1983)

Robbie Blunt’s precise guitar work, a lilting drum machine rhythm and an assured Plant vocal were the ingredients that took Big Log into the UK top 20 in 1993 and on to Top of The Pops. Its mellow radio friendly qualities have made it an evergreen staple of the airways ever since.

5. Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down (2010)

This compelling spiritual croon from the 2010 Band of Joy album unfolds in a sparse traditional setting. Plant builds the tension verse by verse while behind him a plaintive banjo offers a jaunty counterpoint to the dark theme of the lyrics. The final lines are delivered with daunting menace.

4. Slow Dancer (1983)

This track marks one of the few occasions in the early 80s that Plant stared right in the face of his Zeppelin past. Built on an exotic loping churning riff, Plant’s full on vocal attack measures up to the Olympian grandeur of his former band. The late great Cozy Powell adds the percussive kick that drives it along.

3. Embrace Another Fall (2014)

A truly epic work from his last album Lullaby…and the Ceaselss Roar. There’s an African undercurrent throughout the arrangement and even a touch of Celtic tradition with Welsh Julie Murphy reciting a 14th century poem. Proof that musically, Plant still has new places to go.

2. Come Into My Life (1993)

The Fate Of Nations album saw Plant drawing on a variety of influences and inspirations. Folk rock of the highest order is the agenda here. Enter Fairport legend Richard Thompson who contributes some achingly beautiful guitar lines while Marie Brennan from Clannad supplements Plant’s deft turn of phrase. An outstanding performance.

1 Ship of Fools (1988)

1988’s Now And Zen album was something of a watershed for Plant. It was the point he was able to successfully reconcile his past with the present. This dynamic ballad is a masterclass of vocal restrain. Guitarist Doug Boyle’s sublime intro paves the way for Plant to vocally twist and turn the song at will. Masterful.


wilderness credit rexshuttlecockPhoto: EPA

Playlist 2:

Here are 70 vivid examples of his vocal supremacy accompanied by memorable key lyrics and relevant comments:

From 48 to 2018 – he remains the definitive rock vocalist – make sure you play some of these and your own Plant faves this weekend in celebration:

Our Song, (‘’It made us fall in looooove’’)

Laughing Crying Laughing (‘’Jack loves Jill she don’t care’’)

For What it’s Worth (Something’s happening here..’’)

Good Times Bad Times (‘’I know what it means to be alooone’’)

Babe Im Gonna Leave You (‘’I ain’t jokin’ woman you gotta ramble’’)

Whole Lotta Love (‘’Shake for me girl!’’)

What Is And What Should Never Be (‘’And if I say to you tomorrow’’ – that gorgeous opening line…)

Thank You (‘’And so today my world it smiles’’)

Ramble On (‘’Gotta find the queen of all my dreams’’)

Immigrant Song (-‘’Ahhhhhh…Ahhh!!)

Since I’ve Been Loving You (‘’Said I been crying..’’)

That’s The Way (‘’And so I say to you that nothing really matters…’’)

Black Dog (‘’I gotta roll can’t stand still’’)

Battle of Evermore (‘’Bring it back..’’)

The Song Remains The Same (‘’I had a dream’’)

The Rain Song (‘’Upon us all..’’)

Over the Hills And Far Away (Live anytime in 1975 – ‘’Acapulco gold!’’)

In My Time of Dying (‘’Doncha make it my dying…dying…’’)

Kashmir (’ Trying to find, trying to find where I’ve beeeeeeen’’.)

In The Light (‘’Eveybody needs the light’’)

Down By The Seaside (‘’ Do you still do the twist’’)

Ten Years Gone (‘’Holding on…’’ pure emotion)

Night Flight (‘’ I received a message – that opening line is vocal bliss)

Tangerine ( Earl’s Court May 24 1975 – ”To think of us again….”)

Going To California (Earls Court official DVD version ‘’Oh she sings’’)

Dazed And Confused (Earls Court May 24 1975 ‘’We’ve got to get ourselves…back to the garden’’)

Stairway To Heaven (Earls Court May 24 1975 ‘’That’s all we got’’)

Achilles Last Stand (‘’the devils in his ho-o- o-o -le’’)

For Your Life (‘’When you blow it, babe, you got to blow it right’’)

In The Evening (Knebworth August 4 1979 – ‘’It’s gotta stop it’s gotta stop!’’)

All My Love (Outtake with full ending – ‘’Sometimes…sometimes…sometimes oh oh ’’)

I’m Gonna Crawl (‘’She give me good lovin’’ and that final scream…)

Moonlight In Samosa (‘’Time and again I see you walking down the street’’)

Slow Dancer (‘’To the heights… to the heights’’ – the point he knew he could do it all again)

Far Post (‘’Sure as winter follows fall, sure as maybe I will call’’)

Pledge Pin (Live in Dallas 83 ‘’As the cavalcade begins to thin, do you stop and look around’’)

Big Log (Live Dallas 1983 ‘’Oh my love oh my love oh my love…is in league with the freeway’’)

Sea of Love (‘’Come with me’’)

Sixes And Sevens (‘’Am I at six ,am I at six, am Ieeeee!’’)

Ship of Fools (‘’Crazy crazy fool’’ – absolutely stunning vocal)

Tie Dye On The Highway (‘‘With the messengers of peace and the company of love’’)

Anniversary (‘’What is this land that I have found’’)

Calling To You (‘’Oh Jiimmmy!’’)

