The Voice, Guitar & Bass Of Led Zeppelin
When Led Zeppelin officially disbanded on December 4th, 1980, the vocalist of the group Robert Plant was the first to start a solo career by playing some gigs in the midlands as The Honeydrippers in small clubs. With the release of Pictures At Eleven in 1982, he commenced a vibrant and varied solo career with more creative peaks and experiments than his former group.
Jimmy Page took longer to start his solo career with The Firm in 1984 and his only solo album in 1988. Except for brief associations with The Firm, David Coverdale and Robert Plant in the nineties, Page enjoyed more jamming with other artists and celebrating both the roots of his musical style and its subsequent development.
John Paul Jones took even longer to start a solo career. Except for a film soundtrack in the mid nineties, he spent more time acting as producer and session musician. It wasn’t until the late nineties and early 2000’s for Jones to release full blown solo albums Zoom and The Thunderthief. His albums and live appearances drew praise from fans, but they effectively ended his solo career because he didn’t meet commercial sucess.
Jamming With Mr. J
Disc 1 (53:50): Jimmy Page with Aerosmith, Donnington Festival, Donnington, England – August 18th, 1990: Train Kept A-Rollin’, Walk This Way. Jimmy Page with Aerosmith at the Marquee Club, London, England – August 20th, 1990: Milk Cow Blues, I Ain’t Got You, Think About It, Red House, Immigrant Song, Train Kept A-Rollin’. Page with Tyler, Perry, Chris & Rich, Lee & Guy Pratt, Cafe De Paris, London, England – June 27th, 1999: You Shook Me (A small charity concert for ABC Trust)
When Jimmy Page’s only solo tour for his album Outrider ended in 1988, he dropped out of the spotlight for about a year. In January 1990 he jammed with Bon Jovi in London. Six months later he joined Robert Plant onstage at the Silver Clef Award Winners gig at Knebworth on June 30th on three songs, “Misty Mountain Hop,” “Wearing And Tearing” and “Rock And Roll.”
Jamming With Mr. J picks up the narrative two months later when Page joined Aerosmith during their set at the Donnington Festival. It’s taken from an excellent soundboard recording with Steven Tyler introducing Page as “your fellow countryman.” They jam on “Train Kept A-Rollin’,” a song important for both Page and Aerosmith. Both Page and Perry take solos as they stretch the song out beyond anything ever heard before.
“I don’t know about you but my dick just got hard” is Tyler’s rude comment as Page leaves the stage. Aerosmith continues with “Walk This Way” without Page.
Two days later Aerosmith played a small club gig at the Marquee in London. In the intimate atmosphere of the club, Page joins the band for a much longer jam session. The tape picks up with Aerosmith playing “Milk Cow Blues,” a song which, according to Tyler, “Elvis did so long ago and did it all wrong.”
Afterwards Tyler introduces Page again as “your fellow countryman” as he comes onstage. There is a brief moment of tuning and the audience can be heard chanting “JIMMY JIMMY JIMMY” while he gets ready. “Feels good, don’t it???” Tyler asks the crowd before they play the blues classic “I Ain’t Got You,” covered in the past by both The Yardbirds and Aerosmith.
Tyler jokes they wrote a new song called “As Long As I Have A Face You’ll Have A Place To Sit” before starting “Think About It.” The Yardbirds’ final single in 1968 before breaking up, this is probably the first live performance of the piece (except on the BBC). Page and Perry duplicate the guitar parts, but Page doesn’t play the famous “Dazed & Confused” riff but rather spits out a new, angry solo in the middle. The bass guitar propels this into a fantastic live piece.
The continue with a loose mid tempo blues jam on “Red House.” Both Perry and Tyler mentions that something’s wrong before a fuse gets blown in the middle cutting out the instruments. Joey Kramer plays a short drum solo while thinks are worked out. They pick up “Red House” again and finish the jam.
“Immigrant Song” is the only Led Zeppelin song played. It’s obvious Tyler doesn’t exactly know the words and flubs the lines throughout the song. Page’s stay with the band ends with “Train’ Kept A-Rollin'” played the same way as at Donnington two days prior.
The disc ends with a single song, “You Shook Me” taken from a charity gig on July 27th, 1999. Jimmy Page joined The Black Crowes for their gig (this gig was the genesis for Page’s joining with The Black Crowes in October 1999), and at the end were also joined by Tyler and Perry for a long jam on the Led Zeppelin track. Tyler and Chris Robinson take turns singing the words and Perry and Page trade some of the most devastating blues riffs heard on disc. It lasts eight minutes and is in excellent sound quality.
The Jacob Javits Center, Robin Hood Foundation Benefit, New York, NY – May 31st, 2001
Disc 2 (62:54): Morning Dew, Season Of The Witch, Hey Joe, In The Light, Babe I’m Gonna Leave You, Misty Mountain Hop, House Is Not A Motel, Whole Lotta Love
Robert Plant’s initial travels after he exhausted the Priory Of Brion in 2000 were to move onto his new project the Strange Sensation. Unlike POB, which only played around Europe, the new ensemble ventured to the US for a week of shows in the spring of 2001. Seven shows were played in theater sized venues in eastern US cities (and one show at Massey Hall in Toronto) were some of the few concerts played until the release of Dreamland in the summer 2002.
