Sunday, April 27, 2014

Book Review: Lisa Robinson -There Goes Gravity: A Life in Rock and Roll

"Jimmy Page wore a pink satin jacket."

The first lines Mick Jagger said to Lisa Robinson, quoting her work to her side-stage at an Eric Clapton concert, mark Robinson's style of criticism. In her own words: "I never felt like a "combatant," or reporter; I felt like an ally." Robinson is a music critic because she, like the acts she covers, loves the music. She's a fan, not a cynic and her "defense attorney" approach to writing about bands ingratiated her with a closed group like Led Zeppelin.

Robinson travelled with Zeppelin on their 1973, '75 and '77 tours, as well as attended Knebworth in '79. She reported for Hit Parader, where I used to read her tour accounts as a teenager, and, more importantly for the band, in England for New Music Express. Robinson was one of the select few journalists allowed inside the Zeppelin bubble.

In her book, There Goes Gravity: A Life in Rock and Roll, (available now from the usual book sellers) Robinson recounts her career. In Chapter 2 she gives us look at her time With Led Zeppelin, from her second time seeing them in Jacksonville, Florida in 1973 she was a fan (she recounts a disappointing first time seeing Zeppelin at Madison Square Garden in 1970):
... it was exciting, complex and majestic... I heard strains of blues and American roots music and a combination of everything from the 1960s Eastern-influenced British band Kaleidoscope to the acoustic, hippie-ish Incredible String Band, to Willie Dixon... They were bigger and more complex than Pink Floyd or Cream.
She recounts all her tours, and recounts the key people she dealt with, including Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and John Bonham, the latter of whom she says, "Drunk, he was a madman... sober, to me, he was a sweetheart - articulate and a gentleman." She did interviews, snippets of which she provides and recounts stories of the road. She was in the room during Bonham's somewhat famous rant about Karen Carpenter winning the Playboy magazine best drummer award, and was in the plane, at 25,000 feet, when Richard Cole pulled a gun to settle a dispute between Jimmy and a reporter from the London Daily Express, a reporter Robert wanted to make nice with because his father read that paper.

If you are planning to read There Goes Gravity: A Life in Rock and Roll for the Led Zeppelin content, however, you will be disappointed. Other than Led Zeppelin, Robinson travelled with or spent significant time with The Rolling Stones, John and Yoko, David Bowie, The New York Dolls, The Ramones, Patti Smith, The Clash, the Sex Pistols, U2, Eminem, Kanye West and Lady Gaga (did I miss any?). The book covers all these artist and more. It is a sharp, interesting and often fun read, but it is not a Led Zeppelin book.


Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Led Zeppelin Podcast #56

Thanks to Tight But Loose's Dave Lewis ( for coming on today's program. I talk to Dave about the re-issues, Robert and Jimmy's comments on the BBC yesterday, Dave's books and his magazine, Tight But Loose.

You can download the podcast at Podbean or Spreaker. If you go to Spreaker, be sure to follow the episode.

You can also subscribe on iTunes. If you subscribe via iTunes, be sure to leave a review.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Zero Chance of Led Zeppelin Performing Together Again

It's all I've ever asked of Robert Plant. Stop being clever and cute, and answer the damn question in a straightforward manner. It's been clear for a long time Robert Plant doesn't want to perform with his old bandmates again. Fair enough, but when asked, he gives cute answers like "I'm free in 2014." Just this weekend, someone was asking me what was happening with a Zeppelin reunion, and mentioned that line about Plant being free. Except, he never was, not really.

So when Robert was on BBC this morning and was asked, point blank, "What are the chances (that you'll perform live again)," his answer of "zero" was a welcome moment of candor.

Jimmy Page also had an interview released on BBC this morning, and when asked the same question, Page was more philosophical:

"Oh, I know it's a wish fantasma." '

"Not true, no hope?" he was then asked.

"Well, should we be not living in hopes and dreams. Should we just look at the facts. The O2 was seven years ago... and there hasn't been any movement so it's unlikely. I certainly don't want to be exhumed to do it."

Not wanting to let it go, the interviewer continues. Would you do a one-off gig like Glastonbury? Page sounds a little exasperated at this point. "I'm not the one to be asking... I don't sing. I'm a guitarist... I'm sure people would love to hear it, but it's quite clear what the situation is. There's no point in asking me hypothetical questions. It is what it is. And it is seven years since the O2, and I'm more surprised than anybody else that there hasn't been a Led Zepeplin (tour)."

A couple of weeks ago, when I discussed the Michael Eavis comments re: Glastonbury on the podcast, (which, cough cough, you can download here, or listen to here, or here) I hit all these points: it's clear Robert has no interest, possibly even less interest now than ever. Jimmy's getting older, he's 70 now and John Paul Jones is 68.

As well as the interviews, and possibly more important, the band released two musical clips: 1-minute of the Whole Lotta Love alternate master (the answer is, it's very different) and the blues classic Keys to the Highway, an acoustic blues which was recorded immediately after Hats Off to Roy Harper in 1970.

