TBL ARCHIVE SPECIAL – KNEBWORTH AUGUST 4TH THEN AS IT REALLY WAS 35 YEARS GONE/ROBERT PLANT IN UNCUT MAGAZINE/JOHN BONHAM ON WINGS OUTTAKE/DL DIARY UPDATE -STATE OF PLAY
TBL Archive Special – Knebworth August 4th 1979 – Then as it really was…35 years gone…
To mark the 35th anniversary of the Knebworth August 4th performance here is an extract from the Led Zeppelin Then As It Was -At Knebworth 1979 book:
ZEPPELIN’S BLIND DATE: SEEING IS BELEIVING
By Dave Lewis
This is the original text written for Tight But Loose, issue number 3.Whilst much of it bathes in a rose tinted glow, it certainly succeeds in capturing the pure wonderment of the event as seen through the eyes of a starry eyed twenty two year old fan eager to put pen to paper before it all became a blur.
THE NATION ASSEMBLES
THURSDAY AUGUST 2nd 1979:
7am: Knebworth arena is already buzzing with the sound of Edwin Shirley Trucking Co., the massive assembly of the stage is well under way…Wandering down to the stage front and looking around the vast amphitheatre, that just two days from now will be packed with thousands awaiting the return, is an awe inspiring moment…Just to see the Zeppelin stage set up, Jonesy’s white grand piano, Bonzo’s metallic Ludwig kit, Jimmy’s symbolised amp, sets the heart beating in anticipation, it really is only a matter of days now… Already fans are beginning to descend upon the Hertfordshire countryside ready to settle in the camp site… The music papers hit the news-stands and Zeppelin is featured on the cover of three of them. Two include lengthy Jimmy Page interviews, the build up is well underway…
Late afternoon: the massive P.A. is ready for testing…It’s rumoured the band are due in for the soundcheck at around 6pm, probably arriving by helicopter, a rumour not exactly without substance …Robert opts for his own transport – Cherokee jeep. He is looking positively radiant, beaming, smiling and good humouredly acknowledging my over-enthusiasm as I rush over to greet him exclaiming: “Steady on, there’s not much of me left!”…He really is the super human… The security guards clear the park for the soundcheck, a soundcheck that lasts not more than an hour…Jonesy tinkles ‘No Quarter’ style. Bonzo likewise in the ‘Moby Dick/Levee Breaks’ vein, Jimmy plays the blues, while Robert limbers up with a fifties doo-wop number. A relaxed and confident dummy run-through that bodes well for Saturday… The nerves are beginning to tell on me though, and I go into Stevenage and drink the night away…
FRIDAY AUGUST 3rd 1979:
Early morning: Hundreds of fans have battled a steady overnight rainfall on their journey to the Knebworth camp site…By 11am the tents and make-shift ranches are well in evidence…all manner of freaks of course, with the accent on denim, in fact lots of denim embroidery proclaiming the names of Gonzo heavy metal bands who have sprung up in Zeppelin’s absence, names that have no right to be uttered in the same breath as Led Zeppelin. Most of the kids brandishing such slogans look too young to have seen Zeppelin on stage, yet by Saturday night their priorities might well change…Everybody here is really good natured, even the changing weather from hot and sunny to showery and dull fails to dampen enthusiasm…By mid afternoon the Zeppelin nation is in full swing, thousands continue to pour in, it’s an incredible sight, all here to see Led Zeppelin; a four man legend that continues to demand the highest respect even after a four year absence… It really does make you wonder in awe of it all…
On the camp site the Zep merchandise ball game is underway; T-shirts, badges, scarves, official and otherwise, the queue for the official programme alone stretches three hundred yards and more… As dusk approaches, hundreds are attempting to gain a vantage point by the gates ready for the early morning opening…Camp fire smoke begins to drift across the air as fans from all over the world, England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, France, Italy, Yugoslavia, Germany, Canada and America (Hi Jimbo) gather around them settling in for the overnight wait…Tommy Vance does the Knebworth serenade on his radio show, kicking off with ‘The Rover’, amidst huge cheers as the airwaves reach the campsite…Repeated bouts of “Zeppelin”, “Zeppelin” chants fill the midnight air, I feel proud…
SATURDAY AUGUST 4th 1979:
