Sunday, May 30, 2010

John Bonham radio documentary attracts John Paul Jones for live interview

It looks like Jimmy Page isn't the only Led Zeppelin member drawing attention to the BBC 6 Music radio special on John Bonham to be broadcast Monday afternoon.

Tight But Loose's news page online says a live interview is to take place this morning with John Paul Jones. As the other half of Led Zeppelin's rhythm section for 12 years, Jones got to know Bonham in a way that nobody else ever did.

Page made a live guest appearance with presenter Lauren Laverne on BBC 6 Music last Tuesday morning, commenting about Bonham and promoting the special, which airs at 3 p.m. BST on the terrestrial radio station and also streaming online at the same time.

The radio special is to be hosted by Dave Grohl, an admirer of Bonham's who is currently the drummer for Them Crooked Vultures, also with Jones.

Tight But Loose did not report the time of Jones's interview except to say that it would take place live air during Shaun Keaveny's program, which begins at 7 a.m. (Update: The pre-recorded interview aired in two parts, during both the 7:00 and 9:00 hours.) Both interviews from Page and Jones are also to be repeated a few hours later, at 12:30 a.m.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

John Paul Jones contribution mislabeled on Robyn Hitchcock album

An update on a story published here back in March.

And I don't mind saying, I was right.

Propellor Time, the new album from Robyn Hitchcock & the Venus 3, was released on March 22 on the British label Sartorial Records, featuring guest performances from John Paul Jones that were recorded during six-day sessions back in 2006.

By the time the album was released, there was no official word released publicly as to which songs Jones played on -- or what instrument he was playing, out of the many instruments he commands.

Hearing only the sound clips offered online at that time, I guessed that Jones was the source of the mandolin that could be heard on two of the tracks, "Luckiness" and "Born on the Wind."

Not so, I was told. Three days after the album release, label boss and musician Terry Edwards wrote to tell me Jones plays mandolin on "Luckiness" and "Evolove." Well, I guessed the right number of tracks, I guessed the correct instrument, and I was right on one of the two songs. I made my correction and was satisfied.

Until a copy of Propellor Time arrived in the mail. Even though the liner notes even identify John Paul Jones as playing mandolin on tracks 3 and 10, which corresponded to the tracks Terry had indicated, I knew it had to be a mistake. There was no mandolin to be heard on "Evolove." Moreover, there was mandolin on "Born on the Wind" but nobody taking credit for it in the liner notes.

I brought the discrepancy up to Terry Edwards, and the label boss replied with embarrassment. He wrote me on April 14 and didn't have a definitive answer yet. He wrote:
"Sorry it's taken a while to get back to you. Robyn's away on tour & I've not been able to ask him about JPJ's involvement - but it sounds to me as if you're right. And we spent SO much time on getting the credits right on the album... I'll report back when I know more."
Today, he sent me his definitive answer.
Hi Steve,

Can't remember if I got back to you re John Paul Jones' contributions on Propellor Time. You're right, of course - he's on the penultimate track, not Evolove. The last two tracks got flipped and the playing credit for JPJ was overlooked. Human error, eh?

All the best, Terry
So, despite how the CD's liner notes read, John Paul Jones plays mandolin on tracks 3, "Luckiness," and 9, "Born on the Wind." Just as I thought! Thanks so much to Terry for following up on this and setting the record straight.

Another thing: Wouldn't that make this pressing of Propellor Time a collector's item? I quickly wrote Terry back asking him if he ought to market it as such. He said they've already gone into re-pressings of the CD and vinyl, with the error intact.

However, rarity seekers need not despair. Terry alerted me to a limited-edition release of this 2010 album on cassette tape (remember those?) that he says is so far the only edition of Propellor Time to have been released with an updated version of the liner notes, correctly identifying the two tracks that feature John Paul Jones. That sounds like an obscurity to me!

It's a limited run of 100 on clear plastic cassettes. They are signed and numbered by Robyn Hitchcock. Each order of this tangible item also comes with a free download of the album (so that you can actually listen to it using modern technology). The tape is available exclusively through the Sartorial Records online shop.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Kevin Shirley: 'Imagine putting together your dream band'

Producer Kevin Shirley has worked on projects for bands such as Aerosmith, the Black Crowes and Led Zeppelin. He says Zep was one of his "first loves," the type of music he grew up on, along with Bad Company and Deep Purple.

The secret to producing, he says, is to make "the type of music you love to listen to." However, it can be tough to do that when you've hardened with age and experience. Shirley concedes, "After almost thirty busy, passionate years making records, there are only a handful I love," he confesses.

There was one time last year that Shirley fell in love musically once again. It happened on Nov. 12, 2009, at the House of Blues in Hollywood, Calif., when one of his closest friends and favorite guitarists welcomed to the stage a former member of Deep Purple. The two performers were guitarist Joe Bonamassa and singer/bassist Glenn Hughes.

Shirley says Bonamassa takes the cake as a guitarist. "It's his lyrical fluid guitar style, rooted in the deepest blues traditions, that touches my soul," Shirley attests. "And he can flat out rock, all the time keeping his own style front and center. There’s no copycat styling there, just 'Always On the Road' Bonamassa."

As for Hughes, he's just as complimentary. "Will the voice of rock please step up," he emphasizes. "The enigmatic Glenn Hughes! He sings [and] plays everything from metal to soul. ... There’s nobody else around that can match the talents of Robert Plant and Paul Rodgers and still be unique."

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Robert Plant backs Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Experience

Speaking by phone from Wales to a radio show in Florida this morning, Robert Plant made some friendly banter with Jason Bonham, who was on a separate phone line.

The two musicians were last seen onstage together during the Led Zeppelin reunion concert on Dec. 10, 2007, when Bonham took the place of his father, drummer John Bonham, and played along with Plant, guitarist Jimmy Page and bassist/keyboardist John Paul Jones.

Both musicians were given some time to discuss their own projects, Plant kicking things off alone in a first segment by discussing his upcoming album and tour. When Bonham was patched in following a commercial break, the hosts of "The Paul and Young Ron Show" sat back and listened as Plant and Bonham playfully bantered back and forth.

"The whole deal with Zep was that the four of us were always pushing and re-crafting that whole game that we were in. You can repeat something for so long but not forever. I think the whole adventure with Led Zeppelin has carried on in my spirit. I carry a flag for invention and making something quite exciting and unusual."
Robert Plant

Plant explained to the hosts that Bonham, who was just a school-age kid in the early 1980s, played drums on some of Plant's earliest studio demo sessions as a solo artist. Bonham remarked that it was while Plant was taking him to school that he was recruited to come along to the studio to sit in on drums. Their chummy exchange set the tone for the rest of the interview, during which they supported each other's upcoming projects.

"I'll be there at your show, Robert," said Bonham.

"Well, I'll be there at my show too," Plant joked.

The interview did include the first endorsement by any member of Led Zeppelin of the upcoming tour called Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Experience.

Jason Bonham's band settles on new name, Black Country Communion

Black Country Communion: from left, guitarist Joe Bonamassa, lead singer and bassist Glenn Hughes, drummer Jason Bonham, keyboardist Derek Sherinian

Just a few hours in advance of a morning radio appearance by Jason Bonham, the name of his band also featuring Joe Bonamassa, Glenn Hughes and Derek Sherinian has been revealed. An official web site has been launched for the group now called Black Country Communion.

The band has uploaded footage of its March 17 onstage run-through of a new track called "One Last Soul."

The previous name of Black Country, first reported by the press in January, was eventually rejected. Bonamassa, the group's guitarist, recently told Classic Rock magazine that "somebody else had a prior claim" on the name Black Country, and that the group had selected a new name but was not ready to announce it.

Black Country Communion is now on the Web:
Black Country Communion has recorded an album, and its release is expected this September with a tour to follow in 2011. The band's official Web site has a mailing list sign-up for future updates.

At 8:20 a.m. Eastern today, Bonham and Robert Plant are scheduled to join South Florida radio's "The Paul and Young Ron Show." The reason for their joint appearance was not publicly disclosed in advance of their interview.

Bonham is soon expected to announce details of a separate project, Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Experience, which he says would tour North America later this year and play 30 dates in honor of his father, John Bonham, who passed away 30 years ago this September.

Plant will be on a tour of his own this July, in support of an album also to be released this year, tentatively titled It's Rude to Say No.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

While Zep Glastonbury reunion rumor put to rest, Robert Plant and Jason Bonham align

The band replacing U2 at the Glastonbury Festival next month is going to be Gorillaz, the festival announced today. U2 canceled the Glastonbury date as well as North American tour dates due to the physical condition of singer Bono's back.

So much for reported rumblings that U2's replacement might be a reunited Led Zeppelin.

That's one less possible topic of conversation tomorrow morning when Jason Bonham and Robert Plant appear together on "The Paul & Young Ron Show" for whatever reason. Since their booking, originally slated for yesterday morning, was accompanied by a press release that got a fair amount of traction on the Web, they must have some kind of an announcement.

Yesterday, a publicist for Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Experience confirmed Plant and Bonham's joint radio appearance as well as the timing of it -- now scheduled to take place at 8:20 a.m. on Thursday, May 27 -- but said she would be finding out what it was all about while the chat takes place live.

"The Paul & Young Ron Show" airs live weekdays between 6 and about 10 a.m. on several terrestrial radio stations in Florida. Big 105.9's Web site streams the show live.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Everybody's promoting something today in the Led Zeppelin arena -- even a reunion rumor

If one week ago today was Super Tuesday in the U.S. political arena, today has already been somewhat of a Super Tuesday for Led Zeppelin news. A lot of people connected to the band in some way had something to promote today, be it an album, a concert tour, a radio show, or the idea that Led Zeppelin ought to reunite.
  • In the United States, May 25 has long been designated as release day for two musicians who were not connected to Robert Plant until a couple of months ago.
  • Just yesterday, the world learned of a scheduled in-studio radio interview that took place in England this morning involving Jimmy Page. And, of course, while it's not news that Page would have been asked about a possible Led Zeppelin reunion, and it's also not news that Page could not speak for anybody but himself when he said he wouldn't oppose it, media outlets have been treating it as if it is news.
  • And, strangest of all, a press release distributed to the media this morning spoke of another Zep-related radio appearance, this one for several Florida radio markets and for some unstated reason joining both Plant and Jason Bonham. This last radio appearance, on the syndicated "Paul and Young Ron Show," was rescheduled at the last minute from this morning to Thursday morning.
So, if you feel like you're in need of a breakdown of what all happened this morning -- and didn't happen -- and who's promoting what, then sit down and read on.

Jimmy Page promotes upcoming John Bonham radio special

Dave Grohl is presenting a radio special on his favorite drummer of all time, Led Zeppelin's John Bonham. Helping to promote it with an appearance on BBC Radio 6 Music this morning was, of all people, Jimmy Page.

The Led Zeppelin guitarist chatted with late-morning show host Lauren Laverne about the special, which is set to air on BBC Radio 6 Music next Monday.

"John Bonham was an extraordinary, extraordinary musician who had this incredible technique that was head and shoulders over anyone around him when he was still in his teens -- absolutely phenomenal," said Page. "He kept finessing his technique and his vision of the drums. He had a definite vision of the drums, and how they should be played, and how they would fit in with a band, and also how they would be soloed -- in his solos. It's without doubt that his technique was, as I say, beyond everybody else's, and that's why he's so looked to -- and looked back to -- with such reverence and love, really, because he was so extraordinary."

Page remembered meeting Bonham for the first time at a small London club when he was drumming for Tim Rose of "Hey Joe" fame. It was in the Midlands that Bonham had a reputation as an incredible talent, but Page recognized immediately from "the attitude to his playing" that he would be the right drummer for his new band he was putting together. He said Bonham's sense of dynamics was "the key to what I was gonna try and get together in this Zeppelin band."

As for the rest of the group, Page said, "Of course you had four people in Led Zeppelin which were sort of musical equals, if you like. I would say so. But John [was] the backbone of the band."

Page's appearance was framed in the comedic context of early-morning host Shaun Keaveny making excuses to stick around in the studio after his shift, just to be close to the guitarist. In truth, Keaveny is no stranger to Page, having interviewed him for a two-part special that aired last December, focusing on Led Zeppelin's BBC sessions in 1969 and 1971.

During the interview, Laverne contrasted Led Zeppelin's longevity with disposable pop music. Page soon launched into a rarely told story about Ronnie Verell, who was a seasoned session drummer before he played for Tom Jones. Page said he once ran into Verell at the Continental Hyatt House in Los Angeles, and Verell asked to meet Bonham so he could learn how to play the beginning of "Good Times Bad Times." Bonham was floored, said Page, because he knew who Verell was.

For the Bonham documentary, the broadcast date of May 31 was picked firstly as it is Bonham's birthday; he would have turned 62 this year. Secondly, next Monday is England's Spring Bank Holiday, meaning more people will be away from work at 3 p.m. BST, likely making it more possible than usual for larger numbers to tune in and to pay attention during the afternoon.

The special, hosted by a current bandmate of John Paul Jones in Them Crooked Vultures, comes during a year that also marks the 30th anniversary of Bonham's death. His son, drummer Jason Bonham, has announced plans to play a series of 30 concerts in honor of the departed Led Zeppelin member.

According to a BBC Web page highlighting the upcoming special:
"This programme takes the listener through Bonham's extraordinary life, to his legendary playing with Led Zeppelin to his tragic and untimely death. Not only does Grohl offer rock star profile, [but] he also brings a real and deep understanding of the subject, both as a fellow drummer and a Zeppelin fan, and enormous musical credibility amongst his peers and his audience.

"Beginning in Redditch, we hear of Bonham's boyhood obsession with rhythm, beating his mother's pots and pans into submission before moving into his early drumming education with bands across the West Midlands. From 1968 onwards, we piece together the moment Bonham's time as a [drummer for hire] ended with an invitation to join 'The New Yardbirds', led by Jimmy Page.

"Told with wit, pace and a genuine love for the subject, this is the electrifying story of a rock'n'roll legend which will paint a picture of the greatest of rock drummers. With touching tales of his focus on family and friends alongside the infamous rock and roll excess. Set to a rich soundtrack of music the programme also shows how Led Zeppelin changed the course of rock history.

"As the programme closes the listener will be left with an enduring image of a man whose destiny would be forged by his ferocious drumming style and his insatiable appetite for living life to the full."

Robert Plant to cover obscure songs of recent years

In selecting songs to cover on his forthcoming studio album, Robert Plant has evidently received a helping hand from consultant Nigel Grainge, a former record executive and publishing mogul.

"I have been told one the songs I gave Robert is the best track on the album," Grainge writes in an e-mail distributed online May 24.

As a result of his days as a label boss, he takes credit for having signed such acts as Thin Lizzy, Sinead O'Connor, the Steve Miller Band, the Boomtown Rats and 10cc. Since selling his interests in his own record company and a separate publishing firm, Grainge relocated from England to California, and is now on a second career providing consulting services in the music business.

Today, he is known for "using his enormous [database of tunes] to provide uncovered gems for artists to record," according to Grainge's official Web site. It is in this capacity that he says he helped Plant with the project he is set to unveil later this year.

Grainge says after he selected 90 songs for Plant to consider covering, he brought the singer to his Los Angeles-area home last summer to spend three days listening to them.

A picture taken in 2009 and appearing on Grainge's Web site shows him and Plant posing with a vinyl copy of the LP Avenue Road, a 1968 album by the short-lived Toronto-area psychedelic rock band Kensington Market that was produced by Felix Pappalardi.

Unlike that record, Grainge says what most of the songs he picked have in common is they are less than 5 years old. While he does not name any of them in particular, he describes them broadly as "obscure but fabulous."

Grainge says that following his meeting with Plant, "He left ecstatic as he hadn't realized what a goldmine of great NEW songs there are out there if you dig deep enough."

Music industry writer Bob Lefsetz published Grainge's comments, which were written in response to recent comments in The Lefsetz Letter about modernizing older music acts in today's market.

"A&R for any older act with a still-interested audience should not be as hard as today's business makes it," says Grainge.

Plant's most recently released studio effort, the Grammy-winning album Raising Sand recorded with Alison Krauss, was a collection of songs mainly picked out by producer T Bone Burnett, drawing almost exclusively from Americana of the 1950s, '60s and '70s. Three particular tracks skewed from the genre:
Raising Sand contained no original material from Plant or Krauss. Just prior to recording that album with Krauss in 2006, Plant completed a tour in support of his album Mighty ReArranger, whose initial track listing contained a dozen originals and no covers. (That album, which has since been re-released with bonus tracks, celebrated its fifth anniversary earlier this month.)

Plant's previous opus was the 2002 album Dreamland, which combined two true originals and seven cover songs from decades earlier -- plus one remaining tune that credits Plant and the members of his Strange Sensation band alongside several blues songwriters from decades earlier.

Grainge says he intentionally avoided presenting Plant with songs that existed before the turn of this century.

"Most of the publishers I had spoken with before meeting with Robert were clueless in relating to my request for new Robert Plant songs to be 'contemporary,'" writes Grainge. "I wanted stuff by their coolest new writers and was sent 50's Bobby Bland and John Lee Hooker songs. F***ing clueless children."

Grainge provides some examples of previous projects for which he'd consulted that had not panned out for one reason or another. He sums up these frustrations, saying, "Many of the old gits I've had opportunity to work with look at you like nuts when you present them with a modernizing idea. They're so jammed in the old paradigm that leaving the comfort zone is tough."

In March, Rounder Records announced that Plant's album would be released late this summer or during the fall.

"I'm told by the management company it's amazing," Grainge says of the album, which is tentatively titled It's Rude to Say No.

A recent Rolling Stone magazine article implies that the album would contain original material from Plant and his band. A spokesperson for Rounder Records did not reply to requests from to verify this.

Meanwhile, Plant's U.S. tour is slated to begin July 13 in Memphis; tickets to the opening date finally went on sale May 22. Plant's 12 tour dates conclude with a July 31 show in Miami, although Rounder said more dates would follow separately.

Plant is to be supported on both the album and tour by a backing group he calls the Band of Joy, named after a band for which he sang in the 1960s prior to the formation of Led Zeppelin. The current Band of Joy lineup includes album producer Buddy Miller on vocals and guitar, Patty Griffin on vocals, Darrell Scott on vocals and multiple instruments, Byron House on bass, and Marco Giovino on drums and percussion.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Criticized 'Led Zepellin' [sic] song featuring Jimmy Page and Leona Lewis could be issued for Olympics

Do you remember that after Jimmy Page and Leona Lewis performed "Whole Lotta Love" at the closing ceremony of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, some people criticized the London 2012 Olympic committee for having picked such a "notoriously filthy" song as the theme?

The writer who brings that up in an article today at may be criticized for misspelling the name of Page's old band as "Led Zepellin."

The point of the article is to explain a new deal under which any music having to with the 2012 Summer Olympics in London will be released on the Universal Music label.

Whether this would retroactively include the "notoriously filthy" song Page and Lewis performed at the handover ceremony in 2008 is not stated. It looks unlikely, however, as the Universal Music deal seems to cover only music recorded in the future.

The track was recorded in advance of the 2008 performance, with Page on guitar joined by Guy Pratt on bass and Geoff Dugmore on drums, along with an orchestra.

Another part of the deal sees that Universal Music will provide consulting services to the London 2012 committee in helping to choose music for the opening and closing ceremonies at the Olympic Games. Implied in the article is that thanks to Universal's participation, the committee won't be repeating such egregious errors in judgment as picking something "notoriously filthy" as that "Led Zepellin" song.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

John Paul Jones answers 'the burning question that everyone wants to know': what strings he uses

When Jack White, Jimmy Page and The Edge were sitting in a circle sometime during their meeting filmed for It Might Get Loud, the U2 guitarist brought up a new topic using these words:
"You know, the -- the big question, the burning question that everyone wants to know ... What strings do you use?"

As first seen as an outtake for the movie when it was released on iTunes last December, Page replied that back in the 1960s, he didn't like how tough it was to play the sixth string of the typical set of guitar strings available in England at the time. For that reason, he said he would string his guitar using a banjo string -- "which was ... about the skinniest you could get" -- along with the five thinnest of the guitar strings in a set. He said he used this banjo string technique "for years."

Now, Jones has answered the question of what strings he uses on both mandolin and bass. He uses Elixir strings, and he explains why in this new video interview for the string manufacturer. For anybody not particularly interested in this technical topic, the interview starts off with several more accessible questions.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Finished in America with mixed reviews, Them Crooked Vultures prep summer finale

Photo from Monday night's Them Crooked Vultures concert in Indianapolis courtesy of Pam Groves

For the band Them Crooked Vultures, this summer is going to be full of festivals.

The way the new band with John Paul Jones, Dave Grohl and Josh Homme started playing out live last year was with a gig in Chicago and then some sporadic appearances throughout Europe. That's precisely the path the band is taking at the moment, having just visited Chicago a second time and now leaving North America for some time off. When they start up again, it will be June 3 is Vienna, Austria.

