Classic Rock Review

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Led Zeppelin The Great Lost Live Album (Southampton, January 1973)

ledzep-glostFrom collectorsmusicreviews.com

Old Refectory, Southampton University, Southampton, England – January 22nd, 1973
Disc 1: Rock And Roll, Over The Hills And Far Away, Black Dog, Misty Mountain Hop, Since I’ve Been Loving You, Dancing Days, The Song Remains The Same, The Rain Song, Dazed & Confused

Disc 2: Stairway To Heaven, Whole Lotta Love (incl. Everybody Needs Somebody To Love, Boogie Chillun’, (You’re So Square) I Don’t Care, Let’s Have A Party, I Can’t Quit You), Heartbreaker, Thank You, How Many More Times, Communication Breakdown

Disc 3, rehearsal: drum/mellotron tuning, Love Me, Frankfurt Special, King Creole, Love Me. Bonus tracks, St. George’s Hall, Bradford, England – January 18th, 1973: Dazed & Confused, Whole Lotta Love, Immigrant Song

Led Zeppelin’s January 22nd, 1973 at the Student Union building at Southampton University follows their show at the Gaumont Theater, also in Southampton, the previous evening. It seems Jimmy Page thought it might be a good idea to play in a smaller venue and record it for a live album. For reasons that are unknown, the album was never released and sat in the archives for thirty years. When Page and producer Kevin Shirley were working on the DVD and How The West Was Won projects in 2002, this tape was considered for possible use. Although it wasn’t used on that project, through some means the working multi-track tapes circulated and have been with the labels in Japan for some time. A couple months ago the tape was posted online in anticipation of the silver releases that were scheduled to come out.

The Great Lost Live Album is the first of what will surely be many silver releases that will see the light of day over the coming months. Compared to the internet version, Nasty Music sounds much brighter with the emphasis on the higher frequencies, whereas the internet version has a much deeper bass. Nasty Music has as similar timbre to the KBFH tapes and not as constricted as the online version, which might not be to everyone’s taste. Many Zeppelin collectors like to hear an emphasis on the bottom end, but there are times, like the beginning of “Dancing Days,” where the bass is too loud in the mix and that particular passage isn’t a concern on this. Early word on The Great Lost Live Album claims to have gaps between the songs. After listening to the three discs, there are none so that isn’t a concern.

Nasty Music is also more complete than what was posted online. For example three Plantations, before “Black Dog,” “Dancing Days,” and “How Many More Times” are present on this release but missing from the internet version as is Robert Plant’s dedication of “Dazed & Confused” to the manager of the Gaumont Theater. “Thank You,” which is missing the very end, is complete on the silver. The actual performance itself has come under some criticism with many collectors which is unfair. Any concert will have its highlights and cringe-worthy moments, and this is not an exception. What is fascinating to hear is Plant’s interaction with a crowd that is estimated to be about four hundred.

“Rock And Roll” sounds a bit sluggish, but the following song “Over The Hills And Far Away” is very good with an animated solo by Page in the middle. Before “Black Dog” Plant says, “And it’s a good evening. I believe we came here before. I don’t know if it was as warm then. We’re going to have a good time tonight. This is about a Labrador who became rather – rather dodgy with lumbago. The only thing he could do was boogie. He was a black dog. Black Dog!”

The “Misty Mountain Hop” and “Since I’ve Been Loving You” pairing follows immediately afterwards. Before “Dancing Days” Plant explains, “This is a bastard actually. This is a track from the new album. It’s a track that was written in the height of last year’s summer on July 6th. It’s a song about school days and little boys that never grow up. It’s called ‘Dancing Days’.” This is usually a great live piece but this version sounds tired with Page playing a bland solo at the song’s conclusion.

“Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp,” which normally follows “Dancing Days,” is dropped: “we don’t know it to be honest,” Plant explains. “Besides we can’t maneuver about.” The band play another new song, “The Song Remains The Same” instead. The right channel of the stereo flickers at eleven seconds into the track and becomes a bit weak at twenty-two seconds, but improves soon afterwards with another flicker at 2:51.

