Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Led Zeppelin makes top 10 Billboard debut

Mothership, Led Zeppelin's two-disc best-of set released Nov. 13, debuted at No. 7 in the Billboard 200 chart.

The same Dec. 1 chart listing also ranks Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven" at No. 14 Billboard's among hot ringtones. The 1971 track also peaked at No. 30 among hot digital songs.

The new album by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss is hanging on to Billboard's top 25 in its fourth week since release. Now at No. 25, Raising Sand was an unexpected hit right away, peaking at No. 2 in its first week.

Next week's chart listings are expected to contain Led Zeppelin's The Song Remains the Same soundtrack. The double-disc release was reissued on Nov. 20 along with a new 2-DVD adaptation of the band's 1976 movie of the same name.

Zep members promote bluegrass projects

Robert Plant and Alison Krauss recorded an appearance on the nationally syndicated public radio program "World Cafe." The singers recalled their meeting and detailed their favorite moments from their collaborative album, Raising Sand, in a segment with host and interviewer David Dye that aired Nov. 22. The appearance is archived online here.

Uncle Earl is scheduled to appear on the show Jan. 15 as part of a U.S. tour so far scheduled for the East Coast and Midwest. Their second album, released March 2007, was produced by John Paul Jones. He plays various instruments on four of the album tracks including in their latest video, and he has appeared onstage with Uncle Earl several times.

The group last week completed a tour of the United Kingdom. Jones attended both the first and last shows with his wife, Mo (Maureen), according to Uncle Earl's official newsletter:
Of all the 2 million people trying to get LED ZEPPELIN tickets right now, the really smart ones came out to see Uncle Earl on the first and last days of our tour. ;-) John Paul Jones & his wife Mo made it out to London & Bristol, which made us feel pretty special.
The same week as the Uncle Earl video featuring Jones makes its debut online, the bluegrass project engulfing Robert Plant is premiering on the Country Music Television network. The Bluegrass Blog reported that the video for "Gone, Gone, Gone" with Plant and Alison Krauss "is set to enter CMT in a medium-heavy rotation, with better than 20 airings weekly."

The Plant-Krauss video, which can be seen online here (and below), is slated to be included in the country channel's countdown program beginning Thursday, Nov. 29, according to a few blogs including Miranda Lambert's.

Clips of a prototype of the "Gone, Gone, Gone" video aired during the duo's "Today" show appearance on Oct. 24 and other televised interviews at the time. The video now online includes previously unaired scenes and represents a vast improvement over the prototype, containing some playful glances exchanged between the two singers.

"I've met my match with the American roots musicians I'm working with at the moment," Plant told the Observer in London, for a piece published Sunday, Nov. 11.

"My love for discovering new things is ceaseless, but I have missed white American roots music entirely," Plant continued. "I thought it was just guys in the hills singing black people's songs, and I was so wrong. This is a mountain song about a woman who goes off the rails, and he tells a tale, and he's got a way of singing that goes deep; you can hear the experience in his voice."

Plant even alluded to the related work of his fellow Led Zeppelin member. "I've been seeing more of John Paul Jones recently, who has been in Nashville, and I've been working with Alison Krauss and T-Bone Burnett, so the doors have been flung wide open," he said.

In an interview alongside Krauss for the December 2007 issue of Mojo magazine, Plant expounded on his earliest and more recent impressions of Nashville.

Monday, November 26, 2007

John Paul Jones cameos in Uncle Earl music video

John Paul Jones makes a cameo appearance in a new video by old-time string band Uncle Earl. The video, shown below, is for the song "Streak O' Lean, Streak O' Fat," a track from the album Jones produced.

Jones, who made his acting debut in Led Zeppelin's The Song Remains the Same in 1976, stars with confidence in the role of the piano player. It is a part for which he is well suited because he actually did supply piano to the track, released on the album Waterloo, Tennessee, in March.

