Here’s a clip of stadium rock pioneers and erstwhile New Yardbirds known as Led Zeppelin. It’s a live take of “Going To California”, originally a cut from their untitled fourth album, which is sometimes called Led Zeppelin IV. Here we see it performed on film at one of their five appearances at Earl’s Court, this specific one on May 25, 1975. You can see the entirety of the show on 2003’s creatively titled Led Zeppelin DVD on disc 2.
This is perhaps one of the most era-defining performances in rock history, capturing the band at the height of their powers during a time they were being hailed as the biggest rock act of the era.
No expense was spared in creating the event on an appropriately epic scale. The lighting rigs and sets used during these shows were shipped from the States where the band had recently toured to Earl’s Court in London, then the largest venue in Britain. Rehearsals stretched out over days while the sound on a technical level was tested and perfected.
It was kind of a big deal.
But, there again so were the band, the biggest concert draw of the era by then in terms of sheer numbers in the seats. Considering the era, this is saying quite a lot, what with both the Who and the Rolling Stones also on the road in 1975. In terms of commercial appeal, they were sitting pretty.
Yet, even if the commercial traction they’d created would sustain them in the immediate years that followed, this series of shows at Earl’s Court would represent the pinnacle of their success for many. And, how so? Read more
Listen to this track, a slice of fuzztone-sizzling, proto-psychedelic raga rock from vital blues-rock champeens and garage rock forefathers The Yardbirds. It’s the band’s 1965 hit single “Heart Full of Soul”, the second single released after the departure of talented, and deeply earnest, purist blues guitarist Eric Clapton. Clapton would be succeeded by another upcoming guitar player of considerable reknown – Jeff Beck.
One of the sore points that drove Clapton to seek his fortunes elsewhere was the band’s movement away from the blues and into other areas (read: the pop charts). Their intial single in this new direction was the blantantly commercial “For Your Love”, which was certainly a hit, and modeled after a Beatlesque pop sound, which Clapton couldn’t get behind. He left to join John Mayall’s group, the Bluesbreakers.
Initially, Clapton was to be replaced by Jimmy Page. But eventually the spot went to Jeff Beck on Page’s recommendation when Page himself balked at leaving his lucrative session player salary. The Yardbirds would get Page later, though. And despite his stylistic rigidity at the time, Clapton would later befriend the Beatles, and be one of the only guests to play on one of their songs.
As Chuck Berry once said: you never can tell. Read more
Listen to this track from Percy and Pagey, once of conquering Nordic-style hard rock demi-gods Led Zeppelin, reunited as world-music enthusiasts Robert Plant and Jimmy Page. It’s “Four Sticks”, a massively underappreciated Zep track from their most soundly celebrated 1971 untitled fourth album (sometimes called IV, Four Symbols, or Zoso), and revisited here on their live No Quarter album, recorded and released in late 1994.
Since 1980, and through solo career efforts of varying degrees of success and quality, Page and Plant were burdened with their legacy as game-changing rock icons. The pair were constantly asked about Zep re-unions, teased out by appearances with John Paul Jones at Live Aid (with Tony Thompson and Phil Collins sitting in for a departed John Bonham). There was also a brief show together at the 1988 Atlantic Records 40th anniversary. Yet, through it all, the commonality that runs through their music was their interest in Celtic traditions and the blues as informed by the musical traditions of North Africa. Read more