At the end of “The Rain Song” Plant says, “That was John Paul Jones, ably assisted by the Halle Orchestra which we managed to press into this small 3 X 26 box.” A power surge can be heard on the tape and there is a short delay while the roadies work on wiring onstage. Page plays a bit of the Tarantella while Plant caution “you can get a shock you know, Cerano.” Plant jokes with the audience about the show the previous evening at the Gaumont Theater before the band play a twenty-eight minute version of “Dazed And Confused.”

The recording preserves the dynamics of the piece and the song is very enjoyable in this show. Plant is out of tempo during the “San Francisco” section and Page takes his time finding his violin bow. Bonham plays the cymbals under Plant’s moans in the interim before the violin bow section begins. The sounds are soft, reminiscent of the Liverpool tape, but also very creepy.

“Whole Lotta Love” lasts for a half hour and the medley is typical for this tour with no surprises. There is a small cut on the tape at 19:47. They play the longest set of encores of the tour. “Heartbreaker” is first followed by the John Paul Jones mellotron arrangement of “Thank You,” This is an experiment he first introduced in Nagoya the previous October and played it several times since, but this is the best recording we have of this unusual piece.

At the song’s end Page plays some pretty figures on the guitar before Plant introduces the next number. “This is one of our early tunes and God knows if we can remember it.” They play an eight minute version of “How Many More Times” for the first time in two years which segues into the final encore of the night “Communication Breakdown.”

The third disc is a limited edition bonus with various material. The first tape is the short rehearsal fragment from the Southampton University gig. This has been released numerous times and is in excellent quality. The second is the soundboard fragment from the January 18 Bradford gig several nights before, containing “Dazed And Confused,” “Whole Lotta Love,” and the final encore “Immigrant Song.” Heart Attack (Condor 1997) and Elvis Presley Has Just Left The Building (LZ6897-281) are two very early releases containing both “Dazed & Confused” and “Whole Lotta Love.”

“Immigrant Song” appeared on two earlier releases, April Fool’s Day (LZ 05) and Tight But Loose (Saka ZLCD 385). Falling In Love With The Fallen Angel (Led Note LCD 1507) is the first release to put them all together on the same release in 1999 and it hasn’t been released since. So for those who don’t have the Led Note the bonus isn’t as pointless as it seems. The quality is excellent as well and the performance is very good as well. “Whole Lotta Love” is particularly brutal and this is the final time Led Zeppelin ever performed “Immigrant Song” in concert. The Great Lost Live Album is packaged in a fatboy jewel case with simple but effective artwork with rare photos of the gig. It will be interesting to see how Nasty Music stands up against Empress Valley and other future releases, but this is a very nice release. (GS)

Addendum: The download version of the Southampton 73 SBD from Presence (and now on every download site in the World!) has those missing Plantations you refer to in the review. That version has numerous glitches and feedback blips which I spent last night removing in Adobe audition. Regards, and keep up the great work, Jules McTrainspotter

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May 22, 2013 Posted by | Led Zeppelin The Great Lost Live Album | , | Leave a comment

Does the Noise in My Head Bother You?: A Rock ‘n’ Roll Memoir by Steven Tyler (2011)

6303704From amazon.com

371 pages of text, 3 page “Semiprologue”, 32 pages of color and b&w photos throughout Tyler’s life. Take the dust jacket off and there are wrap-around photos of Tyler in full regalia and mic stand. The inside front and back pages have the same series of photos.

In a nutshell-if you like Steven Tyler/Aerosmith (originally spelled Arrowsmith for about 5 seconds-Tyler wanted Hookers, but changed the spelling to A-E-R-O) you’ll like this book. With the help of David Dalton, a long time Rolling Stone Magazine contributor, Tyler tells his tale in much the same style as he would in a conversation. His comments are sometimes off the wall and colorful, but somehow seem to help tell his life story. A quick glance at the chapter headings will prove my point. But Tyler writes in a very straightforward, in your face, no-holds barred style. Throughout the book Tyler constantly lays things out, no matter the subject matter, which helps paint a better, fuller picture of both his music, and himself.

