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SteveAJones

The Redemption of Jimmy Page

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'It Might Get Loud': The Redemption of Jimmy Page

by Matt Patterson

What happens to an artist whose creative peak has long past? That is the question which looms like a sustained E chord over the new documentary It Might Get Loud, a strange and wonderful cinematic ode to the electric guitar by director Davis Guggenheim. whose previous credits include An Inconvenient Truth (don't hold that against him).

It Might Get Loud's central conceit is simple and elegant in principle, but surprisingly messy and complex on screen: Take three eminent guitarists of differing styles and generations, interview them individually, get them to open up about their relationship with their instrument and then, for the film's climax, throw them together on a sound-stage surrounded by guitars and see what happens.

Guggenheim's choice of guitarists is a surprising one that somehow makes sense; Jack White of The White Stripes and The Raconteurs (in his 30's), The Edge of U2 (in his 40's), and Jimmy Page of The Yardbirds and Led Zeppelin (in his 60's).

The three musicians' contrasting philosophies make for a fascinating musical study, as well as some unintentionally amusing moments: Page in one scene is shown lovingly caressing his Les Paul, comparing it to a woman, deserving of reverence and respect; White, meanwhile, sees his guitar as essentially an antagonist, a thing to be fought and conquered, and is shown repeatedly doing just that, bloodying his hands in nightly battle with his red and white axes. In another scene, Edge is shown talking about the impetus for both the formation of U2 and his own notoriously minimalist playing style in the 70's, he says, rock got too big and self-indulgent, with the kind of endless guitar and drum solos parodied to such great effect in This Is Spinal Tap. Of course Edge knows, but is too polite to mention, that Led Zeppelin was both prime instigator and practitioner of the grandiosity he laments.

Another fascinating juxtaposition: Edge makes a fetish of technology, explaining in great detail the many and varied pedals, amps, dials, and diodes required to transform his limited number of plucked notes into the soaring U2 anthems we know and love. Meanwhile, White is sneeringly suspicious of digital technology, and carefully guards his soul and music from its polluting effects by choosing for his instruments old, cheap, barely tunable creatures of wood and plastic.

The personalities of the three men are likewise contrapuntal: White practically stoops under the weight of the chip on his shoulder; Edge is calm, almost serene, even as he discusses the frustration of the compositional process. And Page…Page seems unsettled, even haunted. But more on that in a moment.

The highlight of the film, of course, is the much heralded "summit," when the three men come together on a Los Angeles sound stage. The meeting is initially awkward, but soon they are loosening up, showing one another their songs, talking about the music they made and which made them. At one point, Page stands and starts playing the riff to "Whole Lotta Love," to White and Edge's giddy delight. Edge tries, with limited success, to teach Page to play "I Will Follow" ("Are you sure about that chord?" Page asks). White plays "Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground" for his elders, whose faces betray admiration and affection for their younger colleague. And when the three of them jam on "In My Time of Dying"…well, magic as only music can make.

It Might Get Loud is filled with such lovely moments. Guggenheim's triumph is finding ways to illuminate not only the minds of these men, but the music which animates them: White surrounded by misty mountains builds a guitar out of a board, nails, wire, and a coke bottle; Edge travels to

the school where he first met his band-mates some 30 years ago, pointing out the billboard where the notice for musicians was first posted; Page explains his "light and shade" compositional philosophy at home by picking up his guitar and playing a lilting and lonely "Ramble On."

For those who know "Ramble On," propelled on record byJohn Paul Jones' slippery bass line and John Bonham's ticking percussion, Page's ad hoc rendition here is shocking indeed, at first it is barely recognizable. But there it is, stripped down to the bare chords, revealing itself to be that rarest of God's creatures more beautiful naked than ornamented.

And here the comparison between Page on the one hand and Jack White and The Edge on the other falls away the two younger guitarists, as accomplished and skilled as they are, are not, in fact, Jimmy Page's peers; their music when stripped down seems less, not more.