Come Into My Life (‘’ Oh when you get there, well you know ‘’- another of his very best…)

The Greatest Gift (‘’ Everything I do, yes I do for my love’’ Peerless delivery)

In The Mood (Live at Paradiso club Amsterdam 93 –stunning medley)

Wonderful One (MTV Unledded – ‘’The queen of love has flown again’’)

That’s The Way (MTV Unledded ’’I can’t believe what people saying’’)

Blue Train (I been waiting on a corner’’- the best recorded moment of the Page and Plant re-alliance)

Little Hands (‘’Come let us meet them’’ – birth of a new style)

Life Begins Again (‘’This is the day and the hour’’ – at his most exotic)

Flames (Brilliant Priory Of Brion psych fest )

If I Ever Get Lucky (‘’Win my train fare home’’ Live in the desert)

Skips Song (‘’If you’d seen the naked dream I had of you… would you care’’- another vocal masterclass)

Dirt In The Hole (‘’Pretty flowers in sweet array, picked to die and fade away’’ Brilliant)

Seven And Seven Is ( ’When I was a boy I thought about the times I’d be a man’’ Live anywhere – a magnificent SS tribute to Love and the late Arthur)

Tin Pan Valley (‘’Like this!’’)

Freedom Fries (‘’They were moving fast –they were raising sand’’)

Stick With Me Baby (‘’Everybody’s been talkin’ ‘’ – in perfect harmony with Alison)

Kashmir ( Live at the 02 Arena – the whole event could never have worked so well without such total vocal commitment )

Angel Dance (‘’Yeah yeah yeah – Dance!’’ –Ushering in another new dawn)

Monkey ( ‘’Tonight you will be mine…’’ Masterful Band Of Joy performance)

Embrace Another Fall (”You walked into my life, Awoke my spirit soul, You saved me from my deep….”)

Turn It Up (‘I’m lost inside America, I’m turning inside out, I’m turning into someone else”)

A Stolen Kiss (”I am drawn to the western shore, Where the light moves bright upon the tide, To the lullaby and the ceaseless roar, And the songs that never die”)

Somebody There (”The road calls to my heart, Your love will warm my blood, The sun will shine down evermore”)

Season’s Song (”Crazy love..ah ah ah seasons song”)

New World (Escape the old world…embrace the new world”)

Dance With You Tonight (”If there’s one more time I can dance with you, let me dance with you tonight”)

Carry Fire (”I’ll carry fire for you – here in my naked hands”)


For him… it’s still about the next gig, the next musical high, the next vocal performance sung into that Shure microphone.
Robert Plant is a musician who has made his vision real…and he continues to keep it real.

Long may he shine it all around…

This next overview via TBL issue 43:

‘’Carry me back, Carry me back… ‘’

Dave Lewis reflects on the 35 year solo career of Robert Plant and assesses the merits of his new album Carry Fire…

So, to the eleventh Robert Plant solo album – in fact his twelfth if you include The Honeydrippers set from 1984.

Once I started assessing where it all stood in the scheme of things, it led me on to elaborate not just on the content of this new album but also reminisce about this musician who has loomed large in my life and many others for many a year.

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.

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 signalled there was life for this particular singer after Zep and we could all prepare ourselves for some very interesting musical times ahead.

From then on there have been many twists and turns. To give it an appropriate football analogy, following Robert Plant’s solo ventures is a little like supporting Tottenham Hotspur, as I resolutely do. Like Plant, the North London club is steeped in tradition and talk of past glory days is always prevalent. The fortunes of the team, however, are somewhat mixed, offering moments of brilliance with the mediocre but within all that, the entertainment value on the pitch is always high.

You could say the same for Robert’s output over these past 35 years. Plenty of highs, a few lows, some marking of time, occasional strange curve ball moments but ever entertaining along the way – and of course, always within the shadow of his work between 1968 and 1980. It’s something of a challenge being a Robert Plant fan – but I am always a little surprised when keen Zep supporters claim no interest in following his solo work – to me, this is still the man and musician who proclaimed ‘’Are you cold?” in front of my very ears as Led Zeppelin kicked into Immigrant Song at Wembley in 1971, held the audience in the palm of his hand at the Forum, the Garden and in Earls Court and thanked us for turning up on a blind date in that field just outside Knebworth all of 34 years ago. His heritage is ever present and ever lasting.

He carries that legacy pretty well I’d say and although his flippancy in interviews often obscures his pride for Led Zeppelin, be assured, for all the one liners, that pride is there deep in his psyche. While we are on that subject, such flippant comments are often, in my view, taken out of context to look much worse than they really are, or were intended. I still believe he cares much more than is portrayed. In interviews, he is never one for much deep reflection. ‘’I do the gig and move on’’ I remember him once telling me with matter of fact intent.

Back to the story: Eleven albums – that’s now more than Led Zeppelin clocked up. From that initial, naive blast of Pictures At Eleven (which still sounds great) with the erstwhile Robbie Blunt as the song writing foil, Robert quickly recorded The Principle Of Moments, a heady mix of 80s synths and riffs. After a weekend of rockabilly fun with Jimmy, Jeff and Nile for the Honeydrippers’ Vol One album in 1984, there was the somewhat difficult third album – the totally offbeat Shaken ‘n’ Stirred which confused audience and band mates alike. Around that time, performing on a stage that looked like a block of cheese only added to the confusion. Too Loud live anyone?

In 1987 he 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.

Manic Nirvana hit the racks as the early 90s hair metal phenomenon got into its stride. Some of it has not stood the test of time too well but he could still turn a retro trick or two – witness Tie Dye On the Highway and the acoustic Liars Dance. Elsewhere the content was more blatantly big love than big log.

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 work to date. Come Into My Life and I Believe are just two examples of a refreshing maturity and depth he was now bringing to his craft.

Just as he appeared in his solo career stride, the call of the past and MTV put him back on the road with Jimmy Page – the ensuing No Quarter Unledded and Walking Into Clarksdale albums providing their own set of anomalies, ripe for discussion another time.

