Poor Jimmy Page. After listening to eight tracks from the newly remastered Led Zeppelin studio albums from Atlantic/Swan Song/Rhino, the first three of which, I, II, III, will be released on June 3, the guitar great graciously opened himself to questions. Were the alternate takes, that are the meat of the “companion audio” disc that accompanies each original album, pieced together from a number of alternate takes?
Whistling ductwork, whirring fans, murmuring pipesalong with being jazz's most storied location, a living shrine to the memories of Bill Evans, John Coltrane, and so many others, Manhattan's Village Vanguard, on Seventh Avenue South, was, on this winter's night, the Das Boot of jazz. In every corner, every stairwell, every square foot of available backstage space, some kind of furnace machinery audibly ground, banged, and/or wheezed away.
One distinguishing mark of the "old" music business, i.e. the one before downloads, the one that made buckets of money, the one where half of my friends used to work, was that it was so big that folks on say, the classical side, had no idea who worked on the rock side. Even within the same company. They were different planets.
If the cover of the latest issue of Uncut is any indication, “lost” albums never lose their appeal for the musicallyinclined or obsessed. Music fans always want what they don’t have or haven’t heard or hear is hard to get. It’s the allure of the forbidden record. And it’s a chief symptom of the record collecting psychoses.
The old saw about "the first album was their best" is often true, truer than most artists want to admit. And no where in music is that state more widespread than with singer/songwriters who only have a guitar, their voice and their material and no band to hide behind. Trying to hack out a career as a solo act is a bitch. Takes guts or overweening ego to get through it. Most soloists fall prey to the natural reaction which is to pour all their best ideas into the first project. That's cool until you're faced with coming up with a second and perhaps a third record. Yet sometimes the process can reverse itself, and after a fallow period a songwriter can recharge, again have something to say, and they come through with a late season masterpiece.
There was fast food like Catalonian baguette pizza with chorizo. Tapas like flash fried baby squid or crispy potatoes with olive oil mayo and tomato sauce. And then of course there was that robber baron Rupert Murdoch and his damnable tabloid The Sun which every morning has a halfnaked twentysomething smiling at you from page two! Danni, 23, from Coventry was my personal favorite. Yes, Europe does have its advantages!
And then there was the music, right, right, the music. A mini-theme of the 41st installment of the Barcelona Jazz Festival was the 50th anniversary of Kind of Blue. The idea, and it was an admirable one, was to turn three groups of musicians loose on Miles masterwork and then sit back and enjoy the contrasting approaches. Now that I’m back in the States and have had a few days to contemplate what I saw, it all sort of comes under the heading of: “The Mysterious Ways in Which a Musician’s Mind Works(?).” Or “Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Drummers.”