Since April, the band has played six dates in the United States and five in Canada. Toward the beginning of the tour, show reviews veered toward the highly positive. However, some unsympathetic writers took potshots at the group in recent days. Jones is almost universally accepted as infallible, but Homme evidently makes for a good punching bag.
  • In a preview of the band's stop in Chicago, Brent DiCrescenzo writes for the online Time Out Chicago that Homme is "the weak link here, ketchup on steak."
  • Indianapolis Star reporter David Lindquist writes that Homme had to struggle in concert to keep up with the "towering talents" of his bandmates yet was still unable to "offer something catchy with every tune" in terms of lyrics and melody.
Fan Jeremy Nettles, in a comment on the Lemon Squeezings page on Facebook, defends Homme's performance in Indianapolis. He writes:
"I was at the show, and I honestly thought Homme did a fantastic job all night. I've held similar things against him from his previous projects, and even video of TCV I'd seen before, but last night he was top notch."

Monday, May 17, 2010

Jason Bonham passed up Led Zeppelin Experience offer last year; 'it wasn't right'

The son of the late John Bonham reveals that only because the timing is right is he planning to take Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Experience on tour this fall. In an official news release distributed today, Bonham says:
"When I was offered to put this together over a year ago, it wasn't right. This September 25th is the 30th anniversary of my father's passing -- I thought, what better way to celebrate his life than to do 30 shows for the 30 years he's been gone?"
That's what the plans are, according to the news release: "a limited engagement of 30 concert dates in North America."

It is a concert series that is said to "take you though a personal journey into Jason's past and put you at the center of this multimedia event."

An official Web site whereby one can sign up to receive e-mail updates,, currently includes the contact information for four booking contacts based in New York, Los Angeles, Canada and the United Kingdom. The news release promises that more information, such as band members and tour dates, are coming "soon."

The news release confirms the tour's partnership with Annerin Productions, which is responsible for a concert series called "The Pink Floyd Experience" as well as "Rain, A Tribute to the Beatles," the specific concert series Bonham says directly influenced him:
"I loved 'Rain' and its take on The Beatles. The way they used a timeline and news reel to create a mood, and crafted set changes throughout, it was stunning."
As such, the Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Experience concerts are to feature "a state-of-the-art sound system and light show" with "giant screens [that] display futuristic art and mood-setting home movies and photos."

Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Experience tells the Led Zeppelin story but through the perspective of Bonham's own eyes. He says:
"This is a personal trip through my life with the music of Led Zeppelin and how the music influenced me."
Bonham was 13 years old when he attended his father's band's last concerts in England, held at the Knebworth Festival in 1979. This is just one of the memories he will explore during the show. He says:
"I remember when I went to see Led Zeppelin live in 1979 at Knebworth, there were certain songs that stood out to me and will stay with me forever. I will also share other big moments in my life, time with my Dad and my relationship with the band. The show is far from being 'just another tribute band.' I want to make the show as personal as I can and show how much Led Zeppelin means to me."
Update: The New York Times blog "Arts Beat" has printed a write-up including some very revealing commentary from Bonham in a telephone interview.

Dave Lewis remembers Zep at Earl's Court, 35 years later

Even with Issue 26 of his fanzine Tight But Loose now fresh from the printing press this morning and ready to be distributed to subscribers around the world, Dave Lewis is ever mindful of today's date. This being the 35th anniversary of his all-time favorite series of Led Zeppelin concerts, there was never any chance Lewis would let the occasion slip without offering some classic write-ups about Led Zeppelin at Earl's Court arena in London.

In 1975, today's date was a Saturday and the beginning of Led Zeppelin's five-night stint in front of thousands of people from all over England. Some were witnessing the band for the first time. For most who'd seen them before in England, it had been a good two years since the last time. Lewis poetically recalls today what it was like when Led Zeppelin took the stage and started to play:
"... [W]hen the stage burst into action following Bob Harris's intro just after 8pm, well it was the moment my life switched into colour after the previous 18 years had been viewed in grainy black and white."
Today's reflection is short and sweet, but that is to be expected. There is tons more to be published this week as he has dubbed it "Earl's Court Week" for TBL/Web. Take my advice and don't miss any of his installments!

Also not to be missed is his aforementioned print fanzine, which this time seems even more jam-packed than ever before with all sorts of interesting information. One highlight is his interview with Glenn Hughes, formerly of Deep Purple and now a solo act as well as the singer for a certain unnamed band that recently recorded an album with Jason Bonham. Portions of the interview that were released early include Hughes providing early details about the new band project, but there's still a lot more in that interview to see -- especially in terms of the stories Hughes tells about his fellow musicians, Robert Plant and John Bonham.

