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WORLD EXLUSIVE NEW INTERVIEW WITH JOHN PAUL JONES FOR TBL 45/ TBL ATLAS KNEBWORTH 40TH ANNIVERSARY EVENT/LZ NEWS/OVER EUROPE 39 YEARS GONE/ROBERET PLANT PICTURES AT ELEVEN/CASSETTE FEEDBACK/DL DIARY BLOG UPDATE

3 July 2019 1,378 views 3 Comments

 

TBL World Exclusive new interview with John Paul Jones for TBL 45:

The forthcoming TBL issue 45 due out August, will feature a world exclusive new interview with John Paul Jones

In an interview I did with him on the phone last week exclusively for TBL, John talked about the Resonance FM 100 Club gig, Tres Coyotes, his projects ahead and his memories of Led Zeppelin at Knebworth 40 years on…

In effect, it’s an exclusive catch up with the world of John Paul Jones in the summer of 2019…and it’s only in the forthcoming TBL 45

This is yet another reason to be sure not to miss out on what is a monumental issue.

TBL 45 is one of the most ambitious magazines yet produced – almost a double issue – it’s due for publication in August.

A 64 page issue including a reprint of the complete contents of Tight But Loose issue 3 – the Knebworth special first published in October 1979.

Plus further Knebworth content:

I was there: Pat Mount’s Knebworth memories from out in the field,

The Knebworth Bootlegs: Andy Adams on the vinyl and video releases -Paul Sheppard on CD

The Tape 1979 Analysis: Andy Crofts’ dissects the Copenhagen warms ups and August 4 and 11

Nick Anderson Collectors Column on Knebworth rarities

Plus latest news and views:

Jimmy Page Metropolitan Museum of Art’s ‘Play It Loud’ New York Exhibition report

Robert Plant: Saving Grace in St Albans. Love Rocks in NYC.

John Paul Jones 100 Club Resonance FM benefit gig on the spot review

Interview with journalist and broadcaster David Hepworth on reviewing  Zep at Knebworth and his latest book A Fabulous Creation

Interview with Peter Piddock on booking Zep at the University Of Kent in 1971

Latest official Led Zeppelin documentary news and more.

This special issue is being produced in a limited edition run – all individually numbered. When it’s gone, it’s gone. Don’t miss out – be sure to pre -order now… not so much a magazine – more a mini book!

YOU CAN PRE –ORDER TBL ISSUE 45 AT THE LINK BELOW:

http://www.tightbutloose.co.uk/tbl-45-special-60-page-knebworth-40th-anniversary-issue-including-complete-reprint-of-tbl-issue-3-limited-edition-pre-order-now/

This is a very special issue and essential TBL summer reading and it’s all coming soon – many thanks for all your support

Dave Lewis, July 3,2019.

 

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MORE KNEBWORTH CELEBRATIONS…

With just a month to go to the TBL Led Zeppelin at Knebworth 40th anniversary gathering, here is all the info:

JOIN US FOR A DAY OF LED ZEPPELIN AT KNEBWORTH  40TH ANIVERSARY CELEBRATIONS…

TICKETS NOW ON SALE FOR THE LED ZEPPELIN AT KNEBWORTH 40 YEARS GONE CELEBRATION DAY EVENT:

Led Zeppelin at Knebworth 40 Years Gone:

No Sleeping Bag Required…

40th Anniversary TBL Celebration Day Event:

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Following on from last September’s hugely enjoyable Led Zeppelin 50th Anniversary ‘It’s been a Long Time’ TBL gathering, later this year we are going back to the excellent Atlas pub in Fulham,London to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Led Zeppelin performing those two memorable shows at Knebworth – 40 years to the day of the first date, and this time around there’s no sleeping bag required….

Here’s the details:

Dave Lewis and Julian Walker Present:

Led Zeppelin at Knebworth 40 Years Gone – No Sleeping Bag Required…

40 Anniversary TBL Celebration Day Event

Sunday, August 4, 2019

The Atlas Pub

16 Seagrave Road, Fulham, London, SW6 1RX

From 12.00 Midday to 8.30PM

Nearest tube: West Brompton (District Line, London Overground, and Southern train services)

This is a great opportunity to get together and celebrate those landmark last UK performances – of which many reading this will have attended.

