GERARD SPARACO 1967- 2013/ REUNION RUMOURS /JIMMY PAGE WEBSITE/BONHAMIZER/DL DIARY UPDATE/CHICAGO 1971 CINE FILM
Gerard Sparaco 1967-2013
I was deeply shocked yesterday to hear of the passing of Gerard Sparaco – a long time contributor and supporter of all things TBL. I know Gerard has had heart problems in the past but this indeed was a shock. He had posted reviews on the Music Collectors site earlier this week.
Gerard’s understanding and expertise in the live and underground Led Zeppelin catalogue and many other bands and artists, was second to none. Through the Music Collectors web site, he came on board to contribute a regular review column to the TBL magazine. He also provided the enlightening Tapes Kept a Rollin’ feature. His input brought an invaluable integrity to the magazine. Gerard also contributed to the Knebworth , Over Europe and From a Whisper To a Scream books.
His reviews on the Music Collectors site were always brilliantly informative – I loved reading his insights to titles from The Beatles, Rolling Stones, The Who, Bob Dylan -his breadth of knowledge regarding the output of these artists and many more was quite awe inspiring.
His support of TBL and my endeavours displayed a generosity that I valued very highly. This sharing of information and enthusiasm for our mutual interests, created a wonderful on line rapport that I and countless others will sorely miss.
A leading light of the Zep community has gone out. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this sad time.
Dave Lewis – February 22nd.
The Last Posting…
Gerard last post on the Music Collectors website on Febraury 19th was an advance notice of new titles due from Pink Floyd, Bruce Springsteen and David Bowie. The day before he posted a preview of an ambitious new Led Zeppelin box set due soon on Godfather. I had intended to use this for the TBL site before the sad news yesterday…so it’s posted now in tribute to Gerard…….his enthusiasm will be so sorely missed….
Godfather’s latest box set is Led Zeppelin Studio Magik: Sessions 1968 – 1980 (Godfather BOX 18).
Their most ambitious project yet, this is an 18 disc collection with every outtake and demo that’s surfaced including those from the Led Zeppelin II era.
The liner notes offer a nice summary of the project:
Led Zeppelin built their reputation on their live show. Their studio recordings were, as Jimmy Page stated many times in interviews, a springboard for further live improvisation and exploration. Many songs (“The Rover,” “The Song Remains The Same” and “In The Light” among others) began as riffs discovered on the stage.
However, one can’t create a masterpiece with inferior ingredients. Two members of the band, Page and John Paul Jones, began their career as studio session musicians and understood how to write and craft good songs in the studio.
Page himself engineered the science of capturing a good recording in studio on Led Zeppelin.
Fans and collectors are lucky. Except for The Rolling Stones and The Beatles, no other band has as much outtake and demo material available for analysis, scrutiny, and enjoyment.
From the initial sessions for the first album in Olympic Studio in late summer of 1968 through to the sessions in Stockholm ten years later for In Through The Outdoor, all of Zeppelin’s albums and eras are represented in one form or another.
The twenty hours of music in this box set extend from extremely primitive cassette demos made in the wilds of Snowdonia to initial rehearsals in Headley Grange to perfectly polished alternate takes and mixes of classic songs.
Several attempts have been made in the past to offer a complete collection.
The first is the classic 11 CD set Studio Sessions on Antrabata. This set collected every piece of tape known at the time and presented them in a chronological, cohesive order. Despite the knock against it for using inferior sounding tapes, it remains a popular and sought after item.
Akashic attempted a comprehensive box set in the winter of 1999 called The Final Option. The project was scrapped after only five discs spread out over three titles, Meet Led Zeppelin, Scorpio Rising and The Smithereens were released. And the Akashic contained spurious Houses Of The Holy outtakes. In 2007 the Scorpio label produced the 12 CD set Studio Sessions Ultimate, an impressive update of the Antrabata set.
