Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Ramble On Radio Episode #8

Ralph Hulett joined me for an interview on Ramble On Radio Episode #8, which is now available.

On this edition I discuss the Led Zeppelin IV @ 40 Gallery Exhibition, my role in putting Led Zeppelin IV back on the Billboard charts,  Jimmy Page and the age of chivalry, and a Robert Plant back yard charity show.

On the what's for sale topics, a Black Country Communion "note for note" guitar DVD, Frank Reddon's Sonic Boom: The Impact of Led Zeppelin. Volume 1 - Break & Enter on e-book, a biography of Ahmet Ertegun, The Last Sultan: The Life and Times of Ahmet Ertegun and a Jimmy Page Coffin.

Ralph Hulett told stories about seeing Led Zeppelin, and stories from his book, Whole Lotta Led: Our Flight with Led Zeppelin, co-authored with Jerry Prochnicky.

Ramble On Radio Episode #8 is available at Podbean or you can subscribe at iTunes

Links from Ramble On Radio Episode #8:

Robert Plant with Roger Daltry and Pete Townsend for Teenage Cancer Trust

Get Ramble On Radio Episode #8 at Podbean, or subscribe through iTunes

Ralph Hulett Links: get his blog (plus links to his podcasts) plus see some pictures exclusive to the ebook edition and more.

Podcast #1

Podcast #2

Ralph's photography.

Death Wish II Re-Release

jimmypagedeathwishiicoverJimmy Page's Death Wish II Collectors' Edition LP is released this Thursday (December 1st 2011) at 15:00 GMT (07:00 PST / 10:00 EST) exclusively through The heavyweight vinyl package includes previously unreleased material, all-new 2011 sleeve notes and updated artwork.

There are only 1000 individually-numbered copies available and Jimmy Page has personally signed the first 30 copies of this limited edition release.

The standard Collectors' Edition of Death Wish II is priced at £30.00 with signed copies available for £195.00.

Explaining the release of the album, Jimmy said: “In 1981, Michael Winner asked me if I would compose the soundtrack to Death Wish II. The songs with vocals were only going to appear in the film for a matter of seconds but I had recorded full versions of them anyway - which is how I ended up doing my first soundtrack and soundtrack album. I’ve re-released this because I wanted it to be available again.”

Editions will be sold on a first come, first served basis, so you'll need to be quick tomorrow to reserve a low number edition. Numbers 1-30 have been signed by Jimmy Page, while numbers 31-1000 are available unsigned.

You know, if I could guarantee I'd get one of those signed copies, I might just get this. But they "can't" (read: won't) let you know what edition number you are getting.

If you are interested, the Shop section of the webpage will be available from the top navigation bar of the website.

Shipping will be by courier, costing £10 in the UK, £15 international. Here in North America that's $41 for the record plus $20 for the shipping - between $60 and $65 all in.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Flood Gallery Commemorates Led Zeppelin IV

The Flood Gallery in Greenwhich had an exhibit last week commemorating the 40th anniversary of Led Zeppelin IV. The exhibit featured eight different pictures, created specially for the exhibit, each commemorating one song on Led Zeppelin IV. The Black Dog and Stairway to Heaven posters are also available in different colour patterning. As well, there is an exhibition poster, plus a poster depicting the entire set.

In total there are 15 posters ranging in price from £20 to £500. Personally, I ordered the exhibition poster.


Posters can be seen, and ordered from the Flood Gallery website.

Dave Lewis was, of course, there and has more.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Official On-line Store

From their official website,, Led Zeppelin have launched an official store.

This evening, an email went out to subscribers of the website announcing the new online store. So far, the store just offers mens, women's and youth t-shirts. No word on whether they will make other items available in the future, but based on other acts online stores, I would expect so.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Ramble On Radio Episode #7

front-picture-smallIs Robert Plant married? While he and Patty have been seen with wedding rings, it seems quite possible they are having some fun with the media and gullible bloggers. Jimmy Page played, "Same old Rock," with Roy Harper in London, while Jason Bonham was playing Orillia.

