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Gonna Make You Sweat Gonna Make You Groove

December 10th, 2008
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What were you doing 365 days ago – to the minute. It’s not often you can answer that question with any accuracy, but today is one of those days. It was exactly one-year ago today, at exactly 9:00 PM (4:00 PM shitty snowy Toronto time), that Led Zeppelin walked on the stage at London’s 02 arena.

Led Zeppelin’s legendary stage shows and relatively short career run meant that for many people, this was the concert they waited a lifetime for. I was one of those people. Their last American date was on my 14th birthday, their last Toronto date six years earlier. Seeing Led Zeppelin had always been a pipe dream.

I came close once. I arrived in London on Aug 4, 1979, the day of the legendary 1st Knebworth concert for a family vacation when I was 16. My aunt had arranged a ticket with a neighbour who was my age, but a delay in our flight meant I was too late. It would be my last chance to see Led Zeppelin for 28 years.

I wouldn’t see London again for 28 years either, and it seems a fitting close that I should return to the city where it almost happened, and in the same year the Sex Pistols would reunite, to finally make it happen.

London was abuzz with the Sex Pistols in 1979, with Led Zeppelin in 2007. Taxi’s adorned ads for the new CD compilation, Mothership. In stores, people were talking about the concert, asking us about it. The news covered the ticket line up the day before the show. It was an occasion as much as a concert.

It was a concert first, however. That was what it was all about, the show, the music. And on that front, more than any others, there would be no disappointment. The show! We sat patiently through an array of artists playing one, maybe two songs: Chris Squire and Alan White from Yes, Keith Emerson from ELP and Simon Kirke from Bad Company playing ELP’s Fanfare for the Common Man opened the show. Magic, that was. Paul Rodgers was worthy of mention too. Strangely, they stopped the show for a twenty minute setup before Foreigner came on and Foreigner played one song, I Wanna Know What Love Is. “They tore down one drum kit, set up a second,” I have joked to more than one person, “and the drummer pulls out his brushes!” One lousy ballad from the band that gave us Feels Like the First Time and Double Vision. You’d be disappointed if you weren’t waiting for them to get off stage so Led Zeppelin could get on.

Zeppelin promised a 9:00 start (4:00 SSTT), and they came on exactly at 9:00 (4:00 SSTT). After a short video about the 1975 Tampa show, they hit with Good Times Bad Times, lights flashing to the intro, Jason Bonham paradiddling to his old man’s beat, Led Zeppelin were back.

The first chills up the spine, the I can’t believe it moment, came surprisingly during the next song, Ramble On. Never a favourite, at this moment, this exact point in time, it was perfect. The concert is, like many concerts, a blur of moments: more chills during In My Time of Dying, watching Jimmy Page strutting, yes strutting at 63 years old, playing that old slide blues guitar; Watching Jimmy strap on the double neck and knowing what was next – Stairway to Heaven; The legendary surrealness of No Quarter, blue lights coming through the stage fog; The never before played For Your Life from my favourite Zeppelin album, the vastly underrated Presence; Kashmir, lush, expansive mesmerizing. It was the true gem, true musical highlight of any show
I have seen; The young couple screwing (yes, you read that right) to Since I’ve Been Loving You in the seat in front of me redefining the slow minor key blues masterpiece; Whole Lotta Love, especially the moment when it seemed they were going to go old school, go into Elvis’ Boogie Mama, and beyond like in their prime; Rock and Roll, ending with deceased John’s most famous piece, his son Jason supplicating himself in a “I’m not worthy” manner before the boys at the end of it all.

From start to finish, magical. Jason Bonham indeed was worthy, whether the rest of us were so is an open question.

The trip to London was marred by a bad cold that kept me from being my best. The beer I couldn’t quite digest, and in fact had to go to the flat warm stuff to survive. The food gave me trouble, and I stayed in a couple of nights, much to my travel partners disappointment, to try and keep myself going. But on this night I couldn’t rest. Back at the hotel the bar was full of fellow travellers, revelling in post-Zeppelin ardour. The bar closed down, so we kept the night porter busy chasing beer for us to drink in the lounge. Sleep would be difficult coming, the night too perfect to let end.