A Day of Led Zep Celebration – Guest Speaker Forums, Video Playbacks, Led Zep Knebworth Quiz and more

Guest Speakers to include:

Chris Charlesworth

Luis Rey

Phil Tattershall presenting ‘Confessions of a Led Zeppelin Taper at Knebworth 1979

Mick Bulow and Pat Mount on their experiences out in the field

A Day of Led Zep Celebration – Guest Speaker Forums, Video Playbacks, Led Zep Knebworth Quiz and more

The new TBL issue 45 and the new package of the Then As It Was Led Zeppelin At Knebworth 1979 will be available on the day

TICKET DETAILS:

Advance tickets for this event are now on sale – price £12.00

Please note, there is a ceiling limited on how many we can accommodate – so order your ticket as soon as possible to ensure entry.

Order tickets via Pay Pal at the link here:

http://www.tightbutloose.co.uk/tbl-knebworth-40th-anniversary-event-no-sleeping-bag-required-sunday-august-4-2019-order-tickets-here/

Please note, there is a ceiling limited on how many we can accommodate so order your ticket as soon as possible to ensure entry.

We look forward to seeing all that can make it along –

Dave Lewis & Julian Walker  – July 3 , 2019.

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Robert Plant Digging Deep Podcast – Episode 3:

Robert on Achilles Last Stand – ”It’s about freedom and escape – it’s magnificent”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bdCNbX-S3AY

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Led Zeppelin News Update:

In conjunction with the Led Zep news site, each week I will be re- producing highlights from their weekly email update news summary. This goes out every Sunday. Sign up details are below. Many thanks to James Cook.

Jimmy Page

  • Genesis Publications has announced details of Jimmy Page’s new book, “Jimmy Page: The Anthology.” The book will include photographs and details of Page’s stage clothes and equipment. It will be a limited run of 2,500 copies, and the first 350 copies were deluxe signed editions which have already sold out. The book will be released in December. Find out more about the book here.

Robert Plant

  • Robert Plant has released the third episode of his podcast “Digging Deep.” Listen to it here.

Upcoming events:

July – The 45th issue of Tight But Loose magazine will be released.
July 2 – Robert Plant will perform in Halden, Norway.
July 4 – Robert Plant will perform at the Roskilde Festival in Denmark.
July 13 – Robert Plant will perform at the Rhythmtree music festival with Saving Grace on the Isle of Wight.
July 18 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace at the Galway International Arts Festival in Ireland.
July 19 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Waterford, Ireland.
July 21 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Kilkenny, Ireland.
July 22 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Cork, Ireland.
July 24 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
July 25 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace in Dublin, Ireland.
July 28 – Robert Plant will perform with Saving Grace at the WOMAD festival in the UK.
August 4 – Tight But Loose editor Dave Lewis will hold a fan meetup in London to mark the 40th anniversary of Led Zeppelin’s Knebworth performances.
September 13 – Robert Plant will perform at the Harvest Jazz & Blues Festival in Fredericton, Canada.
September 15 – Robert Plant will perform at the CityFolk festival in Ottawa, Canada.
September 17 – Robert Plant will perform in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
September 20 – Robert Plant will perform at the Outlaw Music Festival in Indianapolis.
September 21 – Robert Plant will perform at the Bourbon & Beyond music festival in Louisville, Kentucky.
September 23 – Robert Plant will perform in Clear Lake, Iowa.
September 25 – Robert Plant will perform in Moorhead, Minnesota.
September 27 – Robert Plant will perform in Missoula, Montana.
September 29 – Robert Plant will perform in Spokane, Washington.
October 1 – Robert Plant will perform in Salt Lake City, Utah.
October 3 – Robert Plant will perform in Bend, Oregon.
November – The “Play It Loud: Instruments Of Rock And Roll” exhibition will move to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
December – Jimmy Page’s new book, “Jimmy Page: The Anthology,” will be released.

Many thanks to James Cook.

The complete Led Zeppelin News email goes out every weekend. To receive it each week sign up here:http://tinyletter.com/LedZepNews

Led Zeppelin News Website: Check out the Led Zeppelin news website at

http://ledzepnews.com/

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TBL Archive Special:

Feather In The Wind – Led Zeppelin Over Europe 1980 book relaunch:

This month marks the 39th anniversary of the final Led Zeppelin tour – a low key 14 date trek taking in Germany, Belgium, Holland, Austria and Switzerland.

To celebrate this anniversary, I am relaunching the Feather In the Wind book – the price is a bargain £12.50 including postage and packing.

Note – stock of the book is now running down so if you have yet to check out the book – now is the time!

This is a fantastic opportunity to invest in the definitive account of the tour at a bargain price – essential  Led Zep summer 2019 reading.

For those who have yet to indulge, to give you a flavour of the contents – here is an extract of chapter three – my on the road account written at the time and first featured in TBL issue 5.

Led Zeppelin Over Europe 1980:

Frankfurt Festhalle – It was 39 years ago …

Flashback to the Frankfurt Festhalle, Germany – on the evening of June 30th, 1980 around 8pm:

I am in the confines of the grand Festhalle venue in the heart of Frankfurt and I am standing no more than ten feet away from the four members of Led Zeppelin. The occasion is the tenth gig on the current tour of the band who have reigned supreme as the world’s greatest live rock attraction for much of the past decade. However the 1980s are upon us, and many things have happened since Led Zeppelin undertook their last full scale tour some three years ago.

The musical landscape they one stood over like a colossus, has changed radically. The onset of punk rock and new wave has challenged the status quo of the mega-bands – the so called dinosaur acts.
In fact, Robert Plant will make reference to the dinosaur tag on more than one occasion on this tour. Aside from the new wave of bands who rely on sharp, incisive three minute blasts of power pop, a new movement of rock outfits, spawned on the hard and heavy riffs that powered Zeppelin to the top, are in the wings ready to take dislodge their crown.
Within the next twelve months, the likes of Def Leppard, Iron Maiden, Saxon, Diamond Head, etc., will begin to dominate the music press in a similar manner in which Zeppelin were once courted, ushering in a movement that will be termed ‘’The new wave of British heavy metal.’’

Led Zeppelin are performing in Europe in an attempt to thwart such challenges and re-establish themselves as a working band. That aforementioned last tour, a gargantuous trek across America in the summer of 1977, attracted a combined audience of nearly one million. Last August over 200,000 came to pay homage to them over two Saturday gigs at Knebworth.
Things, though, have moved on considerably, even since then. This tour has garnered little publicity back home, and though a hardcore of UK followers have made the trip over, by their standard this is a very low key affair.

Tonight, though, they are playing one of the larger venues on the tour. The 13,500 capacity Festhalle . Ten years ago, Zeppelin became the first band ever to play this venue and their return is much anticipated by the German audience. Tonight’s crowd is also boosted by the presence of a number of US servicemen based at the nearby US Army base where Elvis Presley did some of his time for Uncle Sam way back when.

Understandably, the four members look a little apprehensive as they mill around the short stairway that will soon usher them on to the stage. This is the second show of the tour that my friend Tom and I are taking in. Twelve days ago, we witnessed their vibrant second night in Cologne. Since then the tour has not been without it’s problems. Last Friday, John Bonham collapsed on stage in Nuremberg after just 16 minutes and the show was cancelled.
When we met with security man Dave Moulder earlier in the day, he was keen to play down the events saying John had merely suffered from nervous exhaustion. A show in Zurich last night appears to have gone well. The heavily bearded drummer seems his boisterous self as he banters with Robert Plant. Plant is again wearing the green cap sleeve top and jeans attire that has been his ever present uniform for the tour. He too looks upbeat, if a little bit nervous. John Paul Jones, with suave short hair and smart shirt, is interacting with them. Jimmy Page is dressed in a white suit with a green top and matching green sneakers. He looks slightly sweaty, but is smiling warmly as the imposing frame of manager Peter Grant points out the all important presence of Atlantic Records Ahmet Ertegun – the man who has guided their career at the label from the very beginning.

The lights are dimmed, and road manager Phil Carlo shines a torch through the dark and leads them up to the stage. Bonzo climbs the rostrum to the drums, Jonesy turns right where his tech assistant Andy Ledbetter straps on the Alembic bass, and Jimmy Page walks onto the stage to the left, followed by Robert Plant.

As they walk into the glare of the spotlights, those assembled in the Frankfurt Festhalle finally view all four members of Led Zeppelin and the place erupts.

Guitar tech Ray Thomas straps on the Gibson and Jimmy moves to the effects pedals. A few snare shots and bass shuffles from John Bonham is the signal for the guitarist to lean back and exhort a fierce moaning wail from the Gibson. Robert stakes a stance to his immediate right –the spotlights pick out the pair in regal splendour  and then BLAM!

They launch into Train Kept A Rollin’, the old Johnny Burnette barnstormer The Yardbirds used in their heyday, and indeed Zep played on their first US tours. Now it is being revived to kick start what will be two hours of full-on power and excitement.

Tom and I are extremely fortunate to be watching all this action unfold just a few mere feet from the stage. As the band begin their ascent to the stage, Peter Grant acknowledges us and nods approvingly as Dave Moulder ushers us to the side of the stage. In effect, we have been allowed into their tight-knit inner sanctum.