One appearance not scheduled was an hour long set for the Robin Hood Foundation, a charity dedicated to helping to fight poverty in New York City. It seems the charity actually booked Page & Plant not knowing they were no longer playing together.
An excellent soundboard recording surfaced about a month after the event. It is very well balanced, detailed and enjoyable. and was quickly released on The Roots Of A Plant (Shout To The Top STTP 192). Flagge utilize the exact same tape in the identical excellent wound quality.
Plant comments they will play from the “cosmic jukebox” and how it’s important for him to hit upon classics of American music before starting with “Morning Dew.” The song was written by (Canadian) Bonnie Dobson and made popular by (British) Tim Rose. Plant would record for Dreamland the following year in this neo-hippy groovy arrangement.
“Let’s just forget about those dinners, funky white boy” he says as the band starts playing ”Season Of The Witch.” Written by Donovan Leitch, Plant included a reference to this tune during 1993 in the ”That’s Why I’m In The Mood” medley and in 1999 when he toured with the Priory Of Brion. Plant includes several lines from “Black Dog.”
“I’ve been given a sign of where my life went wrong…this is an English folk song that got mutated on the boat back in the sixteen-hundreds” Plant says before ”Hey Joe.” The actual origins of the song are questionable, but Plant’s arrangement isn’t. It’s hypnotic and depressing, an existential nightmare set to music. It remains one of his best arrangements. Plant includes a few cries of “yallah” before it segues into “In The Light” by Led Zeppelin.
“Babe I’m Gonna Leave You,” the Zeppelin arrangement of the Ann Bredon tune, and “Misty Mountain Hop” follow, closing the event. The first encore is a cover of “A House Is Not A Motel” by Love and Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love.”
Since nothing really separates the two silver releases having either one is good. Flagge has the advantage of having the other two discs for about the same price as the Shout To The Top release.
That’s The Way
The John Paul Jones Orchestra
Universal Amphitheater, Los Angeles, CA – November 15th, 2001
Disc 3 (65:14): Intro, Zooma, Leafy Meadow, The Smile of Your Shadow, That’s The Way, Steel Away, When The Levee Breaks, B. Fingers, Freedom Song, Hoediddle, Tidal, Black Dog
John Paul Jones’ brief career as a solo artist ended in 2001 after a tour in support of King Crimson. In contrast to this first solo tour in 1999, Jones actually sings on a few of the songs including “That’s The Way” from Led Zeppelin III. His vocals were the big draw for fans and he didn’t disappoint, carrying the melody faithfully and bringing his own style to the song.
That’s The Way is sourced from clear and bright DAT stereo audience tape. There is a bit of distortion at the beginning but it clears up quickly. The balance between the instruments is very song and the taper captures a very good live sound.
After a short introduction JPJ begins the hour long set with the instrumentals “Zooma” and “Leafy Meadow,” the singles off of his two solo albums. Both enjoy a smooth groove and the latter, which was co-written by Robert Fripp, obviously has a more angular Crimso melody in the guitar lines.
Jones’ bass lines sound harsh, dirty, and almost “industrial.” He experimented with this sound on Led Zeppelin’s final tour in 1980 (reaching a glorious apex in the Berlin performance of “Whole Lotta Love”) and expands that style. He introduces the two songs and says that the new album will be out in February before continuing with “The Smile Of Your Shadow.” It’s another tune in the harsh, melodic industrial style but with a pretty melody.
“Contrary to expectations, we’re gonna go back in time” Jones tells the audience before a surprisingly adept and sensitive version of “That’s The Way.” Jones carries the vocals in tune and the acoustic guitars and mandolin sound is very lush. The audience even cheer at the end of the final verse before the instrumental coda just like in the seventies.
Remaining on mandolin, Jones leads the band into “Steel Away,” a heavy blues acoustic number and a great prelude to the instrumental “When The Levee Breaks” in the same arrangement from Led Zeppelin’s fourth LP. It is a song that never really worked live (Zeppelin themselves only attempted it a handful of times) because of the heavily treated drums and vocals. Jones offers a great attempt, emphasizing the bass and slide’s slithering rhythms.
“Freedom Song” is one of Jones’ strangest songs. Accompanying himself on mandolin, his a poem to his wife trying to persuade her to come on a vacation. The Celtic melody and the silly lyrics recall much of Roy Harper’s tunes. The band return for much harder music with “Hoediddle,” “Tidal” and a seven minute instrumental version of “Black Dog.”
The Voice, Guitar & Bass Of Led Zeppelin on Flagge is hardly essential but is a nice collection to have. None of these are classic performances, but do offer interesting and enjoyable performances during various stages of their solo careers.