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Cat

Page Interview about Fourth Album (Ritchie York)

22 posts in this topic

The Rock Scene

by RITCHIE YORKE

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS, OCTOBER 16,1971

Led Zeppelin has a, long delayed fourth album due for release in the next few

weeks. Jimmy Page finds it hard to talk rationally about the album, mainly because

of the delays and deviations involved in getting it into the marketplace.

" I've personally lived with it for so long now — and I've seen so many mess

ups by other people in the process of getting it together — that my senses

have been battered into a pulp. I don't mean I cannot put it on and listen to it

now. It's just that I can't get anything out of it, because of the bad memories.

"One of the engineers who was involved with it deserves to be hung, drawn

and quartered for the fiascos he created. We'd finished the album and he took

us to a studio to hear it played and it sounded good. But the studio had deceptive

sound equipment, and it wasn't as good as it seemed. So we had to remix the whole thing."

Several of the tracks were cut in the Rolling Stones' mobile -studio, which the

Zeppelin hired for six days "to put down some songs at a rehearsal house in the English

countryside.

"After our experience with the truck, we're convinced that you need the sort of facilities where you

can have a cuppa tea and wander through the garden and then go in and do whatever has to be done. The city studio thing is terrifying — down these flight of steps into fluorescent lights and soundproof doors and accoustic tiles. I personally get terrible studio nerves.".

Page says the new album has no titles; nor does it have any group identification on the jacket. "The

front cover is a picture of a building with an OXFAM poster pasted up on it. On the dust jacket, there are four rooms of symbols, and we've each picked out one. It's like a puzzle really. But there's no other writing on the outside jacket about the group."

Page talked about each of the songs, in a special track-by-track review.

"Firstly, there's Black Dog, which we have played on the tour. It's a bit of a hairy one, compared to

some of the slower and the tracks from the album during the just-finished tour.

"North American audiences have already heard three of softer things on the album. John Paul Jones worked out the impossible riff in the song.

"The second track is called Rock and Roll, and it's just what it says. It's really quite good. Then there's -Battle of Evermore, which has Sandy Dennis of Fairport Convention singing with Robert Plant. I play mandolin. It's a quiet one.

"Stairway to Heaven" comes next; we've done it on this tour. I think it's nice . Robert wrote the words, which is the key thing to it. Everything we do is really a mass cooperation though. We did help out a bit on each song we record.

"Side two opens with Misty Mountain Hop which we played on some of our European concerts.

"Four Sticks is the song which John Bonham plays with four sticks, literally. John Paul Jones put in

some Moog synthesizer.

"Then there's Going to California, which is an accoustic thing.

"The album finished with When the Levy Breaks, which is a song by Memphis Minnie. I first heard it on

one of her albums. It's changed a bit now — Robert sings the same words, but the whole arrangement as completely different. But Robert does sing it in Memphis Minnie fashion, so she gets a credit."

Page says there will not be as long a gap between the new album and next one as there was between

Led Zeppelin III and the latest release.

"We've been recording on and off for a year. Not constantly, but every now and again, we'd say 'Alright, let's go in and see what we can do.' We started work on the new album last December. It would have been out a lot sooner, if there hadn't been so many foul ups. There was the 'engineer hassle, troubles with the test pressings and the cover. It never seemed to end.

"But we do have a lot of stuff in the can. Easily enough for another album. We've never had so much of our material down on tape at one time. I think that we'll be using the Stones' mobile studio a lot more in the future. We'll take more time with it too — with this album, there was the quick productivity thing. We'd become excited about an idea then there'd be a mad rush to get it together and down on tape. We were really carried away by the advantages of the new facilities. I think conventional studios are becoming outmoded. They just don't have the right atmosphere."

Page, and also John Paul Jones, have arranged for the installation of home studios.

"I'll be able to do all the accoustic things at home. The whole band will

benefit by it."

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Is Sandy Denny's name mispelled as "Sandy Dennis" in the original source?

What about the passage "four rooms of symbols"? Is it not four runes or symbols in the original source?

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The Rock Scene

by RITCHIE YORKE

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS, OCTOBER 16,1971

Page says there will not be as long a gap between the new album and next one as there was between

Led Zeppelin III and the latest release.

"But we do have a lot of stuff in the can. Easily enough for another album. We've never had so much of our material down on tape at one time.

First part is Bulloney! It took 13 months from the time III was released till IV. Then it took 16-17 months till HotH was released after IV!

And this part, "we do have a lot of stuff in the can". Well, some of the stuff eventually made it on Coda, but NONE of HotH had been recorded yet as far as I know.

So where's the rest from the can?

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So where's the rest from the can?

On Physical Graffiti perhaps.

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On Physical Graffiti perhaps.

Yeah, some. I suppose if you add up the leftovers that made it on Coda and PG that would equal an album. 35-40 minutes worth.

I was interpreting his words as in there seeming to be even more material. Oh well. :(

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First part is Bulloney! It took 13 months from the time III was released till IV. Then it took 16-17 months till HotH was released after IV!

And this part, "we do have a lot of stuff in the can". Well, some of the stuff eventually made it on Coda, but NONE of HotH had been recorded yet as far as I know.

