DAVE LEWIS DIARY: ANGEL DANCE/LED ZEP 3/QUEEN AND COUNTRY SERVED/ROBERT SANDALL/ALEX HIGGINS/HANCOCK
I can remember a fair few Robert Plant new single premieres down the years.
Hearing an advance tape of Big Log in June 83 and knowing it would catch the summer mood. Being totally mystified by Pink And Black when it was first aired on the Whistle Test. Heaven Knows played on Radio One’s review show Roundtable and being given a thumbs up by Bee Gee Barry Gibb. 29 Palms heralding the Fate Of Nations era on a bright April morning.
This week Angel Dance was added to the list. Being out and about on Jury Service these past few days, I missed the Nicky Horne premiere on Planet Rock and though my good friend Phil Harris did text me to say Ken Bruce was playing it on Radio Two, I missed that too. A tip off from Tim Davies pointed me in the direction of the Rolling Stone magazine link and that was the modern age method I became acquainted with the first sound of The Band Of Joy.
So Angel Dance…first thing to say it keeps in the spirit of the Los Lobos original – a loping shuffling beat and then in comes the voice. Oh yes the voice. By the time the singer has got to the chorus, well there’s no mistaking its still THE VOICE as he bends the words to suit in familiar fashion. There’s a pleasing touch of Cajun in the playing from Buddy Miller and co and overall the arrangement recalled to mind the sort of laid back twang Robbie Robertson brought to The Band’s output. So that’s the first taste of the new Band Of Joy. Since hearing it I can’t get the chorus out of my head which was always the acid test for any 45rpm single worth its salt back in the day.
Angel Dance is a warm pleasure that will shuffle its way into our consciousness and stay with us well into the Autumn. ‘’Tomorrow will bring us a brand new day’’
Elsewhere there’s been more surprises on the Band Of Joy US tour with the inclusion of Tangerine – performed live for the first time by my reckoning for 12 years. I hear That’s The Way has also been rehearsed and could make a return at some point. Very welcome it would be too around these parts. All this Led Zep 3 retro activity is pretty timely for me as I am about to be well ensconced in the subject of the third Led Zeppelin album – next week I need to get down to some deep research for a 40th anniversary feature I am compiling on this landmark record. I’m looking forward to getting re acquainted with the ten original tracks and all those rehearsals and off cuts in piecing together the jigsaw of that 1970 period. All roads lead to Bron Yr Aur…or in this case the Totnes Close TBL HQ
One of the great things about a new Zep related release is the amount of column inches the press will devote to it. Band Of Joy looks like being no exception and Mojo have got in early with a cover feature in the new issue – by my reckoning the first time Robert has been featured on the cover of Mojo as a solo artist. I’m looking forward to dissecting that over the weekend.
Well that’s me well and truly a servant of Queen and country. I was released from Jury Service yesterday after my two week stint, of which this week I was called into intensive action. A tip if you are ever called – take a book, in fact take two. There is a lot of waiting around in between courts being called etc. In fact the court assembly area often resembled an airport lounge during flight delays. Yesterday I saw potential jurors in waiting while away the time by playing cards, another had a go at solving the Rubix Cube and a lady next to me was knitting. That will be one long jumper if she has to wait as long as I did to be called. I got through DJ Mark Radcliffe’s memoirs Thank You For The Days and much of Peter Hook’s Hacienda How Not To Run A Club this week.
There’s an example of how not to conduct oneself on Jury Service at the end of this entry via the You Tube Clip of legendary UK comedien Tony Hancock -taken from a classic 1959 episode of the Hancock’s Half Hour TV show. They don’t make ‘em like that anymore!
Anyway it’s done now for me and I need to rapidly get back full on to matters TBL. Next week alongside the aforementioned Zep 3 project, I need to be back on the case with TBL 27, there’s also the ongoing chipping away at the Over Europe book so August is well full – can’t see us jetting out to the TBL holiday retreat in Barbados but we will try and fit in a day at the coast somewhere soon.
I was shocked and saddened to read of the death of journalist Robert Sandall. I had read a while back that he had been ill with prostate cancer but was unaware of his recent decline. Hid death at 58 is a big loss to the world of rock journalism. For me his work, which has appeared in the Sunday Times, Q, Mojo etc has been essential reading. His perceptive authority and clear prose being a throwback to the 70s golden age. He was also very well versed on Zep – he was the first journalist to piece together the viability of Page & Plant working together early in 1994 – indeed I had some dealings with him around that and he was a delight to talk to. Condolences go to his family.
Alex Higgins demise was also sad to hear – he was no saint but without doubt he almost single-handedly changed the face of Snooker as a vast audience spectator sport in this country. Mick Bonham in his book Bonham On Bonham told of a night at the Albany Hotel Birmingham in early 1979 attending the State Express Snooker Tournament at which Alex Higgins played. There’s a great photo of Bonzo,Alex and Jacko John’s Dad on page 120. Alex’s whirlwind performances were a regular highlight on the likes of Pot Black etc. Another maverick from the 1970s/80s era is gone.
As I mentioned on the diary a couple of weeks back, there had been various frustrations and irritants here lately and some of that surrounded the planned TBL Fan gathering in Windsor. It was becoming apparent that this was not going to be a viable proposition with venue problems and other options not coming through. I feel very bad about cancelling the event as I hate to quite anything but it just wasn’t going to work in the format intended. Rather than try and bodge something I felt it was best to draw a halt.
I do still want to mark the day and the alternative is to probably go into London and gather informally in a pub –like we did for John Bonham’s 60th birthday in 2008. I’ll firm this up in the next week or so. I’ll also arrange a pre gig meet for Robert’s London show. So despite the cancellation there will be an opportunity for us like minded souls to get out of our dens and discuss facets of our passion – in other words sup a few pints and have a good old chin wag. More on all this soon.