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ROY WILLIAMS RIP/FATE OF NATIONS /PONTIAC 77/THE ROCK MACHINE TURNS YOU ON/FREE – THE FAS MAGAZINE LATEST/RSD UPDATE/DL DIARY BLOG UPDATE/CORAL HAY RIP

30 April 2020 1,232 views 11 Comments

Roy Williams…RIP:


I am so very sad to hear the passing of Roy Williams aged 73 – the long-time front of house sound engineer for Robert Plant and many others – and an integral part of the Midlands music scene for many decades.

I first met Roy in May of 1981 when I attended five Honeydrippers gigs that month. This was the ad-hoc R and B line up Robert Plant chose as his first step outside of the recently disbanded Led Zeppelin. The line-up was made up of mainly Midlands musicians and Roy acted as the booker and tour manager of this low key venture. It was evident from being around the band’s entourage that he was a much respected part of the whole set up – and that he had a deep bond with Robert

That bond would later extend to him taking on front of house sound engineer duties for the singer. At any Robert Plant gig I was at, a glance over to the sound desk to acknowledge Roy was as much a part of my Plant gig going experience as a delivery of Whole Lotta Love.

‘’Hello Dave’’ Roy would exclaim post gig in that gruff but welcoming manner. A set list in hand and a few choice anecdotes for me to take away. He was well aware of my chronicling of Robert’s career and the TBL magazine – copies of which I always made sure he received.

Roy was a man of much loyalty and I felt it such a privilege that he would often call me to relay information – always careful to inform me of what I could or could not print. During the Priory Of Brion era in 1999/2000 –another low key Plant touring band, he would often call to purposely tip me off as to where the band would next be playing thus ensuring a ready made audience via the news spreading on the TBL website.

On that night of nights at the 02 Arena on December 10,2007 when Led Zeppelin reformed for that one night only occasion in memory of Ahmet Ertegun, it was only fitting that Roy should play a major part in the presentation – sharing the front of house sound mix with Big Mick Hughes from the Metallica camp.

A few months prior to that memorable event, I was privileged to be invited by Roy to attend his 60th Birthday party. Staged on February 14 2007 at the famous JBs club in Dudley, this took the format of a reunion gig for The Honeydrippers with Robert Plant and a line up including Robbie Blunt plus support from and Mike Sanchez and the Big Town Playboys. It says much for the esteem Roy was held in that Jeff Beck who Roy had worked with, took time to turn up and perform a quite astonishing three song secret support slot.

The fact that Roy took the time to phone me the next day and provide full information of all who took part that night, also says everything about his pride of the local musicians he worked with. He diligently wanted to make sure I duly acknowledged everyone involved in my subsequent TBL review..

In recent years, Roy would occasionally phone me out of the blue to relay the latest Plant and Zep related activity. He kept me well in the loop about the progress of the John Bonham Memorial in Redditch, a project he was heavily involved in. On every single call, there would always be that sense of loyalty to all concerned in making sure I processed such delicate information in the correct manner.

I would like to think I never let him down…

Though he was not in good health, a few months back Roy phoned to relay details of a film festival happening in Bewdley. Sadly I was not able to make that. It was the last time I spoke to him.

As well his involvement with Robert Plant, Roy helped the careers of many a local Midlands bands and among many others worked with Seasick Steve and Roland Gift of The Fine Young Cannibals. His understanding of the heritage of music was also second to none, as was his wit and wisdom.

Over the 42 years of publishing the TBL Led Zeppelin magazine, I have had association with many people whose jobs have revolved around the world of Led Zeppelin and that of Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and John Paul Jones. I can honestly say that few have been as helpful or as kind to me as Roy Williams.

He was the Midlands man of music, a man of extreme loyalty and a man of immense kindness… he will be much missed but long remembered and loved by all who were lucky enough to know him…

RIP Roy…and thanks for making the music sound so good…

Dave Lewis April 29,2020

Photo via Lemon Squeezing website

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Fate Of Nations  27 Years Gone – TBL Archive Special:

To mark the 27th anniversary of its original release, here’s some TBL archive Robert Plant Fate Of Nations musings  – more very passionate and enthusiastic text from yours truly that first appeared in TBL issues 8 and 9. This is my review of the Fate Of Nations album and a tour overview.

The Fate Of Nations album provided the soundtrack to that summer of 1993 – all of 27 years ago.

Meanwhile back in 1993….

 

 

 

THE FATE OF NATIONS TBL ALBUM REVIEW

Robert Plant’s Fate: Diversity As A Function Of Union

FATE OF NATIONS (Fontana/Es Paranza)

So he’s back and ready to re-establish himself all over again. Of course, being Robert Plant re-establishing yourself doesn’t mean a total change of image or musical stance. He just draws on the many influences that have characterised his journey of the past 30 years and extracts from them as he sees fit.

What’s so refreshing about ‘Fate Of Nations’ is that, for this occasion, Robert has delved into the very essence of his roots going as far back as Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf and Robert Johnson, through Moby Grape, Quicksilver, The Incredible String Band, and Fairport Convention to the music of India and North Africa and, of course, the work of Led Zeppelin. And in taking these influences he has not allowed them to be diluted into a slick or soulless concoction but as he describes it, he has pumped them to inspire a set of new compositions that live and breathe yesterday, and by the same measure, push for the aspirations of tomorrow.