In the intervening years, many more tracks surfaced including the legendary Led Zeppelin II sessions and superior sounding versions of already existing tracks. Studio Magik gives a much needed overhaul of Led Zeppelin outtakes. Not only are the new sessions presented, but all of the older tracks have been given a remastering job from the best available sources and are presented in their definitive form.
Gerard Sparaco RIP
Reunion Rumours – Part 506
Here we go again then…the reunion rumours… and all it took for it to kick in was what might, or might not be considered some tounge in cheek responses to interview Tara Brown’s questions on the Australian Sixty Minutes TV show.
My view…well I’ve seen and read enough Robert Plant interviews to know he is a master at throwing in the curve ball quote. Was he serious…?
Well the world’s media seemed to think so and nothing sparks interest like a grand old reunion – particularly when concerning a rather popular heritage act like Led Zeppelin. So should we all be clearing our schedules for a full on 2014 re grouping….?
Never say never they do say… but for a more measured response to the usual question, here’s some quotes from Robert’s recent interview with Russell Baillie for Australian Time Out:
‘’….And, of course, there has been his brief return to being the howling voice of Led Zeppelin.
The band played a one-off highly acclaimed reunion show – with Jason Bonham taking over the drums from his father John, whose death in 1980 finished the band – in 2007 at London’s O2 Arena.
The show, its tickets sold by lottery, was ostensibly a tribute to their old Atlantic Records boss, Ahmet Ertegun. The resulting Celebration Day concert film and album finally emerged late last year, meaning Plant, Page and John Paul Jones were back in the spotlight – with Plant remaining the hold-out against what could undoubtedly be lucrative further reunion shows.
“It was good what we did and it felt okay, you know?” says Plant, patiently explaining once more why he’s not entertaining any further last blasts for Led Zeppelin.
“Did you ever see that film Grumpy Old Men? It can be like that when you have done something together and you stopped doing it when you were 32 and then half a lifetime goes by and you do a few things in between. The expectation and the media wind-up is what it is. So every time you say hello to one another the pundits are at it.
“So that bit of it is quite tedious but of course it is to be expected. But we had a good time. We played well that night. That was a fantastic thing to be able to do to, play that well and only do one gig. So it was all or nothing.”
So after that show Plant went back to touring with Krauss, then eventually back into the studio with his Band of Joy cohorts for their 2010 self-titled album.
Plant, it seems, is a man who would rather get on with the next thing that excites him than cash in on his past.’’
So there’s a calmer view…looking ahead there’s the Robert Plant Presents Sensational Spaceshifters Australian tour, and judging by his comments in the same interview there’s some compelling performances in store again and that’s what he will be focusing on in the short term…as he confirmed in the Time Out interview.
Plant, it seems, is a man who would rather get on with the next thing that excites him than cash in on his past.
Though online set lists of his recent touring with the Sensational Space Shifters show that Led Zep songs, like Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp, Whole Lotta Love, Black Dog, and Rock and Roll, still constitute about half his shows, albeit played by a seven-piece band which features one-stringed African violins, African banjos and the like among the usual rock band instrumentation. But he’s not being a World music cover band of himself.
“The difference is about 300mph,” he says. “This is powerful trance-driven music centred on loops and West African rhythms, which are not some sedate prog-music excursion. It’s like a sort of West African juggernaut where Led Zeppelin finally go on holiday to Africa.”
And if a Led Zep fan came along just wanting to hear Stairway to Heaven?
“It will be as exciting as you want it to be. But one thing is for sure, it is relentless and it won’t be polite.”
Jimmy Page Website:
This one via Pete Makowski’s Facebook page:
Don’t forget to check out Jimmy Page official website .I’ll be back working on it next week with Matt’the wonder boy’ and promise you there will be some exciting new posts and announcements……
This report via Spin magazine:
Bonhamizer resurrects John Bonham’s drumming
If you’ve ever wondered what Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” or fun.’s “Some Nights” would sound like if late Led Zeppelin drum warrior John Bonham was behind the percussion kit, wonder no more! Thanks to the new “Bonhamizer” app, designed by programmer Paul Lamere, fans can pile Bonham’s booming drum fills onto “just about any song,” according to the “How the Bonhamizer Works” webpage. Be warned, though, the app’s creator writes “for many tracks it works really well… and others not so much.”
