Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page looks back and ahead
NEW YORK -- Since a Led Zeppelin reunion is out of the question, Jimmy Page has done the next best thing -- re-mastered the band's entire catalog.
As a producer on the recordings, Page had many studio takes in his possession. After spending the last few years listening to hundreds of hours of music, nine freshly mastered studio albums will be released in chronological order, three at a time. The first set was released June 3.
In addition, each album includes a companion disc of music previously unheard to give fans "an extra perspective," Page said.
The legendary guitarist sat down recently with The Associated Press to talk about the rereleased recordings, the band's legacy and if he'll ever work again with Robert Plant.
Q: When you started Led Zeppelin, you essentially wanted to build a new version of the Yardbirds.
A: The Yardbirds sort of disbanded, and I was disappointed because I thought what we were doing was really good. I thought we were really onto something. I thought I was really onto something with these ideas that I had. I was using acoustic in that band. ... But we were caught up in that singles tract, which was so destroying, really. We had to deal with these silly songs where on the flip side of the single, there'd be something that we did ourselves that was more reflective of the band's character.
Q: Did you ever imagine Led Zeppelin would get as big as it did?
A: I played guitar all my life, all the way through the Yardbirds, but I knew that for me this was going to be a guitar vehicle, because that's what I wanted it to be. There is no way I would play guitar like a tour de force like I did in Led Zeppelin. John Bonham, phenomenal drummer, young man with his technique, but do you think he would ever have the opportunity to play like that in another band? Of course he hadn't. And the same with John Paul Jones -- superaccomplished musician, but he'd never had the chance to play like that. Or Robert (Plant). And so these four musical equals, because they were -- they were all stars in their own right -- could actually play and the synergy that they had was second to none. That's all there was to it.
Q: After John (Bonham) died (in 1980), tell me why you decided to not continue with the band?
A: It would be a bit dishonest; it would be totally dishonest. So it took time, a time to be able to reconsider doing anything like that. But of course, we did do it and we did it well. (They reunited in 2007 at the O2 Arena in London.)
Q: Will you make music with Robert (Plant) again?
A: Robert seems really keen on just wanting to make music on his own without any of his previous band members. It seems quite apparent because I've seen him with these projects that come and go during the period where I've been dealing with this project, with the exception of the O2 and Celebration Day (when they reunited). ... That's all right because it is what it is. I certainly have some really good ideas.
Q: How did Led Zeppelin control its music as opposed to the label?
A: It was being paid for, paid for at this end (points to himself), so it wasn't like going to a record company (and) saying, ‘Can I have an advance?' At that point, being the guitarist of the Yardbirds after they folded, they wouldn't have been too encouraging. The only way to do it was to get your own album, and then go to the record company, because when you do that, you can make certain stipulations. That was pretty unusual in those days. It wasn't done like that.
Q: Will you go back into the studio?
A: I haven't recorded the material I got because I haven't had a unit due to all the comings and goings of these albums. ... I want to be seen playing this new material, say next year.
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