25 April 2015

SEEMS JIMMY HAS FLOWN OVER THE HILLS AND FAR AWAY

The point of this post is simple and direct and it may offend some people out there. I am about to tread on sacred ground. For about a year or more, maybe two or so, I just can’t help thinking to myself “what the fuck has happened to Jimmy Page!?” It is not really what the fuck has happened to him in the last couple years, but what has been the issue with this guy that  I simply did not notice before. I am an old guy myself now and he is about 70. So there will be changes in perception of course. I really only had two rock idols to speak of of. One was Paul McCartney (yup, my favorite Beatle) and the other was Jimmy Page. Sure I like lots of others, and they are all mostly dead or super old now. But those two guys really had an impact on me growing up. My fan worship with Paul McCartney ended long ago to be honest, with an album called Wings at the Speed of Sound. It was too sappy for me and he only got worse as time went on. But I still like the guy. My fascination with Jimmy Page went deeper and lasted much longer, but now I am wondering why. What am I getting at?  First, let me make clear I was a huge Led Zeppelin fan. I camped out and got tickets to their April 17, 1977 show in Cincinnati Ohio. In fact, I bought the very last ticket in Lexington Ky. I took the bus up there and back. Saw them front row. The stuff legends are made of indeed. I sported super long black hair and had all the cool Led Zep and Page posters of the time. I read all I could on him and the band. I was one of those disenfranchised American teenage guys who made the band what they are with my allegiance and devotion. They could do not wrong in my eyes and if Jimmy Page did quaaludes then by God it was okay for me to do quaaludes too. If he studied Aleister Crowley then Aleister Crowley must be studied. It was typical fan stuff an by my mid twenties it had mostly waned and I was listening to Brian Eno and Philip Glass more, but I still always kept fresh versions of vinyl copies of all Led Zeppelin albums and, by then, any solo material from any of the members. I read interviews by Page, Robert Plant and John Paul Jones when I could get them and collected magazines that had articles on them. I was a “super” fan and it is important I preface things with that. Given the chance I may have had homosexual sex with the man at one point in my life. Now how devoted a fan is that!

But something has changed slightly lately. I still like the Zeppelin catalogue and Page's guitar style and right now I am listening, for inspiration, to the Jimmy Page soundtrack album for Death wish II. Shitty movie to be frank but this was the first solo release by a Zeppelin member and, in my opinion, not a bad album. The two Firm albums weren’t too bad and neither was the Jimmy Page Outrider album. By no means great, but okay. There was also the barely known Page/Plant collaboration called Walking into Clarksdale which sounds nothing like Led Zeppelin and which I like a lot. And finally there is the Coverdale Page collaboration which sounds a lot like a hybrid of White Snake and Led Zeppelin, but what would be wrong with that? Now here is a problem I have. I have just basically  named off everything Jimmy Page has done in the last 35 years. I am not talking about stuff like what he did with the Black Crows or the Unledded album. Because therein lies what most of my problem is with the guy I once held in godlike esteem. The bulk of his work, what work there has been since Led Zeppelin disbanded in 1980 or so after the death of John Bonham (the greatest mediocre drummer of all time), has been him rehashing old Zep songs live and trying to relive the glory days of Led Zeppelin. With the recent reissusing of yet more Zeppelin remasters and the relatively mild feud between him and Robert Plant about a possible Zeppelin reunion and tour that Plant has made clear will not happen I have just grown sick of listening to and reading about Jimmy Page suddenly. And I will say now that  I totally back Plant on not wanting to do a Zeppelin tour and I admire the large body of original solo work he has released on a fairly consistent basis since Zep ended. Plant moved on and tried new things, much to the chagrin it seems of Zepophiles who thought he should squeal out “squeeze my lemon” even when he is in a wheelchair. 

I do not think Plant is ashamed of his Golden maned rock god image from the 70’s, and why should he be?, but I think he is also very comfortable no longer looking like a lion on the prowl and is fine with resembling the cowardly lion with a hangover.  He wants to do his own music that seems to be homages to American folk/country and psychedelic prog rock more than anything one might hear on anything he did with Zeppelin. Page on the other hand wants to do nothing else but rant and rave about Led Zeppelin and all his contributions to rock music as a musician and producer. I just read a few interviews the other night and I just got so bored with him gibbering yet again about how he did this and that with mic placement and ambient recording of drums and blah blah about guitar armies and all that. Yes he also produced the sounds on those albums and no doubt contributed to some studio innovations during the period. And I guess when you’re business savvy and got one of the best record company deals in the history of rock music and in the end became one of the richest men in the entertainment field and you do not really have to work for the rest of your natural life you reach a place in the latter years where you can only relieve what you did in your glory days, because you have not done anything else since. And once one is so filthy rich he loses contact with the rest of the world from inside his mansions and castles he does not have to really do anything new to satisfy his fans other than give another interview about the middle section in Whole Lotta Love or how brilliant he was in placing some microphones in a stairwell in Headley Grange manor to get that sound on When the Levee Breaks. Shit fuck. This guy has given the same interview for 30 years.

He was asked in an interview what he considers the high point in terms of his music has been since Zeppelin ended. I could not believe he said the 2008 Olympics performance, where he played Whole Lotta Love on top of a double decker bus with some singer I never heard of before or since in Beijing China. I caught the performance by chance here (I live in China) and thought it was cool.  I also know the Chinese Olympic committee treated him like shit, saying he was not famous enough for China and did not even give him a ticket or pass to attend the opening ceremonies and games. Why would he think this was the high point of him career, when I thought it was a low point myself. And I watched that It Might Get Loud film where he dominates and tries to steal every scene from The Edge and Jack White. When he got up and went on and on about how he wrote the riff to Kashmir I turned it off. I was embarrassed. Not for him. He is rich and powerful and lives in weird houses with bell towers and secret chambers so he do all manner of odd things and still be cool. But I felt embarrassed for myself. That I used to see this man as the coolest guy in the world. And to some degree he was of course. But he was also an arrogant, asinine drunken heroin addict and pedophile. Yup, I said pedophile. Just research the Lori Maddox incident and you will see this guy is more of perv than just someone who loves watching girls boinked with mud sharks in Seattle hotel rooms. And on top of that his fans will dismiss it all with “but he is Jimmy Page”. I have never heard any excuse Woody Allen or Roman Polanski so flippantly. 


Yea, yea. So what if he loves 15 year old girls and he basically abducts them and penetrates them sexually. By all accounts Maddox had already been around the block a few times for all that is worth. And lots of rockers were wasted on heroin at the time. Those are the perks of being a rock god I guess. But in the end he just comes off as a bit sinister and too arrogant and vain for me anymore. But so what. He is probably better than either Mick Jagger or Keith Richards or even John Lennon. But the deal is, I am sick and wiped out emotionally of there being nothing from this guy other than Whole Lotta Love and Since I’ve Loving You performed as a sit in guest for modern bands that are not worthy to tie his boot straps. And he is 70 now. How much rock and roll can the guy have left in him. Okay, he is a guitar player and not a singer, so maybe there are a few sparks left. He does not have to rely on rotting vocal cords. But I feel let down. I have been waiting decades for Page to get it all together and do something. I keep reading about the latest Page solo album that people in forums have dubbed No Progress. I just wish there had been more Jimmy Page and less Led Zeppelin since 1980. And no I do not hate the guy and even feel worried he may die one day soon. It will be a sad day for me when he passes on. But shit already, let Zeppelin go. Or I guess why not just milk it until it is dry. Not like there is much else on the horizon now. I recently watched Plant doing some stuff with Allison Crouch and his new band whose name I forget. He was not the Squeeze my Lemon kid at all. It was cool. He was not some old fart doing Whole Lotta Love, he was some old fart doing his own stuff and in the way an older man would do it. I guess there can be a point where one is not too old to make music, but one can be too old to rock with a bulge in his trousers and still look cool. I think the Stones have long passed the point where they should be seen on a stage doing Satisfaction but  in their defense the Stones kept going and rockin’ over the years. I love the Stones and I have to say that I listen to their stuff more than Zeppelin’s anymore. For no particular reason other than it suits me now. I think you can grow old and listen to a young Mick Jagger and not feel too weird. And there is nothing wrong with a young Robert Plant, or Jimmy Page either. But I think Plant has aged and moved on and Page just is not able to let the glory days go. And like Robert Plant once said, its not really healthy. 

I am listening to Walking into Clarksdale now. Just a great little album. Not Led IV or Physical Graffiti, but great in its own way. I waited a long time for a follow up. None. And I recall Plant telling Jimmy that while he was not up to a tour redoing Back Dog he wanted to know if Page had new material and in particular new acoustic stuff. And he even brought it up again in a later interview. But Jimmy just wanted to redo Zeppelin from the Physical Graffiti days. And what days those were. A great album with an awesome tour. And those were the end of the days when Zeppelin ruled the rock world as far as I am concerned. Jimmy had run out of those great songs long before Zep broke up. And so what. No biggie.  Presence was not a bad album (except of the deplorable Tea for One nine minute filler track at the end). I actually never felt Zep had to break up either just because of Bonham’s death myself. But maybe that was just an excuse. Use the death of Bonzo, who seemed like a real prick anyway prone to violence and destruction and was not really that versatile a drummer, to disband and not try to correct the debacle called In Through the Out Door. There were plenty of drummers who could have done the job better and the band could have grown. But the spirit was gone I guess, the air was out of the once mighty dirigible. Plant welcomed the change and thrived while Jimmy tried a few things and realized his vanity and ego really needed the whole Zep veneer to thrive. I wish there had been more experimental albums, instrumental stuff, acoustic stuff and not crap like that Black Crows live thing. I saw Plant on a solo tour in San Antonio and later saw Page and Plant do the Unledded tour in Washington State. Great stuff. But I just realize I guess I do not like the man Jimmy Page the way I used to. Hey, I do not like Keith Richards either. What a dick, but what else do you expect from Richards. But Page was good about creating a soft image of himself, that in the end I do not feel that was really him. I have read of how engineers hated to work with him and reporters dreaded him. I used to think it was their issues. But maybe not. And who cares. Most rock stars are arrogant pricks at one time or another, including Paul McCartney. In the end it is about their music that I have or maintain any interest in them. And Jimmy just has no more music. Shit. I never thought the day wold come when I wold say that. But rest assured he has another lame interview about how he changed the world of rock forever by using some old compressors on Black Dog. God, just shut up and play guitar already. Anything but Whole Lotta Love. 

No comments: