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Ross62

Interviews with Jimmy Page - 2015.

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^^That was a fantastic interview with Tom Barnard! Really getting excited for the last three releases:-)

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Agreed, great interview with Jimmy, short and sweet but showed a level of excitement and focus from him. Looking forward to these releases to.

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I wish there were more questions. The DJ hijacked the interview with personal praises and stories instead of getting Jimmy to talk in more detail about the releases and what was going on from a solo perspective.

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^ I agree that more questions could or should have been asked. You could tell Barnard was very respectful and genuinely glad to be doing that interview, but like most of us when excited, he talked a lot and asked less as a result. It seemed a comfortable enough interview for Jimmy, and he was open in his responses so that was good, which is why I hoped for more questions about the releases.

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Thank you so much Ross for posting that incredible interview with Jimmy, it covered so much ground, had a genuinely touching moment (the long pause after mentioning Bonzo's demise and the making of Coda, which we now know for sure was most definitely a contractual obligation rather than a chosen path, but one I'm nonetheless glad that happened even if the circumstances were tragic), and an answer to why 'Wearing and Tearing' wasn't on ITTOD... and I can see why it didn't fit on that album, in Jimmy the producer's eyes.

One last thing, that b/w group shot in the interview text of the band onstage at Knebworth, THAT'S what the inner gatefold sleeve of Coda should have been, it is such a poignant picture (more so because even Bonzo looks to be taking a final bow and he never did that), of a band unknowingly saying their very final goodbyes and fare-thee-wells to their audience, both in the U.K. and wider afield, what an appropriate last shot that would have been for the band's last official 'studio' release.

Thank you Mr Page... for the music, for the memories, for everything.

Edited by The Old Hermit

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You were an early fan of Indian music. You owned a sitar when you were a teenager, didn’t you?

Yes [long pause]. This story has leaked out… Now I suppose it will leak out even more. I managed to acquire a sitar, when I was a teenager, early on in my session musician days. I’m not saying I was the only person interested in Indian music, and I’m not detracting from George Harrison’s sitar work but I was in there earlier… Although I had to get Ravi Shankar to show me how to tune it.

How did that happen?

I had a connection with a lady that knew Ravi Shankar and said she’d get me an introduction. I went to see him when he played in London. There were members of the Indian high commission and Indian actors there, but no other young people. 
I was granted an audience with the master and he showed me how do it.

Will we ever hear Jimmy Page playing sitar?

I still have the sitar and I still play, but you don’t mess with two thousand years of culture. To hear Ravi playing, now that’s amazing. It’s a spiritual discipline.

This is the part of the interview which I find most interesting. It bothers me, reporters are so lazy and ill prepared to ask the right questions. At this point the reporter should have asked "Tell us Jimmy, do any Led Zeppelin outtakes, or demo's exist of you playing sitar on them?". But no, that never happens, instead we get many reporters asking questions like, 'who came up with the name', or how did you get the name' or 'was it a tough period', That was a wasted opportunity...

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I wish there were more questions. The DJ hijacked the interview with personal praises and stories instead of getting Jimmy to talk in more detail about the releases and what was going on from a solo perspective.

Reporters and DJ's always seem to fuck these things up

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Yes the Sitar question was an interesting one. I'm just speculating but maybe the interviewer got the impression Jimmy didn't want to go any further with that line of questioning. But that's just a theory. Either way it would be nuts if there's some unreleased Zeppelin songs that have a sitar on it.

I wish/hope that Jimmy's newly recorded material contains some Sitar stuff to be honest. Would be something he hasn't done before (at least released that is) and would fit into the experiential sound that Jimmy's hinted to.

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Thank you so much Ross for posting that incredible interview with Jimmy, it covered so much ground, had a genuinely touching moment (the long pause after mentioning Bonzo's demise and the making of Coda, which we now know for sure was most definitely a contractual obligation rather than a chosen path, but one I'm nonetheless glad that happened even if the circumstances were tragic), and an answer to why 'Wearing and Tearing' wasn't on ITTOD... and I can see why it didn't fit on that album, in Jimmy the producer's eyes.

Thank you Mr Page... for the music, for the memories, for everything.

You're most welcome,Old Hermit :)

This is the part of the interview which I find most interesting. It bothers me, reporters are so lazy and ill prepared to ask the right questions. At this point the reporter should have asked "Tell us Jimmy, do any Led Zeppelin outtakes, or demo's exist of you playing sitar on them?". But no, that never happens, instead we get many reporters asking questions like, 'who came up with the name', or how did you get the name' or 'was it a tough period', That was a wasted opportunity...

Good points all,Charles.

I wonder to what extent the questions are vetted before the interviews?

We've seen the examples of terminated interviews where the lines have been crossed so are we getting all of the "safe" subject matter?

And Jimmy being the cunning linguist :P that he is would have turned the answer around into a different subject/question/possibility answer/thing anyway,if he chose to answer it :huh:

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Yes the Sitar question was an interesting one. I'm just speculating but maybe the interviewer got the impression Jimmy didn't want to go any further with that line of questioning. But that's just a theory. Either way it would be nuts if there's some unreleased Zeppelin songs that have a sitar on it.

I wish/hope that Jimmy's newly recorded material contains some Sitar stuff to be honest. Would be something he hasn't done before (at least released that is) and would fit into the experiential sound that Jimmy's hinted to.

The impression I got from Page's comments is that playing the sitar is something he does for fun; a hobby. Therefore, he will never perform on the sitar in public or release an album, iTune, etc. of him playing that instrument. He has enough humility to realize that he is an amateur on the sitar compared to the great Indian virtuoso.

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Jimmy Page Chats With Gary Moore

Posted on

July 17, 2015

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95-5 KLOS & Led Zeppelin go back a lonnnnng way together. In fact, to 1969 when Led Zeppelin’s debut album was released and the first year for KLOS as well. Jimmy Page mentioned that shared heritage when he spoke with Gary Moore on July 16th from London. Jimmy and Gary also talked about the final 3 Led Zeppelin remasters–Presence, In Through The Out Door & Coda–as well as the long-awaited surprises on the companion discs of previously unreleased Led Zeppelin music and much more. (Big thanks to Jason Elzy & Rich Mahan at Rhino Records and KLOS Engineer Mike for all their help.) Hope you enjoy!

http://www.955klos.com/2015/07/17/jimmy-page-joins-gary-moore-2/

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The impression I got from Page's comments is that playing the sitar is something he does for fun; a hobby. Therefore, he will never perform on the sitar in public or release an album, iTune, etc. of him playing that instrument. He has enough humility to realize that he is an amateur on the sitar compared to the great Indian virtuoso.

it seems that way, but you can only interpret so much from text. I think that is the exact opposite of jimmy pages mindset. he had no clue what he was doing with the bow or the theramin. he is very experimental and doesn't seem to show much interest in being technically proficient.

I believe he did play a bit of sitar on one of his early recordings although not in the way a sitar is typically played i.e. sliding up and down the neck.

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Jimmy Page Chats With Gary Moore

Posted on

July 17, 2015

jimmypagegary.png

95-5 KLOS & Led Zeppelin go back a lonnnnng way together. In fact, to 1969 when Led Zeppelins debut album was released and the first year for KLOS as well. Jimmy Page mentioned that shared heritage when he spoke with Gary Moore on July 16th from London. Jimmy and Gary also talked about the final 3 Led Zeppelin remastersPresence, In Through The Out Door & Codaas well as the long-awaited surprises on the companion discs of previously unreleased Led Zeppelin music and much more. (Big thanks to Jason Elzy & Rich Mahan at Rhino Records and KLOS Engineer Mike for all their help.) Hope you enjoy!

http://www.955klos.com/2015/07/17/jimmy-page-joins-gary-moore-2/

Thanks for posting, Deb :) It's endearing how enthusiastic Jimmy is about this project, even after having finished it a while ago, which brings me to another point: Jimmy said that he'd finished doing the remasters before the promotion of the first 3 albums or thereabouts, and I get he was doing a lot of promotion, but I wonder whether he could have gotten some solo work done a bit farther along, then, too? Now, I'm not criticizing, so put your voodoo dolls down, and maybe he's they type do put all concentration into one project at a time, and that's fine, it's just Jimmy's been talking up the new music more as the remasters winds down, so I guess I'm a bit anxious in a curious sort of way to hear what he conjuring...