Edge and White have something else in common: They both have ongoing musical concerns. White has at least three bands he heads, The White Stripes, The Dead Weather, and The Raconteurs, as well as a flourishing producing career (check out his exquisite production on Loretta Lynn's fantastic Van Lear Rose). Edge and U2, meanwhile, have just released their most creatively, if not commercially, successful album in a decade, and are currently selling out stadiums across North America and Europe.

Page has not been so lucky. Since Led Zeppelin collapsed in the aftermath of John Bonham's death in 1980, what little music Page has made has been the palest shadow of Zeppelin's greatness, sub-par albums made with sub-par collaborators like The Firm and David Coverdale. These efforts seem to confirm his fans' (and perhaps his own) worst fears that Page cannot function musically outside the Zeppelin framework, a framework which he created, led, and nurtured.

In December 2007, a one-off reunion show at London's '02 Arena led to hopes and plans of a full-scale Zeppelin reunion, a new album and tour with Jason Bonham taking his father's place on the skins. Alas, it was not to be: Zep vocalist Robert Plant is enjoying some of the best commercial and critical success of his career with his collaboration with bluegrass crooner Alison Krauss, and apparently and understandably wants no part of Jimmy Page's nostalgia trip.

Where does that leave Page? He has written two new songs for It Might Get Loud, titled "Embryo No. 1″ and "Embryo No. 2," so called because they are sketches of ideas that may or may not evolve into full song-hood. One of the songs makes a brief appearance in the film, but so far there are no plans for either of them to appear in finished form, nor does there seem to be any other Jimmy Page solo work on the horizon: When asked what Page would be doing in the coming year, his manager Peter Mensch recently told MusicRadar: "Fuck if I know."

As the film closes, Page speaks candidly about his fears of the day when the creative coals are at last still and cold. That day comes to all artists, he notes; all you can do is try and make sure that it remains as far away as possible.

The painful evidence suggests that, for the architect of "Stairway to Heaven" and "Kashmir," that day has already come. But maybe it doesn't have to be that way. Maybe Page's creative straight jacket is self-sutured. Maybe he just needs someone to believe in him.

I do.

http://bighollywood....-of-jimmy-page/

Edited by SteveAJones

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The painful evidence suggests that, for the architect of "Stairway to Heaven" and "Kashmir," that day has already come. But maybe it doesn't have to be that way. Maybe Page's creative straight jacket is self-sutured. Maybe he just needs someone to believe in him.

I do.

http://bighollywood....-of-jimmy-page/

Me too.

Great article, Steve...

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Wow, great article indeed...

I completely agree with the author about Jimmy Page's guitar skills and composition, I'm no expert on guitar, far from it, but I have yet to listen to another guitarist that captures that creativity that Jimmy has. There are a lot of guitar players that try to emulate that, but they seem to only emulate certain bits and pieces never the whole of Page's genius.

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I have not felt the need to post on the forums in awhile, but have watched from the shadows. This article deserves a reply. I have yet to read something that sums up the current status of Jimmy Page as well as this.That said i do hope that Jimmy reads this and responds in the form of "something new".The legacy of Led Zeppelin and each band member on a individual basis has already been long established.Its time now for Jimmy to do something for the love of the music, not for public judgement.Thanks Steve once again for sharing your items/story/collections with us.Its been along time since we last spoke.

Its your your time Mr Page, the spotlight has always been yours

Regards

Cav

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Lots of people still believe in Jimmy Page as a musician and composer of songs, and I bet he still believes in himself too. I just don't think he cares enough to do anything new unless it is with Robert Plant and somehow tied to Zeppelin. He had the opportunity to start anew with Jason and JPJ and even that fizzled out. As much as I love Jimmy's songs and playing, Iv'e come to accept that there is a good chance that he is done as an active artist. I hope he finds pleasure and contentment with his remaining years no matter what he chooses to do.

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This is one of the best posts ever made on this site.I feel exactly the same way and hope that whatever Jimmy does he does for himself.Jimmy Page owes nothing to anyone but himself and hopefully whatever he decides to do he finds happiness.Thanks for the article Steve.

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Great article Steve. I really hope, in some way, TCV and the way JPJ has been received will allow for Jimmy to want to do something with other musicians. I am sure there are many top notch musicians who would jump at a chance to work with him and create with him, within the framework of a band. I just hope he wants to do something, anything, in the future. ;)

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I hope he finds pleasure and contentment with his remaining years no matter what he chooses to do.

I hope he'll help post Them Crooked Vultures album and concert reviews to this site.

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I hope he'll help post Them Crooked Vultures album and concert reviews to this site.

Be careful what you wish for...

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I hope he'll help post Them Crooked Vultures album and concert reviews to this site.

I think you have that job covered.

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Thank you so much, Steve for posting this, as well. I loved the articale and agree totally with it. It's a beautiful articale. I still totally believe in 'the ever dazzeling Mr. Page,' as Catherine James calls him in her book. I am happy I am not the only one. Thank you.

Edited by aen27

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I think you have that job covered.

many thanks Steve for all the time you have spent posting all the reviews and other info.

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THANKS STEVE FOR POSTING !! I AGREE TOTALLY :) I WANT THE WORLD TO SEE THIS :D THATS HOW MUCH I APPRECIATE PAGE,AND WAITING TO SEE WHAT COMES NEXT!!!

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Great article Steve. I really hope, in some way, TCV and the way JPJ has been received will allow for Jimmy to want to do something with other musicians. I am sure there are many top notch musicians who would jump at a chance to work with him and create with him, within the framework of a band. I just hope he wants to do something, anything, in the future. ;)

...although, it may reflect Page as the "last one" finally to jump on the "Bandwagon", ...I do believe in optimism...better to see glass 1/2 full than 1/2 empty, (Perhaps, now AFTER ALL, the last word does belong to Page...I hope so, but this is a 2nd priority...

top priority for me as a fan remain his health, and happiness, and contentment with his inner self. I don't think Page will ever do anything that his heart does not permit, that is my understanding of his nature....

..The article also reflects that Page was not "as successful".....agreed, but that is not a good enough/strong reason for his attitude towards withdrawl gradually, he could have remained active, and he may even have surprised himself somewhere down the road..but no, that was not to be by his own doing.....

I will add my wishlist, might as well, I hope both Jimmy and Robert will pay Tribute to The King....to start....

Edited by PlanetPage

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...although, it may reflect Page as the "last one" finally to jump on the "Bandwagon", ...I do believe in optimism...better to see glass 1/2 full than 1/2 empty, (Perhaps, now AFTER ALL, the last word does belong to Page...I hope so, but this is a 2nd priority...

top priority for me as a fan remain his health, and happiness, and contentment with his inner self. I don't think Page will ever do anything that his heart does not permit, that is my understanding of his nature....

..The article also reflects that Page was not "as successful".....agreed, but that is not a good enough/strong reason for his attitude towards withdrawl gradually, he could have remained active, and he may even have surprised himself somewhere down the road..but no, that was not to be by his own doing.....

I will add my wishlist, might as well, I hope both Jimmy and Robert will pay Tribute to The King....to start....

I agree with you, PlanetPage!

As long as Jimmy is content, happy and healthy, that is what is important. And he does look very happy and healthy in the recent photos in Ross' diary. http://www.rosshalfi...vember-2009.php

This was a really good article, very spot on.

Maybe we will see something from Jimmy in 2010. Keeping our fingers crossed. Maybe it will even be with Robert, who knows. Seems like Robert may be ready for a collaboration. Maybe it will be with Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton at their concert in February. Anything from him in any capacity would be greatly appreciated and loved by his fans.

Edited by BUCK'EYE' DOC

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This is one of the best posts ever made on this site.I feel exactly the same way and hope that whatever Jimmy does he does for himself.Jimmy Page owes nothing to anyone but himself and hopefully whatever he decides to do he finds happiness.Thanks for the article Steve.

