Sunday, September 25, 2011

A New Duet Partner for Robert Plant

Ever since teaming up with Alison Krauss in 2007, Robert Plant has been singing more in duet style than as a front man. First with the Plant Krauss album, Raising Sand, and following that up with The Band of Joy, where he shared vocal duties with Patty Griffin.

alfie-boe-and-robert-plant-395616801Meanwhile, his Led Zeppelin partner John Paul Jones was appearing in an opera based on the life of Anna Nichole Smith and talking about writing his own opera. But nobody saw this one coming.

Robert Plant will appear on tenor Alfie Boe's latest collection, Alfie. The opera star and Plant combine on Tim Buckley's 1968 piece, Song To The Siren. Plant previously recorded Song to the Siren in 2002's Alfie, with his then band Strange Sensation, and Plant has often talked about the song as a favourite of his. Now it appears it will get a different treatment.

Boe is currently playing Jean Valjean in Les Misérables at the Queen's Theatre in London. His new album, Alfie, will be released November 8th.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Mr. Plant Goes to Marfa

Patty Griffin stepped onstage  last night at Marfa, Texas for the first night of the El Cosmico Trans-Pecos Festival of Music and Love, and introduced her new band, Crown Vic: "I'd like to introduce you to my dear, dear friend, Robert Plant."screen-shot-2011-09-23-at-102650-am

Plant joined the band of Texans for a run through a set of old songs, including at least three Led Zeppelin numbers, Rock and Roll, Misty Mountain Hop and Black Dog. A poster on YouTube noted, "(Crown Vic) Played a lot of Zepplin. One of the best shows I have ever seen."

Rumour is that Plant will stay in Texas and work with Crown Vic when Griffin goes out for a series of dates with Buddy Miller later this month.

More at Lemon Squeezings.

OA Online.

From Robert Plant's official website.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Feather in the Wind: Led Zeppelin Over Europe 1980

Led Zeppelin have impressed me in different ways over the years. As musicians, as performers, as writers, as people. Tonight they impressed me as a working rock ‘n’ roll band - above everything, that’s important.

Tight but loose? - you ain’t joking... And this is only the second night of the tour.

Dave Lewis
Feather in the Wind page 96

Dave Lewis has said that Feather in the Wind: Led Zeppelin Over Europe 1980, is a companion book to his earlier work, Then as it Was - At Knebworth 1979*. This is the most accurate statement you can make about it. Feather in the Wind is so perfectly synchronous with Then as it Was it could be called part 2. Between the two books, Lewis thoroughly covers the time in Led Zeppelin’s career beginning with the last US show in July 1977 and ending at the announcement of their dissolution in Dec 1980.

[caption id="attachment_1267" align="alignright" width="214" caption="Led Zeppelin Feather in the Wind - Over Europe 1980"]Led Zeppelin Feather in the Wind - Over Europe 1980[/caption]

Feather in the Wind is in the main about Led Zeppelin’s underreported final tour through Europe in the summer of 1980. In the telling, however, Lewis starts at Knebworth the summer before, and carries the story to the end of 1980 and the end of Led Zeppelin.

Lewis was there, that’s the key point of the book. Dave Lewis was able to get to a number of the 1980 shows. He was a fan, buying his tickets, but he wound up getting treated like a journalist and seeing 1980 Led Zeppelin from a variety of vantage points: backstage, the photography pit, the cheap seats. After show he hung about with the band members in the hotel bars, and talked about the tour, and the future of Led Zeppelin. That access is at the heart of the narrative.

Feather in the Wind is both the telling of the last Led Zeppelin story, and a reference book. If you want to know when they played Nuremberg, what songs they played, what was said between songs or any other number of facts about the show, it is all in there. From short venue history and seating capacity to what each band member wore onstage, you can find it.

Yet it’s not an encyclopaedia. With personal stories, Lewis’ personal experiences and a store of never before seen pictures taken by the author himself, Feather in the Wind tells a great story. It is, in fact, one of the best Led Zeppelin books you will ever read.

*Lewis has published a second edition of Then as Now: Knebworth ‘79, with a “
revamped cover and new layout design,increased colour content and additional text.” It looks great, and would nicely sit beside Feather in the Wind on the bookshelf.

Both books can be bought at Tight But Loose. If you have a Led Zeppelin fan on your Christmas list, buying both would make a great gift.


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Dave Lewis on BBC

Last Tuesday Dave Lewis called into Vic Morgan on BBC Radio's weekday Late Show for a chat about writing and his new book Feather in the Wind: Over Europe 1980.

I talked about the book myself on my first PodCast, available here.

The book can be ordered from the Tight But Loose website.

h/t Steve Sauer

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Jason Bonham Led Zeppelin Experience Add Dates

Edited and Bumped

img_2480_stdLast spring, Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Experience had to cancel 4 shows due to singer James Dylan's illness. The shows in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Sacramento and Napa Valley were rescheduled for this fall. The band has added three more California shows, plus a number of dates in the North East, including three in Canada.

Here is the full schedule for Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Experience fall tour:

  • October 12: Riverside, CA - Fox Performing Arts Center

  • October 13: Bakersfield, CA - Fox Theatre

  • October 14: Los Angeles, CA - The Greek Theatre (make-up date)

  • October 15: Las Vegas, NV - Alliente Casi (make-up date)

  • October 17: Sacramento, CA - Crest Theatre (make-up date)

  • October 18: Napa Valley, CA - Uptown Theatre (make-up date)

  • October 27: Englewood, NJ - Bergen PAC

  • October 28: Huntington, NY - Paramount Theater

  • October 29: Upper Darby (Phil), PA - Tower Theater

  • October 31: Boston, MA - The Wilbur Theatre

  • November 1: New York, NY - Best Buy Theater

  • November 2: Hartford, CT - The Webster

  • November 4: Buffalo, NY - Town Ballroom

  • November 5: Orillia, ONT - Casino Rama

  • November 6: Ottawa/Gatineau, QC - TBD

  • November 7: Quebec City, QC - TBD


New dates added:

  • Nov 10: Silver Spring MD - The Fillmore

  • Nov. 11: Poughkeepsie NY - The Chance Theatre

  • Nov. 12: Richmond VA - The National

  • Nov 13: Atlanta GA - Sun Center Stage

  • Nov 16: Orlando FL. - The Hard Rock

  • Nov. 17: Hollywood FL. - Seminole Hard Rock and Casino

  • Nov 18: Clearwater FL. - Ruth Eckerd Hall

Podcast #3

The 3rd Ramble On Podcast is complete and uploaded. This week, I have an interview/chat with Steve, The Lemon, Sauer. Steve offers some of his recent experiences, and we talk about Death Wish II, Robert Plant in Texas and a possible Jeff Beck/Robert Plant collaboration.

The podcast can be found at my PodBean site, or subscribed to on iTunes.

If you're interested in providing an intro and outro bumper ("hi this is XX and you are listening to the Ramble On Podcast."), contact me and I'll set up a time to be on Skype or iChat or FaceTime. You don't have to be Steve Sauer, I'm looking for anybody to do this.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Death Wish II Soundtrack to be re-Released

Jimmy Page announced today on his personal website, that he will be re-releasing a special edition vinyl Death Wish II: The Original Soundtrack

To mark today’s 30th anniversary, will be re-releasing a special, limited, re-mastered vinyl edition of the soundtrack to Michael Winner’s Death Wish II, featuring a previously unreleased instrumental version of the death wish main title and new liner notes by Jimmy Page…

Only 1,000 copies will be released next month from the forthcoming Jimmy Page shop, so stay tuned to over the coming weeks to find out more information about this exciting release.

Death Wish II was released to accompany the movie in February 1982. It was Page’s first album after the death of John Bonham and dissolution of Led Zeppelin. Recorded in late 1981 at Page's own Sol Studio, music from the album was also used in 1985's Death Wish III, also directed by Michael Winner.

The re-release of the album also marks the first item to be sold at the Jimmy Page Shop, which will hopefully provide some real product for fans of the guitarist over the next while.

But Will They Do a Rap Version of Achilles Last Stand?