By the time he was back in solo career mode, 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 2002 Dreamland album was an intelligent blend of covers and new forays –later to expand more fully on the well received Mighty ReArranger. I initially struggled with that album’s over inventiveness but time has been kind to many of the tracks – the likes of Tin Pan Valley and Freedom Fries still hit the mark whenever I return to it.

Career retrospectives Sixty Six To Timbuktu and the expansive Nine Lives box set, conveniently brought together his achievements to date, with the singer noting that the ‘’future was bright ahead’’.

2007 and another curve ball. This time it was into the bluegrass world of Alison Krauss for the enormously successful Raising Sand, an admirable marriage of vocal styling that subsequently swept the Grammys and in doing so helped scupper any plans for a long term Zep reunion after that one night of glory at the 02 on December 10th of that year.

I actually found the ensuing tour with Alison a little disconcerting – the sharing of the stage did not work for me and the Raising Sand album is never high on the playlist.

Given this sidestep into Americana, I’m therefore surprised how much I loved (and still do) the Band Of Joy album and tour that grew out of his penchant for all things Nashville and his working with the great Buddy Griffin. There were some life affirming moments viewing that line up in 2010 and the album retains a warm glow all of its own. As I noted at the time, it was hard to define exactly what it was about the Band Of Joy set up that worked so well but it was undeniable that something did. As I passed my 100 nights of being in front of that Shure microphone with Robert Plant on vocals, gig number 103 at the Birmingham Symphony Hall in November 2010 was up there with the best.


Being around the likes of Buddy Miller certainly bought the best out in him. There was yet more side-stepping in 2012 – or in this case, shape shifting. Off we all piled to the Gloucester Guildhall in May of that year to view another ad- hoc line up debut that saw former Strange Sensations members mix with the African influence of Juldeh Camara. The gig was a heap of fun, although at the more high profile London Forum gig in the summer, the inclusion of now partner, Patty Griffin in the set confused his audience somewhat.

Seemingly happily ensconced with Patty, one expected another Band Of Joy set and there was talk of a project with noted producer, Daniel Lanois. Instead, Robert took the Space Shifters on a tour – one to the far corners of the world, stretching from Australia to Argentina via the US. His wry comment to an Australian journalist that he had ‘’nothing on his calendar in 2014’’ foolishly fuelled the Zep reformation rumours. The wiser amongst us, however, guessed it was a suitable smokescreen, as he ventured into the studio with the Space Shifters unit. The result was the 2013 release of the album lullaby and… The Ceaseless Roar.

As we know from the various interviews Robert has conducted, the album found him in a reflective state of mind. After his split with Patty Griffin, he has returned to the UK and principally to the Black Country and Welsh border area – the influence of which was more than apparent. The call of home was strong and there really was a feeling he gets when he looks to the west… Lyrically, it was Robert’s most deep and meaningful album since Fate Of Nations. Such was the confessional nature of songs such as Embrace Another Fall and A Stolen Kiss, one could almost dub this a break up album in the grand tradition of Dylan’s Blood On the Tracks.

It’s worth noting that arrangements combining African roots and ethnic rhythms do not go down favourably with certain sections of Robert’s past audience. He also receives a fair bit of criticism for his live interpretations of Zep numbers – Black Dog coming in for the lion’s share of the stick.

In fact, like a number of fellow fans I’ve spoken to, I would much prefer solo numbers from his past rather than some of the Zep resprays – Pledge Pin, Life Begins Again, Come Into My Life, Skip’s Song and Ship of Fools being on my wish list of tracks I’d like to see Robert and the SSS perform live.

Lullaby and… the Ceaseless Roar found Robert Plant reflecting on his past, seemingly content with the present and excited about the future. Like all his best work, it looks back to look forward. Often eclectic but with a strong sense of consistency, it was his most significant work on record for some considerable time. There’s a refreshing openness and honesty in the songs that basically tells us that even rock gods need love… and lots of it. He touches on universal themes of ageing, loneliness, longing and hope.

So to the new album Carry Fire:

’‘All that’s worth the doing is seldom easily done, all that‘s worth the winning is seldom easily won’’

First things first.

Carry Fire pretty much carries on from where Robert Plant’s previous album left off. In fact, it might be a good idea to reacquaint yourself with the last album, lullaby and… the Ceaseless Roar to remind yourself where Robert’s head is at.

Those that enjoyed the previous album will find much to enjoy here. As for anyone who has fallen by the wayside and has not subscribed to his recent work – well, there’s nothing here that will influence a change of mind.

Let’s face it, Robert has long since denounced any notions of keeping up with his fellow ‘voice of rock’ veterans His is an entirely different plan of his own making.

On Carry Fire there’s hardly a riff or a vocal histrionic in sight. Those that are looking for that kind of fix would be better off in the direction of the new Black Country Communion album.

However, the good news for anyone checking out this new album is that, vocally, he is singing with mature authority deploying that close-to-the-mic, breathy vocals style that he first perfected on Little Hands, his contribution to the Skip Spence tribute album More Oar.

Having listened to the tracks on Carry Fire, in reviewing the album , I’ve purposely listed songs from the Plant back catalogue that hint at the mood of these new offerings.

The album opener and first single, The May Queen sets the tone for much of the album. Semi acapella vocals over a slight Another Tribish with bendir/ tambourine back beat – drowning out any snare drum presence. As more than one listener to the preview has commented, the opening segment on this track has a passing resemblance to Factory Girl from The Rolling Stones Beggars Banquet.

New World is a slightly grittier stomp with a mid tempo riff that sounds like a descendent from the Page & Plant arrangement of Please Read The Letter. A melodic cascading vocal refrain brightens the mood.

The folksy Seasons Song benefits from lush multi layered vocals that reminded me of I Cried For You (off Manic Nirvana). Also, there’s a nicely crooned ‘’crazy crazy fool’’ vocal line in the style of the live arrangement of Ship of Fools. All The Kings Horses (from the Mighty ReArranger album) is a further reference point here.

The oddly titled Carving Up The World Again… A Wall And Not A Fence is another in the vein of Another Tribe – a jumpy urgent nagging affair with some neat bluesy guitar lines.

Bones Of Saints has an effective echo added to the vocal, coupled with some guitar licks in the syle of The Enchanter from Mighty ReArrnanger

A vibey John Baggott keyboard synth sustains throughout Keep it Hid, which could be described as a Tin Pan Valley without the bombast. “Silver key in a golden cup’’ repeats Plant over the incessant synth pattern.

The title track, Carry Fire lends itself to the oft favoured North African influence. Mid tempo, with exotic sounding guitar from Justin Adams, it’s a haunted, tension building affair, not unlike the Unledded track, City Don’t Cry.

The cover of Ersel Hickey’s Bluebirds Over The Mountains (also recorded by The Beach Boys and Richie Havens, amongst others) is, as Robert commented, ‘’put through the Bristol sonic mill’’. This makes for a trip hop, grungy affair that renders Chrissie Hynde’s vocal contribution somewhat understated in the mix. Personally, I’d have rather heard a more simplistic approach.

That leaves three tracks that all return to the reflective themes of ageing, loneliness and hope that featured strongly on the lullaby and… the Ceaseless Roar album. A Way With Words is very much in the Stolen Kiss vein, with stark piano and a mournful feel akin to Page & Plant’s BlueTrain, and Seth Lakeman’s fiddle work adds to the dreamlike atmosphere.

Dance With You Tonight harks back to the Raising Sand territory of Killing The Bues. For me, this is the outstanding track. Lyrically, the singer aspires to enjoy ‘’one more chance for the last dance”. He sings it with immense grace and majesty. Down To The Sea and Come Into My Life are reference points to the reflective nature of this superb outing.

The album closes in a downbeat manner with Heaven Sent – a bleak atmospheric piece that reminded me of a slowed down Sixes And Sevens from Manic Nirvana again without the bombast. Robert adds yet more words of wisdom repeating the lines “All that’s worth the doing is seldom easily done, all that‘s worth the winning is seldom easily won.’’ Before it all fades away.

Those lines are a pretty accurate appraisal of the album.

Like his previous album, this one needs working at and getting used to. Play it randomly a couple of times and it’s likely to pass over your head. Give it some dedicated listening time and there are some very rewarding performances.

As previously mentioned, some sections of his past audience will not find the inclination to do so and that will be their choice. As for comparison to his past works, aside from the last album, this new one stands on its own – and all a long way from the days of Fate Of Nations. That was a different era with different players.

In his advancing years, Robert’s muse has become more introverted, less flamboyant and increasingly dignified – all of which is reflected in the music he now produces.

So no, you won’t be dancing around the Christmas tree to this album. However, it will be something of a thought provoking warm pleasure as the winter nights kick in. In fact, for a man who has much empathy for the seasons, this feels like a Robert Plant winter album.

As can be seen by the virtual sell out of the forthcoming UK tour, the attraction to see this signer perform live on stage is plainly still fervent. I for one will be very keen to see, and hear how this new material integrates with his past work in a live setting.

So, to summarise: 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 inspires.

Carry Fire carries on that tradition.

Dave Lewis

September 12, 2017


Happy Birthday Robert on Monday from all of us to you…

Dave Lewis – August 14, 2018.


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

John Paul Jones

Upcoming events:

September 7 – Led Zeppelin will released the remastered edition of “The Song Remains The Same” and new merchandise.
September 10 – Robert Plant will perform in Kansas City, Missouri.
September 13 – Robert Plant will perform in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
September 15 – Robert Plant will perform at the Telluride Blues & Brews Festival in Colorado.
September 16 – Robert Plant will perform at the KAABOO festival in California.
September 18 – “Scream For Help,” which features a soundtrack by John Paul Jones, will be released on Blu-ray.
September 19 – Robert Plant will perform in Tucson, Arizona.
September 21 – Robert Plant will perform in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
September 22 – The John Bonham Celebration Festival will take place in Redditch.
September 23 – Robert Plant will perform at the Bourbon & Beyond festival in Louisville, Kentucky.
September 25 – Robert Plant will perform in Irving, Texas.
September 27 – The “Evenings With Led Zeppelin” book will be released and Robert Plant will perform in Lubbock, Texas.
September 29 – Robert Plant will perform in Austin, Texas.
September 30 – The TBL 50th Anniversary Celebration Day event will take place at The Atlas Pub in Fulham, London and Robert Plant will perform in Austin, Texas.
October – The official Led Zeppelin photo book will be released.
October 16 – “Bring it on Home,” a new biography of Led Zeppelin manager Peter Grant, will be released.
October 25 – Robert Plant will perform in Cardiff, Wales.
October 26 – Robert Plant will perform in London, UK.
October 28 – Robert Plant will perform in Dublin, Ireland.
November 29 – “Geddy Lee’s Big Beautiful Book of Bass”, which features an interview with John Paul Jones, will be release

Many thanks to James Cook.

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

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


Record Collector New issue: Led Zeppelin Their 50 Greatest Gigs…

Record Collector New issue: Led Zeppelin Their 50 Greatest Gigs…

While in the Sister Ray record shop in London on Monday I was well pleased to find the new issue of Record Collector on sale.

The new issue of Record Collector magazine has an extensive 14 page feature written and collated by Mike Tremaglio and myself. It presents a listing of what we consider to be the 50 Greatest Led Zeppelin Gigs – plus collector side bars.

I’d had been talking with the new editor of Record Collector Paul Lester for a few months how we might celebrate the Led Zeppelin 50th anniversary with an extensive feature. informing Paul of the Evenings With Led Zeppelin book, he suggested we collate the 50 greatest Led Zeppelin gigs. I set to work on this as soon as we signed off the book in mid June. Working with Mike Tremaglio we developed an initial listing of about 75 gigs – this was this reduced down to 50.

The criteria we based this on was as follows:
Legendary fan favourites such as Texas international Pop Festival Aug 31, 1969, LA Forum Sept 4 1970, Osaka Sept 29, 1971, LA Forum June 21, 1977.

High profile performances such as the 1969 and 1970 Bath Festival appearances, Royal Albert Hall 1970, Earls Court 1975, Oakland 1977 and Knebworth 1979

The history making gigs such as Tampa May 5, 1973, Pontiac April 30, 1977, Berlin July 7 1980, the 02 Reunion etc.

In effect, we wanted to present a broad sweep of the history of the band live. Each entry has background detail to add perspective and some have press reaction comments. Much of the info is based on the material we collated for the forthcoming Evenings With Led Zeppelin -The Complete Concert Chronicle to be published on September 27.

All lists are subjective of course but we worked hard to try and cover all aspects of their live history. I am sure readers will enjoy wading through it all – some of course may feel we have missed a particular fave out but that is all part of the fun.

The feature also includes an overview by David Stubbs, and side bars I came up with on the official live albums, the bootlegs and collecting concert programmes, posters, flyers tickets and T shirts. I’d like to thank Paul Sheppard, Chris Maley, Nick Anderson , Cliff Hilliard for their help on these collector guides.

I’ve been contributing to Record Collector since 1980 and this is probably the most ambitious feature I’ve been involved in. I liaised closely with editor Paul Lester on all this who was great to work with and he had a real vison of what we wanted to achieve. I went to the Record Collector office to assist with the layout and design which again turned out really well. The photos and images add to the retrospective feel of it all. Mike Tremaglio cast his ever diligent eye over it once it was in place.

I am really pleased with the end result. I am sure there is going to be many a magazine feature in the coming months –

I think this Record Collector 50 Greatest Gigs presentation offers something a little different and will add to the enjoyment of this special period. Be sure to check it out.

Ordering info via the Record Collector website.

Dave Lewis – August 14,2018


Aretha Franklin…R.I.P…

So sad as millions will be across the globe at the passing of Aretha Franklin…another soundtrack of our lives has drifted away…she was indeed a truly Natural Woman….RIP





JIMMY PAGE – The Definitive Biography by Chris Salewicz

Following on from my review of the new Jimmy Page book here is the thoughts of Chris Charlesworth on the subject via his excellent Just Backdated blog.

This is one of the most perceptive pieces of Zep related writing I’ve read in an age…

JIMMY PAGE – The Definitive Biography by Chris Salewicz

Back in 2012 I was involved in convoluted negotiations with Jimmy Page’s lawyer for Omnibus Press to publish a trade edition of the photo book Jimmy Page by Jimmy Page that was eventually published by Genesis, who’d already published it as an expensive, cased, limited-edition. Although these negotiations came to nothing, I received a ‘boiler-plate’ contract that included the tightest confidentiality clauses I had ever seen in 30-odd years working in the book trade. Had I signed this contract I would have consented never again to discuss Jimmy Page with anyone, not even his music or the types of guitars he prefers, let alone where he lived, who managed him or the terms of the contract. These were the sort of confidentiality clauses you might expect if you were doing business with the Royal Family, the Ministry of Defence or MI5, and I was amazed at the inflexibility with which the clauses were worded and the harsh penalties that would be imposed were I to break them.

It has always been my contention that, like the Windsors, the MoD or MI5, those who seek such restrictions on the reporting of their doings have something to hide. Jimmy Page fits the bill nicely. The indiscretions in his private life are fairly well known thanks to a number of sensational Led Zeppelin books that, beginning in 1985 with Stephen Davis’ Hammer Of The Gods, have enhanced the group’s reputation as intemperate sybarites yet at the same time done nothing whatsoever to diminish their standing in the rock hierarchy. We all know that when Led Zep were in their pomp Page was a bit of a lad in the sex’n’drugs department but, like many of his peers in his profession, he nowadays wishes to brush such matters beneath the carpet; unseemly exploits of a young man given the freedom to indulge but who is now silver haired and wrinkly, keen to emphasise his maturity and good standing in the world of arts and culture, an elder and respected gentleman of the heritage rock establishment. He’s also a multi-millionaire used to getting his own way.

So he won’t welcome this book by Chris Salewicz, who earned his spurs on NME in the period when Led Zeppelin was just past their peak but still a mighty force, and went on to write about music for various magazines and daily newspapers. He interviewed Page at length for Gig magazine in 1977 and for NME in 1979, and in his writings about the group has maintained an objective stance while at the same time acknowledging the unquestioned merits of much of their output and their phenomenal clout. He is a detached observer, however, and, by chance, we sat next to one another when in 2014 Page was interviewed at the Cadogan Hall in Knightsbridge by Guardian Music Editor Michael Hann, both of us noting how Page deftly avoided answering any questions requiring an answer that might have given too much away or strayed into areas he wasn’t willing to discuss. Page knows full well that mystery and imagination fuel Zeppelin’s mystique and so long as that’s intact the money will keep rolling in.

