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ARTICLE ABOUT ABBA FROM New Musical Express, April 24, 1976

I think Abba deserves a place on my blog. Creators of some of the most melodic music ever and with a production that still holds it own among a lot of albums produced today – this is a music phenomenon you just can`t ignore.
What happens when you send a punk rocker like Mr. Farren to investigate this phenomenon? Well, his research on the band is not quite up to the standard one should expect looking at the names he gives the girls in the band. But otherwise, it is a funny and well-written collection of words on a band that fascinates the world as much now as when they ruled the world 40 years ago.

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What`s squeaky-clean, exquisitely produced, Scandinavian and goes “OOMPAH”? OOMPAH? OOMPAH!

The answer to the riddle is ABBA … and here`s Mick Farren to ask it

They`d told us that Stockholm`s numero uno disco nightclub was a place called Alexandra`s. From the way the muscle on the door looked at you when you told them you had a table booked, you could almost believe it was the city`s most exclusive niterie.
Inside, it`s black glass, mirrors and the kind of Edwardian whorehouse lampshades that they were selling in Biba`s five years ago.
On the miniscule dance floor a young woman who looks like a kind of lumpy, muscular Bibi Anderson is performing something that resembles a cross between the frug and Canadian Air Force Advanced Physical Training Routine. Another equally strapping couple join her on the floor. They start into a soft core porn-by-numbers version of The Bump.
An overweight computer salesman leads an equally overweight young woman out to join the other couples. They press against each other. The salesman rubs his hands over her thighs. They sway, roughly in time to the music. Right at that moment it`s Barry White. Later it evolves to the 1966 Spencer Davis Group.
At nearly three pounds for a drink it`s not even possible to get drunk. The whole image of Sweden as wall-to-wall Britt Eklands falls apart at the seams.
And who sent us into Alexandra`s, this feast of Scandinavian delights? None other than Bjorn Ulvaeus, one of the masterminds behind the group called Abba, the first Scandinavian pop ensemble ever to make a dent in the international entertainment industry.

I guess the only way you could have failed to be exposed to Abba`s particular brand of open-face, Ultra-Brite pop is to have spent the last twelve months in a sealed fallout shelter. Only someone totally insulated from radios, televisions and even pub juke-boxes could have missed them. Since their Eurovision Song Contest win in 1974 with a song called “Waterloo”, their music has poured forth in an unrelenting stream from just about every kind of electronic medium.
They`ve had hits (not one but virtually sequential hits, one after the other) in Britain, the U.S.A., most of Europe, Hong Kong, the Phillipines and Australia. In Australia they beat both Sinatra and Andy Williams in T.V. ratings with their telly special. About the only market in the world that they haven`t solidly dented is Japan, and that seems only to be a matter of time.
Right about now (unless you`ve already given up and turned the page) you`re probably wondering what in hell am I doing going on about Abba? Has Farren lost his marbles, suffered brain damage, been bribed? (Funny you should mention it – Ed).
No, my friends, it is not what you fear. Just bear with me a while longer and all will be made clear.
Anyone who comes so fast and hard out of left field and sells so many millions of records has to qualify as a PHENOMENON. A squeaky clean phenomenon for sure, nowhere in the same bracket as Lou Reed, but a phenomenon just the same.
“Wait a minute,” you cry, “surely if a big corporation hype is being undertaken it`s no great hardship to use a band that`s a novelty in terms of its country of origin? Isn`t it just the Osmonds in a Bergman location? If they did it in Salt Lake City they can do it in Stockholm.”

That would be quite true, except for one thing, Abba are not the product of some faceless corporation mogul in the Hollywood Hills, with I.B.M. time and lots and lots of money. Sure they`re a manufactured product, but the men behind them are Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus, who happen to be in the group, and Stig Anderson, who is the boss of the almost one-man Polar Records label that had previously catered solely for the Scandinavian market.
In form and style, their closest antecedents are the early days of Motown – or maybe Philles.
Once again I hear the cries starting – Abba? Motown? Philles??
Okay, I know Abba don`t sound anything like either Motown or Philles. They aren`t funky, they have no soul and they`re bland to the point of making baby food seem raunchy. It`s the structure that produces the music that I`m talking about – and also the fact that a frightening amount of work goes into each one of their records.
Admittedly, to an ear that`s been weaned on rock and roll it`s hard to detect. I`d dismissed Abba as audio pablum and closed my mind whenever I heard “Mamma Mia” in the pub until a couple of my noble colleagues pointed out just how complex the Abba backing tracks were.
They were right, too. It took quite a while to strip away the eager, healthy vocal sound, the cute-to-the-point-of-moronic lyrics and the continually bouncing Nordic boom-boom hereafter referred to as Eurobeat. Once that`s done, you`re actually left with a pop structure in the grand manner of The Beatles or Spector.
So grand, in fact, that it would be more than likely to go clean over the head of the average Abba punter.
The whole thing was sufficiently intriguing that, when the chance to go to Stockholm and look at Abba in their natural habitat came up, I went to investigate.

The natural habitat of Abba varies between a large, rather elegant house near the centre of Stockholm and an island retreat outside the city. The house is where all Abba`s business is transacted; the country house is where they retire to at regular intervals to write, record and produce more songs.
The first part of the Abba story came from Stig Anderson. Anderson has medium-length hair and the craggy features of a Hemingway character. He has been in the music industry since the early `60`s.
In 1971 his partner died and it was suggested that he hire Benny Andersson as a producer. Benny brought Bjorn Ulvaeus and as Benny and Bjorn they created a couple of Swedish hits. Then, teaming up with the two girls they made “Ring Ring” which, although it made no mark on the U.K. market, was a major hit in Northern Europe. From there, world domination was in sight.
While Andersson talks, he is constantly interrupted by calls and secretaries. His office is just what you`d expect of a Swedish record company whose main attraction is Abba. It`s all bright, clean, stripped pine efficiency. The only thing in the entire room that doesn`t fit with the squeaky clean image is a big, almost life size painting. It`s of a schoolgirl in gymslip, crisp white blouse and straw boater. Her blouse is unbuttoned and one breast is exposed. Her discreet and presumably masturbating hand has slipped under her skirt. The style is ultra realism. It`s the only sign of decadence in the whole Abba operation.
Stig Andersson is a very definite part of the team that produces Abba`s records. He writes some of the lyrics and generally lets Benny and Bjorn use him as a kind of sounding board. They try out new songs on him first and depending on his response they decide what`s commercial and what isn`t. Although I can no way go along with his taste there`s no denying that, so far, he has an uncanny feel for public taste, but so, for that matter, has the editor of The Sun.

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We move downstairs to a basement office to meet the group themselves. A photo session is winding up. Abba have been decked out in Daily Mirror Pop Club T-shirts. The two girls, Frieda and Anna, drop into instant posed animation for the camera. In between they seem kind of bored.
Benny and Frieda are engaged. Bjorn and Anna are married.
That`s right, folks, it`s a family act.
Bjorn Ulvaeus is thin and intelligent, he tends to do more of the talking. Benny Andersson is bearded and jovial. Anna and Frieda have the aloofness of the professionally decorative. It quickly becomes clear that they do not play any great role in the creative side of the act. Shortly after the interview they leave the room.
There`s a little initial fencing around. The two men are open and friendly. They are neither idiots or cynical pap-pushers who calculatedly feed the public what they think they want. They obviously like the work they`re doing, take great pains with it and are anxious to extend their creativity as far as possible.
They are both products of the somewhat isolated Scandinavian pop scene. Bjorn played with a folk outfit called the Hootenanny Singers, while Benny was in a band called the Hep Stars who played “Hermans Hermits songs and that kind of thing.” Just the name conjures up pictures of what these groups must have been like. I have visions of earnest Swedes solemnly intoning M.O.R. babble learned off the records.
“You have to realise that, in Sweden, we don`t have the rock and roll background that there is in Britain or America. We listened to Chuck Berry and The Rolling Stones of course but we didn`t quite grow up with them in the same way that you did.”

