Bring It On Home: Peter Grant, Led Zeppelin, and Beyond–The Story of Rock’s Greatest Manager… by Mark Blake

I had a business trip this past week driving a car for at least 10 hours to and from Atlanta and finished up this audiobook about the legendary manager Peter Grant. I have read one book about Grant by Chris Welch but I like this one better. Both of Grant’s kids were interviewed by author Mark Blake and they gave a perspective and info that has never been shared.

Grant had been a van driver, bouncer, stagehand, wrestler, and Don Arden’s assistant. He was 6’3″ and at one time over 300lbs… He road managed the tough and a little crazy Gene Vincent, Little Richard, Bo Diddley, and The Animals before he took over the Yardbirds which then turned into Led Zeppelin.

Grant changed the music business across the board. The promoters would enjoy a 60/40 split and better until Grant. He changed it all to 90/10 split with the artists actually getting the windfall instead of the promoters. His saying was 10 percent of Zeppelin was better than nothing. Now it is an industry-standard. The one other manager that I have read about is Brian Epstein who managed the Beatles. Grant and Epstein were complete opposites except for one thing. There was nothing they would not do for their respective bands. They were both loyal and trustworthy with the band’s finances unlike other band’s managers at the time. That is where the comparison ends.

Grant indeed was loyal to a fault…but he did business by suggestion and intimidation. Pouring water in bootleggers tape recorders, smashing film cameras by fans at concerts, and threating anyone that got in Zeppelin’s way or anyone who might be getting something they shouldn’t. He added to their already dark reputation. He started a Zeppelin label in the mid-seventies called Swan Song and signed Bad Company. He became their co-manager and traveled with them when Zeppelin wasn’t touring. He was even asked by Queen in 1975 if he could manage them…he turned them down because he didn’t have the time.

After Bonham died it became close to impossible to get him on the phone. His drug intake, already heavy, escalated during the early eighties. He did eventually get clean, lose weight, and turn into a living legend and he tried to be an English gentleman.

The book moves at a good pace and it goes over the hype and myths that Grant and Page built for Zeppelin.

If you are a Zeppelin fan or a fan of rock in the seventies it’s a good read. Although Grant could be tough, intimidating, and frankly scary at times…he did have a soft side for his family and of course…Led Zeppelin. I would give it 4.5 stars.

I did learn a new name for a certain drug… “Peruvian Marching Powder”

 

Led Zeppelin – Tangerine

This song and Hey Hey What Can I Do are my top two favorite Zeppelin songs.

Jimmy Page wrote this and first recorded it when he was still with The Yardbirds. I’ve read where Yardbirds singer Keith Relf wrote some of the lyrics originally and was given some of the credit but the record company turned it down for release. Later on, Jimmy would use it on the 3rd Zeppelin album with his lyrics.

This was the last Zeppelin song Page wrote without any input from Robert Plant. It’s also the only track on Led Zeppelin III for which Plant didn’t write the lyrics.

At the time the album got mixed reviews from critics and fans alike. Many fans wanted the same heavy albums as the first two. This album had a mix and they perfected it on their next album.

This was used at the end of the 2000 movie Almost Famous in a scene where a bus drives away…I thought the song was brilliant in that scene in the movie.

From Songfacts

Robert Plant would sometimes introduce this at concerts by saying: “This song is for our families and friends and people we’ve been close to. It’s a song of love at its most innocent stages.”

Jimmy Page played a pedal steel guitar on this track. He told Guitar Player magazine in 1977: “On the first LP there’s a pedal steel. I had never played steel before, but I just picked it up. There’s a lot of things I do first time around that I haven’t done before. In fact, I hadn’t touched a pedal steel from the first album to the third. It’s a bit of a pinch really from the things that Chuck Berry did. Nevertheless, it fits. I use pedal steel in ‘Your Time Is Gonna Come.’ It sounds like a slide or something. It’s more out of tune on the first album because I hadn’t got a kit to put it together.”