Unlike Page, however, Salewicz doesn’t mince his words and neither would I expect him to. Although longer and more detailed, Martin Power’s 2017 book The Three Lives Of Jimmy Page was far more deferential, with a tendency to skirt around the sex, drugs and other controversies such as Page’s flirtation with the dark arts and the sometimes violent behaviour of Led Zeppelin’s support staff. Salewicz, on the other hand, wades right in on these matters, the introduction to his book a graphic account of the ugly confrontation in San Francisco in 1977 that effectively ended Led Zeppelin’s career in America, a decisive episode that Page casually brushed aside as inconsequential during that Hann interview.

This is an early indication that although the book purports to be the ‘definitive’ Page biography, the emphasis is firmly on a retelling of the Zeppelin story: to whit, 130 pages devoted to Page’s life before Zeppelin (some 24 years), 300 pages devoted Zep (12 years), and a rather miserly 68 pages to his career thereafter (38 years, more than half the subject’s life), much of which is actually devoted to Zeppelin’s aftermath. While it’s certainly the case that the Zeppelin era is the most attention-grabbing, their story has nevertheless been told many times before and told well, as it is again here. The measure of a new book on the same subject, therefore, is contingent on three factors: the quality of the prose, which is certainly not lacking, and nor should it be given Salewicz’s pedigree; the perceptiveness of fresh insights, which is subjective, and in this regard Salewicz writes well about the impact of the group, Page’s dominant role within it and the milieu that enabled it to thrive; and the inclusion of new, previously unreported, information, which is demonstrable and hard to come by in the light of Page’s reticence and so many other books. I am familiar with most of these other books and was around at the time so I know the Led Zeppelin story pretty well, but a couple of unexpected ‘scoops’ – of which more later – were intriguing to say the least.

Getting to grips with Page’s inscrutable, elusive and illusive character, however, is no easy task. He’s as slippery as an eel and though Salewicz explores just about every creek in which our eel swims, like every other biographer he can’t quite nail him and neither can anyone else, including those interviewed, whether directly or indirectly. As a result there are opposing views galore. Some, like Michael Des Barres, have nice things to say, others, like Simon Napier-Bell, not so. Some, like various recording engineers, some musicians and Zep tour manager Richard Cole, even contradict themselves. Most of the women with whom he’s had relationships – and there’s a lorryload – seem to adore him unconditionally, even when he dumps them, and the bewildering complexities of Page’s love-life in the mid-seventies reads like the script for one of those old Whitehall farces wherein men and women end up hiding in wardrobes dressed only in their underwear. Nevertheless, the thoughts of the trio who became sufficiently close to Page to bear his children, Charlotte Martin, Patricia Ecker and Jimena Gomez-Paratcha, are unrecorded, all of which suggests that ongoing maintenance payments might just be subject to the confidentiality agreements with which I was once faced.

Which brings us to money. It’s no secret that Page’s nickname was ‘Led Wallet’, a reference to his alleged stinginess, and there can be no doubt that he has amassed a fortune that he’s clung on to as tenaciously as a dog with a bone. It’s a trait he shares with many in his line of work, among them Ray Davies, Rod Stewart and Van Morrison or so I’m told, and I take the view that this stems from being ripped off early on, as Page possibly was in The Yardbirds. Musician/roadie Joe Jammer states, probably erroneously, that Page was a millionaire even before he assembled Led Zeppelin, then goes on to say that despite this Page would hitchhike to London from his Pangbourne home to save pennies. ‘They talked him into at least taking the train,’ says Jammer. ‘But he would only do second-class. And some hippy guy came up to him and said, “Jimmy, why are you here in second-class?” He told the story in the office. So [manager] Peter Grant made a decision. He hired a car to bring Jimmy into town. And Jimmy refused to pay for it. So the other four had to pay for it.’ Such parsimony, of course, has enabled Page to acquire and occupy substantial Grade 1 listed properties that would be the envy of Bill Gates.

Then there’s the drugs. Salewicz details Page’s ingestion of everything from alcohol to cannabis to cocaine to heroin with just about everything you can think of in between. Like Keith Richards, he’s survived the lot, the inference being that if you’ve got the money you can afford the treatment and avoid persecution, at least until 1982 when a chance encounter with a cop in the Kings Road revealed Page’s stash of cocaine, only for a skilled QC to stretch the truth in his defence and get him off with a slapped wrist. Salewicz suggests that Page viewed his drug intake as ‘professional’ in that he needed to push the boundaries of perception in order to fuel his creativity, which I can go along with, but we’re still left with the impression that a weaker character would have succumbed to all this poison in his head and veins, and in this respect we’re left with no doubt that propping up Page’s delicate frame is a core of tempered steel.

Attitude, too, was at the core of Page’s modus operandi. He knew precisely how a rock star ought to carry himself and what he should wear, prompting Salewicz to write astutely: “A fanatical vanity and an almost immeasurable self-adoration would appear to be important prerequisites for an aspiring rock star. But although he may have possessed these attributes, what was far more dominant in Page’s case was an impulsive drive that derived much more from an almost obsessive self-knowledge, underpinned by what he had learned about himself from his studies of both art and the occult and the consequent confidence it gave him. Frail, sexually androgynous and mentally muscular, he exuded a complex iron toughness; this was someone who would not back down.”

Neither would Peter Grant, Led Zeppelin’s larger than life, occasionally thuggish, manager. Grant became Page’s attack dog, his bulwark against reality, and this meant that Led Zeppelin wouldn’t back down either, not after they gained a foothold on the rock ladder at any rate. This led to a misplaced belief in their own invincibility that was ultimately their undoing, and although I’m forever sceptical about things like curses and witchcraft, when Salewicz points out that Page’s fellow uccultist Kenneth Anger put a curse on the guitarist after they fell out over his involvement in the soundtrack to Anger’s film Lucifer Rising, I could see his point. “… it cannot be overlooked that from this point on, Led Zeppelin’s nosedive was inexorable,” he writes. “Now mired in addiction and alcoholism, Jimmy Page’s days of greatest creativity with the group were behind him. What lay in the future for Led Zeppelin was remorseless tragedy and death…”

Writing about the group’s music, Salewicz is occasionally passionate, usually objective and unafraid to praise songs that in the fullness of time have become a tad clichéd. It’s not unreasonable to wonder how the biographer of Bob Marley and Joe Strummer can switch easily to liking Led Zeppelin, but Salewicz is a fair judge of what’s good and what isn’t, and he’s especially celebratory about the group’s early shows and records. Page’s skills as a guitarist are a given, and his diligence in mastering the instrument and working as a session musician is covered in great detail, as is the rise and fall of The Yardbirds, with or without Page. I first saw Led Zeppelin in 1970 and anyone with ears could tell this was no ordinary group, so I concur with much of what he writes about this early period and their rise to fame and fortune in America. It’s no secret that some of Led Zeppelin’s music was ‘derived’ from old blues material, and Salewicz is assiduous in tracing these sources, though he stops short of accusing the group, and Page in particular, of outright plagiarism. He’s also good on tracking the rivalry between Page and Robert Plant, a sub-plot that enriches his book no end. The singer has the guitarist’s patronage to thank for his elevation to rock’s high table, yet his intransigence with regard to reuniting Led Zeppelin has nonetheless stymied Page’s hopes of a windfall that would enable him to put in a bid for Buckingham Palace should it ever come onto the market.

On the negative side, I thought it was a bit rich including both of the author’s lengthy Page interviews verbatim, some 42 pages in total, and there’s a paucity of information about Page’s life after Zeppelin which is skimmed through very sparingly, especially considering how many years have elapsed in this period. Furthermore, the single eight-page photo section is inadequate to say the least, though the blame for this can surely be laid at the door of the publisher. A screen grab of skiffling young Jimmy, two small pre-Zep shots, no post-Zeppelin photos, no photos of any of his WAGs, and every pic seen in many other books, is inexcusable for a ‘definitive’ biography, a reflection surely on Harper Collins’ unnecessarily austere budgetary constraints.

Finally, the scoops, so spoiler alert. On page 97 we learn not only that Page’s parents separated and divorced ‘in the mid-sixties’ but that Page’s father had been leading a double life and created a separate family with another woman. This fascinating angle is not followed up in any way beyond a comment from a ‘Life Coach’ who states, ‘You would never trust anyone again, especially intimate people’, and the author’s interpretation that the trauma went a long way towards developing Page’s steely, rather isolated, character traits. Secondly, on page 151, Salewicz reveals that during negotiations with Atlantic Records Page ‘made it clear to Grant that… he would receive 50% of all earnings, the rest to be shared out among the other three musicians and Grant’. This was a bombshell, I thought, and again it is not followed up nor commented upon at all as the book progresses. We are left to assume that somewhere along the line a more equitable share of the profits was agreed upon.

It’s been a standing joke in the music industry for years – and one that Peter Grant himself once propagated for advantage – that crossing Jimmy Page is likely to result in a curse and therefore highly inadvisable. Perhaps that’s why Chris Salewicz, whom I’ve known now for over 40 years, concludes his book by stating: ‘Despite all the odds, Jimmy Page has become the greatest national treasure of British popular music.’ I thought that title belonged to Paul McCartney but, then again, it’s one way of ensuring you don’t wake up as a newt.

Chris Charlesworth

Many thanks to Chris for permission to reproduce that review.

Visit Chris’s excellent blog at:


Some final words on Knebworth: 39 years gone…


Led Zeppelin at Knebworth 39 years ago…the clip of the Bedford Three on YouTube  is quite something…and well worth a listen but be warned there is pure elation and emotion dripping from this…

This is actually from the August 4 performance – taped by my Phillips cassette recorder as they came on the stage – the Bedford Three of me, Tom and Dec getting very excited – actually that is an understatement of vast proportions –as you can hear we are going flippin nuts…this was clearly not just a band – but away of life and after waiting 72 hours, well this was some moment.

I am most thankful this recording survived… this is the effect they had on thousands of people in that field that night -and a week later all of 39 years ago…

Led Zeppelin were back and we never ever wanted them to go away again …and they haven’t…

So then it was all over..and all that was left was the clearing up…Led Zeppelin at Knebworth – they came, we saw, they conquered… little did we know back then that this would be the last performances in the UK with John Bonham…
…and now it’s 39 years gone and with each passing year the memories grow stronger…when they were kings…they still are…

Dave Lewis, August 11,2018

DL Diary Blog Update:

DL on News At Ten…

While I was in Sister Ray Records on Monday I noticed a film crew in there – I was duly asked to do a piece to camera as they say, on the subject of Ticketmaster and the closing of secondary sites Get me In and Seat Wave. A few seconds of this was aired on Monday’s edition of news At Ten. Here’s the link – I am on at about 25 seconds –

I then went on to meet my very good friend John Parkin in the Spice of Life. John had been at the Cropredy Festival at the weekend and had passed a copy of TBL 43 to Fairport’s Dave Pegg. Here’s a great pic of Dave and Rick Sanders wading though TBl 43 – with the various Zep/Fairport connections I hope they found something of interest in there!

Friday treats at the Vinyl Barn – at the always excellent Vinyl Barn last week, I was well pleased to find a copy of the splendid Richie Havens On Stage double album on Ploydor from 1972 with great versions of Dylan’s Just Like A Woman, The Beatles Rocky Racoon and C S & N’s Teach Your Children – many thanks Darren!