Watching Led Zeppelin live on stage from this ultimate vantage point is, unsurprisingly, an astonishing experience and one that we will repeat in Mannheim and Munich later in the week.

To be continued…

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OVER EUROPE PIC 1

Extract from the book Led Zeppelin Feather In The Wind – Over Europe 1980 by Dave Lewis.

 Book ordering Details – ORDER AT THIS LINK:  

http://www.tightbutloose.co.uk/books-t-shirts/led-zeppelin-feather-in-the-wind-over-europe-1980-book/

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More TBL Archive…

TBL Archive: Robert Plant  Pictures At Eleven album 37 years gone… 

To mark the 37th anniversary of Robert Plant’s landmark debut album – here’s an extensive feature I wrote back in 2002. That album remains one of the most crucial of his long career and still sounds every bit as exciting and fresh as it did back in the summer of 1982.

Pictures at Eleven – Still vivid at 37

Robert Plant’s first solo album was a personal  career watershed to rival Led Zep 1 

For the former singer in the biggest band in the world, the post Zeppelin career rebuilding process can be traced along the highways and the byways of the North of England in the late spring of 1981. Stopping off at Bradford University, the R’n’B ad-hoc line up The Honeydrippers he had established performed on one of the larger stages of their infrequent itinerary. At the soundcheck Plant, sensing the bigger surroundings of the platform, begins warming up with a version of The Beatles. Day Tripper, spinning around at the end of the stage in a once customary manner now seemingly redundant, Guitarist Robbie Blunt comes out of that 6o’s skit and hones down on a descending blues riff… “Oh I dont know, oh I dont know, oooohh yeah,” repeats Plant over the riff. After two or three minutes they stop. “Hey that might be enough for a song” Plant laughs and turns to Blunt. “You never know,” comes the thick Midlands-accented retort.

Within a couple of months during that summer of 1981 Plant and his new writing partner -and indeed sensed the possibilities of a creative partnership that had periodically reared its head in the lighter moments of The Honeydrippers.

As he recalled at the time, “The Honeydrippers had been great fun to do without the usual pressures. Slowly though Robbie and I began to look at each other and realised that it wasn’t going to be that serious so we started writing little bits and pieces in between gigs”.

Joining him at Rockfield Studios in Monmouth was ex-Ashton Paice and Lord bassist Paul Martinez and keyboard player Jezz Woodroffe who Plant had met when inquiring about buying a synth in a local music shop. His past credentials included a touring stint with 31ack Sabbath.

Plant, Blunt, and Woodroffe had already turned in some demos at Plant’s four track home studio – notably Fat Lip with the aid of a Roland drum machine and an excellent Blunt-led mid-tempo rocker Far Post that strangely would not make the final album selection.

The problem of who would fill the drum stool was the biggest dilemma. Plant chose to employ a variety of percussionists. Early demo work even included the then 14 year old Jason Bonham and Bad Company’s Simon Kirke was another initial contributor.

The first recording sessions at Rockfield though employed Cozy Powell – the big hitting drummer who had previously backed Jeff Beck and Ritchie Blackmore. Powell added the necessary backbeat ooomph to two of the more intense compositions – Like I’ve Never Been Gone and the full-throttled Slow Dancer. “Cozy came in like a typhoon. Everyone realised we were playing rock’n’roll. He came in at the middle of it and let fly” recalled Plant.

On a whim Plant then called a pre-mega solo fame Phil Collins – then jobbing Genesis front man and all-round reliable drummer for hire. Collins was more than happy to participate – later taking the drum stool for the first Plant band US tour.

For Plant the whole recording process as a solo artist proved to be an emotional one and there was one seal of approval that he was more than keen to gain. In early 1982 Plant took the completed tape of the album over to Jimmy Page’s Windsor home. “It was an emotional time. We sat there together with my hand on his knee just listening. He knew although about to embark on the first steps of a new career, Plant also found himself confronted with his past. Atlantic had been harbouring for a final Zeppelin album and in the autumn of 1981 Page began trawling the tape archive to assemble what would emerge the following November as Coda. Plant and Jones were both actively involved in the final selection and sleeve design. Plant attended some of the overdubbing and mixing sessions at the Sol adding a new vocal to the ’72 Houses Of The Holy leftover Walters Walk.

In the early spring of ’82, Plant handed over the master tapes of his own solo album and did a photo shoot with photographer Michael Hoppen for the sleeve design. The album would be known as Pictures At Eleven a wordplay on the UK ITV news programme News At Ten.

