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SEASONS GREETINGS FROM US TO YOU/ALLY PALLY & REMASTERS RETRO REFLECTIONS/ JOE COCKER 1944 -2014/DAVE LEWIS DIARY UPDATE

24 December 2014 2,187 views 3 Comments

santa dave 2014

So this is Christmas…

Christmas Eve is upon us it’s that final rush to get everything sorted for the next few days.

As is customary on Christmas Eve here – I’ll be wearing my Led Zeppelin Winterland 1969 tie brought for me by Larry Ratner in 1992 (hi Larry!) After all the intense TBL activity of recent weeks, it will be great to unwind today in the company of visiting friends and along the way a beer or two may be drunk in one or two local pubs.

And what a period of activity it’s been –with all the thrill of the first five Led Zeppelin reissues and Jimmy’s many promotional events plus the publication of his book  – alongside all of that, Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters  have provided many a high on stage and on record. All in all it’s been a remarkable year that took us all closer to the world of Led Zeppelin…

There will be time in the next few days to reflect on the events of the past 12 months before 2015 unfolds…meanwhile…

TBL Retro Reflections:

With Christmas always bringing with it that air of nostalgia, here’s a couple of TBL retro reflections:… 

ALLY PALLY 42 YEARS GONE:

42 years ago on Saturday December 23rd  1972, I was lucky enough to be in attendance at the closest gig Led Zeppelin ever played to Christmas in the UK. It was a cold  dank day and the walk up Muswell Hill to the Alexandra Palace was a bit of a trek. All worth it of course as this very impressionable 16 year old was again in the company of musical giants.

The venue itself had not been used for a gig for years and was a little cold and impersonal – the sound also suffered a fair bit swirling around the high ceiling. Zep of course were brilliant – I had already read they were playing new tracks off of what was still being described as Led Zeppelin V (what would emerge as Houses Of the Holy the following March.)

Hearing Over The Hills And Far Away,The Song Remains The Same,The Rain Song and Dancing Days was an immense thrill. The Jesus character who frequented many London gigs at the time stripped naked in front of me (ooerr!) and played a tin whistle during Jimmy’s Dazed violin bow solo and the Whole Lotta Love medley was memorable for a great Everybody Needs Somebody To Love, Let’s Have A Party and a scintillating  I Can’t Quit You Baby.

Zep gig number two was ticked and I wanted more…much more… though that opportunity would not come around for another two years. By then I had a new mantra..if Led Zeppelin were playing anywhere in the UK I wanted to be there…

…………..

REMASTERS 24 YEARS GONE:

remasters box

It’s amazing to think that there was a time back in the day that the only way of hearing Led Zeppelin’s music was via the ten original albums – ie the eight original studio albums, the Song Remains the Same soundtrack and the posthumous collection Coda.

There were no greatest hits albums, no BBC sessions, no 1972 live albums and certainly no i-tunes.

There albums had been released on CD – alebit not from the original masters and transferred via analogue tapes. The results were mixed. I did a feature in Record Collector in early 1990 reviewing the original CD’s (I’ll need to dig that one out) ,blister fully unaware that Jimmy was about to overhaul the entire catalogue for CD.

Thus the arrival in the Autumn of 1990 of the five LP CD box set and double Remasters compialtions was a very big deal indeed.

I wasn’t the only one I am sure who had not paid much attention to the studio albums in recent years. My Zep listening time was taken up analysing the many Zep shows that were appearing on CD sets and the fresh outtakes that had surfaced.  The arrival of the Remasters sets changed all that. Suddenly we all realised just exactly what it was that had made this band so special. Lapsed fans got back on the wagon –a whole new generation of younger enthusiast’s also jumped aboard. Overnight Led Zep’s stock shot up…and it’s kept on increasing ever since.

Here’s my original review of the Remasters box set that appeared in Record Collector in December 1990…

LED ZEPPELIN REMASTERED…

DAVE LEWIS REVIEWS JIMMY PAGE’S DEFINITIVE COMPILATIONS OF ZEPP’S BACK CATALOGUE

Earlier this year, I summed up my feature in Record Collector on Led Zeppelin On CD by offering Atlantic Records the following advice: “In the light of the shortcomings of the Led Zeppelin CDs, it would be good to see Atlantic embark on a re-mastering job to eliminate some of the errors that have occurred. An even better idea would be for Jimmy Page himself to oversee such a project which could easily take the format of a special box set release. Atlantic Records take note!”

