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14 May 2014 5,570 views 20 Comments

Playback 2

TBL 37 shipping now…with exclusive Companion Audio Olympic Studios Playback report…and more… 

TBL 37 is now shipping – all UK copies are now in transit and should arrive in the next few days. All Australia/Japan/South America orders are also in transit – a bulk of  the USA and Europe distribution is also underway with a few more copies to go out over the next couple of days.

After all the hard work of putting it together over the past few months , It’s a massive relief that copies  are now out there – let me know what you think…

As the expectation of the imminent release of the first three Led Zeppelin reissues reaches fever pitch – the arrival of this new TBL is a timely one.

In the light of all the reissue pre-release build up  – one of the major attractions of this issue is the exclusive report I filed for TBL from the Led Zeppelin Companion Audio Playback Event.

Along with around 50 other UK and overseas journalists, I was very privileged to attended this event, which took place on Tuesday March 25th at the Olympic Studios building in Barnes (now operating as a cinema and members club), the building of course where Led Zeppelin recorded a bulk of the material for their first three albums.

Any reporting of this playback has been subject to a strict embargo until today – so now after weeks of keeping it all under wraps, I can reveal some key insight into the first three Led Zeppelin reissues.

Hosted by Jimmy Page, the playback consisted of eight extracts from the Led Zeppelin reissue companion audio discs –as follows:

Good Times Bad Times/Communication Breakdown

(Live at the Olympia, Paris, October 10th 1969)

You Shook Me

(Live at the Olympia, Paris, October 10th 1969)

Heartbreaker (Rough mix with vocal)

Whole Lotta Love (Rough mix with vocal)

Gallows Pole (Rough mix)

Since I’ve Been Loving You (Rough mix of first recording)

The Immigrant Song (Alternate mix)

(Page – Plant 2.25)

Key To The Highway/Trouble In Mind (Rough mix)

These tracks were played nonstop in sequence after which Jimmy conducted a question and answer session:

Here’s some extracts from the TBL 37  feature that relays in full this incredibly exciting afternoon:

Tuesday March 25th 2014: Olympic Studios, Barnes, West London:

The frontage of the famous Church Road location in South West London looks much as it did during the studio’s heyday. The studio closed in 2009 (U2 were the last band to record there) and has been renovated in the last couple of years to become a luxury Dolby Atmos 3D sound cinema and plush members club. The walls here are adorned with framed photos of past sessions at the studio,  including Jimi Hendrix, Blind Faith, a mid-60s John Paul Jones and a shot of Jimmy from an Olympic 1969 Zep session.

Preview 8

Preview 7

We were escorted past an impressive giant blow up display of the Led Zep first album cover (turquoise, naturally) through to the cinema area downstairs where the original Studio One was. This was very plush with red velvet seating. Two chairs had been set up on the stage and the giant backdrop on the screen was comprised of multiple images of the three new sleeves overlaid by the familiar Led Zeppelin typescript. Each wall also displayed large Led Zeppelin signage.

Jimmy Page took to the stage looking very relaxed in standard black attire and scarf with neat sneakers with white soles.

He was introduced by Warner Music Group exec Robin Hurley who had fulfilled the same role at the Celebration Day London press conference. Jimmy took to the mic to give an overview of the proceedings. He explained we would be listening to eight selections from the first three releases. These would be played in sequence, nonstop, after which he would take questions.

Jimmy set the scene by explaining some of the performances had taken place right here in this very room. He was keen to explain the process of the coming together of the companion audio discs. ‘’What you are about to hear is a mirror image of the tracks as you know them… some were reference mixes for us at the time, others completely different in approach. That’s quite tantalising isn’t it? Enjoy.’’

For the next 38 minutes I did more than enjoy – I absolutely immersed myself in this unique experience. As there was no recording whatsoever allowed during the playback (all of our mobile phones were taken to be stored and picked up afterwards) what follows is my instant analyses of the songs played taken from notes I was compiling as they were played.

