Sunday, November 30, 2008

Wishful thinking: Led Zeppelin filmed in 3-D

A question for all you Led Zeppelin fans out there: How would you like to enjoy your favorite musicians in 3-D?

If only this weren't just something I'm dreaming up. Maybe these thoughts of mine will go straight from my blog to Led Zeppelin's ears, and maybe it would be something to consider.

How about Led Zeppelin performing a reunion concert, another one just like last year's one-off show, and broadcasting it live all around the world with pristine sound, stunning 3-D images, and with camera angles you wouldn't be able to experience from the floor or in the stands?

I started thinking about this when I was reading this Reuters report about some new technological advances that are making fact out of science fiction.

I don't know if any diehard sports fans have ever envisioned they could go to a movie theater and watch the big game on the silver screen in 3-D. Seeing quarterbacks Philip Rivers and JaMarcus Russell throw passes in a 3-D setting may not have been a lifelong goal for gridiron fans on the sidelines.

But this technological advance is real, and it is here. They're trying it out. And technogeeks will surely pack the three participating theaters on Dec. 4 when this unprecedented display of live 3-D football occurs in private showings for industry insiders.

From a Wall Street Journal article on Nov. 24:

This isn't the first time the NFL has participated in a 3-D experiment. In 2004, a predecessor company to 3ality [Digital LLC] filmed the Super Bowl between the New England Patriots and the Carolina Panthers. When Sandy Climan, 3ality's chief executive officer, shows the footage, "people crouch down to catch the ball," he says. "It's as if the ball is coming into your arms."

Cool. But will there still be tailgating?

This marks the arrival of something monumental that was predicted less than a year ago by Michael Lewis, chairman and cofounder of Real D. He's quoted in this Wall Street Journal piece as having "long advocated the transmission of live events to theaters in 3-D."

One past example of him making this prediction came in February, when the Associated Press reported his opinion that "3D technology eventually could expand [to] turn theaters into venues showing live concerts and sporting events."

The article explains that Real D was the company whose technology was employed in separate 3-D movies showing pop starlet Miley Cyrus and rock band U2 at the time. The AP quotes Lewis as saying:
"There are a lot of places, a lot of small towns where we have Real D in place where U2's not going to go, Hannah Montana's not going to play there. ... They'll be able to see it in theaters, and in my view maybe with a better seat and better experience than if they were actually there live."
And that's a common theme among people who, as I did, experienced the movie "U2 3D" in IMAX theaters this year. Seeing that film in February stands out as one of the most memorable and moving moments in my life this year. And yes, I felt like I had some better views of the stage than I would have as one of tens of thousands of fans stuffed into a stadium.

Here's what Richard Harrington of the Washington Post had to say back in January:

In "U2 3D," the band seems so . . . up close, personal and dimensional, it's as if they're slipping off the screen into your lap.

Welcome to the future of the concert film, where you'll duck your head as the Edge's guitar neck pops out with such immediacy you'll want to retune it! Or you'll want to slap hands with singer Bono as he reaches out to you in the middle of "Sometimes You Can't Make It on Your Own."

Even better than the real thing? Maybe not, but surprisingly close and accessible.

Director Catherine Owens, who has collaborated with U2 on the band's elaborate concert visuals for 15 years, recalls a discussion with a colleague that "the future of entertainment would be that bands don't actually have to go on the road -- somehow they'll be holographically beamed. And we were joking around, 'Not in our lifetime.' But in a funny way, this film is that."

The Wall Street Journal says Real D "has rolled out 3-D systems in 1,500 theaters around the world" and that "some live events, including opera broadcasts and circus performances, already pop up on screens at theaters across the country."

But have there been any live musical performances? If not, this could be a frontier for Led Zeppelin.

Yeah, yeah, I know. Robert Plant said this and Jimmy Page said that. Of course I know it. Robert Plant only said he's against touring with Led Zeppelin for now. He never said he wouldn't do another one-off concert with Led Zeppelin. And I'd be surprised if Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones have written off that possibility either.

Wouldn't it leave a permanent historical mark if Led Zeppelin became the first group ever to perform a concert shown in 3-D simultaneously to 50 countries?

I don't care if it's a one-off performance. That's fine. Fans would get more mileage and satisfaction out of this one-off performance than they did out of the O2 show, and Led Zeppelin wouldn't have to worry about disrupting Plant's anti-tour stance.

People who just want to see Led Zeppelin, complete with Robert Plant, will go and see the 3-D film. Movie tickets are more affordable than concert tickets.

Theaters can keep showing it over and over again. Midnight showings. In 3-D. All over the world. For a decade. Maybe forever. As long as there is a demand for it. And few bands have the cross-generational staying power of Led Zeppelin.

Heck, it would be in the spirit of Led Zeppelin to do three concerts, shoot all three in 3-D and broadcast them live worldwide in 3-D. That way, the band can improvise every night and change things up the way they always did. A longer guitar solo here, a melody line shift there, an impromptu jam one night, you name it.

This would give fans like Eddie Edwards of The Garden Tapes something to look forward to in repeat showings. And to really keep the fans on their toes, the theaters should never indicate which of the three concerts they are playing on any given night. Fans might never realize it could be one of the three until they start noticing the differences on their own.

This would be a throwback nod to the ingenious plan to release six different In Through the Out Door LP covers in 1979. Since the album covers were hidden underneath the seal of a plain brown bag, and because the plot was initially a guarded secret, consumers had to buy multiple LPs before they knew they were possibly collecting six different covers.

I'm just thinking aloud here. But I hope my words don't fall upon deaf ears. I hope Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, Robert Plant and Jason Bonham take this into serious consideration.

The technology has arrived to present 3-D concerts live on a large scale. We have a barrier to break, a frontier to bust through. History will be made whether or not Led Zeppelin is on board. I just think it would be a whole lot cooler if Led Zeppelin were on board, and I'm sure a lot of other people would agree.

This could only further cement Led Zeppelin's already immense position in the history of music, plaster casters and all.

You thought playing at the Olympics would lend some visibility? Just you wait.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Two worthwhile blog posts elsewhere

I found two things online today that deserve to be promoted here:
    Some reverent thoughts about what makes Led Zeppelin so unique and timeless appear on this blog dedicated to Canadian musician Ian Thornley. The piece relates to what Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones ought to do musically after forming their new band featuring Jason Bonham and a yet-unnamed singer. The author also asks some good questions about what influence Page and Jones might glean from collaborating with bandmates who are decades younger.
    The consistently good Tight But Loose author Dave Lewis drums up another round of eloquence in his lastest Diary entry, which opens with his reaction to the unexpected death of drummer Michael Lee just days after his 39th birthday. Lewis then segues to his thoughts on the holiday shopping season (which will be very much underway in the United States in just a few hours) and the early Christmas gift in 1982 that was Led Zeppelin's first posthumous album, Coda.

Both of these are worth reading, I think.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Report: Robert Plant plans to record second album with Alison Krauss, T Bone Burnett

Not noticed here until last night, the Birmingham Evening Mail in England reported last Friday, Nov. 21:
Plant well away from tour plans

Robert Plant tries to avoid questions about his role in the proposed Led Zeppelin reunion tour - but Hancock managed to steer him in that direction at Bilston's Robin 2 club.

Robert made a surprise on-stage appearance to mark singer Ricky Cool's 30 years in music and confirmed to Hancock he would not be joining Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and Jason Bonham on the road. He said it was partly because he'd be busy working on the follow-up to his awardwinning Raising Sand LP.

"In January, I'm starting to record a new album with Alison Krauss and T Bone Burnett," he revealed, before adding "but I understand that everyone's got to eat," implying that the Plant-less Led Zep has his blessing.

But before he joined the Big Town Playboys on stage for a couple of bluesy numbers, he imparted one piece of significant information: "They won't be calling it Led Zeppelin!"
The Birmingham Evening Mail doesn't report when this conversation took place, but exhaustive Robert Plant fan site Manic Nirvana says it took place Nov. 6.

If that's correct, it's funny the Birmingham Evening Mail took all of two weeks to report on the only known statement by Plant on the topic of Led Zeppelin since September, when he said he was taking two years off from all touring and that he didn't see himself participating in any form of Led Zeppelin reunion.

Anyway, this is the first we're hearing any kind of official confirmation that Plant and Krauss, with producer Burnett, will be working together on a follow-up to their 2007 album Raising Sand.

