Thursday, December 4, 2014

Get the Led Out - Tralf Music Hall Buffalo November 22

I’ve seen Get the Led Out: The American Led Zeppelin six times now. Yet at their third time at the Tralf in Buffalo on November 22, they managed to throw in a number of surprises. Of the sets opening numbers, I had heard them do one of the first five before.

Starting with Good Times Bad Times, Andrew Lipke providing harmony vocals to Paul Sinclair’s lead, Paul Hammond killing the solo, it was a great opening. Follow that with How Many More Times, Hammond and Lipke each working the violin bows to recreate Page’s middle section. Houses of the Holy, a great fun rocker, The Ocean, the one song I’d heard them do before, followed by Ten Years Gone. Now that’s an opening five.

They weren’t done. however, and after finishing the first set with Babe I’m Gonna Leave You, Ramble On, Dazed and Confused, complete with Paul Hammond lit violin bow solo, and then the acoustic set of Going to California, Battle of Evermore and Hey Hey What Can I Do. Battle of Evermore, featuring Diana DeSantis in the Sandy Denny part, is always a Get the Led Out Highlight.

They opened set two with one last surprise, Achilles Last Stand, before finally letting keyboard player Lipke put down his guitar and play keys on Thank You. Moby Dick, was followed by a couple of underrated, but great, fun songs, Fool in the Rain and Hot’s on for Nowhere. Kashmir finished out the set before an encore of Misty Mountain Hop, Stairway to Heaven and Whole Lotta Love.

Get the Led Out is a seven piece band, and there are no passengers. Everybody is a great player, everybody has their moments. Sinclair is spot on vocalist, pitch perfect on things like Babe I’m Gonna Leave You and Kashmir. Drummer Adam Ferraioli impresses every-time with Moby Dick. Bassist Billy Childs is rock solid, but a song like How Many More Times allowed him a chance to shine as well. And you have to hear Jimmy Marchiano playing the Stairway to Heaven solo to understand how good a solo it is. He nails it, he nails all his parts, every time.

Their third time in Buffalo, The Tralf changed their seating from “Led Zeppelin dinner theatre” to concert style, taking out a number of tables and putting in their place a hundred-and-fifty or so seats. Reports of a city buried deep in snow, four feet in some sections of Buffalo, didn’t deter the fans, and the Tralf was about 90% full. They came for a Led Zeppelin fix, and Get the Led Out didn’t disappoint. But then no surprise there, they never do.


Fifty-thousand words, Dave Lewis' first interview with Jimmy Page, a thorough review of lullaby and... the Ceaseless Roar and a close examination of the remastering of the first three Led Zeppelin albums, including what it means to remaster an album.

Just, Wow!

Limited Edition John Bonham Cover - order now
Dave Lewis released the 38th issue of his Led Zeppelin magazine/fan-zine, Tight But Loose a few weeks ago, and it's a beauty. Featuring a Ross Halfin picture of Jimmy Page on the cover (there is also a limited edition John Bonham cover, right) and an insert picture of Page onstage in 1980. But far more significantly, for the first time since Dave began covering Led Zeppelin back in the late 70's, he sat down with Jimmy Page for a formal interview. Here's Lewis:
... it's perfectly logical that a specialist Led Zeppelin magazine would seek to interview the band members.

John Paul Jones has been very forthcoming in that department, but it has not been so easy in the case of Robert Plant and Jimmy Page. Robert remains elusive but the quest for Jimmy is about to reach fruition.

... I've been lucky enough to have had a fair few informal chats with Jimmy over the years - stretching back to 1980 and the Over Europe tour...

Up until now though, I have never conducted a formal one-on-one interview - and yes, I'm nervous.
What follows is an excellent interview conducted by someone who has been "reading interviews with Jimmy Page for over 45 years," and has a file called "Questions I'd love to ask Jimmy Page." In other words, he was prepared, and gave us a very strong Jimmy Page interview that wasn't simply more of the same.

If that was all, I'd advise you to click over to and order issue 38. But there's more, including an in depth look at Robert Plant's lullaby and... The Ceaseless Roar and an excellent section on the Led Zeppelin remasters, including an article that looks at all the previous remasters since the digital age and another that explains exactly what it means to remaster an album.