"The one thing I can say about John Paul is that he might be the one other guy who is in love with the Uncle g'Earls as much as I am," video director Tom Krueger tells LedZeppelinNews.com. "The reason he's smiling so much in the video is cause they were all right over my shoulder dancing just for him."

Jones is also credited with some back-up hollering on the track, which features the lead vocals of Uncle Earl's Abigail Washburn. The lyrics, which she supplied along with Jon Campbell, are sung in Chinese and describe eating braised fatty meat, excessively drinking liquor, and dancing.

Washburn explains the story behind the song's recording in the album's liner notes. "Before we knew what was happening, the g'Earls were sitting in a circle in the recording studio, busting down on the tune with JPJ on piano, and I was yelling lines out in Chinese," she writes.

"Although the reference may seem obscure to some, hongshao rou happens to be known as Mao Zedon's favorite dish from his home province of Hunan," continues Washburn. "Really it's composed of a small streak o' lean meat with a big hunk of fat, and it freaks out the foreigners when it lands on the dinner table."

In the video, Jones gets into his piano playing with his right foot propped up on the piano bench. A downward shot reveals that the Led Zeppelin member was wearing open-toed shoes.

"Oh, and he doesn't normally wear those kind of sandals," said Krueger, "but since we were in a Chinese restaurant we thought it went better and he just sighed and slipped 'em on."

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Reunion tour still longshot for Led Zeppelin

There's a lot to consider when estimating the chances of Led Zeppelin extending its reunion beyond a single concert date.

MTV.com's report yesterday of an in-concert announcement that the Cult would be opening for Led Zeppelin in 2008 has to be taken with the same grain-of-salt approach that has been afforded every rumor of a summer tour for many of the past 25 years.

Several news organizations have been repeating the story of Ian Astbury's pronouncement, including Billboard, which dug up a remark Jimmy Page made to the magazine in 2003:
"I think really we'd need to see how we got on in every respect. ... I mean, it's all very well. I know everyone would love to see us play together, but the reality of it is, if you start doing that, you commit to a period of time. And you've got to make sure that the music is jelling, and the personalities are jelling. But you know, who knows? Everything is possible! ...

"Let's be positive and say that maybe it could be. ... It certainly wouldn't be because anyone had gone ahead and booked dates for us. No, no, no, no, no. That wouldn't be the case at all. It would be because we felt like we'd like to do it."
Essentially, Jimmy said as recently as four years ago that you never know, it could happen under the right circumstances.

Those circumstances are pretty much in the here and now. Not completely, however. I can identify at least eight potential roadblocks that have to be overcome. This makes it still somewhat of a longshot.
  1. This Dec. 10 show has to come off without a hitch. [corrected a typo from before]
  2. The guys have to remain energetic and devoted.
  3. The guys have to stay healthy.
  4. The guys have to identify with a genuine reason to do more collaboration. This isn't a simple one!! "Do it for the fans" isn't good enough, and the only money they're concerned about is the money they can raise for charity. That might be a good angle.
  5. Plant has to be able to expand continually, be it with Alison Krauss for the time being or the Strange Sensation for the long run. Here's a BBC 4 news report that shows the balancing act he is currently doing.
  6. The other guys have to respect Plant's freedom.
  7. The other guys have to realize that they are also free to complete their own side projects (Jason with Foreigner, Jonesy with solo album, Jimmy with the world wide open).
  8. They have to give 100 percent when they're in Led Zeppelin, and if that takes up three months out of a year, then they are free to do whatever else the other nine.

Anything else???

I mean, there's no given that Led Zeppelin will tour in 2008 with the Cult or with anybody else or at all. Sure, they may have venues booked already, but there's no real penalty for pulling out of a show or tour to which you haven't committed.

I think Page's quote from 2003 stands as totally relevant today. It just goes to show you, though, that when you plug it in, it takes a lot more than just personalities jelling and music jelling. It takes understanding and cooperation and sacrifices. These guys just have to be up for the challenge.

