Thursday, December 12, 2013

'Stairway to Heaven' goes live on Spotify today

The popular music streaming service Spotify has won exclusive rights to provide listeners, now including mobile listeners, with Led Zeppelin's complete discography.

Four consecutive release days this week, from Wednesday (Dec. 11) to Saturday (Dec. 14), focus on Zeppelin's eight original studio albums, released 1969 to 1979.

Today, Dec. 12, marks the arrival of Led Zeppelin III and its untitled follow-up some insist on calling things like Zoso, Runes or Led Zeppelin IV.

Wednesday's releases were the self-titled debut album Led Zeppelin and its sequel, Led Zeppelin II. The balance of the discography follows Friday (Dec. 13) and Saturday (Dec. 14).

Friday will be the bigger deposit of material of those two days, for one of the two albums it includes was originally released as a double-LP set. Kids, ask your parents if you don't know what those words mean.

Houses of the Holy (1973) and the extra-long Physical Graffiti (1975) are released on Friday. The remaining two albums on Saturday will be Presence (1976) and In Through the Out Door (1979).

The most special day will be the last. On Sunday (Dec. 15), you get a lot of other stuff, including all of the live audio the band has officially released to date.

On Sunday, you get all the studio "hits" in a tidy package with the 2007 studio collection Mothership, which upon its release was meant to supersede all the previous (redundant, obsolete) collections.

On Sunday, you get the outtakes album Coda spanning moments in the studio from 1970 to 1978, with a few post-Zeppelin overdubs added in before its 1982 release. (One must remain hopeful Coda will include the eight original tracks plus an assortment of rare gems like "Baby Come on Home" and "Moby Dick/Bonzo's Montreux" that were included with the Coda editions shipped with Complete Studio Recordings. However, subsequent precedent reversed the trend as the iTunes Remastered release of Coda this year did not include those tracks. We find out on Sunday.)

On Sunday, you get all the live and studio material on BBC Sessions, recorded parts in 1969 and 1971. This will include the rarities "Travelling Riverside Blues" and "The Girl I Love (She Got Long Black Wavy Hair)."

On Sunday, you get the 1972 live performances heard on How the West Was Won.

On Sunday, you get the 1973 live performances from the soundtrack to The Song Remains the Same.

On Sunday, you get the 2007 live performance with Jason Bonham from Celebration Day, including the newly Grammy-nominated track "Kashmir."

Join me in spinning some tunes! Er, rather, streaming!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Multiple Led Zeppelin box sets to arrive in 2014

Individual box sets of newly remastered Led Zeppelin's audio catalog, along with bonus materials, are to be released at different points throughout 2014, Jimmy Page said today when asked in London.

"Each of the albums has been remastered, but it also has a companion disc with it," the guitarist told broadcaster Nicky Horne for Team Rock Radio. "Each disc will give a really intimate picture of the group."

They were in London, where Page was taking part in the Classic Rock Awards because not only was he presenting an award, but also Led Zeppelin was receiving one.

Film/DVD of the Year went to Led Zeppelin's DVD "Celebration Day," the playback of the band's triumphant 2007 reunion show, also in London.

Horne began his four-minute Q&A session with Page by asking him for some recollections about that concert. Before long, Horne switched gears and asked for some follow-up on the Led Zeppelin remasters.

They made news when Page's answers began to provide more specifics about the nature of the releases. For one, he said the work is already complete on the sonic aspects of the box sets. He explained that each album's companion disc would contain goodies such as alternate mixes and alternate takes.

As an example, he said Led Zeppelin III would appear in remastered form, as part of an individual box set, and on its companion disc we will find an alternate version of their blues number "Since I've Been Loving You."

"There's an incredible version of that," he said. "It's very raw in its approach. It's quite dramatic. It's cool."

Page did not divulge any other previously unreleased material that could be expected, so as to maintain the element of surprise.

When asked when the box sets would be released, Page could not point to any precise date. He stressed that they would be released not all at once but separately over time.

Acknowledging last year's remarks that these releases were to have started happening in 2013, and that the current year is almost over, Page said, "I'd rather hoped it would come out this side of the new year, but it will come out in the new year."

Then he trailed off and said something about it possibly not even being ready for this time next year. I chose to ignore that part, and you can too. The audio is available courtesy of Team Rock Radio's Soundcloud page.

On a side note, I'm sorry for the sporadic nature of this so-called "News" site; this is only the second news alert I've written this year. I am pleased to report that while I'm not doing as much writing, I am doing a lot of playing. Musically, that is.

Twice last year and once this year, I toured with the band Get the Led Out, filling in for one of their members. This enabled me to travel a bit -- Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin -- helping to replicate Led Zeppelin's studio recordings in a live atmosphere, much to the appreciation of eight separate crowds. One of the outdoor shows in Ohio this past summer may have had the largest audience I've ever seen.

Monday, April 22, 2013

U.S. tour dates announced for Robert Plant; June-July for world music tour with Sensational Space Shifters

Robert Plant has new words today on his musical direction or "path," a word he always preferred over "career" anyway. Contained in a press release announcing his June and July U.S. tour dates with the Sensational Space Shifters are these words:
"Keep it fresh, spin the bottle, dig deep, embrace the past - visit it - celebrate it - but don't build a home in it."
Yeah, it sounds like something Plant would say. It helps to understand why so much of their concert has been taken up by playing Led Zeppelin songs. The evidence is on the official live releases he's recorded with them, available as downloads or physical CDs. Just check

His 2013 touring band, the Sensational Space Shifters, is fresh off a month of dates in Australia and New Zealand, not to mention Singapore, one destination that never came through for Led Zeppelin back in the day. The Sensational Space Shifters are a reconfigured Strange Sensation, the backing band that accounted for Plant's 2001-2007 output -- up to his collaboration with Alison Krauss and the Led Zeppelin reunion.

The Strange Sensation backed Plant on the albums Dreamland and Mighty ReArranger as well as many performances, including for the WOMAD audience. Since then, guitarist Justin Adams recruited riti player Juldeh Camara from the Gambia. Also coming from that country with experience in sabar drumming is Dave Smith, a jazz drummer and orchestral percussionist said to have "Ginger Baker-like energy." Meanwhile, guitarist Skin Tyson and bassist Billy Fuller played in the 2010 project Men from Mars, recording "in the hills of Snowdonia" a self-titled album available for download at Bandcamp. Keyboardist John Baggott has been composing for TV and film.

Plant's press release reveals that he was a "timid English boy" early in his teens, growing up in a "sanitized shelter." He grew immensely, finishing out his teens having just become a quarter of the lineup of Led Zeppelin.

An array of sonic influences continued to develop Plant's singing throughout the years, not the least of which is the music of the Mississippi Delta: "a world of field holler, despair, Levee camp and chain-gang moans; of Saturday night fish-fry and Juke Joint foot stomp."

Plant has also learned "from the sounds of Southside Chicago Electric Blues; of Griot mantras from West Africa; from Louisiana Dance Halls; Greenwich Village Folk hangover; Haight Ashbury indulgences; Moroccan medina breakbeat; the early English radical techno materials, Texas two-step and Bristol Dubstep."

The Sensational Space Shifters and Plant, this June and July, are coming to the United States to play 21 cities spanning both coasts and a few in between. Fifty years after being that "timid English boy," Plant is "drawing from a lifetime of adventures, tracking the dark, beautiful resonator." While speculation about any kind of a possible Led Zeppelin reunion can be put off for the near future, it's said that "Plant follows his heart and lifts his voice higher and joyous ever away."

What the press release doesn't indicate is whether they'll be unveiling any new music at this time. UPDATE, 2:34 p.m.: A publicist for Plant says the set list has yet to be determined and added "no new record [is] scheduled to be released." Tour dates follow, after the jump: