Monday, November 30, 2009

Jimmy Page could not be coaxed into playing at Brazil fundraiser

Jimmy Page, despite appearing as scheduled at a fundraiser on Saturday for a shelter bearing his name, reportedly could not be coaxed to join the musicians for what would have been his first onstage appearance all year, outside of some brief jamming at a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony in April.

In the YouTube video above, Page is seen making remarks at a microphone and playing "air guitar" in the absence of a real guitar.

Stiletto Group has provided one of the most complete event summaries so far. As translated from Portuguese, the Nov. 29 story says many young musicians played songs including Led Zeppelin's "Heartbreaker" during the event. Another translated report from O Globo says a 10-year-old drummer by the name of João Terra Santos was disappointed Page did not end up playing with him.

At one point, musician George Israel was jamming with some youth musicians on "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" by the Beatles when they encouraged Page to come up and play. Page declined their offer but did take the stage to encourage bidding on the auctioning of a guitar autographed by members of Iron Maiden.

With the crowd chanting "Jimmy" in hopes he would play, Page joked that since it was an Iron Maiden guitar, he would have to play something of theirs. The crowd laughed, and he went on to describe the guitar. Once the crowd erupted into chants of his first name again, he finally strapped on the electric guitar. With that, he played a single E chord, shook the guitar above his head, and handed it over.

This moment can be seen in two YouTube videos below. The first one is more complete and includes Page's words before strapping on the guitar but is shot from amid the crowd so the sound is very overloaded. The second video captures Page from a different angle from the strike of the chord onward.

O Globo is the same news source that, in breaking the story last week, insisted that Page would play. Word has it that tickets to the event were sold with the understanding that Page would at least appear at the event but not necessarily perform. Additionally, printed on the tickets were the words "Rock Fest in the presence of Rock Legend Jimmy Page." Proceeds from the auction and ticket sales are to benefit Casa Jimmy, founded in 1998 by Task Brazil as a shelter for abandoned street children in Rio de Janiero.

O Globo says Page followed instructions not to do any speaking, even if asked questions. He was reportedly friendly with the autograph seekers, particularly the females, yet smiling silently and stoically through it all. A YouTube video shows Page leaving the building and hopping directly into a waiting car while fans are lined up outside hoping to meet him.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Report: Charity concert will see Jimmy Page play Saturday in Brazil

The last report about Jimmy Page didn't go so well, but let's try this.

The guitarist is said to be playing in a Rio de Janiero school auditorium this Saturday, Nov. 28, at a benefit for one of his charities. According to a translation of the Portugese-language O Globo, tickets to a concert featuring Page and other acts are selling for upwards of $100. The article says Page would be performing along with some school bands and acts called Pepeu Gomes, George Israel and Kid Abelha, the article says.

The intimate event would be Page's first concert appearance of the year. In 2008, Page played a much more high-profile event at the Olympics, and also joined John Paul Jones in sitting in with the Foo Fighters one night in London. Those have been his only onstage appearances since the Led Zeppelin reunion concert on Dec. 10, 2007.

Casa Jimmy, a shelter for abandoned street children in Rio de Janiero, opened 11 years ago as a program of one of the charities Page supports, Task Brazil. A source familiar with Page's charity work tells this fundraiser couldn't have come at a better time given a current need for financial support.

Vultures swoop in at No. 12 on Billboard album chart

Seventy thousand copies of the debut album by Them Crooked Vultures sold in the United States in its first week of release, Billboard reports this morning. This lands the new group on the magazine's album chart in the No. 12 position.

There's one other Jones in front of John Paul Jones: Norah Jones. No relation.

In other news, a source called California on the band's official forum reports having attended the "New Fang" video shoot, which was said to have been under the direction of Paul Minor of Streetgang Films. California writes:
Just left the video shoot for New Fang, which at this moment is still being shot in the LA area, and wanted to let all the fans know that the bands live performance is nothing short of amazing. Every single take went off without a hitch from the bands perspective… not once did they have to cut due to any mistakes/faux pas from the band members. They are so polished! The video itself looks like it is going to be fantastic, shot in a studio with just the band members playing and being shot from varying angles. Thats all I got, just thought I’d share it with you all.
The group posted a picture from the video shoot, of a costumed Dave Grohl, on its Twitter page last night, seen here at right.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

'New Fang' video reported on the way

Them Crooked Vultures has shot a video for their single "New Fang" with director Paul Minor, several music news sites have reported. Josh Homme's band Queens of the Stone Age had a video directed by Minor: "3's and 7's" from 2007, which can be seen here.

Speculation on Jimmy Page supergroup unfounded

Yesterday's post relating to a possible project with Jimmy Page was unfounded, the result of a misinterpretation. Kevin Shirley has clarified that the list of guitarists he has recorded -- Page, Clapton, Perry, Whitford, the three amigos of Iron Maiden, and all the rest -- is a record of his lifetime achievement, not a list of people he has had in the studio recently, especially not together (imagine that many guitarists plugged in, outside of a jam at a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony). approached Shirley for clarification too late, after not only having posted its own misinterpretation of his comments but after other music sites began speculating on a Page/Clapton/Perry/Whitford supergroup or even a Yardbirds reunion. Some sites listed Lemon Squeezings as the source of such speculation.
In particular, Mog made it seem as though Shirley had said in his diary Page, Clapton, Perry and Whitford were going to be in a supergroup. Shirley responded on that site, saying:
And Michael Schumacher will drive the bus... Gordon Ramsey will cater and Spielberg will do the video!!!

It's pretty silly to read between the lines, but I guess it adds hits to the page.

After this, Shirley clarified in an e-mail to today:
Hi Steve,
Thanks for the mail.
Unfortunately, it's a misread -- all I said was I am recording a legend (and I have done plenty in the past), and this guy is seriously thrilling!
The Page/Zep thing is not what it is.
There is a supergroup -- there is a classic rock remix, but the speculation is all misguided.
I don't forsee [sic] any future Led Zep related projects, but who knows.
More in the fullness of time.
Thanks again for writing. All the best,
KS regrets the error.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Jimmy Page said to be involved in multi-guitarist project with possible January release date

Update: In a clarification of this post, it is revealed that engineer Kevin Shirley's words were misinterpreted. The guitarists he mentioned were not recorded recently.

While nobody knows what's happening with Aerosmith, guitarists Joe Perry and Brad Whitford have apparently been keeping busy, and in good company too.

Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page have joined them in recording with engineer Kevin Shirley, the man behind the sound of Led Zeppelin's 21st century releases, How the West Was Won, DVD and the reissue of the soundtrack to The Song Remains the Same.

(See previous coverage of The Song Remains the Same including Shirley's interview for Modern Guitars magazine. In 1999, he also engineered the concert dates of Page and the Black Crowes that ended up being released on the live album Live at the Greek.)

Shirley says he has been recording these guitarists and "many others." He hints toward some "high profile projects" about which he's been sworn to secrecy.

"Suffice it to say," offers the father of two infants, "that life is very busy."

Writing from Malibu on his online diary today, he spoke of a "supergroup" project -- his term, not mine (I don't need the derision). He said that come January he would be "producing what has the promise to be one of the most exciting 'supergroups' to come around in a long time.

"But theory is just that until we see how the dynamics play out in the studio between these superb musicians. And of course the songs will make the real difference."

Shirley also said he would be "remixing one of Classic Rock's seriously classic albums." This could be just about anything, but next year marks the 40th anniversary of such perennial favorites as Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs, Band of Gypsys, Abraxas, Led Zeppelin III and Live at Leeds.

Perhaps Shirley's biggest news pertains to the litany of axemen he's recorded of late. The others he mentioned by name are John Petrucci of Dream Theater, Neal Schon of Santana and Journey, and Joe Bonamassa.

He also referred to "Maiden's Three Amigos," presumably Dave Murray, Adrian Smith and Janick Gers, all of Iron Maiden. Shirley added that he is "to record one of guitar's great legends" in December. Evidently another one of the secret projects.

Page's name was also invoked last week by photographer Ross Halfin, who posted some photos of Page relaxing in front of a jukebox. Hanging on a wall behind the jukebox was a framed picture found to be of Elvis Presley. On the Internet discussion group For Badgeholders Only, user Dawn Atherton discovered the Elvis photograph to have been taken in 1960, upon the King's meeting with the king of Thailand.

Halfin, a traveling companion of Page's and currently the guitarist's No. 1 photographer, writes that Nov. 17 "was a sunny day, good winter light. I was taking pictures for something new - out this January... The King with his jukebox and his photo of the kings - look closely and work it out."

In other Page-related news, "It Might Get Loud" is now set for a theatrical release in England.

Led Zeppelin news source Tight But Loose reports today "It Might Get Loud" will receive a theatrical release in the United Kingdom beginning Jan. 8. The film, which profiles Page, The Edge and Jack White, has already come and gone from U.S. movie theaters. It is also scheduled to have been released for an online download and on DVD and Blu-Ray in the United States this December.

In addition to his on-screen role, Page is credited an associate producer of the film.

Update: At the risk of being redundant, see the clarification of this post for the full story.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

U2 producer sneaks Robert Plant into L.A. studio for recording session

Robert Plant's presence in the Los Angeles area two months ago was apparently for more than just some sightseeing. has learned that the former Led Zeppelin frontman was also pulled into a recording session by famed producer Daniel Lanois, whose credits include some "unforgettable" U2 albums, a solo career and a current band project making waves in that area, Black Dub.

Update: Engineer Mark Howard has posted four photos of the recording sessions on MySpace, plus one of them all hanging out. Also pictured is Daryl Johnson, bassist for Black Dub.

Around early October, Plant and Lanois recorded some demos with Black Dub's lead vocalist, Trixie Whitley. At 22, she is a singer-songwriter who plays piano and drums. She has lived in New York and Belgium and has followings in both places.

Best of all, Whitley's Facebook page now confirms Plant as one of the musicians with whom she has worked, along with Vernon Reid, Me'Shell N'Degeocello and her late father, "Big Sky Country" singer Chris Whitley.

A session drummer involved in the recording says he isn't sure what plans Lanois and Plant may have in store. "I honestly don't have too much to say other than we're making some demos," Steven Nistor tells

Nistor is often the go-to guy for whatever drumming needs Lanois has. Among other things, he can be seen backing Lanois during an April 2008 appearance on "The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson."

Arctic Monkeys get the Led out backstage

"It feels like the last couple of months in dressing rooms we've not listened to much other than Led Zeppelin," the lead singer and guitarist of the Arctic Monkeys tells Spinner.

"That gets played every day," continues Alex Turner. "It's a constant."

Maybe that has a little something to do with the fact that they recently had a member of Led Zeppelin opening for them in concert.

Back in August, the Arctic Monkeys released their third studio album, Humbug. The disc was produced by Josh Homme, John Paul Jones's bandmate in Them Crooked Vultures. When the Arctic Monkeys played at the O2 Brixton Academy on Aug. 26, their surprise opening act was Them Crooked Vultures.

Letter: Vultures concert in Oakland disappoints

The following letter to the editor has been submitted by a first-time writer to With his permission, it is printed here.
Hi Steve:
I read your site pretty regularly, as I've been a huge Zep fan since my teen years in the 70's. Great job, thanks, and keep up the good work!

I attended the Them Crooked Vultures concert at the Fox Theater in Oakland last night, and while I hate to say it, I was pretty disappointed. Hell, maybe I'm just starting to show my age, but I felt thoroughly bludgeoned after listening to 2 full hours of this audio assault. The musicianship was first rate, of course; Jonesy was in fine form, Grohl was amazing on drums, Homme was economical & efficient on lead guitar. However, Homme is definitely a one-note singer, and has absolutely no charisma as a frontman. There was a great deal of sameness and pitch to most of the songs as well.