‘Fate Of Nations’ is therefore devoid of any grunge outings if you were looking. It’s also a step away from the rather staid standard rock formula that rendered some of the more mundane moments of ‘Manic Nirvana’ (‘She Said’, Big Love’) into the realms of mediocrity. By surrounding himself with new players and passions, Plant has pleased himself in taking his music where he wants it to go, and not where the consensus of opinion might expect it to go. For that reason alone, this album is vastly different from past solo outings.  Much of it demands utmost attention and does not rest easy on the ears in one listening. It may not be immediately apparent, but given time and repeated playback, the end result is a rewarding experience that for me, again confirms this particular 44 year old’s status as the outstanding vocalist of this or any other era.

The eclectic content of ‘Fate Of Nations’ perhaps also illustrates the difference of musical opinions that now divides Robert and Jimmy – and goes some way to explaining why a Led Zeppelin reunion could never work. Let’s face it, If I Were A Carpenter’ would not have found itself easily on a Zep reunion album. There is a totally different atmosphere prevailing on Robert’s album than that of the Coverdale Page set. Jimmy’s music is built on relentless riffing that captures a vast vacuum of sound. Robert has seemingly moved away from that stance, preferring to move around organically as he puts it, encompassing different styles and genres.

Not that he has lost his ability to adapt such Zep-like dynamics (witness ‘Calling To You’) when the desire takes him. For the most part though, the dynamics are alternately diversified and for me personally that’s not a problem. I can quite happily enjoy Jimmy and Robert’s respective new works based on their own differing merits and motives.

So this isn’t music that can be pigeon-holed to the cover of Kerrang. This is Robert Plant in 1993, still offering up that vocal style (his singing throughout is quite exemplary) that continues to give him a reason for being … instead of a reason for having been.

The track by track TBL dissection that follows is based on an advance tape and at the time of writing, I did not have access to the individual track listing details regarding who played what etc. Nonetheless this is how it sounded after a week of non-stop airtime on the Totnes Towers tape deck:

It all begins with ‘Calling To You’ which is simply the business. Beginning with some minor key strumming it then tacks into shape via Pete Thompson’s powerful (and yes perhaps Bonham-like) drumming. This really is a definite Zep throwback stomping along with some great dual guitar effects from, I think, Francis and Kevin. At the centre Robert turns in a majestic vocal, often undercutting the mix with additional bizarre phrases that add to the mystery of the lyric. All the old trademarks are intact (“Ohhhh Yeeaahhl”) and as effective as ever. The instrumental refrains have an Eastern quality about them and are further enhanced when one Nigel Kennedy enters to layer on a manic violin solo that recalls to mind the effects on The Beatles’ Tomorrow Never Knows’.

The track fades (“Just fade awaaaay!”) all too soon (this groove could sustain another five minutes in my book) but there is a telling moment as Plant can be heard right at the close to scream “Oh Jimmy!”‘

Could this be Robert’s own personal retort to his former partner? Perhaps illustrating that he can still turn on his sort of dynamic style when required? All in all it’s an infectious and engrossing slab of archetypal Plant that proves that he can still commit himself to this vocal style better than anyone. It’s also one of his best solo tracks to emerge in a very long time.

Elsewhere there are many differering styles to assess. ‘Down To The Sea’ is a quirky, repetitive Cure-like ramble, led by a subtle injection of Eastern table drums. The descriptive nature of the repeated lyric (“When I get older settling down will you come down to the sea”) conjures up video storyboard images of deserted grey beaches and the retired Plant many years hence holding court in carnal Malibu style with a bevvy of beauties still in tow. Vaguely psychedelic and dreamy, this track has a very ambient feel and is a very enjoyable departure.

‘Come Into My Life’ can be viewed as a direct influence of his hanging out with the Fairports. So enter Richard Thompson to add some achingly beautiful guitar licks and Maire Brennan from Clannad to float around Robert’s turn of phrasing. The chorus is heavily scored by a rush of acoustic guitars from which I detected a slight ‘Over The Hills’ leaning. The middle guitar part from Richard is superbly atmospheric and amongst the most elegantly constructed solos I’ve heard in an age. Robert’s vocal (“Ohh when yer get there well you know”) is also superbly recorded, capturing the gentle folk essence of the track but also rising in temperature with the chorus as required without ever losing control. This as  good as anything he’s done in the post Zep years.

“Memory Song” (Spikes Ghost) lurches in on a loping churning riff that proceeds to dominate the tempo. Robert’s vocal is nondescript and slightly phrased. The drum beat has a touch of the ‘Levee Breaks’ about it and towards the end the piece becomes a vehicle for some typical Plant gymnastics (one of which is right out of the fade to ‘Four Sticks’). lyrically ”Are you lost without the group ”is a telling line to who this might apply to.

The appearance of ’29 Palms’ changes the mood. Already familiar as the first single, within the confines of the album, it leaps out as being overtly commercial, with some very Knopfler-like guitar licks and a nice driving feel. All very likeable.