Tight But Loose 38 is simply too good not to get, or not to buy for the Led Zeppelin fan on your Christmas list - think of how excited they would be to find that sticking out of their stocking on the 25th. While your there, get a 2015 subscription to Tight But Loose, it's well worth it.

For more, I discussed Tight But Loose Issue 38 on the Ramble on Radio Podcast number 79. You can subscribe to Ramble On Radio on iTunes. Please, if your at iTunes, stop by and leave a review, even if you aren't downloading from iTunes. You can also listen on Spreaker. If you have a Spreaker account, please follow Ramble on Radio - 100 followers means I can apply to get Ramble On Radio on IHeartRadio. As well, watch the podcast on YouTube, embedded below or can be listened to or downloaded at Podbean.


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

James Dylan: Artist

Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Experience singer James Dylan is, by day, an artist. Last year at this time, James offered a pencil drawing of Robert Plant. This year, he turned his hand to John Bonham

These pencil drawing look incredibly like photographs, and lend credence to the idea that James is as good an artist, if not better, than singer. No small praise that.

Cost of the pictures is $95 for a 9 x 13 print signed by Dylan or $65 for a 6.5 x 10 signed print (plus shipping) and can be ordered from There appears to be Robert Plant prints still available too.

Last year the original pencil drawing was also made available for $2,000 (plus S & H). No word on whether the original is available this time.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Jimmy Page by Jimmy Page

I came home from New York with my Jimmy Page pictorial autobiography,Jimmy Page by Jimmy Page, and my wife picked it up. It's a big book, and heavy, but beautifully laid out with high quality paper and exquisite pictures throughout. She started nosing through the book, and next thing she is asking questions about Page, looking him up in Wikipedia to see his marital history and does he have kids. You need to understand, she usually rolls her eyes at my Led Zeppelin habit, and has never shown any interest in anything Led Zeppelin related. But here she was keeping me from my Jimmy Page book.

It's not a cheap book, retailing for $70+ up here in Canada, I bought it for $50 at Jimmy Page's Q&A in New York last week. But it's not a book you'll ever look at and think, "why did spend so much on this?" It's a beautiful book, it really is. It weighs about as much as a Datsun, the lettering on the cover is gold inlay and the paper photographic quality. It may be a bit steep for a book, but it's good value for the money.

But the real magic happens when you open it up. Page one, 10 or 12-year old Jimmy Page as a choir boy, and the caption "it might get loud." It did. The last page is a now famous shot of Page by his friend Ross Halfin, grey haired and holding his guitar in front of him. "It might get louder."

In between choir boy and mature gentleman, between loud and louder, is more than 500 pages of pictures, telling the story of the musical life of Jimmy Page. Playing his guitar outside his school, his earliest bands, his session days. And look at the pose on his schoolboy picture, or on his knees playing for Neil Christian and the Crusaders. He had those Jimmy Page moves long before anyone called him "Jimmy F-in Page." Onward to the Yardbirds, then Led Zeppelin. Onstage, backstage, leaping through the air and tuning his guitars behind and amp, massive crowd in the background. All minimally captioned, walking you through the story, but letting the pictures do the yeoman's work, the captioned merely filling in the details.

Open Jimmy Page by Jimmy Page to any page, and you'll find a picture to enjoy. And if you don't happen to like any of the pictures on that page, try the next one, it's sure to have something. So many of the pictures are excellent, so many interesting. There's very few you won't study a bit, absorb the story it tells. Page reportedly spent a lot of time tracking down pictures and it shows. If you're a Led Zeppelin fan, you'll have seen many of them, but never in this detail, not in this quality. And there are plenty others that you've never seen, won't see outside of this book.

If there's one thing missing, considering he does refer to it as an autobiography, it's any pictures of Page when he's not, in one way or another, at work. There's no pictures of any of his children (or his granddaughter for that matter) and only one of any of his wives, a fairly well known shot of he and Charlotte Martin exiting a helicopter backstage at Knebworth in 1979. This book is strictly about Jimmy Page, musician.

Jimmy Page by Jimmy Page, the pictorial autobiography of the Led Zeppelin guitarist is, simply put, an excellent book.