Add in a little Idi Amin and what's that drum beat on The Ballad of John Henry?

Ramble On Radio Episode #7, now uploaded. As always, subscribe via iTunes and never miss a show.


- Whole Lotta Led
- Robert Plant in GQ
- The Led Zeppelin Ladder
-Jimmy Page and Roy Harper
- Tight But Loose' tribute to Howard Mylett

Tuesday, November 8, 2011



If you came of age in the mid-1970’s, as I did, Led Zeppelin IV (aka ZOSO) was always there. You go to the carnival, and the Tilt-a-Whirl guy is blasting Rock and Roll, Black Dog and When the Levee Breaks. Guys driving down the street would be blasting it out of their 8-track player. You didn’t hear it for the first time, you absorbed it over time.

IV wasn’t even the first Zeppelin album I found and loved. That honour would fall to their third album, which I “borrowed” from my older brother on such a regular basis he bought me my own copy for Christmas the next year.

The follow up fourth album soon joined III as a staple of my record player. Mostly side one, it has to be confessed, for the obvious reasons. Frankly, song  for song, I’ll still take side one even now, with the exception of When the Levee Breaks which may be my favourite song on the album.

Everybody has favourites, and most Zeppelin fans will probably chose an album other than IV as their’s. But make no mistake, none will deny the greatness of Led Zeppelin IV. From song 1 to song 8, it contains no flaws, no misses. And in fact, in age when artists worried about the flow of the entire album, IV has two very different, but flawless sides, and still works as a complete unit. In other words, whether you throw on side 1, side 2 or the good old standby, 8-track and hear the whole thing through, it works.

But it’s still the songs that make the album, and IV features Led Zeppelin at their best. Rock and Roll, the bands answer to critics who said they had gone soft. Black Dog, a unique call and response style song unlike anything recorded before or since.

Battle of Evermore, the prelude to Stairway: Angry Hobbits with mandolins. Page and Jones, with just mandolins, acoustic guitar and, reportedly, a Dulcimer make the earth shake. Stairway to Heaven, in the aftermath of Battle of Evermore is like the dawn after battle. It’s message of hope in direct conflict with Evermore’s war call. Stairway to Heaven, the song that ended a thousand dances, more of a ritual than a rock song.

Side 2, if your using old school formats like me (or actually track 3 and 4, which is how I have listened to IV the last few times I’ve had it on), starts with the albums two weakest songs. Misty Mountain Hop, the hippy anthem. This falls in the category of second tier Zeppelin songs that prove just how good Zeppelin was. Four Sticks is a drum driven song with rather complex time structure. Again, most bands would kill to have this song in their repertoire, for Led Zeppelin in 1971, it was weak.

Going to California is the ultimate Zeppelin folk song. They had done folk before, had built the third album around folk songs, but Going to California trumps them all. Give Led Zeppelin acoustic guitars and mandolins and they were still the best rock band in the world, and Going to California is exhibit A.

Finally, the tour de force. Of all the songs on Led Zeppelin IV, When the Levee Breaks may have aged the most gracefully, which is odd considering it has all the grace of a charging Rhino. Built around John Bonham’s great drum pattern, the most sampled drum pattern in all of rap, Zeppelin rolls for 7 minutes of chicago blues like no other. It is pure driving rock yet, thanks to Bonham, swings like an old soul song.

Left off the album destined to  appear on 1975's Physical Graffiti, the songs Night Flight, Down By the Seaside and Boogie With Stu. Those three songs, the afterthoughts, those are a career for some bands.

Forty years ago today, November 8, 1971 Led Zeppelin IV was released. It  may have been the best album of the rock era, yet not Led Zeppelin best album. It is good enough to be called that, and Zeppelin good enough to transcend it.

Monday, November 7, 2011

What, No Black Dog?

Can it be done? Can Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Experience do their show and not perform Black Dog? Not perform Dazed and Confused? Not even have guitarist Tony Catania use the Theremin?

