Monday, November 15, 2010

From Asheville to Nashville: Plant plots tour for Eastern half of America

With three dates in the Carolinas, two in North Carolina, and one each in several major markets along the Eastern seaboard, Robert Plant and the Band of Joy are set for a return to North America this January.

The 15-date tour represents the band's first dates this side of the Atlantic since the September release of the Band of Joy album.

The dates, as issued Monday in an official press release, are as follows:
  • Tuesday, Jan. 18: Thomas Wolfe Auditorium, Asheville, N.C.
  • Wednesday, Jan. 19: Peterson Events Center (University of Pittsburgh), Pittsburgh, Pa.
  • Friday, Jan. 21: Hill Auditorium, Ann Arbor, Mich.
  • Saturday, Jan. 22: Sony Centre for the Performing Arts, Toronto, Ont.
  • Tuesday, Jan. 25: House of Blues, Boston, Mass.
  • Wednesday, Jan. 26: Tower Theatre, Upper Darby, Pa.
  • Friday, Jan. 28: MGM Grand Theater at Foxwoods Resort Casino, Mashantucket, Conn.
  • Saturday, Jan. 29: Beacon Theatre, New York, N.Y.
  • Tuesday, Feb. 1: D.A.R. Constitution Hall, Washington, D.C.
  • Wednesday, Feb. 2: Memorial Auditorium, Raleigh, N.C.
  • Friday, Feb. 4: North Charleston Performing Arts Center, North Charleston, S.C.
  • Saturday, Feb. 5: Fox Theatre, Atlanta, Ga.
  • Monday, Feb. 7: Ovens Auditorium, Charlotte, N.C.
  • Tuesday, Feb. 8: War Memorial Auditorium, Nashville, Tenn.
  • Wednesday, Feb. 9: War Memorial Auditorium, Nashville, Tenn.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Robert Plant hits Europe; Jason Bonham pro-shot video appears online; Sons of Albion tours New York clubs

Just some quick hits for the beginning of this work week.

Robert Plant hits Europe

First, Robert Plant and the Band of Joy are back in the United Kingdom again, having just hit Sweden and Norway for a pair of shows and this illuminating TV interview in which Plant discussed a lot about Led Zeppelin -- both in the old days of seeing Stockholm with ABBA in the days of recording In Through the Out Door and, more recently, reuniting the band in 2007.

Said Plant: "The guys in Led Zeppelin were spectacular players, and we lost John, but Jimmy and John Paul are still magnificent. And, really, it was a serendip-- it was an amazing phenomenon that we got together and did what we did, honestly, for honesty's sake, not for money's sake or for kudos ..."


Plant and the Band of Joy play in Edinboro, Scotland, tonight. Shows the rest of this month include the Electric Proms in London on Oct. 29, where the band is to be backed by the London Oriana Choir. It will be Plant's second performance with the 72-piece singing ensemble this year: the choir backed him at the Sound & Vision charity concert on Feb. 25.

Jason Bonham pro-shot video appears online

Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Experience has finished its first seven-show pass through Canada. Now the band prepares to hit Minneapolis for the first of three U.S. shows. That concert is tomorrow, followed by Milwaukee on Wednesday and Merrilville, Ind., on Thursday.

As of only a few hours ago, some professionally shot multi-camera footage from the Oct. 14 show in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, appears online. In it, the band performs "Good Times Bad Times" in an arrangement similar to the first song of the 2007 Led Zeppelin reunion concert. There are three other full songs as well: "Since I've Been Loving You," "Black Dog" and "Kashmir." Does this mean a DVD release of Bonham's tribute concert may be in the works? Lemon Squeezings will let you know.


Few fan-shot videos of the group online capture full songs, but there are several from the Oct. 17 show in Winnipeg. Check out "I Can't Quit You Baby," "Dazed and Confused" and "Stairway to Heaven."


Sons of Albion tours New York clubs

Another band with a genetic link to Led Zeppelin hit the United States recently for a slew of shows in Manhattan. Katie Higgins, a fan who saw Sons of Albion multiple times, writes her account in the following summary:
Sons of Albion recently wrapped up a two week stint in NYC. I was lucky enough to catch a few of their shows, the last of which was Thursday night at Fontana's in the Lower East Side. Yhey did not disappoint. They played some familiar songs which they've already released, "Take a Look," "I Feel You" and their most recent, "Blackened Heart." Download them from iTunes if you haven't! There were a couple of newer songs which they've hinted about -- "Killing the Machine" and "Primal Scream," as well as a heartfelt softer ballad sung beautifully by Logan -- this is my new favorite.
The band played with a massive amount of energy which grew stronger every night, as did the crowds. Francisco's drumming was amazing, pounding so hard on the drums, his finger bled. Gones (bass) and Nuno (guitar) seemed to escape into worlds of their own while playing with a tremendous passion, creating a sound which is unmistakably their own. Logan sounded great and was at home on the stage; however, the stage was much too small for them and at times he seemed a little like a caged animal looking to break free. He will ... they all will ...
New York-based DJ Carol Miller, host of the nationally syndicated "Get the Led Out" for which I consult, mentions Sons of Albion in her latest blog entry at LedZepOnline.com. She writes:
The band has been making some new music produced by Paul Logus, who is a contributing producer for GTLO, so it's "all in the family"!
So happy with the level of support Sons of Albion have been getting here in New York... All I can say is look out for big things! More to come on this...

Monday, October 11, 2010

Verdict on Jealous Butcher's new Zep tribute album? It's a generational thing

The date is Nov. 12, 1955, and an aspiring young guitarist calling himself Calvin Klein finds himself playing at the high school's "Enchantment Under the Sea" dance in Hill Valley, Calif. Things are going well for him, so he busts out an impromptu rendition of "Johnny B. Goode" three years ahead of its time.

He is able to do so only because he is a visitor from the future, one with the benefit of seeing MTV as the cultural mainstay in the presentation of music to his generation.

While still within the context of the Chuck Berry song, the guitarist then unleashes a solo that would have exposed him as the unhinged Eddie Van Halen devotee he really is, if only these residents of the 1950s had ever heard of Eddie Van Halen. As Calvin slides on his knees in the middle of a lightning-fast guitar run, his backing band stops playing, the dancers stand staring and motionless, and he realizes he's lost everyone.

Retaining his composure, dusting himself off, and taking his place at the microphone again, he announces, "I guess you guys aren't ready for that, yet. But your kids are gonna love it."

The pertinent lesson this scene from Back to the Future illustrates is that music is a generational thing. Some of today's youth might think it's great to go through a vinyl collection and find something like Led Zeppelin, or they're downloading Mothership onto their iPods and discovering the music that way.

More rebellious youths might think that because Led Zeppelin T-shirts are all the rage, or because it's their parents' music, Led Zeppelin is a band is to be shunned and avoided at all cost. It's probably those kids who will be the prime audience for the 2-CD compilation being released Tuesday on the Jealous Butcher label out of Portland, Ore.

From the Land of Ice and Snow: The Songs of Led Zeppelin is something that may expose some Millennials, for the first time willingly at least, to songs credited to John Bonham, John Paul Jones, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant. That's because this is such an alternative set that it won't appeal to a broad audience.

If you were a fan of Led Zeppelin in the '70s, this set is not for you -- unless you find yourself scouring your children's MP3 players for modern diamonds in the rough. Only if you've already latched onto and embraced several of the forms of today's indie rock will you find any of this worth listening to. Otherwise, the only reason you should continue reading this is if you're thinking about gifting a copy to your kids.

Your kids are gonna love it. Maybe.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Solomon Burke, influence on Led Zeppelin, dies at 70

Solomon Burke, the influential soul singer who performed at an after-party for the members of Led Zeppelin following their 2007 reunion concert, has died. Reports say he was aboard a flight today at the time of death. He was 70.

Burke is known for a body of work that includes the song "Everybody Needs Somebody to Love," which was a regular part of the stage act for Wilson Pickett, the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and the Blues Brothers.

Wilson Pickett dedicates this lively rendition of "Everybody Needs Somebody to Love" to Solomon Burke, one of the song's co-writers.


The members of Led Zeppelin cover "Everybody Needs Somebody to Love" at Southampton University in 1973.

But some of Burke's more intense moments are tearful songs like "Goodbye Baby (Baby Goodbye)," one of a few songs that influenced Led Zeppelin.

Here, the Deep River Quartet performs "Goodbye Baby (Baby Goodbye)," a song made famous by Solomon Burke.

Led Zeppelin's "Baby Come On Home" was recorded during 1968 sessions for the band's first album but not released until 1993, when it was included on both Box Set 2 and The Complete Studio Recordings. On that track, Led Zeppelin gives a partial writing credit to the late Bert Berns, who was producer and songwriter for Solomon Burke, because their song is partially based on another "Baby Come On Home" from earlier in 1968, recorded by Burke and crediting Berns as songwriter.

Here, Solomon Burke sings the original "Baby Come On Home," originally released in 1968 and available on The Platinum Collection from Rhino/Atlantic.


Update: One of my favorite blogs, NMissCommentor, has published a blog entry as a tribute to Solomon Burke featuring several stirring videos of him performing.

Update 2: It's been pointed out to me (thanks, Scott) that Led Zeppelin's "Baby Come On Home" may be even more influenced by the first recorded version of the song, by Hoagy Lands in 1964. A clip follows:

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Jason Bonham pleased as Led Zeppelin Experience tour kicks off in Canada

Photo by Glenn Francis,
www.PacificProDigital.com
Concertgoers at the Encana Events Centre in Dawson Creek, B.C., Canada, last night witnessed the first showing from the multimedia tour Jason Bonham has spent the last few months publicizing.

So far, the few firsthand accounts from inside the concert venue could not be more positive. Most of what's been said, however, comes from the band members themselves!

About six hours before his second show, Bonham took to the Internet to post his thoughts on the Friday night debut: "This was the opening night of the tour and all I can say is , Thank you for making it one of the best gigs of my life !!!!!!! xoxo."

Update: In another message, Bonham gives away much of the set list. Be forewarned of a possible spoiler alert before clicking here.

Some of his bandmates were also communicating online after the show thanks to the complimentary Wi-Fi on their tour bus. Their bass player, who shall remain nameless unless you click here, granted an e-mail interview to Lemon Squeezings.

"Jason was in heaven from where I was standing," the bass player writes. "It's safe to say he loved every minute of the first show and it was really fantastic to be a part of it with him and the rest of the boys."

Clips of "Since I've Been Loving You" and "When the Levee Breaks" from the opening show in Dawson Creek have made it online.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Just ahead of Jason Bonham's tour, supergroup offers pour in

Jason Bonham is ready to rock as the offers pour in.
Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Experience multimedia tour is set to begin Friday tomorrow night in British Columbia, and he has still managed to keep his onstage lineup of musicians from being publicly revealed. (my mistake)

Meanwhile, just after the self-titled album from Black Country Communion hit the streets with Bonham on board, the drummer has now received a namecheck from guitarist Joe Satriani mentioning him as a possible touring member of Chickenfoot next year.

Joe Bosso of MusicRadar spoke with Satriani on the occasion of his new solo album, Black Swans and Wormhole Wizards, being released. When the subject of Chickenfoot came up in the interview, Satriani mentioned Bonham and two other drummers who might be good additions to the band, which also features Sammy Hagar on vocals and Michael Anthony on bass.