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Robert Plant and Richard Branson Split the Cheque

Actually, it appears, and logic dictates, they didn't split the cheque. It's one of those cases of a media gang-pile without any facts at their disposal. If you blog on a specific subject for long enough, i.e. Led Zeppelin, you see these things once in a while. Stories that make no real sense, or that are flat out wrong, but get picked up and run with by reporters who don't know enough about the subject matter to smell the fishy bits. My personal favourite involves a six month old quote by Dave Grohl saying he'd drum with Led Zeppelin, that got turned into a full reunion tour, with Dave Grohl at the drums.

This week it was the story of Richard Branson offering £500-million for a tour. Page, Jones and Plant could split the money, and hire whatever drummer they wanted at scale.  Page and Jones, reported an inside source, jumped at the chance/money, but Plant ripped up the cheque in front of Branson. So much for Jason Bonham making a sideman's wage (serious question: would Dave Grohl play for scale?)

But the story has its holes, not the least of which, musician's don't walk into a room with a promoter who's about to make a £500-million offer without knowing that in advance. It would be ridiculous for Led Zeppelin's three surviving members to meet as a group with anyone who does this kind of promoting, unless they had discussed it in advance and were interested. Seriously, do you think they like getting questions about this sort of thing every single interview? Do you think they don't know that these sorts of things are never really secret? And why, after years of saying no, would Page and Jones agree to anything without Robert being on board first?

But beyond that, Robert Plant, and I have been known to be critical of Plant at times, is simply not that rude. The idea of a serious offer being treated that way is too strange. Plant is, all the guys in Zeppelin always have been, pros. They don't rip up cheques in front of the person making an offer. That's for amateurs, or unnamed sources and a-holes. Plant doesn't tend towards either, by all accounts.

It was Plant too, who was first to deny this. "Rubbish," came the wordy response to this story from Plant's publicist. Today, Richard Branson added his response to the record:

I’ve been left dazed and confused by a story doing the rounds this week about us apparently offering Led Zeppelin £500 million to reform and carry out a tour. As much as I love the band, there is absolutely no truth to the story.

There were even claims that Virgin Atlantic was about to rename one of our planes and include a stairway to heaven in honour of the band. However nice an idea, this is also completely untrue. After a week of seeing worryingly inaccurate reports in various publications regarding Virgin, it was sad but not particularly surprising to see yet another fabricated story.

I spoke to Robert Plant about the story, which he also confirmed is complete rubbish from his side too. Robert told me he is very proud of his history and the band’s past, and has always had great respect and love for his work throughout his career. However, he really believes he must move on with his life and career today.

Making up this story is very disrespectful to how wonderful his solo career with the Sensational Space Shifters is going. He is setting out on a sold out tour today and they released a brilliant album last year.

Fellow band members Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones also have many exciting projects in the works and should be respected in their own right. I’m proud of how so many artists from my generation, whether it is Led Zeppelin, Mike Oldfield or Peter Gabriel, are still being so creative and inventive. They have all moved on into exciting new phases, while still celebrating their incredible pasts.

As Robert told me: “Look Richard, I just do things because I love them and I want to do more new things that I love.” I couldn’t agree more.

The story had its legs, but it should die now, to be resurrected, mark my words, in six months time with a small variation. But unless a reliable, named source, say Jimmy Page or John Paul Jones, confirms the story, consider it absurd and move on.


Sunday, November 9, 2014

Review: Robert Plant The Voice That Sailed the Zeppelin by Dave Thompson

It came up last Christmas, one of my guests asked the question that comes up too often: "What the hell is wrong with Robert Plant? Why won't he do a Led Zeppelin reunion?" It seems so easy, just sing the old songs, make a big pile of money and everybody gets to go away happy. So why won't he do it? It doesn't help that Plant tends to answer the question with a series of non-sequiturs: I don't want to be singing cabaret; I want to move forward with new material - even as he spreads the old liberally through his set lists &tc.

In his new book, Robert Plant: The Voice That Sailed the Zeppelinby Dave Thompson looks at Plant and examines the man through the lens of his history, and the effect it has on Plant today. There are two major events in the Plant narrative, the death of his son Karac in 1977 and the death of his best friend from youth, whom he brought into Led Zeppelin, John Bonham.

On Karac Thompson writes:

His (Plant's) lifestyle, he knew, had already placed his marriage under incredible strain—the months he spent away touring, leaving Maureen to raise two children on her own. Now there was just one, and Plant could not help but wonder whether things might have been different if he had been at home.

and on John Bonham:

It was John Bonham who sat next to him on the hastily arranged flight back to London, and then for the drive up to the farm. There the boy was buried, at a funeral where Bonham was the only one of the singer’s bandmates or management to even bother attending... Now, the very person who had stood alongside him throughout that terrible night, providing much of the glue with which he repaired his shattered psyche, had himself been taken away.

Those two quotes represent, as much as anything does, the thesis of The Voice That Sailed the Zeppelin. Those two events, presented as they are above, explain so much about Plant's decisions, including the one not to re-unite Led Zeppelin in any long-term way. Thompson delves into what makes Plant tick far more deeply than into what Plant does or says, using the former to explain the latter. It's a good thing that he does such a good job of examining Plant the person, because he gets far too many of his facts wrong.

Details like what year Page and Plant played Glastonbury, what they played at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction or the heretofore unheard claim that Yardbirds bassist Chris Dreja actually rehearsed with Plant, Page and John Bonham before turning down the job of bassist in Led Zeppelin and John Paul Jones was brought on board. Furthermore some of his opinion statements, such as the tone of Zeppelin's songs come from Plant's lyrics or that the last five albums in Plant's career - Dreamland to lullaby and... The Ceaseless Roar - are the best set of five he has done, including say Led Zeppelin II through Physical Graffiti, are laughable.

But Thompson isn't after the facts of the case, so much as explaining Plant through the lens of those facts. The fact he got a date wrong here, a song wrong there doesn't do unrepairable damage to the book. Neither does the obvious fact that Thompson's trying, for reasons unknown, to tear down the mythology of Led Zeppelin and raise the myth of Robert Plant in it's place.

In fact, Thompson's conversational writing style, of which I have been a fan for a long time, makes The Voice that Sailed the Zeppelin a thoroughly enjoyable read. I did not always agree with Thompson, and he gets some of the basics wrong, but Robert Plant: The Voice That Sailed the Zeppelin by Dave Thompson is one of my favourite of the Led Zeppelin books out there. It's well worth the read.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Remasters: Round Two

Today see's the release of the Led Zeppelin IVand Houses Of The Holyremasters, complete with bonus material, here in North America. The remastered albums have been available as Mastered for iTunes for some time now, so I will reserve comment on their quality besides saying, the iTunes versions are excellent. Otherwise, if you have a chance to hear the CD or LP versions, there's no reason to believe they won't also be top notch (and certainly I felt Led Zeppelin, II and III all were).

The bonus material, available on the Deluxe Editions, however, gives us fodder for real discussion. Unlike the third album, which had Keys to the Highway/Trouble in Mind, there is nothing new in the bonus material, nor is there any live material like we saw on the first album. Both IV and Houses of the Holy's bonus discs are presented as the complete album, with alternate versions, alternate mixes and instrumental versions of the songs.

In February 1971, Jimmy Page and engineer Andy Johns travelled to Los Angeles, master tapes for the fourth album handcuffed to Page (note: kidding), to master the album that would become what many consider Led Zeppelin's most astonishing moment. He took the tapes to Sunset Sound Studios, where the state of the art studio was booked for mastering of the tapes. Job done, he returned to London and settled into Island Studios with his bandmates to play the new album: the sound was a disappointing mess. No one seems sure what happened, but it appears the equipment at Island couldn't handle the more sophisticated mastering done at Sunset Sound, and Page returned to the Island Studio to re-master the songs yet again. Of the eight songs on the final album, seven of them were from the London mixes. Only When The Levee Breaks survived from the California mixes.

Of the bonus material on Led Zeppelin IV,the alternate mix of Stairway to Heaven from the Sunset Sound Studios session, and When the Levee Breaks from the London remixing appear. Other alternate mixes from unknown sources are Four Sticks, Rock and Roll and Misty Mountain Hop. Misty Mountain Hop shines the most, with a John Bonham count-in and a much more live sound, the song comes alive in a way it never really did before. When the Levee Breaks is also noticeably different, although not for the better. While Four Sticks sounds more live, wetter in audio geek parlance, Levee is much drier, that famed drum sound somewhat diminished in the mixing. They made the right choice going with the Sunset Sound Studio mix on this song. If we were hearing that mix, that drum sound for the first time here, now, it would be all that anyone would be talking about.

Rock and Roll and Stairway to Heaven on the other hand, have barely noticeable differences. The guitar is a little down in the mix here, the voice up there. Yes, the recorders are definitely louder, but not so much that most people would notice if they didn't know. On the other hand, Black Dog (Basic Track with Guitar Overdubs) is an alternate take, and while the differences are subtle, at least until the ah-ha's when a Plant adds a harmony vocal. It doesn't work actually, sounds too much like that guy beside you at the concert singing along with the band, but you can hear them trying something. Besides, Plant's ad-lib on the outro is outstanding.

Instrumental mixes of Going to California and Battle of Evermore are interesting, but the repetitive nature of those songs means it's not something you would listen to more than a few times. While not something you might throw on in the car on your way home from work, throwing the LP on the turntable with a good whiskeywould make for an enjoyable hour on a Friday night.

On Houses Of The HolyLed Zeppelin’s songwriting really grew. Instead of writing pop songs, they were composing music in a rock vein. This becomes evident on the instrumental versions on the Deluxe Edition on this release. The Song Remains the Same is an interesting song unto itself without vocals. And while Over The Hills and Far Away still has it’s repetition, the “guitar mix backing track” is enjoyable. The guitar solo being a little higher in the mix is an added bonus. No Quarter is, again, a complete composition sans vocals, working perfectly as an instrumental composition. What you quickly hear is that Robert Plant was not necessary to either No Quarter or The Song Remains the Same, but manages to put together a performance that adds to the whole of the piece (although a reasonable argument could be made that The Song Remains the Same is a better song as an instrumental than with his speeded up chipmunk vocal added as on the album).

The Rain Song (mix minus piano) baffles me slightly, but only because I can’t detect the difference between the original and this one. The Crunge (rough mix - keys up), Dancing Days (Rough Mix with Vocal) and The Ocean (Working Mix) are the same. Detecting what may be different (no count in on The Ocean for example) could be a game unto itself. So while there’s nothing exciting in the remaining bonus tracks (and no D’Yer Mak’er at all), added in with the three instrumentals you get an idea of what this album could have been like. And in fact, Jimmy Page’s original idea was to start it off with The Song Remains the Same as an instrumental (in fact, it was originally called Overture) that connected to The Rain Song.

What you get from the Houses Of The Holy bonus disk is that it could have been a better album. So far, of all the bonus disks, this may be the only one I play on a regular basis instead of the original album.

Monday, October 27, 2014

This has been out for a few days, but finally up here in Canada, and presumably elsewhere, we can see it. To kick off your IV/Houses of the Holy week, here's Rock and Roll, the animated video.

The remasters of Led Zeppelin IV and Houses of the Holy will be out tomorrow, although some people report pre-ordered Super Deluxe Edition boxsets arriving over the weekend.

Houses Of The Holy (Super Deluxe Edition Box) (CD &LP)

Friday, October 24, 2014

A Few of us are Endeavouring to Raise a Fund...

To paraphrase Charles Dickens, "a few of us are endeavouring to raise a fund" to help Dave Lewis get a new bicycle.

Dave, friend of Ramble on Radio and the man who runs Tight But Loose, both the magazine and the website, has had his bicycle stolen. Here's Dave's explanation of what happened, from Facebook: many know my mode of transport is the trusty bike which I am out on about on every day –keeping fit, in town at TBL designer Micks, post office for TBL distribution, visiting Janet's mum etc.. yesterday locked it up in town to do some shopping and alas when I got back it had been stolen…no sign of it – they must have broken the lock. Not good –gutted in fact and my faith in human nature has been severely knocked… and I’m quid’s down as a new bike will be required and no doubt I’ll be more paranoid when leaving it locked up.

So as I say, a few of us are endeavouring &tc.

And, there's something in it for you too. Go buy Deborah Bonham's, John's little sister, new album for £10 (postage extra, depending on where you are), and £5 will be donated to Dave. Just mention "Dave Lewis Bike Fund" in your paypal posting (or, if you can't comment on your paypal, as I couldn't, contact Peter Bullick and let him know it's for the bike fund).

If you don't want a CD, or want to top up that £5 (as I did), Dave has a paypal account of his own. Just log into paypal, click on the send money tab, and send the money to Make sure you click on the "I'm sending money to family or friends" button (a small fee will be added (.05 on £10) and be sure to mention in the comments that it's for his bike fund.

And thanks to everyone who helps Dave out. He's a good man who provides us Led Zeppelin content for a living. He's the best out there, but he's not getting rich selling a triennial Led Zeppelin magazine.

A bit about Deborah Bonham's new album, Spirit. Robert Plant plays harmonica on the title track track, and it also features a Paul Rodgers duet and a Jason Bonham drum performance. I'll review upon receiving it, but it looks like a should get for any serious Zeppelin fan.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

John Bonham at the Speed of Sound

Much like Jimmy Page, Paul McCartney has been re-releaasing the wings catalogue, with upgraded remastering and bonus material. One such bonus item comes from Wings at the Speed of Sound: Beware My Love with John Bonham on the drums.

Bonham played on the session for Beware My Love, but the track that made it to album was one that was done without John Bonham. The Bonham track was not known to exist before this past June, when McCartney announced it would be on the deluxe edition of Speed of Sound.

Yesterday, McCartney pre-released Beware My Love (John Bonham Version) on iTunes. It is, as of yet, not available for download from Amazon, but surely that is coming.

The full Wings At The Speed Of Sound will be available November 4th.


Update: Listen to Beware My Love (John Bonham Version)


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Robert Plant Surprise - shhh, don't tell anybody - Concert

Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters announced a surprise midnight concert earlier this week, making it the worst surprise ever.
Tickets went on sale yesterday at $125 for the midnight show at the Brooklyn Bowl, a combination restaurant, bowling alley and night club which holds something around 800 people.

All mocking aside, this should be a fun night for the lucky people who secured tickets, and the late night club setting could result in a surprise or three by Plant and the SSS. Having got up pretty close at a club around this size to see John Paul Jones when he was with Them Crooked Vultures, it will be a night to remember.

At $125 however, a bit steep I must say - unless, of course, they throw in some free bowling.

Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters are currently on tour promoting their album, lullaby and... The Ceaseless Roar on Rhino Records.

Trailer for Jimmy Page by Jimmy Page

A promotional video for Jimmy Page by Jimmy Page, the regular working Joe version which is available next Tuesday (note: you may have to click on the video and go to Vimeo sight to view it).
JIMMY PAGE by Jimmy Page from Genesis Publications on Vimeo.


Thursday, October 2, 2014

Jimmy Page by Jimmy Page: Photographs and Review

Jimmy Page's pictorial autobiography, Jimmy Page by Jimmy Page, gets it's regular edition release on October 14th, so the pre-release press has begun.

Today we get two articles, one in Variety magazine where Steve Chagollan has a review of the book, and another at The Guardian, which offers a glimpse at a dozen of the 600 photos in the book.

At Variety, Chagollan says of the book:

Anybody interested in what girl Page was seeing or what bad habits he was falling into won’t find them here — for good or bad. But within the sparse entries are true nuggets, such as the fact that the first Led Zeppelin album took all of 30 hours to record “with vision, improvisation, attitude and a bulletproof blueprint.” Page also writes about recording the group’s nameless fourth album at an English country manor in Headley, Hampshire, “to lock in and condense the creative energy.”
Page's book is, to be sure, different than most autobiographies. Originally released as a collector book on high quality photographic paper and in extremely limited release, it sold for $500-800 (£395- £695). It is strictly pictorial, with text amounting to not much more than a snippet to describe the picture.

The Guardian gallery will give you a taste of what Jimmy Page by Jimmy Page is going to be like, only with 50x more pictures.

Jimmy Page by Jimmy Page can be preordered now, and s in stores October 14th, at a price point much more in line with what the average fan would be willing to pay.


Monday, September 29, 2014

A Peek Into the Future

The future: Dec 25, 2014. Ramble on Towers in scenic Hespeler, Ontario. 8:00 AM-ish.

This, this will be what it looks like.