It can be, and was done Saturday Night at Casino Rama in Orillia, Ontario.


There were problems it seems, both technical and logistical. From a technical standpoint, Tony Catania seemed to be having some issues. Early on he slipped into a solo, hit on a pedal, and nothing. The sound died. At other times he just seemed to be having trouble. The theremin sat on the stage all night un-used, another clue of technical difficulties.

This is not to say Catania didn't play well, or spent all night with a deer in the headlights look, wondering why God was failing him so. All told, the look of "what the..." totalled thirty second or a minute of a two hour show, and if you weren't close enough, weren't watching the guitarist with the intensity only a hobbyist can apply to a professional, then you probably noticed nothing wrong.

[caption id="attachment_1573" align="alignnone" width="422" caption="James Dylan, "Goin Down Now...""]"Goin Down Now..."[/caption]

The logistical problem was venue related. The casino's love to get 5,000 music fans into their casino who might not otherwise come. But once there, they don't really want them sitting pin the hall watching a show. If they had their choice, you would buy your ticket, then just come to the casino and gamble. So they put a rider in the bands contract, maximum 90 minute show.

After the show, both James Dylan and Stephen Leblanc mentioned that they had to cut songs from the set list. The longer songs took the hit, with Dazed and Confused, it was mentioned by both Dylan and LeBlanc, getting cut. With the tight time, Whole Lotta Love got a short, Over Europe 1980 treatment. It wasn't until the next day I realized Black Dog wasn't played either.

[caption id="attachment_1579" align="alignnone" width="410" caption=""I would like to thank..." "]"I would like to thank..." [/caption]

Problems aside, Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Experience didn't miss a note Saturday night. They kept the show rolling, not taking their usual break after Moby Dick, instead rolling along, keeping it moving. And in the end, they packed a lot of songs into a 90 minute set. They packed, it seemed to me, a lot of minutes in as well, as the show ran far closer to 2 hours than 90 minutes by my count.

Dazed and Confused and Black Dog notwithstanding, they didn't miss a trick. Immigrant Song, Rock and Roll, Kashmir, When the Levee Breaks, Stairway to Heaven: they touched all the bases.

[caption id="attachment_1581" align="alignnone" width="432" caption="James and Tony doing Stairway to Heaven"]James and Tony doing Stairway to Heaven[/caption]

Musically, the band gets better and better, the music of Led Zeppelin, so complicated to perform, seeming to roll off them. They are tighter than last time I saw them, and they are playing with an ease I don't remember. Stephen LeBlanc has become essential to this band, adding lap steel here, an electric guitar part there. Keyboard, acoustic guitar, mandolin, every song is given that extra touch by LeBlanc, who has also developed his theatrical flair.

Dorian Heartsong, the new guy in the band, although he has probably played more shows with them now than Michael Devon has, lays down a perfect groove every time. He fit's in so well he was barely noticeable, which is the highest compliment I can pay to a bass player.

James Dylan was once again, note perfect. Hitting Robert Plant's notes and phrases, without ever sounding just like Robert Plant. If you didn't miss Robert Plant, if you closed your eyes, you still knew it wasn't Plant. The perfect frontman for a cover band, he sings in a way that is flattering to Plant, without being imitative.

Tony Catania, technical issues aside, hit all the notes, strutted and preened ala Page. He plays with energy and plays his part musically. He is as good as anyone doing the Jimmy Page circuit.


As for Jason, he obviously can play the parts, and he did so with energy. He tells his stories, sometimes prowling the stage while doing so. He is amusing, self  effacing and a hell of a drummer. Combined with the guys mentioned above, and he is putting on a fabulous show in the name of the father.

If Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Experience is coming to your town, it's well worth checking out.
* Note: Notices at the Casino informed fans the show was being recorded for possible later use. During the show, auditorium lights often came on as songs were ending, quite obviously to film the crowd reaction.

