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Jimmy Page

+ {Jimmy Page & Robert Plant} + {Jimmy Page & The Black Crowes}

For many the epitome of classic heavy rock guitarists and arguably the best and boldest in the business after the death of other modern-blues icon JIMI HENDRIX. Born James Patrick Page, 9th January 1944, Heston in Middlesex, England, the exuberant JIMMY PAGE conjured up some magical chords and monolithic riffs for the mighty LED ZEPPELIN, but he was also a renowned super session player (with Neil Christian & The Crusaders, Carter-Lewis & The Southerners, DONOVAN, The WHO, The KINKS, THEM, The ROLLING STONES and NICO) prior to his dozen or so years with the quartet. It was actually the former New YARDBIRDS axeman that instigated LZ, bringing in bassist JOHN PAUL JONES, drummer John Bonham and singer ROBERT PLANT from various sources to replace the quickly dis-functional YARDBIRDS group in the summer of ’68.
One of the greatest bands to emerge from these “Good Times Bad Times”, LED ZEPPELIN were best summed up on enduring LPs such as 1971’s “Untitled” and 1975’s double-set `Physical Graffiti’ – although many pundits will have their own thoughts on their overwhelming recordings. Heavy rock Mk.I more or less died when LED ZEPPELIN disbanded in December 1980, all three remaining members succumbing to a tearful ending after the untimely drink-induced death (three months earlier) of Bonham.
In 1982, Jimmy re-surfaced from his self-imposed sabbatical (living in a mansion on Loch Ness that was once the property of Satanic Rites disciple Aleister Crowley), although many old fans were disappointed with Top 50 soundtrack effort, DEATH WISH II {*4}. With a basic rhythm backing of ex-PILOT bassist Dave Paton and on/off FAIRPORTs drummer Dave Mattacks, the OST got off to a rocking flyer via `Who’s To Blame’ (featuring a vocal by veteran 60s blues singer CHRIS FARLOWE), but other embarrassing vocal contributions (`City Siren’ and `Hypnotizing Ways (Oh Mamma)’) were not so invigorating. PAGE’s guitar licks featured prominently on the aforementioned, while he also got a little funky on dirges such as `The Chase’ and `Jam Sandwich’. Most of the other tracks are down to the cold, eerie (and sometimes romantic!) orchestral score pieces such as `Carole’s Theme’ plus the annoyingly piercing `The Release’, `Hotel Rats And Photostats’ and `A Shadow In The City’. Only for ZEPPELIN/PAGE completists intent on getting rid of hard-earned cash, it’ll cost you in the region of £100 for the now rare CD. Rare too, was his part alongside Messrs BECK and CLAPTON in 1983’s star-studded A.R.M.S. concerts, in aid of RONNIE LANE and helping much needed raise money for research into fellow multiple sclerosis sufferers; there was also an album mooted that went unreleased.
PAGE and PLANT finally got back together in 1984 via the somewhat mediocre The HONEYDRIPPERS, a short-term R&B/soul project alongside an ensemble that included his old YARDBIRDS sparring partner JEFF BECK and disco lynchpin Nile Rodgers (of CHIC). Then came yet another supergroup The FIRM, JP now hooking up with former FREE veteran and BAD COMPANY frontman PAUL RODGERS, fretless bassist Tony Franklin and drummer Chris Slade (from URIAH HEEP) for two average mid-80s albums, `The Firm’ and `Mean Business’.
Save a one-off collaboration with his old mucker ROY HARPER (entitled `Whatever Happened To Jugula?’) in 1985, PAGE’s only solo outing proper came with 1988’s OUTRIDER {*4}, a competent, if hardly riveting set of hard rocking blues (co-writing contributions and vocals courtesy of seasoned hands CHRIS FARLOWE, John Miles and PLANT); avoid the former’s take of B.B. KING’s `Hummingbird’.
In 1993, however, JP teamed up with WHITESNAKE frontman DAVID COVERDALE to record the highly successful, but rather derivative album `Coverdale – Page’; pompous power-ballads et al.
PAGE and PLANT duly teamed up again for a startling album of ethnically re-worked LED ZEPP classics (including a few rare pieces), a double-set entitled NO QUARTER – JIMMY PAGE & ROBERT PLANT UNLEDDED (1994) {*7}, as close one’ll ever get to a bona fide group reunion. Stripped-down in a similar fashion to the “MTV unplugged series”, stalwart fans could salivate on new softer arrangements of folky blues classics such as `Friends’, `The Battle Of Evermore’ (featuring backing vox from Najma Akhtar), `That’s The Way’, `Gallows Pole’ and `Nobody’s Fault But Mine’. But it’s fiery finale `Kashmir’ that steals the show, complete with Egyptian ensemble and the London Metropolitan Orchestra alongside a band that included Charlie Jones, Porl Thompson, Michael Lee, Joe Sutherland, Nigel Eaton, Ed Shearmur, plus Egyptian Ensemble and the London Metropolitan Orchestra.
On the back of the death of Zepp manager Peter Grant in ’95 and an astounding retrospective `BBC Sessions’ (1997), the following year, JIMMY PAGE & ROBERT PLANT were back again with a complete set of new recordings. Produced by alt-rockster Steve Albini, cross-atlantic Top 10 album WALKING INTO CLARKSDALE (1998) {*6} was actually a 4-piece collaborative work if truth be told; the aforementioned Jones and Lee as much part of the writing set up as their paymaster generals. Eclectic as ever, hard-rock and mid-Eastern dabbling were effective on the likes of `Most High’ (a UK hit), opening dirge `Shining In The Light’, the title track and the pre-PLANT & KRAUSS “Raising Sand” take of `Please Read My Letter’.
Not content with collaborating with the old masters, relative newboys on the hard-rock/R&B scene The BLACK CROWES were the next act to be summoned to the majesty of JP. To mark one hell of an American tour together, PAGE, plus Chris Robinson and Co delivered the one-off double-disc LIVE AT THE GREEK (2000) {*6}, basically re-treads of loads of LED ZEPPELIN classics and raucous blues covers including The YARDBIRDS’ `Shape Of Things To Come’, FLEETWOOD MAC’s `Oh Well’, ELMORE JAMES’ `Shake Your Moneymaker’, B.B. KING’s `Woke Up This Morning’, Jimmy Rogers’ `Sloppy Drunk’, plus WILLIE DIXON’s `You Shook Me’ and `Mellow Down Easy’.
The guitarists’ guitarist, Jimmy P is ranked among the all-time greats and if CLAPTON was “God” then wild man PAGE has all his best tunes.
© MCS Dec2011

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