I wonder, too, whether revisiting all the old songs didn't, in fact, stir the pot of enthusiasm to get him going again - 'Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more...' that type of thing.

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Photo by Ross Halfin
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JIMMY PAGE: THE FINAL LED ZEPPELIN ALBUMS FEATURES / MARK BLAKE / 10 JUL 2015

As the band's final, most difficult reissues are released, we caught up with the man who led Zeppelin

It was a time of upheaval and tragedy, yet Coda, In Through The Out Door and Presence showcase some of Led Zeppelin’s most intriguing work.

Whenever Jimmy Page is asked a question that he’s uncomfortable about answering, his body language betrays him. His shoulder twitches and his lips purse. He will answer, although not necessarily the question you asked. It’s a game. And a game that Jimmy Page is an old hand at.

Led Zeppelin’s guitarist/producer/gatekeeper has been on the campaign trail since March 2014. Since then, each Zeppelin album has been remastered and reissued under Page’s watchful eye. For seasoned Zeppelin followers, it’s been like having several Christmases in a year. For Jimmy Page, it’s meant answering – and sometimes dodging – questions about Robert Plant’s solo career, groupies, drugs and Satan. There’s been a lot of shoulder-twitching and lip-pursing these past 16 months.

Now, though, Page’s work is done. This month sees the release of the final three: 1976’s Presence, 1979’s In Through The Out Door and 1982’s out-takes collection, Coda. But for Page, will it ever really be done?

We meet on a Friday afternoon in West London in what was once Olympic Studios and is now a private members’ club. Page is wearing regulation black and a raffish scarf, and looking eerily healthy for a septuagenarian rumoured to have spent years gone by in a pharmaceutical haze.

Earlier, he hosted a playback of tracks from the new reissues. The club’s impeccable sound system pumped new life into every note and nuance. Tell Page this, and the inscrutable gaze softens and the eyes light up.

The problem is, we’re here to talk about Coda, but also Zeppelin’s final album, In Through The Out Door. Previously, Page has described it as “too polished” and “not really us”, though Zeppelin’s worst is better than some groups at their best. Perhaps it’s not helped by the fact that it came after the guitar-heavy Presence, rumoured to be Page’s personal favourite.

Either way, let the twitching and lip-pursing begin…

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Is Presence really your favourite Led Zeppelin album?

I certainly really like it. It’s a bit of a muso’s album, though, isn’t it? So many times, I speak to people and they say that Presence is their favourite, and it always surprises me, because you’ve got to really listen to what’s going on.

It wasn’t made under the easiest of circumstances, was it?

No. Robert had had his accident [a car crash in Rhodes in August ’75], so his leg was in plaster in the studio. So that was a set of circumstances right there that wasn’t in script. So Presence was very reflective of what was going on – a lot of darkness and intensity. There’s some extraordinary stuff on there: from my point of view, Achilles Last Stand, but also Tea For One, where Robert is singing his heart out.

When Led Zeppelin played the Presence track For Your Life at the O2 reunion, could you see that some of the audience didn’t know it.

Yes, I could. Some reviewer even wrote it was a new song [looks appalled]. Mind you, perhaps that shows how popular Presence is in the grand scheme of things! [Laughs]

On the deluxe edition there’s a piano ballad called Pod. But it feels like the beginning of In Through The Out Door rather than part of Presence.

Yes. It wasn’t going to go on Presence because Presence was a guitar album. But [bassist] John Paul Jones presented this piece, and it says something that in among all that intensity and darkness we could do something like this. It was good enough for In Through The Out Door, but by then we’d done a new set of writing.

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Before Led Zeppelin started In Through The Out Door, they had to survive 1977. On July 24, they played what turned out to be their final US gig at San Francisco’s Oakland Coliseum. All the darkness and intensity of Presence reached fever pitch, when drummer John Bonham helped beat up a security guard backstage. Worse was to come. A day later, Robert Plant learned that his young son, Karac, had died from a viral infection at home in the UK. “It was a terrible time, God, yes,” sighs Page.