As mentioned above, it was great to meet up with John Parkin on Monday. John and I have been corresponding for years – his knowledge of all things record collecting is top notch and he has put many a fine album and CD my way. We try and meet once a year and as he was in town down from North Lincolnshire with is wife Trudie and son Lewis we spent a hugely enjoyable couple of hours talking the usual nonsense about obscure B sides, great gigs etc. it’s what we do! John had an early birthday present for me of Dave Pegg’s autobiography Off The Peg personally signed to me – thanks mate!

Another busy week with text for TBL 44 in progress, packing books and a prep work on a few other projects. The playlist will be dominated in the next few days by various Robert Plant records and CDs in an acknowledgment of his milestone Birthday.

And finally…

It was 50 years ago this week…

50 years ago in the area of Chinatown the four musicians who would become Led Zeppelin got together for their first rehearsal. The most commonly attributed date is Monday, August 12, 1968 – however it may have been Monday, August 19. The most likely location for this to have occurred is 39 Gerrard Street in the Chinatown district of Soho – though John Paul Jones did once mention it to me he thought it might have been staged at the nearby Lisle Street.

As I was in the area on Monday, I went over to Chinatown and here I am outside 39 Gerrard Street where in a basement room the story began…

Just for good measure I then went to 37 Lisle Street the other possible location…

One thing is for sure…history was made in this vicinity of Chinatown all of 50 years ago…the musical chemistry between the four was instant..the saga of Led Zeppelin was about to unfold…and the celebrations of this 50th anniversary are well under way…


Dave Lewis – August 14, 2018

Until next time, have a great weekend

Website updates written and compiled by Dave Lewis

with thanks to Gary Foy, Mike Tremaglio and James Cook

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  • Ed-Washington DC said:

    I’m of a different mind on secondary ticket sales, or at least online access to them. I find them very useful, as with a recent example, I was able to see Paul Rodgers and Jeff Beck in Philadelphia when a DC tour date was not available. Fortunately I could afford a mid-pavilion seat location six months in advance and was able to book the gig and make arrangements accordingly. None of this would’ve been possible without stubhub or vividseats, to name but a few. Here in America, if you have the proper resources, these programs are available to you with a range of options and I’d like it to remain so. Same with sporting events. And let’s face it, if you remove this option, the street scalpers will charge even more.

  • Andrew Marcus said:

    Great job on Robert’s Birthday. I would just like to add that the real truth is that Mick Jagger and Rodger Daltrey would kill to have had the solo success that Robert had and still does. Happy B Day Percy and thanks for the music!

  • Dave Lewis (author) said:

    Mike the book is not without it’s merit as it’s well put together

  • Mike Wilkinson said:

    So, do I put the book on my birthday list or not?
    Last week’s preview left me as a “no” but this week’s review is moving me to a “yes”.
    What’s it to be?

  • Gary Davies said:

    Looking forward to reading the Peter Wyngarde piece in the Record Collector!

  • Graham Walker said:

    As usual Dave a fabulous post. I really enjoyed your comments and the Chris Charlesworth article on the Jimmy Page book. I am still not sure whether to buy it or not! I don’t just want to read another sexpose when there is so much more, especially Jimmy’s life post Zeppelin.

  • Dave Lewis (author) said:

    Some great additions there Larry!

  • Larry said:

    Happy early 70th to the greatest rock vocalist of all time! Some honorable mentions to Dave’s substantial list…apologies where I’m duplicating anything…

    Burning Down One Side…this was the notice that Plant was back following the end wreckage of Zeppelin. And had a great video with a good sense of humor

    Moonlight In Samosa…still one of the most beautiful songs he’s ever recorded

    Far Post…the essential b-side from the Pictures sessions…one of his best songs

    Sea of Love…one of his (and Page’s) best post-Zep moments

    Heaven Knows…the sort of rebirth of the dynamic front man…good drama in the song and video and another guest appearance by one J. Page

    One Love…a great b-side from the under appreciated Manic Nirvana

    Mighty Rearranger – title track from a great album, imo his best so far of the 2000s

    Polly Come Home…achingly beautiful and mesmerizing duet with Alison Krauss on their terrific album

    Kashmir (O2) – a stunning and breathtaking performance from what looks like the last dance for Zeppelin. This performance from this night was worth all the waiting

    Silver Rider – my favorite track from the terrific Band of Joy album with the great Buddy Miller

    His albums are a mixed bag in my view (although they all contain some excellent tracks), but the best of the lot are Pictures, Principles, Manic Nirvana, the classic Fate of Nations (far and away his best imo, including the plethora of great b-sides), Mighty Rearranger, Raising Sand and Band of Joy.

    I’ve just begun reading Salewicz’s book on Jimmy Page, and so far it seems to be a (bad pun not intended) page-turner, but any “definitive” biography would certainly include more than a cursory glance at half the life of its subject. In fact, at this point I’d be much more interested in more detail on the post-Zeppelin years.

    Here’s hoping for a 50th anniversary box set release “1968: The Gerrard Street Tapes”! Thanks as always Dave

  • andrew R said:

    Dave fascinating piece by Chris Charlesworth
    i have the book and it is by turns revelatory
    and banal. Brilliantly written in places a hatchet job in others.
    He is quite brilliant on the Crowley and occult subject matter.
    but it almost feels like two authors are writing it one with an eye on
    salaciousness to sell books (or generate copy of reviews) the other fully aware of the importance of the subject matter. Either way i wanted to put it down but found i couldn’t!
    Kudos to you and TBL for printing an authors view of an authors work . Excellent.

  • Augusto said:

    “intemperate sybarites” Good name for a future Led Zep Cover band! 🙂

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