Beginning with his birth, we learn about his parents and their strong influence on his adult outlook , his early formative years, friends and acquaintances, and his discovery of music. There’s a lot of background details that help fill in Tyler’s early life-a boyhood in many respects like other kids of the era, and how he found his way to music, and his decision to make music his life. Tyler talks about the comparisons between Mick Jagger and himself, and how the press played up their similarities. But Tyler makes no bones about Jagger/The Stones-he idolized them, along with other r’n’r stars of the day. We also learn about the many personal and band escapades-involving sex/drugs/r’n’r during the many years when the band was touring hard-and partying just as hard. If you’ve ever wondered about the highs and lows of a r’n’r band, this portion of the book will give you a good look into what it’s all about. But Tyler tells his story with both great insight and humor, using that Tyler way with words, and that peculiar turn of a phrase that never seems to fail him.

For fans of the band, the book gets really interesting when the original band (with guitarist Ray Tabano), decided to try and “make it”, by moving to Boston. This portion of the book really has the flavor of AEROSMITH-the song choices, the small clubs, trying to get by, and the beginning of their recording career, and the recording of various albums, and Tyler’s on-going feud with guitarist Joe Perry The many details are what make this book worth reading-all the trials and tribulations that Tyler and the band went through in order to make music, and persevere in the music business.

Tyler also talks about his family-especially his four children. This is where he opens himself up and shows that underneath all that bravado, he’s a caring, sensitive man. Tyler also talks about his stints in rehab, and the many physical maladies that have plagued him for a number of years, a number of which were caused by his r’n’r lifestyle. The book is also a cautionary tale of how excess can lead to ruin-his marriages and divorces, his troubles with his band mates, his regrets when looking back at parts of his life when the conflict of home life and his band made life almost intolerable, and so on. But in the end, Tyler (now a judge on American Idol) has adjusted to his sixth decade, living in Laurel Canyon, where many of his idols once lived, able to look back at a lifetime of music making.

For anyone who wonders if Steven Tyler is for real-this book will amply prove that point. His jive-talking, flavorful, sometimes off-color word usage, sometimes semi-nonsense style of writing keeps the interest up throughout this book. At times you get the feeling that Tyler is telling you his tales one on one, which is very effective, and sometimes visceral, but always interesting. The combination of small details throughout gives added depth to his story. It’s an honest (as he sees it) look at a man, his music, his life in and outside of music, and how they all intertwine. And for all the jive bravado, you get the feeling, that underneath is someone who wants to let people know that, in many respects, he’s just like us-an example-the book is dedicated to his mother. If you’ve ever wondered (as I have) if the persona he throws out is all there is, this book will help you see past all that. You may be surprised.

If you’re interested in the other side of the r’n’r coin, so to speak, check out the book “And On Piano Nicky Hopkins: The Extraordinary Life of Rock’s Greatest Session Man”. As much as Tyler ultimately “made it” in music, Hopkins story (truly perhaps the greatest session man in r’n’r) is altogether something different. This book is a window into the r’n’r lifestyle of a man few could match.

May 22, 2013 Posted by | Book Does the Noise in My Head Bother You?: A Rock 'n' Roll Memoir by Steven Tyler | , , | Leave a comment

Clapton: The Autobiography by Eric Clapton (2007)

music_phases14From amazon.com

I love biographies, especially of celebrities, having read them all my life. As I have gotten older, though, my attention span wanes, and I read less and less. This book, Clapton:The Autobiography, is an exceptional one, and as a pseudo musician (I can play several instruments, but I certainly wouldn’t say I play any well), the prospect of reading about Eric Clapton, from the source, so-to-speak, was a prospect that excited me. I feel blessed that one can pre-order a book and have it on ones doorstep the day it hits the streets, as was the case with this book and the accompanying CD.

First of all, this is an exceptional book, but unlike some biographies, and fewer autobiographies, it is not one that would be a “page turner” for everyone because it is not full of cute anecdotes that make for sharing stories around the water cooler the next day.

