Monday, March 31, 2014

Getting the Led Out

Led Zeppelin: Visual DocumentaryLed Zeppelin: Visual Documentary by Paul Kendall
Reviewed by Jason Koivu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"JIMMY PAGE" the first page essentially shouts as it launches into the guitarist's history without any introduction for the overall book.

Fine. I think we can guess where a book called Led Zeppelin: A Visual Documentary is going. A quick flip through shows that it is set up first to give musician-by-musician background. At this point, a diehard Zeppelin fan will notice that often-neglected bassist, John Paul Jones, does not actually come last this time around! No, each of the band members are "introduced" in the order in which they joined. Fan-books like this have not always been created with great intelligence, but rather blind elation, a sort of groupie's verve. While this book has a love for the Led, it is comforting to know a little thought went into it.

However, when it comes to '70s rock/heavy metal, I've found you can never juice it with enough of the grey matter. Spinal Tap is hilarious for a reason. And so with that in mind, let's continue on into the book. After the band member section, we find Kendall has tossed in, in scrapbook style, a bunch of pictures, none of which come with captions. Most of them are of the band, so no problem there. But there are quite a few pictures of Led Zeppelin's entourage, other musicians, shots of tour guidebooks, ticket stubs, fanzine covers, posters, and buttons, none of which come with an explanation. So what's a fan to do? The answer's this way -->

Laid out between the pictures is a diary-style timeline of the band's history from it's inception to late 1980, when drummer John Bonham died and Led Zeppelin closed up shop (well, at least for a good long while, but that's another story.) The almost daily entries give a synopsis of the band's activities at the time. Sometimes it's no more than:

January 1970
Bristol, Colston Hall

But often the entries are fuller:

December 1975
After completing the album, the group went back to Jersey to continue their tax exile as close to home as possible.
John Bonham, John Paul Jones and Robert Plant return home to spend Christmas with their family, while Jimmy Page flies to New York to mix the soundtrack for the film. [The Song Remains the Same]

Also included are band member quotes along with the timeline's happenings, which will be of immense interest to rabid fans. Occasionally within the timeline can be found information that clears up what the pictures pertain to, but good luck matching them up.

Perhaps the thing that will interest fans the most and make them seek out this little gem is that it was published in '82, less than two years after the band's break up when rumors were rife of them finding another drummer or possibly forming a "super group" with another legendary band also on the rocks. We now know the course Page, Plant and Jones took post-Zeppelin, but it's fun to see the turmoil that was brewing at the time.

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