And Plant's parting comment -- that Page and Jones "won't be calling" their group "Led Zeppelin" -- is in line with the latest word from Page's management. As reported Nov. 12, a representative for management company QPrime told Rolling Stone's Brian Hiatt, "Whatever this is, it is not Led Zeppelin. ... Not without the involvement of Robert Plant."

So, to summarize, Plant on the likelihood of Page, Jones and Jason Bonham going out on the road with a new singer: "Everyone's got to eat." I can just see the comments on this site raining in now ...

Sara Watkins album, produced by John Paul Jones, set for April release on Nonesuch

An album produced by John Paul Jones will be released April 7, 2009.

The self-titled debut of Nickel Creek member Sara Watkins now has a firm release date thanks to the support of Nonesuch Records, which this week announced its signing of the 27-year-old singer, guitarist and fiddle player.

In a statement released by Nonesuch, Watkins recalls when she first met Jones.
"A couple of years ago I saw John Paul Jones at the Cambridge folk festival. He came up after Nickel Creek's performance and said that if I didn't let him produce my record he would never talk to me again. I was thrilled that he was that excited about it."
And then they went on tour together in 2004 as members of Mutual Admiration Society. Now that Jones has produced the album and it's all finished, how does Watkins feel about Jones?
"John was an absolute dream to work with. I can't imagine anyone else with whom I would have felt more confident or comfortable. I think his undeniable musicianship and kindness made the ensemble on each song sound like a band that had played together for years."
Wow, who are the musicians performing on the album? Nonesuch says:
"Sara Watkins features a wide range of colleagues and old friends, including alt-country duo Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers keyboardist Benmont Tench, Elvis Costello drummer Pete Thomas; colleagues from the bluegrass world like Tim O'Brien, Punch Brothers' Chris Eldridge, Ronnie McCoury, and Rayna Gellert; and her Nickel Creek bandmates Chris Thile and Sean Watkins."
OK, an all-star cast, but what do they all sound like playing together? Sara Watkins says:
"Listening back to the finished record, it felt very natural. It is authentically me. I know that has so much to do with the process, with the years that I had been playing with all these guys, with the relationships I've made."
Well, what kind of music can we expect them to play? There are a few answers to this question. First, Watkins explains:
"I come from bluegrass and I wanted that to be part of the record. On the other hand, I've spent most of my life playing things that were not bluegrass, but maybe related to it, so all of the instrumentation and all of these players mean something to me. There are a lot of Nashville musicians on the record that I grew up performing with and players from L.A. who are musical heroes of mine. Even though not all of the songs on the album are my songs, it’s still really personal because I lived with this material for so long and I’ve played a lot of this music with the performers who are on it."
The record label adds:
"Already widely respected for her musical ability on the fiddle, Watkins' skills as a vocalist and songwriter are highlighted on this solo project. She wrote or co-wrote eight of the 14 songs on the record, which also includes renditions of tracks by Jimmie Rodgers, Jon Brion, Norman Blake, and Tom Waits."
The Xpress in Asheville, N.C., provided another description in a recent story on the singer. It says the forthcoming disc's original material is a collection of pop songs that sound like "a softer Neko Case" and "much like Alison Krauss's new album."

Also from Watkins:
"I had lived with a lot of this material for a while. It was tested and tweaked through the years playing at Largo. Songs would come and go; these are the songs that have stuck."
Largo is a club in Los Angeles where her Watkins Family Hour has been a regular feature. Fresh off her first-ever solo tour, she currently has two dates scheduled at that venue on Dec. 4 and 11. I'm mentioning this because you never know who might turn up. Sean Watkins and Benmont Tench did play with her on her tour this month.

