Tag Archives: Jimmy Page

October 18th 1975

“Party at Hiltingbury. Good. Punch up near end – Geoffo again! Got off with Caitlin again”

I do believe I am referring to Niles’ ‘official’ 18th birthday party?!

Which was apparently ‘good’ despite our crazy friend Geoffo initiating some kind of teenage brawl at the end of the night.

As I have waxed lyrically about before I don’t think I there was ever a party at Hiltingbury Pavilion without there being some kind of altercation. The kids of Chandlers Ford were obviously ‘punk’ before it was invented?

For me, any mention of “Hiltingbury Pavilion” always conjures up Jeff Beck’s hit single “Hi Ho Silver Lining“, it being the strange 70’s equivalent of the “Macarena”… or any song that the DJ plays which the entire venue then feels somehow obliged to dance to.

“Hi Ho Silver Lining” was written by American songwriters Scott English and Larry Weiss and it was first recorded by London band The Attack (who included The Nice’s Davy O’List and Marmalade’s Alan Whitehead amongst their lineup). Their single was released in March 1967, but it was followed just a week later by Jeff Beck’s version.

Beck was all over the music media (such as it was in 1967) at the time – mainly because of his succesful “Beck’s Bolero” album, a collaboration with Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, Nicky Hopkins and Keith Moon – and so charted first with his balls-out foot-stomping version. Perhaps sadly for The Attack the song has been predominantly associated with Beck ever since, to the point where he has actually attempted to distance himself from it because it always comes back to undermine his more serious ‘guitar hero’ credibility.

I love the song. I think it’s a great pop song which has stood the test of time. I always do a little shimmy whenever it turns up on my iPod and resist the temptation to pick a fight with the person nearest to me.

Talking of which, I often wonder what happened to our old college chum Geoffo. He was such a fun gregarious character.

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May 24th 1975

“Work. Bort 6 classical albums for 95p & new Be-Bop album. Party at Hiltingbury – rubbish – but in pub before=great! Drunk again”

6 classical album for 95p?!! … boy, they must have been good….right?

I think the word most associated with Be Bop Deluxe’s frontman Bill Nelson is “underrated”. As I have stated before I feel he was at least – if not moreso – as accomplished an axeman as so-called greats such as Eric Clapton or Jimmy Page. But he was also a superb songwriter, the songs on “Futurama” – his band’s second studio album – testament to that.

Personally, I feel that the word “underrated” can also be applied to this album. OK, so it gave Nelson his first taste of chart success – the perfectly crafted pop song “Maid in Heaven” – but, in my mind, it’s a much bigger album than that, chock full of wonderful material…

… which kicks off with “Stage Whispers” which (much like the title track on the band’s debut “Axe Victim”) featuring more of Nelson’s musings about being in the music industry…
This guitar does not lie
The great deception is not my achievement
Well I’m waiting in the wings with all the strings
And things that help me make the music

Hardly revelatory lyrics, but they’re wrapped inside a driving rhythm that immediately showcases Nelson’s skillful fretwork. IMHO, one of THE best album openers ever.

Then we get to “Love with the Madman” a chunky slow-paced ballad washed (again) in guitar licks and, proving that Nelson has been listening to a lot of Steve Harley whilst they toured together,  with Rebel-esque lyrics such as “you’ll go crazy with the wonder of it all

Maid in Heaven” – as already mentioned – was the hit single reaching a heady (hey, it was heady in those days!) #23 on the charts. As perfect a pop song constructed around a guitar riff as there’s ever been.

Sister Seagull” – also the b-side of “Maid…” – follows. I’ve never stopped feeling that it should have been a single in its own right. Nelson’s voice is to the fore whilst his guitar work is more subdued than on other cuts, but the whole song simply oozes drama from start to finish. It’s a whole Shakespearean play in one song.