So where's the rest from the can?

Houses was planned on being released during summer of '72 (about 8-9 months later than IV) but problems getting the colors on the album artwork delayed release until March '73. As far as songs they had from as far back as their trip to Bron-y-Aur were all or parts of Poor Tom, OTHAFA, The Rover, DBTS, Bron-Y-Aur, Night Flight and No Quarter. I think it would have been safe for him to say they had most of their next album done.

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"The album finished with When the Levy Breaks, which is a song by Memphis Minnie. I first heard it on one of her albums. It's changed a bit now — Robert sings the same words, but the whole arrangement as completely different. But Robert does sing it in Memphis Minnie fashion, so she gets a credit."

This is interesting, what with the endless sniping at Led Zep for not crediting original songwriters. Is Jimmy saying that Memphis Minnie gets a credit because the arrangement includes her original singing style, as opposed to the song being a cover as we would see it today? That would explain some of the lack of credits on songs like, say, Whole Lotta Love where it's the lyrics which are copied and not the music or singing style.

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Houses was planned on being released during summer of '72 (about 8-9 months later than IV) but problems getting the colors on the album artwork delayed release until March '73. As far as songs they had from as far back as their trip to Bron-y-Aur were all or parts of Poor Tom, OTHAFA, The Rover, DBTS, Bron-Y-Aur, Night Flight and No Quarter. I think it would have been safe for him to say they had most of their next album done.

So at the time of the interview, October 1971, you really believe most of HotH had been recorded? Or do you mean you think Jimmy thought he had the rest of the next album recorded (to include Poor Tom, The Rover etc.) ?

I had always thought they recorded HotH mostly in 1972.

Edited by Audacity

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Is Sandy Denny's name mispelled as "Sandy Dennis" in the original source?

What about the passage "four rooms of symbols"? Is it not four runes or symbols in the original source?

The article is verbatim as originally printed.

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The article is verbatim as originally printed.

thanks , cat. you seriously rock.

as for richie yorke, this guy must be an all around nice dude, because he can't write for shiite...

but i'm a rock critic snob, i must admit. i hate most of 'em, and some of the ones i don't hate are dead. (whassup, lester!)

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So at the time of the interview, October 1971, you really believe most of HotH had been recorded? Or do you mean you think Jimmy thought he had the rest of the next album recorded (to include Poor Tom, The Rover etc.) ?

I had always thought they recorded HotH mostly in 1972.

I'm thinking he believed at that moment in time that they had most of the next album mostly recorded and that they only needed two or three more songs to fill it out. But as time passed and so much new stuff emerged in the coming months they got together at Stargroves in early '72 and that's where HOTH finally emerged. That wouldn't be the first time Mr. Page said something in an interview that eventually didn't come to pass or changed radically.

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I'm thinking he believed at that moment in time that they had most of the next album mostly recorded and that they only needed two or three more songs to fill it out. But as time passed and so much new stuff emerged in the coming months they got together at Stargroves in early '72 and that's where HOTH finally emerged. That wouldn't be the first time Mr. Page said something in an interview that eventually didn't come to pass or changed radically.

I see. I'd thought you (or Jimmy) were saying most of HotH had been recorded, not just the next album.

Thanks.

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Thank you very much, Cat! This article is fascinating. I wonder who the unfortunate engineer is whom Pagey was so upset with.

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Thank you very much, Cat! This article is fascinating. I wonder who the unfortunate engineer is whom Pagey was so upset with.

Andy Johns. They mixed it at Sunset Sound in LA. Since they were mixing instead of recording they rented studio # 2 (which was less expensive to rent than # 1). Unfortunately the speakers in # 2 were too bright and when the songs were played back in England they sounded very muddy. Only Levee didn't have to be remixed.

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Andy Johns. They mixed it at Sunset Sound in LA. Since they were mixing instead of recording they rented studio # 2 (which was less expensive to rent than # 1). Unfortunately the speakers in # 2 were too bright and when the songs were played back in England they sounded very muddy. Only Levee didn't have to be remixed.

Wouldn't Jimmy Page have been present during mixing? Who was being on the cheap renting the inferior room? How would anyone know the speakers would've made the mix too bright?

It's hard for me to understand how the engineer could've been at fault. I'd think it would've been a collaborative failing. Jimmy Page was producer, the buck stops with him.

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I had heard that anecdote before about the speakers being off, but I had thought Pagey blamed the studio for having inferior equipment. Poor Mr. Johns. Is he still alive? His brother Glyn is featured in one of those wonderful Classic Albums DVDs, I think it was for "Who's Next."

Anyway, Sunset Sound still takes credit on its web site as the place where Zeppelin recorded the IV album :)http://www.sunsetsound.com/home.html and here:

http://www.sunsetsound.com/studio_2/studio_2_recordings.html

Edited by FireOpal

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Wouldn't Jimmy Page have been present during mixing? Who was being on the cheap renting the inferior room? How would anyone know the speakers would've made the mix too bright?

It's hard for me to understand how the engineer could've been at fault. I'd think it would've been a collaborative failing. Jimmy Page was producer, the buck stops with him.

Yes Jimmy was present during the mixing. I didn't say Studio # 2 was inferior, just less expensive due to smaller size and less equipment. Why pay more for stuff you don't need? As far as the brightness of the speakers, if you record something at a studio in your hometown ( a studio you've used before with good results ), mix it in a studio in another town, then bring it back to your hometown studio and it sounds murky, what else could it be? Bright speakers would cause you to cut down the higher frequencies and either raise or keep the lows as is. Playing this on more balanced speakers would give you a bottom-heavy sound. This is something you wouldn't find out until after the fact. Jimmy was unhappy with Mr. Johns because he was one of the people who encouraged the use of Sunset Sound. Jimmy was relying on the advice of someone he trusted. How could he have known what would happen? He went to LA to mix an album instead of staying in London on Andy Johns' advice and lost several months due to the mess up. Wouldn't you be annoyed if you were in Jimmy's place? Because of how tight scheduling is in top studios you can't just pop in, do a test mix, bring it back home to see how it came out, then decide if you want to use that studio or try another. You rely on either personal experience or recommendations of people you trust. If someone's recommendation turns out to be crap and you waste a lot of time, money and effort I'm thinking you'd be a little annoyed at that person, yes?

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Yes Jimmy was present during the mixing. I didn't say Studio # 2 was inferior, just less expensive due to smaller size and less equipment. Why pay more for stuff you don't need? As far as the brightness of the speakers, if you record something at a studio in your hometown ( a studio you've used before with good results ), mix it in a studio in another town, then bring it back to your hometown studio and it sounds murky, what else could it be? Bright speakers would cause you to cut down the higher frequencies and either raise or keep the lows as is. Playing this on more balanced speakers would give you a bottom-heavy sound. This is something you wouldn't find out until after the fact. Jimmy was unhappy with Mr. Johns because he was one of the people who encouraged the use of Sunset Sound. Jimmy was relying on the advice of someone he trusted. How could he have known what would happen? He went to LA to mix an album instead of staying in London on Andy Johns' advice and lost several months due to the mess up. Wouldn't you be annoyed if you were in Jimmy's place? Because of how tight scheduling is in top studios you can't just pop in, do a test mix, bring it back home to see how it came out, then decide if you want to use that studio or try another. You rely on either personal experience or recommendations of people you trust. If someone's recommendation turns out to be crap and you waste a lot of time, money and effort I'm thinking you'd be a little annoyed at that person, yes?

Yes I'd be annoyed too. But you hadn't explained this so I had no idea of how the faux pas transpired. Jimmy's reliance on John's was the mistake. With Jimmy's vast experience it's hard to understand his slip-up this time.

I realize how speakers and rooms have such variations in sound and would think the best rooms would have multiple speaker set ups and possibly moveable walls etc. to soften or harshen the rooms acoustics. I know most studios have little flat toned speakers (Auratone) to switch between to hear how the mix will sound on less dynamic systems and even a small radio. Of all the LZ albums, I believe II has the best soundmix. If I were Jimmy, I would have used the studio/studios he used to mix that album. Personally, I think the masterpiece PG has a tinny sound. It doesn't have the ummph of II. None of the other albums do to me, including IV.

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According to the Uncle Joes Record Guide on Hard Rock Bands, "The Rover" and "No Quarter" were actually recorded for IV and then re-recorded for Houses Of The Holy. I also read somewhere that an acoustic version of "Down By The Seaside" was actually worked up for III, with the officially released, electric version being recorded for IV and then placed on Graffiti.

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Didn't Jimmy say something like 'Johns should have been hung, drawn and quartered for the fiascos he pulled' over the Sunset Sound debacle? When you think that Johns lost the masters when he left them on a plane, then caused all the hassles and delays and extra expense with the mixing and remixing, and then it finally came out that part of John's motivation for wanting to go to Los Angeles in the first place was actually because he was 'seeing' two women out there...well, you can see Jimmy's point!  

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Posted (edited)

'Johns should have been hung, drawn and quartered for the fiascos he pulled'

That's really harsh. The only worst thing that I have ever heard about an engineer was an assistant engineer who was asked to set up a listening tape for the first song that was recorded for Steely Dan's "Gaucho" album called "The Second Arrangement." Donald, Walter, engineer Roger Nichols and producer Gary Katz felt it was one the 5 greatest songs that the "band" had ever done. I think many music fans are aware of how fastidious Becker/Fagen were in a studio. They would have a session guitar player spend 24 hours recording a guitar solo, of which only half would be used on record. Well this assistant engineer apparently put the tape in the wrong way, and hit record, erasing 2/3 of the song. Everyone came back from supper ready to listen to find out that the tune had been basically wiped out.

No one returned to the studio for days.

They spent a total of $65,000 in 1979 money trying to record the song again, but they could never get it right, so they dumped it. The nasty sounding bootleg version of one of the retakes that's on youtube.com is not nearly as good as the original. Doesn't have horns and other essential parts. A small 2 minute snippet of the basic track from the original version that was wiped out is on youtube.com.

Edited by ThreeSticks

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