‘Colour Of A Shade’ takes over where ‘Liars Dance’ left off on the last album. Framed by a series of attractively overdubbed acoustic guitars, Robert applies a very folksy vocal that leads to an affectionate chorus. Shades of the Incredible String Band prevail throughout. File next to ‘Going To California’.

Side 2 opens with ‘I Believe’. The intro has a distinctly ‘Tears For Fears’ sounding keyboard motif (producer Chris Hughes influence) before moving into a very pretty strident mid-tempo chorus-led excursion likely to be pulled as the next single. Lyrically it’s not too difficult to detect a very personal message in the lyric (“Say brother sister see your brother in the sky”), which is duly reflected in the emotional content of Robert’s singing. “Like the wind you are free so talk to me, talk to me”. I guess we all know how the latter line will be extended in a live setting. There’s a very Beatlish flavour to the guitar solo here and overall this is another successful deviation from the expected.

Promised Land’ is more traditional fare, a bluesy strut with some prominent organ early on, before the familiar harmonica merges with some stinging guitar at times embellished by wah wah effects. His vocal here has a very retro feel which is almost ‘Physical Graffiti’ in texture. There’s an offbeat peculiarity about the whole track that draws you in on subsequent listening.

Another departure heralds the arrival of Great Spirit’. Set against a muted wah wah guitar effect played slow and moody, Robert croons over a repeated background chorus (“Great spirit comes”). Soulful and tasteful with some impressive guitar soloing but not a riff in sight. The lyrics include a reference to the album title and it all mellows out into the distance via some echo vocal effects as the master heeds the lyrical call of a previous incarnation (“Sing and Celebration”).

“The Greatest Gift opens with string induced grandeur. This is an epic love ballad, again more soulful than bluesy. It livens up for each power chorded chorus before returning to a very moody and mellow theme aided by some silky smooth guitar lines. The addition of a full string accompaniment adds to the epic nature of the piece. The whole thing has a widescreen effect and it strikes me that the song would make a great movie soundtrack theme. Plant’s impassioned vocal just soars.

And then . . . Robert joins such illustrious company as Bobby Darin, The Four Tops, Johnny Cash, and The Band Of Joy in covering the Tim Hardin 60s classic ‘If I Were A Carpenter. It’s a superb performance beautifully sung with full respect for the original and underscored by a subtle snare injection and another lush string arrangement. It’s a song he was familiar with long before there was Led Anything around circa 1967 and though it’s hardly the usual formula, it proves to be a perfect vehicle for his voice. And who knows, it could be a huge smash if extracted as a single at the right time.

And that is ‘Fate Of Nations’. An album that explores many different facets of Robert Plant’s compound of influences. It may take a few repeated listening but stick with it, because the end result will be immensely satisfying.

Led Zeppelin’s greatest strength was always their sheer diversity, a point clearly not lost on their ex-singer 25 years after their original inception. On ‘Fate Of Nations’ Robert Plant employs diversity as a function of union. Share it with him at your earliest opportunity.

Dave Lewis  – April 25th, 1993

STOP PRESS Please note early tapes of the album did not carry the track Network News’ which I was unable to review due to the already overdue printing deadlines. Just received the second CD of ’29 Palms’ with the new acoustic ‘Whole Lotta Love’ – it again employs Rainer on steel guitar – a sparse bluesy workout very much in harmony with Willie Dixon’s original “You Need Love” which no doubt accounts for the subtitle employed on the sleeve.

TBL FATE OF NATIONS EUROPEAN TOUR OVERVIEW

 Playing To An Ocean: Robert Plant goes back to the people

From a grand entrance in front of over 100,000 in Milan on May Day 1993, through to the less populated confines of the Kings Head, Fulham and across a variety of European halls and festival dates, Robert Plant’s first tour in three years has produced one of the most intensive and interesting work periods of his entire career. Stretching from the early Spring into late August he has appeared in front of well over a million people.

In launching this new phase of his career, Robert has been firmly committed to taking the music to the people. With little pretentions for the arena rock circuit which by his own admission his audience would be unlikely to extend to filling, Plant and his new line up embarked on a promotional trip that ensured a strong visibility by shrewdly taking a support slot with Lenny Kravitz and making up the bill on several major European festival dates, including a triumphant UK return at Glastonbury.

Alongside the actual live appearances, there have also been the media plugs. These have encompassed a hefty round of promotional TV and radio interviews with the added spice of several acoustic sessions that have been responsible for some surprising performances. The ‘FateOf Nations’ media UK push also propelled the new line up on to the small screen with appearances on ‘Top Of The Pops’ and ‘Later With Jools Holland’ – the latter signalling Robert’s first ever live UK presentation in his own right since the Zep 1969 one off.