This is where it gets a little bit silly…Thousands have assembled by the gates for the opening, due officially at 8.30am…rumours abound that it will be earlier…Then it happens, around 4am hundreds crash the fences and invade the park…By the time everyone has done the mile run to the arena entrance, a huge crush has developed that is quite frightening…It seems an age before the turnstiles start to click…it couldn’t have come too soon for me as I was near to crashing out completely – I mean, even Nick Kent said ‘rock ‘n’ roll’ was the last thing in the world worth dying for – and I had no intention of going, at least not until I had seen the band again… Thankfully, by 5am the arena is open and filled up, it’s a bit cold but no sign of rain… Throughout the morning the arena continues to bulge…The first canned music from the P.A. is Supertramp, and DJ Nicky Horne continues to warm-up proceedings with a rich cluster of classic cuts, perfect for the day…
The line up is duly announced; Chas and Dave have been added for the 3.30pm spot, Zeppelin are due at 9.15pm…Fairport Convention start the live music at around 11.30am. They play a listenable set to an uninterested audience…Nicky-the-H gives us a taste of what’s in store when he spins ‘Rock And Roll’ to a huge response…Commander Cody and his band hit the stage with their own brand of rockabilly, which does not a thing for me, but to his credit he gets an encore…
Mid afternoon, the weather is on our side, very sunny with a hint of breeze to cool you down – perfect…Chas and Dave play a mildly amusing blend of their own songs; no doubt it goes down great in the pubs, but not a lounge bar with nigh on two hundred thousand stuck in it!…By now the arena is packed, and the sight is breathtaking to say the least…Southside Johnny and the Asbury Dukes, at tea time, are not…
Early evening: the change over of bands is taking longer… the silly element amongst us are well into the now expected can throwing caper, with us encased at the front being the ones who are suffering…One such can bounces off my head…my head survives, the can doesn’t…Todd Rundgren and Utopia are on stage, and Todd instantly gets the whanger of the week award (nice one Dec) for his slip showing cat suit… The set is overlong and indulgent, but it does have its moments; the encore, ‘Love Is The Answer’, is one of them…
The Knebworth stage area is cleared completely …this is where four years of waiting is narrowed down to less than an hour…Led Zeppelin’s live return is not so very far away now…
The whole of Knebworth Park is ready. I’m certainly ready, but it seems that Led Zeppelin is not. The Zep equipment has been mechanically and clinically pieced together; Mr Jones’ keyboards (clavinet, white electric grand piano, mellotron) to the left of the stage, Bonzo’s Ludwig kit miked and ready for thrashing, Jimmy’s row of amps switched on with five guitars upright and gleaming, wired and waiting and stage centre, one solitary microphone – we all know who that’s for. Despite all this there is still much anxious hustling of roadies and backstage activity yet to go. The 9.15pm projected kick-off time passes. Then Peter Grant himself stalks onto the stage. This I haven’t seen before but there he is; the monster “fifth Zep” checking the set-up. He knows more than anyone that this is the big one and everything has got to be just…just so. Around him friends, wives and kids are settling into vantage points behind the amps. This somehow seems to add to the atmosphere – the Zeppelin family all ready and waiting too. Around each side of me the huge lighting towers look mighty impressive, and behind the stage, the long black curtain that has formed the backcloth for the day keeps slipping open, revealing a strong vivid green light. Something special in the air that one senses.
Indeed. That something special happens just around 9.40pm on Saturday, August 4th 1979. The canned music fades, the lights flash onto the stage. Unannounced, the four members of Led Zeppelin walk on stage. Bedlam, hysteria, chaos, phenomenon. Upwards of one hundred thousand people assembled go crazy. This is the cherished moment we have waited four long years for, and it’s happening…now!
John Bonham mounts the mini rostrum to the drums. Ah, Bonzo! First time I ever heard John Bonham thrashing a drum kit I thought my radio was about to blow several waves. He is the champion beer drinker in England – Robert Plant said that. He likes nothing more than a good old rave up. That’s what he said in 1970. Not much has changed. His incredible bass drum patterns and sledge hammer rock-steady percussion is still the best. He is our Bonzo and he is up there ready.
John Paul Jones is wearing a white pristine new fashionable suit, slightly miss-fitting in true JPJ style. John Paul, (“Jonesy”, to his mates), the calm one, he of the silly haircuts, the unassuming bass stance, the electric piano, clavinet, mellotron, three-necked guitar, the anchor man. Some say the unlikeliest member of the Led Zeppelin combo. In truth, quite possibly the most important. His contribution to the group is immense. His bass patterns, the pulse beats that Jimmy Page pumps his guitar technology onto. Tonight he is looking fitter than I have ever seen him.