The album was released on June 25 and entered the Music Week UK chart at number 2 and quickly climbed to the top 3 of the Billboard US listings. The UK chart position was a remarkable feat considering there had been no pre-release single and Plant only gave one UK press interview to Kerrang prior to release.

Though he had yet to formulate any live touring plans he did perform at the Princes Trust benefit show at London’s Dominion Theatre in July turning up with Robbie Blunt to perform Worse Than Detroit from the new album. Plant spent the next few weeks on a promotional tour taking in New York in the summer – his first visit to America since 1977.

He conducted a round of interviews including an MTV chat with long-term Zeppelin DJ associate JJ Jackson.

His whole persona defined the new fresh thinking. The bouffant hair, the casual suits -it was all a long way from the cock-rock poses of a few years back. Then there was his new-found eagerness to court the media – always a no-go area with his former band.
Now there were TV and radio interviews and even a guest spot as a panellist on Mike Read’s Pop Quiz TV show. The visual media age was upon us and Plant was more than happy to embrace it.

Back in the UK he shot a low budget video for Burning Down One Side for Dave Robinson’s Stiff Films which was aired on the Old Grey Whistle Test in September alongside a studio interview with Mark Ellen and David Hepworth.

Though the single made little impression but the album continues to rack up healthy sales on both sides of the Atlantic. It was the inspiration for Plant to retain the momentum and begin recording a second album The Principal Of Moments which was released the following June. Plant then embarked on a lengthy world tour kicking off in the US in August ’83 and taking in the UK, Australia and Japan. His solo career was well and truly up and running.

On the eve of that first tour he reflected on the past 18 months. “One thing about being a member of a close-knit family is that you can never imagine being without it. So when you evaluate your position and what it takes to make you function, you find that the most important thing is to express yourself with whatever the god’s have given you. To that extent Pictures At Eleven will always remain a major part of my life, symbolically if nothing else.”

My Pictures At Eleven

Pictures At Eleven bust into my life amidst the 1982 World Cup. I’d been keenly anticipating its arrival for months. At the time I was ensconced in collating the best material from the first six issues of Tight But Loose which would emerge as my first book The Final Acclaim. I’d had a firsthand report of the album from Robert himself after he had rung me to request I attend a meeting with Jimmy and Robert in Swan Song in March. At their request I brought in various cuttings and pics for them to mull over for what would emerge as the Coda sleeve. “My album is finished and it will be ready in the summer. It’s a new beginning and a re-birth,” he told me that memorable afternoon.

The Warner’s record company rep that called on the WH Smith record outlet where I worked kept me informed of the release schedule showing me a preview of that new stylish image on the cover. A pre-release white label would be with me shortly he promised. He was as good as his word for after calling into work late on the afternoon of Friday 18 June (coincidentally two years to the day that I’d seen them in Cologne)  I was working with the good lady Janet back then and it was Janet who informed me the rep had ”left a record for you”

Left a record for me? More like the holy grail!

It was with bated breath that 1 stuck the stylus down on this precious vinyl and awaited the new birth as he had put it. Out came the reassuringly potent Burning Down One Side to usher in a new era.

Initial impressions were most favourable. Moonlight In Samosa and Like I’ve Never Been Gone carried familiar emotional qualities and Slow Dancer was a definite nod back to that field outside Stevenage. Plant’s re-assuring vocal cutting the air “In the darkness, in the darkness, yeah yeah”.

Further excitement arrived with the publication of Kerrang with a cover story interview with Robert and the distribution of the limited edition promo Interview album which came my way via the Warner’s rep.

The album was duly released on Monday 25 June. A week later the Warner rep called in to tell me the album had entered the chart at number 2, a fantastic result – a call to Sain at the Swan Song office confirmed the triumph. As for the World Cup, suffice say England did not share such triumph exiting-left two days after the UK release of Pictures with Kevin Keegan missing that last minute header against the Spanish – curses!

However, there was a major silver lining ahead.

A month later there was an opportunity to see the man on the boards. Robert was added to the Princes Trust charity show at London’s Dominion Theatre alongside Pete Townsend, Madness and Jethro Tull. It was another memorable evening for resident TBL crew member Tom Locke and myself -not least for the opportunity to meet Prince Charles.  Robert did a scorching version of Worse Than Detroit with Robbie Blunt on guitar and a house band that included Pete Townshend. It was more than evident he could still command a stage with ease.

On the night Tom and I got to meet Prince Charles himself at a reception after the show attended by Robert and the other artists involved. A memorable occasion indeed – our Mums were well proud!

There was further activity in the early autumn with the release of the Burning Down One Side 12″ with the brilliant Far Post on the B-side. Plus the screening of the video on Whistle Test. Far Post was top of my play-list in the weeks leading into the winter to be finally side lined by the arrival of Coda… but that’s another story.

Pictures At Eleven was definitely the sound of the summer all of 35 years ago – on the deck before every visit to the pub and in between all those World Cup matches. Snapped in to the Walkman that sometimes accompanied me on my training runs for a half marathon I was then undertaking. From the adversity of the disablement of Zeppelin, Robert had emerged with fresh new music-and a firm indication that the new phase of his career was going to prove very fruitful. It was a reassuring time for Zeppelin fans the world over.

35 years on:

So all these years later I still have much affection for Pictures At Eleven. It retains an innocence and purity somewhat lacking in subsequent Plant solo efforts. Being his first post-Zeppelin music to be released it was an absolute landmark release. It could not have been easy trying to escape the shadow of the past.

The actual recording marked Plant’s first proper studio work since the final Zep album In Through The Out Door three years earlier. In starting anew there was nothing too radical in his approach.

Lining both album’s up side-by-side there are still obvious parallels. Burning Down One Side possesses the rumbling robust pleading of In The Evening. Both Moonlight In Samosa and Like I’ve Never Been Gone carry the melancholy feel associated with All My Love. Worse Than Detroit was the sort of blues-rock-stomp Zep did in their sleep while Slow Dancer offered the epic and dynamic flavour that characterised the likes of Carousalambra.

Elsewhere there were new places to go. Bonzo would have given short shrift to any use of a drum machine -but its deployment on Fat Lip sounded just right for the tune. Saxophones too would not be heard on a Zep album but the late Rav Ravenscroft’s Baker Street-like solo considerably lightened the load on Pledge Pin.

The main difference from ’79 to ’82 was of course the lack of Jimmy Page. Gone were the plangent glides and swooping wide-screen riffs to be replaced by the more refined guitar style of Robbie Blunt. More Chet Atkins than Scotty Moore, Blunt brought his own finger-picking style to the proceedings offering up a more polished sheen courtesy of his use of the Fender Stratocaster

The Kidderminster born ex-Bronco guitarist proved to be an inspired foil for Plant. Blunts no-nonsense pretension-free approach to both his playing and his role as Plant’s new sidekick and writing partner diverted any comparisons with his former partner.

Blunt excelled in providing a free flowing style that allowed the singer to breathe and interpret the songs entirely as he saw fit. Gone was the competitive edge of the Zep era -Plant was now in control and to his credit Robbie Blunt had no problem with that.

Listening to it now Pictures at Eleven still carries a cohesion lacking in subsequent Plant albums. The main criticism I’d harbour is with the actual recorded sound and overall production. Even for the pre-digital techniques of the early ‘8o’s the production sounds incredibly thin. Was it the studio? Plant’s own inexperience in now being hands-on, in the recording process? Clearly he could have benefited from some of Page’s influence as the sonic architect and master producer of all those Zep sessions.

That said, the actual songs stand up very well. Lyrically Plant reflects the vulnerability he must have been subject to at the time. There’s a lyrical starkness about many of the songs that mirror the events and feelings of the time. A rare glimpse into the psyche of the once, and soon to be again, confident front-man. His ego would soon be refuelled via the touring success of the next few years – leading to far less introspection in his writing mirrored in the likes of Doo A Doo, Big Love, etc.

It would not be until the more organic content of Fate Of Nations a decade later that he would return to the more sensitive composition style of this debut album.

Musically too there’s a stark, welcome simplicity in the arrangements. Ahead lay Plant’s perhaps unavoidable, but often uneasy on the ear, preference for 8o’s recording techniques. This would bring forth beat box remixes, sampled percussion, multi-layered backing vocals and synthesiser effects that often came out sounding not unlike a whoopie cushion. Pictures At Eleven retained the power of his past work but not in a glaringly obvious fist clenching way. The songs have an effortless feel throughout but quite complex in terms of construction.

Compare the arrangements on this album to the over-cluttered approach that would rear its head on The Principal of Moments (eg, Stranger Here) and reach something of a crisis with that most difficult of third albums’ Shaken’N’Stirred (eg, Kallalou Kallalou).

Burning Down One side is thankfully devoid of such distractions. It’s straight rock, pretentious rock at that with ample evidence that he could still push his chest out and attack the vocal.

Moonlight In Samosa is built around Blunts acoustic picking – a mid-tempo ballad sung with affection. Pledge Pin hinted at new directions – sparse, urgent and edgy with masterful vocal phrasing, (“As the cavalcade begins to thin do you stop and look around…”) and the best live number bar none of his early tours.

