Classic Rock Review

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Led Zeppelin Concert Memories: Montreal June 1972 and February 1975, Pontiac Michigan April 1977 & Madison Square Garden June 1977

zep72From Underground Uprising

Montreal Forum June 7 ’72
Montreal Forum Feb. 6 ’75
Pontiac, Michigan Silverdome April 30 ’77
NYC, Madison Square Garden June 11 ’77

Montreal Forum June 7 ’72

30 years ago. Been a long time since I ….. don’t recall a heck of a lot. During Black Dog Plant drove the last word in the verses lower. For one of the songs, a roadie carried a opened guitar case to Jimmy (rather like presenting a sword on a pillow to a king) and he took out a black Les Paul. I forget the song they played. The reason I bring this up is, for years I thought this was the ax that got nicked on tour, however when I looked in Richard Cole’s book for a positive I.D. i.e. “It’s the old black one,” Henry said.” The Les Paul that Keith Richard gave him” ( First page chapter 19).

It turns out that it was stolen two years earlier … according to Mr. Cole. Did Richard Cole get the date wrong? or did I see a replacement ax? I have never seen a post ’72 photo of Jimmy with that ax. I was only 14 years old. I think Richard was slightly more bent than I. No tunes from Houses yet. An acoustic set. Organ solo into Thank you for one of the encores.

I had no bootleg experience at this point, so I was lost with no reference points to compare against. I just remember thinking, don’t they listen to their albums? They’re making it up as they go along! Another funny thing, Plant kept telling everyone to be quiet, then later in Osaka Japan on a bootleg he tells the crowd “you are too quiet, too silly, and fast asleep”. Man, it’s dizzy at the top, eh Robert? Light show? There wasn’t one to speak of, so I’ll type. 2 light stacks (at the front corners, I don’t recall 2 more at the back?) 4 horizontal ribs that’s it! I liked Robert’s jeans so much, that the next day I bought a pair of mauve jeans and sewed four two inch bands around the right leg, two purple, one around the lower thigh, one just above the knee, one yellow one at the bottom of the knee-cap, and the last purple one just below. And of course a patch, where else.. but the crotch.

Montreal Forum Feb. 6 ’75 Plant has half a voice due to the flu.

I had moved to the Toronto area in ’73 relocating from Montreal where I first saw Zep. And so it was, the tour bus package, the pilgrimage by Zeppelin maniacs to a musical Mecca. A Zeppelin gig (and I don’t mean hard drive size:).

We had been dropped off at the wrong location to catch the buses, so we had to walk several miles, and didn’t have much time. We did it! Someone on our bus recorded the show, and on the return trip he taped (electrical) the bus P.A. handset to the tape recorder and replayed the show until the batteries died. The running order of the bootleg (vinyl) that I have of the show is as follows:

Rock And Roll / Sick Again / Over The Hills / In My Time Of Dying / The Song Remains The Same / The Rain Song / Kashmir / Trampled Underfoot / Dazed And Confused / Stairway To Heaven / Whole Lotta Love / Black Dog Heartbreaker

ticketNow that’s 13 songs, Zep usually played 16 songs.

What’s missing is No Quarter after Kashmir, Moby Dick after Trampled Underfoot, and The Lemon Song. I think it was the second encore between WLL/Black Dog and Heartbreaker, but I couldn’t say for sure. But what I could say for sure is that it was the second album version of The Lemon Song. The only time I have heard it played that way, but then again I only have about 20 bootlegs. Also, Percy grabbed his “area” during this tune. I always wondered where Michael Jackson got that move from!

I remember thinking wow what a great show, and it was. However when the bootleg came out, in comparison to the West Coast and/or American gigs, it seemed a little tame. Tight but crisp. Not much spontaneous experimentation going on here, no playing on the edge. Great show, not a lot of magic. They took the night off. Oh well… Zeppelin on six cylinders sounds better than most bands on eight! Physical Graffiti had been postponed a few times so we hadn’t heard the new material yet. Zeppelin was mind blowing, even when you knew what was coming, but with the element of surprise this new material was mind numbingly awesome. Kashmir? Hammer of the Gods stuff. It squashed us. When Kashmir ended you heard 18,500 people say in amazement and in unison…HOLY FUCK!

After the first two tunes, Plant spoke, “Good evening Montreal, bonjour. We’ve been together now for seven years and tonight we are going to give you, what is, a cross-section of our work”. (Well almost Percy. No acoustic tunes. No tunes from the third album) “You’ve heard the first song before but the last song, Sick Again is from the new album. We’re going to do one you know, Over The Hills And Far Away and then a new one In My Time of Dying”. The intro for Kashmir went something like ” sweeter than Moroccan, more expensive than Red Lebanese” Light show? First year with Showco, absolutely winning presentation. Laser lights were the new gimmick of the day and every band over used them, hundreds of them. Zeppelin used three lasers during Dazed, that’s it. Less is more I guess.

Over The Hills And far Away solo on the twelve string. So that’s why it sounds so weird on bootlegs! Great Plant yell in Black Dog. The sound of the Dan Electro during Kashmir, a unique wafting ringing quality about it. Live that is. For me, anyway, Kashmir never really translated well to bootlegs. You simply could not capture the magic of that song live. When Zep took to the stage for one of the encores Jonesy did the Ministry Of silly walks to his station, Plant raced across the stage with a broom between his legs ( flying witch ) and turned around just in time to see Page trip on the top step. Plant laughs, points at Page, looks at the crowd, like you are the only one with them in their living room, and says “Did you see that?”

Well, what a show. I had logged many hours listening to bootlegs since the ’72 show so this show I could deeply appreciate. Three and a half hours long as usual. Zeppelin was the only band I saw where you got a sore ass, and for ninety minutes, kept saying to myself “This has got to be the last song” but of course they hadn’t played their ‘hits’ yet!

When I saw Page/Plant ( and I know that isn’t Zep) it struck me that the best thing about those Zep gigs, may have been the pair of nineteen year old eyes I was seeing them with. Let the music be your master”.

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.

ZepExplosionsHiRes_2532561kThe 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.

The 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.

June 15, 2013 Posted by | Led Zeppelin Concert Memories: Montreal June 1972 and February 1975 Pontiac Michigan April 1977 & Madison Square Garden June 1977 | , | Leave a comment

Jimmy Page & The Black Crowes Live At The Greek (2000)


Review Possibly the best “live” album ever released. Even better than The Song Remains The Same. This is Led Zeppelin live as they’ve never been heard! What started as a one-off fund rasier in London grew to what is now a full fledged tour. Why? Because this band belongs in the Rock’N’Roll Hall Of Fame now!

You’ve never heard Zep songs this lush in a live setting. The Crowes have the Zep songs down pat (I’ve read that they sat around listening to all the Zep albums). From the first note to the last, what a treat. All the force of Zep plus two other guitars and a keyboard player.

Highlights from the Zep catalog include Ten Years Gone, with a slow bluesy guitar romp that’s incredible; Jimmy’s slide guitar on In My Time Of Dying is stupendous and wait until you hear the organ intro and outro on Your Time Is Gonna Come, it’ll make you cry it’s so sweet. And That’s just the first disc!

The Lemon Song opens side two with all the gut=wrenching blues of the first Zep album rolled into one song; and then the three guitar attack of Nobody’s Fault But Mine just absolutely ignites the song like never before; and then there’s the Out On The Tiles/Whole Lotta Love Medley that finishes the album will leave you wishing that you had been there.

Then there’s the other cover tunes(problems with Sony keep most of the Crowes tune off the album which is disappointing because Rich Robinson’s best solos are on them, i.e., Remedy, No Speak No Slave), Shape Of Things is done ala Jeff Beck Group with the lead solo done Yardbirds (? ); BB King’s Woke Up This Morning will definitely wake you up with it’s foot stopmin’ pace and Jimmy rips this solo out that shreds!

The slide guitar battles on Sloppy Drunk are incredible (more shredding), not to mention Willie Dixon’s Mellow Down Easy and the Mac’s Oh Well are equally awesome. Too bad they take after Pearl Jam and have soundboards available for every show. The textures of the Zep songs will please even those who don’t buy live albums because the sound too different from the record(cd) will enjoy these discs.