A case in point is the time when Eric first met Jimi Hendrix. Chas Chandler of the Animals was trying to develop a career as a promoter and came across Hendrix in New York. Promising him a chance to meet Eric Clapton, he took Jimi to London. After meeting several musicians (Eric Burton, Andy Summers, et. al.), Chas took Jimi to hear Cream play. Backstage, Chas introduced Jimi, and they asked if Jimi could sit in with them for a few numbers, which seemed kind of ballsey. In Clapton, Eric writes that Jimi played Howlin’ Wolf’s “Killing Floor” in true Hendrix fashion playing “the guitar with his teeth, behind his head, lying on the floor, doing the splits, the whole business.

It was amazing…..They (the crowd) loved it, and I loved it, too, but I remember thinking that here was a force to be reckoned with. It scared me, because he was clearly going to be a huge star, and just as we were finding our own speed, here was the real thing.” In other accounts I have read and heard about from others, Eric after seeing and hearing Jimi perform, goes over and sits down, looking rejected. Another musician comes over to ask him, “What’s wrong?” In some accounts it’s Jack Bruce, in other accounts it’s Peter Townsend. Eric replies, “I’m (expletive-deleted). If I’m “God,” who’s he?” Which to me would have been a funny anecdote.

It is still an exceptional book because it is so personal…. Filled with the flaws and mistakes of an exceptionally talented man who carried around for most of his life the baggage of being a “bastard” to some in his own family, for his mother had had an affair with a soldier during WWII and left him as a child to be raised by his grandparents. While learning that his “parents” were actually his grandparents, he writes at length of the insecurities of not having his mom there, and, the heartbreak of finally meeting her, and asking her if he could call her “Mummy now?” Only to be told, “”I think it’s best, after all they’ve done for you, that you go on calling your grandparent Mum and Dad.” Of that moment, he wrote, “In that moment I felt total rejection.”

Growing-up wasn’t all that bad, though. Eric showed some talent in art, and music was something that his Grandmother Rose loved. He wasn’t a diligent student, but in art, and later in the guitar, he worked long and hard at learning and later creating.

This is a very thorough book, almost a true musician’s book because it leaves out nothing of the ups-and-downs that seem to be the norm for all musicians. In the book, he talks of why some tunes were written a certain way, how he evolved in his musical craft, and what he was wanting to achieve in each group he played with. He mentions names on individuals in even the earliest of groups he played in, what they did together, and is very thorough in providing the reader his a written history of their achievements.

One wonders, though, where all this would have led had Eric not had so much alcohol and drugs in his early life, of if in some way, this was the catalyst to help him overcome those insecurities of his youth (Actually, he states this in a roundabout way that it was, but one still wonders just how much of what we have now would there have been with less alcohol and drugs.)

I can’t think of any aspect of Eric’s life that he doesn’t discuss in Eric: The Autobiography: His love life, particularly his infatuation with Patti Boyd, George Harrison’s wife; His relationships with other musicians and what he respected them for; His heartbreaks such as the loss of his son Conor.

I’ve given this book four stars, not because it is not exceptional, but because it isn’t one that will be readable and enjoyable to all. However, if you are a lover of rock and blues music, or one who really wonders just what has gone through the head of someone as influential as Eric Clapton, I would recommend it to you.

May 22, 2013 Posted by | Book Clapton: The Autobiography by Eric Clapton | , | Leave a comment

Doors guitarist Robby Krieger recalls what it’s like ‘When You’re Strange’ (A Film about The Doors) by Preston Jones (April 2010)

when_youre_strange-posterFrom popmatters.com

Surprisingly, given the wealth of material about the Doors, the new documentary “When You’re Strange” is the first-ever full-length, non-fiction look at the legendary rock band.

Directed by Tom DiCillo and narrated by Johnny Depp, the 90-minute film utilizes previously unseen footage from other projects, most notably the unreleased 1969 experimental film “HWY: An American Pastoral,” which stars Jim Morrison. It’s a startlingly intimate work that helps humanize this lionized foursome.