The theme for the three issues of Tight But Loose to be released this year is the events of exactly 40 years ago. This is obvious from the cover, with the words "Led Zeppelin Flying High in 1970: New Decade, New Directions." The centerpiece of this first issue is said to be a piece submitted by Mike Tremaglio, chronicling Led Zeppelin's concerts from that year. If that sounds like familiar territory, don't underestimate the number of revelations still possible. Says Lewis:
"Well, aside from being the most accurate day-to-day log of that period ever compiled, you can find out which band had the distinction of being the only indoor support act to Zep in 1970; the name of the venue that hosted Zep, Pink Floyd and Yes in a matter of months; the time they all went to view the Woodstock movie; and the venue that hosted a Minnesota North Stars hockey team playoff game in the afternoon and a live performance by Led Zeppelin in the evening. Such minute detailed info has made Mike Tremaglio the foremost chronicler of Zep concert history. Once again, it's an absolute privilege to showcase his findings."
That was 40 years ago. Earl's Court was 35 years ago. The subject of a book Lewis is releasing this September deals with events that took place 30 years ago. With all the talk of anniversaries, there is one more that Lewis does not overlook, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant's first concert tour together in the post-Zeppelin era. Already, this is 15 years ago. Lewis brings us up to date with his modern-day reflections on the 1995 tour by Page and Plant:
"Given all that's happened since then, with the O2 reunion, etc., it's easy to forget the impact that first Page & Plant tour had back then. In parallel to the Vultures, at the time it gave fans old and new a fresh opportunity to see why the Zep legacy was held in such  esteem -- not to mention the pure joy of hearing the No. 1 rock catalog of all time performed live by two of the integral players. However, in hindsight, JPJ's non-involvement seems even more bizarre now. Reading my thoughts from the shows in the Meadowlands I witnessed and the reviews of the time does bring back the sense of wonderment of that period. What we got, we were grateful for at the time. This look back, I hope, inspires readers to dig out some of the 1995 Page & Plant recordings as there were some amazing moments -- 'Achilles Last Stand' in Atlanta, 'House of the Rising Sun'/'Good Times Bad Times' in New Orleans, 'Since I've Been Loving You' in Sheffield, 'That's the Way' at Mountain View, etc."
Lewis is also hopeful that another piece in TBL 26 will prompt readers to listen to some other recordings. There's a series of interviews conducted by Stephen Humphries, who sought out three guitarists from various eras in Robert Plant's solo career. He speaks with Doug Boyle (Plant's guitarist from 1987 to 1992, including two long tours and the albums Now and Zen in 1988 and Manic Nirvana in 1990), Francis Dunnery (one of Plant's guitarists on the 1993 album Fate of Nations and that year's tour) and Justin Adams (one of Plant's guitarists in the Strange Sensation touring band from 2001 to 2007, and the albums Dreamland in 2002 and Mighty ReArranger in 2005). Lewis says of the piece incorporating this trio of new interviews:
"It really gets to the heart of the views of these three excellent guitarists and their take on their respective involvement with the various stages of Robert's solo career. I'm sure it will prompt readers to go back to [Plant's] albums ... with renewed perspective, which is always one of the magazine's objectives."
There are many other features in this issue I haven't listed here, making it quite the fetch. To order a year's subscription to TBL and have access to timeless articles like these, visit TBL/Web for ordering information.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Led Zeppelin posts fan's film from 1973 online

Some rare fan-shot 8mm footage of Led Zeppelin in concert at Madison Square Garden in New York appears on the group's official YouTube channel today, synched to audio recordings of the same show. The concert in question took place July 28, 1973, one of the three nights at the venue during which a film crew captured Led Zeppelin for their movie, The Song Remains the Same. The show on July 28 was the second-to-last of the tour.

Footage like this helps someone from a younger generation (hmmm, a self-reference here) understand what made a Led Zeppelin concert such an amazing event.

This is not a complete show or anything like that. It's 10 minutes total, and due to the nature of the 8mm video camera, no portion of the concert extends more than a few seconds. But there's still a lot to witness -- and to appreciate.

Take "Whole Lotta Love" for example. With the clips that exist of this song, we get a portion of a Theremin solo from Jimmy Page. Seconds later, at the 6:22 mark, off go the onstage pyrotechnics. At 6:37, while they're still finishing the song, the next special effect is John Bonham's gong, which is now on fire. And you thought you were cool!

Prior to today, this footage was exclusively the subject of bootlegs, having been released on a Cosmic Energy bootleg DVD specializing in footage shot over the three nights at Madison Square Garden, plus some outtakes from The Song Remains the Same and a movie trailer. The official Led Zeppelin YouTube channel contains a few gems that aren't available on any official release, such as this Chicago '75 footage that has well over 1 million views.

This marks the second time in as many weeks that some rare Led Zeppelin footage has appeared online. On April 29, a YouTube user posted a rare video of Led Zeppelin miming to "You Shook Me" for the TV show "Beat Club" in 1969, although the audio no longer remained after May 3 due to copyright policy.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Five years since Mighty ReArranger; more Robert Plant originals on the way in 2010?

Monday marked the fifth anniversary of the release of Robert Plant's album Mighty ReArranger, a full-length collection of new songs he wrote with his band at the time, the Strange Sensation. So far, this was the last new material of his.

For those familiar with this album:
There was a lot to love about that album, and all of it was new. New -- as opposed to his 2002 album, Dreamland, or 2007's Raising Sand with Alison Krauss. The former had only two Plant originals on it, and the latter contained no originals from either Plant or Krauss, although it did contain their take on one previously unreleased song written by musician Sam Phillips.

Plant's songwriting on Mighty ReArranger came out of his being surrounded by a group with ample imagination and abilities to explore music and combine Eastern beats with underground trance. In turn, Plant put pen to paper and conjured up seemingly personal lyrics that often reflect on not only this life but the life after this:

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Charity auction of Them Crooked Vultures autographed shades ends Monday

A pair of Ray Ban aviator sunglasses signed by the members of Them Crooked Vultures is being auctioned online to benefit the Teenage Cancer Trust.

The right lens bears the silver-toned autograph of the group's only member who goes by three names, John Paul Jones. The etchings on the left lens comes from Josh Homme and Dave Grohl.

The auction ends Monday night in England, which is still the afternoon for the continental United States. As of the time of writing, 14 bids have been placed, with the glasses set to sell for at least £122. Update: After a 31st bid was placed, the auction closed Monday with a winning bid of £300.

Them Crooked Vultures played one night of the 10th annual Teenage Cancer Trust concert series in March. The Who played another night as frontman Roger Daltrey is a Teenage Cancer Trust patron.