I ask them about Eurobeat. Why are they so obsessed by that jolly, obnoxious boom-boom?
Benny volunteers: “This is the popular traditional music of Nothern Europe. Our folk songs sound like that. The first instrument I ever had was an accordion. My parents bought it for me when I was about ten.”
An accordion! It seems to almost symbolise the problem of Abba. It fits, but it`s hard to explain. Outside of maybe Clifton Chenier, as far as I`ve ever been concerned, the only good accordion is a dead accordion. I think we have maybe defined the culture gap, if not bridged it.
Earlier, in Stig Andersson`s office he had played me a cut called “Intermezzo” from the album “Abba.” It`s obviously the prime example of Benny stretching out beyond the song Song For Europe format. It`s an instrumental from the Wakeman/Emmerson/Moruz bag, except the Eurobeat bounces through it. It is impressively put together. A lot of work and technical skill obviously went into it and it gets right up my nose. It also proves that Eurobeat is so deeply ingrained in the souls of these Swedes that they will probably never lose it.
The time comes when there`s no getting round the central unpleasant question: “How come you take so much trouble with the production of the music on your record and then stick these moronic lyrics over the top?”
I do my best to phrase it more politely, but it still comes out sounding mildly insulting.
To my surprise nobody is actually insulted. Benny shys away slightly. “We don`t want to write political songs. We don`t want to turn our records into speeches.”
I explain I didn`t mean politics, just imagery and content. Love songs can have a hell of a lot more depth than anything Abba have ever attempted. I point at examples like “Yesterday,” “California Dreamin” and “God Only Knows.” Bjorn looks thoughtful.

“I`m glad you brought this up. It is possible that we`ve been concentrating too much on the music and neglecting the lyrics. You have to realise that it is very hard to create images in a foreign language.”
“You always write in English.”
“Yes. So few people speak Swedish.”
“It wouldn`t be possible to do something part English and part Swedish, the way McCartney used French in “Michelle?”
“Anything`s possible. I think we are becoming far more fluent in English. Since we`ve been touring we find it much easier to express ideas.”
The interview changes into a discussion of lyrics. Both Benny and Bjorn seem anxious to learn all they can. It could simply be a case of flatter-the-journalist-so-he-writes-nice-things, but I do get the feeling that these guys who have suddenly started producing world-wide hits from what must be a musical backwater, want to soak up information like sponges.
The conversation moves on to morality.
“Don`t you feel that, with Abba, you could almost be turning out a kind of palliative; jolly songs that create the illusion that things aren`t as bleak as they really are?”
“Bleak?”
“We are in the middle of a depression.”
“We don`t plan in advance what we are going to do. We just go to our island and record whatever`s in our heads.”
Bjorn joins in: “We have not felt the effects of the depression too much in Sweden.”
I think about the people merrily knocking back their £3 drinks. Perhaps he`s right.

There`s one other thing I feel I ought to find out about. Abba are a group who have been promoted to a large extent by the medium of television. What do they do when they play live?
“We don`t play a great many concerts. It`s a problem to reproduce what we do on record live. When we do play we have something like 17 people on the stage.
“We also don`t like to be committed to lengthy tours. It means we can`t go out to our island and record. This is the most important thing.”
“Surely when you go to America to play concerts you`re going to be pushed into the Las Vegas circuit?”
“We don`t want to become a Vegas act.”
That is very firm. I wonder how these earnest Swedes are going to deal with the big league music Mafia.
“You don`t feel the need to play regularly to a live audience?”
“Not at the moment, but things are always changing.”
A bottle of Aquavit comes out and the interview winds down. I don`t really feel I`ve got the whole picture. I`m not sure I`d have it if I spent a whole week with Abba. Finally Bjorn drives us back to the hotel. This, in itself, is pretty unusual for a pop star.
I suppose that brings us back to where we came in: The gymnastic frug in the discotheque. Abba (and young Sweden, for that matter) appear serious, hard working, painstaking and eager.
Unfortunately, they don`t have natural rhythm. And that`s why Abba are Abba, and not The Beach Boys.

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Yes, THAT group would be even more exciting over the years.

I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. Any errors in the text from the original magazine may not have been corrected for the sake of accuracy. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!

This number of New Musical Express also contains articles/interviews with these people: Mick Ronson, British Country Music Festival, Rolling Stones, J.J. Cale, Magna Carta, Dr. Alimantado, Steve Harley, Osibisa.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be 15 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.

ARTICLE ABOUT Mick Ronson (Ian Hunter, Mott The Hoople, David Bowie) FROM New Musical Express, April 24, 1976

When you look at the people Mr. Ronson played with in his life, you have to be a little impressed. In many ways I feel that he is not given the credit that he deserves when you look at all the big name musicians that wanted to play with him. When people speak of great guitarists he is seldom mentioned, but he definitely had something that attracted so many others to his services. He had the talent, but he may have lacked the drive to be as good as his talent permitted. As this interview may give an indication of.

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The RONSON you give will always remind him of you

or more likely he`ll smash it. Read how Dylan`s old buddy breaks his guitars… then blows out his amp… then blows out his fuzz box. He does not, however, blow out his baked beans.

By Neet O`Noser

The rumours started circulating around Saturday evening, passed on secretively by several Hollywood groupies and a handful of “in” people.
By Sunday the circle of confidants had expanded to include the press and by Monday everybody knew except those too old to care or the too young to know. That evening at Channel 4 in Burbank (shooting home of the television show Midnight Special) Mick Ronson, Carmine Appice, Tim Bogert, Albert Lee, Bo Diddley, Mark Steiner, Barry Goldberg and Roger McGuinn would be teaming up for a super jam to be filmed and televised at a later date.
The audial possibilities alone seemed staggering, and though that evening`s taping never made the legendary mark it was still… uh… interesting.
Backstage, Mick Ronson raced around looking for a cup of coffee. Dressed in ill-fitting Levis (they were too short; evidently he does not realise this look went out in the 50`s and that floor-level fit is now the cat`s meow), white tennis shoes and T-shirt, he presented the perfect antithesis of the Bowie/Mott/Hunter days when silk scarves and high shoes made up his tout ensemble.
It all fits in with his current pre-occupation with Bob Dylan and the American Way in general.
For the ex-Spider, the Rolling Thunder Revue has been like a breath of new life; his most recent work with Ian Hunter was disastrous and the call from Dylan was as welcome as a message from the Messiah.

Mick has finally landed the coffee, and with face made-up for the taping, chats about the Dylan episode.
“It`s so fresh, it`s just like I`ve started playing again. It`s like I`ve got to learn how to play again… it`s that kind of feelin`. And it`s real refreshin`. But I don`t want to put aside the things I`ve done because they`re valuable.”
Ronson is ushered on to the stage along with the rest of the band and immediately Tim Bogert and Carmine Appice break into a breakneck version of the Beck, Bogert and Appice tune, “Lady.”
Bogert, as usual, is monstrous on bass and Mick – anxious to join in – quickly switches on the Fender amplifier and turns up the volume.
A loud hissing is followed by piercing squeals. Perplexed and nonplussed, he quietly requests another amp. This one works fine and after wringing one searing note from the rented Les Paul (both of his other guitars are broken) Ronno stomps on the fuzz box.
Crackling and spitting sounds emerge.
With a smile illuminating his powdered features, he requests another fuzz.
Finally both amp and fuzz are working and joining in with the other musicians – who by this time are all playing – he delivers some effective if not too creative riffs.
In fact, it is this pre-jam jam which will be the highlight of the evening.
The rest of the show is made up of “Not Fade Away”, “Hey Bo Diddley,” and another number, and though the overall sound is nothing to write home about the simple majesty of the affair is intriguing.

The next day, back at the hotel, Ronson is excited about last evening`s play and the whole American attitude towards music. He is in the midst of a scrambled eggs, bacon and hashed browns breakfast, and in between mouthfuls carries on the conversation.
He`s talking about his rejuvenation (he`s 29), which he apparently began in June of 1974 when he visited New York and met up with Bobby Neuwirth.
“I just started hanging around with Bobby, and he told me about the tour, I thought he was jokin`, because I didn`t know Dylan, and when Bobby talked about the tour he made it sound so loose. I thought, `This can`t be right what I`m hearin`. Maybe a bit of it`s right but it`s not just like that.` But yet it was that`s exactly how it was.”
Mick gags on a mouthful of bacon and takes a stiff drink of milk. He`ll anxious to go out shopping for records and guitars (“It`s the first time in years I`ve wanted to go out and buy guitars”) and decides to hit Tower Records first.
The reaction in the store is typical; ladies flit around like moths in flame territory and guys look on enviously. Several ask for autographs and Ronson obliges.
Then it`s outside and back into his silver Rolls Royce at the Tropicana (he leaves the guitar-searching for later) his thoughts run back to Bowie.
Despite rumours to the contrary, that association was a positive one and his enthusiasm when questioned about possible reunions with D.B. leaves little doubt that these feelings were heartfelt.
“Sure, I`d love to play with David again. I mean, I really like him. He`s really clever. He writes a lot of good songs. He can write a lot of good songs.

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“I mean, I like the guy. Even though I have said… it`s been quoted something like, `Well, if I ever see him I`m going to give him a kick up the ass.` I don`t literally mean I`m going to beat his brains out. I want to sort of get near him as a friend and not in battle.
“I mean to go in with that kind of approach but only to gain some instant respect, so that some kind of friendship can be locked in again.
“I haven`t seen him for a long time; I don`t ring him and he doesn`t ring me and I don`t know where he is and he doesn`t know where I am. I think that`s a shame because I respect him and I like his music.”
Ronson felt fulfilled in Bowie`s band as a guitarist but towards the end of his stay was becoming more interested in other endeavours, such as producing and arranging. He only started writing with his first solo album, “Slaughter on 10th Avenue,” and never had any inclination to do so with Bowie.
Not only has playing with the Rolling Thunder Revue opened him up to the guitar again but his taste for writing has been whetted. Not that he`s sat down with Dylan and taken lessons (“You don`t trade licks with him… he just plays songs”) but he has put pen to paper in recent days.
“I was never interested in writing when I was with Bowie. They were all David`s songs. And I do enjoy playing other people`s songs. I never wrote any songs at all until my first solo album.
“I got incredibly lazy; I wouldn`t sit down and think about a song, I`d rather sit down and get drunk, or I`d much rather sit down and play with women.

“I`m not into reading or poetry… so I never wrote. I think I`ve read two books in my whole life. Tom Sawyer was one and I can`t even remember the other. So I never had a way with words. I guess I said it musically. But I now want to express myself lyrically too, and I have written a couple of things. I`m singing more too, but only in the bathtub.
“I mean I was happy in David`s band as a guitar player but I never used to really play that much guitar when I was with him. I`d never sit around and play. I`d only play it when we were recording or I was on stage.
“And sometimes in the studio I`d say, `Oh, I don`t want to play guitar yet; and I`d put it away somewhere – because it started becoming secondary to other things that I wanted to do in the studio… production, arranging.
“I used to have to force myself to take it out – which was real strange for a guitar player to do.
“David was real good, real clever. He comes up with some real bright ideas. We used to work really good together for a time. I wanted to see him on the tour.
“But I couldn`t get any tickets.”
Ronson`s metamorphosis since leaving Bowie has been swift. Gone are the sequined fineries and the reluctance to play, and in their place are Levi regalia and an enthusiasm for the strings.
So long as it`s fun Ronson will continue. But don`t get me wrong – he`s no gung ho character.
“See that guitar there?” he asks, pointing to the rented Les Paul. “It`ll stay in its case until I go into the studio with Roger (McGuinn) tonight. I still don`t practise.”

Jams like the one which took place last night have become a frequent occurrence for Ronson, and that`s how his chops are kept up.
He is sure people will see his work with Dylan as a strange coupling, but isn`t worried about it.
“It doesn`t matter what people think as long as I`m enjoying myself. Some people are gonna like it and some people aren`t. Some people will think, `Why`s he playing that hillbilly shit? Why doesn`t he get back to what he was doing?` But I`m still playing some pretty hard rockin` things same as before – but with these different musicians.
“I`m having a good time. All the people on the Dylan tour were really good people… people who could be with each other all day and all night. It`s just like I used to hang out with Bowie… we used to have fun. We all hung around together because it was good for an up-and-coming band to be seen together.”
Mick Ronson at 29 is really just a beginner. After starving in London and Paris years ago, he now charters Rolls Royces and hangs out with Bob Dylan. But he`s still the same person – playing “Blowing In The Wind” through small amps and “Ziggy Stardust” through massive Marshalls.
“I`m just learnin` like everybody else. I could work harder but then I`m just basically lazy.”

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Another ad probably not allowed these days. Only in videos.

I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. Any errors in the text from the original magazine may not have been corrected for the sake of accuracy. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!

This number of New Musical Express also contains articles/interviews with these people: Rolling Stones, British Country Music Festival, Abba, J.J. Cale, Magna Carta, Dr. Alimantado, Steve Harley, Osibisa.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be 15 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.

ARTICLE ABOUT Phil Collins (Genesis) FROM SOUNDS, March 13, 1976

Just as the NME did, the music paper Sounds also had a regular column for the musicians out there. The column that Sounds did were named “Blowin`” and it is from there this article comes. One for the drummers out there, and especially those of you trying to emulate Genesis. Here you have the name and the size of Phil`s drums! Not too much tech-talk in this one, so it should be readable for other people too.
The journalist, Dave Fudger, also played bass for the punk band Snivelling Shits – a band that also had a couple of his pals from Sounds playing in it, among them a certain Mr. Pete Makowski. Great name for a band by the way!

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Which xciting, xtravagant, xtremely x-rated, xquisitely xtroverted band sends you into flights of xtasy?

By Dave Fudger

Phil Collins, not content with being the rhytmic mainstay and now vocalist/frontman with Genesis, likes to spread his talents around. While the world was chewing its nails in troubled anticipation of the future of the band after Peter Gabriel`s departure last year, Mr. Collins was busy.
From the summer up until November Phil`s wide percussive talents were being applied to eight albums including the new Argent album, Eno`s `Another Green World`, John Cale`s `Helen Of Troy`, `Peter & The Wolf`, the Tommy Bolin album as well as `Trick Of The Trail`. He also contributed to two film soundtracks – one, `Operation Daybreak`, is currently doing the ABC circuit.
On top of all this stuff, apart from rehearsing the new four-piece Genesis he has been taking out on the road an adventurous instrumental jazz-rock combo, Brand X, which demands from the man a totally different role from his part in Genesis.
Collins names influences that include Billy Cobham, Harvey Mason, Steve Gadd and Tony Williams. These influences are amply evidenced in the exciting direction that Phil`s playing and the music of Brand X are taking.
Phil explains the cause and effect of his `other` full-time musical departure:
“Well it started around Christmas `74. A friend of mine who was working at Island Records at that time said to me `Do you want to come down and have a blow with a group? They need a drummer,` and I wasn`t thinking of leaving Genesis, really. But I wasn`t pushing myself with Genesis like I wanted to and this seemed like a good idea.
“So I went down and had a blow with the guys.