Guitarist Robby Krieger penned some of the Doors’ best-known songs, like “Light My Fire” and “Love Her Madly.” The 64-year-old musician has kept busy in the years since the group’s demise; he’s currently working on his autobiography and is readying a new solo work, “Singularity,” for release in June. He recently spoke about the new documentary.

Q. So why make this documentary now?

A. We’ve had various videos out over the years but we never had a feature-length video. We never thought we had enough stuff, you know? When we got our new management about five years ago … they started pulling all the bits and pieces together to see how much we had and then we got Dick Wolf Productions involved. It seems like once people hear you’ve started a project like this, stuff starts coming out of the woodwork and we were able to find a lot of outtakes.

Q. And how was DiCillo chosen?

A. I think he had a good record with film festivals. He just seemed like a good pick. I didn’t know much about film guys, but (producer) Dick Wolf and those guys know a lot about ‘em. We needed someone to make sense of all this stuff; we didn’t want to do it ourselves because we didn’t want to be patting ourselves on the back: ‘Oh, we were so great.’ They would show us what they were doing (but) most of the ideas came from Tom and their editors were really great.

Q. Was anything uncovered that surprised you?

A. Not really, I knew we had all this stuff — I just didn’t know where it was. I actually hadn’t seen a lot of these outtakes from (1970 concert film) “Feast of Friends” and from Jim’s movie “HWY,” which was really surprising to find that stuff. It was kind of cool. It’s too bad Jim never got a chance to finish that movie, it would’ve been great, but we got permission to use what was there from his estate and I think they made good use of it.

Q. I have to confess: For a moment, I thought the scenes from “HWY” were staged footage.

A. A lot of people thought that — you weren’t alone. In fact, when we played it at Sundance, there was this one guy, a big-time buyer, and after he saw that stuff with Jim in the car, he just stormed out, all pissed off and our manager ran after him: ‘What’s wrong?’ ‘You guys had an actor to play Jim Morrison — this is (crap)!’

Q. Does it get easier over the years, looking back at footage from that period?

A. It is kind of weird to see stuff of yourself, but it’s not as though I hadn’t seen it in 40 years or something. It’s not as big of a shock as you might think. It is nostalgic and it’s really fun to go back and think about those times. I think the movie really had a good handle on the ‘60s. It was being in the right place at the right time; I think that has to be part of the luck that’s involved in being a successful rock n’ roll band.

Q. Despite all the frustrations, particularly towards the end, was it worth it?

A. Oh yeah, for sure, I wouldn’t have changed anything. Except it would’ve been nice if Jim had stuck around a while longer. But that’s how he was and you had to take him at face value. We knew what we were in for, but it was a once-in-a-lifetime chance. No question about it, wouldn’t have changed a thing.

Q. Why do you think the Doors has endured?

A. Besides the fact that the music is great, I think if you look at those albums and you check each one out there’s really no bad songs in there. Every album has a lot of good stuff on it. A lot of bands you hear about are one-hit wonders or whatever, they might have one good song on an album, but we had high standards. We wouldn’t put something out unless we really believed in it. It’s amazing how many albums we put out in such a short time. Today, you might get one album out every two years. We sort of knew that Jim might not be around too long, so we had the feeling, ‘Hey, let’s keep recording. Let’s get as much as we can down before something happens.’ And it was true.

Q. How do you think this film sits alongside the 1991 Oliver Stone biopic?

A. I think it’s a perfect companion; it shows the other side, the reality side of the Doors. I’ll bet you five years from now, they’ll play ‘em one after the other on TV.

Q. What are you hoping people get out of “When You’re Strange”?

A. I hope people that have watched the Oliver Stone movie, I hope they do see this so they can see what was reality and what wasn’t. I thought the music was great and Val Kilmer was great (in Stone’s movie), but the way they portrayed the band and Jim, it just wasn’t right. When you try to put words in somebody’s mouth — let’s face it, that script was pretty bad. In this case, with our movie, you really see exactly how Jim spoke and what kind of guy he was. You get a much better sense of that.

May 22, 2013 Posted by | Doors guitarist Robby Krieger recalls what it's like 'When You're Strange' | | Leave a comment