Musically, in assembling a new line up, fresh thinking has been afoot. Gone are the techno wired for sound effects of Chris Blackwell’s drumming and the reliance on keyboards and samples from Phil Johnstone who, for this tour, has been much more prominent on guitar. Gone too, sadly, is Doug Boyle. He has been a much missed part of the line up for many Plant devotees, having carved a considerable nitch for himself during the previous four years. In revamping the line up Plant appeared to have struck lucky in finding Kevin Scott McMichael, an intelligent player with a seasoned background who displayed a fine alliance with

Plant’s own musical leanings (hence the introduction of the East coast Moby Grape/Springfield influence). To the left of the lead singer has stood Francis Dunnery, a strident guitarist well versed in the Page songbook and a strong personality on stage (can’t say I was over enamoured with the green shorts mind!). His stay could also be limited as there are plans for him to tour in his own right in  early ’94.

On drums, Michael Lee has proved to be an excellent addition with a no frills attitude to attacking the kit (Calling To You) coupled with a subtlety in his approach when the occasion demands (witness the rimshot style on the new arrangement of Ship Of Fools).

The actual set list employed seems to have caused quite a division amongst the faithful. After the No Led Anything approach pre-83, the contention of what to play seems to have come full circle. This time out there has been a renewed emphasis on performing Zep numbers – a total of 11 were aired along the tour against a ratio of 9 of his solo outings (plus two non originals).

Of those nine Plant solo outings, none of the songs delved back further than the 1988 Now And Zen album. It’s almost ironic that many of the diehards I’ve spoken to said they would have preferred Robert to have reinvestigated earlier solo tracks such as Pledge Pin and Burning Down One Side at the expense of a Zep delivery or two.

Of the Zep numbers re-employed Thank You and What Is And What Should Never Be received their first live airings in 20 years and seemed to be most welcome by all that heard them. The actual structure of the set was changed to match the differing time slots – a rigid 45 minute set was the norm for the supports to Lenny while the festival set was elongated to over an hour. The UK meanwhile received something like the duration that the US leg enjoyed with plenty of encore surprises – the most striking of which was the verses of Dazed And Confused performed at the NEC. Three tracks were used as set openers with Tall Cool One eventually emerging as the key choice over Hurting Kind and Calling To You.

Visually his persona seemed a throwback to the golden age with the hair back to Earls Court centre parted length. Time has not been too kind to his facial lines however and I also observed something of a receding hairline when the sweat dripped off the hair. But he looked fit enough -incorporating that new whirling dance style with perhaps a more paced physical approach that kept the peacock preening for later in the set.

In amongst all the media saturation Robert has played off the usual Zep investigations with a combination of flippancy and perception. Sometimes appearing not to care too much about the past, while at other times keen to re-affirm their greatness and affectionately talk of John Bonham.

One of the illuminating comments that have surfaced in more than one interview, is Plant’s observation that towards the end Led Zeppelin had become less of a passion for him and would not have survived in the 80s for all that long. “One thing’s for sure it would have seemed pretty silly today” was one such comment. This quote from a French radio interview also summed up his thoughts of the state of play back then. “Could we have continued? It’s impossible to say It’s a long time ago and I’m dealing with the present and the future now. And if I look back it’s all a long way back. I think there are some things you just grow out of. Led Zeppelin was very instant and motivated and you can’t keep that going forever. It really was a very big exciting animal. And maybe the animal had gone to the zoo . . .”

The other media cat and mouse game surrounded the Coverdale Page project with Robert again mixing some guarded replies with a few unsubtle and unnecessary snipes. When it comes to such matters, he should really let the music do the talking.

And it was the music that was the real focal point of this return to the people. And for me the most striking factor through it all, has been the quality of his vocals – with performances such as Thank You’ and ‘I Believe’ recalling the purity of those early teenage Atlantic recordings of nigh on a quarter of a century ago.

In fact some 20 years after he first introduced us to the ethic on the ‘Houses Of The Holy’ album, Robert Plant is still singing to an ocean . . . and judging by the reaction to this European tour. . . the ocean hasn’t lost its way…..

 Dave Lewis  – July 1993

First published in Tight But Loose issues 8 and 9

 Compiled via the TBL Archive with thanks to Gary Foy

2019 Record Store Day Release:

Last year the Fate Of Nation’s album was reissued as a much welcomed Record Store Day release – here’s a very contend TBL editor with said album on the morning of Record Store Day April 13 2019 at Black Circle Records in Leighton Buzzard.

 

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A whole lotta people in Pontiac – 43 years gone:

It was 43 years ago on April 30 1977 this week that Led Zeppelin performed before 76,229 at the Silverdome in Pontiac Michigan. At the time it set a new world record attendance for an indoor solo attraction concert. It was Led Zeppelin’s largest non – festival solo concert appearance of their career…a whole lotta people…

 

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DL celebrating 51 years of music passion 1969 – 2020 –

The Sampler Albums… 

 

In 1968 The CBS Rock Machine Turned You On – Including Jimmy Page and Robert Plant?

The Rock Machine Turns You On – Various Artists (CBS PR2)

In the 1968 chapter of the excellent David Hepworth book A Fabulous Creation, David relays the importance of the rock sampler album, notably the CBS release of that year The Rock Machine Turns You On

Ah yes, the sampler album, those of us of a certain age will recall the deluge of budget priced sampler albums that surfaced around the late ’60s and early ’70s. Their attraction was that they normally sold for around 19 shillings and 11 pence (the equivalent of a quid) or 14shillings and 6. This provided the opportunity for teenagers like me, to climb on board the hip and trendy world of the underground.