Of course, Jones may be anywhere in December. Besides these Sara Watkins shows on Dec. 4 and 11, I have my eyes open to see if he might show up at a few other gigs.
  • For instance, Alter Bridge is currently touring Europe and will have dates through Dec. 10. I'm wondering what the chances are Jones will pop up onstage in Amsterdam on Dec. 7, when the band with singer-guitarist Myles Kennedy is filming a DVD. It would be so reminiscent of a Foo Fighters concert in London earlier this year that was filmed for a DVD that's already being sold worldwide, with footage of Jones and Jimmy Page playing two Led Zeppelin songs in the encore.
  • There is also the Christmas Jam in Asheville, N.C., scheduled for Dec. 12 and 13. It has been announced that Jones is booked to appear at the fundraiser for the local Habitat for Humanity, although it's unclear if his appearance has actually been confirmed.
  • Of course, for my own reasons, I'd really like to see Jones turn out in December to see Classic Albums Live tackle Houses of the Holy at Paradise Live in Hollywood, Fla. The dates are Dec. 11-13 and Dec. 18-20. Earlier this month, I reviewed a faithful recitation of Led Zeppelin's first album at that venue by Classic Albums Live.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Sad news: Drummer Michael Lee has died

I've just learned of the unexpected passing of drummer Michael Lee, who collaborated with Jimmy Page and Robert Plant on tour and in the studio for several years.

Michael drummed for Robert Plant beginning with the recording of his 1993 album Fate of Nations. He can be heard on that album's "Memory Song (Hello Hello)" and "Network News."

Robert Plant asked him to go on tour as the drummer for his tour, and he gladly accepted. They spent some time opening for Lenny Kravitz on that tour. Led Zeppelin's singer was closing his sets with "Whole Lotta Love," and Michael Lee was a major part of it all.

A keen sense of timing is one thing a good drummer should have. Michael's was great since Robert Plant's next career move was to reteam with Jimmy Page. Half of Led Zeppelin was playing regularly for the first time in 15 years and, Michael was along for the ride. He drummed for the Unledded sessions and promoted the No Quarter album release with Page and Plant.

As Page and Plant then took their band on tour for the next year, Lee may have been the world's most-watched drummer. They trotted across the globe and packed houses while they put a new twist on Led Zeppelin's music with local orchestras and an assembly of Lebanese, Egyptian and Moroccan musicians. But when they were just a fourpiece playing Led Zeppelin songs, they were very much like Led Zeppelin.

Whoever filmed this rare live rendition of "Achilles Last Stand" played in Atlanta in 1995 liked getting shots of Michael Lee's rat-a-tat-tat.

The one thing Page and Plant hadn't done with their new group that whole time was write some new material. Finally, Michael got the chance to participate in some songwriting sessions in 1997. As a result, he and bassist Charlie Jones are credited alongside Page and Plant as co-writing every song on Walking into Clarksdale. The scaled-down fourpiece band embarked on a tour in 1998 to support this album.

The two times I saw Michael Lee play live were during this tour, on July 7 and 10. Thanks to some videos, I've also been able to enjoyed several other shows with Michael Lee on drums. My favorite memory of his drumming is how he threw himself into the quick drum solo at the end of "Rock and Roll" so much that he once accidentally hit his forehead with a drum stick. Then he was joking about it before the next show to fans, and he jokingly compared the lump on his head to the ones Bugs Bunny would get in the cartoons.

It was just before some 1999 tour dates that Robert Plant slipped away from Page and took Charlie Jones with him. Michael Lee evidently stayed with Jimmy Page, as Lee was there for the very next live appearance with Page, which took place in October 1999 at Net Aid. They unveiled a new instrumental at that show, "Domino," and to this date, it stands as the only original number Page has released since Walking into Clarksdale. Since Michael Lee was there for that too, it's pretty clear how important he was in the ongoing story of Led Zeppelin's former members in the 1990s.

Michael Lee, also known as Michael Gary Pearson, will be missed.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Sony to distribute guitar documentary starring Jimmy Page next summer

Movie theaters in many parts of the world are hereby warned: In the summer of 2009, it might get loud.

That's right, a theatrical release has finally been announced for the guitar documentary "It Might Get Loud," starring guitarists Jimmy Page, Jack White and The Edge.

An announcement released this afternoon says the film was purchased by Sony Pictures Classics for distribution in North America, Latin America, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Sony said it intends to "open the film next summer."

The documentary was directed by Davis Guggenheim, best known for his directorial role for the Academy Award-winning "An Inconvenient Truth." It has been screened three times to date, all during the Toronto International Film Festival in September.

Sony Pictures Classic says in a press release:
"It Might Get Loud" is a music lover's dream. The film covers three generations of guitar players (The Edge, Jimmy Page, Jack White) and our plan is to attract the three generations of fans when we open the film next summer. We are pleased to be in business with director Davis Guggenheim and producer Thomas Tull, whose obsession with the subject has brought so much to the high quality of the film.
"We are very proud of the film and impressed that Sony Pictures Classics has shown the same passion for the project," Tull said in the statement.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Country Music Assocition brands Robert Plant, Alison Krauss 'musical event of the year'

The Robert Plant and Alison Krauss collaboration on the song "Gone, Gone, Gone (Done Moved On)" has earned the singing duo an award from the Country Music Association.

Their win in the category "Musical Event of the Year" beat out nominations of Josh Turner and Trisha Yearwood; Reba McEntire and Kenny Chesney; Sugarland, Little Big Town and Jake Owen; and Kenny Chesney and George Strait

Krauss was also nominated for Female Vocalist of the Year, an honor that went instead to "American Idol" alumna Carrie Underwood.

Winners were announced last night at the 42nd annual CMA Awards ceremony held at the Sommet Center in Nashville.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Jimmy Page's new project 'is not Led Zeppelin'

A representative for Jimmy Page says that the Led Zeppelin guitarist is forming a new band with John Paul Jones and Jason Bonham, according to an article by Brian Hiatt posted today at

Note: A new band. The rep's statement cited in the article makes this point abundantly clear.

"Whatever this is, it is not Led Zeppelin," Page's rep is quoted as saying. "Not without the involvement of Robert Plant."

In September, Plant released a statement in which he officially turned down the opportunity to record and tour with Led Zeppelin. If he sticks to his guns, recording and touring may be exactly the plans for this new group consisting of Page, Jones, Bonham and a yet-to-be-named singer.

The man most often pronounced as under serious consideration for the front man role in this new band is Myles Kennedy, lead singer and one guitarist for the band Alter Bridge, which is currently touring England.

The Rolling Stone piece quotes an assistant for Kennedy's manager, Paul Geary, saying he "declined to comment on a report that [Kennedy] is the front-runner."

The article does, however, contain a three-word quotation from Geary's assistant, who says, "Nothing is set."

This brief statement is consistent with what an inside source disclosed to earlier this week, that no final decisions have been made as to identifying a singer or what, exactly, the new group would do as far as touring or recording.

Not mentioned in the article is the apparent fact that Page, Jones and Bonham were present at the side of the stage Kennedy graced in London over the weekend. This was also disclosed to by the same inside source, as reported Monday.

As Alter Bridge tours England, lead guitarist Mark Tremonti is coming across as supportive of Kennedy in published interviews. As previously reported here, Tremonti told Kerrang magazine Kennedy would remain a member of Alter Bridge should he be selected for the gig with Page, Jones and Bonham.

However, Tremonti neither confirmed nor denied that Kennedy has been under consideration for that job.

Tremonti makes similar comments in an interview for MusicRadar, adding that Kennedy "deserves" to sing for Page, Jones and Bonham, and that it would only benefit the name recognition of Alter Bridge.

John Paul Jones to get his holiday jam on

John Paul Jones has been booked to perform in an all-star jam session over two nights in Asheville, N.C., this December.

The 20th Anniversary Christmas Jam is to be presented by Warren Haynes, guitarist and singer for Gov't Mule and the Allman Brothers Band. Both of those bands are slated to appear over the Dec. 12-13 event.

It has yet to be determined which of the two nights Jones will play. He may ultimately appear on both nights, sitting in with various other artists and groups who have been booked to appear.

Those include Joan Osborne, Travis Tritt, the Derek Trucks Band, Steve Earle, Audley Freed (formerly of the Black Crowes) and others.

The Christmas Jam is to be held at Asheville's Civic Center Arena. Tickets are priced at $55 apiece, not including a $1 facility fee. Post-production proceeds are to benefit the Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity.

A pre-sale has concluded, and more tickets are to become available Nov. 24 via Ticketmaster. For more information, visit the official event Web site.

Jones sat in with Gov't Mule at last year's Bonnaroo Festival in Manchester, Tenn., affording him the opportunity to jam onstage with Haynes on a number of Led Zeppelin tunes. From that set on June 17, 2007, here are "Moby Dick":

"Living Loving Maid (She's Just a Woman)":

"Since I've Been Loving You":

and "No Quarter." Part one:

Part two:

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Myles Kennedy holds his own on guitar

Much has already been made of the voice Myles Kennedy would bring to the table in a collaboration with Jimmy Page. But what about the fact that he's also an accomplished guitarist in his own right? Here's a look at Myles Kennedy on guitar.

Here is Myles Kennedy jamming on "Travelling Riverside Blues," a Robert Johnson song that ought to be familiar to Led Zeppelin fans. This lemon-squeezing performance is from Alter Bridge's Feb. 10, 2008, show in Copenhagen, as namechecked in the song. Drummer Scott Phillips adds some sparse accompaniment.

That's a resonator guitar he's playing in this clip. And yes, you get a sample of Kennedy's ability to hold a very long note at the end of this. What a singer!

In 2005, Alter Bridge allowed its two guitarists to take center stage for some solo features. In this Nov. 15 show at the Astoria in London, Myles Kennedy starts off this spectacle with some "Voodoo Chile," paying tribute to Jimi Hendrix. His more technical counterpart, Mark Tremonti, follows up with a taste of the Eddie Van Halen guitar solo "Eruption."

The same show also includes this cover of Led Zeppelin's "Rock and Roll" with Myles on rhythm guitar.

When Tremonti takes lead guitar, I can't help but concentrate on the steady rhythm guitar that continues throughout and think of how this would complement Page. In fact, I'm also reminded of two recent tours on which Page was assisted by at least one other guitarist when performing Led Zeppelin songs like this. He allowed this to happen with Porl Thompson of The Cure when touring with Robert Plant from 1994 to 1995 and again with Black Crowes guitarists Rich Robinson and Audley Freed in 1999 and 2000. In interviews, Page was very vocal on the latter occasion about how pleased he was to have the other guitarists with him to add layers to the music that are impossible for one guitarist except in the studio, where overdubs are fair game.

See how Myles responds to the Bristol Academy crowd in his guitar solo at the beginning of the following clip from 2006. After Tremonti's "Eruption" is a full-band rendition of a Bolero-inspired instrumental called "Ahavo Rabo Taco Salad."

There's no matching video for this pair of guitar solos, recorded Oct. 15, 2005, in Las Vegas. Again, Myles goes first, then Mark.

Myles and Mark in this video clip from the Alter Bridge show in Barcelona from May 21, 2006:

Here's one from the archives. This is from 15 years ago or more. If you're anything like me and that rhythm from the drum machine bothers you, you may want to skip right to the guitar solo beginning at 2:56. Kennedy shows off his finger dexterity in this.

Oh, and it's nice to see Myles knows what he's talking about when it comes to guitar gear. He must have fun talking gear with Jimmy Page. At 1:42, Myles has an "It Might Get Loud" moment.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Source: Page, Jones, Bonham watch Alter Bridge in London; DVD filming postponed

There's been no official word from Jimmy Page and the guys on Led Zeppelin this past week, so we rely on inside sources and gossip instead.

Alter Bridge was scheduled to film a DVD at their London concert this Saturday night. I speculated that Page would show up for the concert with John Paul Jones and Jason Bonham in tow -- perhaps to appear onstage with the band's Myles Kennedy, the singer who is said to have been rehearsing new material with Page, Jones and Bonham.

Well, an inside source tells the Zeppelin guys did show up for the concert but did not appear onstage. Furthermore, the DVD was not filmed! A decision had been made to postpone filming to Dec. 7, when Alter Bridge performs in Amsterdam at the Heineken Music Hall.

The band apparently did use a handheld camera or three, though, to capture some of the onstage moments at London's Brixton Academy. No word if Page, Jones and Bonham show up in any backstage clips that may have been filmed, although the source reveals they were present at the side of the stage to watch the singer.

Does this signal it is all but decided Kennedy will sing on tour with Page, Jones and Bonham -- whether they would call it Led Zeppelin or not? No decisions have been made, apparently. Would it be an album and tour, or just a tour with no album? Still up in the air, the source says.