Satriani says current drummer, Chad Smith, is likely available to record their second album early next year. But after that, Smith might be back with his previous band, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, meaning somebody would have to fill in on any Chickenfoot live dates.

Satriani mentioned the "really outrageous" Tommy Lee as one possibility. "He's a great drummer, a lot of fun and a crazy personality," he said.

"We've had some guys sit in from time to time. Some names that have been thrown around are Abe Laboriel Jr. and Jason Bonham -- they'd be really great."

Laboriel, who plays for Sir Paul McCartney, recently participated with Bonham at the Los Angeles concert tribute to John Bonham on Sept. 25, the 30th anniversary of the late Led Zeppelin drummer's death. A full summary of the show has since been provided by Steve Krugman with photos by Alex Kluft.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Possibly unique copy of 'Physical Graffiti' LP for sale

When Swan Song Records manufactured the initial run of Led Zeppelin's Physical Graffiti around the beginning of 1975, it seems that at least one radio station may have gotten the royal treatment.

And then it was promptly forgotten about by everyone concerned.

That is, until earlier this year, according to record industry veteran Jeff Gold, who says he was going through the massive vinyl collection that belonged to Ken Barnes when one of the Led Zeppelin LPs popped out at him.

"I've known Ken since the mid '70s, and his knowledge of records is truly unsurpassed," says Gold. "I don't know anyone who knows half of what Ken knows about records, and I've met a lot of collectors in the 39 years I've been in the game."

This is believed to be a unique pressing of Led Zeppelin's Physical Graffiti dedicated to a now-defunct Chicago radio station, WMET 95 1/2 FM.

Current Led Zeppelin reunion rumor unfounded; Robert Plant hasn't really changed his mind

Twitter user @LedZeppelinNews went on a tirade this morning after waking up to find an unfounded rumor continuing to spread into a second day. (Yes, I just referred to myself in the third person.)

Here is that tweetirade in full:
The increasingly popular rumor that Robert Plant is leaning toward a Led Zeppelin reunion is unfounded. First, the interview was on July 29.
Second, the out-of-context line people think means he'll be talking w/ other Zep members about reuniting actually means THEY AREN'T TALKING!
The Led Zeppelin members haven't been talking, much less playing. Why so hopeful based on a loose interpretation of a 2-month-old remark?
Hasn't Robert Plant given enough interviews over the last few months to give anyone a good idea of his thoughts on reuniting Led Zeppelin?
Now going into The Daily Show mode. Adding to the list of extreme voices today: the sites Antimusic and @Guitarless. Let's restore sanity!
The big offenders here: @Contactmusic (http://bit.ly/9C8vsx), @SPINmagazine (http://bit.ly/btpkV0) and @gibsonguitar (http://bit.ly/bfIJNX).
Seriously, read @The_AV_Club interview of Robert Plant from July 29, published Sept. 30: http://onion.com/cowjDv & prepare to be enlightened
But if you get a hold of the interview tape from @The_AV_Club and play Robert Plant's voice backward, he does say Led Zeppelin will reunite.
[I was wrong when I said the AV Club's interview was published Sept. 30. It was actually published Sept. 28. It only seemed like it was published Sept. 30 because it took two days for idiotic Web editors to start misreporting anything about it.]

Coincidentally, the second anniversary of a statement from Robert Plant passed on Wednesday. It is the statement posted on his official website in 2008 that said, in part, "Robert Plant will not be touring or recording with Led Zeppelin. Anyone buying tickets online to any such event will be buying bogus tickets."

Mention of this appeared in the top right-hand corner of LedZeppelinNews.com for the entire day Thursday while the rumor was starting to pick up steam. It said, "On this day in 2008, a month rampant with Zep reunion speculation ended, Robert Plant having just stated they weren't getting back together."

And yes, I fully admit that a rumor I inspired less than a year ago went viral and created a widely held belief that Jimmy Page was joining a supergroup with Eric Clapton and Aerosmith. It got me a lot of hits on my website for a few days (not that my bank account noticed), but as soon as the truth of the matter was clarified to me and I realized how erroneous it all was, I retracted the inaccuracies of my original story because I felt remorse passing off inaccurate information.

Will Spin, Contactmusic, Gibson, Antimusic, Guitarless and everybody else feel any remorse and make a retraction in this case? Or, on the other hand, do they prefer passing off popular rumors that distort the truth? Let's see.

Update, 7:30 p.m.: I've authenticated the comment below from Gerry Hayes at Guitarless, who says a correction is on the way and encourages me to "continue to harangue lazy, non-fact-checkers like me."


Update, Oct. 6, 11:35 a.m.: Robert Plant has now quashed the rumor too.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Zeptember arrivals from Robert Plant, Jason Bonham hit No. 1

Two of the musicians who played onstage with Led Zeppelin in December 2007 released their first new albums since that concert this month, and both discs hit No. 1 on one chart or another.

Second-week sales of Robert Plant's Band of Joy were down by almost half in the United States. Statistics indicate the disc sold 49,000 copies over the week of its Sept. 14 release and 25,000 the following week.

That has been enough to place the album at the top of Billboard's Tastemaker Albums chart for the week of Oct. 2. This chart represents "the week's top-selling albums based on an influential panel of stores comprised of independent retailer coalitions and smaller regional chains. Titles are ranked by sales data as compiled by Nielsen SoundScan." It's hanging on at No. 3 in the updated listings posted today, for the week of Oct. 9.

Meanwhile, Jason Bonham's latest album release, the debut album by Black Country Communion, landed at the top spot in its debut on BBC Radio 1's UK Top 40 Rock Albums chart. (Incidentally, the same Sept. 26 chart listing also has the debut disc from another Zep-related supergroup, Them Crooked Vultures, lingering at No. 26 in its 42nd week since release. Oh, and Led Zeppelin's 2-CD set Mothership from 2007 ranks at No. 30! It's still charting high in its 114th week.)

As an independent album, Black Country Communion is doing well. It debuted at No. 2 on the UK Top 40 Indie Album chart. Its debut among independent albums on the Billboard chart was at No. 6.

Other chart listings follow.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Looking at Rock Hall's inductee list, thank goodness for alternative honors


OK, I'll give you Bon Jovi. I didn't think there was a cooler album in the world than New Jersey. "Livin' on a Prayer" is still all over the airwaves today, but the first time around for its heavy rotation, that long hair and jean jacket image was all the rage. Trite as the choice can be, I'll give you that Bon Jovi be recognized for their constant string of hits during my formative years.

Alice Cooper's nomination is welcome, as is Donovan's. And if I were just as smart as Robert Plant, I could have explained without first looking it up that Chuck Willis died at age 30 after a short recording career that included "C.C. Rider," "It's Too Late" and "What Am I Living For." I can't fault the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for the nomination of Chic either, especially as Tony Thompson gets his posthumous due -- he being the only drummer besides Jason Bonham to come close to forming a band with Plant, Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones.

As music industry mogul Bob Lefsetz gives his commentary on the picks announced this morning, he takes some of the words out of my mouth. Here's one particular part that helps me lead into something I've been meaning to cover on Lemon Squeezings for the past few days:
Donna Summer broke disco in the U.S. Then again, isn't it the ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME? Get your own damn hall. But she did make that great rock influenced album "Bad Girls", but if we're gonna put her in, don't we induct the mastermind, Giorgio Moroder? Or is image now key and who actually does the work is irrelevant?
That's why I take delight in knowing a whole different set of honors is set up specifically for the people behind the people. This week, I was introduced to the Gold Badge awards, presented annually by the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors.

"The Gold Badge Awards celebrate the careers of people who have made a special contribution to Britain's music and entertainment industry, acknowledging work that is often done behind the scenes and without public recognition," a press release informed me on Sept. 20. "Over the last 37 years[,] the awards have paid tribute to a wide range of music industry professionals, including broadcasters, recording artists, publishers, arrangers, managers, producer and record company executives."

One of this year's honorees is, for the first time ever, a member of Led Zeppelin.

Photo: Dustin Rabin
If I had to pick the one member of Led Zeppelin with perhaps the least immediate name recognition, I apologize to John Paul Jones, but he's my guy. Call him the quiet one, call him the orchestrator, or call him the band's best-kept secret; any way you look at it, he deserves a lot of credit for the Led Zeppelin sound, and from day one he's never received the same level of attention as Robert Plant or Jimmy Page.

Play back the video footage of the Earl's Court concerts from 1975 or something like that, don't be surprised to see very much of Jones. That's just the way it is, he has long since come to realize and accept. He'll tell you it was partly by his own design since he could change his hairstyles each tour, not be noticed, and use that as an advantage. He could get away with a lot of the same shenanigans as his bandmates and not have it written up by the press all the time.

A Gold Badge will be presented to Jones next month because of a complicated and noted biography that includes his work as an organist, choirmaster, dance band member, musical director, arranger, Led Zeppelin member, recording studio founder, electronic composition teacher, record producer, solo artist, and Them Crooked Vultures member. Talk about a renaissance man!

So, let the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame have Neil Diamond, LL Cool J and Dr. John.

John Paul Jones now joins the honored ranks of Chris Farlowe, Ian "Stu" Stewart, Hank Marvin, "Big" Jim Sullivan and -- oh wow, look! -- Donovan. And they probably all wonder why the hell Roger Daltrey ever received a Gold Badge Award.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Jimmy Page book readies publication

With printing of Jimmy Page's pictorial autobiography less than a week away, Genesis Publications has temporarily stopped selling copies of the book and thanked its customers.

"We have had an overwhelming and unprecedented response and we want to thank all our subscribers for your support," the company said today in a statement on its website.

"We are currently offline because we are taking time to audit orders. We hope to have some last copies available and they will be on sale on publication day 27 September. So please check back then."

The 500-page leather-bound book is titled "Jimmy Page." It consists of about 650 images selected by Page, captions he wrote to tell the story, and his personal signature and an individual number on every printed copy.

The publisher says "Jimmy Page" is its "biggest ever limited edition" in 35 years of business.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

For Black Country Communion release, band plays secret London gig

Glenn Hughes;
photo by John Rahim
The members of Black Country Communion have been running the publicity rounds in support of their album release. Black Country was released in the United States today on the J&R Adventures label. While Jason Bonham is flying back to the U.S. straight after the band's London debut in front of 100 people at a secret show, singer and bassist Glenn Hughes remains in England where he'll begin touring right away.

The singer took some time today to update Lemon Squeezings on the success of last night's gig and how it came about. "We were in New York a couple of weeks ago doing the same thing, and we wanted to do a media show in England because the band's strength, we believe, will start from England, and it has today," said Hughes. "It's looking really strong here."

A small assembly of contest winners and media personnel attended the show, which was held at a rehearsal studio in London. The U.K.'s Planet Rock Radio broadcast the show live as the band ran through eight songs on the disc, including their remake of "Medusa" from Hughes's old band, Trapeze. "It was great, really successful, and it's really looking strong right now. It's all go. It's all Black Country Communion, baby," he said enthusiastically over the phone early in the London afternoon.


He believes they've achieved their goal in England for the time being, until they return next year for a longer trip. "We needed to do something in England, something in New York, and this is what we needed to do to get a foundation, a buzz going," explained Hughes.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Mid Zeptember 2010 update

 
This new video from Lemon Squeezings analyzes what's been making news in the world of Led Zeppelin lately. Whether it's new albums from Robert Plant and Jason Bonham you want to learn about, or the new book from Jimmy Page, we've got you covered.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Band of Joy - Album Review

Steve Sauer has graciously invited me to post my review here as a guest contributor. I thank him for the opportunity to share my thoughts on Robert Plant's new album, Band of Joy. Steve has done a fantastic job of providing background information and analysis of the original songs that Plant covers on this disc, so I don't feel too badly about not mentioning all of the original artists in my review.

Band of Joy begins with "Angel Dance" - a strong opener with a great groove. Unfortunately the ringing sound (tambourine, I'm guessing) that pops up regularly every so often is very annoying to me - kind of like I suppose a dog whistle would be, if I were a dog... If I could only remove that, it would not just be a good track, but a great one.

"House of Cards" could be improved by making the production a little less muddy. I understand that it was a choice, but to me it just sounds like I'm listening to a static-y radio broadcast. Around 1:44 into the song, the static recedes for a bit for the "and the birds are wheelin'..." section and it sounds fantastic. I love the "and cracked and it's shaking" line - it's delivered perfectly - but then the static aspect returns around 2:15. This song works better live from the recordings I've heard.

I enjoy "Central Two-O-Nine". It's a fun little foot-stomper that would fit in well with a latter-day Zep acoustic set that might also include "Poor Tom".

"Silver Rider" is a dystopian epic - almost up there with "Darkness Darkness" as an enduring favorite cover by Plant. I bought Low's The Great Destroyer a couple months ago to hear this track and "Monkey" in advance of Band of Joy's release. The original "Silver Rider" is a little too achingly restrained for my taste, but Plant's version lets loose just the right amount. A standout track. Buddy Miller plays excellent, haunting guitar, and Patty Griffin's vocal accompaniment might be better here than anything else she does on the album.

Byron House's bass on "You Can't Buy My Love" is satisfyingly dirty and makes the song work much better than it otherwise would. The vocals are fine - there's a trademark Robert moment around 1:50. Not a substantial song, but fun. It probably should not have followed "Silver Rider" on the album and might have been better off appearing later on this disc.

"Falling in Love Again" is a very nice vocal showcase for Plant at this point in his career - his voice sounds rich and smooth. The steel guitar around 1:50 is a little too country/twangy for my liking; a short, sharp electric guitar solo might have improved it, but that's just me.

Unfortunately, "The Only Sound that Matters" begins with more of that extra-twangy steel guitar. The vocals are pushed forward a bit more in this song and sometimes the articulation isn't where it should be - the words sound a little 'thick'. This gets better around 2:15, but then there's more of the twangy guitar.

"Monkey" is perfectly ominous. The rumbling bass and drums, the distorted guitar, the perfectly matched dual vocals... another Low cover, and another standout track. A very good original that is taken to a higher level by Robert and his band. The only thing that detracts is more of that high-pitched ringing that was heard in "Angel Dance". Thankfully there's not quite as much and it's not as noticeable.

"Cindy, I'll Marry You Someday" features some pleasant banjo picking. The vocals are understated, whispered until around 1:40 when they become more forceful. Not my favorite track, but it picks up nicely in the last minute or so.

Plant, Buddy Miller, and Marco Giovino team up to make "Harm's Swift Way" one of the better tracks on the album. There is a confidence and strength to this song that contrasts with the plaintive and vulnerable nature of Plant's singing elsewhere on the disc.

"Satan, Your Kingdom Must Come Down" could have been a Fate of Nations B-side with Rainer Ptacek like "Dark Moon". Spooky...

I've been struggling to figure out what past Plant album that "Even This Shall Pass Away" sounds like it belongs on, but it's somewhere between Shaken 'n Stirred and the previously unreleased 1987 Now and Zen-era track "Upside Down" that appeared on Sixty-Six To Timbuktu. Either way, it's kind of funky and a little odd, but it works as the final track of the CD, probably about as well as "Brother Ray" did on Mighty Rearranger.

A pretty good album overall - I give it a 7 out of 10 and place it somewhere in the middle in terms of Robert's post-Zeppelin work, below Pictures at Eleven (which has grown on me and really benefited from the remastering job for Nine Lives), Fate of Nations, and Mighty Rearranger, which are all big favorites.

I hope that Robert gets inspired to do some more writing of his own for his next album. Mighty Rearranger was very strong lyrically and musically following Dreamland, which was almost entirely a covers album, so perhaps history will repeat itself and we'll get a strong new collection of Plant originals in a couple years.

_________________
Review by Wyatt Brake

Monday, September 13, 2010

Silver Rider (Band of Joy song of the week, No. 12 of 12)

The songwriting team of the band Low strikes gold not once but twice on Robert Plant's Band of Joy, released today in the U.K. just as this 12-part series concludes on LedZeppelinNews.com. Plant has told the Arkansas Times he'd had some Low CDs in his car for about eight or nine years. Evidently, their album The Great Destroyer was a favorite of his, as both of the Low songs on Band of Joy can be found on that 2005 disc.

Some songwriters Plant has covered multiple times are blues/gospel singer/guitarist Blind Willie Johnson, Jerry Miller of '60s psychedelic rock band Moby Grape, and folkie traveler Townes Van Zandt. However, because Plant has covered Low more than once on a single album, that band's Alan Sparhawk, Mimi Parker and former member Zak Sally are now placed into a more exclusive club also consisting of Willie Dixon, who was credited twice on Led Zeppelin's debut album and originally uncredited twice on Led Zeppelin II, and the Everly Brothers, a pair of whose songs were covered on Raising Sand.

An attractive hushed intensity marks the chorus of the Band of Joy version as Plant duets with Patty Griffin.

On my own cover version recorded in June, I duet with myself over a simple piano arrangement that draws influence from Pink Floyd's "Breathe" and Coldplay's "Trouble."

Monday, September 6, 2010

Monkey (Band of Joy song of the week, No. 11 of 12)

Note: Robert Plant's Band of Joy is now available for listening in its entirety online thanks to National Public Radio. Streaming ceases Sept. 14, when the album is released in the United States.


Low's Mimi Parker and Zak Sally accompany a monkey
on a ride during the music video for their 2005 song
"Monkey." © ℗ 2005 Sub Pop Records.
How fitting that an album with a monkey depicted on the cover would have a song on it called "Monkey." Yet Alan Sparhawk, one of the composers of that song, chalked it up to sheer coincidence when we spoke this June (listen to the interview). This possible coincidence didn't go unnoticed when I saw Robert Plant perform the song live in July, as he referenced the monkey on the stage's backdrop when introducing the song to the crowds in both Memphis and Little Rock.

© ℗ 2005 Sub Pop Records
Sparhawk takes writing credit for the song along with his wife, Mimi Parker, and their former Low bandmate Zak Sally. Like Plant, Low also used the monkey as a visual. In the video for their song, the three members of Low rode in a car with a toy monkey. The chorus includes the lyrics, "Tonight the monkey dies." During the video, the monkey lifts its arms to cover its eyes, presumably to shield itself from seeing the impending death alluded to in the song.


"Monkey" is one of two songs from their 2005 album The Great Destroyer to receive the video treatment. The song stands alone as the only album track to have received the remix treatment on a CD dedicated to it. Five remixes of "Monkey" appear on a CD called Tonight the Monkeys Die.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Black Country Communion not afraid to jam on debut album

As the debut album from Black Country Communion is released later this month, fans will hear extensive jamming amid the 13 songs that span this 76-minute CD featuring Jason Bonham on drums. On a few of the tracks, the song sounds like it is about to end, but then somebody plays or sings something that pretty soon has everybody else jamming along, effectively giving the song a second life so that the track continues for another few minutes.

Glenn Hughes photo by Robert M. Knight
"This band is a live band, [and] the album was recorded live," said lead singer and bassist Glenn Hughes in an interview for Lemon Squeezings. "The reason why these songs sort of go on a little bit and there's that vibe of that, I don't know, psychedelia, whatever you want to call it -- it's just that we wanted to let it run ... like we used to do in the '70s. It was kind of that way, you know. We didn't want it wrapped up in a pretty little box. It wanted to be a little rough around the edges, so this is what we get."


One fine example of this is on a song called "Sista Jane." Hughes doesn't deny it sounds like your prototypical AC/DC song. He's stated before that he believes this disc will hold up well in CD collections against classics like Back in Black. When I even mention my AC/DC comparison on the phone to him, he gives me an "Oh, absolutely, yeah." I tell him his voice sounds like Sammy Hagar's on the same tune, that Joe Bonamassa's guitar first sounds like Randy Bachman on the Guess Who's "American Woman" and later sounds more long the lines of Cream's "Crossroads," and that the song ends just short of organist Derek Sherinian leading them into "Won't Get Fooled Again" by the Who.

At my mention of this last comparison, Hughes interjects, "Yeah, I was a bit concerned about that. I said to Derek, 'That might be going a little too far.' But, you know, it's kind of a tip of the hat."


Hughes spoke about his relationship with the late John Bonham, who used to drive him to his gigs with the band Trapeze and would even sit in from time to time. In doing so, Bonham would drum on the Trapeze song "Medusa," which Black Country Communion re-recorded for the debut album. "It's kind of crazy now to have both Bonhams play on that track," says Hughes. "I've known Jason since he didn't remember me when he was two or three years old."

Black Country Communion's official YouTube channel features some behind-the-scenes footage from the recording of the album. Here's the making of their song "The Great Divide," beginning with Hughes suggesting what one part should sound like, followed by producer Kevin Shirley urging them to give it a try.


The U.K.'s Planet Rock radio station dedicates its 6:00 hour tonight to Black Country Communion, premiering a behind-the-scenes audio documentary with exclusive interviews with the band plus some tracks from the album. In addition, the hour will include some songs from the album, which is to be released Sept. 20 in the U.K. and Sept. 21 in the U.S. As if that's not enough reason to listen, Planet Rock's website says the hour will also include "a very (VERY) special announcement about the band during the special on Saturday." Listen online at 1 p.m. Eastern/10 a.m. Pacific by tuning in to www.planetrock.com. If you miss it the first time, it repeats Thursday at 11 p.m. GMT/6 p.m. Eastern/3 p.m. Pacific.

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Only Sound that Matters (Band of Joy song of the week, No. 10 of 12)

Anybody who's only tangentially aware of Buddy Miller's hard-earned reputation as the go-to guy for musical assistance in Nashville might assume he grew up surrounded only by country music. That would be an incorrect assumption (Update: For more on this, check out this cover story from the Nashville Scene). Take, for instance, Miller's claim that he watched Led Zeppelin perform at the Fillmore East in New York on the band's first tour. Miller was there in the third row center, he says. He would have been 16 years old at the time, and half of Led Zeppelin was 20.

One of those 20-year-olds was Robert Plant, whose name unsurprisingly comes up in an interview with Miller published in the September 2010 issue of Acoustic Guitar magazine. The interviewer, Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers, comments, "It's a revelation to hear Robert Plant sing so softly on Raising Sand," to which Miller replies, "I know, but he sang softly a lot back then -- you just don't think about it." Miller's right. Back then, Plant sang softly on songs like "Tangerine" and "That's the Way."

Those two particular songs were both on Led Zeppelin III, which isn't soft the whole way through. It starts off with the Viking wail on "Immigrant Song," which certainly is not the only heavy electric number on Side A. Fittingly enough for the album's 40th anniversary this October, Plant will have a new CD out that was inspired by reflecting on that disc. "I was thinking about Zeppelin III," he said recently. "I was thinking about the mixture of acoustic and powerful electric."

Of all the cover songs that made the final cut for the Band of Joy album, the lightest in its original form is "The Only Sound that Matters," from the 2003 album Westernaire by the band Milton Mapes. "It's certainly been a song that, from the Milton Mapes catalog, has resonated with a lot of people, and it's always been one of my favorites -- one of our favorites -- to play," says singer and guitarist Greg Vanderpool in an interview for Lemon Squeezings.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Harm's Swift Way (Band of Joy song of the week, No. 9 of 12)

Not even two minutes into the documentary "Be Here to Love Me: A Film About Townes Van Zandt," the musician declares, "I don't envision a very long life for myself. I don't think my life will run out before my work does. I've designed it that way."

How right he was: Van Zandt died on New Year's Day 1997 having just started demo sessions for an album he envisioned but never completed.

Time has done little to diminish the profiles of certain musicians whose lives were cut too short, like Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jeff Buckley. When Van Zandt died, he was 52, so he had almost two decades on the oldest of those cats. Consequently, his life gave him the longest musical career of those four, stretching over 30 years while the others' were mere flashes in the pan, comparatively speaking. It would be hard to contest that Van Zandt's career was the least celebrated of the four.

Yet those who profess any respect for that singer, songwriter and guitarist often place him at the top of the trade. It is only in recent years that Robert Plant has come out as one such advocate. Now that he's about to cover Van Zandt on an album for the second time in three years, Plant opens up about what attracts him to the late musician. "The whole enigma and story of Townes Van Zandt continues to open more and more to me on a daily basis," he says. "His whole vision of compromise by just the daily grind about what you have to do to get through was spectacular, and the sensitivity and also the futility of it. You know, does it really matter? Do we take it all in?"

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Robert Plant suggests little in common with Led Zeppelin bandmates; likely no chance of repeat performance, he tells Telegraph

One of these guys is not like the others. Robert Plant, second
from right, suggests his entertainment goals differ from those of
Jason Bonham, John Paul Jones and Jimmy Page.
The reason Robert Plant says he will probably not be seen working with Led Zeppelin again, as he did for one night only in 2007, has in part to do with things he feels he does not have in common with the other musicians.

In a new interview published by the U.K.'s Telegraph on what happened to be the singer's 62nd birthday, Plant discusses several aspects of his career from the original Band of Joy to his modern-day incarnation. That band has a pair of London dates on Sept. 1 and 2, but of course the article diverts several times into a discussion with Plant about Led Zeppelin.

Of that group's classic and historic run from 1968 to 1980, Plant tells reporter Neil McCormick, "We were never a middle of the road band; we were really quite fearsome."

In his article, McCormick overviews some of the highlights, twists and turns Plant has embarked upon since 1980, including "the vintage R'n'B of The Honeydrippers," "a wild concoction of hybridised world music with his band Strange Sensation," and his ventures into Americana, first with Alison Krauss on their "extraordinary, ethereal album" Raising Sand, and now with the wide range of genres one can expect at a Band of Joy concert, including "hints of wild psych rock to keep old fans entranced."

McCormick was one of the few journalists who spoke to Page in 2009. When they met at the London headquarters of Gibson guitars late last year, their conversation was about the instrument, of course because it is the subject of the movie It Might Get Loud, whose U.K. premiere Page was promoting at the time. Their conversation delved into Page's own beginnings with guitar and his eventual innovations, plus his current musical leanings and even his goals. As to the question of a possible Led Zeppelin reunion, Page gave McCormick direct orders: "You'd better ask Robert Plant what the future of Led Zeppelin is."

He even brings that up in his article, that he was under the advisement of Page to ask. The reunion concert happened once; would Plant agree to another?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Sept. 27 announced as new publication date for Jimmy Page's book

Jimmy Page's pictorial autobiography now has an announced publication date of Sept. 27.

Genesis Publications, the U.K.-based publisher of collectable luxury books, sent an alert today advising customers of the specific publication date.

The book will now include more than 650 photographs and illustrations on over 500 pages, says an official microsite launched at www.jimmypagebook.com. The number of photographs has increased by 50 since a June announcement that publication was being delayed three months so as to incorporate additional images and captions written by Page.

While all 350 copies of the deluxe edition were said to have sold out within two days of going on pre-sale in April, reservations are still being taken for the collector's edition. Page is signing and numbering every one of the 2,500 books in the limited run.

The book covers Page's entire professional career including moments before and after the Led Zeppelin years. One of Ross Halfin's photos of Page's "Whole Lotta Love" performance atop a bus with Leona Lewis for the closing ceremonies of the 2008 Summer Olympics represents a recent shot. Of it, Page comments, "I'm told that it was the most watched guitar solo in TV history."

Jimmy Page, at right, with Red E Lewis and the Redcaps;
Copyright © Jimmy Page Collection
One of the earlier moments captured in the book comes from Page's own collection, showing him playing guitar in 1962 with Red E Lewis and the Redcaps, one of his first bands. Several other photos can be seen at www.jimmypagebook.com, and The Sunday Times of London is to publish an exclusive interview with Page this weekend, with a video of it to be available on the newspaper's website beginning Aug. 22.

