Classic Rock Review

The home of old record and bootleg reviews…

Led Zeppelin Over The Top DVD (Seattle, July 1977)

ledzep-overFrom collectorsmusicreviews.com

Kingdome, Seattle, WA – July 17th, 1977

The Song Remains The Same, Sick Again, Nobody’s Fault But Mine, Over The Hills And Far Away, Since I’ve Been Loving You, No Quarter, Ten Years Gone, The Battle Of Evermore, Going To California, Black Country Woman, Bron-Y-Aur Stomp, White Summer/Black Mountain Side, Kashmir, Moby Dick, Guitar solo, Achilles Last Stand, Stairway To Heaven, Whole Lotta Love, Rock And Roll

Ever since the complete video of Zeppelin’s show in Seattle surfaced several years ago there have been many and various permutations of both the audio and video. The video tape has been released as Heavy Metal, Rock Show / Cameras Roll on Akashic Records, Kingdome Come on Watch Tower, on DVDR as Seattle 1977 on Cosmic Energy which was copied onto silver DVD’s as Kingdome Seattle Washington on New Depression Music, An Evening With Led Zeppelin (Cashmere), Kingdome Seattle 1977 (Hercules) 3 DVD, and the latest version Supersonic Seattle (Genuine Masters GM-LZ-17.07.1977-DVD-04).

Over The Top is produced by the Scorpio people and released on their Bad Wizard label as a dual layer DVD-9. It isn’t any closer to the master than any other release and suffers from pixilation issues in the more dark scenes with heavy blues and reds. It is good to have it on one disc and the images do look very clear and enjoyable for the most part.

Since it was the in-house feed for a closed circuit broadcast the emphasis is upon close ups on Plant and Page especially, but also nice images of Bonham and Jones as well. Some of the camera angles are questionable but in general are very well thought out. I do wonder why the camera focuses upon Bonham during “Bron-Y-Aur Stomp” when Page’s guitar needs repair. Some have asked who is playing drums on the stand up bass and we’ll never know (although I thought I read it was Page).

During Page’s noise solo there are some very effective and powerful images like his posturing in front of the theremin, the laser show at the end and watching him play “Won’t Get Fooled Again” on the knobs of the Les Paul. “No Quarter” is also very enjoyable watching Jones play the piano, talk to a stage hand and even stand up at one point before the camera focuses upon Page playing the solo with Bonham behind him. It’s a shame there are no wide shots to get an idea of the audience and venue because they look very isolated without any other visual information to place it in context.

The sound is very clean and synced properly but also betrays the weakness of raw soundboards. Comments have been made about the weakness of the performance at the end with “Kashmir”, “Achilles Last Stand”, “Stairway To Heaven” and the encores. Agreed there are better versions from the 1977 tour out there, but I’d recommend listening to the very good audience source of this show on In A Delirious Daze on Equinox to get another view which sounds much more exciting. Since this is the only complete professionally shot video from their eleventh tour and for that this is an essential purchase.

Advertisements

May 7, 2013 Posted by | Led Zeppelin Over The Top DVD | , , | Leave a comment

Led Zeppelin Concert Memories: Pontiac Silverdome, April 30th 1977

lz19770430_06From Underground Uprising uuweb.led-zeppelin.us

Pontiac Mich. Silverdome April 30 ’77

And so it was, my second tour bus package. From Toronto to Pontiac approx.260 miles. A pilgrimage to be in the same time and space as Zeppelin. “To sit with elders of a different race”. I still wasn’t sure if these guys were human! We are on the buses, ready to go.

First order of business, a representative of the bus lines laying down the law, setting out the ground rules. This is so and so, your driver. He is the boss. What he says, goes. There will be one scheduled stop each way and no more. OUR first order of business, eight minutes down the road however was libation. First stop the L.L.B.O. (Liquor License Board Of Ontario). Everyone stocked up. Everyone tipped the driver with a pint or two of beer or a small bottle of liquor.

Very quickly it was difficult to negotiate past the driver as the mounting pyramid of alcohol made for quite the obstacle course. You had to drink your way around him!( with drink plc you should have been there). All manor of substance was on that bus. All levels of abuse. Some wouldn’t or couldn’t pace themselves. “There you sit, sitting spare, like a book on a shelf, rustin’ ” ( or throwing up on the bus or at the show as the case may be).

The silly party. The set list. Song/sick again. Nobody’s fault . I remember Plant very nearly blew his harp a verse early, he had it to his lips then pulled it back in the nick of time. Since I’ve Been loving You. Introduced as ” English blues”. In My Time Of Dying Introduced as ” American blues”. The violin bow / Lucifer’s Rising (Kenneth Anger thing) that later evolved into the beginning of In The Evening. I believe that took us into Achilles Last Stand. Then White Summer / Black Mountain side / Kashmir. Ten Years Gone. The acoustic set. Battle… after which Plant laughed, and said “What a disaster” referring to Jonesy’s vocal abilities, or lack there of.

And he was right! California. Black Country / Stomp. Trampled. No Quarter. Moby Dick. Rock And roll .Whole Lotta Love. I know the last five songs are out of order somehow. I just can't remember. During one of the guitar changes in the acoustic set, Page handed the roadie the ax by turning the body towards the roadie. Now the machine head is close to Page's head. The roadie reaches out to grab the ax by the neck, but turns away as he does so. He's not really looking at Jimmy as he tries to walk away with the guitar. The machine head becomes entangled in Jimmy's hair, and the roadie nearly pulled Page off his stool by his hair.

led-zeppelin-creem-magazine-1977-36fcThe sound at this show was very different from song to song. Since I've Been Loving You not so good or the acoustic stuff. Rock And roll … I didn't hear the solo. The rest was very good as usual. What a huge barn.76,000 people. The giant close circuit screen saved the day. It's in the Guinness book of World Records that gig! Single act! Jonesy played his three necked guitar for Ten Years. I mention this because, six weeks later in N.Y.C. I see he's playing Ten Years on the keyboards. Key of what ? There's gotta be something lying around here I can play. A working musician who starts a band, as opposed to being labelled a musician because you are in a rock band.

Big difference! Also they changed the set list by three songs in N.Y.C. '75 Page's black out fit, very dark feeling to the show.'77 white outfit, bright ,wholesome. I remember thinking what a tremendous difference in mood or feel of the shows simply due to colours that Page was wearing. Strange, but I did notice it right away and it was not subtle. May have been the bus ride. I envied those who lived in N.Y.C. or L.A. To see Zep seven times in a ten day period, that would have been bliss.

I always got the feeling that Zep used Canadian gigs to recuperate from or rest up for the American shows. Their mad lifestyles on the road seemed to bleed into the performances. The Canadian date bootlegs aren't as bloody. The top twenty Zep shows don't have a Canadian date among them. All the whining Plant did about U.S.A. Capitalism. The states kissed off The British Empire. Canada was a member the commonwealth at the time. You would have thought that that was worth something. American currency talking, Zep listening." I live for my dreams and a pocketful of gold". They deserved it. Can't blame them. "It must be a race, it's a total disgrace, and the best thing I can do is run ".

I thought I had Ledify Zeppelinitus bad, but to run a website for over twenty years, you gents must have a particularly wicked viral strain.

Glen Towler, Ontario

May 7, 2013 Posted by | Led Zeppelin Concert Memories: Pontiac Silverdome April 30th 1977 | , | 2 Comments

Led Zeppelin: 1968-1980 by Keith Shadwick (2005)

The first reviews third paragraph should annoy any Brits reading this…

shadwi_keit_ledzeppel_101bFrom amazon.com

Review This is the best historical account I have read – and I have read most of the books on Zeppelin that have been published. What makes this book different and in my opinion better, is that it is much less about the partying and much more about the process that they used to create the music. There is great historical info on the Yardbirds and good accounts of concerts.

Most if not all of the photos have been published but that is understandable since there is limited supply of photos. It’s unfortunate that Zeppelin didn’t seem to have a staff photographer along for the ride. Same is true for the limited video shot of the band.

