The Heart of Markness Led Zeppelin Podcast Episode 71
Two Jimmy Page era Yardbirds shows were recently released, and we give a listen to songs from both of them July 1967 at the Fillmore West and May 29, 1968 in Concord, California (just a few months before Led Zeppelin’s birth). We hear Jimmy leading us all toward Led Zeppelin, his vision of what music should be. It’s a bit chaotic but a good listen.
On August 20, 1990 Aerosmith played a gig at the legendary Marquee Club, two days after headlining the Castle Donnington Festival. This intimate performance, in a small club in front of hundreds of people, features Jimmy Page jamming with the band. Good Stuff.
We listen to three songs from this performance, I Ain’t Got You (blues jam), Think About It (Jimmy era Yardbirds tune), and Immigrant Song, in excellent soundboard stereo. Fun fact: Steven Tyler did not know the words to Immigrant Song.
There’s a a nice video of this gig featuring most (there are cuts) of the show (with Jimmy Page), as well as a nice video of the rehearsal too. Behold!
There are some really great songs performed on Zep’s first couple of tours which are never repeated. For Your Love is one of them. This is from January 5, 1969. Led Zeppelin I wasn’t out yet. They had been in the USA for one week. They’re still driving a van to gigs. They’re not insanely tight yet. They’re rough and raw. Pure power. Jimmy playing the telecaster he played in the Yardbirds. He didn’t have the Les Paul yet. Joe Walsh sold him his Les Paul. Did you know that? You do now. That pic in the video is from the Boston Tea Party in May 1969. Jimmy has the Les Paul there, because he bought it in April.
This show, the Whiskey A Go Go, January 5, 1969, is the first soundboard recording we mortals can hear. The band had only been in the states for their first tour, for a week. They were playing gymnasiums and clubs. Absolutely no one knew who they were, or what they brought.
Led Zeppelin was young and hungry. They set out to blow the acts for which they were opening (Vanilla Fudge, Iron Butterfly, The Doors, for example) off the stage. They succeeded. They had a lot of cover songs in their set, because they only had album in the can, and no one had any idea who they were, aside from ‘the guy from the yardbirds’. And it wasn’t like ‘that guy from the Yardbirds’ had much effect, because at that point, Jimmy Page was the least famous guy from the Yardbirds. Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck were already stars. The Jeff Beck Group was already touring, and had two albums out (or at least one), fronted by Rod Stewart. Zeppelin started from obscurity and fucking conquered.
You can hear that in this performance of the Yardbirds hit, For Your Love. It’s kind of loose, super aggressive, but the thing that stands out for me is that they aren’t gelled completely as a band, yet. They’re awesome for sure but almost unstable in their ferocity. I love it.
I don’t have any backstory for this. Someone wonderful posted the link to this, on the FBO (For Badgeholders Only) mailing list (yes, it’s been around that long). The YouTube account and opening credit is named something called the Academy of Achievement.
It looks pretty highbrow. The kind of library that includes interviews with Bill Clinton, Ernst Mayr, and Paul Kagame. Jimmy is eloquent and loquacious, giving fascinating answers and insight into Led Zeppelin, the Yardbirds, music in general, and life. He’s surprisingly insightful, reflective, and (dare I say), wise.
In talking about how he takes care of himself, he simply recounts how he was still drinking into his 50’s, and smoking, and realized that if he knocked it off, he would likely live into his 70’s. And he has (knock wood. No, seriously. Do it)
He mentions being at the hotel at which Martin Luther King was killed, shortly after it occurred. He talks about how african american people would attend Yardbirds concerts, along with white people, but after the assassination of MLK, that stopped.
As a whackadoodle Led Zeppelin fan I have seen a lot, a… lot… of Jimmy Page interviews, and this one is hands down the highest level (intellectually) and most relaxed interviews of his I’ve seen. No fluff about what Zoso means, or when they’re reuniting. It’s almost like a Charlie Rose level of interview. We don’t hear the interviewer at all. They have a title card display the question asked, and Jimmy just started talking.
I know that many Zep fans won’t really be interested in watching an hour long interview with anyone. The music speaks for itself, and I won’t blame you if this isn’t your thing. However I have a podcast which deals with the more esoteric elements of Jimmy Page’s career, as well as great live Zeppelin material, so you’ll have to forgive the occasional niche post.