The Jimmy Page interview can be steamed here, Robert Plant here, Whole Lotta Love heard here and Keys to the Highway here.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Communication Breakdown Being Released Tomorrow

An early, digital only, release of Good Times Bad Times/Communication Breakdown from the Olympia Theatre in Paris, 1969 is happening tomorrow. According to Rolling Stone, you can buy the song, which will open the bonus editions of the new remastered deluxe editions, starting tomorrow April 15th at iTunes and other digital retailers in the Americas (the song was released today in Europe). (The Amazon link included here may, or may not, take you to the song tomorrow).

More interesting, perhaps, is that the bonus material on each album shows no song times on iTunes, except for one song per album, including Good Times Bad Times/ Communication Breakdown, Whole Lotta Love (rough Mix with Vocal) on the second album and Immigrant Song (alternate mix). This suggests that over the next few weeks we may also see those songs released ahead of the June 3rd release date. A rumour of an April 28th release for Whole Lotta Love suggests a release of May 12 for Immigrant Song.

Click Image for Full Size

Click Image for Full Size

Click Image for Full Size


Friday, April 11, 2014

The Led ZeppelinPodcast Episode 54

There are weeks when you aren't happy with the final product: last week was one of them. Among other things, I missed a couple of stories I wanted to cover. So this week is a hodgepodge of stories, including a couple I missed the last couple of weeks, plus a few new ones: in Episode 54 I talk about goalie masks, is Michael Eacis nuts? Robert Plant sings for charity, Jimmy shops at Whole Foods, a photographic exhibit a new music device and Dave Lewis' Tight But Loose Issue #37.


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Promo for First Led Zeppelin Album Reissue

Today, unveiled a one-minute promotional video for the first album's reissue, due in June. The video features 1:06 clip of Good Times Bad Times/Communication Breakdown from the Paris Olympia show which will make up the bonus material.

 For more information on the remasters, please check a previous post with all pertinent details. You can pre-order the first Led Zeppelin album in CD, LP or Deluxe Box Set from Amazon.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Tight But Loose #37

Dave Lewis is reporting that the latest edition of his magazine, Tight But Loose number 37, is almost ready to roll out and he is making it available for a almost half of the usual cover price. This edition can be had fo £3.00 plus postage (here in the America's, that still comes to $12.50).

The issue includes:

Led Zeppelin Summer 2014 – The First Three Reissues: Your guide to the first three Led Zeppelin reissues with key insight and background info to what is in store…

Led Zeppelin Early 1969: Mike Tremaglio tracks gig by gig, the tumultuous first Led Zeppelin tour of the US with extensive and accurate detail guaranteed to take you back to the psychedelic ballrooms and venues where the legend first came alive…

Led Zeppelin Early 1975: Andy Crofts continues his tape analysis of the early months of 1975 –stopping off in February where Led Zeppelin were in the throes of a significant physical recovery… 

Jimmy Page at 70: On the occasion of his 70th birthday – the TBL Poll Results –the all-time favorite Jimmy Page performances as voted by you – plus James Patrick Page Session Man box set reviewed. 

Joe Jammer: The TBL Interview: A roadies tale and more – exclusive interview with the Zep ’69 guitar tech and roadie and performer in his own right…

 Robert Plant: A new slant: Latest Sensational Space Shifters news and more

 John Paul Jones: Cloud to ground: Minibus Pimps album and latest JPJ news activity

 Glenn Hughes on California Breeding: "Jason Bonham can now really put his hat next to his father’s – this is the greatest drumming he’s ever done on record by far."

Deborah Bonham

Nick Anderson Collector Column News of Led Zep 1 and Houses of The Holy acetates, The Object

Roger Berlin’s museum of Led Zeppelin magazine museum

The pricing is as follows, and can be ordered through the Tight But Loose website:

 UK: £3.00 plus £1.50 postage –total to pay £.4.50
Europe: £3.00 plus £3.50 total to pay £6.50
USA/Canada £3.00 plus £4.50 total to pay £7.50 ($12.50 approx.)
Australia/Japan/rest of world £3.00 plus£5.00 total to pay £8.00

Tales From Planet Earth

Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters released a promotional video for their summer tour tis week, entitled Tales From Planet Earth.

California Breed: Midnight Oil

California Breed, the upcoming band featuring Jason Bonham and Glenn Hughes of Black Country Communion with guitarist Andrew Watt, released the video of their second single today, Midnight Oil.


 While Midnight Oil is the second single the band has done ahead of the release of their first album on May 20th, it is the first European single. Both singles can be bought now at iTunes,
or downloaded when you preorder.

The California Breed CD/DVD Deluxe Edition is also available for pre-order now at Amazon.

Previously, California Breed released Sweet Tea as an iTunes and YouTube single.

Friday, April 4, 2014

The Led Zeppelin Podcast #53