"Close the door,
put out the lights."
Nebulous notes on Nefarious Led Zeppelin tapes (sort of)
By Jim Hayes
"It's the blimp! Look in the sky! It's the blimp!"
Plagiarism is necessary, progress implies it!
Imagine the fluidity. Imagine that you can talk to the stars and tell them what you think. Using rock criticism as a vehicle, as an eight-track tape sent in the mail. When Zeppelin fled the Tampa gig before the rain-soaked riot; they left in "an entourage of thirteen limousines in a hurry."1 Having Thirteen limousines is a sign of the Devil.
The ghost in Hamlet raises its analog head. A 52-year-old Zep tape surfaces.2 Like the Gnostic Gospels appearing in the desert after the initial implosion of the atomic bomb. An atomic rooster was sacrificed at the Capitol and an unknown Zep tape surfaces to cleanse the wounds. "You got to keep on smiling," an ad lib from a future "Stairway." The revitalization of the public ritual reminds me of my profound sense of uselessness and inadequacy.
But then the critic turns into the curator, then transforms into the star by merely overseeing a vast warehouse containing a specific tendency. They become the talking head, they become the mask; names from ancient book catalogs, list of auctions to trace the lineage of certain sacred tomes. The rock critic as perverted librarian.
The idea of the critic being a vibrant parasite alongside a living band is reduced to... the elderly rock critic once companion of relevant bands that participated in contemporary culture, who now waits for daily YouTube up dates, and now writes about music that is frozen in time and is on its way to disappearing. Can the world be as sad as it seems? All my happiness is gone.
The spectator binge watches. I'm like everyone else, I like to watch things on TV. They start the intro to "rock in roll" in SLC and near the mike, this guy yells: "All right! All right!"3 That is exactly what I would have said. Love has won.
Season Thirteen of Pawn Stars features an autographed Zeppelin album. The idiot doesn't have it in plastic and he's touching it. The signatures are authentic. Unfortunately, they're not on the same side of the jacket. A ten-grand decision. The idiot gets mad. Love with a price but not a value. Relics of the past dissipate into dialogue. Yesterday is the worst enemy of tomorrow.
A source for some of these tapes are soundboards made as lighting cues. The rest are made by strange men in long trench coats. Some disguised w/ wheelchairs: microphones on their baseball caps.4 What more can I say? Some things last a long time. A historic turning point. In these audience recordings, the fan is arriving with a machine so they can take this expensive experience home. The own it, they own this thing. They're gonna take something w/them.
The critic aided by a hypersensitive recording device. Wish you were here. For a while, the whole world seemed deathly silent and then the sound came back all at once. Is this machine recording? The tapes inch along like a snail on the edge of a cutting room razor. This is my dream; this is my nightmare. But of course, the recently unearthed Zeppelin recordings are not tapes. They're publicly streamed files. There's no privacy for those recorded surreptitiously. Paid under the table, Venice Beach slang. After that Blanksville; I passed out cold. Sick Again!
The clandestine nature of the recordings gets the eye directed in the wrong place, and that wrong place is often very desirable, free of tourists and exits through the gift shop. But then again; I thought the only lonely place was on the moon.
These people bring their cherished possessions into Pawn Shop TV. You just know these samples of rock and roll memorabilia aren't authentic. A guitar signed by all four Beatles with a sharpie? The woman's face is crushed. She left looking just like a ghost. Her self was wrapped up in the ownership of a musical totem. A fetish object that lost its power by being revealed. Where the fruitful are rendered barren.
"When they leave the lights on y'know they're coming back."5 A spectral voice from the past rescued on the tapes. The recordings are an everybody time camera. When Throbbing Gristle released all of their gigs on cassette, it was a Fluxus gesture. The covert recordings of daily life intersected by a trusted insect of popular music. A sense of shared ritual like a community fair. Led Zeppelin cannot exist as cosplay. You cannot dress up like Led Zeppelin. Unless of course you wear the Golden Dawn robes or you take drugs, preferably both. Looking for the OTO. Room for one more inside sir. You can't SEE the Zeppelin fan.
By repetition, you can compare. Comparisons are a shortcut to thinking. Zeppelin's road manager, Richard Cole passed away. He was the guy that decided who was in the thirteen limousines. Mal Evans, Bobby Neuwirth, Ramrod, Richard Cole. The four road managers of the apocalypse. The Drake Hotel was demolished.
A country star, low profile guy, sometime collaborator w/ C93. His new album was dark but hot when he was touring twenty plus years ago. I gave him CD-R's of Physical Graffiti rehearsals. He emailed that the band rocked their way into the Midwest w/ them. W/ an exclamation point.
Retablos translates as "small votive paintings." Record reviews gotta serve somebody. Small orthodox paintings that show devotion, trying to grasp the divine realm through art. The critic imagines themselves a sacred cow bleating the urges of the mystical I AM. "Does anyone remember laughter, real laughter?"6
Zeppelin would play Richie Barrett's "Some Other Guy" (Lieber-Stoller-Barrett; Atlantic April 1962). It's during the "Whole Lotta Love" jam from Hawaii 1970. The Beatles played the Barrett song at the Cavern. And of course, they played "Sex Machine" in '75. They played "sex machine..."