Same can be said for James Patrick Page. Blue, thin-collared, baggy shirt, a pair of white well-fitting trousers, a 1973 haircut – a very modern man. Not to mention a living legend, a Crowley freak deep into the Occult – a white magician. Keith Relf called him “The grand sorcerer of the magic Guitar”, few would argue. He is softly spoken, articulate, frail, off stage, a giant on it. Duck-walking, twisting, turning, sweating, cringing, grinning. He lives for his music. Tonight his music lives for us…
Then there is Robert Plant. Long sleeved spotted shirt tied at the navel, black straight cords, usual white boots, golden ringletted hair, re-shaped mid ’76 style, overflowing. As far as I’m concerned the most human, friendly and warm rock ‘n’ roll star in the world. His voice is an instrument in itself. His on-stage preening dynamic. Once you’ve seen Robert Plant on stage in all his glory, there is no other who can touch him. He is the true master of ceremonies. His vocal ability is unique. At its height, its raw power can strike unlighted matches inside us all, and at its most emotional, its romantic qualities can spur a tear behind the eyes. Too often in the past this man’s glittering glow has been dulled. Tonight Robert Plant is shining brightly, dazzlingly so…
Jimmy Page straps on the double neck. Robert stakes the stance stage right. As Jimmy pulls out the opening ringing chord to ‘The Song Remains The Same’, the black curtains unravel, revealing a huge colour video screen flashing on film in sync…the sight is unbelievable…
When Robert turns to sing the opening lines (“I had a dream, crazy dream”) I feel my eyes wetting with tears, and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one. When you’ve lived every day of the last four years waiting, well…it does that to you. For a split second, my mind pictures all the rumours, highs, lows and tragedies of the past years – my life before my very eyes almost. It’s been so long but now it’s happening. I can hardly believe it. Jimmy’s shimmering twelve string work confirms it fast. By the time they are performing the second number, a long deleted stage favourite ‘Celebration Day’, the early sound muffles have been mixed out.
The sound is crystal.In fact, everything is exceeding excitement level. All the premature break-up rumours, all the pre-gig talk of them being washed up, all these illusions are shattered.The 1979 Led Zeppelin is alive and well…
‘Celebration Day’ brings back vintage Zeppelin memories. Jimmy is fluttering out chords in double-quick time. Robert is revelling in the limelight. All the old stances, the swagger, the cock-rock pout, the peacock preening, oh, and a new movement to cherish, a jack-knife arm action favoured to close the songs with. It’s just beautiful to see him up there again.
“Well – I said, well ! Good evening, good evening. Nice to see you again. I told Pagey that one or two people would be here, but he said he doubted it very much…Well, I can’t tell you how it feels. I think you can probably…you’ve got a good idea anyway…but it’s great.”
Robert seems genuinely touched by the reception. As he talks you can hear his voice quivering. Nerves maybe? Not many on display during ‘Black Dog’, mind. A powerful performance with pleasing echoed Plant vocals. Up on the video screen the cameras are catching the action blow by blow. In fact the visual quality is so good it makes the movie footage of The Song Remains The Same seem pretty lame in comparison. Towards the end of the song Robert leaves us to sing the verses and then Pagey winds up with a solo that upholds the adrenalin count.
“Thank you very much, Well, needless to say that ah, it’s been a long, it’s been quite a long time actually since we… yes I know, it’s our fault too. So we went to Munich and made an album called Presence, which er, which had a track on it Charles Shaar Murray really liked. He’s still taking the pills, and this is called Nobody’s Fault But Mine.”
Jimmy clicks down on the Gibson to recreate the sonic intro. Everything about this track if perfection. Bonzo’s hammerings, Robert’s accurate vocal, great harmonica, and a lovely moment when just as Pagey hits a peaking solo Robert teases with “Oh Jimmy!….Ooh Jimmy!”
“Nobody’s fault but mine….how is it, OK? This goes without a lot of saying, and it’s called Over The Hills And Far Away.”
Gorgeous revolving intro before Robert smoothes in. As they crunch down on the chorus the lighting is synchronised to great effect. Quite simply, a lesson in balanced dynamics. A track that never fails to please. A hard hitting no nonsense ‘Misty Mountain Hop’ follows with JPJ on electric piano. A song not performed in the UK since 1973. It’s good to hear old friends again. Love the echoed outro too, as Robert sings “I really don’t know, I really don’t know Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh.”
“Well…that was a topical thing if you work it out. This is er…so often we find we lean further and further into the blues as a musical form from which to borrow, or even steal and beg, and on nearly all of the stuff we’ve done in the past, in fact, even on the album that was out last week…ahh yes, something went wrong there as well. There’s always a little bit of blues, not booze, blues…You got the booze? Well, let’s hope to god we got the blues, Since I’ve Been Loving You .”
Another long lost friend. A slow tortured display with Jimmy pulling out a masterful solo, restrained, sustained, just the way the blues should be. Robert stretches the vocals at just the right moments, phrasing superbly (“I’ve been a working, been a working, been working…and I tried,tried, tried, tried, tried…”).
“Jimmy Page guitar. This next piece features the man from Casablanca, John Paul Jones. Some say a man in his own right, others say Royal Orleans…this is No Quarter.”