This release suparses the musicmaker Excess All Areas as there aren’t any gaps in between the songs. The only disappointment is that both shows weren’t released in their entirety (the shows were recorded Oct. 18 & 19. 1999) If you love loud hard guitar based music then this is an absolute must have collection.

Review For many people, Jimmy Page IS the soul of Led Zep. Back in 1999, after finishing his world tour with Robert Plant – he went on tour with the Black Crowes presumably to fill the hole in the soul. And you know what? The combination worked.

I had no idea what to expect when I heard that the two had teamed up. The Black Crowes? All I knew was their cover “Hard to Handle” and “Shake Your Money Maker.” So the real reason for me buying this may have been Jimmy Page – but it takes two to tango – and incredibly, the Black Crowes made a perfect fit.

Live At The Greek is a trip into the heady past of Zep and its roots. Chris Robinson doesn’t have quite the same range as Plant – but comes close surprisingly in spirit and feel. Surprisingly, he feels like a young Plant bursting out of the gates. It’s not easy singing any Zep song, but Robinson does his best in hitting the high notes. He succeeds on most tracks -like Celebration Day, Out on the Tiles, Sick Again, Custard Pie -but he kinda flops on Heartbreaker. (That’s a minor foible though) The band just rocks though and never lets up – twin guitars playing Zep and the blues – creating a full on sound that even Zep couldn’t do in its later touring years.

Ironically, the Page-Black Crowes combination evokes much of Zep’s early years precisely because of the straight arrangements and the blues covers. More so than Page-Plant could really do. Of course there’s no substitute for the real thing, but you can’t blame a guy like Jimmy Page for jamming the world’s greatest rock songs can you?

June 15, 2013 Posted by | Jimmy Page & The Black Crowes Live At The Greek | , | Leave a comment

The Beach Boys Heroes And Villains: The True Story Of The Beach Boys by Steven Gaines (1995)


There’s something to be said for trashy biographies, as long as a reader is somewhat prepared to take what he or she reads at less than face value. “Heroes & Villains” has undeniable readability, throws up some arresting caricatures that must bear some proximation to the subjects described, and is more lurid than mean-spirited in its design.

But you really wonder about factual accuracy with a book about a group of pop music giants that manages to misspell the names of Jimi Hendrix, Glen Campbell, and Sam Cooke. That’s a rock, country, and soul trifecta for those keeping score, not to mention Campbell was briefly a member of the Beach Boys’ touring band. Or how about a book that is ostensibly about the Boys but spills more ink about the bodyguard who had an affair with Brian Wilson’s wife than it does on Al Jardine or Bruce Johnston, actual members of the band?

At least Gaines throws in a kind mention of Bruce Johnston’s classic “Disney Girls (1957),” which was nice for this fan to read. It’s more notable because there’s not much attention in this book to the Beach Boys music, other than their earliest, career-making singles, “Good Vibrations,” and the Pet Sounds album. He skims over so much there’s no mention of such classics as “Wendy,” “Do It Again,” “Little Honda,” “Come Go With Me,” “All Summer Long,” and “Good Timin’.” There’s nothing said of “Kokomo” either, though since the book was published in 1986, two years before that final number-one hit was released, you can’t blame Gaines for missing it. (If only the Beach Boys had.)

The advantage of Gaines approach is you do get drawn in, right away as he begins by recounting the last hours of Dennis Wilson’s troubled life, then back-pedals to the abusive Hawthorne, CA household where frustrated songwriter Murry Wilson browbeats and, at times, just beats his three sons into becoming the closest answer America ever had to the Beatles. Murry is one guy you can’t worry about being too unfair with, and to his credit, Gaines attempts to separate fact from fiction with this nasty fellow.

But the book sags notably once the band’s career takes off. Gaines can’t really focus on the music, or even on the band’s upward trajectory or its influence on popular culture. His interest is exclusively on What Went Wrong. As a result, this reads at times more like an autopsy report than the history of a band so successful it became an institution. Unlike Gaines’ Beatles book, “The Love You Make,” there’s no narrative thread to sustain the story. The most wretched lowpoints are thrown up one after another with minimal context.

There’s fun to be had here, with a character list right out of Dickens, everyone seemingly scrambling to be more messed up than the next. Brian and Dennis Wilson are obvious centers of attention, as is a manager who apparently got the bright idea of moving America’s Band to the Netherlands just so he could have a cozier place to be with his boyfriend. A succession of managers, wives, girlfriends, and hangers-on create an environment so chaotic and dysfunctional you are hardly surprised when the Manson Family drops in for an extended stay.

Brian’s ’70s excesses prompts one funny question from Gaines, “how a 240-pound, unwashed, emotionally-disturbed man could wind up with three women fighting over him?” The answer of course, is money and fame can blind a lot of people. The problem is, in a different way, it blinds Gaines, too, making him look less at the Beach Boys as confused mortals than as depraved gods making a gorgeous mess of their Mt. Olympus.

Unless you have some personal stake in the Beach Boys, and many do, there’s probably more to like in this book than not, provided you don’t take it seriously. The bitter recollections of hangers-on don’t really make for a definitive story, though the claims made in “Heroes & Villains” are the kind any serious biographer will need to address, which is more a good thing than not. I liked reading it more for entertainment than illumination, but I needed to take a shower when I was done.

June 15, 2013 Posted by | Book The Beach Boys Heroes And Villains: The True Story Of The Beach Boys by Steven Gaines | , | Leave a comment

Led Zeppelin Love & Peace In Hiroshima (Japan, September 1971)


Municipal Gymnasium, Hiroshima, Japan – September 27th, 1971

Disc 1: Introduction, Immigrant Song, Heartbreaker, Since I’ve Been Loving You, Black Dog, Dazed And Confused, Stairway To Heaven

Disc 2: Celebration Day, That’s The Way, Going To California, Tangerine, What Is And What Should Never Be, Moby Dick, Whole Lotta Love, Communication Breakdown

Bonus cdr 1, Hiroshima – September 27th, 1971: Tangerine, Stairway To Heaven, Celebration Day, What Is & What Should Never Be, Moby Dick, That’s The Way, Going To California. Osaka – October 4th, 1972: Over The Hills & Far Away

Bonus cdr 2: Rock & Roll, Black Dog, Stairway To Heaven, Whole Lotta Love. Tokyo – October 2nd, 1972: Immigrant Song, Communication Breakdown, The Song Remains The Same, The Rain Song

Love & Peace In Hiroshima is one of three debut releases by the new silver label Bumble Bee. Much like other recent releases of this show Live Peace In Hiroshima on Wendy and Zingi on Tarantura, this is an edition of the known audience recordings to present the most complete and comprehensive document of Zeppelin’s charity gig in this city.

The better sounding audience source is used for the bulk of the show with the second and inferior sounding tape that first surfaced on Mud Dogs used to fix the gaps including “Black Dog”, 16:23 to 17:30 in “Dazed And Confused”, and others. What is unique with this release is the nine-minute introduction which is not found on any other release. Collectors in Japan have already questioned its authenticity but it is a strong possibility this is real. The mc spends several minutes getting the audience into frenzy by getting them to clap together.

The better sounding source then cuts in and in general on this release is an improvement over Zingi. Tarantura reduced the hiss making it a bit more clear but the gain is much stronger on Bumble Bee with a greater spectrum of sounds making it sound much more dynamic.

The first one hundred copies of Love & Peace In Hiroshima come with two bonus cdrs in a clear plastic case. This is a copy of the rare vinyl boot 71-72 Digest on Digger records released in the mid eighties. This title is infamous for coming with a poster and rubber stamped panties with each copy. This contains the first incomplete thirty-seven minute audience recording from Hiroshima which has never appeared on compact disc before.

The recording is distant and disturbing and the loud vinyl surface noise makes it even more difficult to listen to. 71-72 Digest also contains selections from the October 2nd, 1972 Tokyo show and October 4th, 1972 Osaka concert. Again the tape sources are very poor sound quality and the vinyl is very noisy.

It is interesting having this as a bonus since this Hiroshima tapes has never been released on CD before, but the sound quality makes it for the completist only. The artwork contains several photographs of the band warming up for the gig including Plant playing Page’s Gibson double neck guitar. This is another solid release by Bumble Bee and is worth seeking out.

June 15, 2013 Posted by | Led Zeppelin Love & Peace In Hiroshima | , | Leave a comment