And one that led to Plant walking away from Led Zeppelin. When he returned, he was keen for the band to do something different in the studio, “something more conscientious and less animal”, he said later.

Plant wasn’t the only one with new ideas. When Zeppelin reconvened in May 1978 at Clearwell Castle, in the Forest Of Dean, John Paul Jones unveiled his new toy, a Yamaha GX-1 keyboard. “Stevie Wonder had one,” says Page, “We called it The Dream Machine. Immediately, John Paul started writing full numbers on it.”

Plant and Jones’s new ideas and instruments would have a major impact when Zeppelin arrived at ABBA’s Polar Studios, in Stockholm, to start work on their next album.

How did Led Zeppelin end up recording in ABBA’s studio?

They contacted me. The studio was only known for ABBA and they wanted an internationally known rock group to record there, and would Led Zeppelin consider it. We had a chat and they said they’d be generous with studio time. We went out there in December [’78], I think. It was biting cold, snow everywhere…

Did you meet ABBA?

I met Björn [ulvaeus] when I was setting up. I don’t think the others had got there then. He gave me a guitar, which was very sweet. A day later I met Benny [Andersson]. Björn was the blond one? Benny was the one with the beard and the keyboard, yes? [Laughs] He was very interested in John Paul’s new toy. At the time Benny was still married to Frida [Lyngstad]. So we all went out to a club together one night. They were nice people.

You didn’t meet Agnetha [Fältskog] then?


No, I was rather hoping we were going to meet Agnetha, but that wasn’t part of the deal!

Revisiting the album again, what was the first thing you noticed about it?

The album sounds a little bit contained. It was a state-of-the-art studio, but there was no ambience. We had to take the front bass skin off John Bonham’s drums. Then we had to use a machine to create a fake ambience.

How was the mood in the band at that time?

It was good, as far as I knew.

Robert Plant has said that his lyrics to Carouselambra (‘And powerless the fabled sat/Too smug to lift a hand…’) are about the tension in the band at the time. Did you know that?

I’m sure they were… but I didn’t know. The way we listened to music then was to make your own interpretation. We were still a few years away from videos where they told you what the song was about. In the early stages of Led Zeppelin I wrote lyrics. But if I’d concentrated on lyrics I wouldn’t have been able to give as much attention to the guitars.

John Paul Jones remembered the Polar sessions like so: “The band was splitting between people who could turn up at recording sessions on time and people who couldn’t,” he told Zeppelin biographer Barney Hoskyns in 2012.

Those who couldn’t were Bonham and Page, both of whom were supposedly using heroin. Ask Page about his drug use and he clams up, every time. He doesn’t deny it, but insists that, whatever else he was doing at the time, he was always ready to work. “When I needed to be focused, I was really focused,” he said. “Presence and In Through The Out Door were only recorded in three weeks. That’s really going some. You’ve got to be on top of it.”

But although he produced the album, as usual, In Through The Out Door is the only Zeppelin release to include original songs not written or co‑written by Page. After seven studio albums in which his iron grip on Led Zeppelin never weakened, you can’t help wondering why it did so at the end.

In Through The Out Door is very much the Plant/Jones album. The impression is that they were in a huddle together while you were otherwise engaged.

[Long pause]. Hmm… I do remember them being in a huddle, yes. That was good, though, wasn’t it? I had done a serious amount of writing all the way through and having done all the writing on Presence, I was relieved. Okay, Robert and John Paul are writing numbers together? Let them do it. Cool. I was very happy about it.

Really?

Yes, really, because I had just done a whole guitar album.

In Through The Out Door is quite a lightweight album. Fool In The Rain and All My Love are very poppy. What did you think of those songs?

I think they’re good. They’re alright. It was another dimension. On Presence, I wanted to do something that made a show of the guitars. That’s why Achilles Last Stand was a guitar orchestra extraordinaire. But with Fool In The Rain, even with the chorus and the acoustic guitars, when it comes to the solo, I employed a sound that made people go, “What the hell was that?” – even on a keyboard album. It made you think.

Were you aware that All My Love was about Robert’s son Karac?

Yes. I realised that it was over time.

Let’s pick a track at random: the piano number, South Bound Suarez. What do you remember about that?

I remember everything. I honestly do. What do you wanna know? Yeah, it’s a piano number, and I played a [b-] string-bender on the chorus [long pause]. Look, it was a departure…. The thing with In Through The Out Door is that there’s nothing like anAchilles… or a Kashmir on there.

In The Evening comes close, though?

In The Evening is maybe in that sort of vein. People always say that that’s the song on In Through The Out Door that feels closest to the Led Zeppelin they know. And my solo on that is another one that makes you think, “What the hell?”

When Coda came out, a lot of fans wondered why that great track Wearing And Tearing hadn’t been on In Through The Out Door?

Because the album was so much lighter, it wouldn’t have fitted. Wearing And Tearingwas ‘One, two, three, four, charge.’ My goodness! It was like an assault. It wasn’t in character with something like All My Love.

Do you think In Through The Out Door was just another progression? Like the one from Led Zeppelin II to III?

A logical progression, yes. But after In Through The Out Door, we would have done an album that was entirely different.

So what would the ninth Led Zeppelin album have sounded like?

[Emphatically] Riffs, interestingly constructed riffs and hypnotic music. John Bonham and I spoke about this a lot. Let’s put it this way, on the next Led Zeppelin album, John wouldn’t have been playing with brushes. John loved the idea of anything where he could really get going.

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Led Zeppelin IX never happened. When John Bonham died on September 25, 1980, Zeppelin died with him. Two years later came Coda, an album of outtakes, including Bonham’s drum extravaganza, Bonzo’s Montreux. The deluxe version of Coda brings more buried treasure to light, such as Friends and Four Sticks (retitled Four Hands), recorded by Page and Plant with Indian musicians in 1972.

Listening to Page discussing this material, you glimpse the obsessiveness that helped make Led Zeppelin such a force, but also a reluctance to reveal too much, as if this will diminish his and/or the music’s power. You realise why Robert Plant once described his old bandmate as “a man of mystery… hiding in shadows and peeping round corners”.

Yet, you also glimpse a more innocent time – if ‘innocence’ and ‘Led Zeppelin’ could ever be used in the same sentence – before the so-called “darkness and intensity” took over. Most of all, though, you realise how much John Bonham’s death impacted on him.

Coda seemed to creep out in 1982. There was none of the fanfare that’s accompanied these latest reissues.

It was a very difficult album to approach. We’d lost John in 1980 but even when I came to do Coda, it still felt tough [long pause]. It was a contractual album. We had to do it.

How did you approach it?

It had to have credibility, because it could have been quite unpalatable otherwise. It helped that we had Darlene, Ozone Baby and Wearing And Tearing from the Polar Sessions. And only John and I knew about Bonzo’s Montreux.

Why didn’t the others know about it?

Because it was something we did together – just him and me. John was alone in Montreux at the time [bonham was taking a tax year out of the UK in 1976], so I went there to cheer him up. John liked all those old Sandy Nelson records, because of the drums. So we wanted to make something that sounded like a drum orchestra. It was fun, but it wouldn’t have fitted on any of the albums.

So what were you aiming for with the new Coda?

To make the mother of all Codas! [Laughs] Before I started this whole campaign, I had to know what I was saving for this one – all the little treasures.

Let’s talk about Friends and Four Hands, then. We’ve read about the trip you and Robert took to India in ’72, but never heard the music you made there.

We were on the plane from Australia and had to break up the journey for refuelling. I had worked out a situation where we could go into a studio [EMI Studios in Bombay] with some Indian classically trained musicians. I wanted to see if it was possible to go in with a guitar and an interpreter and make something happen.

Had these musicians heard any of Led Zeppelin’s music before?

No. It was 1972 and they were immersed in their own world. But Friends was written around the idea of Indian music. I just about managed to explain it to them. On Four Sticks, they did things in odd times and multiple beats. As far as I was concerned, I was in paradise. I’d gone in to do something that seemed impossible and I’d done it.

You were an early fan of Indian music. You owned a sitar when you were a teenager, didn’t you?

Yes [long pause]. This story has leaked out… Now I suppose it will leak out even more. I managed to acquire a sitar, when I was a teenager, early on in my session musician days. I’m not saying I was the only person interested in Indian music, and I’m not detracting from George Harrison’s sitar work but I was in there earlier… Although I had to get Ravi Shankar to show me how to tune it.