Must admit, we had terrible seats (rear balcony), so perhaps the show sounded much better elsewhere - but there was just no melody in these songs. It was great seeing John Paul and Dave enjoying themselves, and I'm sure true metal heads will be happy with this music, but for me, acoustic instrumental or piano solo here & there would have been nice, if only to give the ears some momentary piece.

I saw J.P. Jones play with Mutual Admiration Society a few years back in San Francisco; gotta say, that show was immensely better than what I heard last night. Just wondering if I'm really missing something here.

-Greg Whelchel
San Jose, CA

In my reply to Greg, I asked whether he had purchased or listened the TCV album prior to attending his concert. He also gave me some more background and opinions:

I'm a hard-core Zeppelin fan - I even suffered through most of those dreadful Robert Plant tours in the early & mid 80's before he finally came to this senses and started tossing in a few Zep numbers every show! A prima donna to be sure, but ya still gotta love ol' Rob. I skipped the Page/Plant shows in the late 90's, didn't like the way Jones had been treated during "Unledded", so that was my protest of sorts.

To your question:
I had only watched some YouTube clips of TCV, as well as the footage from your site prior to the show. The CD was being sold at the show for $14 and they were even giving away $2 off coupons, so a great deal there. A kid next to me had purchased the CD and loved it - said he had played it 4 straight times on a long drive to the show, in order to memorize song lyrics and learn all the song titles - now that's dedication! He was also a big Josh Homme fan, so that kind of fit, and he seemed to love the show. I thought the first two songs of the set were awesome, "Nobody Loves Me and Neither Do I" was the first one, but I don't recall the second. After that, seemed like an awful lot of repetition. Just too loud, Josh spoke to the audience a few times but I never could make out a single word of anything he said...I'll get the CD and develop a more informed opinion, I think.

I see where you play in a Zep tribute band - we have a good one in the Bay Area, Heartbreaker. The Plant/Jones/Bonham impersonators are just amazing, but their Jimmy is a little too surly & grumpy and his guitar skills are a little inconsistent. The guy who does Plant even looks like him, if Rob had ever gone to a gym anyways.


Well, for one thing, Greg doesn't seem to be alone. Other Zep fans are also having trouble swallowing this band, which the music critics say sounds very much like Queens of the Stone Age. Fony Fontana posts on For Badgeholders Only today:
Reaction to TCV on Zep boards

I am a little bit amused by a lot of reactions on several zeppelin boards on the TCV album. For some it's obviously a giant leap from to what they are used to. Some reactions on RO are kinda like 'I don't like this modern attempt to raw rock music' to 'I don't listen to loud music anymore..' Really? And these are Zeppelin fans? Come on! Jonesy is probably just a few years older then a lot of these guys and he still likes to play LOUD music.

A lot of people obviously haven't been paying attention to QOTSA and what Josh has been doing. I think he is one of the last innovators in the genre with his 'Robot Rock Riffs'. The TCV album isn't really that far removed from QOTSA. But I guess if you are not used to that, this album is probably a lot to get used to.

I am totally loving this album. And to some: don't act your age, pull out your earplugs and rock out!

Cheers Tony

Well, I happened to be one guy who didn't need to know much of anything by Queens of the Stone Age first, before I raved about the band when I saw them live in Washington, D.C. The sound killed my ears for 24 hours, that's for sure. And I couldn't make out many of the words either, but that's not a problem for me; I'm pretty much a music-first guy anyway. What captured my attention the most was the chemistry that exists between Grohl and each of his bandmates. (And Alain Johannes with Homme.)

Now that I have their CD, I can't wait until the next time I hear "Warsaw" live again! As a matter of fact, my iTunes pre-order came with two official live cuts as bonus tracks. Does anybody know which show they're from (Lowlands, I believe)?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Second Them Crooked Vultures album promised in interviews

So, is it unanimous? Them Crooked Vultures should make a second album? I'll round up what the band says in just a moment ...

This thing I got on iTunes this Tuesday morning is hot. I am so proud to be able to tell my grandkids someday that I was at a show on the first Them Crooked Vultures tour.

(And when they say, "Who?.......")

Well, how about that second album? Who's ready?


Hell yeah, John Paul Jones wants a second album. This is only the best band he's ever been in, or so he says. Wait, did he just compare his current project to Led Zeppelin -- and TCV wins? He can't be serious!! In case you missed it, check out what he said. Here's the highlight, though:

"I hope there's maybe going to be another album. I don't have a band that's going to call me back – the other two do. But they're going to have to fight me for them because we're having a bit too much fun at the moment."
That's what John told Australia's Nova 91.9 FM as published Nov. 10 and summed up here. He'll have to contend with Queens of the Stone Age and Foo Fighters before there'll be another Them Crooked Vultures. The one group has "fighters" in its name. Oh well, Jonesy seems up for the challenge anyway.

OK, what about those other guys in the Vultures? What do they have to say about it?

Yeah, he's in. Here's the scoop:

"I can't wait to make another record [with Them Crooked Vultures] because in the end, it was so much easier than it should have been and honestly, it's the hardest record I have ever made. You have to climb Everest eventually."
That's what Josh told the Herald Sun, also Australian. This dude's obviously in.

So, if my tally is correct, we have two out of three, which is a majority but not binding unless it's unanimous. So, what's our lone holdout, Dave Grohl, have to say -- now that he knows what his bandmates would like?

(Wow, Dave Grohl and John Paul Jones are bandmates! I love reciting that! Let's just say he's not the only one to have dreamed about it.)


The answer comes, this time, not from Australia but from Canada: Alan Cross of "the world's largest global newspaper,", poses his open question to the band whilst seated with them at Homme's Pink Duck Studios in Los Angeles.