Sound Track” was a cut I wasn’t mad about at the time, but the prevailing years have made me appreciate it more and more. The opening lyric “Tin aeroplanes trace the time, past our fading window’s eyes” is a theme Nelson would return to over and over again in his subsequent work, but here he takes a back seat to some fabulous (again, “underrated”) drumming from his new band mate, sticksmith Simon Fox. (Nelson had originally stole members of Cockney Rebel, but abandoned them in favour of Fox and bassist Charlie Tumahai, later adding keyboardist Andrew Clark)

Side 2 kicks off with “Music in Dreamland” – “maybe we’ll make music in dreamland tonight?” – yet another cut that could so easily have been a single success. Not often you hear heavy guitar licks married to what almost sounds like a Northern Brass Band section!

(As an aside “Music in Dreamland” is the title of a biography of Bill Nelson & Be Bop Deluxe by Paul Sutton Reeves that may – or may not – actually exist. The hardback version is already out of print, and I have had the paperback on pre-order from Amazon for… let’s have a look now… over nine months now, and every few months I get an update saying its release date has been pushed back again. Weird.)

Jean Cocteau” is a laid-back almost acoustic ballad infused with jazz guitar. It could sit quite easily with much of Bill’s later solo work. Just lovely in feel and execution.

Between the Worlds” takes us on a rock’nroll rollercoaster of a ride, mixing modern guitar riffs with classic 50’s “la-la-la-la” chorusing. For best effect, it must be played LOUD!

Swansong” closes the album down and returns Nelson to the feel of the debut album, simple phrasing with guitar flourishes to die for. (I have, however, always worried about the lyric “We were Siamese twins in ecstasy” because… well, if you think about it, it’s just a little bit incestuous and/or creepy isn’t it?)

This is the Be Bop Deluxe album which, for me, represents their best and most fluid work. Many people cite their third album “Sunburst Finish” as Nelson’s best Be Bop output but I’m of a mind to disagree. The debut album contained the seed of what Bill was trying to achieve and this, the follow-up, is the full germination.

Ironic then, that in an underrated career the best album is also the one underrated.

In other news…

Party at Hiltingbury” refers to a semi-regular event that took place at the Hiltingbury Pavilion in Chandler’s Ford. A dingy airless ‘event’ room above the accompanying sports field’s changing facilities, it was rented out to individuals for discos and parties. Parties which invariably descended into physical violence after the local ‘youth’, denied entry, would pick fights with whomever was willing to take them on. My review of ‘rubbish’ would therefore have been based on either “no fights to watch” or “I didn’t get off with anyone”

Yes “Drunk again” is a bit worrying, isn’t it? It was about this time that I discovered a love for alcohol in quantity, invariably spirits rather than beer. Bloody Mary’s (with added Worcestershire Sauce), Bacardi & Coke, Vodka & Blackcurrant and whiskies were my 17-year-old tipples of choice. It was easy when you owned a liver that could take the abuse. Now, not so much.

I am sure there will be more about my drinking in future posts.

Sadly.

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July 2nd, 1973

“Went up Nigs and done some more recording. Mart P came up. Borrowed Led Zep II”

OK, lets have ‘confession time” shall we?

Despite all my early love for music and my subsequent career within its hallowed portals, I never really “got into” Led Zeppelin until fairly recently – maybe just a couple of years or so ago.

Certainly as a teenager I never fully appreciated what they represented, either in terms of the folk/rock hybrid sound they pushed into the mainstream OR how just, well, massive they were as a band.

I don’t know if my diaries will mention or admit this, but a couple of years after this first exposure to the band, I got a ticket for one of the shows Zepp did at London’s Earls Court to support their album “Physical Graffiti“. I think I was happy to sell the ticket to a fellow student for the same price I bought it for. That seems just so very CRAZY now given the price tickets were allegedly being scalped for at the band’s 2007 ¾’s of a reunion concert at the O2. (Reports of £20,000 being offered for a £70-ish ticket??)

Anyway, back to “Zeppelin II”…

It was the band’s first UK & US chart-topper (and America it knocked The Beatles’ “Abbey Road” off the #1 spot) and sold over half a million copies in its first year of release, 1969. (30 years later it was recognised for having then sold over 12 million!). It was also a Number One album in France, Australia, Spain and Germany.

Trivia freaks may like to be surprised by the fact that it reached #32 on Billboard‘s Black Album chart, its use of a blues-derived sound evidently crossing over.

The album has what is often referred to a ‘live studio’ feel, everything mixed just enough to make it sound raw but nevertheless produced (by Jimmy Page)

It contains some of the band’s most popular and enduring cuts… as well the pre-requisite ‘filler’

Whole Lotta Love” kicks things off nicely, the familiar distorted guitar riff disolving into Robert Plant’s orgasmic grunts and moans. The band (initially) *ahem* “borrowed” some of Willie Dixon‘s “You Need Love”  to pad out the lyrical content. (A 1985 settled-out-of-court lawsuit eventually gave Dixon credit – and, I suspect, suitable retrospective monetary recompense). The song was the theme music for seminal UK music show “Top of the Pops” during the 1970’s and 80’s.

What Is and What Should Never Be” features Page’s phased guitar (listen to it travel from speaker to speaker!) under Robert Plant’s own lyrics (his first piece of songwriting for the band, no less)

The Lemon Song* was a teenage fave of many, its sexual innuendo evident with lyrics such as “squeeze my lemon ’til the juice runs down my leg”. Whilst I liked that, obviously – hey, I was a teenager okay? – I was as much of a fan of John Paul Jones’ extremely funky bass playing that underscores the performance.

Thank You*closes Side 1. I know it features mainly keyboard work (John Paul Jones, again), but its not a cut that conjures up anything for me personally, other than that one point where the (Hammond?) organ fades away to almost nothing than comes crashing back a few seconds later.

Side 2’s opener “Heartbreaker*features a Jimmy Page guitar solo which has been voted the world’s “16th Greatest” by Guitar World magazine. Personally, I find the actual song’s riff to be more magnificent than the solo.. but that’s just me, obviously.

Heartbreaker segues straight into “Living Loving Maid (She’s Just a Woman)*which is allegedly about a groupie the band encountered earlier in their career. A so-so track as far as I am concerned.

Things get better with “Ramble On*which despite its dodgy & nonsensical “Lord of the Rings”-influenced lyrics just manages to stay the right side of credible. I try and ignore them and instead concentrate on the wonderfully jangly guitar work.

Moby Dick” is an instrumental and more famous as a live favourite moreso than a studio cut. Mainly because it often allowed for John Bonham’s ‘drum excesses’ with some reports suggesting he could solo for up to 20 minutes at some shows. I’m sorry, but drum solos – even ones by Keith Moon – are the ‘music of the debbil’ and should be banned.

There’s similar “Whole Lotta Love” controversy surrounding Led Zepp 2’s closing cut, “Bring It On Home“. Although originally billed as a unique Plant/Page composition it borrows heavily from Willie Dixon’s song of the same name, and originally made famous by Sonny Boy Williamson. Once again, it took a lawsuit for Dixon to get proper credit. The song is perhaps closer to the material on Led Zeppelin’s debut album than anything else on “II” – that crossover blues/rock hybrid to the fore.

Pub quizzers may like to know that in addition to the band members airbrushed into that tinted cover shot (originally Manfred Von Richtofen’s – the Red Baron‘s – WW1 “Flying Circus” division of the German Air Force), the other faces seen include Led Zepp’s (infamous) manager, Peter Grant, bluesman Blind Willie Johnson and, for whatever reason, Glynis Johns (the actress who played the mother in Mary Poppins!)

But, like I said – and a few chosen cuts aside – I didnt really get ‘into’ this album until MUCH later in life. Perhaps in 1973, it just wasn’t ‘prog’ enough for me, or I was just too young to properly appreciate all the influences?

*NB:- At the time of witing this there seems to be some kind of ‘issue’ between Warner Bros/Led Zeppelin & YouTube, with the latter apparently pulling any videos featuring the band themself. There’s PLENTY of awful cover versions of these songs – search them very much at your own risk!

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