Due to the more affordable price, one of my first albums I purchased aged 13, was the Island sampler You Can All Join In. This opened my ears to a host of inspiring tracks from the likes of Jethro Tull, Free ,Fairport Convention, Traffic, Spooky Tooth ,Tramline and the exotically named Wynder K Frog.

The purpose of these samplers was to draw attention to the variety of performances on offer and perhaps lead you on to the equivalent album. That worked for me later on in the pursuit of albums by Free, Jethro Tull and Fairport Convention

David Hepworth’s entry in the sampler world came a little earlier in June 1968 with the release of The Rock Machine Turns You On. The CBS label (Columbia in the US) were the pioneers of such releases and in the book, the compiler of this set David Howells recalls how Columbia in the US suddenly found them with a breadth of emerging rock talent. This from a label that was more associated with the likes of easy listening artists such as Ray Conniff, Andy Williams and Tony Bennett.

Inspired by a cheap sampler set on RCA titled Pop Shopper and issued in the early 60s, Howells saw the potential of compiling tracks from the CBS stable to promote their catalogue in the UK. The Rock machine Turns You On was stickered 15 tracks for 15 shillings. The 15 artists featured lined up as follows: Bob Dylan, Moby Grape, Spirit, The United States of America, The Zombies, The Peanut Butter Conspiracy, Leonard Cohen, Blood Sweat And Tears, The Byrds, Simon & Garfunkel ,Taj Mahal, The Electric Flag featuring Mike Bloomfield, Roy Harper, Tom Rose and Elmore Gantry’s Velvet Opera.

On the back cover it featured some heady words of wisdom extracted by Howells from a US Columbia advertising campaign for this hip new emerging era. It read as follows:

THE ROCK MACHINE IS A MACHINE WITH SOUL.

The Rock Machine isn’t a grind-you-up. It’s a wind-you-up. The sound is driving. It’s your bag. So it’s ours. It’s the Super Stars. And the Poets. It’s the innovators and the underground. It’s the Loners and the lovers. And It’s more. Much more…

This all worked a treat and led on to many major labels following suit – the aforementioned Island Records with You Can All Join In and Nice Enough To Eat  plus the pleasingly titled El Pea and Bumpers . Polydor waded in with the double set Bombers – Harvest with Picnic, a Breath of Fresh Air and the Harvest Bag, Atlantic with the Age of Atlantic and New Age of Atlantic , Liberty with Gutbucket. Probe with Handle With Care. CBS extended the Rock Machine Turns You On into a second volume Rock Machine I Love You and then issued the superb double album samplers Fill Your Head With Rock and Rockbuster. There were many others.

At the time I loved looking at these samplers in the local record shops – the line-up of tracks providing a gateway into a brave new musical world – and I invested in a few too.

Unsurprisingly, I am still a big collector of such items and the David Hepworth book reminded me of the importance of the original The Rock Machine Turns You On sampler.

This a remarkable collection – not least because it has various Led Zep references amongst the 15 tracks. Alongside the more well established CBS artists of the era (Dylan/ The Byrds/Zombies/ Leonard Cohen etc.) there are no less than six that have Zep connections.

In the influences department, there’s Moby Grape’s Can’t Be So Bad – very much a part of the young Robert Plant’s musical heritage. Then it’s hats off to one Roy Harper, represented by a quaint busk through Nobody’s Got Any Money In The Summer, taken from his Come Out Fighting Genghis Smith album.

A further connection comes via Tim Rose presenting in dynamic style Come Away Melinda from his 1968 album. That was the year Tim Rose was supported by The Band of Joy where he spotted the young John Bonham and later offered him the drum stool for his summer UK tour. It was during that particular Tim Rose tour at the Hampstead Country Club on July 31 ,1968 that Page witnessed the Bonham phenomenon for himself when he was assembling a new Yardbirds line up that would eventually emerge as Led Zeppelin. Page immediately offered him the job.

Then there are three tracks on this album that were covered by the early Led Zeppelin. Spirit’s Fresh Garbage was incorporated into the As Long As I Have You medley during the debut Zep American tour. As is plainly evident on the original, its strident riff was tailor-made for interpretation on that Page painted Fender Telecaster. Of course the ‘Taurus versus Zep Stairway To Heaven ‘ high profile court case would go on to become their more notorious association with Spirit.

The Electric Flag with Mike Bloomfield on guitar attack Chester Burnett’s Killing Floor. It was this arrangement (also used by Jimi Hendrix) that Page and co loosely based their Led Zep 2 staple The Lemon Song upon. Bloomfield’s fluid guitar dominates this slightly faster work out that features some jazz rock like sax towards its climax. Back in 1969, it did not take long for publisher Jewel Music to claim a cut of the Zep publishing fee which would lead to The Lemon Song appearing under the title Killing Floor on later copies of the second Zep opus.

And finally Elmore Gantry’s Velvet Opera tune in with their most famous offering Flames. Elmore who? you may ask, and what’s it got to do with the Zep?

Well, although there is no surviving taped evidence, both Page and Plant have stated that this was one of the numbers The New Yardbirds/early Zeppelin fleshed out their initial sets with. It may have also been considered as a possible studio contender for the first album sessions. The Elmore Gantry original is certainly typical of the aggressive psych rock stance that Page brought to The Yardbirds in their final days and its soulful refrain “You’ve been burning me up” would have been perfect fodder for the raw vocal technique of the young Plant. Indeed, the singer would perform his own version of the song during his Priory of Brion touring era circa 2000.

As for Elmore Gantry’s Velvet Opera, two of their members, Richard Hudson and John Ford, went on to join The Strawbs and later formed their own Hudson Ford group scoring a top ten UK hit with Pick Up The Pieces. Elmore himself went on to form the bogus Fleetwood Mac that went out in the mid-70s when the real Mac was off the road. He later, formed Stretch, and enjoyed a hit in the mid-70s with Why Did You Do It.

So here’s the thing:

David Hepworth notes This Rock Machine Turns You On sampler was originally released in early 1968.

With this thread of Zep influences revolving amongst the grooves, could it possibly have been one of the albums Robert Plant took along to spin to Jimmy Page at that first meeting of minds in Pangbourne in the summer of 1968?

Or that Jimmy Page already had a copy lying around?

There’s enough evidence in their early repertoire to make that claim fairly plausible.

Here’s a quote from a 1990 Robert Plant interview:

“On stage the song’s opened up so much. We’d do As Long As I Have You, the old Garnett Mimms track, Fresh Garbage by Spirit, Flames by Elmore Gantry and his Velvet Opera. All these things would come creeping out the woodwork. That was the beauty of Led Zeppelin.”

 

On a final note – my copy of The Rock Machine Turns You On has the original CBS inner sleeve and it’s a beauty.

One side comprises of eight reasons to buy records under the title ‘’Here’s how records give you more of what you want’’.

It’s a fascinating snapshot of the way records were perceived and 50 years on, much of it still rings true

Here’s the full text:

HERES HOW RECORDS GIVE YOU MORE OF WHAT YOU WANT:

1: THEY’RE THE BEST ENTERTAINMENT BUY: Records give you top quality for less money than any other recorded form. Every album is a show in itself. And once you’ve paid the price of admission you can hear it over and over again.

2: THEY ALLOW SELECTIVITY OF SONGS AND TRACKS: With records it’s easy to pick out the songs you want to play, or to play again a particular song or side. All you have to do is lift the pick-up arm and place it where you want it. You can’t do this easily with anything by a long-playing record.

3: THEY’RE CONVENIENT AND EASY TO HANDLE: With the long playing record you get what you want to hear when you want to hear it. Everybody’s familiar with records too. And you can go anywhere with them because they’re light and don’t take up space.

4: THEYRE ATTRACTIVE , INFORMATIVE AND EASY TO STORE: Record albums are never out of place. Because of the aesthetic appeal of the jacket design, they’re beautifully at home in the living room and library. They’ve also got important information on the backs – about the artist, about the performance or about the programme. And because they are flat and not bulky. You can store hundreds in a minimum of space and still see every title.

5: THEY’LL GIVE YOU HOURS OF CONTINUOUS AND UNINTERUPPTED LISTEING PLEASURE. Just stack them up on your automatic changer and relax.

6: THEY’RE THE PROVEN MEDIUM. Long -playing record look the same now as they did when they were introduced in 1948 but there’s a world of difference. Countless refinements and development s have been made to perfect the long playing records technical excellence and ensure the best in sound reproduction and quality

7: IF IT’S AVAILABLE IN RECORDED FORM, YOU KNOW IT’LL BE AVAILABLE ON RECORDS. Everything’s on long playing records these days…your favourite artists, shows ,comedy, movie soundtracks, concerts, drama, documented history, educational material…you name it. This is not so with any other recording.

8: THEY MAKE A GREAT GIFT because everybody you know loves music. And everybody owns a record player because it’s the musical instrument everyone knows how to play. Records are gifts that say a lot about to the person you’re giving them to. And they keep on remembering

AND REMEMBER..IT ALWAYS HAPPENS FIRST ON RECORDS

The reverse of the inner bag lists 25 CBS label albums with sleeve illustrations. This mirrors the changing tide of tastes as the likes of Leonard Cohen, Chicken Shack, Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper, Bob Dylan, The Byrds, Simon & Garfunkel, Taj Mahal, Tim Hardin, Gun and, Blood Sweat and Tears rub shoulders with Tony Bennett, Ray Conniff, Andy Williams, Johnny Mathis, Funny Girl and West Side Story.

The musical times they were a changing and The Rock Machine Turns You On was a tangible testament to that statement.

In summary: The Rock Machine Turns You On is a vinyl gem. I would advise any Led Zep fan to check it out at their earliest convenience.

 

Collectors Update: You can never have too many copies of The Rock Machine Turns You On. I am now up to 5. They include a couple with the original 15 shillings sticker and another with a rare poster insert. I also have mono and stereo copies of the follow up Rock Machine I Love You. Vinyl gold indeed…

Dave Lewis – April 28,2020

………………….

Free Appreciation Society magazine:

I have often mentioned the excellent Free Appreciation Society magazine written by David Clayton. Now up to issues it continues to chronicle Free and related artists with a passion and diligence that drives me and countless other right back to the music.

I had some dialogue with David recently when he paid me a very high compliment to quote David…

”You know, it’s nice that you like the FAS mags but all this fanzine stuff is really your fault! I’d never even have thought of going this way if it wasn’t for ‘Tight But Loose’ .I just followed your lead. Having said that, are we the last one’s standing? ”

High praise indeed. David has been far more prolific than I have in terms of issues produced and it’s always a thrill when a new issue drops through the door.

David has been particular busy on the last few issues as he explains here:

The idea now, really with the magazines from issue #143, is to tie up the full history of FREE as we go through the 50th anniversaries of all the albums they recorded.

These new issues will than act as a companion to the ‘Heavy Load’book that Todd Smith and I produced in 1999. The current FAS magazines don’t repeat what is in there. Here the idea is to expand that with all the information that has come to light since it was written. All the recording information and research notes I made during my investigation into the tape archive and putting together the remasters and the boxed set (‘Songss Of Yesterday’), world-wide release information, pressing matrix sequences, pressing variations, record label disparities, rarities – the lot. Everything I know about FREE will be included.

This is the last time I’ll be doing the complete history of the band so I’m trying to make it as comprehensive as I possibly can, and with help from many of the key figures there at the time, to whom I am extremely grateful. I’m trying to be as accurate as humanly possible and that includes a day to day diary of the band activities. If you like information then I’m giving you as much depth to the history as I can.

This beginnings of the band,’Tons Of Sobs’ and ‘Free’ are done. I’ve been working on the’Fire And Water’ issues since Christmas Day last year! I’m re-examining everything and I have to say, there are things that have come to light that even I didn’t know, and I’ve been researching Free for decades! The issues for each album seem to have dropped into a trio of magazines, 56 pages per issue. That’s 168 pages per album.

So each record now has it’s only little history book as the three magazines are really to be treated as one volume covering the specific period.

FAS issues #144, #145, #146, for example, run from April 1968 to March 1969. That’s the formation of the band to the release of the debut. This then picks up again in #147, with an introduction by Simon Kirke, where we continue the story into April 1969 – and so on. This will go right through to the end of the band in 1973 (2023) and the eventual release of ‘The Free Story’ , which I always felt acted as a great ‘full stop’ tothe Free career.

The mags can all be found on Ebay, or can be ordered via the Blog at

http://freeappreciationsociety.blogspot.com

or via email at fasarticle@aol.com.

Fans  seem to be enjoying them so far, and that encouraging when the involve such a lot of work!”

Many thanks to David for that run down of his recent activities. When it comes to the chronicling of a band,David’s work with Free is as comprehensive as it gets. For all the diligent information his passion for the music always shines through.  The FAS magazine is highly recommended. The recent issues have been stupendous reads – just so enlightening, areal insight to the making of these timeless albums.

This pic of the two of us was taken at the launch of the Bad Company Playback at Gibson Brands Studios in London. This featured Mick Ralphs in conversation with Nicky Horne discussing the Bad Co and Straight Shooter reissues back in March 2015. A fantastic night not least for hooking up with David for the first time since the Celebration Days Led Zeppelin UK Convention in 1992.

………………………..

 

 

 

Forthcoming Perth Music Shop with Jimmy Page image…

A new music shop is opening in Perth Western Australia – the mural on the boarding’s has an effective Earls Court era image of Jimmy Page – thanks to Michael Rae for spotting that one

Record Store Day Update:

Unsurprisingly, the planned revised date for Record Store day will not be taking place.

Instead RSD is going social distancing…

In 2020, the world is a different place and RSD has had to adapt to fit into this different place. Sadly, it is not possible for #RSD20 to take place on June 20th but instead, RSD is officially social distancing! https://bit.ly/2SkHzIj

The official titles will now be available from record shops on one of the following RSD Drop dates: 29.8.20, 26.9.20, 24.10.20 💥

A new version of “The List” with assigned release dates and details on how to get RSD releases will be launched on 1st June via recordstoreday.co.uk

This current #RSD20 plan to spread the spotlight and the support over three months was devised by the global coordinators to give the largest number of stores a chance to participate in what will be a very unusual Record Store Day.

Thanks for continuing to support your local independent record shops throughout the pandemic. We’ll back with more updates soon. Stay safe.

……………………………….

DL Diary Blog Update:

From my Facebook page last Saturday:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today would have been the VIP Record Fair at Victoria in London unsurprisingly one of my favourite occasions of the year.
Of course that is not to be and missing these scenes at the Victoria Fair and nearby Royal Oak pub and of course these guys big time today…stay safe and well my fellow Record Fair companions..…

On Monday it was time to celebrate the anniversary of one of my favourite Led Zeppelin bootlegs…

It was 43 years ago today: April 27,1977…

On the player Led Zeppelin The Destroyer –the four LP box set on the DRGM Enterprises label as recorded 43 years ago today at the Richfield Coliseum in Cleveland.
.
I’ve loved this set for years and it’s right up there with my fave Led Zep bootlegs. It’s a superb soundboard recording.
John Paul Jones’ use of the thundering Alembic bass guitar is well in evidence and his meandering keyboard solo on ‘No Quarter’ is simply captivating – as is Jimmy’s remarkable guitar solo interlude. Overall, this is a crystal clear portrayal of the band regaining their crown.