How far can they take this? Dave props himself up against some pillows on the sectional. A big grin spreads across his face. "As far as it will go."
For those of you keeping score, it's a tie game. They've all now admitted, at least once each, that they're in for round two.

So, the question is no longer: Will there be a second album? There will.

The question becomes instead: Will it be right away, or will they be doing separate projects first?

No love for Jimmy Page at the Oscars

A week ago, after the umpteenth post in a row on this site about nothing but Them Crooked Vultures, somebody commented that Lemon Squeezings had in effect become a news site for developments on that band.

Feeling sorry for that person who wasn't getting a steady Led Zeppelin fix over here at, I started putting some more stuff up at right away.

In the past week, there have been new posts about Jerry Wexler signing Led Zeppelin to Atlantic Records in 1968 and turning operations over to Ahmet Ertegun, the band proceeding exactly one year later to begin recording music for a third album in a row, and John Paul Jones reflecting on the band's BBC sessions during an interactive online interview in 1997.

While I felt sorry for this one disenchanted reader of, I felt even more sorry for Jimmy Page, the member of that band who put it together from day one, lingered in the studio to put onto tape the sounds in his head, painstakingly mastered the tapes again and again through the years to make sure they fit his vision, and sought time and time again to do something a little more for us unworthy fans.

Like last year, when he wanted to assemble a new band. We now know that it fell by the wayside.

Ever since his last bout of rehearsals and planning came and went without any fruit, Jimmy's been out of the limelight for a little while. Some of the reason is he hasn't done much to put himself in the limelight, but another part of it is because the film "It Might Get Loud" didn't make the big splash I thought it deserved.

I've seen three public showings of this film, twice on opening day in New York City and once in Washington, D.C., a little while after it opened there. Of those three showings, only the second, a noontime showing in Greenwich Village, was packed. Energetic people in the theater burst at the funny moments, and they waited patiently during the film's exaggerated lulls for the next thing to grab them by the arm and entertain. It was a thrill to see so many people so into this movie.

But for the third public showing I attended, I was the only person in the theater. Sure, I suppose downtown D.C. mid-day on a weekday is a thriving metropolis, but not the kind that has people flocking to the cinema at that time. Everybody was busy. I couldn't even coax a friend of mine, a closet U2 fan who works for one of the government agencies, to skip work for a couple of hours and watch his favorite guitarist and mine share the silver screen.

I don't think this film had the crossover appeal it was destined to have. Maybe the upcoming DVD/Blu-Ray releases, and the online release preceding that, will make it easier for people to know of it, enjoy it, talk about it, recommend it and really make something of a sleeper hit out of it. I think generations to come should be watching this film.

The sorrow I feel for Jimmy Page was enhanced today when I noticed some news outlets are reporting "It Might Get Loud" has been overlooked by the Academy Awards in nominating films to the documentary category. Director Davis Guggenheim's previous work, "An Inconvenient Truth," may have picked up an Oscar, but "It Might Get Loud" evidently won't share that fate, which is regrettable.

True, the Grammys overlooked Led Zeppelin in the '70s, and that didn't hurt anybody, so there's really nothing to sweat here. Yet this is a different day and age. Most of the Led Zeppelin news these days is from Them Crooked Vultures, whose members have signaled they're in for round two. Robert Plant earlier this year created waves, picking up five Grammys with Alison Krauss and then creating enough momentum to earn a second wave of sales.

Now, although a follow-up album by Plant and Krauss has stalled, and Plant's fit not to be on tour right now or have any particular album to peddle, his bluegrass turn of the past few years still manages to get acclaim from all directions:
That just has to be eating at Jimmy Page.

Now, can it be the right antidote to coax him into action again and generate some new music for people to hold up and appreciate?

Update, 4:45 p.m.: Ah! I did not see this until just now, but similar thoughts were posted three weeks ago by Matt Patterson, a National Review Institute Washington Fellow and the author of "Union of Hearts: The Abraham Lincoln & Ann Rutledge Story." His remarks are also reflective of the sentiments I expressed here on Sept. 2, in my post "Do musicians ever really retire?"

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Them Crooked Vultures U.K. broadcast this week

  • Some live clips are emerging from last night's show at the Roxy in Hollywood. See below.
  • The band plays the Wiltern in Los Angeles tonight, at the Fox Theater in Oakland on Thursday, at the Paramount in Seattle on Saturday, and at the Roseland Theater in Portland on Sunday.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Them Crooked Vultures to play one more gig prior to U.S. album release

The debut album from Them Crooked Vultures, now out in some parts of the world, still has one day to go before it can be sold in North America. Fans in the Los Angeles area can catch John Paul Jones and his bandmates at the Roxy in Hollywood tonight for a surprise show announced only today although it was rumored for the past few weeks.

Tickets to today's show must be purchased on site; limit two per person. Customers must enter immediately after purchasing tickets, and there is no re-entry. It hasn't been stated what time tickets go on sale or what time the show is -- just that you won't be allowed to line up before 2 p.m.

As previously announced, Them Crooked Vultures will play at the Wiltern in Los Angeles tomorrow, on the day of the album release. At least three more U.S. shows are scheduled -- in Oakland, Seattle and Portland -- before December, when the band heads back across the Atlantic for some shows in continental Europe and a U.K. tour.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Them Crooked Vultures issue 'New Fang' for video game format

Want to bang on the drums like Dave Grohl, slide your way across a fretboard or sing like Josh Homme, or handle a bass like John Paul Jones? On Tuesday, you ain't gotta wait no more.

While Jimmy Page says he opposes licensing his music for video game consoles, the supergroup starring his former Led Zeppelin bandmate has green-lighted adding its new single to the game "Rock Band."

"New Fang," one of them newfangled, newfangled tracks off the debut album by Them Crooked Vultures, will be available for download beginning Tuesday, Nov. 17, to be implemented into the Xbox 360 video game.