Currently, there are four Bonham drum patterns available: “Hammer of the Gods,” “Basic Bonham,” “Double Time Shuffle,” and “Bonham Shuffle,” all of which adjust the songs’ pacing accordingly and ratchet up the volume (to say the least). As of now, the track gallery features a number of songs, including Radiohead’s “Karma Police,” the White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army,” the Postal Service’s “Such Great Heights,” and Taylor Swift’s “I Knew You Were Trouble.” Fans can upload additional songs for “Bonhamization”.
DL Diary Update:
Sad to hear the passing of Kevin Ayers – I was never a massive fan but he was always there…with Soft machine …on John Peel.. .on Harvest Records ….and with the Whole World….RIP another key player in the 1970s musical make up…
I watched The Brits Awards on Wednesday night –which in the past was always a big date in the music retail calendar –coincidentally Wednesday was four years to the day that the doors closed on Zavvi/Virgin Milton Keynes bringing my 35 year retail career to a close –here’s a pic of the glorious Our Price shop Bedford window from 1990 –when retail was detail to coin an old prhase….
As for The Brits…it just seemed to lack any spark –whilst it’s admirable that British music is in good health via the success of Adele, Emili Sande, Ben Howard etc…these artists do seem to lack any real charisma –maybe it’s another symptom of the age where success does not come via the years of gigging that defined the old wave.
Thoroughly enjoyed BBC4’s documentary on the Please Please Me 50 years on recording and the excellent Brian Epstein story. On the player: the beautiful Celebration Day vinyl….Glen Campbell Reunited with Jimmy Webb CD (thank you John P), David Bowie Golden Years compilation DVD (I’m looking forward to hearing his new single next week) and The Sweet Anthology DVD (than you again John P) –they made some class singles after the hits dried up ie Action, Turn It Down etc… also plenty of Houses of The Holy tracks and sessions (thank your Ricahrd G for you CDrs) as I wrap the feature I’ve been working on.
Also been assessing the content for the next TBL magazine and there’s some great stuff evolving. On top of all that, I have begun collating material for the second edition of the Knebworth Then As It Was book. This is the priority TBL book project ahead – more on all that soon.
Here’s some very nice words about TBL 34 from the pen of the celebrated rock writer and Zep biographer Mck Wall via his Blog:
‘’After two nights running of absolutely no sleep, arrived at work in a complete daze. Decided there was no point trying to write so set about instead going through the nine – NINE – plastic bags’ worth of receipts, correspondence, bills, and go knows what that have piled up around my feet these past couple weeks. Sometimes this is bad… another credit card bill that didn’t get paid on time. Sometimes this has benefits, like stumbling across the latest issue of Dave Lewis’ excellent Tight But Loose Zeppelin fan mag. Dave never delivers anything less than enthralling in his mags, but this issue – No. 34 – may just be his best. Unbelievably good stuff in there on Pagey, Plant and Jones, from the new DVD to the Obama Kennedy Centre deal. Even interviews with Ross Halfin and Brad Tolinski. PLus loads of other stuff. You know it must be good when you look up and you’ve been sitting cross-legged on the floor for an hour reading it instead of doing whatever it is you meant to do. Check it out….
Dont miss out…TBL 34 is available via this link:
Here’s a superb cine film clip here of Led Zeppelin on stage in Chicago September 5th 1971 that has surfaced via the official site –watch for the guest appearance at the end….
Until next time…
Have a great weekend
Keep listening, keep reading…
Dave Lewis/Gary Foy
February 22nd, 2013.
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