Many Led Zeppelin fans of a certain age remember the Death Wish 2 soundtrack. It was, decidedly, not Zeppelin. Jimmy Page has performed a few songs from this over the years, City Sirens, Who’s To Blame, and Prelude. He’s played them with the Arms Tour, with the Firm (at least Prelude), and on the Outrider tour.
They’re good tracks but there are a couple of others from this album which deserve some love. Jimmy’s choice of Chris Farlowe as vocalist has, in my opinion, limited the appeal of this soundtrack, but this was a very rushed, last minute project, and Chris was a friend with whom Jimmy had recorded before, so I get it. You may recognize Chris’ voice as the singer of Prison Blues on Jimmy’s Outrider album.
Hypnotizing Ways (Oh Mama)
Hypnotizing Ways is a nice rock song. Jimmy doesn’t usually use suspended fourths (music nerd alert), but I like it. If there was another singer on this I think it would have more traction, but I enjoy it.
A nice little instrumental jam. I really dig it. You can hear flashes of the guitar god on the solos. Jimmy made the noble decision to walk away from the Zeppelin catalog (at least until 1988), after the breakup of the band, so hearing some very Zep-like licks is refreshing.
The story of how this project came about is an interesting one, at least as much as the XYZ project, so perhaps I will do a podcast about it. Until that glorious day you will have to make do with these two songs, which have fallen through the cracks.
At this time the only place you can buy this (remastered and expanded) soundtrack is from Jimmy Page himself, on his website. From what I understand it sounds great and the extra tracks are pretty badass.
I posted this video on Youtube years ago, after downloading off of Dimeadozen. I attended the Outrider concert the following night in Worcedeter, MA, but that’s a story for another day.
The Outrider album is… ok. The playing is great which the big thing. After two Firm albums, and a bunch of shaky performances, I was delighted that Jimmy got his chops back and came out swinging.
The Outrider tour was fucking incredible. For the first time since 1980, he was playing Led Zeppelin, along with a couple Firm songs, some Death Wish 2 stuff, and and Yardbirds tune (Train Kept A Rollin). It’s interesting to note that Robert Plant was also touring at this time, and he too was playing Zep tunes for the first time since the breakup.
This is a home shot video with matching audio. That doesn’t mean it’s bad, at all. This is totally something you can listen to in your car as you’re going to work, or at your desk. It’s really really great.
If you’re one of the people who teeth because I do not think the Firm was impressive, watch and listen to this show, and see what impresses me, Jimmy Page-wise.
His touring band was Jason Bonham on drums, Durban Laverde on bass, and John Miles on vocals. John Miles had sung for the Alan Parsons Project (Stereotomy), and he sang ably.
I will do a podcast about the Outrider tour fairly soon, in which I will spend time talking about the whole post Firm timeline, and how Jimmy got his groove back. For now enjoy the amazing document from one of rock’s greatest guitarists.
If you follow live Led Zeppelin recordings, you know that the last several years have been the Led Zeppelin Soundboard Revolution. The Japanese boot companies have gotten ahold of a hoard of 1975 tour soundboard tapes. These exist because Showco, the sound & light company that Zep used, would tape each show, for review by the soundmen, and the band.
The Japanese bootleg label Empress Valley have been releasing ’75 soundboard tapes for more than 10 years, starting with Flying Circus. I am not the biggest fan of the this tour, as it showcases a band not at their best. Robert Plant started the tour with the flu, and Jimmy Page started with a broken finger. They soldiered on and the very early dates (January) has some songs never again played, like When The Levee Breaks, and The Wanton Song. How Many More Times was revived in place of Dazed and Confused to give Jimmy’s finger a break. He played with three fingers on his left hand. Remarkable for sure, but the pain management needed did his growing use, and dependence, on opiates and alcohol no favors.
Ok. Enough with the downers. This is the tour supporting Physical Graffiti, which is their last undisputed great album. Holy shit, you get Kashmir, Trampled Underfoot, In My Time Of Dying, Ten Years Gone…. those alone are the mountaintop of greatness, plus a host of other songs which are merely awesome like, Custard Pie, Night Flight…well, you know what songs are on this album if you’re reading this post.
Anyhoo… The 1975 was a bit of a drop from the energy of the 1973 tour, which was a bit of a drop from 1972 (the last year when Plant’s voice had that killer high range) but this show could be listed as 1973, and no one would know the difference (aside from the Physical Graffiti tracks). This is a good one. Listen to the podcast, listen to the show.
Jimmy Page was a very busy boy in 1984. He was fresh off the rejuvenation (or resurrection) of the ARMS Tour (last date of that was 12/9/83), and he immediately started looking for drummers for the new band he wanted to create, with Paul Rodgers (late of Bad Company).
On 1/22/84 Jimmy was jamming with drummers in Nomis studios. Rat Scabies from the Damned, and Bill Bruford (King Crimson & Yes) was among the drummers he played with. Recordings exist. They’re muddy (cassette boombox it sounds like) but there’s some good stuff there. I think it may be Pino Palladino on bass.
Somewhere around this time Jimmy contacted Chris Slade. I do not know if he auditioned him, or just knew enough and wanted him, but Chris Slade had just (literally minutes before) taken a call from Dave Gilmour to do a tour with him. So he told Jimmy it would be three months before he could join the Firm. Jimmy agreed to wait, and it eventually became a 9 month wait.
02.?? New York (with Eric Clapton, Charlie Watts, John Entwistle and Louis Bertignac of Telephone – Glyn John’s birthday party) No recordings have circulated.
3/84 – Recording the Honeydrippers EP with Robert Plant, Jeff Beck, Nile Rodgers, and more. Produced by Ahmet Ertegun.
April/May/84 – Jimmy Page records the album Whatever Happened To Jugula, with Roy Harper, at Roy’s 24 track studio, The Boilerhouse. Also performs with Roy’s band on the following dates:
05.19 May Tree Fair, Thetford
05.20 Kenley Fayre, Norwich
05.21 St. Ives Hotel, Lytham St. Annes
5/5&6/84 Jimmy plays on three tracks of Stephen Stills’ album Right By You. It was recorded in Jimmy’s Sol studios, and released 7/30/84. If you’re in the USA these vids won’t play on my site. CLICK THE WATCH ON YOUTUBE LINKS and you’ll be fine.
6/5/84 – Alexis Korner Benefit with The Alexis Light Orchestra aka Ian Stewart’s Rocket 88. Charlie Watts, Ian Stewart, Jack Bruce, Ruby Turner, Paul Jones, John Picard, Don Weller Dick Heckstall-Smith
6/24/84 – Jimmy Page jams with Yes on the Beatles song, I’m Down. This show was in Germany, and it was professionally filmed, and released on home video. Jimmy’s encore is NOT in the release, but I bet it exists somewhere, in pro-shot goodness.
7/12/84 Pistoia Blues Festival. Another benefit show for the recently deceased Alexis Korner. This time he plays with (among others) Ginger Baker in Italy. Jimmy is in fine form. He does a super ballsy Train Kept A Rollin’ but the rest of the band obviously doesn’t know the song, because it’s a train wreck (no pun intended), but Jimmy’s playing was amazing. He was drinking vodka straight from a bottle during this gig. Rock and Roll.
07/28/84 With Roy Harper’s band – Cambridge Folk Festival (afternoon & evening sets)
LISTEN TO THIS. IT’S AWESOME
07/29/84 Battersea Park, London – Jimmy Page with Roy Harper’s band.
08.?? Heartbreak Hotel, Ibiza (Page and Plant with Phil May and members of The Pretty Things)
9/84-11/84 Recording the Firm album, mixing and producing. Sol Studios.
11/16/84 (broadcast date)Jimmy Page & Roy Harper Langdale, Cumbria (Old Grey Whistle Test, BBC TV)
11/24/84 – Jimmy Page & Roy Harper Rock Garden, Covent Garden, London
11/29/84 The Firm debuts in Stockholm, and Jimmy Page is on another path.
12/9/84 The Firm played the Hammersmith Odeon in London, which is professionally filmed and recorded. MTV plays a 30 minute version. Maybe you remember it?
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1980 was not a great year for rock. John Bonham died in September and Led Zeppelin disbanded in December. Yes had finally sunk despite trying to plug the leaks with Trevor Horn, and Geoff Downe (from the Buggles!), after the departure of Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman. Here’s a peek at what Yes looked like in 1980.
This Is YES In 1980
The air was heavy, dependency issues were rampant, and music was changing.
Jimmy Page was emotionally devastated, at both the death of his friend and bandmate, but also at the death of his band. Led Zeppelin officially dissolved on December 4, 1980.
The sources for this info are, for the most part, people directly involved. Chris Squire has spoken of these sessions, as have Alan White, Jimmy Page, and the engineer Stuart Epps. He also engineered the posthumous Led Zeppelin album, Coda.
Here’s the thing with these sources. Some were from youtube and they’ve been taken down and are gone. Chris Squire’s is gone, as is (goddamn it I should have downloaded it when I had the chance) the Stuart Epps video. I read a lot of interviews, forum posts from knowledgable people (cough Steve A Jones… cough), and watched/listened to a lot of videos. Due diligence was performed.
The only tracks that I’ve seen around, in the trading circles, are from a cassette source. My recording lists 2nd or 3rd generation.
Track 2 is Fortune Hunter, which was used later by the Firm. This one feels a lot like a Jimmy riff to me. Alan White is more straight on rocking, and Chris Squire is just laying a groove. Nothing proggy. Jimmy uses the Roland guitar synth in the background, and the b bender is all over this. He plays some pretty tight solos, which sound a lot like solos from Coda, Walter’s Walk in particular.
Track 3 is Can You See. This is all Chris Squire. I can hear Jon Anderson singing this on 90125. If it was a little brighter, and if Chris Squire wasn’t singing this (sorry, he’s not great on this). It kind of drags tempo wise. It feels like it should be just a hair faster.
This later came out in 2001 as Can You Imagine on the album Magnification.
This is a complete song, with overdubs, solos, etc. The first two tracks were more rudimentary and jamming, than finished product.
Track 4 is Telephone Secrets. This one suffers (imo) from Squire’s vocals. I can see Jon Anderson singing this, and with a little more upbeat vibe, it being at home on 90125. It actually appears on the Deluxe Edition of Drama as Song No. 4 (satellite)
Stuart Epps was Jimmy Page’s engineer, working in Jimmy’s SOL studio (formerly Elton John’s) and he ran the board for the XYZ sessions. According to him, “It was a week of sessions. It was mad.” He was there. These guys were all focused on creating good music, and I think it shows.
THE COMPLETE TRACKS FROM THE XYZ SESSIONS
I only played excerpts from each track, during the podcast. Here, as promised, are the complete XYZ tracks. Enjoy.
WTF IS THIS?!
No sooner had I posted this episode than a listener commented about a promo XYZ pen he won back in 1981, from none other than Tight But Loose magazine. I.. had no idea things progressed to the point of pen manufacturing. I am extremely skeptical that it’s an official Swan Song/Atlantic promo. I am putting my money on it being something that Dave Lewis (the TBL guy and avatar of Zep) had made up himself. They look like the cheap promo pens that small businesses have made up, plus John Paul Jones and Robert Plant’s names are on the pen. I reached out to Mr. Lewis and will update when I get word. In any case… it’s pretty damn cool!
UPDATE: They are neither official nor do they originate from Mr. Lewis. He thinks they might have been made up by
Steve Winwood, Joe Cocker, Paul Rodgers, Charlie Watts, Bill Wyman, Ronnie Wood, Kenney Jones… Jesus Christ, everybody
Links from the show
This is San Francisco 12/2/83. San Fran 12/2/83 is a nice set by Jimmy. He is hit or miss on this tour, often within the same set. Remember, he may not be using heroin anymore, but he was in no way sober. This is the show from which the Goodnight Irene heard in the podcast is taken. You should watch the whole thing. It’s a shit ton of talent on one stage, and no one is being a prick.
WATCH THIS ONE. It’s not Jimmy’s best, but it’s not that bad. This show also has a killer Goodnight Irene at the end, with Jimmy, Jeff, and Eric trading solos and it’s GREAT! Watch it or the monsters will eat you. You also get incoherent Joe Cocker gibberish at the end.
This is the intro to the officially released London gig. Watch it. It shows how sweet Ronnie Lane was, and how all these huge stars really worked together to help hime. It’s nice.
The first part of the London gig. Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood. Drink coffee first.
Find the rest yourself. I’m an old man.
BONUS NOTES AND SHIT FROM THE PODCAST.