The band issued a statement today explaining the reason for this decision. It reads:
"Them Crooked Vultures are keenly aware of the different ways in which modern music fans digest new music and are therefore especially happy to be able to offer the first single from their self-titled debut up as a downloadable 'Rock Band' game track on the same day the album goes on sale."
The track will sell for $1.99 in the United States, £.99 in the United Kingdom, and €1.49 in Europe. Xbox 360 users can also use 160 Microsoft Points for the download.

"New Fang" will be also available for "Rock Band" on the Wii platform beginning Nov. 24, which will require 200 Wii Points for the download. Playstation 3 users can look forward to playing with "New Fang" beginning Dec. 3.

The "Rock Band" format has generated 60 million paid downloads since its launch two years ago, on Nov. 20, 2007.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Uncut prompts fans to submit interview questions for John Paul Jones

Uncut magazine has announced the John Paul Jones will participate in the "Audience With" feature, which allows fans to submit questions to be answered by their favorite musicians.

Get your questions ready and send them to Uncut by Nov. 17. Don't forget to include your name and location with your questions!

The best questions, and John Paul Jones's answers, will be published in a future issue of Uncut.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Rolling Stone gives Them Crooked Vultures album 3.5 of 5 stars

Rolling Stone, the chief magazine leading the pack of the music media's offenses against Led Zeppelin from 1969 onward, is now having to figure out how to deal with John Paul Jones in the digital age.

A review by Rolling Stone's Rob Sheffield, appearing in the latest issue of Rolling Stone and online now, gives the disc by Them Crooked Vultures 3.5 stars out of a possible 5 but starts off in the magazine's traditional snarky manner:
"Ladies and gentlemen, Them Crooked Vultures — the second-best band John Paul Jones has ever been in!"
When you count up the number of bands Jones has ever been aside from Led Zeppelin, it becomes evident Sheffield hasn't heard of Mutual Admiration Society, the John Paul Jones Orchestra, the backing band of Diamanda Galas, or Jet Harris and Tony Meehan's band. Clearly, Them Crooked Vultures ranks sixth behind all of those.

But seriously, Sheffield can't keep his mind off Led Zeppelin in his review. Overwhelmingly, when he hears Them Crooked Vultures he thinks of Led Zeppelin.

Coming from Rolling Stone, comparisons to Led Zeppelin could be a good thing or a bad thing. Ever since the days when John Mendelsohn, Lester Bangs and Lenny Kaye were tepid or downright spiteful in their reviews of the group's initial albums, certain authors in the magazine -- including Cameron Crowe, Stephen Davis, Andy Greene, Mikal Gilmore and David Fricke -- have forced a reappraisal of Led Zeppelin in Rolling Stone's pages over the years.

The year 2004 represented a big shift in the re-analysis. That year:
At any rate, Sheffield makes the following comparisons between Them Crooked Vultures and Led Zeppelin:
  • During "Elephants," Them Crooked Vultures succeed in "basically crunch[ing] every riff on Led Zeppelin II into seven dizzy minutes," Sheffield asserts.
  • He says Jones's bass line on "Nobody Loves Me & Neither Do I" sounds "as nasty as 'Out on the Tiles.'"
  • "Reptiles," he says, sounds like "a sly update of 'South Bound Suarez.'"
  • He even wants Josh Homme's voice to sound like Robert Plant's, but it sounds more like Jack Bruce's in Cream.
  • Sheffield compares Homme's guitar playing to that of Led Zeppelin's guitarist: "He does deliver loads of Jimmy Page doppelgänger solos, just to prove he can."
  • Throughout the album, Jones reminds Sheffield "he's the bass man who helped give the world 'Black Dog.'"
  • Finally, Sheffield says Homme and Grohl "are old hands at this kind of thing," having had "excellent Zeppelin homages" on the Queens of the Stone Age album Songs for the Deaf.
It's just interesting, now, that the magazine that didn't want anything to do with Led Zeppelin is now the magazine that can't seem to get enough Led Zeppelin. What's more, Rolling Stone has trouble giving even a 4 out of 5 rating to a band it insists is so reminiscent of Led Zeppelin.

Update: Oh! I totally forgot my initial point in posting this! John Paul Jones told me in 2001 he hated when people compared his solo work to Led Zeppelin songs and approached him with the question, "Don't you think that's a little Led Zeppelin-inspired?" His answer to them was always, "Don't you think Led Zeppelin was a little John Paul Jones-inspired?"

And check out who's on the cover of New Musical Express! See how Josh Homme and Dave Grohl appear to tower over John Paul Jones.

Monday, November 9, 2009

John Paul Jones proclaims Them Crooked Vultures now 'the best band in the world'; he hopes for second album, says Led Zeppelin won't be calling him back

John Paul Jones, in an interview published today by Australia's Nova 91.9 FM, says that for the second time in his life as a musician, he finds himself in "the best band in the world." Them Crooked Vultures has now taken Led Zeppelin's position as the world's best band, Jones says.

The full context of his statement comes in an in-depth interview that touches on the vows of silence under which the band labored all year to create the album now streaming online and soon to be released commercially, the reasoning behind the secrecy, his satisfaction with both of his bands, and the fact that he no longer expects to work with Led Zeppelin.

Unlike at least one other recent interview with Jones, there was no mention during this one of the group with Jimmy Page and Jason Bonham that did not come to fruition last year after being heralded by the press as a second coming of Led Zeppelin with a singer other than Robert Plant on vocals. Today's interview focuses solely on the events since this February, when Jones began working with current bandmates Josh Homme and Dave Grohl, and comparing the impetus behind their music with that of Led Zeppelin's from 1969 to 1979, when that band was releasing albums and, according to Jones, was the world's greatest.

"I always try to be in the best band in the world, I promise myself," says Jones. "I'm obviously very proud of the Zeppelin legacy, and I'm hoping I'm keeping the spirit alive with this band."