Back in August 1968, the Jeff Beck Band released their first album, Truth. Featuring Beck’s guitar playing, including a traditional solo arrangement of Greensleeves, and Willie Dixon’s You Shook Me, the three piece band plus big voiced, wild blond-haired singer, Rod Stewart, looked ready to take on the world.

jeffbeckSix months later in January 1969, Beck’s childhood friend and former Yardbird playing partner, Jimmy Page, released the first album with his new band, Led Zeppelin. It featured a solo guitar piece and You Shook Me, and the three piece band was fronted by a big voiced wild blond singer. Jeff Beck, it has been reported, was not pleased.

Is Beck about to turn the tables?

Planet Rock today reports that Beck told them in an interview that there’s the possibility of a project involving him and Robert Plant:
There's whispers about Robert Plant.

I met him recently. He came into my dressing room. I was playing in the New Orleans Jazz Rock Blues Festival... And then I hear 'Alright. How you doin'?' and it was Robert Plant!

We had a lovely chat. I think maybe he saw the act; I put on a pretty good show. And I think that there may be something there. Who knows?

I think that the common denominator would be the Eastern, you know, the kind of Arabic... I love that. That's prevalent in Zeppelin's music. The quarter tone scale, I just love that. There's more mileage in that... the exciting rhythms that he likes.

We're both pretty busy at the moment but if the desire's there you make it happen.

As Jimmy Page sits at home playing X-Box, writing “on this day’s,” watching The X-Factor and waiting for Plant to phone and say  "Alright. How you doin'?", Plant may be working with the other greatest guitar player, Beck.

All in, Beck didn’t really say much, a few maybe’s here, a “there’s whisper’s,” there. He may have been pulling the interviewers leg, and it reads like he probably was. But it’s exciting to think about: Robert Plant singing along side a great blues-rock guitarist.

It’s enough to get a guy up off the couch, if only because he just fell off it.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Free Black Country Communion Download

The new live DVD/BluRay and CD from Black Country Communion can be pre-ordered September 13th from the BCC home page and Amazon. The package will ship October 24th. We have also now gotten a look at the cover.


While you wait, you can download a free MP3 of Song of Yesterday.

Watch here for a pre-release review of Black Country Communion: Live Over Europe.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Podcast #2

Ramble On #2, the podcast, has been recorded and uploaded. Led Zeppelin news, plus a couple of audio clips from the DVD Robert Plant's Blue Note.

You can listen at PodBean.

You can also subscribe to the iTunes feed at

Robert Plant's Blue Note: DVD Review

The blue note is a musical term for a note that is played slightly flat, “for expressive purposes.” The blue note, in point of fact, differentiates itself from the normal musical expression, creating a sound, a feeling that is wholly different with greater feeling.

Naming the unauthorized Robert Plant DVD The Blue Note was no accident. It took Plant’s fondness for the blue note, and extrapolated from it that Plant is a wholly different singer who sings with greater feeling. The blue note is, in other words, where Plant finds his inspiration and where his influence lies.

planetblueAt two hours and thirty-five minuets long The Blue Note is surprisingly not comprehensive, as Plant’s Led Zeppelin period is breezed over in twenty minutes of film time. While this allows for a solid look at Plant’s solo years, specifically from 1981 to 1994 when he performed Unledded with Jimmy Page, far too much time is spent on Plants early influences. The first half hour covers his blues influences, with video footage of Howlin’ Wolf, Sony Boy Williamson and the Jeff Beck era Yardbirds doing Train Kept a Rollin’. While much of this is interesting and worth seeing, it’s possibly too much for a DVD on Robert Plant.

The west coast influences of Moby Grape, Jefferson Starship and Buffalo Springfield are also covered, including video footage that feels too common. It is unnecessary and far too much time is taken up covering the people Robert Plant listened too. It is almost inexcusable that Led Zeppelin doesn’t come up in a Robert Plant retrospective until the 45 minute mark, but that’s what occurs here.

The problem is compounded with a pathetically short feature on Led Zeppelin, as if hey were a small band Robert Plant was in before going on to bigger and better things. It is twenty minutes from Peter Grant and Jimmy Page going to see Robert Plant perform to the death of John Bonham. So short on information during this period is the DVD that the death of Plants young son, Karak, in 1977 gets a one sentence mention, along with the death of John Bonham. Every album from the fourth on is ignored. It is as if Led Zeppelin had two good albums, the acoustic third album and Kashmir, which the video takes five minutes of time to explain the genesis of the one song.

It is the five minutes devoted to Kashmir that really develops the theme of Robert Plant’s Blue Note, namely that the blue note is not just an American phenomenon, but African in origin: Robert Plant has searched North and West Africa for it, finding the link between American and African music. This theme is why Arab singer Oum Kalthoum get’s six minutes of video time, explaining her influence on Slow Dancer, and Stairway to Heaven doesn’t rate a mention.

The video segments from the Led Zeppelin period are also a disappointment as they show clips of Whole Lotta Love and I Can’t Quit You Baby from the 1970 Albert Hall show, and Kashmir from the 1979 Knebworth show. All three performances are publicly available on the Led Zeppelin DVD set. The Page and Plant material is also supplemented with songs from the Unledded DVD, nothing that any moderate Led Zeppelin or Robert Plant fan doesn’t already have in their collection. One clip of Robert Plant backstage in 1973, originally from The Song Remains the Same is actually credited, “Copyright Swan Song 1970.”

However, the time and effort spent on his solo years is as good as the early part of the DVD is disappointing. Starting with gigging as the Honeydrippers before spending any studio time, the first part of Plant’s solo career is talked through mainly by Robbie Blunt, Plant’s guitar player and songwriting partner. Blunt is funny and interesting, telling stories and explaining the music. His pride in the first two albums is clear, the third, Shaken ‘n’ Stirred less so. Plant was, by 1985, restless. And in a pattern Plant fans know too well, decided a change was needed. He was searching, and the band behind him simply couldn’t follow. Blunt’s telling the story of his struggles with the Roland Guitar Synthesizer, and Plant’s insistence that Jimmy Page is getting along fine with his is worth the price of the DVD:
...Trying to record with the Roland Guitar Synth, I really tried (laughs) to utilize this piece of crap, because obviously the latency. And Robert Would say, “I don’t know what’s the matter with you, Jimmy’s getting on fine with his.” And Benji called up Jimmy’s guitar tech and he said, “he’s fuckin’ thrown ‘is out the window.

From 1988, Now and Zen, until 1993’s Fate of Nations is told largely by Phil Johnson who co-wrote many songs with Plant and produced his albums in this period. Johnson is , like Blunt, funny and easy going. His stories are incisive and help tell a fairly complete picture of Plant’s musical life at this time. He also, by the end, is frustrated by Plant’s need for change.

Blue Note returns to it's thesis here, Plant's search for the blue note in African music, a search that ultimately frustrated those he worked with, and led him back to Jimmy Page.

The first Page and Plant album is again, well covered, with emphasis on it’s North African influence. Plant turned to Page, according to the DVD, not to relive Led Zeppelin, but because he found himself in a place musically where he couldn’t get the sound he wanted. Jimmy Page could.

Percussionist Hossam Ramzy, who recorded on the unLedded album and toured with Page and Plant carried the narrative for this section. He connects dots and draws lines between American Blues, Led Zeppelin and African music. His amazement at listening to Since I’ve Been Loving You every night, his story of taking two weeks of rehearsals to get the percussion for Friends down, all provide a interesting backdrop for the tour and album.

Plant’s career post-Page and Plant is covered with less detail, but in a good light. Journalist Amanda Petrusich fills in the gaps about Alison Krauss, but ultimately little is added to the story once Plant’s African infatuation ends with Strange Sensation.

While DVD’s of this type are usually filled with journalists making a few extra bucks pontificating for the cameras, Blue Note actually pulls together an impressive list of people to help weave the Robert Plant story together: Led Zeppelin authors Nigel Williamson and Barry Hoskyns; Fellow musicians Tom McGuinness (from Manfred Mann), Hossam Ramzy, Chris Dreja, Robbie Blunt as well as producer/song writer Phil Johnson. Plant himself is represented via a CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) interview in 2010.

If you are a Led Zeppelin fan, Blue Note is probably a DVD you can take a pass on, but if you are a fan of Robert Plant’s solo work and, especially as I am, his work from 1980 - 1995, then this is a great DVD. It covers his career, without delving into personal life, with great detail through those years. It make a convincing argument that Plant spent a career searching for the Blue Note, and perhaps still is searching.