Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Zep get the Led boots out

Peter Grant, Led Zeppelin's bear of a manager (by turns huggable and ferocious) may be long gone but his legacy remains the same. His policy of merciless treatment of bootleggers is very much alive today, even when those "bootleggers" are just ordinary blokes taking grainy, boomy minute-long video clips with their cellphones and posting them to the Internet.

Ever since Monday's reunion concert, YouTube has been working overtime to yank clips of the show from the site, citing a copyright claim by the Warner Music Group. Others theorize that YouTube, whose owner, Google, has been reeling from a $1 billion lawsuit by Viacom over copyright content, is merely following the behest of the band's management. So, why deny the millions who couldn't attend the show even so much as a glimpse of, say, "Kashmir"? One theory is that an official DVD is likely to be released, so what better way to gin up demand for it than quash existing footage?

It wasn't always thus. In interviews, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page have talked about going shopping for Led Zep bootlegs in Japan. In fact, the duo's 1972 experimental jams with the India's Bombay City orchestra, once thought lost forever, resurfaced as a bootleg in the early 1990s and Plant, for one, was delighted. The orchestral arrangements of those Led Zep numbers seemed to have a direct influence on some of the eastern-flavored reworkings of Zep songs on the "Unledded" album. During that 1994-95 tour, Page&Plant even had designated spots for bootleggers to set up their equipment, much as jam bands such as moe. do today. As the most bootlegged band in Britain, it's arguable that tapes of the band's legendary live shows only added to their legend and mystique and must-see status.

But that's all changed now, it seems. Earlier this year, Jimmy Page appeared as star witness in a case against a Scottish bootlegger. It's hard to tell whether the band members are OK with amateur bootleggers making recordings for themselves or whether the Zep camp is irked by the professional bootleggers -- the one's that package their CDs and DVDs with handsome packaging, but for a price -- because they're making money off the band's work. The YouTube debacle may signal little tolerance for the amateur set, which is a shame since they're the one's likely to be doing it all for fun, rather than profit. And they're the one's buying all the reissues, going to the concerts, and generally carrying the torch for Led Zeppelin as evangelists for its legacy.

On a lighter note, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss have announced their first tour dates, here.

And, in other news, Rolling Stone's David Fricke, a Zep aficionado, offers the most compelling review of the show I've seen yet. And here's a song-by-song critique by Kevin Shirley, engineer remaster of "How the West Was Won" and the reissue of "The Song Remains the Same." Dave Grohl, "the nicest man in rock" and would-be drummer behind Page, Plant, and Jones, salutes Jason Bonham, here.

No comments:

Post a Comment