Sunday, November 27, 2011

Forty years gone

I managed to miss the 40th anniversary of Led Zeppelin IV (or whatever your personal pet name for that album may be).  It was released forty years ago, on November 8th, 1971.

It was the first Led Zeppelin album I 'just missed' and bought after-the-fact.  I remember walking to my local record shop and placing a pre-order for Houses of the Holy, the fifth album. and talking with the record clerk there. "Not putting their name on the last album cost them a lot of sales," she said. When I looked skeptical, she added, "A lot of people just browse the stacks. If they don't see a name on the LP, they don't consider buying it."  Well, it certainly didn't do too badly, earning six time platinum in the UK and 23 times platinum in the US. (And only five of those sales have been me buying it in new formats every few years.)

The album has managed to gain a lot of notoriety one way or another. Do the words to Stairway to Heaven say Satanic things when played backwards? (No.) If you hold up the inner sleeve to a mirror, can you see a black dog looking back out at you? (Yes.) What do those four mysterious symbols mean? (Who cares in the 21st century, when Wikipedia will tell you something fans argued over and researched exhaustively for 30 years?) If you want to read about listening (and holding sleeves up to the mirror) I recommend Erik Davis' small but perfectly formed tome, which is titled with the four just let's call it Led Zeppelin IV.

Jimmy Page, who hasn't done much in twenty years, decided to come out of his shell this month and accompany his friend, Roy Harper, at Roy's 70th birthday concert. It's hard to imagine (Hats off to) Harper as a seventy year old, but as they say it beats the alternative.  Jimmy came out and played Same Old Rock with his friend, with that same skill and that wonderful tone he gets from his acoustic guitar.  You'll have to pardon a bit of political posturing at the beginning of this; it's the best filmed YouTube clip I could find.

This didn't involve any pissing on sheep, for which I'm sure the sheep are truly grateful.

Roy Harper with Jimmy Page - The Same Old Rock - Royal Festival Hall 05/11/2011

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