In some real ways that deal with the music, he does seem to be. "There are so many parallels with the old Zeppelin days," says Jones. "We're making music that we want to make. You're not thinking, 'What's going to sell? What is everybody else going to like?' We're making music for ourselves, and Zeppelin was exactly the same. We never thought, 'What's the new record going to be like?' We just got the songs together. It's all an organic process. None of it's manufactured."

It seems to be the exception and not the norm in the current climate of today's music scene. Jones agrees: "To my ears there's not much around that actually excites me, and this music that we're making excites me. So I assumed it might excite other people too. That's the only way you can think of it."

Furthermore, this is the first time Jones has felt this way about a band of his since Led Zeppelin's breakup in 1980, so why would he want the feeling to stop with the release of this album? Why would he want to make this disc his sole statement with Them Crooked Vultures?

He says he'll be ready to head back into the studio with Homme and Grohl, and he'd rather fight off the Foo Fighters and Queens of the Stone Age than not work with those two again right away. Jones testifies, "I hope there's maybe going to be another album. I don't have a band that's going to call me back – the other two do. But they're going to have to fight me for them because we're having a bit too much fun at the moment."

And there it was: Jones slips in that he won't be anticipating any future work with Led Zeppelin. The window of opportunity for that to happen has firmly shut, Jones affirms. There really is, as anticipated not long ago, no reason to believe. Who's going to be at Glastonbury with Robert Plant? Not John Paul Jones and, therefore, not Led Zeppelin.

Jordana Borensztajn's interview with Jones carries so much more, though, than one member's de facto denial of a Led Zeppelin reunion. As for the reasons Them Crooked Vultures kept its existence the secret it was for months and months, Jones says, "We kept it quiet so there wasn't all the speculation and the pressure. There was enough pressure between ourselves to do a really good record, and we did try to impress each other. ... We just wanted to get on and concentrate on the music."

The best part of touring this new material prior to its release, says Jones, was that nobody in the audience was familiar with it and, therefore, was uniquely capable of giving honest reactions to hearing the music in a live setting for the first time. "To have an audience just stand there and listen, and take it all in – it's just amazing," says Jones. "They're reacting really, really well and it's new for them because normally they would have heard the record first and know the lyrics. It's a new experience which they look like they're enjoying and they sound like they're enjoying, certainly." Talk about taking a risk! And yes, Led Zeppelin was always known for taking those.

Jones on the band's sound:

"When people ask what it sounds like, it sounds like me playing bass and Dave playing drums and Josh singing and playing guitar. It's very obvious. It's just us -- it's straight ahead, it's very honest and it really rocks. It's multi-layered and sounds fantastic. We love it. We play it and we're like, 'Wow, this is really good.' ...

"Josh is great. You know those old competitions in magazines where they show you a familiar object from an unfamiliar angle and you have to guess what it is? That's how Josh seems to look at life. He just looks at it from a really unfamiliar angle and it's just so refreshing. ...

"And Dave is just a killer drummer – a bass player's dream. And he's a great musician. He listens, he's very enthusiastic, very excitable, he drinks a lot of coffee and there's a lot of laughter and a lot of joking all the time. It's a very nice position to be in, I have to say. ...

"We all listen to each other. With the experience [we have], nobody has to explain anything to anybody else. If something's not working, everybody knows it's not working. And also, when you're with experienced musicians, you can fail. You can try something out knowing that it might now work."

There's one other comparison Jones makes to Led Zeppelin, and that has to do with the fan reaction. The fact that the music is not "manufactured" but is made just to please the musicians themselves greatly affects whether or not fans too will like it. As Jones says, "This music that we're making excites me, so I assumed it might excite other people too."

He and his bandmates suspected their individual names had some drawing power but weren't sure exactly what effect that alone would have on public interest, on creating enough demand to fill clubs and excite festival audiences when the audiences knew not what to expect.

"We knew we would create some sort of splash and it would be noticed but you never really know the circumstances," Jones says. "It's the same as Zeppelin. People would say, 'Did you realize when you were writing "Stairway to Heaven" what a huge song it was going to be?' Well, not really."

He describes Them Crooked Vultures concerts like this:

"Our shows are extremely loud, and slightly terrifying. We love doing them. Nobody shouts out Zeppelin numbers or Queens numbers or Foo numbers at our shows -- nobody does it. And that's refreshing. They're here for us. In fact, none of us have played any covers in rehearsals or jamming and we're very, very happy with that."

This writer must fess up to shouting for Jones's post-Zeppelin instrumental "Spaghetti Junction" as a request between songs at the 9:30 club in Washington, D.C. To my ears, Grohl may have teased "Moby Dick" between songs that night, but Jones didn't sate my palate for "Spaghetti Junction." Instead, he sated it with the band's new album plus other new material perhaps destined for that second Them Crooked Vultures album Jones has now publicly expressed interest in recording.

After all, he says there's no band from his past that will be calling him back. And you can take that to the bank.

Them Crooked Vultures full album now streaming online

All 13 songs from the self-titled album by Them Crooked Vultures are now streaming online. You may listen here in anticipation of the release -- on Nov. 16 in the United Kingdom, on Nov. 17 in the United States, and on other dates in other countries. Until then, don't forget to pre-order!

Uncut published an interesting take on the music earlier today.

[Update, Nov. 17: The album tracks were removed from their online presence upon the U.S. release of the physical album.]

Robert Plant revisits Fate of Nations era with guitarist Francis Dunnery

Led Zeppelin fans have criticized Robert Plant for his willingness to sing Led Zeppelin songs during his concert appearances, particularly when new and foreign-sounding arrangements are applied. (Check out the comments section from this post two months ago or this one from only a few weeks ago for two examples.)

We'll see what the reaction is to this.

Last week, Plant dipped into his past but not Led Zeppelin's. He did this by sitting in with Francis Dunnery, who was one of Plant's guitarists on his 1993 solo album, Fate of Nations, and his subsequent tour.

Here's Dunnery, in a interview conducted this year, on his work with Plant in the '90s:

Dunnery has been on a U.K. tour supporting his new 2-CD set, There’s a Whole New World Out There, which looks back on his own career by remaking several of the hits with which he's been affiliated -- one of those being Plant's own "Calling to You."

Most other songs on Dunnery's album are re-recordings of tracks he originally performed with his '80s band, It Bites. That band, incidentally, now exists in reunited form albeit without Dunnery, who was its original singer and lead guitarist, having replaced him with a fan.

Dunnery evidently has no problem performing those songs. As for his fans? They dig it! In Australia and New Zealand, for instance, Dunnery will be going on a house concert tour, and two of the shows are already sold out.

Back to my original point: Dunnery's onstage guest on Friday night the final show of his tour, at the Walls Restaurant in Oswestry, was Plant. They ran through a straightforward rendition of "Calling to You," as seen below.

Plant was all smiles as he heard Dunnery's band start up the song, especially when Brett Kull came in with a second guitar harmony that was on the original.

He commanded the first verse on his own, sounding just like he did 16 years ago, when that album was released. But when he missed the cue to enter for the second verse, everybody else who had a microphone stepped in and unfortunately started drowning out Plant.

At other times, it was clear Plant was looking to others for some help with the vocal cues -- and perhaps even the lyrics -- to a song whose arrangement really hadn't changed much. It was evident Plant was a little out of practice on the song, even though it was something he performed with the Strange Sensation as recently as in 2007.

As the song went on and there were no more cues to miss, Plant comfortably began adding vocals wherever possible including throughout instrumental sections.

Keyboardist Tom Brislin soloed, creating a synthesized approximation of Nigel Kennedy's violin on the original and "progging it up" a bit. The sound must have reminded Plant immediately of somebody like Keith Emerson or Patrick Moraz because he immediately misquoted a Yes lyric from "Roundabout," offering, "Mountains come out of the sea and just stand there."

Then, to Dunnery's apparent delight, Plant launched into an impromptu monologue on progressive rock artists he's known professionally, telling a joke about where one Jethro Tull drummer once shoved Ian Anderson's flute. Hmmmm.

On top of Dunnery's echoing guitar effect, Plant ended up vamping on a "When the Levee Breaks" reference, shortened to adapt to a 5/4 time signature: "Mean old levee taught me to weep, mean old levee taught me to weep ..." It sounded great!

So, let me ask all the Led Zeppelin fans out there who think Plant isn't allowed to sing Led Zeppelin songs anymore since he doesn't want to reunite Led Zeppelin a few questions, just to determine the guidelines of acceptability:
  • Is Plant allowed to vamp on a Led Zeppelin lyric while he performs one of his solo songs?
  • Is this particular lyric -- "mean old levee taught me to weep ..." -- OK for Plant to sing today since it was in a song by Memphis Minnie long before Plant appropriated it for a Led Zeppelin album?
  • Is Plant not even allowed to sing a song from his own solo career anymore, since he obviously isn't in any hurry to reform his solo band lineups with Robbie Blunt, Phil Johnstone or Skin Tyson?
  • Is it OK for Plant to team up onstage with Francis Dunnery, a guy who's performing songs from his former band at a time his former band replaced him because they wanted to reunite sooner than Dunnery was available?
  • Are these questions more than a little bothersome? If so, then why insist on reverting to the crazy idea that Robert Plant must reunite Led Zeppelin out of a debt to any of the other surviving members?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Worthwhile reading on a possible vacancy in Aerosmith, and Led Zeppelin 40 years ago

Last year, Steven Tyler was rumored to be rehearsing with Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and Jason Bonham. He was rumored to be one of the singers auditioning for a spot in the touring band that would have emerged, which the press insisted on incorrectly calling Led Zeppelin.

The only singer who has confirmed he was a part of rehearsals last year for this non-Led Zeppelin band is Myles Kennedy of Alter Bridge. Because the press insisted the resulting band would have been called Led Zeppelin, it was widely reported that either Kennedy was chief among singers being considered taking Robert Plant's place in Led Zeppelin.

Now, one blogger wants things to come full circle. Daniel Wilcox of says Aerosmith may be in shambles, with the band unsure whether or not Tyler has walked out on their touring commitments. Wilcox thinks Plant ought to volunteer to sing for Aerosmith. Of course, when he said that, he was kidding -- only about as serious as when he suggested Courtney Love ought to fill the same vacancy.

Wilcox finished up, though, with another suggestion, one he says he honestly means: Myles Kennedy. Check out his reasoning, among other things.

In the meantime, another blog has published a rather comprehensive look back at the album Led Zeppelin II, 40 years after its release.

Earlier this week was 40 years since a Led Zeppelin concert in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada, and Zeppelin fan Brian Gardiner marked the anniversary of the '69 show in his town with a trip to the library, which resulted in an informative piece on Zep's visit to the Canadian hamlet with a population of 100,000 at the time.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Jason Bonham describes his early involvement in Robert Plant's solo career; drummer performs early Plant song in concert

Jason Bonham, whose newly launched official Web site contains several videos from the celebrated drummer's career, has just yesterday uploaded a brand-new video from one of his concerts last week in California.

Bonham had five dates scheduled this month, billing shows as "An Evening with Jason Bonham." During shows, his band has been playing songs from his own past as well as from that of his father, the late Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham.

One song from Jason Bonham's own past is one that required a spoken introduction from the man behind the drum kit. Bonham spoke up before performing "Like I've Never Been Gone," a song from Robert Plant's first solo album in 1982, to tell a story about his own life and how he came to be involved in Plant's post-Zeppelin career in those days.

To set the scene, the 44-year-old describes the setting as "a period in my life which was a bit -- quite sad, really."
I was 14 years old and had just lost my father and really didn't know what to be doing in life, but Mr. Plant came along, picked me up from school one day. He said, "Would you like to come and jam?"

So I did, and we went to his house, and Robert was working on the first solo album, Pictures at Eleven. And this, to me -- I did all those demos, by the way, before Phil Collins came along, ...

It was a great moment, and it was a great time where I could just forget about that Dad had gone and just be playing music. It really helped me through it. This song means a lot to me. It's called "Like I've Never Been Gone."

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Online release of 'It Might Get Loud' scheduled to precede DVD release by two weeks

Davis Guggenheim, the director of "It Might Get Loud," has just contributed a Q&A with (At first, the site incorrectly listed his first name as "David.")

In the interview, Guggenheim plugs the upcoming DVD and Blu-Ray releases of his film documentary that centers on guitarists Jimmy Page, The Edge and Jack White. But he also discusses an online release of the film by iTunes.

The iTunes download of the movie is currently scheduled for Dec. 8, two weeks earlier than the physical releases on DVD and Blu-Ray on Dec. 22.

Yukari Iwatani Kane of the Wall Street Journal's Digits blog reports this is part of a new iTunes focus on "Music Movies" -- "music documentaries, concert films, musicals and other music-related content."
"As part of the new iTunes feature, Apple has signed two deals to distribute music movies exclusively for a limited period ahead of their release through other outlets. The first is a new concert film, 'Kings of Leon, Live at the O2,' featuring the rock band. It will be offered a week before other outlets on Nov. 3. The other is Davis Guggenheim's music documentary 'It Might Get Loud' about the history of the electric guitar, focusing on Jimmy Page, the Edge and Jack White. That will be available first on iTunes on Dec. 8, ahead of its wider distribution on Dec. 22."
From the interview:
WSJ: How did this partnership with iTunes come about?

Guggenheim: We all felt like this was the kind of movie that is perfect for iTunes. I'm sort of suspicious of the fads, but when you can imagine that at ten o'clock on a Friday night, wanting to see a certain movie, specifically a rock and roll movie, you're sort of following the instinct that you might have had in the '70s in Greenwich Village, when you could walk out and go find films like this. After you watch the movie you might say, "I'm going to download that song by Jimmy Page." If you were a music lover, you follow these paths.
Guggenheim also spoke with the L.A. Times blog Pop & Hiss about the upcoming release of "It Might Get Loud" on iTunes. The resulting piece says:
"Guggenheim spoke fondly of mom-and-pop record stores, but added, 'there's no music store that can have everything that iTunes has.' ... 'To me, iTunes is my own mom-and-pop,' Guggenheim said. 'That sounds counter-intuitive, but it actually is.'"

Addressing the quality of a downloaded movie, Guggenheim posits in the Q&A:
"I used to assume the quality was terrible. And for a while it was. But I downloaded 'The Sting' the other night and I couldn't tell the difference between that and a DVD. I think the quality issue is gone."

As for the convenience of a downloaded movie, the director tells
"It's perfect. If you're just a guy out there that loves movies, rock and roll music, and rock documentaries, you've seen all the music and movie venues disappear. The local music store, the local art house theater ... they're gone. That's the bad news. The good news is now there's a home for documentaries and music movies, and you don't even have to leave your home."

Yet the loss of the local music store is exactly what some people are mourning.

Led Zeppelin author Dave Lewis said this April he was reading "Last Shop Standing: Whatever Happened to Record Shops? A Journey Through an Industry In Turmoil" by Graham Jones. Within months, his hometown newspaper published a letter to the editor by Lewis, reading, in part:
"It's all too easy now to order CDs from the likes of Amazon and download songs from iTunes. This is all well and good but the download generation, which includes my own children, will never experience the excited buzz of a Saturday morning trawling the record shops in search of the latest singles and albums.

"The whole interaction of the buying and selling of records created a social network long before the emergence of the internet generated My Space and Facebook sites and one whereby we actually talked to each other face to face as we shared our passion for our favourite artists.

"I am sure I am not the only one whose record collection inspires fond memories of many hours spent in the likes of Carousel, Harlequin Records, Carlow's, Andy's, MVC, Our Price etc."

Free for one week only: Them Crooked Vultures track on iTunes

Head over to iTunes by Monday, Nov. 9, to get your free download of "Mind Eraser, No Chaser" by Them Crooked Vultures. The track is four minutes and seven seconds long.

The single "New Fang" is already available on iTunes at a download price of $1.29.

The band releases its first full-length album on Nov. 17 in the United States. Until then, is offering a rundown of the 13 cuts that will appear on the CD.

The iTunes version of the album includes two bonus tracks, live versions of "No One Loves Me & Neither Do I" and "Gunman."

John Bonham's mother picks up drummer's posthumous award

A Classic Rock magazine panel of judges has voted to honor the late John Bonham with this year's Tommy Vance Inspiration Award.

On hand at London's Park Lane Hotel to receive the posthumous honor last night were the drummer's mother, Joan Bonham, and his sister, Deborah Bonham.

The award was sponsored by Rhino Records.

Other winners in the 2009 Classic Rock Roll of Honour Awards include singer Iggy Pop, who was named a "Living Legend"; Ronnie Wood, who received the Outstanding Contribution award; and Ginger Baker, who received the Innovator award.

The presenters and guests in attendance included guitarists Pete Townshend, Jeff Beck, Brian May, Slash, Joe Perry and Billy Gibbons, plus singer Chrissie Hynde. (Update: To add to this, photographer Ross Halfin says Jimmy Page was there, along with Tommy Iommi, Mick Ralphs and Joe Bonamassa in addition to the aforementioned guitarists.)

At the ceremony two years ago, it was Jimmy Page who was named a Living Legend. For that 2007 ceremony, Robert Plant contributed a video tribute to him, which can be seen below.