Why does this song fade to silence a few seconds in? Jimmy Page explained when previewing the song for Melody Maker in 1970: “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 it was a good idea. Everybody asks what the hell is going on.”

Led Zeppelin played this during acoustic sets on their early tours.

This was the second Zeppelin song named after a fruit. “The Lemon Song” was the first.

According to Jimmy Page, this song was dedicated to Jackie DeShannon, who was his girlfriend when he wrote the song. DeShannon, a member of the Songwriting Hall of Fame, had hits as a singer with “What the World Needs Now Is Love” and “Put a Little Love in Your Heart.”

This was recorded on April 4, 1968 at one of the last studio sessions for The Yardbirds, under the title “Knowing That I’m Losing You.” This first version performed by The Yardbirds, featured music almost identical to “Tangerine” by Led Zeppelin, but with different lyrics (vocals by Keith Relf), and was never officially released. It was supposed to be included on the Cumular Limit compilation (which was released in 2000), together with other materials from the same sessions, but interestingly enough, Page vetoed the release of the song. Since then, the version from The Yardbirds has leaked onto the internet, and Page has been accused of ripping off a Yardbirds composition, simply changing the majority of the lyrics (probably initially written by Keith Relf) in order to avoid any problem with the other members of his previous group. This would explain his veto against the release of the original song. It is not easy to ascertain the above, as the remaining members of The Yardbirds haven’t spoken about the subject so far.

 

Tangerine

Measuring a summer’s day, I only finds it slips away to grey
The hours, they bring me pain

Tangerine, Tangerine, living reflection from a dream
I was her love, she was my queen, and now a thousand years between

Thinking how it used to be
Does she still remember times like these?
To think of us again?
And I do

Tangerine, Tangerine, living reflection from a dream
I was her love, she was my queen, and now a thousand years between

When Giants Walked The Earth…. by Mick Wall

I read this book about Led Zeppelin over a year ago…and recently while waiting for a Beatles book to get released I  went through it again. The book is much better than The Hammer Of The Gods released in the 80s. There are many things in this book that I didn’t know. Overall I liked it…but..

Mick Wall would do these interludes that are supposed to be some kind of interior monologue by the protagonists (but in second person). The book is well researched and he would be going along great and then all of a sudden he would try to get into each member’s head and have a monologue (in cockney many times) on what they were thinking at that moment…I don’t care how much you researched someone you do not know what they were thinking at that time.

He would sprinkle these monologues out so it’s not like they are the entire book but it was totally unnecessary to me…and it was annoying.

Here is a small example of a Jimmy Page interlude…and “G” is Led Zeppelin’s manager Peter Grant.  Now it’s down to just the two of you, Jimmy and G. And of course, the name, for what it’s still worth: the Yardbirds. Or maybe the New Yardbirds – G’s suggestion. That way, at least, it won’t be like starting again from scratch, he says. Not entirely, anyway. And you can still get paying gigs. Keep the wolf from the door until you can come up with something better. That’s the plan anyway, this long, rainy summer of 1968…

From 1968 to 1980 Led Zeppelin were together and left a giant legacy and myth behind. The book is solid and I found out many things I didn’t already know. I am a fan of some of their music…the less indulgent side of them anyway. I’m not the person who wants to listen to a 25-minute live version of No Quarter.

The author does go in-depth about Page’s infatuation of black magic and the dark image of the band. He also goes into the songwriting and about how they got the sound they did…so he covers the personalities, the music, and events that happened.

Things were going great for them until 1975 when Robert Plant was in a car wreck with his family and from that point on everything started to go downhill. This book covers everything you would want and it covers what happened after John Bonham died. They did think about regrouping many times through the decades but it was always Robert who had doubts…and after what he went through I cannot blame him. His wife was almost killed in the car wreck and Plant’s leg was badly hurt…then when he recovered his young son (Karac) died of a stomach virus and 3 years later Bonham died.

After Zeppelin unlike Plant and Jones, Jimmy Page didn’t adjust as well to life without the band. The book was written in 2009 and he does cover the O2 Arena reunion.

If you are a Led Zeppelin fan or a fan of classic rock through the seventies…this is a good book. Out of five stars, I would give it 3.75 out of 5 for the information it gives…without the monologues, I would consider a 5.

 

 

My Top 10 Favorite Live Albums

I’m more of a studio guy when it comes to listening to bands but there are a few live albums I really like. This is my top 10 and a few honorable mentions at the bottom. Very few artists can improve on the studio version but sometimes some manage to pull it off.

10. Led Zeppelin –  How the West Was Won – After the disappointing live album The Song Remains The Same, this album released in 2003 contained Led Zeppelin live in 1972 from two shows in top form.

How the West Was Won (Live) (3-CD)

9: Simon And Garfunkel – The Concert In Central Park – This was big for me when it was released. I had by this time worn a groove out in their greatest hits. The band was great and their harmonies were as good as ever.

Image result for Simon And Garfunkel – The Concert In Central Park

8: George Harrison – The Concert For Bangladesh – Fun to listen to George freed from the Beatles and he sounds great with Dylan, Billy Preston, Ringo, and other friends.

Image result for George Harrison – The Concert For Bangladesh

 

7: The Band: The Last Waltz – One of the best live albums ever. The Band’s last concert with Robbie with a host of talented famous friends. I still don’t get the Neil Diamond selection…nothing against Neil…he didn’t fit in with this atmosphere.

Image result for The Band: The Last Waltz album

6: The Allman Brothers Band “At Fillmore East” – This album floats up and down this list depending on my mood. It was at number 2 when I first made this list a couple of weeks ago. This band was probably one of the most talented bands in the seventies. I didn’t start heavily listening to them until around 5-10 years ago. They are better live than in the studio. There was not a weak link in this 6 piece band…especially in the Duane version but later incarnations were almost as strong.

At The Fillmore East (2LPs - 180GV)

5: Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band, ‘Live/1975-85’ – I listened to this so much in the 80s that I knew the stories Bruce would tell by heart. Later when listening to the studio version of a song I would expect the story that went with it.

Image result for Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band, ‘Live/1975-85’

4: Paul McCartney  Wings Over America – This triple album set was a live greatest hits. The songs had some edge to them thanks to Jimmy McCulloch the young prodigy guitar player.  Paul even broke his silence on the Beatles and included five Beatle songs. Blackbird, I’ve Just Seen a Face, Yesterday, The Long and Winding Road, and Lady Madonna. Unlike the other 3 albums ahead of this on in the list, Paul didn’t mess with the songs too much from the original studio recordings.

Wings over America

3: The Rolling Stones – ‘”Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out!” – This tour and the 1972  tour were the Stones at their live peak.

Image result for the rolling stones get yer ya-ya's out

2: Bob Dylan – The Bootleg Series, Vol. 4: Bob Dylan Live 1966, The “Royal Albert Hall” Concert – I have seen Dylan 8 times but if I could pick a tour to see him on…I would go back and this would be the one. With The Band backing him up…minus Levon Helm but Mickey Jones on drums is very powerful.

Image result for bob dylan 1966 royal albert hall concert

1: The Who – ‘Live at Leeds’ This album highlights The Who at their best. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a rock band so tight. The power of the performance is huge. Pete Townshend told his soundman Bob Pridden to erase all other shows on this tour at the time…Bob did… much to Pete’s regret later on.

The Who - Live at Leeds By The Who

 

 

Honorable Mentions

Beatles Live At The Star-Club in Hamburg Germany – The quality of the recording is pretty bad but it’s exciting to hear the punkish Beatles before Beatlemania hit.

The Kinks – One For The Road

Neil Young & Crazy Horse –  Live Rust

Johnny Cash – At Folsom Prison

The Band – Rock of Ages

Cheap Trick – At Budokan

Elvis (68 Comeback Special)

 

Led Zeppelin – The Ocean

“We’ve done four already but now we’re steady and then they went: One, two, three, four”

This song has a great guitar riff that carries the song along with the drums. It’s been said that the Ocean referred to was the fans as they were seen by the band on the stage. In the last line, the Girl who won my heart is Robert Plant’s daughter Carmen, who was 3 years old at the time.

This song was off of the Houses of the Holy album released in 1973. The album peaked at #1 in the Billboard Charts, #1 in the UK, and #1 in Canada. The band didn’t release many singles but this one was released and managed to peak at #8 in Germany.

Bonham and Jones make a rare appearance on backing vocals for the outro.

This song was #14 on Rolling Stones 40 greatest Led Zeppelin songs.

From Songfacts

The voice on the intro is drummer John Bonham. When he says, “We’ve done four already, but now we’re steady and then they went, 1… 2… 3… 4…,” he is referring to the takes. They had tried to record it 4 times prior but couldn’t get it right, so as a pep talk he said his famous line. 

This is one of the few Zeppelin songs where all four members shared the writing credit.

Robert Plant used parts of this for his solo song “Tall Cool One.”

The Beastie Boys sampled this on “She’s Crafty.” It wasn’t their first use of Zeppelin – they took some of Bonham’s drums from “When The Levee Breaks” for “Rhymin’ And Stealin’.”

It can barely be heard due to all the guitar overdubs, but during the last minute or so, John Paul Jones and John Bonham sing for one of the only times on a Zeppelin album. They are harmonizing the phrase “Doo wop.” 

If you listen carefully, you can hear a phone ringing in the studio at 1:37-1:38 and again (second ring) around 1:41. 

The lyrics about “The Hellhound” refer to Blues musician Robert Johnson, who according to legend, sold his soul to the devil. On the lyrics sheet that came with the album, the word “hellhound” was replaced with “high hopes hailla.” 

The Ocean

“We’ve done four already but now we’re steady
And then they went: One, two, three, four”

Singing in the sunshine, laughing in the rain
Hitting on the moonshine, rocking in the grain
Got no time to pack my bags, my foots outside the door
I got a date, I can’t be late, for the high hopes hailla ball, uh uh, uh uh, yeah

Singing to an ocean, I can hear the ocean’s roar
Play for free, I play for me and play a whole lot more, more!
Singing about the good things and the sun that lights the day
I used to sing on the mountains, has the ocean lost its way

I don’t know, oh oh, yeah’

Ooh, yeah

Sitting round singing songs ’til the night turns into day
Used to sing about the mountains but the mountains washed away
Now I’m singing all my songs to the girl who won my heart
She is only three years old and it’s a real fine way to start

Oh yeah!

It sure is fine!
Ah blow my mind!
When the tears are goin’ down! 
Yeah! Yeah, yeah

Oh so, oh so, oh so good!
Oh so good!

Led Zeppelin – Ozone Baby

This was on the album Coda it was released two years after John Bonham’s death and features outtakes from sessions throughout their career. I heard this one more than the others on the album.

Recorded in 1978 at a studio in Sweden owned by Abba, this song was intended for the Led Zeppelin album In Through the Out Door, but it didn’t make the cut. Ozone Baby peaked at #14 in the Mainstream Rock Songs Charts in 1982. Coda was released in 1982 and peaked at #6 in the Billboard Album Charts in 1983.

Coda is by no means a great album but it does have some enjoyable tracks like Wearing and Tearing and Darlene. It’s not like they set out to record an album… it was released to honor contractual commitments to Atlantic Records.

From Songfacts

The entire band’s instrumentals come in right at the opening with Robert Plant’s vocals starting in soon after. This was Zeppelin’s typical style, a straightforward “get it done” 12-bar-blues attitude without very much pretension. It shows something of their character that they were consistent in doing this on one of the last songs done by the classic lineup.