“At that time it was a five-piece group and the drummer would have been the sixth guy. There was a singer who played percussion, two guitarists, and a keyboard player and myself; oh, and Percy on bass. They were basically doing songs, funky songs, and they had a deal with Island Records and I started having a blow with them and it really worked well.
“We got together quite regularly to rehearse, to do an album. They knew that I was in Genesis and they knew that nothing could really come of it.
“Anyway, we made this album and the backing tracks were great but I don`t think that Island really liked the vocalist. He`s a friend of mine and I don`t want to say too much on the hard side about him but he was probably the weak link in the group.
“Island decided not to release that album, so we decided to go back and write some more material. But at this time there was a split in the group. There was the four of us who are now in Brand X veering towards the more instrumental, adventurous things and Pete (the old second guitarist) and Phil, the singer they wanted to write songs.
“I think basically we`d like to be thought of as session musicians that come together as often as possible, but it has to be fitted in with the Genesis commitments.”

I put it to Phil that when this interview was originally mooted his publicist, to give weight to the idea, proposed that Phil was in fact playing in two full-time bands prompting visions of Mr Collins tearing from Genesis gig to Brand X gig.
“Well I am in as much as when Brand X is on the road it`s full-time. Genesis, since November when we finished the album, have been pretty inactive. We did a few weeks rehearsing, for the tour, in January but apart from that and a few press things there`s been a bit of inactivity. So at that point we decided to get a few Brand X dates in.
“We`ve done about twelve dates, I suppose. But we won`t be playing again until May. The band, God willing, will stay together. Percy, Rob and John have got things to do while I`m away with Genesis. They`ll write some new material and providing the album comes out we`ll record it, in fact we`ve got most of it already.”
Anyone fortune enough to have caught any of Brand X`s gigs will have heard this new material which for the uninitiated will come as quite a surprise as it`s just about as far from Genesis as you can get – tight, punchy jazz-rock instrumentals, leaning heavily on Percy Jones` fretless bass mastery and Phil`s high-speed precision to cue the changes in the arrangements.
Being essentially a non-vocal concept Brand X is a far more rythmically based operation than Genesis and consequently Phil utilises different technique and equipment with the band to the requirements of Genesis.

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“Well, I think with Genesis in the future I`m going to keep it as loose as I do with Brand X, in terms of what I use. I`ve got two kits – one is a Premier kit and the other is a Gretsch kit. The Premier I use for stage work with Genesis. It sounds good but the Gretsch one I feel more personal with and so feel more at home with it on music that is more experimental.
“The Premier kit is the Kenny Clare outfit which has got double shells and there`s a 20X15 bass drum, 14X5 snare drum, wooden, and 12X8, 13X9, 14X14, 16X16 tom-toms. On the Gretsch kit there`s a Gretsch 20×15 bass drum, a Premier 12X8 tom-tom and 13X9, 14X14, 16X16 Gretsch tom-toms.
“I`ve also got a custom-built perspex snare drum which is 14X6 1/2 which was built for a friend of mine. The cymbals, I`ve got a deal with Paiste and I`ve just recently got a couple of sets, but I`ve also got some old Zildjians so I kind of use what I feel like at the time. But I`ve got a range from the four-inch Chinese gong up to the 26-inch sizzle. So I`ve got a cross-section of the kinds of cymbals that I`m likely to need.
The pedals I use are Speed Kings. I`ve never used anything else. I`ve tried changing recently to something that I thought might be faster. I tried using these Japanese pedals which Percussion Services are changing to have chains on instead of the leather straps but they didn`t really suit me.
“I`ve been playing with Speed Kings since I was 15 and I changed to try and get better but I wasn`t getting any better. I`ve got Slingerland hi-hat pedals, which are the best that I`ve tried.

“The timbales that I`ve been using are Slingerland – a 13-inch and a 14-inch, and a 14-inch and a 16-inch Shaftesbury cos they`re the only ones that I could get that were that big. I`ve been trying to get someone to make 16-inch metal timbales because I reckon they`ll be incredible.
“I`ve got a lot of stuff from Premier. I`ve got a set of vibes and tubular bells – they`re very good, they`ve got a very good service. Premier had a sort of face-lift two or three years ago, and Eddie Haynes, who`s the promotions manager is very good.
“I use the Gretsch kit in the studio, and on the Eno album and all the Genesis albums. I`ve never had any damping on the kit for recording. The tom-toms are live, tuned really tight, and I`ve got the see-through heads, I used to use the black dot ones and I got hold of some that are completely clear and they sound like deep timbale which is the kind of sound I like. When you go round the kit when you do a roll they sound like a tuned instrument.
“So I just have the drums without any damping at all in the studio and that`s including the snare drum; the bass drum usually has something in it. The see-through heads are very bright and that`s the sound I like.
“I tend to throw myself around a bit more with Brand X but, with Genesis I`m more disciplined because there are things like `Reliant` where I have to do certain cues at a certain pace and it`s a different kind of game.”

With his changed role in Genesis, following the departure of Peter Gabriel, Phil will now have the responsibility of fitting another drummer into the established Genesis constitution.
“It`s hard really because some of the songs we`ve been doing for three or four years and it`s hard to imagine them in a different vein. We`re not really up-dating the old material apart from the odd rearrangement here and there. And whoever the drummer will be they`ll be left to work their own devices as long as it stays within a certain framework.
“I`m not trying to restrict anybody`s style but I want to have the feeling that I don`t want to have to get up there and do it myself and there are only a few drummers that I could let do it.
“I`m probably less bothered about playing drums all the time with Genesis now cos I do have sessions and I do have Brand X. I still want to be thought of as a drummer. I`m still going to be playing the more demanding pieces like `Cinema Show` and `Los Endos` from the new album.
“For things like that which are basically instrumental tunes I`ll be nipping back and playing my kit and whoever it is will be percussing or playing with me. I will be a front man but I want to do it in a drummer`s way not in a sort of sexy singer`s way.”

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I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. Any errors in the text from the original magazine may not have been corrected for the sake of accuracy. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!

This number of Sounds also contains articles/interviews with these people: Evelyn Thomas & Ian Levine, Shaun Cassidy, Jimmy Page, Cate Brothers, Julie Tippetts, Adam Faith, Pat Travers, Yes, Jesse Winchester, Deep Purple.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be 15 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.

ARTICLE ABOUT Bad Company FROM NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS, January 17, 1976

As always, when you read an article written by Nick Kent, the writing is impeccable, but maybe he should have let his interview objects be even more central to proceedings? Anyway, it is a wonder that Mr. Kent could express himself as eloquently as he does, considering he was a herion addict throughout most of the 70s. It sometimes amazes me what people of great talent is able to achieve using hard drugs. But, in the end, everyone will have to pay the price if they don`t stop before it is too late. Thankfully, Mr. Kent was one of those that survived. Read this quite interesting article by one of the most talented music journalists of the 70s.

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…Well, come on then, Rodgers, act mean and nasty for the kids!

NO way. Paul Rodgers fails to live up to the horrendous tales of on-the-road booze and belligerence. He`s being a nice guy. And the rest of Bad Company? They`re being nice guys as well. Nick Kent does not even get insulted, never mind get his face smashed in. Oh well, that`s life.

The things we rock writers come up with! For my sins I recall to this day a ridiculously pompous conversation that took place between yours truly and one American scribe – now a fully paid-up member of the Rolling Stone editorial higher echelon but at this point a budding `punk terrible` working out of Detroit – where we came to the conclusion that the only valid dialectic situation left to the rock star-rock critic was to get into highly elaborate fist fights.
Whether this concept was inspired by the much-publicised fisticuffs between Bob Dylan and venerable rock eccentric A. J. Weberman or whether it was just a kind of dumb cool thing to think up at the time doesn`t really matter. Nor did, at the time anyway, the fact that both of us were yer archetypal nine-stone weakling far more adept at hiding under tables when even the vaguest whiff of violence was mooted in the air than `piling in` so to speak.
Surprisingly enough, I`ve never really found myself in a situation where I`ve been forced to declare arms against some irate musician following some less than complimentary review. The nearest, in fact, I ever came to an out-right confrontation of any sort was at an L.A. club where a drunk and offensive John Bonham (Led Zep drummer to the unitiated) poured a jug of cream and a couple of brandies over my coat, this being presumably his idea of a good `wheeze`.
I in turn found the escapade to be thoroughly unpleasant – any retaliation on my part was scarcely the order of the day seeing that Mr. Bonham is built like the proverbial shit-house door and was constantly flanked by two even more muscular than he.
All in all though, the incident did leave a rather sour complexion on my comrade`s idea of the fist-fight as viable rock dialectic, at least in my view and I quickly forgot about the whole thing.

Until, that is, the assignment. Pretty routine stuff on the surface, it was. Fly out to Jersey, land of the ageing gout-booted British tax exile thirsting for some vague replica of the Olde Country wherein to while away his retirement savings, and interview Swansong Artistes Bad Company, themselves tax exiles but in this daunting position through their mercurial ascendancy onto the pedestal of top-flight rock superstars.
All very straight-forward, but then again, Bad Company do have this reputation preceding them for a belligerent boozed-out boisterousness. Legend has it that even my oppressor M. Bonham was so shocked by their behaviour at one Atlantic Records function that he took it upon himself as co-chairman of Swansong to chastise them gravely for their hedonistic philanderings. (Now that little episode I would have liked to have witnessed).
And then again, how can I forget that touching scenario played out by Paul Rodgers, Bad Co`s leading protagonist, just one year ago. The Faces` Christmas Party it was – a civilised enough occasion, and there was I waiting to savour the sheperds pie and mixed veg laid out on this large table when who but Mr. Rodgers should appear, muttering dark curses at everyone in his booze-tinted view, and promptly lay waste the entire table in question, tossing food-stuffs here and there with nary a thought for present company.
Quite put me off my appetite, it did.

As it happens, almost all my colleagues in the business have their own P. Rodgers anecdote. One party, I recall, voted him the single most unpleasant man in rock, while Charles Shaar Murray recalls the time he witnessed our hero almost set about a Hungarian waitress for merely asking him to take his feet off a chair in the hotel restaurant.
More to the point, further reports lead one to believe that Bad Co.`s corporate ascendancy had worsened the Rodgers temperament considerably. A prominent Swansong musician/co-chairman who had freewheeled it over to the States to see his company`s band slaying `em on the East Coast last year mentioned to me a few months ago that the lead vocalist`s unwillingness to swamp his ego in with his three cohorts and become more flexible musically could cause great dissent with the Bad Co ranks.
And finally there was a Rolling Stone (what else?) piece which vividly documented the band on the tour in question seemingly immersed in a never-ending morose bacchanalia with Rodgers particularly obstreperous.
Ruminating over what I`d gleaned from reports on the Bad Co. temperament in regard to this Jersey venture, I envisaged at least some quotient of `aggro` emanating in my direction – principally from Rodgers, I presumed, who might well not like the cut of my clothes, shape of my legs etc. and would probably bottle me if I asked a question perhaps not to his liking.

Well, to remove what possible suspense which can be drawn from the writing of a piece on Bad Company, nothing like that happened at all. Photographer Pennie Smith and I arrived at the hotel to be greeted by two plates of slightly stale sandwiches and a nice-guy Welsh roadie who agreeably set about farming out members of the band for the interview. The inevitable naturally occurred – I was faced with all four members at once for most of the actual interview, a gnarling situation which totally denied any facility for the more intimate one-to-one heart-to-heart patter which usually reveals something interesting.
Instead the band palled it up and quite agreeably joked around, cooing forth platitudes about the new direction their music was taking and how their new album, “Run With The Pack” was by far their most advanced and satisfying recording.

Facing the band in toto so to speak, you really can`t help but be struck by the visual incongruities of the members. Drummer Simon Kirke, a genuinely entertaining and likable raconteur of `witty stories`, must possess the most oppressively bulging biceps in all rock history, both muscle-packed arms just crying out for a plethora of tattoos with motifs like an anchor just above the elbow and “mother” scrawled just below.
Kirke`s whole persona reminded me of Robert Plant`s whole `likely lad` style; their slightly North of the Border accents are almost identical, in fact. In total contrast, guitarist Mick Ralphs seems to have the physique of a post-adolescent teenager even though he bows to holding down an age “politely known as late 20`s.” For the years spent paying all those proverbial dues in Mott the Hoople, he still possesses the incredibly healthy wide-eyed pallor of a youth making his debut with a band at some local Hereford youth club.
Seated next to him, bass-player Boz Burrell presents even further visual incongruities. Decked out in full cow-poke regalia – the frayed denim shirt, unostentatious boots and lean black stetson, his “jazzer`s” beard makes him resemble the unlikely outcome of Acker Bilk signing on with the Eagles.
And finally there`s Paul Rodgers, short and stocky, moving from his seat to the bar like a Jersey bullock swathed in a bizarre-looking sheep-skin lined suedette bum-freezer which made his contours look all the more bizarre. His face looked remarkably haggard and a presumed lack of vitamins and hot sun made his hair look unhealthy and matted as if he`d just donned a rather shaggy doormat in lieu of a crown topper. I do recall stepping back a few paces in agitated reverence as he stomped into proceedings.

So what do we talk about, boys?
After a few obvious `ice-breaking` questions, I decided to divine the band`s opinion of the Rolling Stone piece referred to earlier.
“Well you`re a journalist, what did you think about it?” Kirke retorts amiably enough.
So I mention that – well, reading between the lines it appeared the writer felt a touch disorientated by the surroundings, didn`t seem to be enjoying himself too much and consequently wrote the article from a rather jaundiced aspect.
“The thing is” – Rodgers has just sat down – “he didn`t once mention anything about the music. There was nothing said about the music.”
Ah yes, the music. I mean, it`s more than fair that Rodgers should bring up the whole “music is the message” schtick – after all, that is his and Bad Co.`s only real claim to fame – they`re musicians, not philosophers or crusading emissaries for some worthy cause.
It`s just that talking and writing about music, particularly of the groinal variety, is basically such a prime pain in the ass, ringing forth all the same old platitudes and cliches as it does in these situations.
As it is, Bad Company have had their talents farmed into the computer-critique from more or less the first note they ever played. The definition always tends to read, “Good hard-rock band… sturdy but unambitious”, with special mention of Rodger`s very impressive vocal style and a possible merit star for Kirke`s excellent trashing abilities.

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Boz Burrell – Gone, but not forgotten.

The definition wasn`t embellished further by the release of “Straight Shooter,” the second album, and one wonders if the adjectival “unambitious” won`t be underlined a little heavier with the soon-to-appear “Run With The Pack”.
After the interview formalities have been dispensed with, Burrell and Ralphs play me a cassette tape of the Olympia gig showcasing at least five new songs which in turn showcase the patented formulas that have kept the band buoyant through two albums worth of toons thus far.
The first formula is Ralphs` personal adapton of the Keith Richard-Chuck Berry block chord rocker, only this time the full-blooded thrust of “Can`t Get Enough” through to the excellent “Good Lovin` Gone Bad” is made manifest in “Sweet Little Sister”. Obvious chord changes, obvious rock-swagger rhyming lyrics – Sweet Little Sister/You know you can`t resist her/She`s got it made in the shade, borrowing not a little from the Stones` phrase-book but that doesn`t mean it doesn`t rock like a bitch.
It`s just that one can only go so far with such limited concepts, no matter how full-blooded the performance and what with everyone from Kiss and Aerosmith down to your-local-punk-band-in-Stretford or Dayton, Ohio, scraping at the bones of `70s rock`s killer riffs – the “Brown Sugar” patent, the “Sweet Jane” chord changes, “Honky Tonk Women”, you end up needing more than even Paul Rodgers` supple vocalese to supply the edge.

Rodgers, for his part, appears still overly fond of his old Free stylisation if a song like the new “Simple Man” is anything to go by. That same loping, melancholic beat, same dour brooding chords (Rodgers in `soulful mood` always sound like he`s kicking himself because he never got to write Traffic`s “40,000 Headmen” before Winwood conceived the tune), the same earnest but bland utterances.
This time we`re faced with Rodgers waxing philosophical after a fashion with these gem-like utterances for company –  “I am just a simple man/Freedom is the only word that means a thing to me.”
Well at least it`s not pretentious and for that I`d gladly take an outfit like Bad Company over the infinitely more ambitious but ultimately ill-postured Queen. It`s just that full-blooded unoriginality and jaded pretence are pretty lean pickings when your expectations settle on that high and mighty echelon both bands are poised on at present.
Bad Company, for their part, tap their feet and nod agreeably at each other. They also mention that the more `advanced` stuff on “Pack” hasn`t been fully mastered yet for stage-performance. Still, one feels just a touch cynical when Ralphs sets about defending his statement recorded in Teazers a couple of weeks back that his band reminds him of The Beatles “in a very distinct way”.
“Yeah, I read that too,” he laughs for a second and then suddenly turns serious. “No, you see what I was trying to say… by drawing that parallel is that just like The Beatles we`re able to cover all the bases. By that I mean you`ve got Paul on one side and me and there`s melody and the rockers and…. Like Lennon and McCartney had that down. They covered the whole spectrum.
“That`s what we`re aiming for and now with this new album…”

And so it goes. As it happens, Ralphs is an extremely likeable bloke. I`d interviewed him several years ago when he was floundering with Mott (this was just before the DeFries union) and I was an idealistic cub reporter and the interview quickly broke down to become an energetic chat about favourite bands and music in general.
Looking back on his Mott days, I ask him whatever happened to the “budding Neil Young” image that Ian Hunter seemed so adamant about laying on the guitarist?
Ralphs fields off the `Young` schtick by simply retorting, “Well, with me it wasn`t as bad as Hunter who was desperate to be Bob Dylan (pause). Nah, Mott was a bizarre group in that we got into this whole thing of appealing to the loon-pants head-shaking audience. Yeah, a bit like Status Quo I suppose, only…”‘
Ralphs seems adamant about disowning the whole glitter-rock trip that the Bowie association set Mott up with. Indeed, Bad Company were conceived by Ralphs and Rodgers in terms of an earthy, anti-glitter backlash.
A question concerning the managerial merits of Tony DeFries draws forth inevitable comparisons with Bowie`s own Col. Tom and Swansong svengali Peter Grant.
“Well, DeFries knew all the stuff about law side of things. But I don`t think he really had any feeling, though, for the human or… uh, artistic side of the business. With Peter, well, it`s like he`s one of the lads really.”

Burrell defines Grant`s attributes as a manager further:
“He really acts as a cushion (sic) between the band and all the politics that are bound to surround one. That is, he lets you get on with the music totally while he fields off all the lawyers, record company guys etc. that are more than ready to hold back your actual output.”
Kirke: “We hardly ever sit down and do business with him. It`s usually always a social thing when we meet.”
Bad Company and Grant set their alliance rolling with just a handshake, by the way. A gentleman`s agreement.
Events following directly in the wake of Bad Co.`s association with Swansong show a more than dramatic change in fortunes.
Kirke dismisses his earnings from Free as “a pittance… I suppose that`s what you`d call it.” He prefers not to muse over any potential “sour grapes”.
Ralphs, upon leaving Mott, was faced with departing with a debt (Mott the Hoople were in debt to upwards of £100,000 at one point, so the story goes) or breaking free, thus nixing any personal hold on royalties arising from the subsequently successful “Mott” album. He chose the latter.
And Burrell? Well, his former escapades provide the best copy of the day. A former King Crimson employee (Fripp taught him bass “parrot-fashion”) his reminiscences are scurrilous if nothing else.

“That whole period of my life was ridiculous. I mean, if I`ve done anything in my life purely for the money, that was it. I mean, I`d be singing these lyrics and suddenly I`d stop and think, `Christ, what does that mean`. I reckon Sinfield used to dig out his Roget`s Thesaurus, find the most impressive-looking words and just throw `em all in.
“And Fripp! (laughs). He`d be sitting on his stool just scowling at us. So every night for an encore we`d rush out… see, the only thing Fripp can`t play is a straight-forward blues, so for the encore the rest of the band would charge onstage and before he`d got a chance to plug in his guitar, we`d kick off with a 12-bar! (laughs).
“On the very last night, Mel (Collins) demolished a mellotron as part of the solo. He just very methodically took it to pieces, right, and Fripp turned round… it was during `Schizoid Man` … he was on his stool (collapses laughing).
“The thing is, though, it`s ridiculous when people murmur that we`re all in Bad Co. for the money. Nothing could be further from the truth. But, I mean, that Crimson gig – that was a pure pay-check thing.
“It`s a shame really. People just don`t get it straight.”

So finally to Rodgers, who, far from the mooted belligerence of yore, was amiable enough. He even talked with mild candour about his drinking binges, saying that he and the band had cut down drastically in a tone which, to the impartial observer, appeared to mean business.
Later I overhear a phone conversation where Rodgers reverently mentions that he`s soon to become a father for the second time, which could well account for this new-found serenity.
Oh, and that tax-exile schtick. It appears to be not all champagne and roses even if alcohol and cigarettes are almost half the price. Kirke at least had picked up on some nookie. He had a date, he said. Taking her to the pictures, he was. To see The Jungle Book for the second time in three days.

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A really strange ad….

I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits  – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!

This number of New Musical Express also contains articles/interviews with these people: Gary Holton, Ronnie Lane, Warne Marsh, Keith Moon, Kid Strange.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail, if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be 15 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.

ARTICLE ABOUT Led Zeppelin FROM NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS, February 1, 1975

This article was published just weeks before the release of “Physical Graffiti”, their sixth studio album and the one with “Kashmir” on it. And you better not tell me that you haven`t heard that song… This album is among a lot of music critics regarded as one of the very best in the history of rock. Here is a report from the start of their tour in the USA, where they later sold eight million copies of the aforementioned double-album, awarding it 16x platinum in 2006.
Enjoy this report from the frontlines.

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“Karen Carpenter couldn`t last ten minutes with a Zeppelin number.”

Does this statement look interesting to you? It DOES? Then you must be a LED ZEPPELIN fan. Hi there! And welcome to our centre spread. Your tour-guide this week is LISA ROBINSON and sandwiches will be provided at half-price.

Last time I was in Chicago was in 1969 when I stayed with The Stooges at the Skid Row Holiday Inn.
Chicago. They say they do things they don`t do on Broadway, but I doubt it.
Led Zeppelin are holed up in the fadingly elegant Ambassador East Hotel (“fadingly elegant” means that the telephones don`t work) where the main attractions are the chi-chi Pump Room and the Buttery Disco.
The hotel brochure describes the Buttery as “The (new) Buttery, dramatic NOW (sic) discotheque, for the smart young set, is an after dark magnet. Compelling music for dancing and listening seven nights a week lures the chic and the celebrated. That blazing aggregation, “The J. B. Polks” headlines the show Tuesday through Sat. from 9 until ?”.
John Bonham put on a suit to go and check the place out one night and returned five minutes later. “So much for that,” he said.

The hotel is boring and pretty calm, but Zep`s presence is felt. Although the celebrated Mr. Onoko (the man who hid in the jungle for 30 years) is staying here, the guards discreetly lurking here and there are for the band. Just in case.
It`s pretty early in the day, but Robert struts and preens around his expansive suite, happy and ever-willing to pose for photos.
“Don`t count them all as my taste,” he warns, as I rifle through the LPs scattered on his coffee table. Margie Joseph, Aretha Franklin, Danny O`Keefe, Otis Redding, The Guess Who.
“Except for Danny O`Keefe and The Guess Who. The Guess Who are great.” He twinkles. “Really. They`re my favourite group right now. I mean, that guy who used to be the singer – we-e-ell, I just thought he was doing Robert Plant imitations. But the one now is terrific.
“What happened to the other guy? Randy who? BTO? Oh yeah? Are they a big group here?
“Excuse me,” he grins, fondling his crotch just a bit.
Ohmigod! Ahem. The tour, Robert.

“I`ll tell you. At that Chislehurst Caves function I realised I really missed the unity of the four of us. I realised that above everything else, above record companies, above films, we were Led Zeppelin – above everything.
“From that moment on we started rehearsing, and getting into full gear. Some of the new tracks already sound better than they do on the album. They`re really building.
“So once again we recorded at just the right time – because everybody felt the same way. We worked really hard, we worked ourselves almost into the ground. I mean, despite the fact that we don`t see each other every day and that Bonzo lives right down the road and half the time he`s at Hereford Market selling bulls, it still seems that at the right time we got together and we write something that keeps us all satisfied – musically.
“I love the album. There are some real humdinger, roaring tracks on it – and then there are some others that are going to take a while…and then people will see.”

Last time we spoke you mentioned something about this disc being a bit more, um, groinal.
“Well,” he smiles, “some of the lyrics are a bit more `groinal`, if we can start using that phrase.”
I like it.
“It is nice, isn`t it? Wonder what it means?
“I know what Nick Kent said about the stuff we can `do in our sleep.` And I can transpose that from his rather campish pen – obviously half the time he uses invisible ink – but that track “Wanton Song”…he`s right. This is what Zeppelin has been all about, which is so groinal…
“We`re really playing well now, we`re quite mature, you know. We can play stuff like `Black Dog` – which is the Zeppelin that comes out of our ears – but we can also alter the mood with things like `Kashmir` or `The Song Remains The Same` or `No Quarter` where the mood changes so beautifully.
“In a big auditorium that`s so fabulous – to take the mood and change the whole thing.”

“I was really nervous before the first gig,” Plant confesses, suddenly. “We`re always so nervous. I dunno why – I think it`s because we`re so self-critical.
“As we walked up to the stage that night Jimmy turned to me and said `This is really deja vu, you know?`, we have been here before…as the heart went into the mouth.
“And of course, if Jimmy gets sick or anything goes wrong with him it affects me too.”
What are you looking forward to most on this tour?
“Oh dear. Well. I`ve already had the biggest turn-on I could imagine, and that was going to watch Buddy Guy and Hound Dog Taylor last night. I mean, really – the blues isn`t dead. Al Green is great, but underneath all the shim-shim, there`s a town called Chicago…and Buddy Guy is still fantastic.
“You know you`re getting to where the music is when the FBI guy in the front seat locks his car door…You can just sit there and literally shiver listening to that man, and he`s playing a cafe and his amplifier is on top of a pinball machine.”
And the old road fever?
“You`re talking to The New Robert Plant. My perspective has changed on a lot of things. I`ve been through so many tours that now I see that there are ways and means of making it more enjoyable without having to rush into anything or burning yourself out. If there`s any raping or looting about…well, it`s done with good taste, I suppose…
“We still manage to entertain ourselves like a right young bunch of executives.”

“I`d like to have it publicised that I came in after Karen Carpenter in the Playboy drummer poll,” roars John Bonham as I enter the dressing room before the first show.
“She couldn`t last ten minutes with a Zeppelin number,” he sneers.
Bonzo`s leaning back against the couch wearing a splendid suede patchworked winter coat – bought new in Chicago out of necessity. Only John Paul Jones came prepared for the weather, bringing along a maroon fur the same colour as was his wife`s hair last tour.
Jones is still fairly reticent – but he smiles more now, so I go up to him in the bathroom where he`s combing his carefully tailored hair (long, spikey sideburns and ducktailed in the back) and ask him why he doesn`t do interviews.
“Awh…they want to interview the stars, not the rhythm section.”
Can I quote that?
“No! My first quote in six years? It isn`t going to be that.”
Puleez.
“Did it sound snide?”
No, it`s funny.
“Oh,” he says, disappointed. “It was supposed to sound snide.”
Of course, personal manager Richard Cole is there. Backstage, as everywhere, he sees everything.

Although he speaks with a bit of longing about getting on to New York and the Oyster Bar (“Oh, they`ll see me coming. Here`s old golden pen again…”), right now he`s keeping careful watch on the backstage area of the Chicago Stadium. Someone dreadful approaches. “Do you remember me from 1973?” the boy asks. “I was very close with John Paul…”
Richard`s eyes roll towards the heavens. He doesn`t want to know.
Rapidly, he hands the kid two tickets – the most polite way of telling anyone to piss off I`ve ever witnessed.
Three girls race in, chilled by the freezing cold.
“RICHARD, RICHARD!!” they squeal. “Thank GOD you`re here!”
And – with remarkable finesse, Cole smiles, hands them three tickets, and sends them on their way – all in the time it`s taken him to mutter “Oh, Christ” under his breath.
Zeppelin just couldn`t do a tour without him. It`s that simple.

The group goes onstage to the roar of 20,000 kids. “Rock And Roll” bursts forth, followed by the new “Sick Again”.
By the time the band have got into “Over The Hills And Far away,” it seems that something`s wrong.
“We`ve got a couple of predicaments,” Plant apologises. “First, my inability to come to terms with the climate – and second, our guitarist broke his finger.” (More on that later.)
“When The Levee Breaks”, “The Song Remains The Same,” and “Rain Song” take us to the new and obviously powerful “Kashmir”. By the time they`ve done “In My Time Of Dying” and “Stairway”, the kids are responding hysterically enough to demand two encores: “Black Dog” and “Communication Breakdown”.
Here, the tour de force of the elaborate and impressive lighting system comes in to play. The band`s return is to the accompaniment of the legend “LED ZEPPELIN” lit up in four foot high letters at the rear of the stage.
As they come offstage, they`re wrapped in red terry-cloth robes for the limo ride back to the hotel.
“Now they`re called Red Zeppelin,” cracks Danny Goldberg, but the mood is pretty low.

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The second night is something else altogether. As the lights dim, the crowd start to cheer and backstage Robert smiles and says: “They`re playing my song.”
Fifteen seconds onstage and everyone knows it`s going to be hot. Perhaps the first night letdown`s done some good in that they`ve had to really try harder – it`s amazing how much they care. After all, they`re making the same amount of money. They`ve sold out everywhere.
But they`ve been truly depressed and confused all day about the first Chicago show.
No matter; tonight they`re playing with that old black Zeppelin magic again, and the audience go wild. “Trampled Underfoot” is magnificent. With a “Come Together”-like rhythm and real rocking guitar, it sounds as if the Beatles battled the Stones in a parking lot – and Led Zeppelin won.
A roll of toilet paper is thrown onstage and Peter Grant mumbles “Uh-oh. That doesn`t mean Bonzo shit himself, does it?” Bonzo, meanwhile, is dressed in a white boilersuit and black bowler hat. His roadie, Mick Hinton, is dressed identically (“It`s a double act,” says Cole); in addition, however, Hinton has one very carefully painted Clockwork Orange eye…
“We`d like to dedicate this next song to all the people who came to see us without our having a record out,” Plant announces as the strains of “Stairway” begin.
Cheers, roars, hoo-ha. There`s no doubt that this is the American Zeppelin favourite.
“Of course,” he adds, “it`s not that we haven`t been busy. We`ve just been starting a record company, and making a film, and jerking ourselves off…”