In other Them Crooked Vultures news, Josh Homme has given a telling interview looking back on his past 15 months with the band. Published May 7 on the Jam! Showbiz Web site to promote the current Canadian tour, the interview sees Homme answer questions about being in a band with someone who spent the 1970s with Led Zeppelin.

Has Homme stopped looking to his right during Vultures shows and realizing he's onstage with John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin? Homme answers:
"No. And I hope I never do. I always look over and say, 'What a badass, man.' This is something that has yet to stop exciting me."
And how about some of the stories Jones tells? Says Homme:
"The funny thing is, as we were recording, we'd each be sharing stories and talking. And it would dawn on me: These are Zeppelin stories. But really, they're stories about his friends who just happen to be Zeppelin. And the humanizing of those characters has really been kind of tender and cool for me. But yeah, the stories are crazy."
Also, Jones spoke with the Montreal Gazette last week. Among his comments:
"We were in those other bands, so it's possible that the contributions we made to those bands may not be totally unlike to contributions we make to this band. But they're all totally different bands."

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Chris Welch focuses on memorabilia in new Led Zeppelin book

Chris Welch is set to release his first book on Led Zeppelin in 12 years. His follow-up to "Dazed and Confused: The Stories Behind Every Song" is due next week in the United Kingdom.

The title of the new book is "Treasures of Led Zeppelin," and its U.K. release is set for Thursday, May 13, by Carlton Publishing Group.

In a new interview, the longtime Melody Maker journalist says the book is written from the point of view of a fan or collector. The title "Treasures of Led Zeppelin," he says, has to do with diehard fans' "eternal interest for things like T-shirts, posters, memorabilia of every kind."

The 64-page book includes 90 photographs and 16 memorabilia reproductions, some of which is sourced from the collection of fellow author Howard Mylett. Other pieces referenced in the book are courtesy of other collectors, says Welch:
"A lot of it came from various collectors around the countryside, fanatical collectors [of] ticket stubs from shows, and programs, illustrations. The album covers, of course, are a very important part of the look of Led Zeppelin."
Welch admits he is not much of a memorabilia collector himself, but for 12 years he did own one particular artifact that was given to him by a member of the band. He tells the following story about receiving this gift from John Bonham:
"I was interviewing John, and it was going very well. He was a very personable and friendly guy, and we went out for a drink near his home. He had a farm house in the country. We went to the country pub and had a lot to drink and were talking about our favorite drummers, people like Buddy Rich. At the end of the interview, he realized that I was a keen drummer as well, so he insisted that his roadie give me this brand new Ludwig drum kit, which was stashed away in a barn at the back of his farm. And, of course, I made fake protests, saying, 'No, John, you can't possibly give me a drum kit.' He was very generous and very kind. ... I kept it for about 12 years. I did use it and played it as well."
Welch is also the author of the biographies "Peter Grant: The Man Who Led Zeppelin," "John Bonham: A Thunder of Drums" and "Power and Glory: Jimmy Page and Robert Plant," as well as books on Cream, Steve Winwood, Jimi Hendrix, and two-part series on David Bowie.

The interview was conducted by radio producer Denny Somach while visiting London last month. More of Welch's interview is scheduled to air in an upcoming episode of DJ Carol Miller's Led Zeppelin-centered radio show "Get the Led Out," which has been syndicated nationwide since January 2009.

In a previous interview also for the radio show, Welch discussed home movie footage he shot while touring Europe with Led Zeppelin in 1970.

A tentative U.S. release of Welch's new "Treasures" book is set for October.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Promoter of Knebworth Festival sells his '79 stash to Led Zeppelin

Freddy Bannister, who promoted the Knebworth Festival series that featured Led Zeppelin in 1979, has sold his rights to the Led Zeppelin Knebworth '79 merchandise to Mythgem Limited. This report came to last month by way of Freddy's daughter, Wendy Bannister, a representative of his company.

Mythgem is a holding company owned by the surviving members of Led Zeppelin and the estate of John Bonham.

As a result of the transfer of rights, the Bannisters are no longer selling merchandise related to the 1979 Knebworth Festival. Their Web site at, however, does continue to offer goods associated with other festivals Bannister promoted, as well as his memoir, "There Must Be a Better Way."

TV guest spot: Robert Plant 'jilted' by Alison Krauss?

Robert Plant admits he "may have been jilted" by Alison Krauss in a television talk show that aired on Friday in England.

The comment came as the singer made a surprise appearance on "The One Show," helping to bid farewell to departing co-host Adrian Chiles. Throughout the appearance, Plant, a dedicated fan and now a vice president of the Wolverhampton Wanderers football team, traded jabs with Chiles, who supports the local rival, the West Bromwich Albion.

Last year, Plant and Krauss said they were in pre-production for a second album together, to follow up their Grammy-sweeping Raising Sand. However, plans have since changed, with Krauss returning to her band Union Station for a new album and Plant forming a Nashville lineup for an album and tour that will debut in the coming months.

Little has been stated publicly as to why Plant and Krauss are taking time off from their project, although they did agree not to force continuing it if the chemistry was not there during album sessions. In Friday's appearance on "The One Show," however, Plant may have begun to reveal another layer of truth regarding his involvement with Krauss.

While he remarked twice during his appearance that he had nothing to promote, presenter Christine Bleakley persisted in showing a clip of the 2007 Plant-Krauss video for their first single, "Gone, Gone, Gone (Done Moved On)." She then asked him about any current dealings between the two singers.