If there is a downside to this book it is the editing. It is written by a British author and it shows. It was not edited/translated for American readers so you will need to read some of the passages twice to get past what seems like bad structure. British readers may not agree but it does have a few rough spots for American readers. This is no reason not to consider this book.

If you are a Zeppelin fan or are just interested in the history of the music scene at that time, then you should add this book to your collection. It is the best Zeppelin book yet. It’s not “Hammer of the Gods” which is a disputed accounting of the band’s history. This book is full of foot notes identifying sources – It is much more honest in describing the bands history.

Review For those looking for the trash, try ‘Hammer Of The Gods’ … for those looking for what the band did that was important, this is the book … Shadwick goes in-depth on the music like no other author I’ve ever read in any other rock and roll book … no nonsense and no silliness … he covers the gear used, the alt tunings, and what was important in their personal lives that affected the music (the late era heroin addiction most prominently) …

But no dumb groupie stories, throwing TV’s out of windows, etc…. is that part of the history? yes it is … and there are plenty of books for that and they all repeat the same stuff over and over and over and over … I suppose if you’re stoned and can’t remember all those same stories, you might need to reread them with every Zep book you buy … however, some of us are not that addle-minded and so prefer one read of ‘hammer’ and then put it under that short table leg …

It is not a dry, academic read as some have stated … it is written well above the fourth-grade level most rock and roll books are known for (with very few exceptions) but without party and satanic contract stories … so perhaps that’s what is meant …

If you want to really explore Zep, this is the best on their entire career and I don’t expect it to be topped any time soon …

For more specific time periods you can’t go wrong with Dave Lewis … founder and editor of the top Zep newsletter, ‘Tight But Loose’, he has close access to the band and is probably the go-to expert on everything Zep … his recent book, ‘feather in the wind’, covering the last tour thru Europe made by Zep is a sorely needed and outstanding overview of that short final curtain call before Bonzo’s death … his books are also printed on the highest quality paper (no cheapo ‘pulp’ but heavy duty glossy for the final tour book) and are just beautifully constructed books simply on that level …

So two of the best points of reference right there …

Review Keith Shadwick without a doubt has compiled the most detailed account of the bands career, interviews, and quotes; yet his “musical snob elitist” attitude gets in the way of enjoying this book to its full extent.

Keith finds a problem with literally every single song the band had ever recorded, even down to the tiniest detail, and constantly quips how great other lesser known, or more under appreciated older musicians are when comparing every song to older ones. It is to no Zeppelin fan’s surprise that the band had borrowed ideas from other artists, from pop to folk music, but at that time in the music industry it was normal to cover other bands music and it was a time when bands wrote singles and did not worry about full albums like zeppelin did. His personal opinions make you wonder at times if he is even a fan of the band or not, by trying to make the best effort to disguise his disliking of the band in favour of more “pure” musicians who put out more “inspired” music, as he puts it over and over.

His information about the tours, attitudes and visions of the band, and facts are wonderful and that is what kept me reading the book, but his obvious musical snobbery (many times simply just his well overthought opinion about things) kept this book from being what it could have been. Rock n’ Roll is not about sheer perfection, or always being musically correct, that’s where the passion and originality comes from, but to Keith it seems as if he finds a flaw in anything and everything that Zeppelin ever recorded from track listing, to favouring obviously lesser quality B-sides (to make him look intelligent for liking “poor tom” more than “Bron-Y-Aur Stomp”), to saying how out of pitch Robert is, or Page’s “uninspired guitar solo”, to Jones “overplaying” keyboard and bass lines, to Bonham obviously taking this drum pattern from the following songs. The fact is, the band wrote what they wrote and took in all their influences. You can’t name a rock band that has not taken an idea from another group and gone with it, or showing obvious influence…that is not a fault of musicians by any means.

The book is a fine read for the information, but the author’s personal opinions really ruined a lot of it.