Radically cut down from the ’77 version, ‘No Quarter’ ’79 style is still slightly excessive. Of course, the quivering riffs still work well and Page still does the magic stances. Bonzo’s hi-hat jiggling and snare work helps the drawn out solo part and I still love Jimmy’s relayed wah-wah effects. For all that, Jonesy’s solo consisting of a boogie/classical section is overlong – (far better would have been a 1973-style version as featured on the live album). The ending is lengthy as well, but interesting because Jimmy is in there twisting and turning and flashing the odd grin. Robert finishes it all with an echoed “Dogs of doom are howlin’ more, more, more….”
‘Ten Years Gone’ is next dedicated to everyone from Newcastle, Kidderminster, Vancouver…all of us. John Paul on the three necked guitar, Jimmy switching to fuzzy telecaster. Robert’s vocal performance is breathtaking, all the romantic imagery accurately conveyed, “Never thought I’d see your face the way it used to be” – that line says it all.
“Thank you Caernarvon, Newcastle, Birmingham, Kidderminster, Freddie Bannister…So the album that came out two weeks ago got a bit delayed again. First it was a fortnight ago, then it was a week ago, now it’s next Friday, just goes on and on. This is a track from it that we should dedicate to trials in America….Yeah, how come you know what it’s called? You’ve been reading about the Swedish Inquisition – Hot Dog.”
The first peep behind the out door. ‘Hot Dog’ is a country honk reminiscent of a Presley Sun side – with Robert obviously enjoying the re-creation. Jimmy pulls out some tasty rodeo type licks as Robert encourages us to hoe-down. Not vital Zep but fun.
Yes still got a sense of humour…amplifier blown up? Where was it made, Scotland? Hey Raymondo….well, get back to the wash-board. So we get all this way here and the equipment blows up. Never mind, it’s got to be better than Earls Court. (Howls from the crowd) OOOH.
Who’s the person who owns the goat and the wagon we saw two nights ago and camping out there? Must come around the back after and write an acoustic set with us. Are we OK? Are yer alright Jimmy (Scottish accent). This one is called the Rain Song, which it didn’t…”
The lighting is most effective here bringing back memories of Earls Court with Jimmy in blue again. His fluttering melodies from the double neck soar across the air, and the collective fusion of the song is one of dynamic balanced emotion.
“Thank you, Yeah I like that one myself. That’s bound to get me a slaggin’ isn’t it? This next piece, long time ago 1960 whenever it was, me and Pagey got together at his house. He had a little boat floating on the Thames, and played through a lot of material from the Incredible String Band, Joan Baez, Chuck Berry, Little Walter, all sorts of things, so many nice blends of music we managed to pull together. And this leads towards the land of milk and honey… the East, features on guitar: Jimmy Page.”
Stage centre: alone on a stool, a spotlight picks out Jimmy Page and one Dan Electro guitar. He performs ‘White Summer’ (first time in the UK for nine years) and blends in ‘Black Mountain Side’. Just at the point where on the studio album that track breaks into ‘Communication Breakdown’, live on stage it leads to ‘Kashmir’ with Robert leaping from the back stage wings to open proceedings. A moment of high drama.
His performance on this epic, both vocally and physically, is out of this world. Every verse sung with emotion, every move synchronised with the ever changing spotlights. Truly the world’s greatest live rock attraction. The song just keeps on climaxing…mirrorball spins aid the effect. “Let me take you there…”
“Let me take you there…Kashmir. Hello, congestion on the A1M I think. This is a small little up-tempo ditty, that we’ve been asked by some people in Vancouver – It’s all there in the end baby…. It’s called Trampled Underfoot, ready Mr Jones?”
Quick tune up on the clavinet and away we go. A definitive Zeppelin performance that has them pushing their collective talents to the outer limits. Bonzo thrashes, Jimmy wah-wahs, Jonesy runs riot across the clavinet and Robert struts his stuff…”Push, push, yeah, push yeah, OOOOOh”
“Push, push, push….song’s attributed to the moving parts of the motor car. Well….a lot of pushing. This is something about, built around, going to one of those weird hotels that you come across in Bradford or Southampton or Los Angeles. There’s all these strange people ligging around in the lobby waiting for Peter Grant our manager…coz we have to be in bed at 10 o’clock at night like good footballers. Relates to the experience of the lobby and going down to get some cigarettes at 10.30pm rather than being in bed…Sick Again.”
Two machete Zep riffs, a “Yeah do it” from Plant and they’re off again into a strident workout. With cascading Page riffs and Bonzo again well to the fore, taking care of business. “Ooh, that’s right,” taunts Robert, swinging his head back and forth in line with the riff.
“Thank you very very much. So we got the cigarettes and carried straight on up to bed. This is another piece from Presence. It’s the wheelchair piece. It’s called Achilles Last Stand”.
Opening with that meandering guitar from Jimmy before zipping into top gear via Bonzo’s kick start, and the stage is basked in white light. It really is so good to hear Robert sing the words to this masterpiece live, and somehow Pagey manages to re-create the five studio guitar parts in one – and it works beautifully. Again it’s the collective fusion of the four that pushes the song relentlessly to the finish. All four cylinders at full throttle. The output is monumental. Exhilaratingly so.