How about an album but no tour? Maybe Page is wavering about the possibility too. Some news site called Popbitch says so, relying on the account of a Led Zeppelin fan who supposedly heard from Page himself that he would never tour without Robert Plant.

tour without Plant? Except that he has. Many times. Don't count the times he toured in the 1960s before he and Plant ever met. Every time Page has been on the road since 1980, except for that short span of time between 1995 and 1998, it has been with singers other than Plant at his side. And almost every time, Page's set lists have had Zeppelin numbers in them.

OK, fine, history aside. Would Page tour without Plant ever again at this point? Yeah, I think he would. Page loves touring. Once he gets that itch, it's all he wants to do. And since he hasn't toured in the last eight years, he must be itching to go outside again -- especially since the world is clamoring for it based on the demand and overwhelming support surrounding his only onstage appearance last year.

You can take Jimmy Page out of the touring circuit, but you can't take the touring circuit out of Jimmy Page. And now that he's building a lineup for a new group that involves John Paul Jones, one of the greatest musicians he's ever played with, and Jason Bonham, who forms with Jones as great a rhythm section as Page will ever play with again, and with an enormous Led Zeppelin devotee at the microphone, how can Page ever resist the call of the road? Glandular fever?

No more garden incidents and broken fingers -- OK, Jimmy? Stay healthy!

Also on the rumor mill, has Robert Plant shown up in Orlando karaoke bars singing Led Zeppelin songs as a goof? That's what one New York City radio station has reported. Sounds like a joke to me, but I'll keep my eyes and ears open just in case.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Note-for-note recitation: Classic Albums Live reprises Zeppelin's debut LP

Last night, I caught an 8 p.m. show by Classic Albums Live. The concept is simple: Musicians replicate a classic album, song for song, word for word, note for note, sound for sound. These musicians are experts in their craft and pay exquisite attention to detail.

They were playing Led Zeppelin's first album, from "Good Times Bad Times" on through "How Many More Times." I saw the fourth of six performances in two weeks during a homestand at Paradise Live in Hollywood, Fla. It was definitely worth $20 to witness these professionals pay tribute to Led Zeppelin by repeating the nine songs as they appeared in the final mix on the album recorded 40 years ago last month.

First of all, it takes more than four people to do what Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones and John Bonham accomplished in the studio. For most songs, there were five people onstage, with one guitarist handling the acoustic parts and the other handling the electric lines. A few times, a keyboardist added himself to the mix. Other times, the group dwindled down to a fourpiece. For one song, guitarist Rob Phillips shuffled between the electric strapped to him and the acoustic on a stand. The singer stayed away from playing instruments except for his harmonica solo on "You Shook Me" and also playing the part of guest tabla player Viram Jasnai on the acoustic instrumental "Black Mountain Side." The rhythm section of bass and drums kept the tempo consistent and the groove tight all throughout the night.

When I say these guys play everything, I'm not referring just to the notes you'd read off of sheet music. That would be too simple. Of course you'll hear the bass drum's insistent shuffle behind the second half of the guitar solo on "I Can't Quit You Baby." There's a lot more to them than that. They're also replicating everything as far as the subtleties that come from overanalyzing a song. So when Plant laughs off-mic in the second verse of "You Shook Me," you can be sure to see vocalist Nick Hildyard put on a smile and do that too.

And the crowning moment of the night came during "I Can't Quit You Baby" when I knew coming up was the one instance toward the end of his guitar solo that Jimmy Page strikes a power chord a split second too early. It's something I've seen Jimmy discuss in an interview, claiming it was intentional and not a mistake. I wondered if even this intricacy woud come out when reproduced onstage by fiery axeman Dom Polito. It was. He did it. And I marvelled.

But immediately after he played the chord that sounds too early, the bass player mistakenly followed him! That wasn't in the sheet music!

One of my absolute favorite things about Led Zeppelin, from listening to their official and unofficial live recordings and comparing them to the studio renditions of their songs, is the onstage improvisation. The group never performed a song the same way twice. So it was odd to be attending a performance of live musicians playing what to my ears were meticulous run-throughs of those studio renditions. The way the group happened to perform the songs in the studio on that one particular take that made it to vinyl is the way these performers rehearse it and play it night after night without any variation.