May 7, 2013 Posted by | Book Led Zeppelin: 1968-1980 by Keith Shadwick | , , | Leave a comment

Diary Of A Rock ‘n’ Roll Star by Ian Hunter (1974)

diary-of-a-rock-n-roll-star-ian-hunter-coverFrom amazon.com

Review “Diary” stands head-and-shoulders above every other rock music book for several reasons. It’s not ghost-written, and you can tell — the rhythms of speech will be familiar to fans of Ian Hunter and Mott the Hoople.

It’s remarkably free of false glamour — it’s full of cancelled shows, travel hassles, hangovers, digestion problems — as well as the magic moments that make rock ‘n’ roll worthwhile. It also doesn’t seem to have been edited very much, which gives it a very loose, conversational feel — you’re sitting with Ian at the bar, both of you more than half drunk, and he’s just telling you about the tour, y’know? And advice to touring musicians that’s still good today in the bargain. There’s no ghost of political correctness informing the writing, though (the book was originally published in ’74) and while i thought it was a blast, i suppose some people might be offended.

Review When this Book was published in 1976 it was Titled: “Reflections of a Rock Star.” It cost a Whopping $3.99 and was printed by Flash Books. I was offered $120.00 for my copy by a Bookseller in San Francicso in 1998 and I promptly turned him down.

This 104 Page Book, documents Mott The Hoople’s, First Tour of America as Headliners. It begins in England, on Tuesday Nov 21 and runs through to Dec 24 on the Plane that returned the band back to the UK.

Out of Several hundred Books I have read on Rock N’ Roll, this would easily be in my Top-Ten of the Best Books on this Subject. Ian writes an honest account of the Tour, the Good as well as the Bad. A night in LA with Keith Moon & Frank Zappa. Hitting the pawn Shops for Guitars. Ian’s, famous attempt to see Elvis (by Sneaking past the gates, all the way to the back door) and being told that Elvis was too tired to entertain guests by his Maid.

The Gigs [Good & Bad) are discussed, as are Bad Hotels/Motels. Too many hours in Airports (Mick Ralphs, had a Horrible fear of Flying}. And rare insight on Mott and many other Bands of this: “The All The Young Dudes” Tour. This is a rare peek into Their World, from their point-of-View.

Lot’s of great photos are contained herein, and it’s a great read with fantastic visuals. If I had One Wish, it would be that this Book sould be longer, or the First of Many Volumes by Ian Hunter.

This is one of the finest Books on Rock ever. I have no plans to sell my Copy….five stars !!!

Review Ian Hunter proves himself to be one of the most articulate and intelligent personalities in rock in this diary of Mott’s late ’72 US tour in support of their All The Young Dudes album. It is a humble, egoless tale of the steps and stumbles of a band trying to break into the American market, lovingly and honestly told through the eyes of a young aspiring band leader.

Refreshingly free of the self-cogratulatory tone of most autobiographies and the slathering praise of too many band books by fan-…-journalists, this modest (read: short) work starts and ends with the reader inside the day-to-day workings of a mid-level journeyman band, warts and all. Best of all (or, worst of all, depending upon your point of view), this isn’t so much a book about Mott The Hoople and their music as it is a look at the human realities of what life on the road was like for the guys in the band, or most bands like them at that time.

It captures perfectly the tone of the time and the atmosphere prevailing in the early ’70’s. It strips away the facades and breathes life into the rigors, rewards and frustrations of chasing the musical Holy Grail. I first bought this book in London in 1975, and have read and re-read it more times than I can remember. Raw, spontaneous and unpretentious, it is funny, sad, touching and rewarding, especially with the hindsight of the band’s history immediately after the end of the book.

A must read for any music fan, and essential for any one who wishes to understand the period when the music became secondary to the business concerns. I love this book.

May 7, 2013 Posted by | Book Diary Of A Rock 'n' Roll Star by Ian Hunter | , | Leave a comment

The Rolling Stones It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll (1974)

The Rolling Stones - It's Only Rock and Roll (1974)From sfloman.com

Having ditched Miller, who helped steer the band’s golden era, the Glimmer Twins decided to self-produce for the first time since Their Satanic Majesties Request. Unsurprisingly, the muddy sound is somewhat lacking, and by most accounts the album’s sessions were in disarray as nobody was there to take charge.