Ronnie Lane was the bass player for the Small Faces (itchycoo park) and later (when they were no longer small) The Faces. The Faces were a good time, drunken rock and roll band that had Rod Stewart as its singer, and Ronnie Wood as their guitarist, both fresh from Jeff Beck’s band. Remember when the Black Crowes first came out, with Jealous Again? They were a clone of the Faces. The Ron Wood went off to become a Rolling Stone, and Rod Stewart went off to be a disco fuckhead. Ronnie Wood ended up living in a trailer on Pete Townshend’s property, having never ‘made it big’. He recorded an album with Pete, in 1977, called Rough Mix that is absolutely wonderful. Not only is a great album, it’s a great album featuring not just Pete Townshend and Ronnie Lane, but Eric Clapton, Charlie Watts, John Entwistle, Ian Stewart, and a bunch more. It’s a great album that was just never promoted by the record company. It also is one of the best sounding analog recordings I’ve ever heard. Totally listen to it. Do it.
During the recording of Rough Mix Ronnie Lane was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. His ability to play was hampered, and his already not great life got worse. He must have been a great guy, because holy shit a million huge stars came out to help him.
One Of The Best ARMS Gigs in Great Video
The early 1980’s was a dark time for the rock gods of the 70’s. Led Zeppelin had broken up, Jeff Beck was a footnote, and Eric Clapton had turned so mellow he was like the James Taylor of guitar. Everyone had peaked and was hitting 40. The first generation of rock gods were all total has beens by the time they hit 40. This generation risked obscurity as well.
In 1983 a bunch of British rock gods gathered together to perform a series of benefit concerts, in support of Ronnie Lane. Ronnie was the bass player for the Small Faces, and then the Faces. He was a beloved musician and friend (he lived rent free on Pete Townshend’s estate), who had contracted MS and needed some help.
The bands that were represented were the cream of British rock royalty. Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts from the Rolling Stones, Ronnie Wood (from the Faces and the Stones) showed up in New York City for some songs, too. Eric Clapton from Cream, Jeff Beck from the Yardbirds and as his own bad self (also former bandmate of Ronnie Wood), Joe Cocker and his awesome keyboard player, Chris Stainton. Holy shit a lot of people. Oh yeah, The Who! Kenny Jones from The Who (and also the Faces with Ronnies Lane and Wood). Fernando Saunders on bass (Lou Reed and Jeff Beck’s bassist)… so many goods. And Paul Rodgers from Free and Bad Company. Lots of folk who all got together to help a friend.
Jimmy Page had been out of the spotlight since the death of John Bonham, and dissolution of Led Zeppelin. He was a physical and mental wreck. Drug addiction was at an almost terminal level, and the deep depression of Bonzo’s death just made everything worse. Aside from a few minor projects, or even just jams, Page was a hermit.
The word on this is that Eric Clapton was tapped to approach Jimmy and tell him to get his shit together, heroin-wise. Clapton had just himself finished rehab, and everyone else in the band(s) pretty much had their shit together (although I think Charlie Watts got in to heroin at roughly this time), except for Jimmy. So, a pep talk, some positive reinforcement, and a trip to the states, got Jimmy off the heroin. Alas he still drank like a fish and did hella blow.
Still, credit where credit is due. The ARMS tour got Jimmy to come back as a performer again. Having worked with Paul Rodgers on the US Tour for ARMS, Jimmy formed the FIRM. The Firm sucked. Yes it did. Yes it did.
It is finished. The inaugural episode of the Heart of Markness podcast. It was fun. It was easy. It was deeply fulfilling. I definitely prefer podcasting to blogging. It’s 2017. Podcasts are where it’s at.
This being my first podcast there are some fuckups. The biggest one is forgetting to include the first song I reference, the 1978 rehearsal track “Fire”, from the Clearwell Castle session. Well, relax, friends. Here is the missing song. Rejoice.
The Triumphant Return Of Led Zeppelin
After the tragic death of Robert Plant’s son in July 1977, the band were on an indefinite hiatus. Robert wasn’t really itching to go back on the road, and the band itself was mired in deep addiction, both among the musicians, and the management. In short, Robert Plant wasn’t feeling incredibly pulled to go back.
However his buddy John Bonham talked him into going to a rehearsal, just to kick the tires and see if there was any magic left. There was. The band recorded In Through The Out Door, and then played a couple of warmup gigs in Denmark, in preparation for the huge Knebworth festival gigs they had planned for August 1979.
The Copenhagen shows were first live appearances by Led Zeppelin for, exactly, two years. They were fucking brilliant, with the band on fire, and Jimmy seemingly off the junk, and playing like it was 1973. Truly amazing gigs with truly amazing quality live recordings made (not official recordings, but amateur)
Listen to the podcast to hear about it, and to hear two amazing tracks from their July 24, 1979 concert at the Falconer Theater, in Copenhagen. Dig it.