Another telling sign of Zeppelin’s character: How many drummers do most bands go through? Next to the bass, the drummer is usually the most-rotated spot. Not Zeppelin! Lose the drummer, and that’s it, the band calls it quits – but to be fair, growing tensions within the band could have broken them up anyway.

A bit of rock history trivia: Led Zeppelin today is remembered as practically having walked on water. One easily forgets that back when these albums were coming out, while they had a huge fan base, rock critics panned them almost unanimously. Rolling Stone raspberried every single Zep album.

 

Ozone Baby

I hear ya knock on my door 
I ain’t been saving this scene for ya honey 
Don’t wantcha ringin’ my bell 
It’s too late for you to be my honey 

Oh, it’s my love 
Oh, it’s my own true love 

Oh, it’s my love 
Oh, it’s my own true love 

Don’t want you wasting my time 
Tired of ya doing the things that you do 
It’s no use standing in line 
Follow the line, you better follow queue 

I say, oh, it’s my love 
Oh, it’s my own true love 

Oh, it’s my love 
Oh, it’s my own true love, my my own

I could sail a river run dead, but I know it’s dead
I could I wish for a million, yeah but I know it’s dead
I could cry within the darkness, I sail away 
I save a lifetime forever?
But you know, you know, you know what I say 

And I say oh, it’s my love 
Oh, it’s my own true love 

Oh, it’s my love 
Oh, it’s my own true love, my my own 

Oh, it’s my love 
Oh, it’s my own true love

Oh, it’s my love 
Oh, it’s my own true love, my own true love
My own true love, my own true love
My own true love
I said Oh, it’s my love 
Oh, it’s my own true love
Oh, it’s my love 
Oh, it’s my own true love, my own

Led Zeppelin – Wearing and Tearing

This was on the album Coda it was released two years after John Bonham’s death and features outtakes from sessions throughout their career.

the song was supposed to be released as a single to coincide with their 1979 tour, but it was delayed because of production problems. This was Zeppelin’s answer to the Punk Rock groups at the time. It was recorded during the making of the In Through The Out Door album.

I don’t think it would have fit well on In Through The Out Door but it is too bad they didn’t release it as a single at the time.

From Songfacts

John Bonham died before this could be released. It was included on Coda, an album of unreleased tracks.

They planned to release this under the name of a fake band so it would not be judged as a Zeppelin song and could compete against the popular Punk bands.

Led Zeppelin never performed this live, but in 1990, Page and Plant played it at the Knebworth Festival in England.

 

Wearing and Tearing

It starts out like a murmur 
Then it grows like thunder 
Until it bursts inside of you 
Try to hold it steady 
Wait until you’re ready 
Any second now will do 
Throw the door wide open 
Not a word is spoken 
Anything that you want to do 

Ya know, ya know, ya know
Ya know, ya know, ya know

Don’t you feel the same way? 
Don’t you feel the same way? 
But you don’t know what to do 
No time for hesitatin’ 
Ain’t no time for hesitatin’ 
All you got to do is move 
They say you’re feeling blue, well 
I just found a cure 
It’s a thing you gotta do, yeah 

(Ya know, ya know, ya know)

Now listen, when you say your body’s aching? 
I know that it’s aching 
Chill bumps come up on you 
Yeah, the funny fool 
I love the funny fool 
Just like foolin’ after school? 
And then you ask for medication 
Who cares for medication 
When you’ve worn away the cure 

(Ya know, ya know, ya know)

(Hey, hey)
Go back to the country yeah, go back to the country 
Feel a change is good for you 
When you keep convincin’ 
Ah, don’t keep convincin’ 
What’s that creeping up behind a you? 
It’s just an old friend, it’s just an old friend 
And what’s that he’s got for you? 

(Ya know, ya know, ya know)

Yeah, yeah, yeah I can feel it, I can feel it ?
Oh, medication, medication, medication