I think I would find that infuriating. If I were a guitarist who was restricted to churning out identical nine-minute readings of "Dazed and Confused" every night and, in the process, refrain from the improvements Page added to the song over the course of six years of playing it live, night after night, I would only be frustrated. My creativity would be stunted, and I wouldn't dig that. How long would I last?

But just as I was thinking that during "Dazed and Confused," the band was reprising the main theme of the song having played such a tight rendition of the segue from the violin bow solo. And the reason this band was so tight was because Led Zeppelin was tight on that part of the album. It probably is the tightest Led Zeppelin ever played that, and it made it onto the album and finds itself being repeated meticulously 40 years later by some afficianados. It must be an honor for them to be duplicating such a great and tight version of that song.

And of every song.

So maybe it's not so bad after all!

Foo Fighters concerts with Page/Jones encores come to DVD in U.S. Nov. 18

The Foo Fighters' "Live at Wembley Stadium" is to be released in the United States this month, capturing a special guest appearance by Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones.

This official release on DVD and Blu-Ray captures the Foo Fighters' June 2008 performances in London including the moments Page and Jones sat in on Led Zeppelin songs "Ramble On" and "Rock and Roll" during an encore set.

The DVD was previously available in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Germany, Austria and Switzerland. This U.S. release is now scheduled for Nov. 18.

VIP packages are available for the release that include a commemorative Foo Fighters bag, glossy prints of the band members taken onstage, a limited edition Serpent T-shirt, two backstage laminates, and the feature on either DVD or Blu-Ray.

Monday, November 3, 2008

How might Jimmy Page's new singer be announced?

These particular words of John Paul Jones last week stick with me: "When we know what we're doing, we'll let you know," he told BBC Radio Devon.

He was speaking, of course, about the search for a singer to record an album with Jimmy Page, Jason Bonham and himself, and to go on tour.

This comment made me think there would be a grand, official announcement immediately after the decision was made and a singer was picked.

So then why have anonymous sources told Billboard that Myles Kennedy has the deal wrapped up? Why did this story get published Friday with no official word to follow it up over the weekend?

I have an idea. Because it's true and they're going to announce it onstage next weekend!

It's the second time the name of Myles Kennedy has been leaked publicly: Last month, a source told The Sun in England that Kennedy was sitting in with the others in rehearsals. And Dee Snider said he had heard it too.

Last week, Steven Tyler's name was also thrown into the ring after another leak to the Daily Mail in England. That was either a stunt just to throw off the media or, as fellow Aerosmith member Brad Whitford suspects, a last-ditch attempt to encourage Robert Plant to come over and sing.

All these leaks... drip, drip, drip... but no official statement so far.

Jason Bonham evaded me yesterday. I turned out to an event in Hollywood, Fla., where he was scheduled to appear.

And he was a no-show!

The guys at event sponsor Resurrection Drums said they didn't know what happened to him -- "no call or anything" to say he wasn't going to make it.

I wondered if Jason had been suddenly yanked across the Atlantic and that announcement was imminent. But it didn't happen yesterday, and we're still waiting.

If they have picked Myles Kennedy and they announce it today or tomorrow, it would be just in time for the first date of his current band's U.K. tour. Alter Bridge plays its first show tomorrow at the Academy in Sheffield, England.

And the group's London show this coming Saturday is to be filmed for a DVD, which reminds me of the Page/Jones guest appearance at a Foo Fighters show in London five months ago that was filmed for a DVD.

The fact that something Zeppelin-related would happen in London at the second Foo Fighters show was seemingly leaked to a fan with a mouthpiece. So far, no such leak for this Saturday's Alter Bridge show, but I'm all ears if anyone wants to leak it to me!

If Kennedy has the job in the bag, perhaps the leaks will continue throughout this week so as to hype up the London show and get a lot of media attention there.

And then, on Saturday at Brixton Academy, for the encore set, onto the stage walk John Paul Jones, Jason Bonham and Jimmy Page.

It would be there and then -- onstage, in front of screaming fans and a throng of music industry press and mainstream news reporters -- that the full lineup of Jimmy Page's new band is unveiled once and for all.

And then they launch into something new that'll be on the album.

And then they launch into "Kashmir."

I don't know. I'm just thinking.