And if committing yourself to be in the most powerful rock 'n' roll band of all time isn't a challenge, then I don't know what is.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Led Zeppelin covers all bases with revamped official Web site

Almost as long as the Web has existed, fans of Led Zeppelin have created their own Web sites and forums dedicated to the band. In absence of an authoritative site with the stamp of approval from the band, the story has been told and retold on the Internet by concert goers and those from the next generation of fandom.

For the first time ever, today marked the launch of an official Web site that does many of the things fan sites have attempted in the past. Its user-friendly layout, stylized after the In Through the Out Door album artwork, boasts of a complete, detailed timeline of the band's historical live performances along with photographs, tour and concert memorabilia, and other information corresponding to those shows.

Concert set lists are printed wherever known, with single sentences inserted to denote remarkable happenings at the shows -- such as for June 23, 1977: "Keith Moon joining the group onstage during Moby Dick and the encores." (The fact is also evident by a shot of the Who drummer sharing a microphone at center stage with Robert Plant.)

Other dates have entire newspaper clippings to herald the concerts, such as a review of the show two nights earlier, and a Denver newspaper's review of the band's North American debut concert on Dec. 26, 1968.

The site also contains a forum for discussion among fans and, through a partnership with the online store Bravado, a venue for the purchase of officially licensed Led Zeppelin clothing, accessories, buttons, stickers ... and, of course, official video and audio releases.

Among the shirts available are black shirts with the Mothership design, an already recognizable icon one week after the release of the newly remastered two-CD sampler of the band's studio work.

The site's webmaster is Sam Rapallo, who has for a decade been behind the now-closing Electric Magic fan site and, for more than three years, the official site of John Paul Jones. The Led Zeppelin site calls for fans to contribute their concert memories or any corrections or updates they see fit.

Its debut coincides with the release of The Song Remains the Same both on a superior-audio DVD and as an expanded CD soundtrack. The new packages were released Nov. 19 in the United Kingdom and will be available Nov. 20 in the United States. The release concludes a month of anticipated sets from the band, which played its last note in 1980, less than three months before the death of drummer John Bonham.

The existence of a news section and, more to the point, a section marked "Reunion" makes for an interesting point. It suggests that if a more permanent reunion is to exist beyond a single concert held in London on Dec. 10, a section of the Web site is already dedicated to covering it.

A page exists for the reunion show next month at the O2 arena. Interestingly, the concert timeline ignores the previous reunions the band played.

Coincidentally, a new BBC interview filmed at Jimmy Page's house sees the guitarist explaining why he did not enjoy either the reunion concert at Philadelphia's Live Aid in 1985 or the Madison Square Garden performance in 1988 for Atlantic Records' 40th birthday celebration.

To mark the release of the new version of The Song Remains the Same, a promotional screening of the film was held in London, as covered by Tight But Loose fanzine author Dave Lewis on his diary connected with TBL/Web.

"It's not just a great time to be a Led Zeppelin fan right now," Lewis writes. "It's f***ing fantastic."

Friday, November 16, 2007

London's visual displays of Led Zeppelin spanned 5 nights

The Beatles may have performed live on a rooftop in London, but leave it to Led Zeppelin to surprise pedestrians with songs played on the side of a building.

Entertainment Technology Press reported today on a series of audio-video projections shown last week to build up to the release of Led Zeppelin's new compilation, Mothership.

At each of seven outdoor locations throughout the city over the span of five nights, the image of a clock and some audio effect signalled a five-minute countdown that earned the attention of those nearby.

"The audible countdown worked brilliantly by alerting people that something was about to happen, attracting sizeable crowds in all the locations," said Pod Bluman of Presentation Services Ltd.

Bluman was in charge of the effort to project the Mothership campaign at such locations as Trafalgar Square and the Science Museum.

After the countdown, a different 15-foot video was run at each location. Videos included classic live performances of "Black Dog," "Whole Lotta Love" and "Kashmir," each of which is available on a DVD packaged with the deluxe edition of Mothership, currently in stores.

