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Led Zeppelin - a concept expressed


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Oakland (CA) Tribune April 9, 1969

by By Peggy King

Tribute Staff Writer

Rock music is generally

considered the garbage heap

of the popular music field, replacing

hill-billy, once the lowest

note on the contemporary


Thus, it becomes quite painful

for a critic to praise Jimmy

Page. Almost, as painful

as reading most of the Bay

Area music columns.

Jimmy Page is a pallid,

unobtrusive, 20-year-old musical

genius from England who

is currently walking the deli-,

cate, spidery t i g h t r o p e of

greatness on the American

pop scene.

To expose his talent to

praise, to dissect his ideas

and put them into bungling

words and innovative

blues patterns would

probably be a good story, but

just another story about a

young musician's struggle to

make it.

The pain comes with the

reality that exposure to the

general public would place

Page on that lowest rung of

pop music levels. Jimmy

Page is a rock musician.

Shudder. You see, he must be

a rock musician because of

classifications, holy classifications.

These classifications — rock

(into which is lumped hard r

o c k, rock 'n' roll, soul,

rock-blues and f o 1 k -r o c k),

blues, country - western (or

Glenn Campbell), jazz, bal-

What is most important to

remember when approaching

rock — for the critic and the

critical public — is that just

as in all other areas of music,

there is more bad rock than

good. There happens to be

more bad rock than any other

bad music simply because

there is more rock on the current

scene than any other music.

This may appear an oversimplification.

However, there

is only one Beethoven, Art Tatum,

Miles David, Enrico Caruso, Frank Sinatra and

with little doubt) one Jimmy Page.

The cream generally rises to

the top.

Many critics and the adult

public appear to have come to

the conclusion that all the

noise the kids are making

with their drums, guitars and

things is rock, their way of

taking out their hostilities on

the taxpayers and it, too, will


Some of it will, hopefully.

But what we are concerned

with is the part that won't,


The general public tends to

listen to the critics more than

to their phonographs to evaluate

the music their youth are

making and listening to. When

Davy Jones sings out his appeal

which is geared more to

the hormone structure of the

teen age girl than to anything

else it is treated with the

same diffidence by the critic

as when Eric Clapton challenges

the emotions and the

minds of society to remember

that music is a means of expressing

a concept of an idea,

as well as just a way to "let it

all hang out."

Perhaps It is time for the

music world to consider that

rock is a valid medium, that

it has produced perhaps more

real talent than any other

area of music and grapple

with toe thought that it is here

to stay.

Last week, John Mayall was

k i d n a pp e d from rock. The

walking (and playing) epitome

of blues-rock, Mayall was

such a success at San Francisco's

Winterland, when pitted

against such seasoned talents

as Majic Sam and Bo Diddley,

that local c r i t i c immediately

elevated h i m

from Bill Graham's world of

Fillmore and the less-ecstatic

Avalon Ballroom, and considered

him in jazz columns as

"the blues' (which takes the

curse off). Mayall was born a

blues man. But Mayall is a

rock musician because he will

not be confined in the narrow,

introverted styles of accepted

jazz and blues that allow the

performer to "improvise" just

so far. This idea will kill

them, eventually.

For example, a listener

leaves a Miles Davis performance

and his mind explodes

into a thousand ice cubes. Relief.

One wonders why such a

great talent confines himself

to his egotistical, introverted

approach to jazz. "Expand. Go

ahead." one wants to say.

He does. But, too often, it is

the same story told in dazzling


The same unfortunate situation

exists with most great

blues artists today.

Bessie Smith was perhaps

the best blues, maybe Billie

Holliday or Mabel Mercer, as

far as s i n g e r s go. Buffy

Saint-Marie is essentially a

blues singer. She tells the stories

of blues, the human condition.

But B u f f y is rock,

folk rock and, sometimes,

"controversial protest."

Bob Dylan sings the blues

but it is a harsh, contemporary

blues. Eric Clapton plays

a jazz guitar to equal the talents

of Davis or that of perhaps

the greatest jazz pianist

to date, Bill Evans.

Thus, rock is not only

here to stay, it is necessary. While

young musicians have musical

concepts to express, they are

denied the freedom to express

them because of traditional attitudes

toward a c c e p t e d

styles. The answer is simple.

They find their own "style."

Thus, rock is Mayall, it is Phil

Ochs, it is the vitamin quest

of "Paul Revere and the Raiders"

and it is the emotional

and psychedelic challenge of

Eric Clapton. It is the new

blues, new jazz and even the

new Lawrence Welk.

Listen to Jimmy Page. Finally,

after several years of

burst eardrums, intellectual

stimulation, semi-emotional

involvement, o n e who has

cared enough to have weathered

it is rewarded.

Page approaches the ultimate

because he is a fusion of

comes g r e a t n e s s as it

emerges. He has taken the

jazz - blues - rock - folk - classical

elements and woven

them into a sound that makes

it with the human ear, heart

and mind.

His group, on the music

scene for less than two years,

is called "Led Zeppelin," admittedly

a title that will probably

turn off the average

over-30 citizen. His music,

however, will not.

Although he is British,

Page's success story falls into

the pattern of the American

dream. At 17, he was third

man on the totem in the first

group out of England to make

an intellectual impact on the

world, 'The Yardbirds."

Eric Clapton headed it, Jeff

Beck was middle support and

Jimmy Page' was the waspy

talent in the background.

After the group broke up,

each to go his separate way,

the waspy talent wanted to

This offer was based on the

company's response to his talent

when with "The Yardbirds"

and to a few reels of

tape with his newly formed


Page's formal U.S. debut

was earlier this year at the

" Fillmore West, where the response

was a standing ovation,

even from members of

the usually silent majority

who sat pock-marked in the

dim-lit hippie audience. When

a group makes it at the Fillmore,

it is made.

Finally out from under the

shadow of Clapton, Page tries

quietly to cope with his overwhelming


'I didn't personally expect

anything like the Fillmore,"

he said in an interview. "I

was afraid the audience might

be apprehensive about the old

"Yardbirds' thing.''

The "Yardbirds thing" has

to do with England's bias,

Page explained. "There they

put, one person up on a pedestal.

And it was, of course,

Eric. Jeff Beck came and

worked so hard. It was still

Eric. The ones below the

pedestal just don't have a


Since then. Beck has made

it with his own group in

America; Clapton made it

with "Cream," then became

dissatisfied, dissolved the

group and now has the music

world waiting to sec what his

next move will be.

"I went through a stage of

paranoia for a while," Page

said of the time after the

through emotional and mental

h a n g u p s doing it. Finally,

when the "Led Zeppelin" was

realized, Page was give the

largest advance in the history

of rock music by Atlantic Records

to become their client.

and Jeff making it so big,

what were the people going to

think of me? Who does he

think he is that he can have

his own group, they might


Finally Page stopped thinking

of identity and began to

think of what he wanted to do.

Through a genius for selecting

musicians and some s h e e r

luck of having one or two excellent

ones referred by Terry

Reed and other m u s i c i a n

f r i e n d s , Page formed his


They are Page on lead guitar;

R o b e r t Plant, vocal:

John Paul Jones, bass and

John Bonhan, all British, all

excellent musicians.

Led Zeppelin has

completed its first U.S.

and will open again at

more West on April 24.

Anyone who has any interest

in hearing a musical concept

which perhaps best expresses

the universal human

condition of our times may

hear it beginning at 8 p.m.

That evening "Led Zeppelin"

makes "Jefferson Airplane"

sound like the Lawrence Welk

of rock music.

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