Monday, August 16, 2010

30-ish tour dates announced for Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Experience; drummer seeks opportunity for Zep members to help him pay tribute to John Bonham

Jason Bonham plays a custom drum kit during the Led
Zeppelin reunion concert in London on Dec. 10, 2007.
Photo by Ross Halfin; used with permission of MSO.
The tour promoted as Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Experience will appear for a limited run of about 30 shows in North America this fall, according to the concert itinerary announced this morning. The significance of the number 30 is that this fall marks 30 years since Bonham lost his father, and Led Zeppelin its drummer.

He says his tour is a tribute to John Bonham. What's more, he said last week he hopes the surviving members of Led Zeppelin might join him in his cause of paying tribute to his father. They'll have about 34 about 30 chances to do so.

Some details about the concert, such as the intended set list and of course what musicians are to be joining Bonham onstage, remain to be seen. The drummer insists the musicians won't be revealed before the first concert so as to shield the group from prejudice.

And of course, there's also the whole issue of whether live audiences might be seeing any special guest appearances from the likes of Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones or Robert Plant. In his interviews last week, Bonham said it's his wish that they would.

The span of these concerts overlaps Plant's European tour with the Band of Joy, so while that particular singer -- who has given his blessing to the tour -- is unavailable for most of the dates, the timing may be ideal for the other two Led Zeppelin members in question.

Jones's touring project with Them Crooked Vultures has ended just this month, and he's already shown no interest in gathering any moss. Granted, the last time he was planning a touring act with Jason Bonham, he said he hoped it wouldn't become a Led Zeppelin tribute band. But keep in mind that this is a limited-time concert tour, Jones is under no obligation, and he speaks fondly of playing the music with the young Bonham, who's now 44. For Jones, it would be just like the last time he played out live with Dave Grohl before they formed Them Crooked Vultures, when they performed two Led Zeppelin numbers at Wembley Stadium with Taylor Hawkins and -- wait a minute, who was on guitar? Oh yeah, Jimmy Page.

Page has thus far kept his 2009 promise to "be seen" more often in concert settings by going to numerous other people's concerts rather than appearing onstage, but the other part of his promise -- published one year ago on Aug. 13 -- was to be "doing some playing." If he's been doing some playing, it hasn't been public. And now that he's launching his own official website at www.jimmypage.com and an official Facebook page to go with it, he's bound to have some news he's ready to unleash. Some concert appearances, even as a guest of Jason Bonham's, may be a good way to kick off his own return to live activity.

This represents an honest assessment of what could happen. What you won't see on Lemon Squeezings is bullheaded know-it-all prognostication. If you want that, go to Prefixmag, where the commentator insists he's sure the Zeppelin members have better things to do with their time than sit in with Jason Bonham.

The complete listing of Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Experience tour dates follows after the break.

Angel Dance (Band of Joy song of the week, No. 8 of 12)

"Angel Dance," the first single from Robert Plant's album Band of Joy, was released July 27. It is currently No. 21 on the Triple A radio airplay chart as compiled by Mediabase, on the rise from No. 30 last week. Even more impressive is that during both weeks, it was Triple A radio's No. 1 most added song. Still more impressive is the number of times the song has been played using the "Hear It Now" section of RollingStone.com: The amount is reported to be not only the most ever but also triple the No. 2 track.

Not bad, especially considering "Angel Dance" is a 20-year-old song. The product of composers David Hidalgo and Louie Pérez of Los Lobos, "Angel Dance" first appeared on that band's 1990 album The Neighborhood.

Both guys were happy to star with Plant in the video for this song, shot this June in a Chicago neighborhood.


"'Angel Dance' is very confident and proud," says Plant. "With a lyric like that coming from Los Lobos, it's a major way of opening the door to this particular stage of my very odd left-and-right career." And what does he mean by this particular stage? "The [original] Band of Joy represented an attempt to create, diversify and celebrate the great dynamics of the music scene of the 1960s. I just wanted to bring it back into now, you know, to this point in my career. ... I wanted to bring my personality with other people's songs, kick the door open a little bit -- or edge it open with my hips. I sing the way I sing, and to attack those songs, I can only do 'em Plant-like."

Might I add that I've been listening to the new Los Lobos album, Tin Can Trust, which has been out since Aug. 3. The disc is really good. Their cover of "West L.A. Fadeaway" has made me dig out my copy of the Grateful Dead's In the Dark to hear the original again. The rest of the songs are all brand new. They have some catchy songs like "On Main Street" and "The Lady and the Rose," but it seems their best work was on the Spanish-language "Yo Canto." There's also a story about the gloriously run-down recording studio they used, and you almost can't tell it wasn't a state-of-the-art facility -- until you start hearing phantom doors creaking between lines of lyric, and cymbal crashes seemingly vanishing into thin air (listen for that toward the end of the Dead tune).

Thursday, August 12, 2010

John Paul Jones sits in at Africa Express concert in Spain

John Paul Jones at left and Elíades Ochoa at right
John Paul Jones sat in with Cuban singer and guitarist Elíades Ochoa at the Africa Express concert on Saturday, Aug. 7, in Galicia, Spain. Jones played bass on the song "Chan Chan," a song Ochoa helped to make famous outside of his home country in the 1997 recording "Buena Vista Social Club" and the 1999 documentary of the same name.




Jones also sat in during the headlining set by Rachid Taha, which also featured Damon Albarn, who with his band Gorillaz recently replaced U2 at the Glastonbury Festival instead of Led Zeppelin. The set also included Taha's frequent collaborator, Mick Jones, formerly of The Clash, who brought the house down with an all-star performance of "Rock the Casbah."




John Paul Jones's bass was unfortunately drowned out by all the other musicians on that tune. He can at least be seen a few times during fan-shot footage of the song "Ya Raha."



The show took place little over a week after the last concert by Them Crooked Vultures before that group went on hiatus following a year's worth of live activity.