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ROBERT PLANT & SSS BLUES FEST PREVIEW/EVENINGS WITH LATEST/ LZ NEWS/LED ZEPPELIN II AT 49/CODA REVIEW/DL DIARY BLOG UPDATE

23 October 2018 1,862 views 8 Comments

Robert Plant and The Sensational Space Shifters – back in UK action…

Following tour dates in America, Robert Plant and The Sensational Space Shifters are back in action in the UK this week.

They play in Cardiff on October 25 followed by the prestigious Blues Fest double bill with Van Morrison at the 02 Arena in London on Friday 26. On Sunday they perform in Dublin.

I am aiming for the London date – the first occasion I have seen him perform live for nigh on a year – the last occasion being at the Royal Albert Hall last December. It will be the 121st time I have seen Robert Plant sing live.

On Friday the TBL crew will be hooking up at the Slug and Lettuce bar situated in  02 complex. We look forward to seeing all that can make it along prior to the gig.

Here’s the link to the bar: Slug and Lettuce – 1–34 Entertainment Avenue, London – The O2, SE10 0DY

https://www.slugandlettuce.co.uk/o2

Here are the timings of performance for the 02 gig:

Doors 18:00 // Colin Macloed 18:30 // Van Morrison 19:25 // Robert Plant 21:25 // Finish 22:55

https://www.theo2.co.uk/events/detail/bluesfest-presents-robert-plant-van-morrison

Thanks Hiroshi for that tip.

Spare tickets:

One attendee has been in touch to say he has a spare ticket going for a front row seat in Section A2. Asking face value, £165.

Another has a pair of tickets for section BK 112, Row Q, Seats: 388-389. £250 for the pair

To get back into the Robert Plant zone I’ve been re- listening to the Carry Fire – and a year on from it’s release it sounds mighty fine indeed.  So here’s my orginal review posted here last October when it was released – plus a pre-amble to set the scene for another eagerly awaited Robert Plant occasion:

STARING UP AT A SHURE SM 58 MICROPHONE: ”ROBERT PLANT ON VOCALS”

120 NIGHTS IN THE COMPANY OF…

As we await the London return of Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters at the Blues Fest event, It’s a timely moment for me to reflect once again on the 120 nights I have spent in the company of Robert Plant on vocals.

It was back in 2010 back when I was researching something for the TBL magazine, that I realized I must be approaching 100 occasions of staring up at a Shure SM57 or 58 microphone held by Robert Plant. I’d collated a list about ten years back which I think was up to around 70.

Sitting in the pub before one of the Band Of Joy shows, Gary and I duly racked our collective memories and began logging the appearances we have attended. He was on around 90 and at that point Id worked out that the London Forum gig the next night would be my 99th. Therefore I was set to go into the Birmingham Symphony Hall Show lining up as occasion 100. Alas not so – it’s already been done!

When I was talking to the good lady Janet about this, we began reminiscing on the gigs she has attended. In our early courtship a romantic night out in the company of Robert Plant was all a lady needed. So the young Janet found herself in the company of the man formerly at the forefront of Led Zeppelin at the likes of The Tube TV recording (the three of us alone in his dressing room ooerr!), Newcastle City Hall, Oxford, Leicester, London, Sheffield, Birmingham etc..

Janet of course could not make the June 4th Hammersmith Odeon show in 1990 as our daughter Sam had been born a few hours earlier and there was a little matter of afterbirth recovery to contend with ( no matter, as I was on hand to attend still!) She did however attend the Page & Plant show in Birmingham on July 23 1995 heavily pregnant with Adam who was just 16 days from making his appearance into the world.

As we were discussing this, I looked on the list and realised I had somehow missed off the two Birmingham NEC shows in 1995. This senior moment prompted another reconciliation of the list and one more omission came to the fore – the Priory Of Brion gig at the Charlotte club in September 2000. I went to this on my own and it’s notable for being one of, if not the only Plant gig I did not have an alcoholic beverage before hand, being ensconced at the front there was no escape, which at the time was no bad thing.

Update October 2018 – I am now on gig 120. That list represents the 120 plus occasions I’ve seen Robert Plant sing live –commencing with the 14 initial Led Zeppelin gigs I was lucky enough to attend and the 15th at the 02 in 2007, through the Page & Plant collaboration, solo tours, one offs and TV recordings.

120 is not a band tally, though I have to say as we were looking at his various tour itineraries, Gary and I kept asking ourselves why we didn’t do a whole lot more. There looked to be many occasions we should have made the effort to get to say a Wolverhampton or Nottingham, Coventry or Birmingham – locations within relative ease, or festival dates such as Cropredy, Womad, Canterbury and Bath that slipped through. Although as noted below – as we get older life’s demands and priorities take over – the fact is you cannot do everything…

Gary and Krys Jentzen by the way, is also on over 100 (ask them on Friday!)

However, over the years the plain reality of life, circumstances, family, work commitments and finances frequently got in the way – with little responsibilities, zipping around the country when I was younger was no trouble but as you get older you can’t do everything and compromises have to be made . Mind you, quite how I got away with eight nights out in July 1995 when Janet was eight months pregnant I’ll never know. In retrospect there have been some moments of recklessness juggling work,family etc in this quest to see the singer sing his songs.

So let’s talk about that.

It’s a testament to Robert Plant’s unquenchable thirst for musical re invention that his recent album Carry Fire and 2018 live shows find him on a new wave of critical and public acceptance.

Not for his achievements in the eleven years of life in Led Zeppelin (remarkable as they were), not for the six times Grammy award winning collaboration with Alison Krauss (as wondrously surprising as that was), not for a one off reunion with his old band mates at the O2 (as magical as it was). Nor for his being selected to be a Commander of the British Empire, his dedication to Wolverhampton Wanderers, or his nurturing of and support of local talent and matters close to his heart in his Midlands bolt hole.

Impressive as all these accomplishments are – it will be above everything for his role as Robert Plant- vocalist and musician that continues to demand attention and appreciation.

‘’The past is a stepping stone ’’ he once remarked – ‘’Not a millstone’’

For me personally, from 1971 to 2018 these 120 performances in the company of Robert Plant form a timeline of my life. I was 15 years and 77 days old when I first heard him scream out the ‘’Bali-hi’’ war cry of Immigrant Song at the Empire pool Wembley on Sunday November 21st 1971. When I attend the London 02 Arena show on Friday for performance 121, I’ll be 62 and 52 days old (with a lot less hair!).

120 nights – it’s been…. to use the old cliché, quite a journey.

From the glory days of Led Zeppelin, through small club gigs with the Honeydrippers, his initial tentative solo tours, the mid 90s Unledded collaboration with Jimmy Page, back to the cubs with the Priory Of Brion, esoteric nights with Strange Sensation, the remarkable one off Zeppelin reunion at the 02, Grammy award winning bluegrass musings with Alsion Kruass to the eclecticism of The Band Of Joy and The Sensational Space Shifters.

A journey that has taken me from the vast fields of Knebworth to backsteet pubs in Birmingham. From New York to Istanbul, Paris to Dublin, Glasgow to Cornwall and beyond. From secret filming sessions, rare TV appearances, album launch gigs, the fabled 02 reunion, party nights in Kidderminster and memorable moments down at Albert Place.

I’ve been lucky to have witnessed some incredible nights.

Highlights? Oh too many and all unforgettable:

Try these for example:

Led Zeppelin on a perishing cold Sunday night in November ‘71… in front of the golden god sitting on a limousine backstage at Earls Court May 25 1975… side of the stage in Frankfurt and Mannheim over Europe ’80… in the back of a rented Hertz van in Sheffield with the Honeydrippers…in the presence of HRH Prince Charles at the Dominion in ‘82… with the good lady at the Tube in ‘83… the sheer excitement of the first Zep numbers sung live in Leicester University ’88.. Jimmy back next to him at the Hammersmith in ‘83 and ’88… the night at the Marquee in ‘88 when an unassuming chap approached me and said the immortal words ‘’Are you Dave Lewis?’’ (Yes Gary Foy that was me and we’ve shared some sketches since!)… toasting Sam’s arrival in a pub near the Odeon hours after her birth… Wearing And Tearing with Jimmy at Knebworth ‘90… sitting on Robert’s monitor at the Kings Head pub the smallest stage I’ve seen him on…Dazed and Confused sung as a suprise in Birmigham ’93… weaving the Unledded Zep magic with Jimmy in August 1994… Thank You –opening number before my very eyes second night second row in Meadowlands Arena New Jersey… up against the barriers in St Austell… escapades in Istnanbul followed by Shepherds Bush,Top Of The Pops and TFI Friday – three consecutive days in the company of P & P in the mad month of March of 98…. Night Flight and Trampled Underfoot at the ULU… No Regrets with the Priory at the Boardwalk Sheffield on the anniversary of night of Bonzo’s passing…. in a tent on a Halloween afternoon in Ashby De La Zouch (hi Kevin!)…. in a back street pub bar in Kings Heath on a Saturday night… Priory in Milton Keynes round the corner from my mate Phil’s house….that bizarre night of separate Plant & Page appearances at the Royal Albert Hall 2002….. World Cup fever before and after the Storytellers TV recording….TBL comes alive in the front rows of Hammersmith in 2002 when I had priority tickets and Frank Skinner telling me caustically ‘’shame he’s lost it’’ afterwards… Dermot O’ Leary interviewing Robert at the Recovered TV show before he and Strange Sensation did a killer version of Love’s Seven And Seven is….Tin Pan Valley at The Scala Radio Two recording…. Christmas cheer (too much so!) in Wolverhampton 2005…. warm vibes in Cornbury and Somerset House in the summer of ‘06…. back with The Honeydrippers for Roy Williams 60th at JB’s on Valentines Day 2007…… Back to the infinite glory that was theirs at the 02 six months later – watching his family members dancing to Rock And Roll in front of me….Black Country Woman with Alison at Wembley… reviving the marvellous Scott Walker’s Farmer In The City and those lines ‘’Who are you twenty one, twenty one, I’ll give you twenty one, twenty one’’ sending shivers down the spine at Abbey Road… revelling in a true Band Of Joy at Mayfair One and doing a little angel dance of delight at the London Forum. A life affirming gig at Birmingham’s Symphony Hall, the pure emotion of the Pop Proms finale at the Roundhouse… back in the company of the old witchdoctor in Gloucester, glory nights in Wolverhampton Civic Hall, a surprise jam with Paul Rodgers and Brian Johnson in Oxford, performing Kashmir with Nigel Kennedy at Albert’s Place, back at Maida Vale for a lunctime BBC6 Music session and at the Royal Albert Hall with Chrissie Hynde adding her vocal to Bluebirds Over The Mountain and the lovely 2000 Miles – the latter a welcomed seasonal bonus last December…

It hasn’t all been plain sailing of course. Missed trains, cancelled shows and rather strange shows…

The odd night when it didn’t really spark, that stage that looked like a block of cheese in ’85, Tom getting lost on the way back from Oxford in ’83 (Slough on a dark December night did not look good!) Mr Foy’s car near conking out in the early hours on the way back from Warwick in 1988 when three fan belt purchased quickly in succession couldn’t fix it (Gary you should have realised I brought trouble and strife!), and by Robert’s own admission, some confusing moments as his career veered this way and we valiantly followed suit.

‘’’It’s been real’’ as the singer once put it himself.

Of course, along the way there’s been the camaraderie of like minded fans.

Indeed a fair few of you out there will have shared some of those memories above as they unfolded (and will do again on Friday.)

Many a friendship formed over the years, Many a pre gig and late night beer, many a curry, many a pre and post gig discussion of why this singer remains so inspirational in our lives. And that’s a trend I am sure will continue.

Let’s also be clear that I am also by no means alone in stacking up the Plant gigs and memories over the years.  It’s something that has become second nature amongst countless of his followers around the world.

And as much as we look back, it’s still all about the next gig: The next musical high, the next Robert Plant vocal performance sung into that Shure SM58 microphone that will leave you breathless in admiration.

As he once astutely put it ‘’It’s still today’s work and tomorrow’s plans that give us all a reason for being – rather than a reason for having been.’’

In another wise statement he recently noted ”This is not a career this is a gift”…

Sharing that gift with Robert Plant continues to be a life affirming experience. Long may his creative fire burn brightly…

…so here’s to the 121st occasion of seeing and hearing Robert Plant on vocals…see you at the 02 on Friday…

Dave Lewis- October 23, 2018

…………………..

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

Carry Fire updated review

The Vinyl Review:

As a follow up to my preview a couple of weeks back, here’s the view from three sides of vinyl edition. Note with the aid of the lyrics and track details on the vinyl version, I have revised some of my initial observations.

To re iterate:

Carry Fire pretty much carries on from where Robert Plant’s previous album left off.

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. This album is a masterclass in pure vocal control.

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.

Side A:

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 rhythm 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. Seth Lakeman’s contribution has a touch of Zep’s Poor Tom about it.

An effective echo on Robert’s vocal aids New World – a 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 and Skin’s solo here is a real delight.

The folksy Season’s Song benefits from lush multi layered vocals that reminded me of I Cried For You (off Manic Nirvana). There’s a touching romantic quality to the vocal delivery here. It all leads to 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.

Side B:

The beautifully reflective Dance With You Tonight is for me, the outstanding track. Lyrically, the singer aspires to enjoy ‘’one more chance for the last dance.” lamenting that ”We shared a word forever changing – through dancing days and wondrous nights’. He sings it with immense grace bringing a Roy Orbison melancholy into the mix. Down To The Sea and Come Into My Life are reference points to the organic nature of this superb outing.

The politically inspired 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. Robert delivers this in a more familiar high register vocal style.

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. Redi Hasa’s cello dds to the dreamlike atmosphere.

The title track, Carry Fire lends itself to the oft favoured North African influence. Mid tempo, with exotic sounding oud playing from Justin Adams, it’s a haunted, tension building affair. Seth Lakeman is again prominent adding a meandering solo that merges with Redi Hasas cello work. Live on stage this track has taken on a new life of its own.

Side C: (Note Side D is an etched inscription of the title and logo)

Bones Of Saints is another highlight with an urgent vocal delivery , coupled with some guitar licks in the syle of The Enchanter from Mighty ReArranger. The clarity of the vinyl version brings out the purity of the finely textured backing vocals and I detected a slight Four Sticks like wail at the fade.

Keep it Hid is a jazzy 5/4 time vibe unlike anything else on the album. John Baggott keyboard synth sustains throughout -Silver key in a golden cup” repeats the singer effectively.

The cover of Ersel Hickey’s Bluebirds Over The Mountain (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. Seth and Redi add some pleasing string work. Rich Newman guests on drums. It’s a rather over complicated arrangement.

The album closes in a downbeat manner with Heaven Sent – a bleak atmospheric piece that reminded me of  Heart In Your Hand from Walking Into Clarksdale. 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.

It took me a good few plays before it really got under the skin.

Give it some dedicated listening time and there are some very rewarding performances.

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.

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 – October 12, 2017

…………………………………….

Some more feedback on the Evenings With Led Zeppelin book:

Here’s a couple more feedback reviews…

Firstly from Robert Godwin:

Now once again I thought I knew a bit about Led Zeppelin – until I saw a copy of Robert Godwin’s Collectors Guide To Led Zeppelin book in late 1980s. This was an extensive chronicling of Led Zeppelin bootlegs albums – astonishing for the time in its detail. Equally impressive was his subsequent CD Guide and Press Reports book. I met Rob on a few occasions and our mutual love for chronicling this band was always evident between us – he was a generous and inspiring character and we have always kept in touch.

It’s therefore high praise indeed for what Rob has to say about the Evenings With Led Zeppelin book – if Rob Godwin think’s it’s pretty good then it must be – because he is a veteran at the chronicling of Led Zep game….and his seal of approval counts for a lot..

Evenings With Led Zeppelin

Dave Lewis’ latest book with Mike Tremaglio “Evenings with Led Zeppelin” is a tour-de-force. I can assure you, with first-hand knowledge, just how difficult it is to compile the information in a book like this, although what I did certainly pales by comparison. The sum of all of its parts is a magnificent sight; i.e. it is beautifully designed, printed and bound — but don’t let that disguise the epic scope of the work it contains. To create a book like this requires an immense amount of dedication and in the case of Dave and his co-author Mike Tremaglio that dedication goes back decades, indeed, a significant portion of the authors’ lives. There are few popular music acts that could generate, or justify, such an intensely researched history but I can assure you that no one is better qualified to do that for Led Zeppelin than Dave Lewis and Mike Trmaglio. Don’t kid yourselves folks, this book is the real deal.

Historically significant; magnificently researched and presented; packed with new information and a work of art to boot. If you ever wanted to know the entire scope of Led Zeppelin’s career, where they were, what they did, and how they were received this is the last word in that story. I cannot imagine it will ever be surpassed.

Rob Godwin

Here’s Paul Sheppard’s view – another Zep chronicler and expert who’s word I respect very much:

As we await the London return of Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters, It’s a timely moment for me to reflect on the 100 + nights I have spent in the company of Robert Plant on vocals. Alongside Luis Rey’s ‘’Led Zeppelin The Tape Documentary’, ‘Evenings with Led Zeppelin’ by Dave Lewis and Mike Tremaglio is arguably the joint best ever book on Led Zeppelin’s live history this time presented from a concert goer’s point of view, with published reviews (not always favourable) from contemporary music papers and illustrations of tickets and venues where possible. Whereas Luis Rey’s book gave us the ‘sound’ of the concerts as evidenced by the available ‘live’ tapes, ‘Evenings with…’ gives us the narrative and the ‘feel’ of what it must have been like to have ‘been there’. A massive amount of research has gone into this wonderful book and full credit to the authors for many months of what must have been painstaking work to assemble it. Every time you open it up and read a page or two, you are transported back to the years and dates when ‘rock gods’ ruled the planet. To compliment Luis Rey’s book there is also mention of the bootleg recordings too which helps the reader understand how the show can be heard (if a recording exists).

This book is a stellar work on any level probably best read alongside Luis’s book and a stash of recordings (if you have either or both) so you can listen while you read and absorb the magic of a Led Zeppelin show. For me, it’s a Desert Island book choice for sure. All in all, a magnificent book, clearly lovingly put together and with a wealth of research to support the content. The selected illustrations help to make it a visual joy too, clearly carefully chosen to support the copious text. This wonderful tome will surely become one of the literary linchpins when it comes to the history of Led Zeppelin as it appears to offer both historical ‘meat’ for researchers alongside a barrel full of useful information for fans. 10/10 is an easy score for this lovely book!

Paul Sheppard

……………

Evenings With Led Zeppelin distribution latest:

The view in the TBL Distribution Centre…well the TBL hub near our kitchen actually…

I have been very busy packing the TBL limited signed copies – and let me tell you carrying them to the post office on my bike is not easy!