A building-side projection of Robert Plant performing with Led Zeppelin is shown in the Entertainment Technology coverage.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Mothership prompts revisiting of Led Zeppelin studio catalog

The release of Led Zeppelin's Mothership compilation earlier this week gave the public a new opportunity to revisit the studio work of Led Zeppelin.

This is certainly happening in at least one new way, the world of online downloads. Led Zeppelin made its entire catalog available from online retailers this week. As a result, Gigwise reports that "Stairway to Heaven" stands to make the U.K. singles chart this weekend after downloads are tabulated.

While Mothership is certainly not the first compilation of Led Zeppelin's material, it is a sampler issued with purpose. In a radio special by Wildfire Media for Rhino Entertainment, Jimmy Page explains that he felt the box sets issued during the 1990s had become somewhat obsolete.

Led Zeppelin's 10-CD Complete Studio Recordings was released in 1993, and a two-disc set released at the same time complemented the 1990 self-titled box set that featured the first remastering of the band's catalog.

"The box set was [about] 15 years ago," Page said. Referring to the "Best Of" compilations released in 1999 and 2000, he continued, "Along the way, we had a piece of product that was going to be in two sections -- one called Early Days, and Latter Days. And then of course in true sort of marketing spirit, they were sort of shunted together as Early Days & Latter Days, two CDs, now. And personally, I felt that there was quite deterioration with the quality -- not the music, of course -- but with the quality of the packaging, I just thought that it felt worse and worse and worse. When you compared it to any of the other Led Zeppelin product, it just didn't have that stamp of authority about it, you know?

"There'd been a sort of proposal on the cards for ages about putting one out, you know? A collection, we'll call it. You could also call it a sampler because it's an access route through to the albums, you know? The biggest question is how do you actually choose the numbers for, you know, a 'Best Of'? It's impossible, and that's the answer."

"It's really difficult," added John Paul Jones, to Page's agreement.

The topic of selecting the tracks to include came up again as Jones was interviewed Nov. 14 on BBC Radio 2 by Mark Radcliffe and Stuart Maconie. Describing the process in more detail, Jones said, "We had lists of everything, and it was extremely difficult actually." Asked what criteria were used to select songs, he replied, "Well, we wanted the song list to run chronologically, and we wanted something from every album. Really, it's more like a sampler than anything else. The whole idea was to introduce people to every album, and so the difficulty was not so much what to put on but what to leave off. ... We simply couldn't fit [other selections] on. It was just -- it would have been a 10-CD set."

The interviewer joked that fans might expect a second volume of Mothership containing another handful of tracks in a different mood. "Oh, don't say that yet," said Jones, laughing. In the answer to that particular suggestion, he sounded as if he was growing tired of all the interviews and publicity surrounding the new album releases and the upcoming reunion concert.

And well he might be exhausted. After all, he and the other members of Led Zeppelin have been hitting the media circuit rather hard. Life for Page, Jones and Robert Plant has been rife with photography sessions for magazine covers -- including the December 2007 issue of Mojo, whose cover features an image of all three members together, with Page in the middle. The lettering of the headline "Led Zeppelin: The Mother of All Comebacks" apes Mothership's red-and-black motif.

The cover also promises an exclusive from all three members "on the past, present and their future!" It is a hint toward that there may be a future beyond this concert. Rumblings of a 2008 concert tour abound, and the press began reporting talks of a Led Zeppelin appearance at the Glastonbury Festival in June. (The latest report says festival organizer Michael Eavis couldn't afford to hire the band – which would indicate a price had been given and turned down. But theoretically speaking, everything has a price.)

As for any official word, the band members insist nothing has been decided. It has been months since the last denial of a more permanent reunion.

Plant's most direct answer to the question was given Oct. 23 in an interview on the New York public radio station WNYC, during a sit-down accompanied by Alison Krauss to promote that day's release of their album Raising Sand. Once he was asked the near-inevitable question, Plant couldn't help but toy with host John Schaefer. The 59-year-old singer started coughing and self-mockingly exhibiting other typical signs of old age -- "Can I get a blanket please?" -- before he launched into an unprovoked interpretation of the opening of "Nobody but You," a 1962 B-side by a Baltimore-based R&B group called the Lafayettes.