“Achilles Last Stand…..”
After that the other band members disperse leaving just James Patrick Page on stage. A few zaps from the amp, a quick re-tune then Jimmy reaps the most frightening sound from his Gibson.This of course is the cue for a part of Zeppelin legacy, the guitar played with a violin bow episode. The soundtrack is the middle section of ‘Dazed and Confused’. For this occasion this part is taken out of the realms of reality into a different world. The bow itself is glowing with green laser light. When you consider Pagey’s occult fascination, the sight of him standing there swathed in eerie light is even more breathtaking. The end of the bow itself glows silver, as the trademark feedback chords pierce the darkness and a green triangle of laser light forms around the magician himself. The effect is sensational.
As the lasers fade, Bonzo comes in on synthesised tympani…Jonesy takes to mellotron again…Jimmy throws in an eastern effect and as a silhouetted Mr Plant reaches the mike he screeches the words “In the evening”….and the band crash down on a riveting riff that forms the basis for the premier of the first track on the up-coming new L.P. This, even on one hearing, is a classic. Robert screams out the lyrics, repeating a chorus of “Oh I need yer love, Oh I need your love, Gotta have…..” whoosh! Jimmy hits the cascading riff again and every time it comes around it tingles the backbone. Just as they are heading for an apparent frenzied finish…the song slows and transcends into a mellow mystical passage with Jonesy achieving almost flute like sounds from the mellotron, while Jimmy jangles out minor chords and then woosh! It’s that riff again, achieved with the use of tremolo arm across the string of Jimmy’s blue Strat, and on it goes. Guitar solos all over the place, Robert screeching a frenzy, Bonzo crashing into the finish. God – this is classic grandiose Zeppelin, and my how it moves.
“Alright, well that was another track from the new album, and that was called In The Evening. You what? Well, all you people who’ve come so far, it’s been like a kind of blind date if you like…ooh we’re even loosening up and laughing! This song I guess we should er…so many people who’ve helped us over the years, and no people more important than yourselves who came here on a blind date, this is for you…all of yer…”
It takes two chords….that’s all, then the whole arena is rising as one for the anthem, ‘Stairway To Heaven’…sung with breathtaking intensity by Robert. We cling to his every word. He smiles as we await the line, “Do you remember laughter” and he lets us sing it instead. As ever the song is full of his own ad-libs…”Oh, I don’t know, now wait a minute.” He sings “Dear PEOPLE can you hear the wind blow?” and on this occasion it’s “YOUR stairway” that’s on the whispering wind, (next week it’s to be “OUR stairway”). Jimmy pulls out a note-perfect solo on the double neck and Robert does his classic tambourine pose.
The final verses are sung like messages from Mount Olympus. The sound of one hundred thousand people singing as one the final lyric “And she’s buying a stairway to heaven….” is one I will never forget. A moment of true magic.
“Thanks a lot…too much…its hard to say…goodnight.”
The boys take a bow swathed in white light. The crowd go crazy to win them back. Repeated chants of “Zeppelin”, “Zeppelin”, “Zeppelin”, the like I’ve never heard before at a Zep gig, fill the midnight air. During the wait for an encore the video cameras turn to the masses, capturing the sight of thousands of lighted matches, up on the huge screen. An awesome scene.
The hysteria (only word for it) continues until the band reappears several minutes later:
“Good evening. This is ah, talk about being frightened, this is fantastic!”
‘Rock And Roll’ is the encore of course – Robert lets us sing the “lonely lonely…time” bits and it’s on into a frenzied finish. Exit triumphant band part two.
What happens next is truly amazing. The crowd step up the “Zeppelin”, “Zeppelin”, chants….and they launch into repeated choruses of “You’ll never walk alone”. I’ve never been part of anything like it.
The atmosphere is one of joyous, moving celebration.
When they return for a second encore they are genuinely taken aback at the sight and sound of the assembled. “John Paul Jones – John Bonham, – James Patrick Page” – Robert – re- introduces the band and actually joins in with “You’ll never walk alone”. So it goes on…eventually Jimmy crashes out the riff of ‘Whole Lotta Love’. This version is really a revelation. Stripped of the excess of previous versions, cut down to size, and including a revamped middle section riff from Jimmy – delightful stuff.Robert struts the stage singing “Oh you need love, you need love, way down inside – you need love…” it’s a gas to hear it like this. Of course we all join in the “woman, way down inside” bits:
“ I don’t think the people in Stevenage can hear yer, I said woman…
I don’t think the people in Newcastle can hear what I say-ya, I said, woman…way down inside….” And it’s on to a climactic finish.
Thank you…I don’t know what to say…thanks for eleven years.”
Robert, so obviously moved by it all, leads the band off stage again, smiling and turning to applaud the masses, and they’ve gone again.
Of course the audience want……more. The video screen has picked up a shot of the near full moon (looking as it did during the ‘Dazed and Confused’ Song RemainsThe Same movie segment) – cut to the fans still going crazy for the band…and they get what they want…a third encore.
Oh, they come again…and a shattering version of ‘Heartbreaker’ leaps from the speakers – including a dynamic Page one-handed solo. Really, I didn’t think they had it in them to do anymore. Exhausted, sweating and smiling, Jimmy, Robert, Jonesy and Bonzo leave the stage for the final time well after 1am.
Sunday morning: The Knebworth Zeppelin nation begin to shuffle towards the exits. Leaving a buzz in the air…a buzz you can feel right through you… a buzz that sums it up…their return here at Knebworth on August 4th 1979 was quite simply Led Zeppelin’s pinnacle of achievement.
Dave Lewis August 8th 1979
Extract from the book Led Zeppelin Then As It Was -At Knebworth 1979 -written and compiled by Dave Lewis. Above photos taken from the book by Phil Tattershall, Dave Lewis and via TBL Archives.
To mark the 35th anniversary of Led Zeppelin at Knebworth , the book is on offer at a special discounted price of £10 off the normal price – you can order the book from this link:
Some thoughts on the Led Zeppelin IV and Houses Of The Holy reissues:
Since the announcement of the next two reissues and the companion bonus tracks to be included, there’s been plenty of feedback regarding the contents – some positive and a fair bit negative…
May I state I am in no way privy to any inside info but looking back over some of the insights Jimmy has revealed in recent interviews, here’s some of my thoughts:
Firstly looking at the companion audio track listing for Led Zeppelin IV and Houses Of The Holy – this is very much in line with the policy adopted for Zep II and Zep III – in so much that the content is intended to act as a companion to the versions we all know and love.
It’s Jimmy’s vision to present working mixes and alternate versions to as he put it ‘’to hear a mirror of the tracks as you know them…some were reference mixes for us at the time…others completely different in approach.’’
In my view that concept worked very well on the second and third album reissues and looks to be of similar vein with Zep IV and Houses.
I for one am very much looking forward to hearing things like the Sunset Sound mix of Stairway To Heaven, The Battle Of Evermore mandolin/guitar mix, The Song Remains The Same guitar overdub reference mix etc – these work in progress versions paint a fascinating previously unseen sketchbook to what would evolve as the finished official releases.
Of course it would be great to hear a previously unheard and unreleased song from this era – and the rumour mill will point to mythical titles such as St Tristan’s Sword and Lost In Space as being notably absent. However, one has to question whether such songs actually exist and if they do, in the quality required for an official release.
Also absent is the certainly known to exist 1972 Bombay session version of Four Sticks. Worthy as that recording is, I am not sure this would have fitted comfortably amongst a pure 1971 alternate line up and as we know this recording has already been much bootlegged. Jimmy has stated his policy is to present as much unheard material as possible and for that reason I am not surprised to see it omitted.
Overall the simple fact remains that Jimmy can only work from what is in the archive and of releasable quality.
The other criticism I’ve seen levelled is the lack of any live material being made available on these two reissues.
Jimmy did employ the Paris 1969 recording as the bonus companion audio on the Led Zep I reissue. This was included as he felt there was insufficient outtake material to fill a Zep I studio companion disc. This initiative was not intended to act as a precedent.
Live material as I see it, is not the priority with the reissue programme ahead – that’s not to rule out a potential live set of releases as a separate project in the future although of course nothing is cast in stone on such an idea at this moment in time.
In summary, I think we need to be realistic in our expectations about what can be offered by way of companion audio – there may not be that much in the way of off the cuff surprises in the vein of Key To The Highway/Trouble In Mind and La La to come but as can be viewed by the companion audio track listing of Led Zeppelin IV and Houses Of The Holy, there is plenty of scope for us to hear and enjoy the working mix down process that went into shaping the songs that have been ingrained on our brains for over 40 years.
I personally am still finding much to enjoy playing the companion audio discs of Led Zeppelin II and III and it’s a trend I am sure will see continue on subsequent releases – St Tristan’s Sword or not….
Oh and one point on the deluxe box price – the Amazon prices do seem very extortionate and one hopes ahead they will be further revised – the Spin CD mail order company pricing is thankfully in line with the first three deluxe reissues – check them out at
Robert Plant Uncut magazine:
There is a major interview with Robert Plant in the new issue of Uncut magazine – various quotes of which have been banded around on various sites. I would advise reading the whole interview which is excellent.
