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Jimmy Page Discusses Making Led Zeppelin III

Jimmy Page isn't disturbed at any adverse criticism of Led Zeppelin III because he hasn't read any reviews.

But he is aware that a number of Zeppelin fans would appreciate some backgrounding to the tracks of an album that has been greeted as either "their best yet" or "weaker rock."

At Jimmy's wooden boathouse home beside the Thames he spent a pleasant Saturday evening last weekend, listening to albums by Cream, Jody Grind, Tony Williams and Don Ellis before getting round to a track-by-track review of his group's third endeavour to relate their musical feelings.

He explained the origin of the songs and occasional quirks between tracks. And he hinted at the future, and the content of Led Zeppelin IV, already on the drawing board.

Immigrant Song: That's a voice at the beginning incidentally which somebody said was a wailing guitar. On stage this number has already developed into a much longer thing, with full instrumental passage. The hiss at the beginning is a tape build-up, then John Bonham comes in. It's not really tape hiss, it's echo feed-back. Robert wrote the lyrics to this one.

Friends: Again Robert wrote the words. He did them all except Tangerine. The idea was to get an Indian style with the strings. The string players were not Indian however, and we had to make on-the-spot changes. John Paul Jones wrote an incredible string arrangement for this and Robert shows his great range - incredibly high. He's got a lot of different sides to his voice which comes across here. It has a menacing atmosphere. A friend came into the studio during the recording and it was bloody loud and he had to leave. He said: "You've really done something evil!" Moog synthesizer at the end, and that's bottle-neck string bass with John Paul playing.

Celebration Day: The reason the voice is alone is the tape got crinkled in the studio and wouldn't go through the heads so the end got ruined, but it worked out all right by using the idea of bringing the synthesizer down in pitch to the voice. It was either that or leave the track out altogether. Why "Celebration?" It's saying "I'm happy," that's all.

Since I've Been Loving You: This was a 'live' track. John Paul plays organ and foot bass pedals at the same time. My guitar solo? It could have been better but y'know. You are never satisfied with a performance, although of course there are those lucky musicians who can play it perfect everytime. On these type of numbers, John decides his own drum beat to play. We might occasionally suggest the use of conga drums on a particular number, but he always fixes his own beat.

Out On the Tiles: This is Bonzo's riff. Originally we had a set of lyrics to go with this relating to a night out on the tiles.

Gallows Pole: A traditional song which stems from Lead Belly. I first found it by Fred Gerlac. He was one of the first white people on Folkways records to get involved in Lead Belly. We have completely rearranged it and changed the verse. Robert wrote a set of new lyrics. That's John Paul on mandolin and bass and I'm playing the banjo, six-string acoustic, 12-string and electric guitar. The bloke swinging on the gallows pole is saying wait for his relatives to arrive. The drumming builds nicely.

Tangerine: That's commonly known as a false start. It was a tempo guide, and it seemed like a good idea to leave it in - at the time. I was trying to keep the tempo down a bit. I'm not so sure now if it was a good idea. Everybody asks what the hell is going on. I did the pedal steel guitar and Robert doing the harmonies as well as lead.

That's The Way: Ah, this was written in Wales, where Robert and I stayed at a cottage. It was one of those days after a long walk and we were setting back to the cottage. We had a guitar with us. It was a tiring walk coming down a ravine, and we stopped and sat down. I played the tune and Robert sang a verse straight off. We had a tape recorder with us that sounds a bit strange, but it was part of the kite and we got the tune down. This wasn't recorded in Wales, if I gave that impression. The 'Los Paraguyos' bit is the mandolin.

Bron-Y-Aur Stomp: That's an acoustic bass, not a double bass. It's like an acoustic guitar with a reasonable body. John Paul took the frets out and he plays it acoustically. This has got the rattling of the kitchen sink - we've got everything in it! We overdubbed Bonham on castanets, and spoons.