At noon the following day Jimmy Page comes to my room for breakfast. (Eek! – Ed.).
He`s in a really good mood because he got five hours sleep (a lot, for him) and he knows last night`s show was great.
He describes his broken finger.
“I`m having to develop a three-finger style,” he laughs. “But it`s a drag. It happened when I was on a train in England – on my way to rehearsal. I was at the front of the train planning to rush off and grab a taxi, when the train stopped abruptly. I must have grabbed at something, and the finger got caught in the hinge of the door.
“I was just totally numb – numb with shock. I just looked at it and said…`Oh, no`…I mean it`s the most important finger for a guitarist: third finger, left hand. The wedding ring finger…
“It`s the one that does all the leverage, and most of the work, and it really came as a blow because I just couldn`t play with it, I`m still not really playing with it. Last night I used it on a couple of chord changes, but it still hurts.
“I`m starting to master a three-fingered technique, though. I may start to work at this at home – work out three and two -finger techniques so that whenever there`s another accident – which I`m bound to have, at the beginning of an important tour! – I`ll be ready for it.”

He orders scrambled eggs with ketchup, English muffins, and tea – which, although he`s been mixing a lot of vitamin enriched banana daiquaris in his room, is the most he eats in a day on the road. “I`m off eating, I`m trying to photosynthesize – like a plant,” he laughs.
Page, perhaps more than the others, suffers from the rigours of the road.
“But this time I`m going to get some Afghani hangings and my rooms are going to look like – well, like mosques. You get loads of carpets and lay them on top of each other and have everything candlelit.
“My home`s like that, you see, and I`d like to bring my home on tour. But I can`t – so I have to try this.
“The situation with the house now is that when people come to the door, if they`ve got anything worthwhile saying, they`re allowed in.
“If they`re idiots, or cranks or fanatics, they`re welcome to walk around the grounds.
“You`d be surprised though. Some people really have a lot to say.
“The reason I got the bookshop together was because there was not one bookshop in London with a good collection of occult books and I was so pissed off at not being able to get the books I wanted.
“And, whereas I can`t ever see that shop making money, there`ll be a bit of publishing there – astrology books and things like that.”

Discussing the Zeppelin film, Page describes his solo sequence.
“Mine`s a fantasy sequence of The Hermit – The Hermit tarot card that`s on the fourth LP. Lots of laboratory work – ageing faces and things like that.
“I was exhausted at the end of it because I had to stand up all the time…absolutely rigid, my eyes unblinking, totally constant. I really had to bring out all my yoga training for that.
“The hardest bit was when I had to hold the lantern out.
“Anyway, it`s an interpretation of The Hermit card and, when people see it, they`ll understand what it`s all about. It all ties in with the violin part of `Dazed And Confused`.
“The movie`s a musical. It starts in England, shows the total tranquility of England with just natural sounds, and then goes to the last U.S. tour. The way that it changes is really amazing, the whole pace of the tour really comes in.
“I imagine it`ll come out by the summer. We haven`t got much to finish – just mixing the soundtrack.
“I feel that there`s so much to do in such a short time, you know. I`ve had that feeling closing in on me for the last few years.
“I realize that I`ve been playing for ten years – I don`t know if people realize that. I think some of them think I`m just starting!
“I`ve enjoyed it, though. I`d like to play for another twenty years. But I don`t know, I just can`t see it happening. I don`t know why. I can`t explain it in words.
“It`s just a funny feeling…A foreboding…Vultures.”

Peter Grant sits on a brocaded couch in the living room of his ornate suite. (“It`s the only suite that Zsa Zsa Gabor will stay in when she comes to Chicago.”)
Peter`s willing to talk to me about a possible British date for Zeppelin, but he`s conservative about it.
“There is something planned, but it`s not finalized. It`s not an outdoor festival. I can tell you that. It is a big place, in London – and will be over several nights.
“If everything goes fine it will be in May. I`m not being secretive, it`s just that it`s not finalized yet.”
“We really don`t get much flak about Zeppelin neglecting Britain in favour of the States,” Grant continues thoughtfully. “Because we haven`t been here so long. In the beginning there was some of that – but you have to realize that when the band started (and I know it was the same for the Beck band and Ten Years After as well) the British promoters weren`t really interested. They`d rather put on a reggae disco.
“So you had to come over here to get to people. When Zeppelin came to the States and started doing really well, it suddenly dawned on them that something good was happening.

“But we will do three or four days in London. An indoor site.
“We`ve wanted to play a really good gig in England for some years,” Page interjects. “The problem has always been the site. Like with that Knebworth Park thing – it was never finalized, and they put us in a situation where they tried to force us to do it, and that was unforgivable.
“So the kids felt that we`d let them down, and I suppose in a way we did let them down – but we didn`t mean to.
“I`m on in Wolverhampton every Saturday afternoon,” Plant laughs.
Sorry, what?
“I go to see Wolverhampton Wanderers every Saturday afternoon. The public is always aware of my presence and my voice is always exercised to its fullest as I cheer on one of the finest football teams the country has ever known.”
It`s not the same as doing a concert though.
“What?” he shrieks. “They brought international football to England in the 1950`s – they are a superb team. You should hear some of the notes I reach…”

After the third show, everyone feels like going out.
Assembling in the truly dreary Buttery (a bar-mitzvah band is playing “Can`t Get Enough”), everyone makes for the Bistro, Strobe lights, B.T. Express, Labelle`s “Lady Marmalade”, “one monkey don`t stop no show” and all.
Robert dances, Jimmy (who seems to be wearing some kind of charcoal eye makeup) is sitting in a booth with Gee, Cole. Clive Coulson (who`s come over for Bad Company tour negotiations). Lots of Dom Perignon, and some girl tries to show Clive how to do The Bump.
“See, don`t I take you to the best places?” laughs Richard Cole.
Bonzo`s sitting in a booth at the Bistro, not feeling too well. He`s been having stomach problems and thinks it`s nerves. Sitting there, quietly talking about his wife (“We met when I was 16, got married when I was 17…I was a carpenter and got up at 7 a.m. and then had to change for a gig that night in the van…I think that has a lot to do with why I`m the way I am”), he does seem amazingly – as he put it – “softhearted”.
“I don`t know,” he mumbled later, getting into the elevator at a sleepy 3 a.m. “I just don`t feel much like raving about these days…”
Zeppelin mellowing? Well, Robert was surveying the Bistro`s local talent without much enthusiasm.
(To be sure, most of the local talent was maintaining a slim hold on masculinity, but still…)

What can you say about a six-year-old band that has America in the palm of its hand?
It`s just begun, really – and yet Zeppelin has already managed to make every other rock news/concert/whatever pale by comparison.
And meanwhile the plane – the super Starship, all red, white and blue with white stars and the words LED ZEPPELIN painted on the side – waits patiently at Chicago`s O`Hare Airport to bring the lads to New York City and the rest of the country.
The tour is underway.

For some reason, NME used to print pix of naked ladies along with the Gig Guide.

For some reason, NME used to print pix of naked ladies along with the Gig Guide.

I have personally transcribed this from the original paper and you are free to use it as you like. If you use it on your own webpages – please credit me or put up a link to my blog.

This number of New Musical Express also contains articles/interviews with these people: Lowell George (Little Feat), Alan Hull (Lindisfarne), Kiss, Doobie Brothers, Ian Anderson (Jethro Tull), Bruce Springsteen, Marc Bolan, John McLaughlin, The Soft Machine, Bob Pegg, Little Milton, Ian Bairnson (Pilot).

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

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