The Rain Song - The British only remix

As has been standard for all of the album reissues up to now, Led Zeppelin has pre-released The Rain Song alternate version at the UK's Guardian website. You can hear it here.

Having turned up in the UK, over the next 24-hours it should start turning up at other spots for a free listen. Expect it to be released tomorrow and available to buy, or for those who have pre-ordered digital versions.

Update: That as quick: Here's a US version... still no Canada though


Robert Plant live in Brooklyn

Robert Plant, played live in Brooklyn last night, and NPR has the full video of the concert available. I am unable to stream it for you, but you can watch the entire show here.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

the iWatch and Robert Plant

From the National Post

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Old Jimmy Page Interview

A lovely find, tom the archives of iTV in Britain, an interview with a very young Jimmy Page from the month before I was born...

Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page - June 1963 interview from ITV Channel Television on Vimeo.


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

lullaby and... and... and...

Robert Plant's new album, lullaby and... The Ceaseless Roar, due to hit stores next Tuesday, get's name half right: Lullaby, yes; Ceaseless Roar, not so much. Plant, in fact, as has been his habit for the past 3 to 5 albums, seems to be barely interested in singing. Putting together a band, hanging out with them, giving cryptic interviews, writing songs, he very much seems to enjoy. Singing, however...

Plant is backed by a band of his own creation, The Sensational Space Shifters, and they are solid throughout this album. The album rocks hard, has a pretty balled, some celtic, some folk, and a singer that sings half octave songs at slightly above a whisper. The band deserves better, as do Robert Plant fans shelling out $40 for a deluxe vinyl edition expecting some of that roar the title promises (full disclosure: I shelled out $40).

The album was announced with such promise, Rainbow being released along with the official announcement. The first single, Rainbow is heads and shoulders the best song on the album, and not coincidentally, the one of two songs where Plant stretches his vocals out the most. Read that again and, if you haven't heard any of this album yet, go hear Rainbow, and imagine a world where that is stretching the old vocal chords. That's the sad state of affairs Robert Plant has fallen to.

There's plenty to celebrate in the songwriting, with Turn it Up, Somebody There and Poor Howard all very good. Most people commenting on the album are speaking fondly of the ballad Stolen Kiss, and in fairness, it is Plant's most interesting, and possibly best, vocal on the album. However, that Plant can''t be bothered to come up with melodies any more complex or interesting than Bah Bah Black Sheep for most of the album is disconcerting.

You will read a number of reviews, a number of articles in the next while saying that lullaby and... The Ceaseless Roar is Robert Plant finding new horizons, stretching his musical chops or bravely going forward &tc. &tc. It's all a pile of bullocks. If you like what Plant has done the last few albums, certainly since Raising Sand and The Band of Joy, then you will love this. It is easily the best of the three albums. However, if, like me, you haven't particularly enjoyed Robert Plant's forays into trying to impress NPR listeners, then don't, as I have done, throw away $40 on an album you will never bother opening.

--> Tracklist

Little Maggie
Pocketful of Golden
Embrace Another Fall
Turn it Up
A Stolen Kiss
Somebody There
Poor Howard
House of Love
Up On The Hollow Hill (Understanding Arthur)
Arbaden (Maggie's Baby)

Monday, September 1, 2014

Robert Plant: lullaby and... The Ceaseless Roar Preview

On Saturday night the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) premiered Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifter's new album, lullaby and... The Ceaseless Roar. Ten days ahead of the release of this much anticipated work, here's first listen thoughts:

  • Little Maggie: previously heard, Little Maggie is a traditional song that Plant offers in with a mix of Appalachian/ Celtic influences, creating a song that feels both old, and somewhat new.

  • Rainbow: "What do you think of the new Robert Plant?" Steve "the Lemon" Sauer asked me when I saw him the night after his wedding in July. "I really like it," he added. He was talking about Rainbow, previously released, and the more I listen to it, the more I agree with him

  • Pocketful of Golden: Another previously released song, Pocketful of Golden hints at an Indian sound, but with Plant's uniquely understated vocal delivery which we've heard much of the past ten or so years. Despite Plant's playing this one safe, it's an interesting piece.

  • Embrace Another Fall: Much like Band of Joy, this album seems determined to run in one gear, and by the fourth song it is getting old. Loved the first three, now I'm asking, no begging, for Plant to reach outside their comfort zone for just one bar. Alas... Wait, the guitars kick in for a solid rocking bridge. It's not much, not too much at least, but it at least stretches the limits a touch.

  • Turn it Up: I liked the minute plus snippet of this you got on iTunes a month ago. The band is hot on this, Plant stays well inside his comfort zone. One does wish...

  • A Stolen Kiss: The pretty piano ballad, and the song that provides the titular lyric. Very pretty, and a song that is likely to improve with repetition.

  • Somebody There: In a previous post, I referred to this song as one I could grow to like a lot, with it's infectious pop feel. It's actually less pop than the preview suggested it might be, but maybe a better song.

  • Poor Howard: Poor Tom with a banjo? I'm not sure what to make of Poor Howard, except to say I enjoyed it.

  • House of Love: Again, this is a case of good song, but really, do I need a full album of the same melody in the same key? Surrounded by a bunch of talented musicians, can not one of them tell Plant to mix the vocals up, just a little? Can not one of them say, "for fuck sake, change it up."

  • Up On The Hollow Hill (Understanding Arthur): Oh wait, a boring song... just what this album needs... (places gun in mouth, pulls trigger).

  • Arbaden (Maggie's Baby): Sigh... it's midnight, I have no idea how this one ends because there must be something better I have to do.

As with Band of Joy, Alison Krauss, and Plant's two previous albums with more-or-less this outfit, Plant eschews any vocals outside a very limited range. Unlike the Band of Joy, he's surrounded himself with musicians who are up to the challenge of being interesting when Plant isn't. It's a better album, but boy could it use a singer who's worthy of the band.

Bottom line is, if you've been paying attention, outside of possibly A Stolen Kiss, you've heard everything you need to hear on this album when you heard Rainbow a month ago.

I am left with only one question... is it too late to cancel my pre-order?


Saturday, August 30, 2014

Led Zeppelin IV (Deluxe Edition) Promotional Video

Post title says it all, really.

But it at Amazon and other retailers...

Led Zeppelin IV (Deluxe CD Edition)
Led Zeppelin IV (Deluxe Edition MP3)
Led Zeppelin IV (Deluxe Edition CD)
Led Zeppelin IV (Remastered Original Vinyl)
Led Zeppelin IV (Super Deluxe Edition Box) (CD & LP)

Monday, August 25, 2014

Returning to Lullaby... and the Ceaseless Roar

With less than two week to go until the release of Robert Plant's latest (and possibly last?) album, lullaby... and the Ceaseless Roar, Plant and co. have released a second promotional video for the album, once again called Returning to the Border.


The previous video was released in July.

Lullaby and the Ceaseless Roar will be in stores September 9th. You can pre-order it at Amazon, iTunes or directly through Plant's website.


Thursday, August 14, 2014

New Book: Robert Plant The Voice That Sailed the Zeppelin

Dave Thompson has written a number of books on and about music. Last years Roger Waters Biography, The Man Behind the Wall proved quite good despite the fact I'm neither a Pink Floyd nor a Roger Waters fan. His book I hate New Music the Classic Rock Manifesto, is my favourite book on music, being both a serious look at what ails the music business and funny as hell.

This year, Thompson takes on the subject of Robert Plant, with Robert Plant: The Voice That Sailed the Zeppelin. Promising a lack of interest in Plant's sexual peccadilloes (hint: no shark story), Thompson looks at Plant's total career and examines what it is that keeps him moving. It promises to be, I think, possibly the best of the Robert Plant books.

Robert Plant to Perform at iTunes Festival

Every year Apple and iTunes sponsors a series of concerts which it then streams live on it's Apple TV.
The concerts can be later viewed on iTunes and Apple TV.  The month long festival takes place in London in September with nightly concerts at the Roundhouse Art Centre in Camden Town (in March a five day festival from South-by-Southwest in Austin was also done).

This year, Robert Plant will be among the performers, celebrating the release of his new album, lullaby and... The Ceaseless Roar.Plant and his band, the Sensational Space Shifters, will be at the Roundhouse and streamed live on September 8th, the night before the release of the album. You can win tickets to the show through Warner Brothers.