If it seemed obscure and random, perhaps that's precisely the point Plant was trying to drive home. "I just want to have fun," he then said, once again speaking seriously. "And if it's fun, it's fun. This is fun; this is a big day today, one of the biggest days. And having fun in England is having fun, you know. I just hope we all have fun. Let's face it, so many people want to go to the thing. How 'bout -- how 'bout if it's fantastic? And how 'bout if it's, like -- it's been quiet for so long. ... [The] anticipation is incredibly overwhelming for me. I'm carrying it around like some kind of kryptonite, you know? And all I wanna do is have some fun."

Hmmm, sounds like a line he could have gotten from Sheryl Crow a year after Led Zeppelin's last box sets came out.

Page and Jones have more than once diverted attention away from the question of a more permanent reunion. "Basically, we are concentrating on this show," Jones said in an interview for Sun Media. "That's where all the energy is going. I mean, who knows, but one step at a time."

In a separate interview for the same news outlet, Page said the one-off reunion concert in London "is what we're working toward ... That's what we have on our horizon at this point. I know you want to hear other answers, but I'm afraid that's all I can give you."

Page and Jones were similarly evasive when recording alongside each other for the Mothership radio special. "What we need to do, just do the gig," said Page. "Listen, if we hadn't wanted to play, we wouldn't have got into that room for the first time [in June 2007]."

To this, Jones added a single word: "Right."

Those holding out hope for future Zeppelin activity may find a more encouraging quotation from Page when they open up the pages of the December issue of Mojo -- the one bearing images of all three members of Led Zeppelin on the cover with mention of "their future" and a "comeback."

Asked whether the band might perform again, Page tells the magazine, "It's a bit silly not to because there is such massive demand. It's a bit selfish to do just one show. If that's it, we probably shouldn't have taken the genie out of the bottle."

Robert Plant, Alison Krauss promote album on PBS

Led Zeppelin's upcoming reunion concert never factored into the discussion with Robert Plant, Alison Krauss and T-Bone Burnett on yesterday's "Charlie Rose."

The 26-minute conversation, which aired yesterday on PBS television and is shown below, centers entirely on the ideas behind the album Raising Sand and Burnett's involvement as producer.

The singers detailed who was responsible for picking each of the songs on their album and what their initial thoughts were when they approached them.

"I went in deliberately trying to keep any preconceived idea out, and we recorded in a much different way than I am used to recording," explained Krauss. "The group that I've played with for the last number of years [Union Station] -- we're very planned out when we go in, very specific. Many times, [we] have the sequence of tunes already known when we go in. You know, we've worked what the sequence of the record was gonna be. And I really felt like my role in this, besides coming to sing, was to really be open and to support T-Bone's ideas, no matter how vague it was to me."

In one point that matches up with a statement of Plant's in the November issue of Uncut, Krauss said Burnett sent the singers communications with very detailed and persuasive descriptions of the songs he had picked out. "Wow, we were blown away by the material," she continued. "You know, these were the original artists singing all this, and he has a description of everything, and it's very deliberate. And then you get in the studio, and it's sort of opposite. It's very natural, and he wants everybody to do what they would naturally do. And he kind of sits in the background and kind of herds everybody ever so slightly, enough where Robert and I are, 'What's he doing in there?' 'I don't know what he's doing in there!'"

Plant recounted what it was like arriving at her house in Nashville, to be greeted there for the first time by the hulking T-Bone Burnett. "And he's bigger than me too!" said Plant.

Krauss also recounted an anecdote she's previously stated in interviews, about receiving a phone call from Plant and purposely sounding very restrained -- only because she didn't want to wake her baby.

As far as their future touring plans, Plant discussed the idea of a revue. "I don't sing all the time, and neither does Alison, so it's good that way because you can leave the stage, somebody else can -- the spotlight definitely moves," he said.

"An evening with us should be something really, really special. It should be supported by other artists. It should be, I think -- it could be quite an interesting little adventure, you know."

Update: This interview can now be purchased on DVD.

Fans pay top dollar for Led Zeppelin tickets

How much would you pay for two tickets to Led Zeppelin's reunion concert?

How about $171,600? That's apparently what one man thought seeing the band's first billing in 19 years is worth.

This auction, sponsored by the BBC, was the first of several charity auctions ending this month for admission to the show. It also seems to have signalled that the concert tickets are the most expensive in British history.

Kenneth Donnell of Glasgow, Scotland, was the high bidder in an auction to benefit the BBC's annual Children in Need appeal, BBC News reported today.

As part of his deal, Donnell and a guest will attend not only the concert on Dec. 10 but also a rehearsal, tentatively scheduled to take place the day before the show.

In an eBay auction, two tickets donated by Jimmy Page has so far drawn 54 bids from 19 individuals since Nov. 9. This auction, which is to raise money for the Page-affiliated charity Task Brasil, is set to end Monday.

The charity will stand to draw in more than $12,600, according to the current high bid.

A Seatwave.com ticket auction is set to close Nov. 30 with a pair of tickets given to each of the three highest bidders. The package also includes passes for an "after-show party," about which no further information is currently available.

The Page-affiliated Action for Brazil's Children Trust is the beneficiary for this auction, whose current high bids range between $11,060 and $12,627.

Over the weekend, the Sun reported that the £5,000 reserve price for a pair of tickets auctioned on Seatwave would make them "the most expensive concert tickets in British history."

It appears that the BBC tickets, which raised £83,000, eclipsed that figure 16 times over.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Led Zeppelin hits media circuit

Interviews with the members of Led Zeppelin are popping up everywhere. A chat with Jimmy Page is included in the December issue of Classic Rock magazine hitting newsstands today, and Robert Plant and John Paul Jones are making media appearances tonight.

The magazine cover is made to look like the cover of Led Zeppelin III. The first installment in a two-part interview with Page is just one part of this special collector's edition, much of which is devoted to Led Zeppelin.

In the United Kingdom, Jones appeared on the BBC Radio 2 program hosted by Mark Radcliffe and Stuart Maconie. He discussed the Mothership release and the upcoming Led Zeppelin reunion concert.

The hosts played "Black Dog" and "Trampled Under Foot" from Mothership, as well as "The Last Goodbye" from the album he produced for Uncle Earl. That four-piece old-time string band is currently on tour in England.

Plant will surely face a question or two about Led Zeppelin while guesting on tonight's episode of PBS television's "Charlie Rose." [Update: No Zep-related questions were asked! See TV spot here.] However, the singer is being interviewed alongside Alison Krauss and producer T-Bone Burnett; the three are promoting the recent release of their album, Raising Sand.

This issue of Classic Rock magazine "comes encased in an exclusive wallet that apes the design of the Zep III album," according to the magazine's official Web site. "What’s more, our wallet was designed by none other than the mysterious and enigmatic Zacron – the reclusive artist who actually created the original Zep III sleeve way, way back in 1970!"

The magazine also includes a feature on Zacron and an interview with former Atlantic Records executive Phil Carson, as well as features on the band's March 1969 Supershow appearance and on Page as a producer, or "Rock's Sonic Architect."

Several famous musicians also comment on Led Zeppelin's reunion in the new issue. The magazine carries quotations from "Slash, Roger Daltrey, Ian Anderson, Tony Iommi, Neal Schon, Steven Tyler, Nancy Wilson, Kid Rock, Dave Mustaine, Ace Frehley, Billy Gibbons and many more" including Ritchie Blackmore.

Led Zeppelin will also be the cover story of the Holiday 2007 issue of Guitar World magazine. Also available as a special collector's issue, it will feature two separate covers – one with a blue background and the other with a white background.

The Guitar World covers, each bearing a new photo of Page holding a guitar, promise Page's "most in-depth interview ever" as well as features on "the historic reunion tour," "his new custom Les Paul guitar," and "On the Road with Zep in '73."

Both shots of Page for Guitar World were taken by photographer Ross Halfin.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

All will be revealed: Led Zeppelin releases Mothership

When the four symbols representing Led Zeppelin appeared on the front page of Led Zeppelin's Web site earlier this year accompanied by what appeared to be a date, some folks wondered what Nov. 13 would hold in store.

Well, it did involve stores.

These people were suffering from a temporary case of amnesia. There was speculation that the band was going to announce a reunion concert on that date! The anticipation built throughout August and September. What was going to happen?

All along, Nov. 13 turned out to be the scheduled release date for the two-CD compilation Mothership in the United States. It was also the date eventually picked for the group's first download availability on iTunes.

That date is now here, and The Mothership Has Landed on schedule. Now in the hands of fans is the fulfillment of the first phase of that promise -- with cellophane bearing a sticker that reads, "The Very Best of Led Zeppelin Remastered on 2 CDs."
Phase two, a reissue of The Song Remains the Same on DVD and its soundtrack on CD, is only one week away.

For now, let's enjoy this Mothership release. The compilation provides a few new things to pick at.

One piece of this are liner notes written by David Fricke, an editor at Rolling Stone magazine. Odd choice, you might think, given the history of bad blood between that magazine and Led Zeppelin. Well, Fricke's tenure with the magazine has been mostly during the years that the group was reconsidered to be a major contribution to the group and "The Heaviest Band of All Time" if you believe their 2006 cover, shown at right. Fricke admits briefly in his liner notes, with regard to "the band's harshest critics," "there were armies of them at the time."

Though much of Fricke's commentary focuses only on the songs included in the set, he does some justice in capturing some of the band's earliest days. He also gives attention to the reason Led Zeppelin broke up in 1980. Perhaps it is fitting that his writing ends nearly as abruptly after this revelation as did the existence of Led Zeppelin after John Bonham's unexpected death.

The remastering of the songs was recently performed by John Davis at Alchemy Mastering in London. I'm already detecting a few rare moments I had never heard before.

  • In "Dazed and Confused" between 2:17 and 2:18, Plant is singing in his high vocal range faintly in the background. [Update: Wrong. This is also audible on previous releases.]

  • In "Rock and Roll" between 2:51 and 2:55, there are some previously unheard piano notes from guest Ian "Stu" Stewart. [Also wrong. This, too, is also audible on previous releases.]

  • In "Black Dog" between 3:49 and 4:17, Plant sings throughout Page's guitar solo. [Wrong again! I'd just always missed this.]

These are things that, unless I'm mistaken, must have been muted in previously issued mixes of these songs. [Not muted, but let's agree that they're more easily noticed in the current mix.]

I've also heard some things during the fadeouts of the two opening songs – "Good Times Bad Times" and "Communication Breakdown" – that don't recall ever hearing before. Maybe I'm wrong, but I think we're listening to additional seconds recorded before these recordings end. [I haven't yet checked to see if I was right about these. Feel free to comment!]

There are probably many other subtle differences between the recordinsg on this release and those issued on previous sets. All will be revealed, and I hope some people reading this will be able to comment on anything else they notice.

The art direction and design are new, by Shepard Fairey. Some fans have complained about the simplistic cover art, the prevalent red-on-black color scheme, and the recycling of that blimp motif – which even Shepard himself is employing on another concurrent project, shown on the magazine cover at right.

But it would be hard commenting on the design without mentioning the Super Jewel Box in which the two-CD set is contained. I guess I haven't bought any Robbie Williams or Gwen Stefani CDs lately, but I don't feel very embarrassed admitting that. Had I bought some of their material this year, I might have noticed the packaging, which is supposed to be a lot better than older CD jewel cases.

Mothership's deluxe edition, which contains a single DVD compiling portions of the band's double-disc video release, comes in a cardboard fold-out packaging scheme.