The sheer juggernaut power of 1977 Led Zeppelin blazes through. This is when they were kings -and they still are…

It was 43 years ago today: April 28,1977…

This will be on the player today – Led Zeppelin The Destroyer –the audience recording of their April 28 1977 performance at the Richfield Coliseum in Cleveland 43 years ago today. A scintillating performance perhaps superior in their playing to the previous night…when they were kings…they still are…

It’s been up and down here these past few days – I was bad again with depression issues over Saturday and Sunday and there have been a fair flowing of tears, some brought on by the many widespread acts of kindness we see every day – some in sadness – notably the loss of dear Roy Williams…some in frustration at my inability to cope as I would like to – today has been a good example as I just lost it again which is disappointing.

However, there is always a lot to be thankful for and there have been some inspirations along the way as follows…

The new issue of Mojo arriving through the door – with no chance of purchasing from a shop I have made a subscription for Mojo magazine and it was a thrill to see it come through the door. I need my music magazine fix more than ever in these days…

Re- discovering the beauty of Free’s back catalogue after being inspired by reading the recent FAS issues (see above).

Communication from long time TBL supporters and friends Gary Foy, Mark Harrison and Katherine Appleton.

Phone calls with esteemed friends notably two people I worked with in the glory music retail days Barry Farnsworth from 1978 to 1982 and Hayley Martin from 1998 to 2002

The daily walk with the good lady Janet which after nearly five months with both, in the past few days has seen her only using one crutch.

I am afraid I close on some more very sad news…as I have just been informed of the passing of one of our dear friends.

We are so very sad to hear the passing of our dear friend Coral Hay.

We have known Coral for nearly 40 years and had such fun in her company on so many occasions. Coral attended our wedding in 1984 – the photo here is from that day.

Cherished moments that we shared with Coral include watching Live Aid unfold on TV at our house on that memorable hot July Saturday in 1985 with our friends Steve Moore and Alan Stutz, and a year later attending what would be Queen’s final gig with Freddie Mercury at Knebworth. There was also a memorable playback of the Led Zeppelin Dazed And Confused Supershow clip at Coral’s house that we had videoed off The Tube TV show and a new year’s eve party at her home in Russell Avenue where we ended up drinking whiskey with her dad. Such wonderful memories…

Though not in good health in recent years, Coral always supported my Led Zep TBL ventures and always kept in touch. Coral sent us a lovely supportive message when she heard of Janet’s accident and sent a message to us only recently to ask how we were and said when she was stronger, she would come and visit us – so typical of her caring nature.

It so inspired us…how poignant that message is now. I’m glad in my reply the last words I wrote to her were ‘’We love you’’… to which she replied ‘’You both’’….

Wonderfully kind-hearted, always upbeat and passionate about music and life itself and so brave, a beautiful light has gone out.

Coral will be remembered and forever loved by all who were lucky enough to have known her and we count it a privilege to have done so.. .

RIP Coral…you lovely sweet lady…

Dave and Janet xx

Dave Lewis

April 30,2020

Until next time, stay safe and stay well…

Website updates written and compiled by Dave Lewis

Follow TBL/DL on Facebook:

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

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

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11 Comments »

  • Dave Lewis (author) said:

    Mal many thanks for your comments

  • Mal B said:

    Hi Dave
    Great to read about Fate Of Nations. For me Plant’s best solo album. Not a bad song on it. I saw him four times that year including a brilliant Glastonbury set and a great guest appearance with Fairport at Cropredy.

    Just wondering, as May is now upon us, if you will be taking us back 50 years to a certain Welsh cottage? I know we’ve visited there many times before but I’d love to read your thoughts about all those wonderful songs that were inspired by those happy times.
    Keep up the great work!

  • Dave Lewis (author) said:

    Thanks Gary …

  • Dave Lewis (author) said:

    Indeed it will Steve

  • Gary Davies said:

    Dave, those were heartfelt words about Roy and Coral.

  • Steve A. Jones said:

    Rest in Peace Roy Williams. His professionalism and loyalty to Robert will be sorely missed.

  • Dave Lewis (author) said:

    Ed many thanks

  • Dave Lewis (author) said:

    Alessandro many thanks

  • Edward said:

    Thank you Dave for this particulary interesting TBL News : about Roy Williams, The Rock Machine Turns you on (I’m gonna looking for it) and the Free Fanzine (the numbers you mention seem very interesting).
    Kind regards,
    Ed

  • Alessandro Borri said:

    Thanks Dave for this updates, as usual a fantastc job ! Just to let you know Robert Plant played 1st May 1993 in Rome and not in Milan ! Thanks again for all ! All The Best, Alessandro

  • Jez Firth said:

    What a wonderful eulogy Dave, very moving.

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