Il 20 gennaio 1975 i Led Zeppelin tennero a Chicago il primo concerto del mastodontico decimo tour degli Sates. Spettacoli di oltre 3 ore, un light-show all’avanguardia, raggi laser e nebbie di ghiaccio secco; una copertura mediatica per la prima volta veramente in grande stile fece del tour l’apice della popolarità del gruppo.
Al concerto del 3 febbraio, il primo a New York, tra il pubblico del Madison Square Garden vi era anche lo scrittore William Burroughs, accompagnato da un giornalista di Crawdaddy, rivista per cui l’autore del Pasto Nudo avrebbe scritto un articolo sul gruppo Inglese dal titolo “Rock Magic”. Burroughs era da poco rientrato in patria dopo anni trascorsi a Londra e viveva da meno di un anno in un appartamento del Lower East-Side. Alla disperata ricerca di qualche introito, finì per qualche tempo a scrivere di musica, ambito nel quale non aveva poi molta esperienza.
Prototipo di intellettuale della sotto-cultura beat, tra gli anni ’40 e ’60 aveva sperimentato tutto lo sperimentabile, dal’orrore della Seconda Guerra Mondiale alle antiche università europee, dai circoli gay e lesbo della New York dei primi anni ’30, all’ascesa del nazismo. Cittadino del mondo, viaggiò, oltre che per mezza Europa, per il Messico e il Sud America dove entrò in contatto con le droghe sciamaniche, la telepatia, il controllo delle menti e gli stati allucinogeni e di alterazione legati ai culti tribali; e dove finì per uccidere la sua compagna Joan Vollmer in una specie di gioco alla roulette russa. Era in stretti rapporti con altre figure della beat generation tra cui Jack Kerouac che lo omaggiò del personaggio di Old Bull Lee in On the Road. Pansessuale, dedito ed assuefatto ad ogni tipo di sostanza (naturale o sintetica) che potesse alterare i sensi e la percezione, tra la fine degli anni 50 e i primi anni 60 raggiunse la notorietà con alcuni libri divenuti capisaldi prima della cultura beat, poi di una certa fantascienza alternativa, del racconto fantasy, fino al moderno cyberpunk.
Burroughs era un geniale e cortese Lucifero umano, un mago moderno, un leggendario tossicodipendente e un artista la cui influenza si estendeva oltre la letteratura per raggiungere la musica, la pittura e il cinema.
Stephen Davis - Il martello degli dei. La saga dei Led Zeppelin
Stephen Davis - Il martello degli dei. La saga dei Led Zeppelin
Certo anche i Led Zeppelin del 1975 si portavano dietro un curriculum non indifferente: gruopies sodomizzate con squali vivi, inseguimenti stradali alla Bullit per le strade francesi, camere d’albergo martirizzate ed epiche scazzottate tanto nei backstage quanto nei locali di mezza Los Angeles. In verità tutta roba da novizi in confronto all’aura da vate proto psichedelico emanata da Burroughs.
Certo che lui, a metà anni ’70, non era un profondo conoscitore di musica contemporanea; tutto ciò che aveva imparato era quello che aveva visto e sperimentato in giro per il mondo una ventina di anni prima. Ciò non di meno la sua nomea mistica ed esoterica e il suo stato di figura patriarcale per il culto della beat-generation ben si associavano alla potenza oscura che i Led Zeppelin emanavano tanto su disco quanto in concerto.
Così, la sera del 3 aprile, seduto in tredicesima fila e senza tappi nelle orecchie, si lasciò investire dall’Armageddon sonoro di 3 ore di Page, Plant & Co. che sciorinarono tutto il loro repertorio migliore. Fu un buon concerto, la folla era comprensibilmente entusiasta e lo scrittore raccolse abbastanza materiale per il suo articolo, che riportiamo integralmente qui di seguito.
Rock Magic: Jimmy Page, Led Zeppelin, And a search for the elusive Stairway to Heaven
by William Burroughs, Crawdaddy Magazine, June 1975.
When I was first asked to write an article on the Led Zeppelin group, to be based on attending a concert and talking with Jimmy Page, I was not sure I could do it, not being sufficiently knowledgeable about music to attempt anything in the way of musical criticism or even evaluation. I decided simply to attend the concert and talk with Jimmy Page and let the article develop. If you consider any set of data without a preconceived viewpoint, then a viewpoint will emerge from the data.
My first impression was of the audience. As we streamed through one security line after another–a river of youth looking curiously like a single organism: one well-behaved clean-looking middle-class kid. The security guards seemed to be cool and well-trained, ushering gate-crashers out with a minimum of fuss. We were channeled smoothly into our seats in the thirteenth row. Over a relaxed dinner before the concert, a Crawdaddy companion had said he had a feeling that something bad could happen at this concert. I pointed out that it always can when you get that many people together–like bullfights where you buy a straw hat at the door to protect you from bottles and other missiles. I was displacing possible danger to a Mexican border town where the matador barely escaped with his life and several spectators were killed. It’s known as “clearing the path.”
So there we sat, I decline earplugs; I am used to loud drum and horn music from Morocco, and it always has, if skillfully performed, an exhilarating and energizing effect on me. As the performance got underway I experienced this musical exhilaration, which was all the more pleasant for being easily controlled, and I knew then that nothing bad was going to happen. This was a safe and friendly area–but at the same time highly charged. There was a palpable interchange of energy between the performers and the audience which was never frantic or jagged. The special effects were handled well and not overdone.
A few special effects are much better than too many. I can see the laser beams cutting dry ice smoke, which drew an appreciative cheer from the audience. Jimmy Page’s number with the broken guitar strings came across with a real impact, as did John Bonham’s drum solo and the lyrics delivered with unfailing vitality by Robert Plant. The performers were doing their best, and it was very good. The last number, “Stairway to Heaven”, where the audience lit matches and there was a scattering of sparklers here and there, found the audience well-behaved and joyous, creating the atmosphere of a high school Christmas play. All in all a good show; neither low nor insipid. Leaving the concert hall was like getting off a jet plane.
I summarized my impressions after the concert in a few notes to serve as a basis for my talk with Jimmy Page. “The essential ingredient for any successful rock group is energy–the ability to give out energy, to receive energy from the audience and to give it back to the audience. A rock concert is in fact a rite involving the evocation and transmutation of energy. Rock stars may be compared to priests, a theme that was treated in Peter Watkins’ film ‘Privilege’. In that film a rock star was manipulated by reactionary forces to set up a state religion; this scenario seems unlikely, I think a rock group singing political slogans would leave its audience at the door.
“The Led Zeppelin show depends heavily on volume, repetition and drums. It bears some resemblance to the trance music found in Morocco, which is magical in origin and purpose–that is, concerned with the evocation and control of spiritual forces. In Morocco, musicians are also magicians. Gnaoua music is used to drive out evil spirits. The music of Joujouka evokes the God Pan, Pan God of Panic, representing the real magical forces that sweep away the spurious. It is to be remembered that the origin of all the arts–music, painting and writing–is magical and evocative; and that magic is always used to obtain some definite result. In the Led Zeppelin concert, the result aimed at would seem to be the creation of energy in the performers and in the audience. For such magic to succeed, it must tap the sources of magical energy, and this can be dangerous.”
Burroughs probabilmente non conosceva nessuna delle canzoni in scaletta quella sera; di Stairway to Heaven sapeva appena il titolo. Era un osservatore super partes, vergine di esperienze Rock e privo di ogni interesse giornalistico nel denigrare od esaltare il gruppo. Non meraviglia che le sue considerazioni manchino di specificità ma possiedano quella lucidità nell’esporre concetti di base (spesso tralasciati in favore di un’esasperante disamina tecnico-musicale) che meglio di tante recensioni possono spiegare la musica dei Led Zeppelin (e di buona parte di tutti i grandi musicisti rock del dopoguerra) e il perché del loro successo.
Il primo elemento, il più immediato ma spesso trascurato: il pubblico.
My first impression was of the audience. As we streamed through one security line after another–a river of youth looking curiously like a single organism: one well-behaved clean-looking middle-class kid
E’ il pubblico lo specchio in cui ogni performer si riflette. Il pubblico dei Led Zeppelin – non lo scopriva Burroughs - era costituito in stragrande maggioranza di adolescenti maschi, bianchi, giovanissimi, che non aspiravano più a cambiare il mondo, a fermare la guerra o promulgare equità sociale. Volevano divertirsi, sbracare, ubriacarsi di musica e sopratutto scopare (cosa, quest’ultima, assai più complicata delle altre…). Un pubblico alquanto a-critico e totalmente assuefatto ai propri Eroi. I Led Zeppelin, forse per primi tra i grandi gruppi commerciali dell’epoca, rinunciarono totalmente ad avere la stampa dalla loro parte, soprattutto nei primi cinque anni della loro carriera: una scelta simile avrebbe affossato la maggior parte dei complessi in circolazione, compresi molti mostri sacri. Rinunciarono ai mass media, a concedere interviste, ad apparire in televisione o assieme ad altre band; rinunciarono a compiacere i critici, ad ottenere l’approvazione di intellettuali, colleghi o discografici; tutto in favore del loro pubblico e della loro, suprema, autocrazia. Piaccia o no, sarebbero stati campioni incontrastati di OGNI televoto.
Il secondo elemento annotato da Burroughs è forse determinante per capire da cosa scaturisce la musica del gruppo: l’energia.
There was a palpable interchange of energy between the performers and the audience which was never frantic or jagged. The special effects were handled well and not overdone.
Niente ritmo, niente swing, assolutamente niente politica (ci mancherebbe, siamo nel 1975!) e, soprattutto, niente amore. I Led Zeppelin avevano bandito l’amore già dal loro terzo tour americano del 1970, in un periodo in cui ancora riecheggiavano le parole di alcuni vati della west-coast:
There‘s not enough love in the world nowadays. And the groups give them [listeners] love, the good ones. And I think they know it . . . and you gotta love the kids and the music both to play it right, so that it will excite them. There is definite love going on between the kick and the performers, and its both ways"
David Crosby in un’intervista citata da Richie Unterberger in: "Eight Miles High: Folk-Rock's Flight from Haight-Ashbury to Woodstock"
Al contrario la musica degli Zeppelin dipende da altro:
The Led Zeppelin show depends heavily on volume, repetition and drums
Una frase che potrebbe essere la più sintetica ed efficace definizione di tutto il metal, il punk, l’hardcore di lì a venire.
La musica dei Led Zeppelin non è musica per i piedi (come il vecchio Rock n’ Roll), ma nemmeno per il cuore (Joni Mitchell, Cat Stevens…), nè per il cervello (King Crimson, Van Der Graaf…). E’ musica di nervi, di pancia. Furono loro a trasformare il rapporto tra artista e pubblico in una (ottima) scopata senza sentimento: che lascia esausti, sudati ed appagati. Senza doversi scambiare i numeri di telefono.
“...la cosa che emerge più chiaramente dai loro concerti è un sentimento di violente emozioni interiorizzate. Non c'è traccia della spontaneità o della gioia dei concerti degli Stones o dei Faces. Non c'è rilassamento. l Led Zeppelin ottengono grandi risultati quanto a controllo del tempo e delle dinamiche sonore. I loro concerti sono magnificamente ritmati ma non c'è un climax soddisfacente. Musica corporea ma, dal momento che non riesce ad avere swing, non riesce a far ballare il proprio pubblico; punta alle tempie, non ai piedi, e il suo effetto finale è il completo stupore".
Mick Gold citato da Stephen Davis ne: "Il martello degli dei. La saga dei Led Zeppelin"
E’ questo scambio di pura energia nervosa e sessuale il legame più saldo tra il gruppo e i suoi fans. Su questo legame, puramente fisico, istintivo, Page ha costruito una dubbia sovrastruttura fatta di rituali, incantesimi, riferimenti all’occulto e tutta una serie di simboli che solo loro, i fans, potevano decodificare. Il quarto, mitico, album uscì privo di titolo e di autore. Fu uno schiaffo al marketing e alla distribuzione ma anche un rischio molto calcolato. Jim Morrison aveva cominciato durante i concerti dei Doors a relazionarsi con il suo pubblico in modo nuovo, aperto e imprevedibile; a comandarlo e dirigerlo come un generale pacifista e senza la divisa. Peccato che l’alcool e la bizzarria intrinseca del personaggio finissero spesso per rovinare tutto. Page e Plant non avevano bisogno di proclami per incitare il pubblico; i loro accordi, il loro volume, la cassa di Bonzo parlavano per loro. Ai primi accordi di Stairway to Heaven, immancabilmente tutti gli accendini di ogni stadio d’America si accendevano. Era un rito, una sorta di eucarestia rock.
Burroughs non macò di annotare la similitudine tra il rito religioso e il concerto Rock, in cui la star è l’officiante. E, da buon rito, il messale è immutabile e pubblico. Give the people what they want. Ma allora possiamo veramente dirci atei rispetto al culto del Rock? O siamo pronti ad accettare tutto ciò che esce dagli amplificatori come la parola rivelata? Abbiamo ancora la coscienza critica per poter giudicare con la nostra testa cosa è bello e cosa è brutto?
Di fronte agli accordi pastorali e i flauti della scala per il Paradiso, rinforzati dal silenzio totale e da mille fiammelle tremolanti è difficile essere obiettivi…
Dopo il concerto, Crawdaddy organizzò anche un incontro tra Burroughs e Jimmy Page. Il lungo dialogo tra i due fu dettagliatamente documentato e registrato. Più che un’intervista, sembra un lungo monologo dello scrittore su arte, viaggi, antropologia e musica, interrotto qua e là dai mugugni di approvazione e meraviglia del musicista: su di un palcoscenico di fronte a 20.000 ragazzini urlanti Page poteva fare lo sbruffone, ma a tu per tu con un vero mostro sacro gli mancarono parole ed argomenti.
In verità, leggendola oggi, quell’intervista appare più una pagina scartata dagli autori di Voyager o Mistero: controllo della mente, mostro di Loch Ness, armi militari segrete…. ma nel 1975 l’impressione doveva essere ben differente.
Per i curiosi riportiamo il sunto che lo stesso Burroughs fece dell’incontro. L’integrale, sbobinato, dell’intervista è disponibile all’indirizzo:
I felt that these considerations could form the basis of my talk with Jimmy Page, which I hoped would not take the form of an interview. There is something just basically WRONG about the whole interview format. Someone sticks a mike in your face and says, “Mr. Page, would you care to talk about your interest in occult practices? Would you describe yourself as a believer in this sort of thing?” Even an intelligent mike-in-the-face question tends to evoke a guarded mike-in-the-face answer. As soon as Jimmy Page walked into my loft downtown, I saw that it wasn’t going to be that way. We started talking over a cup of tea and found we have friends in common: the real estate agent who negotiated Jimmy Page’s purchase of the Aleister Crowley house on Loch Ness; John Michel, the flying saucer and pyramid expert; Donald Camel, who worked on ‘Performance’; Kenneth Anger, and the Jaggers, Mick and Chris. The subject of magic came up in connection with Aleister Crowley and Kenneth Anger’s film ‘Lucifer Rising’, for which Jimmy Page did the sound track.
Since the word “magic” tends to cause confused thinking, I would like to say exactly what I mean by “magic” and the magical interpretation of so-called reality. The underlying assumption of magic is the assertion of ‘will’ as the primary moving force in this universe–the deep conviction that nothing happens unless somebody or some being wills it to happen. To me this has always seemed self-evident. A chair does not move unless someone moves it. Neither does your physical body, which is composed of much the same materials, move unless you will it to move. Walking across the room is a magical operation. From the viewpoint of magic, no death, no illness, no misfortune, accident, war or riot is accidental. There are no accidents in the world of magic. And will is another word for animate energy. Rock stars are juggling fissionable material that could blow up at any time… “The soccer scores are coming in from the Capital…one must pretend an interest,” drawled the dandified Commandante, safe in the pages of my book; and as another rock star said to me, “YOU sit on your ass writing–I could be torn to pieces by my fans, like Orpheus.”
I found Jimmy Page equally aware of the risks involved in handling the fissionable material of the mass unconcious. I took on a valence I learned years ago from two ‘Life-Time’ reporters–one keeps telling you these horrific stories: “Now old Burns was dragged out of the truck and skinned alive by the mob, and when we got there with the cameras the bloody thing was still squirming there like a worm…” while the other half of the team is snapping pictures CLICK CLICK CLICK to record your reactions–so over dinner at Mexican Gardens I told Jimmy the story of the big soccer riot in Lima, Peru in 1964.
We are ushered into the arena as VIPs, in the style made famous by ‘Triumph of the Will’. Martial music–long vistas–the statuesque police with their dogs on leads–the crowd surging in a sultry menacing electricity palpable in the air–grey clouds over Lima–people glance up uneasily… the last time it rained in Lima was the year of the great earthquake, when whole towns were swallowed by landslides. A cop is beating and kicking someone as he shoves him back towards the exit. Oh lucky man. The dogs growl ominously. The game is tense. Tied until the end of the last quarter, and then the stunning decision: a goal that would have won the game for Peru is disqualified by the Uruguayan referee. A howl of rage from the crowd, and then a huge black known as La Bomba, who has started three previous soccer riots and already has twenty-three notches on his bomb, vaults down into the arena. A wave of fans follows The Bomb–the Uruguayan referee scrambles off with the agility of a rat or an evil spirit–the police release tear gas and unleash their snarling dogs, hysterical with fear and rage and maddened by the tear gas. And then a sound like falling mountains, as a few drops of rain begin to fall.
“Yes, I’ve thought about that. We all have. The important thing is maintain a balance. The kids come to get far out with the music. It’s our job to see they have a good time and no trouble.”
And remember the rock group called Storm? Playing a dance hall in Switzerland…fire…exits locked…thirty-seven people dead including all the performers. Now any performer who has never thought about fire and panic just doesn’t think. The best way to keep something bad from happening is to see it ahead of time, and you can’t see it if you refuse to face the possibility. The bad vibes in that dance hall must have been really heavy. If the performers had been sensitive and alert, they would have checked to be sure the exits were unlocked.
Previously, over two fingers of whiskey in my Franklin Street digs, I had told Page about Major Bruce MacMannaway, a healer and psychic who lives in Scotland. The Major discovered his healing abilities in World War II when his regiment was cut off without medical supplies and the Major started laying on hands…”Well Major, I think it’s a load of bollocks but I’ll try anything.” And it turns out the Major is a walking hypo. His psychic abilities were so highly regarded by the Admiralty that he was called in to locate sunken submarines, and he never once missed.
I attended a group meditation seminar with the Major. It turned out to be the Indian rope trick. Before the session the Major told us something of the potential power in group meditation. He had seen it lift a six-hundred-pound church organ five feet in the air. I had no reason to doubt this, since he was obviously incapable of falsification. In the session, after some preliminary excercises, the Major asked us to see a column of light in the center of the room and then took us up through the light to a plateau where we met nice friendly people: the stairway to heaven in fact. I mean we were really THERE.
I turned to Jimmy Page: “Of course we are dealing here with meditation– the deliberate induction of a trance state in a few people under the hands of an old master. This would seem on the surface to have a little in common with a rock concert, but the underlying force is the same: human energy and its potential concentration.” I pointed out that the moment when the stairway to heaven becomes something actually POSSIBLE for the audience, would also be the moment of greatest danger. Jimmy expressed himself as well aware of the power in mass concentration, aware of the dangers involved, and of the skill and balance needed to avoid them…rather like driving a load of nitroglycerine.
“There IS a responsibility to the audience,” he said. “We don’t want anything bad to happen to these kids–we don’t want to release anything we can’t handle.” We talked about magic and Aleister Crowley. Jimmy said that Crowley has been maligned as a black magician, whereas magic is neither white nor black, good nor bad–it is simply alive with what it is: the real thing, what people really feel and want and are. I pointed out that this “either/or” straitjacket had been imposed by Christianity when all magic became black magic; that scientists took over from the Church, and Western man has been stifled in a non-magical universe known as “the way things are.” Rock music can be seen as one attempt to break out of this dead soulless universe and reassert the universe of magic.
Jimmy told me that Aleister Crowley’s house has very good vibes for anyone who is relaxed and receptive. At one time the house had also been the scene of a vast chicken swindle indirectly involving George Sanders, the movie actor, who was able to clear himself of any criminal charges, Sanders committed suicide in Barcelona, and we both remembered his farewell note to the world: “I leave you to this sweet cesspool.”
I told Jimmy he was lucky too have that house with a monster in the front yard. What about the Loch Ness monster? Jimmy Page thinks it exists. I wondered if it could find enough to eat, and thought this unlikely–it’s not the improbability but the upkeep on monsters that worries me. Did Aleister Crowley have opinions on the subject? He apparently had not expressed himself.
We talked about trance music. He had heard the Brian Jones record from recordings made at Joujouka. We discussed the possibility of synthesizing rock music with some of the older forms of trance music that have been developed over centuries to produce powerful, sometimes hypnotic effects on the audience. Such a synthesis would enable the older forms to escape from the mould of folk lore and provide new techniques to rock groups.
We talked about the special effects used in the concert. “Sure,” he said, “lights, lasers, dry ice are fine–but you have to keep some balance. The show must carry itself and not rely too heavily on special effects, however spectacular,” I brought up the subject of infra-sound, that is, sound pitched below 16 Hertz, the level of human hearing; as ultra-sound is above the level. Professer Gavreau of France developed infra-sound as a military weapon. A powerful infra-sound installation can, he claims, kill everyone in a five-mile radius, knock down walls and break windows. Infra-sound kills by setting up vibrations within the body so that, as Gavreau puts it, “You can feel all the organs in your body rubbing together.” The plans for this device can be obtained from the French Patent Office, and infra-sound generators constructed from inexpensive materials. Needless to say, one is not concerned with military applications however unlimited, but with more interesting and useful possibilities, reaching much further that five miles.
Infra-sound sets up vibrations in the body and nervous system. Need these vibrations necessarily be harmful or unpleasant? All music played at any volume sets up vibrations in the body and nervous system of the listener. That’s why people listen to it. Caruso as you wil remember could break a champagne glass across the room. Especially interesting is the possibility of rhythmic pulses of infra-sound; that is, MUSIC IN INFRA-SOUND. You can’t hear it, but you can feel it.
Jimmy was interested, and I gave him a copy of a newspaper article on infra-sound. It seems that the most deadly range is around 7 Hertz, and when this is turned on even at a low volume, anyone within range is affected. They feel anxious, ill, depressed, and finally exclaim with one voice, “I feel TERRIBLE!”…last thing you want at a rock concert. However, around the borders of infra-sound perhaps a safe range can be found. Buddhist mantras act by setting up vibrations in the body. Could this be done in a much more powerful yet safe manner by the use of infra-sound rhythms which could of course could be combined with audible music? Perhaps infra-sound could add a new dimension to rock music.
Could something be developed comparable to the sonar communication of dolphins, conveying an immediate sonar experience that requires no symbolic translation? I mentioned to Jimmy that I had talked with Dr. Truby, who worked with John Lilly recording dolphins. Dr. Truby is a specialist in inter-species communication, working on a grant from the government–so that when all our kids are born Venusians we will understand then when they start to talk. I suggested to him that ALL communication, as we know it, is actually inter-species communication, and that it is kept that way by the nature of verbal and symbolic communication, which must be indirect.
Do dolphins have a language? What is a language? I define a language as a communication system in which data are represented by verbal or written symbols–symbols that ARE NOT THE OBJECTS to which they refer. The word “chair” is not the object itself, the chair. So any such system of communication is always second-hand and symbolic, whereas we CAN conceive of a form of communication that would be immediate and direct, undercutting the need for symbols. And music certainly comes closer to such direct communication than language.
Could musical communication be rendered more precise with infra-sound, thus bringing the whole of music a second radical step forward? The first step was made when music came out of the dance halls, roadhouses, and night clubs, into Madison Square Garden and Shea Stadium. Rock music appeals to a mass audience, instead of being the province of a relatively few aficionados. Can rock music make another step forward, or is it a self-limiting form, confirmed by the demands of a mass audience? How much that is radically new can a mass audience safely absorb? We came back to the question of balance. How much new material will be accepted by a mass audience? Can rock music go forward without leaving its fans behind?
We talked about Wilhelm Reich’s orgone accumulator, and I showed him plans for making this device, which were passed along to me by Reich’s daughter. Basically the device is very simple, consisting of iron or steel wool on the inside and organic material on the outside. I think this was highly important discovery. Recently a scientist with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration announced an “electrical cell” theory of cancer that is almost identical to Reich’s cancer theory put forth 25 years ago. He does not acknowledge any indebtedness to Reich. I showed Jimmy the orgone box I have here, and we agreed that orgone accumulators in pyramid form and/or using magnetized iron could be much more powerful.
We talked about the film ‘Performance’ and the use of cut-up techniques in this film. Now the cut-up method was applied to writing by Brion Gysin in 1959; he said that writing was fifty years behind painting, and applied the montage method to writing. Actually, montage is much closer to the facts of perception thatn representational painting. If for example you walked through Times Square, and then put on canvas what you had seen, the result would be a montage…half a person cut in two by a car, reflections from shop windows, fragments of street signs. Antony Balch and I collaborated on a film called ‘Cut-Ups’, in which the film was cut into segments and rearranged at random. Nicholas Roeg and Donald Camel saw a screening of the film not long before they made ‘Performance’.
Musical cut-ups have been used by Earl Browne and other modern composers. What distinguishes a cut-up from, say, an edited medley, is that the cut-up is at some point random. For example, if you made a medley by taking thirty seconds from a number of scores and assembling these arbitrary units–that would be a cut-up. Cut-ups often result in more succinct meanings, rather than nonsense. Here for example is a phrase taken from a cut-up of this article: “I can see the laser gate crashers with an appreciative cheer from the 13th row.” (Actually a gate crasher was extricated by security from the row in front of us; an incident I had forgoten until I saw this cut-up.)
Over dinner at the Mexican Gardens, I was suprised to hear that Jimmy Page had never heard of Petrillo, who started the first musicians’ union and perhaps did more than any other one man to improve the financial positioin of musicians by protecting copyrights. One wonders whether rock music could have gotten off the ground without Petrillo and the Union, which put musicians in the big money bracket, thereby attracting managers, publicity, and the mass audience.
Music, like all the arts, is magical and ceremonial in origin. Can rock music return to these ceremonial roots and take its fans with it? Can rock music use older forms like Moroccan trance music? There is at present a wide interest among young people in the occult and all means of expanding consciousness. Can rock music appeal directly to this interest? In short, there are a number of disparate tendencies waiting to be synthesized. Can rock music serve as a vehicle for this synthesis?
The broken guitar strings, John Bonham’s drum solo, vitality by Robert Plant–when you get that many people to get it, very good. Buy a straw hat at the door–the audience all light matches. Cool well-trained laser beams channelled the audience smoothly. A scattering of sparklers. Danger to a Mexican border town. We start talking over a cup of the mass unconscious–cut to a soccer riot photo in Lima. The Uruguayan referee as another rock star. Sound like falling mountains of the risks involved. It’s our job to see trouble and plateau the center of the room–remember the stairway to Switzerland? Fire really there. You can’t see it if you refuse–underlying force the same. I mean we were playing a dance hall in heaven at the moment when the stairway actually possible for the audience was unlocked.
Lo Show in dettaglio
February 3, 1975
Madison Square Garden, New York
Heavy Metal Hullabaloo
1 Rock and Roll 5:22
2 Sick Again 6:17
3 Over the Hills and Far Away 7:17
4 In My Time of Dying 10:35
5 The Song Remains the Same 5:19
6 The Rain Song 8:15
1 Kashmir 9:02
2 No Quarter 16:10
3 Trampled Underfoot 7:29
4 Introductions 0:08
5 Moby Dick 18:29
1 Dazed and Confused 24:48
2 Stairway to Heaven 15:22
3 Whole Lotta Love 1:09
4 Black Dog 9:05
5 Communication Breakdown 7:09
The audience tape utilized for this release was recorded by the same team that taped the Madison Square Garden show on September 3, 1971 (How've Ya Been? Riot At The Garden 1971 (TDOLZ)) and the Nassau County Coliseum show on June 15, 1972 (Long Island Line (IQ)). This time around, their taping techniques have improved. The recorder is closer to the stage, the sound is steady and clear and there is sufficient amount of tape for the entire show. However, they constantly talk, yell, scream, laugh and produce strange noises directly over the recorder during most of the songs (noted as audience disturbances above). Rock & Roll is muffled and fair sounding. The muffled sound may have been due to low output from the PA system (someone yells out "louder" during Rock & Roll). The volume and clarity improve to very good by the middle of Sick Again. There is only a minor amount of noticeable tape hiss and the sound is very dynamic (similar to the June 15, 1972 recording). There is plenty of bass in this recording. But not enough to distort the tape. Plant's vocals are fair at best for most of the show. He does handle Communication Breakdown, the toughest song of the evening, with noticeable improvement. But he doesn't push his efforts. (Brian Ingham Mar 99)
Download from Blog:
Jon Bream - Whole Lotta Led Zeppelin: The Illustrated History of the heaviest Band of All Time - Olms – 2008
Stephen Davis - Il martello degli dei. La saga dei Led Zeppelin - Arcana - 2004
Stephen Davis - LZ-’75. I Led Zeppelin alla conquista dell’America - Arcana - 2011