How did that happen?

I had a connection with a lady that knew Ravi Shankar and said she’d get me an introduction. I went to see him when he played in London. There were members of the Indian high commission and Indian actors there, but no other young people. 
I was granted an audience with the master and he showed me how do it.

Will we ever hear Jimmy Page playing sitar?

I still have the sitar and I still play, but you don’t mess with two thousand years of culture. To hear Ravi playing, now that’s amazing. It’s a spiritual discipline.

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Ten years ago you talked to me about making a solo album. What is happening with that?

Look at the reality. Ever since the release of [the Zeppelin reunion live DVD and CD]Celebration Day [in 2012] I’ve been working on this material, selecting and rejecting, to get to where we are today. This is Led Zeppelin’s reputation. But I’m happy that it’s all accomplished. Now I can concentrate on all things guitar.

Have you actually recorded some new music?

Yes, I’ve got new music. But I haven’t worked with other musicians on any of it. But never mind what I have or where it is – is it acoustic, electric or experimental. I’d rather be seen going out there and playing publicly rather than doing it at home.

This reissues campaign had been your life for the past couple of years – but only yours. Why aren’t Robert Plant and John Paul Jones sitting here as well?

I’ve not heard from them about this new stuff, but they know how things have shaped up. But we all know I formed the band and I was the producer, and consequently I have all the points of reference, more than anyone else. [Long pause] Some people might have forgotten all the things we did, but I didn’t forget. I’m the one who knew.

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With the recording device switched off, the other Jimmy Page reappears, all easy grins and friendly chit-chat. “When we talk again about my new solo album, let’s see how confident I am then,” he jokes.

But can any new music Jimmy Page makes possibly measure up to Led Zeppelin, and also to his own exacting standards? And as the now 71-year-old leader of one of the biggest rock bands of all time, who’d blame him if he never played a another note? But Page is both Led Zeppelin’s number one authority and their biggest fan. He can’t let it go. Maybe that’s why he’s so defensive when discussing In Through The Out Door. The truth is – whisper it – it wasn’t as good as the other albums, and he knows it.

As a parting shot, I tell him that there are a lot of Zeppelin fans of a certain age for whom Zeppelin’s last album was their first; who vividly remember the LP coming out, hearing In The Evening being played on the radio, and as such have a soft spot for it. “Okay,” he says, looking slightly surprised. “I can understand that. Yeah, that does makes sense.”

As he leaves the room, you notice that his shoulders are finally down, the lips are un-pursed and once again Jimmy Page is smiling.

Jimmy Page portraits: © Ross Halfin

Led Zeppelin line-up shots: © Atlantic Records/Mythgem Ltd/Neal Preston/Atlantic Records

The link for this was originally supplied by https://twitter.com/LedZepNews :)

#gettingold #memorygoing #etc

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Jimmy Page: 'Robert and I went to see the Damned. He'd probably run a mile from that now'

As we near the end of Led Zeppelin’s exhaustive reissue programme, the band’s leader and curator discusses their legacy and their difficult final years

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What have you learned about Led Zeppelin from putting together the reissues of the entire catalogue?

I just reinforced what I already knew. That it is four master musicians. The alchemy of it was just so very, very special, it was unique, and the scope of what we could do individually or collectively was just unparalleled. If you say Led Zeppelin to somebody, then something is going to come into their mind – riffs or a vocal line or whatever it is. Everything that I tried to do was to present a portal into the time when these things were recorded. It’s the recorded music that has kept Led Zeppelin at the forefront of things, and made it vital listening to young musicians: it’s a great textbook.

Has the public response gratified you, with so many of those albums going high in the charts?

Again! It’s terrific, isn’t it? It’s really wonderful. The response to it, right from the first three releases, was just so strong in every area, from the vinyl through to the extra content – far more than I even imagined. It brings a lot of joy to people’s lives and that’s great.

Has there been anything that’s surprised you having gone through the Zeppelin archives, stuff that you’d forgotten ?

Do you know what’s pretty surprising about it? My memory recall on it was just so clear that I knew what it was I was looking for and what I wanted to hear – it was just a question of making sure I could locate it. I started to get quite obsessive about it – I wanted to know exactly what might be there on bootleg in case the system that I had malfunctioned at some point and something might have got copied.

You were insistent about not using anything that had been widely bootlegged. But people like me – who aren’t obsessive bootleg collectors – would have loved official, high-quality versions of that stuff …

When they came out, they were the definitive versions. They were the definitive summing up of the body of work. But it didn’t mean to say that some of the other versions of things weren’t interesting – a version of Stairway is really, really interesting relative to the one we all know. With When the Levee Breaks, there was the version that was done in London, but the one from Sunset Sound was really dense, it was dark, it was ominous and that was it. That was going to be the version. I might have yet had another version of When the Levee Breaks but it won’t be as good as the original version, or the one that’s in the companion disc. That illustrated the sort of work that went into the compiling and the selection and rejection of things along the way to make a companion disc. So, as best as possible, I made sure there wasn’t anything that just already replicated what was out there on the bootlegs. I think what you’re getting at is earlier versions of things. I did have an idea after the live DVD whereby we could have done rehearsal tapes and things like that, but nobody could understand it – when I say nobody, I mean the management, but that was fair enough. It wasn’t anywhere near as ambitious as this project was, because this was going to be so thorough and so searching that it was going to just really cover everything.

What are your favourites among the previously unreleased material?

There are highlights going through from the alternate version of Whole Lotta Love – that’s superb. The alternate version of Since I’ve Been Loving You is superb. The alternate version of Stairway (1) … you can go on and on and on and on. Everything that’s out there is out there for a reason. There are just so many gems that are out there – Key to the Highway was superb, that was always going to be something that people never expected, nobody had heard it, and it had never been bootlegged, yet it illustrates that when Led Zeppelin did blues it was a totally different version to how other people approached it.

Are the Zeppelin archives now closed?

As far as that side of the recording world of Led Zeppelin [goes], yeah. I’ve done a really thorough job.

On to these final three albums – Presence, In Through the Out Door and Coda. Would it be fair to say that these cover the most trying times in Zeppelin’s career? (2)

I suppose you could say that, couldn’t you?

Did you ever fear the events might diminish Zeppelin? Presence, of course, was recorded with Robert Plant in a wheelchair after his car crash …

Robert was really keen to do the recording, and we all were, because there wasn’t anything else that we could do. There was a unified will to do this album – I mean, he’s singing his heart out and that’s all there is to it. We weren’t thinking about tomorrow, we were thinking about that immediate point in time, collectively.

And then, in 1977, Robert’s son died. That must have had a colossal effect on the band.

Certainly. I can’t even into get into discussing what everyone else thought. I don’t want to put words into Robert’s mouth but obviously he made the decision to go back on the road and do an album. In 1978, Robert makes a decision that he wants to reappear. We start doing some rehearsals, getting together, and John Paul Jones has got this keyboard made by Yamaha, and it was called the dream machine. So you can imagine what it was, if you’re gonna call something a dream machine – it was a state-of-the-art keyboard. John Paul Jones had been inspired by this keyboard, I guess – he had complete numbers that he’d written, you know, with verses, choruses, middles and it was fantastic, because Presence had been an electric guitar album. John Paul Jones had this writing renaissance, because he hadn’t written whole numbers before and suddenly he had. Abba’s recording studio, Polar, wanted to become an international recording studio. So they were sat thinking: “What better band to come in here to address this than Led Zeppelin?” So they got in touch with me and made a very generous offer about studio time. It was a state-of-the-art studio and you know that the album In Through the Out Door is going to sound different to anything we’ve done before, but that’s a good thing – with Led Zeppelin every album did sound different, so this is just the logical step. (3)

Between Presence and In Through the Out Door, punk came along. There’s a tendency to view this as The Event That Changed Everything, but in 1979 you were still able to sell hundreds of thousands of tickets for the Knebworth shows. Did you feel the musical landscape had changed in a way that might harm you?