Is Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Experience planning on releasing a DVD of the show, or doing a broadcast at some point in the future?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Robert Plant and Alfie Boe: Fair or Foul

Even though the official release date is still a few days away, if you live in the UK you can download the Alfie Boe and Robert Plant duet, Song to the Siren, from iTunes now.

mzidsgekftr170x170-75As it's not available by means fair or foul outside the UK, here in Canada I can only speculate that it is a surprisingly good duet. Boe is a magnificent singer, and Song to the Siren is in his wheelhouse.

The revelation is Plant. Not that he can sing, of course, but that his voice works so well in the style with which this song is done.  Plant has changed his singing style dramatically over the last ten years - maybe it's even fair to say five. Nowhere does the positive aspects of that change come across as well as it does singing next to a very musical operatic singer.

An Alfie Boe and Robert Plant duet is, to use a phrase I frankly don't like, outside the box. Yet it works far better than I expect most fans of either artist expected it to. Wether Alfie Boe can sing Black Dog remains to be seen, but this combination works.

At least that's what I might say, if I had means to access the iTunes download. If only I had relatives in the UK to do a £1 favour for me.

Jimmy Page Joins Roy Harper

If you came by this site Friday and read about Jimmy Page playing at Roy Harper's 70th birthday celebration, then went and bought a ticket based on that article, your welcome.

If you didn't, here's what you missed:

As per usual, if it happens in London, Dave Lewis was there.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Ramble on Radio Interviews James Dylan

Jimmy Page to Release Lucifer's Rising Soundtrack

What Soundtracks does Jimmy Page have hiding in the vault? According to his “On This Day” feature at jimmy, Page plans to release the soundtrack to the Kenneth Anger movie, Lucifer’s Rising, “and other soundtracks.”screen-shot-2011-10-31-at-11538-am

The Lucifer Rising prohject dates from the Led Zeppelin days, when Page agreed to do the soundtrack to fellow occult’s Anger’s defining movie. The finished project never happened, and Anger and Page’s collaboration ended in acrimony.

The soundtrack has seen the light of day as a bootleg, but it is unknown if what appears on bootleg is all there is, or if there is more. Page’s release of the music will be the first official release of the music.

But what of that cryptic phrase, and other soundtracks? Page has already announced that The Death Wish II Soundtrack will be given a limited re-release through his web page. As far as I know, there is no other known full Jimmy Page soundtracks. Is he implying there is more in the vault that have been heretofore unknown?

More likely, Lucifer's Rising is incomplete, and not enough material for a full album, so Page will add in some other songs, such as Come With Me from the Godzilla Soundtrack, some unreleased music that made it on to Death Wish III, and songs on which he performed on John Paul Jones' Scream For Help.


However, like Page promises to release material in the past, how seriously should we take these announcements anyway? When his website announced his Death Wish II Soundtrack re-release on September 15, it promised more information "over the coming weeks." It's now been 8 weeks and no new information has come out about this release, never mind the release itself. When you heard about the re-issue on September 15th, how many thought it would be out in time to surprise your favourite Zeppelin fan by Christmas?  Instead, it is 7 weeks from Christmas, and nothing except a vague promise to release yet another old soundtrack album. And, of course, "further information," on the Lucifer's Rising Soundtrack will be "in the coming weeks." Where have I heard that before?

Jimmy Page with Roy Harper

Roy Harper is celebrating his 70th birthday with a concert this weekend at Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre in London. The concert will feature Harper and special guests.

[caption id="attachment_1547" align="alignright" width="199" caption="Jimmy Page & Roy Harper, 2005"]Jimmy Page & Roy Harper, 2005[/caption]

According to Nech Tytlia, guru of FBO, one of the guests will be Jimmy Page. If he does appear, it will be the third such appearance this year, after his impromptu performance with the Black Crowes in August, and helping Donovan re-create his Sunshine Superman album by performing on the title track of that album.

However, Tytlia goes further, emphasising it will be Page and special guests.  That leaves things open to speculation as to who the other special guests might be. Will John Paul Jones or Robert Plant also show up? Plant seems unlikely as he is reported to be recently married and living in Texas, and he will be in Los Angeles Friday at a press conference with Pete Townsend and Roger Daltrey. That leaves John Paul Jones as a potential special guest.