"I go dancing with Alison," Plant replied, echoing the sentiment about her contained in his recent official statement regarding the album he'll be releasing later this year. "We go dancing together, but she's gone back to her old band, back to the bluegrass stuff, and I'm with another band now in Nashville." Pressed for further comment, he added, "I may have been jilted at least, but I'm working on me catechism. I might get it all back next time around. That's how it's looking anyway."

Lest Plant's comments be taken as the gospel truth, most of his interview did not carry a serious tone.

At first, he walked onto the set, preceded by smoke and women throwing flowers. He wore a kingly crown with the Wolves team logo and the letters "VP," indicating his official capacity as a club vice president since August 2009. Entering the studio to the strains of an instrumental version of "Whole Lotta Love," he greeted the hosts and sat on a throne.

Later, when asked about the Starship airliner with which Led Zeppelin famously traveled on tour in 1973 and 1975, Plant launched into a comical story about being able to see the names of the plane's previous occupants underneath a coat of paint: Elvis Presley, and before that, Elton John. "It was going back further and further," he joked.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Never-before-seen Zep '69 footage: 'You Shook Me'

The West German TV show "Beat Club" filmed Led Zeppelin lip synching to two songs on March 27, 1969. Neither clip made it to air that year, but when "Whole Lotta Love" was big in early 1970, the TV show took its existing Led Zeppelin footage and spliced it together to the tune of that song. One full year and a day after the filming, an episode aired with this composite "Whole Lotta Love" video. After this, the original footage, of two songs from Led Zeppelin's first album, was then forgotten about for good.

Well, it has taken longer than 40 years, but both of the original videos have finally been leaked online, unedited from their original form. The first to appear was "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You," which was published to YouTube in October 2007 and removed shortly thereafter, almost definitely due to copyright violation. That video can still be seen elsewhere.

Also long rumored to exist was "You Shook Me," now proven to exist with the upload of this YouTube video on April 29. It, too, may be removed shortly, so enjoy it while you can. Update: YouTube disabled the audio track on May 3 but kept the video intact. There is a message about the disabling:
NOTICE This video contains an audio track that has not been authorized by WMG. The audio has been disabled.

As was the case with "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You," all four members of Led Zeppelin are playing along to the studio version of the track as heard on their first album. And because they never perform a song the same way twice, it's obvious that they're all miming their parts.

As "You Shook Me" begins, the camera is on Robert Plant, who should have started playing harmonica earlier than he did, only seconds in. No retake was necessary, however. You can also see John Bonham, oddly positioned not in his usual center place but on the left side of the screen, missing some cymbal crashes and inserting at least one where it doesn't belong.

Perhaps the most awkward moment of all can be claimed by John Paul Jones, who wasn't playing any keyboard instruments with any regularity in live performances until 1970. In this clip, he has to walk mid-song to take a new spot at an organ, give up playing his bass temporarily, and replicate an organ solo he might not have actually played more than once since he'd recorded it five months earlier.

On the other hand, Jimmy Page does a rather decent job of duplicating his guitar solo from the studio version. Moreover, the onstage chemistry between him and Plant is apparent at center stage.

It should be noted that not all the synchronization errors are Led Zeppelin's fault. The "You Shook Me" video appears to run faster than the audio itself, and so by the end of the clip, the visuals precede the sound by approximately a full second.

Credit goes to Gyozateisyoku, the YouTube user who uploaded this and 17 other rare classic rock TV performances this past month. Also receiving credit for unearthing this "You Shook Me" clip is one "Chris B.," a longtime member of the exclusive and esteemed trading circle Billy's Zep Phreaks Club (login and password authentication required). Club owner "BillyMacQ" shared a link to the video in a post to Led Zeppelin's official forum on April 30, crediting both players for the find.

See also this related post about the February 2009 upload of some 8mm footage shot at the Fillmore East on Jan. 31, 1969.

Latest British rock LP heard at Americana music festival: 'Abbey Road'

As anyone could have learned on yesterday afternoon, the album the Waybacks and special guests performed at MerleFest this year was Abbey Road by the Beatles.

MerleFest is billed as a festival dedicated to Americana music, and yet every year the Waybacks played a Hillside Album Hour set, the subject of the set has been a British rock gem. This Beatles choice follows the Rolling Stones' Sticky Fingers last year and, of course, Led Zeppelin II in 2008. (The Zep set was officially released for digital download.)

Waybacks singer, guitarist and founding member James Nash responds to the observation regarding British albums and American music in the conclusion of my three-part interview with him. (To recap, Part One is here, and Part Two is here.)

Part Three also contains Nash's thoughts on how John Paul Jones introduced him to soul music.

Also, listen to what Nash has to say about the man who produced the last Waybacks studio album, Nashville session bassist Byron House, who will be part of Robert Plant's Band of Joy on an album and tour later this year.

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Saturday, May 1, 2010

What album could possibly follow 'Led Zeppelin II' and 'Sticky Fingers'?

When James Nash and his fellow members of the Waybacks decided to play Led Zeppelin II at MerleFest two years ago, there was a specific line of thinking that informed their decision. Because it's a live show, Nash explains, you'd have to play something that rocks right off the bat and keeps up the party atmosphere throughout.

The same thought went into their selection of Sticky Fingers by the Rolling Stones for their Hillside Album Hour set last year.

But what legendary disc could possibly follow up those two picks? Those who are at MerleFest right this minute are finding out. If you're on this site while the Waybacks take the stage, you can find out simultaneously as James Nash reveals what album they're playing in Part Two of this installment of the Interview Series.

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