1. Register NOW and become part of this fantastic knowledge base forum! This message will go away once you have registered.

How the West Was Won: Led Zeppelin Live

Discussion in 'Recording' started by Doc@BeefyTreats.com, Nov 21, 2003.

  1. Anybody who remembers that whole thread about John Bonham and why he was the greatest of the greatest will be happy to know that I finally watched the two DVD "How the West Was Won". My buddy Paul, bass player I played in two bands with, came over to help with the project at hand: watching five or six hours of live Led Zeppelin and drinking all the beer in the fridge (and most of the vodka). Paul is an excellent companion for this kind of work. He knows good music when he hears it, and he can also tell when somebody is a Russian-Dragon. He likes to have a few beers, and that's a good thing too.
    We started the proceedings by uncapping a couple of Wassails, which is the winter ale from Full Sail Brewery in Hood River, Ore, one of my alltime favorite beers. It is the kind of beer that inspires loyalty. In fact one of my roomates named his dog Wassail.
    That's loyalty.
    Visually, we opened with footage from the Royal Albert Hall. It shows LZ in 1970, raw and, frankly, sometimes unfocused, but altogether brilliant. There are some genius parts, some awful parts, and some of the songs are far too long. Jimmy Page is absolutely one of the supremo great guitarists. His ability to tease dynamics and textures out of his guitar is flabbergasting. Like any experimenter some of his stuff falls flat, and some of the improving he and Plant do is hilarious, but there is no getting around the fact of his genius. JPJ and Bonzo never disappoint. Moby Dick? Twenty minute solo? Not for everybody, Aunt Edith can go take her pills and water the plants, but since you are reading this on the percussion forum... yeah it's for you. I personally hate drum solos, but John Bonham is like a force of nature. His display speed, delicacy, power, meter, and limb independence is overwhelming. At points he moves so fast I thought I was watching Bruce Lee.
    The stuff they did on Danish TV is poorly recorded, looked like it was miked all around with sm57s. It's hilarious because it looks like they are playing in some kid's basement rec-room. The playing is a little more together, but the influence of Hendrix on Page, the "looseness" and "experimentation", makes it sometimes painful. And the Danish teens that coming running in to sit at the band's feet, what was running through their minds? High or not, familar with the band or not, were any of them ready for a twenty minute version of "Dazed and Confused" featuring Jimmy Page bowing his guitar? No wonder Denmark turned out the way that it did.
    The second disc is remarkable. Straight out of the gun, "The Immigrant Song" in KC, the energy and power is still there, but it is tempered with more focussed playing. The out-takes from "Song Remains the Same" are excellent, better than what was in the movie to my memory.
    Possibly the best material in this collection is the Earl Court footage. In particular the acoustic trio of "Going to California", "That's the Way", and "Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp". The good feelings and enjoyment of performing among Page, Plant, and JPJ is there for all to see. The acoustic/mandolin interplay between Page and JPJ, Plant's charm and nuanced delivery, Bonham singing back-ups and stomping a 1-2, and not least of all the realization that JPJ is playing the bass notes with foot pedals (and his lovely elevator boots)...
    Knebworth 1979 is a revelation. You always hear how Page was falling apart, a complete wreck from the heroin use. ??? the band sounds better than ever, so tight, no crap, plenty of feeling. "Nobody's Fault But Mine", "Achilles Last Stand"... Page in complete control of his instrument, slamming it down like nobodies' business. Utter precision between JPJ and JB.
    Robert Plant gets a bad rap. I was expecting to hear weak, warbling, cracked notes and Vegas vamping, cheap crap to cover the fact that his pipes couldn't handle ten years of 200 shows a year. I was blown away by his singing. He nails it. Want to take some shots at Robert Plant? Don't do it around me- I'll make you watch the movie.
    Ok, so highlights:

    Disc 1:
    Dazed and Confused
    Moby Dick
    Danish stuff
    Whole Lotta Love
    Royal Albert encore

    Disc 2:
    The Whole Damn Thing

    It was a good night. We drank a lot of beer and vodka, we cooked burgers on the George Forman Grill (rechristened the John Bonham Grill). We watched six hours of live Zeppelin. Maybe you should try it.

    [ January 04, 2004, 11:33 PM: Message edited by: David Doc Herbert ]
  2. Alécio Costa - Brazil

    Alécio Costa - Brazil Distinguished Member

    Mar 19, 2002
    David, what is Vegas Vamping?lol
  3. realdynamix

    realdynamix Well-Known Member

    Feb 23, 2001
    :) David , great read! I worked overseas for a few years, things are like that. No matter what level you are in.

    Even if you were UFO, Jethro Tull, or a good American R&B club band, someone would invite you to their home, open a restaurant way after hours, invite you to breakfast at a retreat, or keep a club open late for recording, jamming and lot's of party fun. So if someone threw up some film, took pictures, or threw some mics to try to capture some stuff, all the better. I have some OLD club music, wine cellar music recordings like that. You can still catch the vibe. Like the sounds from the Beatles club recordings.

    This Article/Review of yours is well written, I like your style, reminds me of the good underground radio and Free press reviews. Great for the e-mag, I hope it's in there.

    Have a nice weekend,
  4. AC,
    Vegas vamping: look to Elvis in the latter days. Schmaltz. Watching somebody perform and you can tell they are just going through the motions, and depending on cliched performance tricks to keep the audience interested- half hearted crap. David

Share This Page