Once upon a time, back in 1968, there was a Blues-based band who took the Blues and created music from it which made them look like young lions. They were mighty and they roared with indescribable certainty and loudness while, at the same time, sound as if they were about to fly out of control. And as time went on, they cast a huge shadow over the landscape. Even the fact that the band hasn’t existed since 1980 still hasn’t stopped that shadow that they cast upon the landscape from appearing now and then. When it does, it creates chaos. It did back then and it certainly still does now.
I’ll probably be preaching to the choir and those of you who are a certain age will definitely understand what I mean when I say that Led Zeppelin may possibly have been the perfect band to have been the soundtrack to your own personal chaos back when you were attempting to survive High School back in the ’70s. This was certainly the case with me. And yet, amazingly, they still induce hysteria among us old geezers as was the case of when the first 3 Led Zeppelin remasters were announced recently.
It’s veritable proof that, contained within a guy’s DNA from the time period, there’s a trigger mechanism within us that sets off a rush of reactions (in some cases overreactions) strongly similar to the ones we unfairly hoisted upon anybody within shouting distance of us when were in High School.
Led Zeppelin was one of those bands I came to dearly love even though The Rolling Stones were still my number one. But there was something about Page’s guitar, Bonham’s drums and Plant’s high-drive vocals which seemed to describe my world being torn asunder like the California earthquakes I used to live through in a way that was totally unique to them as my body and mind went through the changes that every parent fears and with frightening similarity to Page’s guitar intensity during the middle and end sections of “Dazed And Confused”.
When I conjure up the thought of Led Zeppelin, I can still take myself back to Bellarmine College Prep in San Jose on those cold Winter mornings in my Freshman and Sophomore Years and dreaming of some gorgeous Scandinavian blonde hot babe woman, being extremely melancholy (depressed, really, which I may actually for real be dealing with even now) and having “That’s The Way” playing through my head as I wondered about the enormity of the weight I was carrying back then and still do. The fog was present in the sky and in my head.
It was with this long history in mind that I’ve been thinking about how Matt and I have been following the story of these releases for a year and three months now. A lot of people feel really emotional about Led Zeppelin. I think it has to do with the music and the intensity of the memories they carry with them that makes them so easily apt to voice things where not much thought was given beforehand as to what it is they were saying exactly.
The story of the Led Zeppelin remasters first broke in a cover story interview that Jimmy Page gave to Rolling Stone Magazine where he clearly stated that these things were going to come. He even gave specific examples of what me might expect as the bonus tracks. This was a year and three months ago. Even with all of that, there were people on music forums saying that Page wasn’t going to come through and that he’s been fleecing fans for years. For about two years prior to this magazine interview that he gave, I had a funny feeling that Warner Brothers may have been bugging Page to do something like this. I had a gut feeling.
After the major Rolling Stone interview, there would be little subtle updates from either Page or Ross Halfin (a photographer who has worked with Page before). It was obvious that this wasn’t a case of Page making some kind of major blunder by thinking out loud in an interview. It was really a case of a work in progress before everybody’s eyes. And yet, there were some people who still didn’t believe him. This was starting to stun me.
The only time I got just as frustrated as some of the grumble people was when Matt and I both saw that some kind of press conference was supposed to happen a few weeks ago that turned out to fade into oblivion. That was when I got on my hands and knees to beg anybody who might read the Hoffman Forum my pleas to please have Warner Brothers give us an official press release of some kind.
Let me tell you people. When the press release came very recently, I let out a sigh of relief that probably could have been heard halfway around the world.
And just like back then, the three large shadows being cast as the pre-orders have begun for the self-titled, II & III sets, that band is producing a torrent of emotion that is still as intense as when we all got hooked on them back in the old days. The complaints are huge and the things have not even been released yet. People are worried about the sound. People are wondering where “Hey Hey What Can I Do” ended up (I hedged my bets and bought the “Immigrant Song” CD single to cover my tracks in case Page doesn’t use it on Coda or as a bonus phantom track on III)? Will the Paris ’69 show be mono or stereo? (It’s mono). What kind of edits will there be for the show? (There will be some-a few minor ones and one big one)).
The thing of it is that Led Zeppelin is so huge that people can’t celebrate this so easily. I can’t say that I blame them, but I’m so glad that the albums as we knew them have gotten a new glow to them. I am so used to having bonus material not turn out to be exactly what I was hoping it to be that I guess I’ve become numb. There’s too many examples to name. I could break a server just listing what’s been done to unreleased Rolling Stones and Bruce Springsteen music over the years.
Somehow though, at the end of the day, I am going to figure out a way to thank Page for putting himself through the hell of doing this for us. I’m sure he has a bit of an idea of just what his band’s legacy has stitched onto our lives-some would say pounded into our foreheads. He knew what he was getting himself into and now he’s going to see it through.
And to my friend Matt, thanks for keeping me company on this particular ride concerning the Led Zeppelin remasters. We had a few nights of exchanging FB posts and e-mails which were frantic and hilarious at the same time. I felt like I was back in High School all over again. He can tell you.
Talia’s Overflow Notes 3/19/14
A few more U.K. grey market releases have popped up once again. From the Keyhole label comes a 2-CD set from The Velvet Underground called Live At The Boston Tea Party December 12th, 1968. This one is due out March 18. The other is one from the Smokin’ label of Patti Smith called Dreaming Of The Prophet: 1975 Radio Broadcast. The Smith title is due out April 14. (IMWAN)
Warner Brothers will be releasing a 2-CD set (and vinyl on Record Store Day) for R.E.M.-Unplugged 1991/2001: The Complete Sessions and is due May 20. (The Second Disc/IMWAN/ Hoffman Forum)
A Criterion release for The Beatles-A Hard Day’s Night will be available in DVD and DVD/Blu-ray packages on July 22. (IMWAN/The Hoffman Forum/The Second Disc)
My beloved Soundway label will be releasing a new archive Africa title on April 28 from a band called Muyei Power. The title is called Sierra Leone In 1970s USA. The press for the release says that this was a band who never formally released an album. Instead, they made various recordings in 1975 and 1976 and they are collected here in this package. The songs were all recorded here in the United States when they were touring the country. This is the first time Soundway has produced a title from Sierra Leone. I will be very much looking forward to what the Analog Africa label has coming next. (Soundway e-mail & Facebook page)
A spokesperson for Neil Young has told people that work is still being done on Archive Vol. 2 and that there will be some kind of physical release for it. As with anything Neil, we’ll learn more once a pre-order comes down the pike one of these days. Just how many days is certain, but it will be days that might turn into months or…well, you get what I mean. (The Hoffman Forum)
Keith Richards, in conjunction with his daughter Theodora, is coming out with a children’s book on September 9 through Little, Brown & Co. called Gus And Me: The Story Of My Granddad And My First Guitar.