One person we know won’t be there is Jason Bonham, as he is scheduled to be at Casino Rama in Orillia with his Led Zeppelin Experience, hanging out with yours truly - at least that’s the plan.

If you are in London and can't make it to Orillia, you may want to help Roy Harper celebrate his 70th birthday. Who knows, Jimmy Page might just be there.

Robert Plant and Patty Griffin Married?

This site is not, nor has it ever intended to be a gossip site, intent upon the personal lives of the musicians of Led Zeppelin. However, some stories of a personal nature are certainly of interest to Led Zeppelin fans, and if they have potential impact on future musical decisions of band members, relevant.

screen-shot-2011-09-23-at-102650-amWith that caveat in, a report emerged last week that Robert Plant and his Band of Joy singing partner, Patty Griffin, have married. Nech Tytlia, co-administrator and guru of For Badgeholders Only, considered by myself to be a reliable source, sent a message to subscribers last week. The content of the posting was a simple acronym SSIA (Subject Says It All).

So it would appear that Plant and Griffin, long rumoured to be romantically attached, have exchanged matrimonial vows, although no official word or announcement has emerged as of yet.

Assuming the report to be true, what does it say about Plant’s future musical plans?

Last month he appeared a the El Cosmico for the Trans-Pecos Festival of Music & Love, in Marfa, Texas, with Griffin and a new band, called Crown Vic. They played old rock standards, including some reworked Led Zeppelin songs, in a similar vein to Band of Joy. Plant was also reported to have bought a place in Texas, near the members of Crown Vic (Griffin also resides in Texas).

Based on the marriage report and the report of him moving to Texas, it seems reasonable to assume that Robert Plant’s next project going forward will be Crown Vic, with Griffin.

However, at the Americana Music Awards last month, Plant said of guitarist Buddy Miller, “... I'm never gonna go anywhere without Buddy Miller, ever."

As available evidence suggests that Crown Vic is, in fact, Plant’s next thing, it may be that Plant had already decided not to work with Buddy Miller on his next project. Miller is, however, a busy in demand musician with his own projects, and it may be that Miller was unavailable for a period.

Whether it's with Crown Vic, the Band of Joy, or something entirely new, one thing seems likely, wherever Plant goes in the next few years, Patty Griffin will too.

Update: A number of sites have picked up this story, including Classic Rock and Blabbermouth. They are also citing sources as saying Plant and Griffin are sporting wedding rings. Robert Plant, however, is apparently denying they are married.
Update #2: A picture of the couple giving out Halloween treats is currently making the rounds. It is very low def, however, it appears Griffin is wearing a ring on her left hand ring finger

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Sunshine Sketches of Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience

Jason Bonham rolls into Central Ontario this weekend, playing Casino Rama in Orillia. Orillia’s claim to fame is the home of Canadian author and humourist Stephen Leacock, and the setting of his most famous book, Sunshine Sketches of a Little Townis reputed to be Orillia.jason-bcc

Heading into the show, Toronto Sun’s Darryl Sterdan has a short interview that is full of information. Bonham tells Sterdan that, should there be another Led Zeppelin Reunion, he’ll find out when we all find out:
When I was last with those guys they said, ‘You will always be the last to know of anything from now on because you can’t keep your mouth shut.’

He adds defeatedly, “They said ‘What are you going to do? Say no?’”

There are a few more very interesting tidbits in the interview, including that the band had to learn “the entire catalogue.” These guys are prepared to play any Zeppelin song (note to Bonham: Fool in the Rain on Saturday Nov 5, please).

As well, he Bonham reports that Black Country Communion will be recording ‘3’ sometime next year. This was reported previously, but Glenn Hughes has since announced he’s recording a solo album and doing a world tour in 2012, which seemed to preclude also doing a BCC album.

Hopefully Black Country Communion doesn't have the same "don't tell Jason rule" as Led Zeppelin does.