I agree. Steve, thank you for this. The absolute musical genius of Jimmy will always be. That I truly believe in!

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This is one of the best posts ever made on this site.I feel exactly the same way and hope that whatever Jimmy does he does for himself.Jimmy Page owes nothing to anyone but himself and hopefully whatever he decides to do he finds happiness.Thanks for the article Steve.

I agree 100%.

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My favorite part of tha article:

For those who know "Ramble On," propelled on record byJohn Paul Jones' slippery bass line and John Bonham's ticking percussion, Page's ad hoc rendition here is shocking – indeed, at first it is barely recognizable. But there it is, stripped down to the bare chords, revealing itself to be that rarest of God's creatures – more beautiful naked than ornamented.

And here the comparison between Page on the one hand and Jack White and The Edge on the other falls away – the two younger guitarists, as accomplished and skilled as they are, are not, in fact, Jimmy Page's peers; their music when stripped down seems less, not more.

Great stuff. I hope that Jimmy is ok and i really want him to come back to his adoring public. I miss the bloke.

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Hm. While I agree with a few points of the article, I get the impression that the writer isn't all that familiar with Jimmy's work. Also, if I remember correctly, both Embryo #1 and #2 were in the film. Could be wrong, but I believe #1 was an ethereal, beautiful piece of work and #2 was rockin', kind of along the vein or spirit of the ending of Hots on for Nowhere. I'll have to watch/listen again when the DVD comes out. :D

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Thanks for posting that article, Steve. :beer:

It strikes me as a thoughtful assessment. One thing we all should do well to remember is that even if Jimmy's name is linked mostly to his achievements with Led Zeppelin, he was a very successful session player for years before that, and in that role played with all kinds of different artists. Led Zeppelin was where he finally developed his own music, and in collaboration with other great musicians, but there can be no doubt that he can attain his musical ends working with other people.

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My favorite part of tha article:

For those who know "Ramble On," propelled on record byJohn Paul Jones' slippery bass line and John Bonham's ticking percussion, Page's ad hoc rendition here is shocking – indeed, at first it is barely recognizable. But there it is, stripped down to the bare chords, revealing itself to be that rarest of God's creatures – more beautiful naked than ornamented.

And here the comparison between Page on the one hand and Jack White and The Edge on the other falls away – the two younger guitarists, as accomplished and skilled as they are, are not, in fact, Jimmy Page's peers; their music when stripped down seems less, not more.

Great stuff. I hope that Jimmy is ok and i really want him to come back to his adoring public. I miss the bloke.

I miss him too, and hope to hear him soon, but I thought this quote illustrates how little the writer knows about White's work, which is already stripped down, by definition--he's making a false comparison here. (And personally, I recognized Ramble On instantly, and would be amazed if most other music fans don't.)

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I think that the Coverdale Page album is extremely underrated at least in terms of Jimmy's playing and guitar composition. If Jimmy had done that exact album with Robert (and Jonesy), the attention and acclaim it would have received would have been 10x what it actually received.

Perhaps the lack of attention to it soured Jimmy on attempting future projects that didn't include Robert. But for anyone who hasn't heard the entire cd you definitely need to check it out.

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Perhaps the lack of attention to it soured Jimmy on attempting future projects that didn't include Robert.

The unwillingness of Robert to reform Led Zeppelin in January 1991 led to the Coverdale/Page collaboration,

while his willingness to form Plant/Page led to it's end.

In Autumn 1993 the MTV Unplugged offer was made to Robert, and he elected to discuss the opportunity with Jimmy. They met twice in Boston (Nov 20-21 1993) before Coverdale/Page Japanese tour rehearsals in Los Angeles had even begun. Soonafter, ending the Coverdale/Page era became imminent and Jimmy and Robert went into the studio together in February 1994.

Granted, it didn't help that C/P album and ticket sales were sluggish despite a massive publicity campaign.

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