Still, the album that emerged from the drug rampant (nothing new there) sessions is in my opinion better than what has often been reported, though there are reasons why this album is often overlooked and is primarily remembered for three things: the anthemic title track, which was actually a chart disappointment (#16 U.S./#10 U.K.) but has since reached iconic status as a long time stage favourite, for being the first post-Miller album, and for being their last album with Mick Taylor. Though his fluid, graceful playing elevated certain Stones songs immeasurably, Taylor apparently never felt completely comfortable in the band, and he was rankled by not receiving what he felt were proper song writing credits.

His departure was a major loss for the band, what with him being their only traditional lead guitarist and quite simply the most talented player they ever had, but at least he makes his presence felt on It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll, which truth be told like Goats Head Soup is a pretty hit or miss affair. Still, there are few flat out bad songs on the album. Among the lesser songs is the leadoff track “If You Can’t Rock Me,” a funky riff rocker that never really catches fire, though it is still moderately enjoyable. “Luxury” has really annoying reggae affectations from Jagger, though at least it has some tasty riffing and is pretty catchy.

“Dance Little Sister” is a Stones-by-numbers boogie rocker, and “Short and Curlies” is another short boogie that’s among their silliest songs ever (my friend calls it “the dumb ‘she’s got you by the balls’ song”). Though I appreciate the ambitiousness that is too often lacking elsewhere, the funky wah wah infused “Fingerprint File” is also only semi-successful, in part because like several songs here this one is longer than necessary (6:30, to be exact). Still, it was tracks such as this one (whose paranoid lyrics I actually really like) and the earlier “Dancing With Mr. D” that paved the way for their later massive disco hit “Miss You.”

As for the songs I like, and again I don’t really dislike the lesser efforts, let’s start with their cover of The Temptations “Ain’t To Proud To Beg.” Well, it’s certainly better than the earlier “My Girl” (if not as good as the later “Imagination”), and it’s notable for a rare Richards (as opposed to Taylor) solo, but though it’s quite enjoyable the song’s mere presence indicates a certain cruise control mindset that permeated The Rolling Stones at this point. The band does seem to be trying their hardest on certain songs, such as on the classic title track, but this tune is very telling, too. Although tongue in cheek to a degree, Jagger’s provocative lyrics (i.e. “if I could stick a knife in my heart, suicide right on stage, would it be enough?..”) indicate that he feels put upon, that rock ‘n’ roll has become a job.

It’s only rock n’ roll, after all, he doesn’t need to do this anymore, but it pays the bills (handsomely) so he and his bandmates continue onwards. Heck, maybe I’m reading too much into it, and either way I certainly like the song’s slashing guitars, and it’s quite catchy and rocking (in a T. Rex sort of way) as well. As for other songs that I’d consider highlights, “Till The Next Goodbye” and “If You Really Want To Be My Friend” are two of the band’s better ballads. The former song is a twangy, regret-filled acoustic ballad on which Hopkins (whose elegant playing is all over the album) adds delicate decorations and Taylor also shines.

The 6-minute latter song is a soul ballad with support from the vocal group Blue Magic; the song takes awhile to get going, and it’s not as inspired as some of the churchier attempts on Exile, but it’s still quite enjoyable, with Taylor’s solo again providing the icing on the cake. Speaking of Taylor, his lack of a co-credit on the albums second best song, “Time Waits For No One,” which also exceeded 6 minutes, was reputedly the last straw that ensured his departure. One can see why, as even though Jagger supplies the philosophical lyrics, Taylor musically dominates the song with his beautiful soloing, though some critics had a point when they said that it sounded more like Santana than the Stones. This was in no small part due to percussionist Ray Cooper, who also has a significant presence throughout the album, though the horn section of Keyes and Price, recently so prominent, is mysteriously absent.

Anyway, on the whole this is an enjoyable album, but it’s also true that with this album, or maybe the previous one, The Rolling Stones became just another good working band whose transcendent peaks from here on in would be few and far between.

May 7, 2013 Posted by | The Rolling Stones It's Only Rock n Roll | | 1 Comment