So forget for a moment that this isn't the first time Led Zeppelin has delivered a best-of compilation. Instead, let's revel in the band that brought you to this site in the first place: "The Heaviest Band of All Time," as Rolling Stone suggested in 2006. Or as Q magazine had proclaimed the previous year, "The Most Important Band in the World ... Today!" However you remember these guys, remember them for the recordings they delivered between 1969 and 1979, again celebrated today, on 11.13.07.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Page explains injury at award ceremony; guitarist named 'living legend'

In for a quick garden?

It was in Jimmy Page's garden that he broke his finger during the last weekend of October, he told reporters.

While attending an award ceremony in London last night, Page explained the bandage on the pinky finger of his left hand.

Page said he tripped on a stone slab and landed on several parts of his body. The damage was minimal but, as luck would have it, concentrated only on his digit.

His comments to the media provided the first insight into the nature of the injury postponing Led Zeppelin's upcoming reunion concert.

Page said the injury was minor, particularly compared to times he has broken fingers in the past. Page assured fans he would be in fine shape for the Led Zeppelin show, which has been rescheduled for Dec. 10.

During a ceremony at the Landmark Hotel, Page earned the title "Living Legend" in the Classic Rock Roll of Honor.

Original reports:

Monday, November 5, 2007

Led Zeppelin images to permeate London's skyline tonight

Part of a colossal marketing plan is to unfold tonight in London as images related to Led Zeppelin are projected onto some of the city's best-known landmarks.

View Larger Map

Uncut magazine reports online: "Images of the four iconic Led Zeppelin ZoSo symbols will be projected onto buildings with a countdown clock, which will then show a 15” trailer – followed by a different video at each building with audio."

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Led Zeppelin reunion concert rescheduled due to broken finger

Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page has broken one of his fingers, forcing promoters to reschedule the concert that will see his first public musical encounter with both John Paul Jones and Robert Plant in 19 years.

The concert, originally scheduled for Nov. 26, will be postponed exactly two weeks to take place Dec. 10.

If Page can go three weeks without playing guitar, it would allow his finger ample time to recover, an unnamed specialist said in the official press release announcing the rescheduling.

"I am disappointed that we are forced to postpone the concert by two weeks," Page said in the statement. "However, Led Zeppelin have always set very high standards for ourselves, and we feel that this postponement will enable my injury to properly heal, and permit us to perform at the level that both the band and our fans have always been accustomed to."

The statement said Page sustained the injury over the weekend. News of his fracture was kept silent until the replacement date could be announced.

Ticketmaster is being asked to contact its customers by Nov. 8, informing them of the schedule change and the actions necessary to obtain a refund should they be unable to attend on the new date. They would have until Nov. 14 to apply for a full refund of their purchase.

Any tickets made available as a result of refunds will be offered to ballot winners selected at random from original registrations after Nov. 15.

While the nature of Page's broken finger has not been publicly disclosed, it marks the second time the guitarist has accidentally broken a finger prior to a concert date with Led Zeppelin.

In 1975, while exiting a train on his way to a rehearsal in England, Page broke the ring finger of his left hand. He described it at the time as being "the most important finger for a guitarist ... the one that does all the leverage and most of the work."

Unable to play with that particular finger, he improvised what he called "a three-fingered technique" and went on tour without canceling any dates.

"We almost canceled the tour, but we couldn't, as we'd sold all the tickets, and a postponement would have meant chaos," he told Lisa Robinson in 1975.

Page also joked that he was trying to master this alternate technique "so that whenever there's another accident, which I'm bound to have at the beginning of an important tour, I'll be ready for it."

Over the ensuing 32 years, he may have changed his mind about that. Page may have decided over time that insisting on playing that North American tour in 1975 as planned may not have been the best move for his hand.

An instrumental on John Paul Jones's 1999 solo album Zooma is called "B. Fingers." The first letter stands for "Broken" because, he said, the main riff is "extremely difficult to play."