At that time, I was unaware of Atlantic’s plans to produce just such a set, so it came as a pleasant surprise to learn that my request was about to become a reality. The project began to take shape when Jimmy Page was approached by the label to remaster the original Zeppelin catalogue for a compilation release. Dissatisfied with the general reproduction of the available CDs, Page jumped at the opportunity to restore his old masters to the standard he envisaged. Studio time was booked at New York’s Stirling Studio in May, where Jimmy spent a week with engineer George Marino digitally transferring the material from, in most cases, the original two-track master tapes.

The project in mind was a multi-track box set release for which Page drew up possible track listings for the other two ex-members to sanction. “I really wanted to improve the release”, Page is quoted as saying on the officially press release; “basically it’s the same picture with a different frame”. John Paul Jones added: “The songs sound as fresh now as when they were first recorded, and the new positions in the running order seem to put them in a totally different light.”

The original concept was to package 54 remastered tracks in a deluxe box package with a 36-page book of photos and essays. Atlantic’s European distributors East West were supremely keen to also issue an edited version aimed at the mainstream market. And so a condensed version with 24 tracks on a triple album and 26 on a double cassette and CD was also prepared — for Europe only.

This release, under the title “Remasters”, formed the major spearhead of WEA/East West’s Christmas market campaign. After all the years of avoiding the greatest hits treatment, the Zepp catalogue received the full commercial push as East West undertook a massive marketing campaign to back to October 15 release of “Remasters”. Window displays were installed, including inflatable blimps which are sure to join earlier models as collectable Zep items. Mysterious teaser adverts appeared in the music press depicting the shadow of the Zepp airship looming over several international locations, recalling the similar obscure ads placed as a trailer for the band’s fourth album. Even a TV advertisement was prepared, set to appear on screens across the country in the run-in to Christmas.

COMMERCIALISE

But East West did fail in the final quest to fully commercialise this “Remasters” package: they did not receive the blessing of Page, Plant and Jones to issue a U.K. single. The plan was to issue “Stairway To Heaven” on December 2 as a four-track CD single and 12″ picture disc, with “Whole Lotta Love”, “Immigrant Song” and “Good Times Bad Times”. Although the classic Zep anthem would have been a strong contender for the Christmas No. 1 spot, the no-U.K.-singles rule prevailed. This collection of tracks subsequently surfaced in two already well-in-demand U.K. promo items. The first is a four-track 10″ pressing (Atlantic LZ 2), housed in a black sleeve depicting the specially commissioned Mission Control-designed colour illustrations that mirror the images of the band’s famous four symbols. There is also a four-track promo CD single (Atlantic CD LZ 1), packaged in a cardboard oblong box. Both items are definitely prime additions to any Led Zeppelin rarities collection.

The condensed “Remasters” set duly surfaced on schedule, and entered the U.K. album chart at No. 10. As a layman’s introduction to the group, its track listing does include the majority of Zepp classics, though I was surprised to find that “When The Levee Breaks” and “The Ocean” — two tracks which have been heavily sampled by other artists, and have this found their way to the forefront of the Zepp canon over the last decade — had both been omitted. I personally would have viewed these tracks as more historically representative than lesser stepping stones such as “Celebration Day” and “Houses Of The Holy”

While there can be little complaint about the overall musical content of “Remasters”, or the typically offbeat sleeve design concept of the Zepp shadow looming over a mysteriously carved cornfield, the lack of any track details on the sleeve is a disappointment. Despite the fact that Atlantic’s press release for the condensed set promised “extensive sleeve notes” on the vinyl edition, purchasers of “Remasters” are afforded none of the intensive recording data to be found in the box set booklet. There is not even any indication as to which album each track came from. As the set is obviously aimed at the less committed fan, surely this would have been a simple device to draw attention to the entire Zep catalogue.