Hats Off To (Roy) Harper: There's that freaky echo. The voice sounds like that because it went through a vibrato amp. This came out from a jam Robert and I had one night. There's a whole tape of us bashing different blues things. Robert had been playing harmonica through the amp then he used it to sing through. It's supposed to be a sincere hats off to Roy because he's really a talented bloke, who's had a lot of problems.

Which was Jimmy's favourite track?

"I like Gallows Pole. But there are others - the point is we had seventeen tracks to choose from to put on the album. Some were written out at the cottage. Some show different stages of development.

"There was a lot like our early stuff - pretty powerful. John Paul Jones wrote a piece which was all piano, which would have related to what's coming up in the future. This album was to get across more versatility and use more combinations of instruments. The next one will be just one long track on one side with these combinations of instruments, mandolin, banjo and so on. It would last about 25 minutes with instrumental sections. It's still in the planning stages.

"We'll never stop doing the heavy things, because that comes out of naturally when we play. But - there is another side to us. The new album is totally different from the others and I see that it's obviously a new direction.

"The fourth album should be our best, and if it isn't, well, we might as well give up and retire with red faces. I haven't read any of the reviews but people have got to give the LP a reasonable listening.

"Everybody in the band is going through some changes. There are changes in the playing and in the lyrics. Robert is really getting involved in his lyric writing."

Where did the cover idea come from?

"It was my idea to have a revolving wheel. I remembered those old gardening catalogues. You'd turn it to 'roses' and find out what kind of manure to use.

"There's a lot more to see on the wheel. When you get fed-up with the LP there is the added pleasure of ripping the cover apart to find out what's on the rest of the sleeve."
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This Month in
Led Zeppelin History

March 17, 1969 - A four-song performance is filmed for TV Byen in Denmark (aired on May 19, 1969)
March 21, 1969 - Zeppelin’s debut TV appearance on "How It Is"
March 25, 1969 - Filming session for the Supershow
March xx, 1970 - The band turns down many TV offers worth large sums
March 05, 1971 - Led Zeppelin started a 12-date "Thank You" tour for British fans, appearing at the clubs from their early days and charging the same admission prices as in 1968. The first show was at Ulster Hall, Belfast, Northern Ireland where they played songs from their upcoming fourth album, including the first public performances of Black Dog, Stairway To Heaven, Going To California and Rock And Roll.
March 12, 1972 - Page and Plant rehearse some songs with the Bombay Orchestra
March 25, 1973 - Led Zeppelin finally release Houses of the Holy after production issues with the album cover
March 28, 1973 - Led Zeppelin released Houses Of The Holy in the UK. The album title was a dedication by the band to their fans who appeared at venues they dubbed "houses of the holy". Houses Of The Holy has now been certified 11 times Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for US sales in excess of 11 million copies.
March xx, 1974 - The band decide to release a double album due to the amount of left over studio material
March 29, 1975 - Led Zeppelin saw all six of their albums in the US Top 100 chart in the same week, alongside their latest album Physical Graffiti at No.1. Physical Graffiti has now been certified 16 times Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for US sales in excess of 16 million copies.
March 15, 1975 - Tickets for the Earls Court shows sellout within four hours
March xx, 1976 - Jimmy speaks with reporters mentioning the new album due out called Presence
March 31, 1976 - Presence is released
March 28, 1977 - Zeppelin arrive in Dallas, Texas to rehearse before opening the eleventh tour of the US
March xx, 1978 - Robert and John spend some time hanging around the Midlands
March 26, 1979 - Robert takes lead vocal at a Bad Company gig in Birmingham
March 04, 1980 - John Bonham makes a TV appearance on "Alright Now" with Bill Connolly
March 26, 2006 - Readers of Total Guitar magazine voted the guitar solo by Jimmy Page in Led Zeppelin’s Stairway To Heaven as the greatest guitar solo of all time. The 1971 track was voted ahead of tracks by Van Halen, Queen, Jimi Hendrix and The Eagles. On the 20th anniversary of the original release of the song, it was announced via US radio sources that the song had logged up an estimated 2,874,000 radio plays - back to back, that would run for 44 years solid.
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