Slow Dancer marks one of the few occasions in that early 8o’s period that Plant faced the shadow of Zeppelin face on, emerging relatively unscathed. What it lacked for in Page finesse, it made up with sheer effort and bravado. “Look I can still do this,” seemed to be the underlying message.

To side 2, track one, and Worse Than Detroit. Clearly Robbie Blunt’s triumph – finger-picking masterfully and chording as required over Plant’s familiar harmonic growl. A blues-rock stomper honed as noted previously on the byways of the North and amongst the backwaters of the Midlands clubs they had frequented when the “Honeydripper was on his way,” to paraphrase the lyric.

The drum machine may have had no place in Zep but it fits perfectly here for Fat Lip which still carries a texture and atmosphere all of its own – and marvel still at that elongated last line “round and round its gonna spi-i-i-i-in”. Blunt again is to the fore putting in strange arpeggio runs with lots of finger stretching.

The anthemic Like I’ve Never Been Gone quickly elevated itself to the main set closer of the early Plant tours. This emotive ballad has worn well with Plant at his pleading best with

The somewhat nondescript Mystery Title is the album’s one real flaw. A jumpy multi-layered guitar romp which proved if nothing else that this type of arrangement was best delivered in the hands of James Patrick. A far better bet for inclusion on the album would have been Far Post. Somehow relegated to the position of the B side to Burning Down One Side. This rollicking Dire Straight-ish swinger with Jez Woodroffe’s piano well up in the mix and some great harmony guitar, remains a delight.

35 years on it’s a timely moment to get re- accustomed with this 1982 first solo release. In terms of the whole Plant career overview, it’s as vital a landmark in the scheme of things as Led Zep 1. Akin to that Zep debut, Pictures represents a breakthrough but on an entirely different level. It was the solo album Plant had never really intended to make. Out of the confines of the Zep safety net it was the moment he had to confront the future on his own.

Whilst it may have been low on production values, the debut Plant solo set clocked in well high in terms of performance and delivery.

He still had it – he could still project it. Pictures At Eleven retains a sense of innocence and purity before the big business kicked back in. It’s an innocence and purity that three and a half decades have done little to erode. That’s why it remains one of Robert Plant’s most durable recorded statements.

Dave Lewis

First written for TBL 16

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In praise of the cassette feedback:

There was some great feedback from my piece on the cassette format last week. Here’s some words from Larry Bergmann Jr:

Great write-up on those old cassettes Dave.  I remember those days well.  I still have a few of them that I kept for sentimental reasons (including a few of those old TBL classics!) but not many.  Another interesting thing, a few of the old commercial cassettes still sound warmer than their CD counterparts!  Many (too many) commercial CDs provide ear fatigue with the high end of the music too jacked up.  But I guess that’s another topic for another time!

Chris Maley sent in some great pics:

Hi Dave, just had to write and tell you how good I thought your article on cassettes was. A fantastic read

Here’s my tapes shelf for your interest. I also have Led Zeppelin IV and Fate Of Nations on the short lived digital compact cassette format.
Thanks for the feedback – it’s more than evident the cassette format is still held in high esteem with a lot of Zep collectors out there.
…………………………………
DL Diary Blog Update:
It was great to meet up with my very good friend Barry Farnsworth in Leicester last week. Many a tale was recalled from our days working together at WH Smith in the mid 70s, seeing David Bowie at Earls Court on July 1 1978, Barry buying the early issues of TBL and much more…a welcome respite from an intensive period of writing and TBL 45 design and layout.
While in Leicester, Barry and I called in to the HMV store – and I have to say I was well impressed. One of the best HMV’s I’ve seen in years.
A great lay out with various featured artists racked- a superb selection of vinyl including all the recent Fathers Day limited edition releases.
How sad it was to then see the sign that said it was closing. We spoke to a couple of staff members who seemed to indicate it was a cost of rates issue – they were hoping it might return in another site – it closes at the end of next month. A sad loss. Here’s hoping it makes a comeback…
I always enjoy watching the Glastonbury Festival coverage on TV and this year was no exception.
He is a divisive character (my post on this subject on my Facebook page was greeted with many an anti Liam barb) but I personally thoroughly enjoyed last Saturday’s Liam Gallagher Glastonbury performance. An exhilarating and uplifting set. In my view he is one of the last great rock’n’roll stars – the Oasis songs sounded every bit as good as they did when they soundtracked some of the best days of my retail career managing the Our Price record shop in the 1990s ..and boy we sold some Oasis records and CDs – did we ever…as David Brett, Robert Owen Jones and Hayley Martin will remember as they worked with me back in that memorable era…
Last Friday it was great to meet up with fellow team mates of the Wallbangers FC on Max’s stag night –eight of the players in the team pic taken in 1978 were there and what a great night it was – not sure we would be fit for a match on Sunday though! Our very good friends Max and Julie fly out to get married in Mauritius at the end of the week. Congratulations to them both.
I’ve been enjoying England’s Lioness’s World Cup journey which sadly came to an end when they were beaten 2-1 in the semi final by the USA last night. A valiant effort – they did themselves and the country proud.
On the playlist – with many a 1969 50th anniversary amongst us – The Rolling Stones at Hyde Park on July 5, David Bowie’s  Space Oddity, the Moon landing later this month, Woodstock and Abbey Road and Led Zeppelin II ahead, I’ve been searching out some gems from that year and there were so many – to that end this week it’s been The Who Tommy and the Crosby Stills & Nash albums on the player these past few days and there will be more 1969 musical activity ahead.
It was a watershed year for music and for me personally – as it was year one of my first fully fledged year of music passion. I have so many vivid memories of that year as I was approaching my teenage years age 12 going on 13. In the coming weeks and months, the music of 1969 is going to sound just as amazing around these parts as it did 50 years ago…
The Who’s mega gig at Wembley Stadium is this Saturday. I did toy with getting a ticket for this. I was in attendance 40 years ago when they last performed there. In the end I opted out – the TBL workload is well heavy at the moment and a day out is tricky to arrange right now. Also the prospect of being part of a massive crowd and the logistics of getting there and back are not that appealing. I must be getting old but this is one Who gig I won’t be leaping on the stage for. I am sure those that are going will have a great day and I will be eying the reports with interest as ever.
As mentioned above, I am massively busy with various plates to spin. This includes the final text and design of the forthcoming TBL issue 45. I am pleased to say TBL designer Mick Lowe has done another great design job and we are near to a wrap. Here’s a pic taken last Friday of the slightly weary TBL Editor at StudioMix as we waded through more design and layout.
We are also working on the new package of my Then As It Was – Led Zeppelin At Knebworth 1979 book. The package involves a newly designed book jacket and an additional insert.  Full details of this to follow soon. At short notice, I worked on an extensive Zep related feature last week that needed to be in on a tight deadline. I am also planning the TBL Atlas 40th Anniversary gathering on August 4, so July is already full on.
It was of course an absolute pleasure to interview John Paul Jones on the phone last week. I had been in chipping away to pull this off for TBL 45 for many weeks and right on deadline at short notice it all came good. I was in Leicester when the email came through on my phone: ”Could I interview John tomorrow at 11am?” Could I ever!  It’s a major coup and another reason for this forthcoming TBL issue being an unmissable one.  Thanks again for all your support for these ongoing TBL projects.

Dave Lewis – July 3, 2019

Until next time, have a great week

TBL Website updates compiled by Dave Lewis

with thanks to Gary Foy and James Cook

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3 Comments »

  • Hiroshi said:

    I like Robbie Blunt’s guitar play and the tone heard on Robert’s first three solo albums. More often than not he sounds like he is standing somewhere between Jimmy Page and Mark Knopfler, especially on The Principle Of Moments, yet delivering his own signature style with great finesse.

    Here’s a trivia for you. Robert’s Japan tour of February 1984 was one occasion where Robbie was allowed to exhibit his ability as a performing guitarist to the full, as Bob Mayo, the support guitar player hired for the world tour, had to pull off at the last minute on finishing the proceeding OZ/NZ tour due to bereavement of his family member (reportedly Mayo’s equipment had arrived in Japan). — A coincidence subsequently repeated on Page/Plant’s 1996 Japanese leg of the No Quarter World Tour, where Jimmy took all the responsibility for the guitar playing role on himself with new-found confidence after Paul Thompson quit the tour ensemble.

  • Charles Gale said:

    TBL 45

    I’m looking forward to Andy Crofts’ review of the Copenhagen 79 warm up shows.

    In TBL 44, I was somewhat baffled and intrigued by both Mike Tremaglio including the 24 July show in his personal faves and also Larry Bergmann stating “especially the second night, which is possibly the best show the band played post-1973”.

  • Graham Rodger said:

    I’m pretty sure that David Coverdale hinted in a recent interview that the Coverdale Page album was going to be remastered/reissued sometime soon. I probably read that on this very site. Hopefully the masters are safe.

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