Unfortunately, omissions such as these present “Remasters” as something of a cold marketing ploy issued to cash in on the peak consumer period. Compared to the deluxe box set package, it certainly pales considerably. At nigh on £20 a throw, “Remasters” should have been presented with far more information, and some additional alternate photos. That’s particularly the case, given the fact that completist collectors will need this set as well as the extended box, as it strangely contains one remastered track not to be found anywhere on the box set — namely the first album opener, “Good Times Bad Times”. The fact that all the different formats of “Remasters” are scheduled to be deleted on March 31 1991 will also add to its desirability to the keen Zep enthusiast.

And now to the box set itself, simply titled “Led Zeppelin”. This is beautifully packaged in a strong 12″ box with a slightly different view of the ‘Zepp over cornfields’ scene. The accompanying 36-page book is also of superb quality and contains some wonderful photos. The three essays by noted American critics Robert Palmer (who coincidentally also wrote notes for the Rod Stewart “Storyteller” set), Kurt Loder and Cameron Crowe are admirable summaries of the band’s career. However, for all his “front row seats to the Zepp experience”, Crowe manages in the space of eight pages to document wrongly the date of the release of “Houses Of The Holy” (March ’73, not May), the date and location of their meeting with Elvis (L.A. in May ’74, not Las Vegas in 1972), the date they flew to Stockholm to begin recording “In Through The Out Door” (November ’78 not January), and the date of Live Aid (July ’85, not ’87).

While it’s great to see a full track rundown of when and where each track was recorded, some errors again creep in. Two of them can be put down to the confusion some researcher had about the different way dates are printed in the U.K. and U.S. — the recording date of the Albert Hall rehearsal take of “I Can’t Quit You Baby” was actually January 9 1970 (9/1/70 in U.K. usage) and not September 1 1970 (9/1/70 in American eyes). Similarly, the recording date of “Bonzo’s Montreux” becomes December 9 1976 instead of September 12. Elsewhere, printing gremlins creep in on the “Gallows Pole” entry which has it being recorded in 1972 and released on “Led Zeppelin 3” in 1970. I would also question the actual release dates^ of some of the albums in the U.S. discography — the soundtrack album, for instance, being a month out. This may seem like nitpicking, but I cannot be alone in finding such errors annoying, particularly as “Led Zeppelin” was designed as a definitive retrospective.

And the music? In compiling 54 tracks, Page was faced with the difficult task of knowing what to leave out. Obviously everyone has different favourites and a set list like this is always going to be disappointing. For me, the biggest letdown is the lack of tracks from “Physical Graffiti”, by their own admission Led Zeppelin’s premier achievement on record.

remasters lp

But what is included is a truly wondrous cross section of the musical diversity that coloured the Zeppelin catalogue during their 12-year reign. In remastering the tracks, Page has added a punch and clarity that the original CDs sorely lacked — without tampering with the original tapes, so there is no remixing here aside from the new Bonzo creation, which I’ll come to in a moment. The cleaning-up of the analog tapes also greatly helps the light and shade of tracks like “The Battle Of Evermore” and “Ten Years Gone”, while Page has restored the correct studio banter to the ending of “In My Time Of Dying”.

SURPRISES

Some of the anomalies and surprises to be found in this mammoth collection include the fact that the timings of many tracks here are vastly different to the claims on the original albums. For instance, “Kashmir” (previously listed as 9’41”) now appears as a correct 8’31”, though the tracks are absolutely identical. The only piece amongst the 54 which I have noticed being different to the original is “Nobody’s Fault But Mine”. The “Remasters” take is 12 seconds longer than the “Presence” original due to the inclusion of an extra guitar riff chorus on the intro. Elsewhere, the three-second white noise count-in on “Immigrant Song” is deleted here, as is the eight-second intro to “Tangerine”. But the warming up of guitars on “Black Dog” is present, and sounds much more pronounced than before.

It’s interesting to hear familiar classics placed in a different light — “Heartbreaker” now segues instantly into “Communication Breakdown”, for example, rather than “Livin’ Lovin’ Maid”, while “The Song Remains The Same” drifts into “Ten Years Gone”. The sequencing of the tracks does, as John Paul Jones noted, put them in a new context.