An opportunity to produce the official Robert Plant Rainbow video:
Robert Plant has teamed up with Genero TV to give fans the unique opportunity to produce the official music video for ‘Rainbow’, the lead track off the forthcoming album lullaby and… The Ceaseless Roar.
Genero brings the power of a global creative community of over 300,000 filmmakers to the music industry. The competition gives filmmakers an opportunity of a lifetime, with a chance to receive $3,000 and have their video used as the official music video for ‘Rainbow’. The official selection and finalist group will be chosen by Robert Plant and Genero.
More info at
John Bonham on Wings At The Speed of Sound outtake:
Confirmation that John Bonham did sessions with Wings circa 1975/6 – Beware My Love (John Bonham version) is one of the extra tracks on the forthcoming Wings At The Speed of Sound album (thanks Paul Humbley for this heads up)
Long time TBL associate Billy Fletcher has been in touch regarding the Barrowlands Park tribute path which has been created to mark the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. The path is laid out with the name of every artist who has played the Barrowlands venue listed in an album spine fashion. Two of the three Robert Plant concerts there are documented. Here’s Billy pictured by the tribute path.
TBL T-shirts in the house –homes required!
The first batch of the new TBL T-shirts have arrived – all pre orders are now on the way. You can order the coolest Zep T-shirt around via this link:
Dave Lewis Diary Update: Recent state of play here…
‘’Congratulations on the new job’’
That phrase began to appear on my Facebook page last week at a steady rate – ‘’new job I queried?’’ – not that I know of…however all was quickly revealed.
‘’Tesco’s chief executive Philip Clarke is to leave the retailer and will be replaced by Unilever’s president of personal care Dave Lewis ran the headlines in all the papers.’’
Given my 35 year pedigree in retail (1974 – 2009) it might have been me…but I was strictly a music man really so I’ll leave it to the other Dave Lewis (no relation) to battle with the issues of the product placeman down the aisles of the mega food retailer ….mind you I did revel in the headlines such as this one in Retail Week found in good company on the magazine racks by Krys Jantzen…as the man said ‘’ does anybody remember laughter?’’.
Which somewhat ironically leads me into what is something of a confessional issue that I feel a need to share – and this one isn’t much of a laughing matter I have to say.
There’s also a certain irony when coupling this with the TBL Knebworth archive feature above – back then then I was a mere 22 year old, life’s problems did not stretch much beyond worrying about the next gig, the next album or the next pint. I was having one of the times of my life – as can vividly be heard on the You Tube clip below.
Where to start? Well as I’ve mentioned in the last couple of posts, I’ve not been feeling 100% recently. There have been some health issues for a while here, not least my type 2 diabetes which was confirmed two years ago. Regular consultations have kept that under control, though recent results have been a little worrying. I do keep pretty fit with the daily bike rides and such – and though every pic on the TBL Facebook I seem to have a pint in my hand, I do drink in moderation (ish) – honest…(I do love pubs though!)
What I am talking about now is something less tangible. Now those that know me well will know I tend to live my life with my heart on my sleeve. If I am unhappy about something I am not immune to throwing the odd moody as we might put it. There are some downers but usually they are over and done with quite quickly.
The way I’ve been feeling lately is altogether more sustained. It really kicked in about a month back but in truth, I’ve been fighting it off periodically for some time – certainly during the last five years after I finished in the retail business.
Now it’s began to have a bigger effect –and last week it resulted in me being most upset in front of the doctor trying to explain it.
Depression… it almost feels a weakness to own up to it.
Sir Winston Churchill called it his black dog (no relation to track one Zep IV) indeed Nick Drake wrote a song about it called Black Eyed Dog (not one I’d add to my playlist right now). There have been and are plenty of fellow suffers in the media spotlight – Buzz Aldrin, Alistair Campbell and Stephen Fry to name but three.
So I have asked myself what is this illness that you can’t really see and what have I got to moan and be depressed about?
Well I can tell you how it feels because I’ve felt the symptoms for a few weeks.
There’s lethargy about everything, a lack of properly enjoying what I would normally revel in. It’s hard to get motivated and sometimes there’s a distinct feeling of loneliness even amongst friends. Low self-esteem…uneven sleep patterns…often feeling irritable and stressed out. An anxiety when attempting simple everyday things, and any domestic problem seems insurmountable. In fact it feels like there are only problems- and no solutions.
This from a man who knows how to enjoy himself and never wants the party to end. Of course I’ve tried to keep smiling through it and fending it off and most of my friends may not have even noticed anything is wrong.
It’s an intermittent feeling but when it comes -and it can arrive quite unexpectedly, it tends to dwarf my every positive thought. Some of the reasons for the above without going into too much personal detail, I can trace and identify – others I just don’t really understand.
And like I said what have I really got to moan about? I’ve mentioned it before, I am a millionaire many times over when it comes to the love of a wife and family. The job I do – writing, about music and the world of Led Zeppelin…well what’s not to like…?