People have asked since, was it worth it? What if they tour, was it still worth it? Yes and yes, is the answer. Every minute, every penny. And since the likelihood that Led Zeppelin will ever tour now seem as remote as ever, it was worth it more so now than then.

Worth every minute, worth every penny.

Crossposted to Ramble On

original review here.

Rockin' and Rollin' and Never Forgettin', The Mighty Zep

Picture of the Day – The House of the Holy

December 10th, 2008
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Saturday Fluffernutter: Ramsaydoes the dirty; Two Reviews in Brief; A New Rhythm Section in Rock and Roll Heaven

November 29th, 2008
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Saturday Fluffernutter – all the fluffy news about those nutty celebrities.

Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay is a potty mouth TV chef here in America. In Britain, however, he is way up the celebrity scale, with his name appearing daily in the gossip tabs. Much of his fame comes from his bad guy on TV/dedicated family man in reality persona. It is under this guise that news of a reported seven year affair between the chef and serial mistress Sarah Symonds. Symonds was Jeffery Archer’s bad girl at one time, among others and authored the book “Having An Affair? A Handbook For The Other Woman.”

Ramsay has both denied the report, and reportedly has apologized to his wife Tana over the affair.

I’ll tell you, if I was on Hell’s Kitchen next season, the first time he called me stupid (which he does to everybody), I would retort “Oh, great. I’m being called stupid by a man who had an affair with a woman who wrote a book on having affairs.”

I tell you, I can’t get the audio out of my head about what a Gordon Ramsay affair would sound like:

“Not like that, stupid, like this. Do I have to everything my f***ing self?…”

Review in Brief: Twilight (as told by Miss Hespeler)

It was really cheesy, but good cheesy.

Was that Jason Priestly I heard on the radio the other day talking about kids these day? Brandon from 90210 complaining that the kids these days don’t take what their doing seriously enough?

You know you’re getting old when that kid you used to complain about is now complaining about kids.

Review in Brief #2: Guns and Roses Chinese Democracy.

Loud, but not worth the wait.

Irony Alert: speaking of Chinese Democracy, in an example of true irony, not sarcasm dressed up as irony ala David Letterman, the Chinese government has banned the album Chinese Democracy in China.

Bruce Springsteen released his first single of his new album this week: Working on a Dream. The song is the title track from Springsteen’s upcoming album, scheduled for release January 27th. He released it as a free one day download. It is now available on itunes for 99c until December 9th.

Rock and Roll Heaven acquired a new, however unlikely, rhythm section this week

Locally, former Platinum Blonde bassist Kenny MacLean (1956 – 2008) passed away of natural causes at the age of 52. MacLean has been active in the local music scene for over twenty years, and held a release party for his latest CD, Completely, Sunday night. He died through the night after the event.

Internationally, English drummer Michael Lee (1969 – 2008) passed away on Tuesday from what is presently being listed as unknown causes. He was 39 years old.

Lee played with Thin Lizzy, the Cult and Echo and the Bunnymen through his career. But he is most remembered here in Hespeler for his work with both Robert Plant and subsequently, Page & Plant. When former Led Zeppelin frontmen Jimmy Page and Robert Plant banded together to work up new material and rework some old Led Zeppelin tracks in 1994, Michael Lee joined them on drums. He would stay with them through the dissolution of the partnership in 1998.

Here’s a clip of Page and Plant, with Michael Lee playing drums.

cookin' with Ramsey, Fluffernutter, The Mighty Zep

The Freedom of Music: The Song and the Medium Remain the Same

October 19th, 2008
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One likes to believe in the freedom of music.

Rush – Spirit of Radio.

I was in Toronto a couple of weeks ago for a few hours, prior to seeing Steve Howe. Alone in Toronto can only mean one thing: HMV. It would have been Sam the Record Man’s on Yonge street, but it’s gone now. Second best (by a mile) is the HMV store across the road from the former Sam’s location. I had three hours to kill and figured I would spend an hour at HMV’s.

DVD’s, records and CD’s oh my. Tons of movie, all the CD’s you can listen to and, oh yea, records, lots of records. Real vinyl records, with readable print, gatefold covers and little wee holes in the middle. Newly released versions of old stuff like the Police’s Zenyatta Mondatta and the newest releases from Metallica, the Eagles and, oh yea, Led Zeppelin. A lovely boxset of the freshly released complete set of The Song Remains the Same.

It’s a really nice set, 4 LPs, with nice sleeves and a large detailed booklet that’s ½ the original Song Remains the Same booklet ½ new writeup by Cameron Crowe. But that’s just the window dressing. The real heart of the set is the music, and quality thereof.

The LPs are sturdy, reasonably heavy things. This is good. If you remember records, you’re first edition Abbey Road is thicker, heavier and less flexible than your copy of Born in the USA. This has an effect. Heavier, thicker vinyl records allow for deeper grooves. A deeper groove allows more contact between the record and the needle, which means a better quality record. On first listen it shows. The sound is rich and thick, the music sounds closer to concert hall quality than your Dad’s old Victrola.

The music, however, remains the same, at least somewhat. What’s special about this collection is it is a complete set list from those 1973 Madison Square Garden shows. Black Dog, The Ocean, Since I’ve Been Loving You, Over the Hills and Far Away and Misty Mountain Hop were not released on the original Song Remains the Same back in 1976. This set is more complete, better quality with better reading material. Just great, yet somehow, when Robert Plant starts moaning about hearing “my mama and papa talkin'” it’s like all those years in between never slipped away. And that’s what is best, returning home with a new Zeppelin LP, throwing it on the turntable and getting lost in the music for just a while. It’s like you can go home again, and it feels great.

Or as Robert Plant would sing:

My, my I’m so happy.
I wanna join the band.

It was true then, and sitting here listening to Celebration Day live from 1973, it’s true now.


The Freedom of Music, The Mighty Zep

Jimmy Page at the Olympics

August 24th, 2008

Video clip of Jimmy Page and Leona Lewis performing Whole Lotta Love at the closing of the Olympic ceremonies:

It’s unbelievable that the French TV commentators can’t shut up for the 4 or 5 minutes that someone is singing a song. That’s right, the world tuned in to hear what you dunderheads think, en francais, of Jimmy Page/Leona Lewis/Led Zeppelin.

None the less, it’s a good performance, and Leona Lewis handles the song very well.

olympians I love, The Mighty Zep

Happy 60th Birthday…

August 20th, 2008
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Robert Plant.

Despite the fact that Plant is the remaining member of Zeppelin who doesn’t want to do that tour, who is keeping us Zeppelin fans from getting what we want (what we really really want), and keeping Jason Bonham from his millions, happy birthday.

Plant career spans 40 years, first with Led Zeppelin and, since 1982, as a solo artist. He has 8 solo albums, 9 Led Zeppelin albums, one six song EP, and his most recent effort, last years Raising Sand, in collaboration with bluegrass singer Alison Krauss.

Happy Birthday Robert Plant, and may there be many more releases… and at least one more tour.

Birthday Wishes, The Mighty Zep

Saturday Fluffernutter: Kiddie Diddler Gary Glitter; you say protester, I say…; Isaac Hayes 1942 – 2008 RIP.

August 16th, 2008
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Saturday Fluffernutter – all the fluffy news about those nutty celebrities.

People this week were picketing the L.A. Premiere of Tropic Thunder. Apparently actor Robert Downey Jr. used the word retard, a new no-no in the politically correct world: they are to be called protesters.

Kiddie Diddler Gary Glitter will be released from a Viet Nam prison next Tuesday after serving 2 years and five months of a three month sentence for abusing children. He will then be deported to Britain, where he will be met by police, interviewed and required to sign the sex offender registry.

Glitter has said that returning to Britain is a matter of priority for medical and dental treatment, hopefully because somebody has kicked his teeth in.

The latest Led Zeppelin news, courtesy of Ramble On: Guitarist Jimmy Page and singer Leona Lewis will be part of the “handing over” as part of the closing ceremonies at the Beijing Olympics on August 24th. Finally a reason, any reason, to watch the Olympics.

Isaac Hayes, performer of “Theme from Shaft,” writer of “Soul Man,” and voice of Chef, died last Sunday at his Memphis Home. Hayes was part of the legendary “Stax records writing and production team, along with David Porter and Booker T and the MGs, was responsible for much of Stax legendary output through the early 1960’s.

Hayes was reportedly found beside his still running treadmill, yet another celebrity to die while exercising.

Fluffernutter, RIP, The Mighty Zep

Saturday Fluffernutter: Get Smart kicks Love Guru’s butt; Dr. Jimmy Page; George Carlin (1937 – 2008)

June 28th, 2008

All the weeks Fluff stories about all those Hollywood nuts.

The clever, and funny, Get Smart trounced Mike Myers awful looking Love Guru at the box office this past weekend, proving funny can work. Smart was clever, living in the past by paying homage to the original TV show, and the present with a witty script and good actors nailing their roles. Love Guru features a double neck sitar for laughs, and the Toronto Maple Leafs winning the Stanley Cup, in case you thought it was a documentary.

The weekly Led Zeppelin update, courtesy of Ramble On: The Who had a song called Dr. Jimmy, with some ever so wonderful lyrics:

What is it? I’ll take it.
Who is she? I’ll rape it.
Got a bet there? I’ll meet it.
Getting High? You can’t beat it.

Doctor Jimmy and mister Jim
When I’m pilled you don’t notice him,
He only comes out when I drink my gin.

I can’t help thinking of that song today after hearing that Jimmy Page will now be Dr. Jimmy:

The University of Surrey is proud to confer the honorary degree of Doctor of the University to Jimmy Page for services to the music industry.

Congratulations Dr. Pagey.

Prediction time: Warning: Possible Spoiler.

Hells Kitchen is down to the final contestants, Christina and Petroza.Warning: Possible Spoiler.

Although the internet buzz is that Christina won and is already at work at the London West Hollywood, my read of the show is that under the radar Petroza has never been made to look bad, and is this pages choice to take home the prize: Executive Chef at Ramsey’s new, above mentioned London West Hollywood restaurant.

George Carlin (1937 – 2008). George Carlin was my introduction to comedy. My brother had Toledo Window Box and we used to listen to it continuously. Being a kid I got great pleasure from the snot and fart jokes. As I grew older and heard more comedians, Carlin was still always a favourite. His ability to take a simple word and turn it and twist it until you understood every nuance of it was amazing, and for a word guy like me pure genius. Funny too. While his 60’s and 70’s stuff is the legendary work, his 1986 album Playin’ With Your Head has always been my favourite.

For Canadian content, one of my favourite scenes from his 1994 TV show was the guys in the bar betting on the curling, arguing over whether Moose Jaw or Yellowknife would win.

Whatever you think of Carlin’s views, and he was certainly controversial, he was an original thinker and the words comic genius don’t seem to be hyperbole.

Celebrities, cookin' with Ramsey, Fluffernutter, The Mighty Zep

Led Zeppelin to Perform at Bonnaroo in June.

February 6th, 2008
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Update: I have been receiving media releases all morning about the upcoming Led Zeppelin concert at Bonnaro. A more than cursory look at the Bonnaroo line-up, however, will tell you that Lez Zeppelin, the all girl tribute band, and not Led Zeppelin will be playing in Tennessee this June. My apologies for reporting this erroneous story.

Led Zeppelin will do at least one more concert together, as the Bonnaroo Arts and Music Festival in Manchester, Tennessee has announced that Led Zeppelin will be performing there this June.

The festival also features Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, which allows Plant to throw in a Led Zeppelin performance while keeping up his tour commitments with Krauss.

The question is, can a tour really be that far behind? Will the band again put all that work into one performance, and not keep the train rolling? A tour seems, in my opinion, more likely today than it did yesterday.

Tickets for Bonnaroo go on sale Saturday Dec 16th.

via Ramble On.

Rockin' and Rollin' and Never Forgettin', The Mighty Zep

Saturday Fluffernutter: Wisdom of Posh; Nicole’s Baby; Davinci’s Lisa; Sir Edmund Hillary 1919 – 2008.

January 12th, 2008
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The nutty stories from the fluffy world of celebrities.

Today, a tidbit of knowledge from Victoria “Posh Spice” Beckham:

“We spend a lot of time socializing at home so we don’t get photographed. I couldn’t live a life where I was under the spotlight everyday. If you look at someone like Britney Spears, I couldn’t do that. I’ve got to have my privacy at home with my husband and my children. Otherwise, I’d end up going loopy.”

Unlike say, Britney Spears, who seems to have handled it all so well.

Meet the latest Bond Girl, Gemma Arterton

Gemma, who is currently filming “Bond 22” with Daniel Craig, is best known for her role as Kelly in the recently released comedy St Trinians.

Congratulations to Nicole Ritchie who gave birth to a girl last night. The father is Joel Madden, singer for the band Good Charlotte.

Led Zeppelin story of the week, courtesy of Ramble On: It was happy birthday to both bassist/keyboardist John Paul Jones (62) and guitarist Jimmy Page (64) this week. I wish them both lots of time together in the coming year.

Has the Mona Lisa been identified? Viet Probst, German Art expert claims to know the identy of the mystery woman in Leonardo da Vinci’s most famous painting. The model? The wife of a Florentine cloth merchant named Francesco del Giocondo, Lisa Gherardini.

The Mona Lisa currently hangs at the Louvre in Paris. It is the most sought piece at the Louvre, but for my money, this was the best piece:

Veronese, Paolo (1528-1588): The wedding at Cana.

Sad to report the death of Sir Edmund Hillary (1919 – 2008). While most famous for being the first to climb mount Everest, his coolest feat must be being in the party that was the first to reach the south pole via motorized vehicle (a gerry-rigged tractor from what I can make out). The world need more men reaching for heights like Sir Edmund, less like me sitting in the basement writing about it.

Fluffernutter, The Mighty Zep

Happy 64th Birthday…

January 9th, 2008
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…Jimmy Page. And thanks for the memory.

See you in the fall.

Birthday Wishes, The Mighty Zep

This Week on my i-pod: The Return of Zeppelin

January 6th, 2008
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Finally, the name of this feature matches the reality. That is to say, I actually own an Apple i-pod for my personal music experience, instead of the RCA Lyra I have been using the past three years. There was nothing wrong with the Lyra, you understand, it’s just that I called this feature “This week on my i-pod,” and it has always felt false. Well now I have a shiny new 80gig video i-pod that Santa left under my tree, and I can get back to a bit of feature writing. The nice thing is, I can also now expand this feature to include videos, TV shows I may be watching, movies, music videos, take your pick, and I’m sure I will.

This week however, it’s music I’m interested in writing about. More Led Zeppelin if you can stand it. Not long after the London concert on Dec 10th, recordings of the show started popping up in the usual places. So far, three recordings, and a couple of incomplete videos have turned up. The videos suffer from their incompletion, and being recorded on devices less suitable for that purpose than would be preferred. The audio recordings, however, have been the real disappointments. In an age when incredible live recordings are being distributed on the internet, when recording devices have gotten so good, the first two recordings of the Dec 10 Led Zeppelin show are worse than some of the shows people recorded with smuggled in tape recorders in the 1970’s – even the early 70’s in some cases.

The third recording, however, is a great improvement, if not a great recording just yet. It is extremely listenable, with fairly clear sound and little distortion. Called the trainspotter recording, it is this recording that made it’s way to my i-pod (note: another apparently better, recording has since emerged).

It’s a fun feeling listening to a live show that you were at, especially one so memorable as the Led Zeppelin reunion, which one critic called the greatest rock show ever. After the show you often try to remember some part, a song or what the singer said, and listening after allows you to review it in a calmer way. It also, however, helps you re-live the moment. And when a moment was as good, as special as Dec 10 at the 02 arena, it’s great to be able to sit in work re-living it as often as possible (I even have some pictures from the show on my i-pod). That is the magic of modern technology.

And magic is the right word: The i-pod itself is magic, but the moment, the show was pure magic, and reliving it while drudging away my time at work, there’s a trick I would be impressed if Harry Potter could duplicate.

The Mighty Zep, This Week on my I-Pod

Saturday Fluffernutter: Britney’s Meltdown Part III; Zeppelin’s Drummer; Keira’s Dress. And K-Daddy, never forget K-Daddy.

January 5th, 2008

The nutty stories from the fluffy world of celebrities.

Britney Spears flipped her wig again this week, locking herself in her bathroom with her kids when Kevin Federline’s bodyguards showed up to return the kids to him. After a four hour standoff with authorities, Britney was sent to hospital strapped to a gurney, and is reported to be under suicide watch.

She is also being evaluated by mental health professionals, where they are likely to find she’s not insane, just a celebrity.

My favourite part of the Britney saga is a small bit in a story about Britney’s lawyers quitting her business, in which the story refers to her ex as “K-Daddy.” From now on, Mr. Federline will be known in these pages as K-Daddy, it’s beautiful.

And speaking of K-Daddy, what kind of clown sends his bodyguards to pick up his children from a visitation? Who is really looking after these kids? It’s been said before, but bears repeating. You know Britney Spears is a really bad mother when he’s the good parent of the couple.

I love Keira Knightly, I really do. But the suggestion that her green dress from Atonement is more iconic than Marilyn Monroe’s in The Seven Year Itch and Audrey Hepburn’s black dress from Breakfast At Tiffany’s makes me want to send a dictionary to the editors of SkyMovies and Instyle magazine, with the word iconic underlined. Below are the three dresses, you decide which one falls into icon status.


Zeppelin Rumour of the week, courtesy of Ramble On.

It appears what Dave Grohl wants, Dave Grohl gets. Dave Grohl wants to drum for Led Zeppelin, so the music media have deemed it so. Dave is in, Jason Bonham out, all because it’s what Dave Grohl really, really wants.

I like Dave Grohl too, he seems like a nice guy, but anyone who thinks it’s Jason Bonham holding Zeppelin back from a tour is delusional. And he was excellent at the Dec 10 show, so there is no musical reason to replace him. Sorry Dave, you have no more claim to the Zeppelin drum chair than I do to a rhythm guitar slot with the boys.

The Three Tenors have decided not to continue without third tenor Luciano Pavoratti, who passed away in Spetember from pancreatic cancer:

For Placido (Domingo) and myself (Jose Carreras) to do something would betray the memory of Luciano, I don’t think that would be ethical.

Yea Yea, Led Zeppelin said the same thing back in 1980. Give them 27 years, and they’ll be right back out there.

Britney, Fluffernutter, The Mighty Zep

Happy 62nd Birthday…

January 3rd, 2008
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John Paul Jones.

He is the guy who stands under the ride cymbal of a couple of gentlemen named Bonham: he is soft spoken, has a bass guitar sound that growls and plays keyboards as if he’s a conductor and the keys his orchestra.

He put the mellow in the yellow and the Led in the Zeppelin, he is the steady force that allows Jimmy Page the freedom to be the best rock guitarist in the world, and he is, hopefully, coming soon to a town near you.

Happy John Paul Jones, and may your 62nd year be spent touring with your old pals.

Birthday Wishes, The Mighty Zep

Merry Christmas to All…

December 24th, 2007
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Just a quick post to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas. My Christmas was two weeks ago today, but I’m working hard to get in the proper spirit for the rest of the family: Warm beer and singing Zeppelin carols doesn’t, apparently, cut it with my brood.


… and to all, a good night.

Christmas, The Mighty Zep