Here’s where it goes with Led Zeppelin. It didn’t matter what was going on around us, because the character of Led Zeppelin’s music was so strong. I really enjoyed punk music: I went to hear the Damned, and Robert came along – the two of us went to see the Damned here in London. He’d probably run a mile from something like that now, but I’d still embrace it. I liked the Sex Pistols’ music, I thought it was superb. I liked it but that didn’t mean to say I was going to give up on the way I was going – but you do, you appreciate other music along the way. You could see the link back to Eddie Cochran, but I don’t want to take anything away from what they did, or try and link it into something else – that’s almost as annoying as people trying to link Led Zeppelin into something. It was just really good music.

There was a three-year gap between Presence and In Through the Out Door. Did you have any worries about having been away that long?

No. As far as whether we got together and played music, no.

What about how your music might be received after that gap?

No, it didn’t bother me. Not really. Because if the music you’re playing you’re playing from the heart, that’s going to translate to anyone.

You’ve previously expressed reservations about In Through the Out Door. Do you still feel unsure about it?

No, not really. It’s what it was in the space of time. I would say that out of the whole of the catalogue that one seems to date quicker than some of the others, but I don’t want to take anything away from it. It is what it is. We did some extraordinary singing and playing on it.

And finally, in 1982, came the posthumous collection Coda, often called the album for the taxman …

Well, it wasn’t for the taxman but it was a contractual album. It was a difficult album. People say: “What was the most difficult album?” and that was it. It was a posthumous album – you’re going to be using studio outtakes, because we didn’t have anything else in the can. It wasn’t like we had an album in the can to go, of course we didn’t, far from it. It was what it was, but it wouldn’t have gone out if I hadn’t thought it had a place. But it was a difficult one to do and put together. [For the reissue] I wanted to make Coda the mother of all Coda – I wanted to make it such a celebration of the group in all its quirkiness and all its directness. Well, that’s what this Coda is. It’s just got so much fun on it.

The great counterfactual of rock is what might have happened had Zeppelin continued into the 80s. What kind of direction do you think you would have taken had John Bonham not died?

John and I liked to discuss what we would like to do on the next album, and if you listen to Led Zeppelin all the way through you can hear all the things I like to do – riffs that would be quite tricky, interesting, provocative. And he loved playing this sort of stuff. So we definitely would have done some guitar-driven riff things because he loved all of that and because we’d just done a keyboard album.

Would you have been more active in the songwriting again?

No idea. I don’t know. What I do know is John Paul Jones had come up with whole numbers [for In Through the Out Door] and Robert was writing the lyrics – I wasn’t going to write the lyrics. So that seemed to be the way that was going at that point in time. Didn’t bother me at all. As far as I could see it was just the natural progression.

Did you mourn the end of Zeppelin?

Of course. Naturally. I put the guitar down for a little bit and I didn’t actually want to play. But then I did, and I used it as a therapeutic tool really.

Can you tell me something about Led Zeppelin that’s never appeared in an article?

Maybe not today. But believe me, I will. (4)

  • The remastered editions of Presence, In Through the Out Door and Coda are released on Warner/Rhino on 31 July.
Footnotes

(1) Page dismisses talk of there being loads of usable and interesting versions of Stairway to Heaven. But if you spend five minutes on Google you can find them.

(2) In August 1975, Robert Plant and his wife Maureen were involved in a crash that seriously injured her and put him temporarily in a wheelchair. After their July 1977 show in Oakland, John Bonham and members of the band’s crew were arrested after badly beating a member of the promoter’s staff, for which they received suspended sentences. Page told me last year that he wasn’t aware of what had happened because he was onstage at the time. Which seems odd, since you’d have expected Bonham to be onstage, too. Two days later, Plant’s son Karac died of a stomach infection. Then, in September 1980, Bonham died as result of asphyxiation by vomit.

(3) The common explanation for Plant and Jones’s domination of In Through the Out Door is that Page and Bonham were knee-deep in addictions, Page to heroin and Bonham to booze. However, Page has always pointed out, he was perfectly capable of getting the album recorded in three weeks.

(4) I bet he won’t.

http://www.theguardian.com/music/2015/jul/24/jimmy-page-interview-robert-plant-led-zeppelin-remasters

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Point 2 in those footnotes, Bonham was likely offstage during the acoustic set.

Edited by Mook

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