UK and overseas copies are on there way.  The 100 copies are selling well – if you want to order a copy of this run – individually numbered and signed by me – here is the link to order:

http://www.tightbutloose.co.uk/evenings-with-led-zeppelin-the-complete-concert-chronicle-book/

US availability:

There is now a link to order the book in the US via Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/Evenings-Led-Zeppelin-Complete-Chronicle/dp/1783057017/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1539695138&sr=8-1&keywords=evenings+with+led+zeppelin

………………………………

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

  • Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and Jason Bonham have all been interviewed for the December 2018 issue of Mojo Magazine. The magazine features photographs from the band’s new photo book. The new issue will be released on October 23.

Jimmy Page

Robert Plant

John Paul Jones

Upcoming events:

October 23 – The surviving members of Led Zeppelin are interviewed in the December 2018 issue of Mojo Magazine.
October 24 – The Tate Britain’s Edward Burne-Jones exhibition, which features two tapestries owned by Jimmy Page, opens.
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 20 – The Japanese edition of the official Led Zeppelin photo book will be released.
November 29 – “Geddy Lee’s Big Beautiful Book of Bass”, which features an interview with John Paul Jones, will be released.
February 24, 2019 – The Tate Britain’s Edward Burne-Jones exhibition, which features two tapestries owned by Jimmy Page, closes.

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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Andie Airfix RIP:

I was very sad to hear the passing of the graphic designer Andie Airfix aged 72.  Andie worked on various Led Zeppelin including several CD and DVD covers for including “DVD,” “BBC Sessions,” and the “Early Days” and “Latter Days” albums. I was in contact with them during this time and always found him very animable. RIP

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TBL Archive Special: Led Zeppelin II – it was 49 years ago today…

Zep-2-KindofRock

To celebrate the release of the Led Zeppelin II album back in 1969 – some thoughts 49 years on…  

A Kind Of Rock…. Still Flying

In the same way Miles Davis’ Kind Of Blue defined the jazz genre, the second Zep album well and truly encapsulated rock music as we know it. Dave Lewis re appraises Led Zeppelin II on the occasion of its 49th anniversary.

In reappraising the second Led Zeppelin album 49 years on, it occurred to me that a parallel with the jazz giant Miles Davis is evident.

In the same way that Miles Davis Kind of Blue was the jazz album of choice for those who thought they didn’t like jazz, Led Zeppelin II became the rock album for those who thought they didn’t really like rock.

After Kind Of Blue, Miles Davis went on to make continuing adventurous music (witness In A Silent Way and Bitches Brew), Zeppelin also would push the boundaries of creativity with the likes of Zep IV and Physical Graffiti. Neither artist though, quite replicated the sheer shock element of intent so apparent on Kind Of Blue and Led Zeppelin II. These are both works of massive influence that grew their respective audiences manifold.

Having recorded the album in a variety of locations as they toured relentlessly that year, Jimmy Page admitted to having lost a bit of confidence by the time the album appeared in October 1969 accompanied by an advert that proclaimed it be ‘’Now flying’’. He need not have worried. By the beginning of 1970, Led Zeppelin II had dethroned The Beatles Abbey Road at the top of the charts on both sides of the Atlantic. It marked the beginning of the band’s world domination. It registered over 130 consecutive weeks on the UK chart and remarkably was still holding court when Led Zeppelin III appeared a year later.

So what inspired this sales longevity normally reserved for the likes of The Sound Of Music or Bridge Over Troubled Water? Put simply Led Zeppelin II defined the rock genre in a way that Cream and Jimi Hendrix had hinted at. Here was a seamless forty one minute experience as track merged into track and sledehammered the listener into submission. At the helm of it all was Jimmy Page. If the first album had laid down the foundations of what this quartet were going to be about, Zep II extended the notion with a brain crushing display of dynamics. And it was Page’s precision production that gave the record its real character, a standard he would uphold on successive Zep albums.

It was also his ability to adapt to the varying studio conditions they found themselves in that gave the album its distinctive sound. Page’s experiments in distance miking, a trick he picked up during his session days considerably enhanced the effect of John Bonham’s straight from the wrist drumming and Robert Plant’s wailing vocal. When it transferred to disc, it reproduced an air of electricity you could almost touch.

This was best personified on Whole Lotta Love, the catalyst opening track and smash US hit single. The lyrics may have been the work of Willie Dixon but the sound was pure Page/Zep. The swirling white noise middle section being the result of a weekend mixing session in New York with Eddie Kramer.

This second Led Zeppelin album also marked the emergence of Robert Plant as the group’s lyricist. He offered up compositional strength that would further flower on subsequent albums. The dreamy What Is And What Should never be ,the emotional love song Thank You with John Paul Jones excelling on organ and the Tolkien inspired Ramble On all sound as fresh today as they did four decades back.

Chris Huston was the studio engineer at Mystic Studios in Los Angles where some of the tracks were cut. ‘’It was such a small studio’’ recalls Huston. ‘’I was very impressed with Jimmy’s ability to double track and create the sound he wanted first time every time. What you hear is the product of a lot of spontaneous chemistry in their playing’’.

69-10-16 Village Voice

Examples of that spark of chemistry can be heard in the smash and grab solos that light up The Lemon Song and the closing track Bring It On Home- the latter highlighting the band’s somewhat dubious practice for taking unaccredited old blues tunes (in this case Sonny Boy Williamson s song of the same name) and respraying them Zep style. Derivative as this tactic appeared, such arrangements always emerged unmistakably as their own.

Led Zeppelin II also contains one of the finest and few listenable drums solos committed to record in Moby Dick, Heartbreaker – a riveting Page guitar virtuoso piece and a kitsch rocker Living Loving Maid that they always said they disliked, but actually packed a tight incisive punch. Another winning factor: The album made memorable use of the newly found freedom stereophonic sound offered, making it an early hi buffs delight.

It would of course been easy to replicate this formula on their next record but that was never an option. As the gold and platinum albums began lining their walls, Page and co had already moved on. Stedfastedly refusing to stick to one particular groove, with their second album they had already made the definitive hard rock statement. Mandolins, Martin acoustic guitars, Mellotrons and a date with ‘’A lady whose sure’’ now beckoned.

The intervening 49 years have done nothing to diminish the startling air of tension that signifies the opening cough and riff of Whole Lotta Love and the commencement of an album that continues to defy the wrath of time.

It a kind of rock…and a kind of legend and it’s still flying.

It’s Led Zeppelin II – go and wish it a happy 49th birthday and play it right now …

Dave Lewis, October 23, 2018.

My thoughts on…

Coda:
O’Neill’s Wardour Street, London.
October 18, 2018

The 50th anniversary celebrations continue and what a fabulous night this was.

It was a real thrill to be in the vicinity of where history was made 50 years to the day – for it was at the old Marquee Club at 90 Wardour Street where the band that would become Led Zeppelin made their London debut. Further down the road, the renowned Led Zeppelin tribute band Coda played another timely anniversary gig.

Watching the set unfold at close quarters, it’s so evident that this group of players – Simon Wicker on drums, Adam Rose guitar, Rob Deery bass and keyboards and Peter Byrne on vocals are massive Zep fans themselves. There’s a real joy in how they perform and present this revered catalogue of music. The costume wear is respectful without being contrived – Royal Albert Hall 1970 garb for the first half, 1973 Song Remains The Same film for the second.

The opening numbers of Train Kept A Rollin’, I Can’t Quit You Baby, Babe I’m Gonna Leave You and Dazed And Confused were likely set list inclusions for the real thing all those years ago down the road. Other early highlights included an emotional Thank You, an urgent Ramble On  and a compact Whole Lotta Love. Simon’s delivery of Moby Dick only enhanced my view that this is one of the very best tribute band drummers around.

The second half was more of the same – a playful Bron -Y- Aur Stomp led the way for the big hitters – Kashmir, Stairway To Heaven, Rock And Roll and Celebration Day all performed with a verve and passion that ensured maximum audience reaction.

Coda’s fitting tribute was a vivid example of why Led Zeppelin’s music still means so much to so many. Long may they continue to shout it out loud and proud – as they did on this hugely enjoyable night at the excellent O’Neill’s venue. Catch them when and where you can because Coda bring Zep satisfaction guaranteed.

It was very pleasing to have the good lady Janet in attendance to at last share in the 50th anniversary fun –and great too to see Andy Adams, Martyn Keeble, Jez Firth and Michaela and Bob Tait. Before hand a nostalgic stroll past 39 Gerrard Street was yet another thrill on a night of thrills. Here’s Andy, Martyn Keeble and myself outside 39 Gerrard Street -and also Andy and myself with the good lady Janet.
Dave Lewis – October 19, 2018.

 

 

 

 

 

DL Diary Blog Update: 

At the always excellent Vinyl Barn last Friday, I was well pleased to find a copy of the Linda Ronstadt album Hand Sown US pressing on the Capitol label – very nice indeed

It’s full on here with books to pack and a new Zep feature to commence – the research of which has prompted more than a few visits to the loft to search out some key source material. More on all that to follow.

On the player here :

Robert Plant – Carry Fire

Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin II

John Lennon – Imagine – excellent new 2CD edition with a remix from the master tapes and outtakes. I’ve also nearly waded through the excellent Mark Blake biography of Peter Grant – a compelling read.

One more pic here from last Thursday –  on the way to the Coda gig with Jez Firth, Bob and Michaela Tait and the good lady Janet outside 39 Gerrard Street in London’s Chinatown- scene of that first rehearsal for the band that would become Led Zeppelin all of 50 years ago…it really was a great night of celebration.

I am looking forward to Friday’s 02 gig and extending the celebrations in front of one of the principal players in the whole 50 year story…bring it on…

Dave Lewis –  October 23, 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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https://www.facebook.com/tightbutloose.loose

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

 

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8 Comments »

  • Dave Lewis (author) said:

    keep rockin’ yourself mate!

  • Andy A said:

    Dave, always a pleasure, always a joy my friend. Time for Buffalo ’69 and a rest! Keep doing what you do and more power to you my friend!

  • Dave Lewis (author) said:

    Andy thank you so much for those very kind words which mean a lot..

  • Andy Admas said:

    Can’t thank you and your good lady Janet enough after a wonderful night on the 18th my friend. Such a meeting of hearts and minds, our 30 plus year friendship was certainly rekindled and asserted that night! You are such an inspiration and joy to me, our collective love and spirit of all things Zep is unique and heart warming. Very proud to call you my friend and can’t thank you and Janet enough for your kindness, thoughts and love that night…. Here’s to more Zep filled adventures and years…

  • Dave Lewis (author) said:

    Andy many thanks!

  • Dave Lewis (author) said:

    Andrew many thanks!

  • Andrew Marcus said:

    LOve the Robert Update and Roundup I may be in the minority but I’ve always had a lot of respect and admiration for Robert’s decision not to do a full blown reunion. I like that he get’s to take the music in different directions without having to have the expectation of the impossible task of recreating something that cannot be duplicated without a certain Mr Bonham. He can honor the legacy and take it in different directions. I love Justin and Skin and their tke on things. Also Robert’s catalog is great. Would love to hear him do Tall Cool One! I always say that Mick Jagger and Rodger Daltrey and Ray Davies would kill for Robert’s solo career!

  • Andy J said:

    I’ve only just acquired my copy of “Evenings” as I’ve been away for a couple of weeks. Can I just say that you have surpassed yourself here Dave. A superb reference work which I will return to time and again. This has got to be one of the best books about the band ever published. Very well done.

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