Something though isn’t quite right…
When I assess how I make a living, it has and does bring certain pressures. Not least of course financially where I need to keep it all on track and motivate the sales of the TBL products. Being self-employed and working from home can be very isolating. I do still miss the buzz and camaraderie that I enjoyed so much for so long working in music retail.
Whilst I enjoy some fantastic support and input within the world of TBL, it’s down to me to make the decisions and drive it. Often that can be frustrating as I can only achieve so much in the hours available. The magazines, the books, the regular updating of the TBL website, the demands of modern social media, the website, Facebook ,Twitter – keeping on top of that is relentless but I am not going to quibble – that’s just the way it is. As we all know living in the modern world is more complicated than ever.
I do tend to find myself trying to commit to projects that take longer than envisaged. I was keen to do a book on the O2 reunion and announced plans for this only for it to get side-tracked with other things (I do intend to return to that at some point). Similarly I announced plans for an Earls Court book though progress there has been slow. Again I’m determined it will get there but these things all take time and energy.
I also have a project ahead with Mike Tremaglio which we are already working on and one or two other things mulling.
While it’s great to be busy, recently I have become anxious when thinking how I can cope with my various book projects ahead whilst committing wholly to the delivery of the TBL magazine and other products ongoing.
Here at home we have the everyday family worries that we all contend with but recently they too have taken their toll.
At the doctors last week it was a relief to unburden myself and own up that something is wrong. That in itself feels like step one to enlisting help and hopefully beginning to find a resolve –and also in doing so alleviating the risk of health issues that such stress can lead to.
As I mentioned above, this feeling of depression is intermittent –there have been some great times recently and hopefully more ahead with the Led Zeppelin reissues, Robert’s album and tour etc – and closer to home some birthdays to celebrate not least the good lady Janet’s 40 plus ten as she puts it.
My aim is to rediscover the zest and energy I normally have for living my life and sharing that in so many ways with the people around me and the TBL followers around the globe whose support makes it all worthwhile.
One thing the good lady Janet and I have decided to do is to take a holiday, our first proper one in nine years – we will be away for a week in mid-August hopefully soaking up some Mediterranean sun. It’s a much needed break for both if us.
Within all this, it’s also worth mentioning too that despite these issues, my commitment to producing TBL products of high quality and integrity and supplying the TBL products with maximum efficiently remains as high as ever. In fact if anything the TBL business is a respite to the way I’ve felt recently as it’s been good to get stuck into producing the new TBL T-shirt and kick starting the next TBL magazine. That is what I do and continues to define who I am.
With depression and stress one tends to feel like some faker as there are no physical shortcomings on show. I think I have been deluding myself in not facing up to it –there just seemed to be a taboo about it – an inherent weakness in owning up to what is of course a very common condition, indeed a condition some of you reading this may well relate to.
Well, I’ve revealed it all now and I do feel a sense of relief in doing so.
It’s by no means all doom and gloom here and I have more than a lot to be thankful for surrounded as I am by Janet, Sam, Adam and Bet and some amazing lifelong friends (and may I say Janet’s support during these difficult recent weeks has been fantastic) – plus of course the similarly amazing TBL fraternity that has developed over many years in sharing our enthusiasm for what is not just a band…but more a way of life.
So it’s ever onward regardless but I just felt the need to explain some things and how I’ve been feeling. It already feels somewhat cathartic for doing so.
There’s plenty of inspiration to be drawn as we move into what will be a packed August. I’m looking forward to reading the Robert Plant Uncut interview and the new issue of Mojo looks right up my street with a cover feature and cover mount CD featuring Crosby Stills Nash and Young on the subject of their 1974 tour -the recently released box set of which is primed and ready for the playlist. I will also be looking forward to the aforementioned Paul McCartney & Wings Venus And Mars and Wings At The Speed Of Sound reissues – I love that Wings period – great melodic songs expertly played and the added bonus of John Bonham – count me right in for those.
On the player here recently: The Rolling Stones Sticky Fingers marking Mick’s 71st birthday, Paul Simon’s Still Crazy After All These Years (another great summer album), Peter Frampton Hummingbird in a Box , Miles Davis In A Silent Way and Sunshine Soul (thank you John P) a compilation of 70s soul stuff that was inspired listening after I’d watched the excellent BBC 4 documentary on Northern Soul. Of course over the weekend there will some Knebworth 1979 on the player on this 35th anniversary recalling that memorable first ”progressive music concert” as described in the above pic and talking of which… here’s some visual and audio memories from when we were young, foolish and be(ing) happy…as The Tam’s great Northern Soul stomper so eloquently puts it…
You Tube clips: 35 years gone…
Until next time…have a great weekend…
Keep listening, keep reading…
Dave Lewis/Gary Foy – August 1st , 2014.
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