 Here’s some of my thoughts: 

Whole Lotta Love (Rough mix with vocal)

This is just magnificent. No cough at the intro and straight to the riff. This is a completely different vocal take. Robert incorporates the ‘’Baby you need love’’ refrain that he deployed on the BBC June session take, but this would be discarded for the final released studio version. There’s a few other ad-libs, such as ‘’Honey we’ve been sharin…’’ and if your blood does not start pumping a whole lot faster when the chorus part is due to come in well… you can’t be alive.

Where the chorus should come is a wonderfully disorientating moment because there is no chorus! Equally startling is the middle section which is devoid of the later overdubbed backwards echo effects. Instead, there’s sparse use of tympani and some neat rim shots from Bonzo. Robert is in there with the ‘’Luuuvv, Luuuvvv’’wailing, and then folks I had a complete well up lump in the throat moment when suddenly across the speakers Robert utters the phrase ‘’You’ve been yearning.’’ The total shock of it coming when least expected – what can I tell you. It moved me totally because with this version you really are hearing them tearing up the rule book. They know they are onto something here and the beauty of this first try out is that you can hear them tentatively building the wall of sound that would echo across a million plus stereo units come the autumn.

From the middle section the familiar stinging solo from Jimmy is absent, and they go into the fade sounding funky as hell, with Plant again echoing the ‘’Baby you need love, woman you need love’’ lines and adding other vocal nuances such as  ‘’baba ba oh baba oh’’…echoed to full effect. Stunning in its sheer naivety and sparseness, this version of Whole Lotta Love tells us so much more than we already knew about the Zep II opener, and will elevate this early Zep anthem to even greater status.

Gallows Pole (Rough mix)

Very pronounced stereo split at the intro with Robert coming in on the left hand speaker and Jimmy’s acoustic guitar on the right. Very upfront vocal mix – you can hear Robert bump the mic slightly during the first few lines. Once again startling in its simplicity – with no overdubs, mandolin or banjo – there is drums of course, and when John Bonham adds his contribution it’s another well up moment. This is Bonzo at his best… and my, how we miss him still.

It’s also evident to detect the sheer synergy of the band. That means John Paul Jones’ bass patterns are heard right up front and to full effect, and it sounds invigorating. This is again a different take, with minor phasing effects towards the close. Given the simplicity of the arrangement, the point where it begins to speed up is heightened and suddenly it’s all rolling towards a climax. This has a longer fade than the released version, with Jimmy strumming furiously against Jones’ prominent bass, Bonzo’s percussive stampede and Robert’s wailings. It fades and then ends with an acoustic motif from Jimmy. Simply stunning. I need to write that again…simply stunning…

What this version of Gallows Pole demonstrates so effectively is the unity of all four players, as they merge as one to add – as Jimmy would put it – that ‘fifth element’. You will know exactly what I mean when you hear this simply remarkable performance.

Since I’ve Been Loving You (Rough mix of first recording)

Oh yes…this is just out of this world. Simply tremendous.

A completely different take, with a different intro. All very fluid and more instant than the released version, Jonesy’s organ comes in slightly phased and then “Hey!” shouts the vocalist. There’s a fair few alternate lyrics, such as “Really been the biggest fool, what can I do now”… “So now I’m gonna do… stop my cryin’… I’m leaving the dark’’ – plus differing vocal nuances along the way. The solo… simply breathtaking. Again, hearing this solo going in a completely different direction to the way we know so well is just shocking – in a very good way, of course.

Then we get more vocal differences on the outro. “My tears, they fell like rain, falling, falling, you build my hopes so high, then you let me down. I need ya, I need ya.” The arrangement is in fact close to the live versions they were already performing in the January to April 1970 touring period. In fact it’s altogether a very live in the studio performance. I should also mention Jonesy again -his bass pedals and organ adding to the magic, and Bonzo. As Jimmy put it afterwards – It will make you smile . The ending merges cymbals, organ and guitar into one glorious finale.

This version of Since I’ve Been Loving You is what the phrase ‘tight but loose’ was invented for…

After the airing of this, the assembled – now probably shocked into silence after what they have heard – broke into spontaneous applause, yours truly very much included.

You can expect to be doing the same because this take of Since I’ve Been Loving You is fucking incredible. And I use the adjective quite purposely and forcefully. Absolutely fucking incredible.

The Immigrant Song (Alternate mix)

The count in is way down in the mix and then it’s off into an alternate mix of Track one, Side one Led Zep III. Again the stereo effect and split is very pronounced, with Jimmy’s reverberated guitar  effects very precise and to the fore . There’s a few more vocal effects and double tracking on the vocal noticeably on the line ‘’In spite of all your losing’’. On the outro the “Oooo ooohh” lines from Robert are more prominent and further enhanced -sounding mysterious and slightly sinister. Again you sense they knew that working on this session (in the early summer of 1970) they were breaking new ground.


After the playback Jimmy returned to the stage to take questions from the audience– concentrating mainly on the subject of the three initial releases.

I asked the final question of the afternoon. ‘You have been mindful of what’s out there on bootleg. Were you conscious of not wanting to represent what has been commonly bootlegged?’

Jimmy replied, “I was aware and made myself aware of what was out there. I didn’t want to reproduce that if I could help it. There are one or two things, such as Jennings Farm Blues for example, which I know are out there, but they were important. Overall though, I wanted to come up with material that hasn’t been heard by anyone. Have you heard any of those studio versions?” ‘No’ I replied in the affirmative. “Well, I must have done my job then… “

Note it was the above question that Jimmy was referring to in the Rolling Stone interview ‘’ – To quote:

While assembling the bonus material, Page was careful to not unearth too many takes that have surfaced on bootlegs. “I was pretty diligent with my detection work,” he says. “I didn’t want to put together a compilation where ninety percent of it had been bootlegged. I asked a guy that runs one of the fanzines if he’s heard any of this material before. He told me he hadn’t. That was a really good feeling.”

To put that statement into context, may I state  here that we were only discussing the six studio tracks aired during the playback – none of those tracks I’d heard on bootleg as I told Jimmy  at the playback – there are of course one or two things on the companion audio discs that Jimmy has used that have been previously bootlegged notably Jennings Farm Blues.



Playback 4

On the evidence of this playback, these thrilling insights into the working methods of Led Zeppelin are going to please an awful lot of people across the globe. And this is only the start. One can only speculate about what delights lay ahead in the latter part of the catalogue.

My advice. When you finally get your hands on these three releases in early June, lock yourself away and get right into the Zeppelin zone and be ready to scrutinise every unfolding moment. That’s certainly what I’ll be doing as boy, am I keen to get intimate with what I heard reverberating around the Olympic Studio cinema a few weeks back.

To summarise: We all recall where we first heard Led Zeppelin I, II and III, and where we first purchased them. We have loved and cherished these albums for years and years. They really are like old very reliable friends. Re discovering them again in this new context, is going to make us all fall in love with them all over again. In fact you could call it a renewal of your Zeppelin vows.

One final note on it all: This music developed and presented by Led Zeppelin – be it the original albums or the companion discs – sounds as fresh and vital today as it did when it was recorded some four decades ago.

There’s something uniquely eternal about these recordings that in our minds at least, keeps us forever young. So, get ready to strip away the years and party like it’s 1969…and 1970..

Dave Lewis, May 14th 2014


So that is a taster of what is in store… the complete feature which offers yet more insight into the Led Zeppelin Companion Disc Playback, is one of the many highlights of  TBL 37 ……

Suffice to say, if you have yet to enter the printed world of TBL…there’s no finer issue than TBL 37 to do so.

You can order the new issue at a bargain price here…but hurry it’s already selling fast…here’s the order link:



Please note all copies of TBL 37  will include a flyer prompt to re- subscribe as this issue completes the 2013/4 subscription and it will be time to re subscribe for the next three issues TBL 38, 39 and 40. 

Many thanks as ever for all your support .


The excitement mounts….


Until next time…Keep listening, keep reading… Dave Lewis/Gary Foy – May 14th, 2014.

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Also follow Dave Lewis/TBL on Twitter – LedzeppelinTBL



1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (3 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)


  • Dawn Godfree said:

    Dave – Brilliant!

    You explained perfectly what I was unable to relay to a friend about the difference is on WLL. Bonzo didn’t use the tympani as much, and I think that’s what I missed when hearing it first. I’ve listened over and over, and can appreciate it for what is is/was.

    As always, thanks for explaining every little thing.


  • Richard Willis said:

    This is the greatest re release in memory! Bring it on…..

  • Graeme said:

    Nice one mate. As always you keep the flames a burning. Rock on!


  • Stephen said:

    I can’t wait for Presence and In Through The Outdoor companion discs. I have heard a song called “Fire” they did around the time of ITTOD at a rehearsal and it was really powerful. Also the production of ITTOD was quite muddy, so hearing these songs stripped back and Plants vocals pumped up, especially on stuff like Carouselambra, could be an improvement on the originals. In fact, a whole stripped back version of ITTOD like The Beatles did with Let it Be would be superb. Apart from Hot Dog, that was turd.

  • Tom Spehar said:

    While reading your experience of that listen in (you lucky bastard) my hairs were standing on end, bring on May 30…Gawd I can’t wait, thats it I’m moving to England!


  • Paul MacFarlane said:

    The frayed edges of studio perfection shine relentlessly and I look forward to an intimate, loud, all-encomoassing orgy of layered, diverse sound and passion that is the greatest group ever.

    Thanks for this, O guy who runs a fanzine.

  • andrew R said:

    Just when you think its all been said/written you pop
    a comment like “there’s something uniquely eternal” and make it all fresh again.
    Kudos to you and TBL. Thanks Dave

  • Steve Harrison. said:

    Got the new issue today another great read ,well done to all involved (just one thing Dave ,you sent me 2 copies!!! do you want me to return the spare one?).

  • Dave Lewis (author) said:

    Thanks Folks for all these great comments…

  • Billy McCue said:

    Great job, Dave. Gutted I couldn’t attend the playback yesterday for the NYC media due to a prior work commitment. Oh well, I’ll have fresh ears come June – which can’t come soon enough! Thanks for sharing these thoughts and for always representing LZ fans in the best possible light during these occasions. Great great stuff, DL.


  • Ian Avey said:

    These releases are going to be incredible. Thanks for the reviews Dave. June won’t come soon enough!

  • Gary Davies said:

    Dave, how good is that alternate take of Since I’ve Been Loving You, again?

    You should have done the sleeve notes, as you tell it like it is my friend.

  • paul aspey said:

    bet you knew Tim Sherwood was getting sacked before he did

    Keep up the good work my friend

  • Dave Lewis (author) said:

    Steve I would say its JPJ on bass for definite on this version!

  • Norm said:

    Are the original recordings on I, II,and III the remasters from the Box sets or have they been further re-mastered since then?

  • Steve said:

    Thanks for the update Dave, superlative job as usual! One nitpick; Jonesy’s bass on Gallows Pole is actually Jimmy’s bass! According to Jimmy in a Guitar World interview a couple of years ago he played bass on that track believe it or not…

  • Jez Firth said:

    A great piece of music journalism, what an honour for you Dave to be present and what a treat for us readers to have you share it with us. Thanks Dave.

  • Gary Davies said:

    I would’ve taken in 2 mobiles :-))

  • Michael in Melbourne said:

    You’re a lucky lad, Mr Lewis! Thanks so much for reporting it all so well.

  • Richard Grubb said:

    March??? MARCH????

    Wow Dave, you really know how to keep a secret! 😉

    The anticipation is frankly unbearable at the moment – 19 sleeps to go -arrgghh!!!

    Can’t wait for TBL37 – thanks for all your hard work!



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