Finally, some new delights. In merging John Bonham’s “Moby Dick” with his later “Bonzo’s Montreux”, Page has produced an affectionate tribute to the late drummer, achieved with Synclavier programming at Atlantic’s studios in New York earlier this year. Some might question whether he should have tampered with the originals, but the finished track mixes elements of Bonham’s developing technique over seven years. It’s also a joy to hear the “Zepp 3” leftover “Hey Hey What Can I Do” — a warm semi-acoustic groove previously only available on the B-side of the U.S./European “Immigrant Song” single, and on the long-deleted “New-Age Of Atlantic” sampler LP.

Also included are two much-bootlegged BBC recordings, which sound superb. “Travelling Riverside Blues”, a Page/Plant arrangement of the old Robert Johnson blues classic, is a prime mid-’69 remnant with a spiralling Page slide guitar riff and some dominant Bonzo bass patterns — all now heard to their full effect for the first time. “White Summer/Black Mountain Side” comes from the live Playhouse Theatre show recorded on June 27th 1969, and brings back many nostalgic Zep memories.

Of course, there will be a school of thought that Page should have used this box set project to issue more unreleased gems — many of which have turned up on top quality bootleg CDs over the past year. There was also scope here for the much vaunted chronological live album idea which Page often hinted at in the latter Zepp era. Though there may be few fully-fledged studio tracks with finished vocals in the vaults, recent bootlegs have proved that there are some tantalising alternate takes which would have added spice to the set. “Led Zeppelin” is superb in its own right, but many enthusiasts will view it as a missed opportunity to hear more enlightening live and studio cuts. Certainly one CD of rare material would have made the whole thing much more worthwhile.

My personal choice of a bonus rare CD of material which is known to exist would have lined up like this: “Communication Breakdown” (live Royal Albert Hall, 1970); “Jenning’s Farm Blues” (electric studio rehearsal of “Bron Y Aur Stomp”, 1969); “Blues Medley” from the “Hats Off To Harper” session (1970); “No Quarter” (instrumental studio out-take, 1972); “Over The Hills And Far Away” (live in Dallas, 1975 U.S. tour); “Tangerine” (live, Earls Court 1975); “Trampled Underfoot” (live, Earls Court 1975); “The Song Remains The Same/Sick Again” (live, New York 1977); “Ten Years Gone” (live, New York 1977); “Train Kept A-Rollin’ ” (live, Zurich 1980); “All My Love” (alternate extended version, 1978). But maybe Jimmy is saving that lot for the “Re-Remasters”!

rem 1

Overall, despite the misgivings about the track listing, some irritating errors in the booklet and the difficulty of pleasing collectors old and new, the “Led Zeppelin” box set is a worthy investment, and compares well with similar packages by other artists. Certainly, in restoring the Zeppelin catalogue to CD with the sound quality it deserves, Page has done a superb job. With the incredible resurgence of interest in the band in recent times — they must surely be the most popular defunct band outside of the Beatles — the set is sure to be in huge demand.

This collection will stand as a lasting testament to the sheer diversity of Zeppelin’s recorded work. It should also prompt re-examination of epic works such as “Achilles’ Last Stand” and “In The Light”. The latter track’s final few minutes, capturing Jimmy’s overdubbed guitar parts rippling across Robert’s chorus, the Jones drone and Bonzo’s timely hammering, is perhaps the most impressive section of the entire 54-track set. And it sounds glorious.

Will they reform? Will there be a live chronological video to supplement this release sometime next year? The remastered “Led Zeppelin” set should keep all Zepp fans riveted to their turntables as we await the next chapter in a story that is far from over.

Dave Lewis October 1990

Dave Lewis is the author of a forthcoming book on Led Zeppelin titled “Led Zeppelin — A Celebration” (to be published by Omnibus Press, spring 1991).

Stairway To Our Price: Capturing the release of Led Zeppelin Remasters…

The release of the Remasters albums was another in a long line of Zep related releases dating back to Physical Graffiti, that I was able to promote and sell while I was in the retail trade.

I was determined to make a big splash about the first ever Led Zep greatest hits package and boy did we do that in the Our Price Record shop in Bedford I managed at the time. There was weeks of build up and the pre orders mounted. I created a memorabilia pack for each of the sets sold – exclusive to the store – this included various reprints of articles and original ads. Alongside all that we decided to make a mini film around the arrival of the Remasters double set (on October 15th 1990) and the box set itself (two weeks later on October 30th). One of the staff Gary was well versed in video filming and editing so away we went. Filming was spread over the two Monday release dates and we did a sort of customer service training segment which featured yours truly hamming it up for the camera. We sold over 100 box sets in the first week – logging up £10,000 worth of business in the process. This effort was duly acknowledged by Warner /Atlantic in the UK and six months later I was presented with a unique three disc gold award – this has pride of place in the TBL work station – it can be seen behind the pic of Gary and I below..

I couple of years back I found the old VHS tape in the loft and Gary Davies cleaned it up and added some original Our Price ads in. It’s very nostalgic watching it back all these years later – aside from the Zep angle it shows the enthusiasm we all had for the product and the hustle and bustle of a High Street record shop. Have a look at the way we were at Our Price Bedford in the YouTube clip below.

………………………………

Joe Cocker 1944 – 2014:

So sad to hear the passing of Joe Cocker age 70. Jimmy Page had a long association with Joe going back to playing on his 1964 recording I’ll Cry Instead and of course the iconic 1968 worldwide smash hit With A Little Help From My Friends. Joe was also part of the ARMS tour Jimmy was involved with in the US in late 1983. I’ve been enjoying Joe’s music since 1969, through the early hits ,Woodstock, Mad Dogs And Englishmen and beyond. A singer of true soul and passion – he will be much missed and as John Lennon once sang ” You don’t know what you got until you lose it…” RIP Joe Cocker…

Dave Lewis Diary Update:

It was great to see Gary Foy who popped in for a pre Christmas visit on Monday. It was a bit early for a beer, so Gary tested out a coffee in the prototype TBL mug which I am planning to have on offer in the new year – it passed the audition!

gary here 2014

So this is Christmas Eve…and it always has that air of expectancy around it as we all get ready to bring the draw bridge up and retreat for Christmas Day. We will all be all here on Christmas Day with Janet’s Mum Betty with nary a thought for this thing called Led – at least for a day!  Sam is back from London to be with us until Monday and Adam is already back from Uni so it’s very nice for us all to be back together.

Christmas is always a time for reflection and I am sure like me, you’ll be remembering loved ones not around to share the Christmas season. That’s the real message of Christmas. As I always observe at this time of year, amongst all the commercial hype this is the season’s true meaning. Reflecting on those no longer around for whatever reason and seeing and thinking of family, friends and people who make our respective lives revolve in the way they do.

For me that includes many of my very good friends here and a whole host of people from far and wide, who once again over this past year have given time and support to make TBL what it is –and of course the subscribers and purchasers of the TBL magazines and books these past twelve months.

I’ll be raising a glass or two in the coming days in acknowledgment of the amazing and inspiring community that surrounds the Tight But Loose magazine, books, web site and Facebook/Twitter pages..

On behalf of Gary and all here, I wish you all a hopeful, peaceful and Merry Christmas.

Dave Lewis – December 24th, 2014.

You Tube Clips

Stairway To Our Price:

Robert Plant -Santa Claus is Back in Town:

 Joe Cocker 1944 – 2014 – Arms 1983 US tour compilation:

Until next time…Keep listening, keep reading…

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Dave Lewis/Gary Foy – December 24th, 2014.

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3 Comments »

  • Paul said:

    Dave, Great footage from the ARMS ’83 show! Hadn’t seen most of that before.
    Thanks and Happy Holidays!

  • drek duffey said:

    Dear Mr. Lewis happy holidays sir!!, just wanted to thank you for the wonderful blog it my holiday more special. thank you, i have some old issues from the early 90’s of TBL in my mom’s attic in Florida, and also your rival Proximity. Thank You so much for keeping the flame burning and passing the torch only the way ,onlt TBL can do < Cheers , Here's to 2015….god bless, Derek From NYC

  • Ed-Washington DC said:

    On the passing of Joe Cocker, for me personally, Sheffield Steel was among the memorable highlights of 1982. One of the great voices of his era and a fascinating original character.

    And of course, Merry Christmas to all at TBL who continue to produce this wonderful resource.

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