Leaning on the past as a form of consolation. The record collector kneels and flips through his records. Caressing them, touching the spines and reading the small print. Thank God he has bifocals now. They film themselves discussing their possessions. They fondle the sleeves as they discuss meeting other secret collaborators virtually. The spectators' value is multiplied by other spectators. Wish YOU were here? Makes you wonder what happens next.
A long time ago y' thought you were Captain Willard searching for Colonel Kurtz; suddenly you realize that you're Colonel Kurtz. Holed up and crazed in a rural bunker w/ a stash of Zeppelin audience tapes, muttering endlessly. The horror indeed. I look at it differently now and I couldn't care less.7
TV Guidelines magazine April 798: an ad for Columbia House. 13 records or eight track tapes for 1 cent plus s/h. The mailbox has many moods: the Boss (darkness), the Boston (don't look back: suicide followed by heart attack on an elderly cruise ship), bat out of hell, Chicago (suicide), Barry, Captain Trips and Tenielle (divorce) the thirteen emotional stations of the alcoholic American. The person that needs to know exactly what is on television WHEN for television is never repeated. "Here come the hits!" the byline reads. Does that mean emotional hits? Did Zeppelin put one of these eight tracks in each of their limousines?
The metaphor of the rock critic as the eight-track tape arriving in the mailbox is not unnoticed. Eight track record store day: Foghat Live!9 But you could never dress up as Zeppelin for Halloween like you could Kiss. Vaudeville was the foundation. In the Marx Brothers movies, each of the brothers would get a solo spot. Chico would play piano, Harpo would play the harp, Zeppo would sing. This vaudeville formula was recreated by Page, Jones & Bonham. ("Dazed & Confused," "No Quarter," "Moby Dick").
By repetition, you can compare. Only when a gesture can be ossified can it be considered in its totality-or it can be discarded into the dustbin of history.10 The YouTube bootleg channels allow one to study and contemplate how a band sounded over the course of days. Some of these cassettes have lasted a long time. The YouTube thing has made all bootlegs equal. And furthermore, the dogs of doom11 guys, they interact with the material by digitally remastering it and generally just fixing it in some alchemical way. And then they discover these things. "Carrying news that must get through."
It's strange because there's this electronic community that revolves around updating sound and patching together tapes to form complete shows. And then there's the music. Everybody knows and loves the albums; but Zeppelin were a live band. 600 gigs. Oh, to live on sugar misty mountain hop. Even though the music is static; the community that repackages it and presents it is vibrant. Unlike physical bootleggers, what do these fans get out of it? The tapes reveal people and technology engaged in the present while referencing the past. And those of us that perhaps wish it was the past admire their technical skill.
But the curator becomes the star merely by overseeing a vast warehouse. Names from ancient book catalogs. The manuscript went from here to there. I lost my shape trying to act casual. The idea of the critic being a vibrant parasite alongside a living band is reduced to scouring archives and rescuing moldy documents-as if that in itself were a value. "Great criticism starts with the Zeitgeist but tends to anticipate posterity."12
When the three sevens clash under the skyscrapers. "Good vibes are alive and well in New York".13 Page has got the flower jumpsuit this tour. It's a rare man that can wear a flower jumpsuit, especially since Elvis was still alive. But even still; he's barely hanging on.14
The nostalgia for the seventies is not unlike the folk lore societies of in the late 19th century. The feeling that a certain historical dimension is disappearing. Has disappeared. Social groups need to be formed to preserve this specific history. So, you say. So, mote it be. "Providence you've been really nice, good one good one. Goodnight."15
I listen to shows from the same dates so I can approximate the reasonably same astrological conditions. The archetypical form of 70's rock as a second universe of perfection. An imaginary realm of ringing telephones IBM punch cards and samizdat. But this perfection is clouded by nostalgia so the question is why do I look back instead to the now. Can I ever come to Now? Now seems too late. Yesterday is the enemy of tomorrow. Tomorrow never knows. Dash Snow has been dead 13 years.
(Even better than contemplating astrological positions of rock and roll concerts, it's more fun to a do a cross reference to see who else was playing that night? What tour were they up against? What were the comparative prices? It's an interesting way to put the tapes into context.)
On Easter weekend, I got a piece of the true cross. Half a ticket to Seattle 7-17-77. Would have been nice if they played better. First gig in three weeks. Filmed. They're stiff, so to speak. "Distributed by antiquated but feasible technology," the collector merely runs away and recreates themselves through objects. Through things they found. At some fan's funeral, a flower arrangement in the Jimmy Page motif: Zoso. The fan's 8mm film looks like a Marx Brothers movie: do you know my name; do I look the same?
It's a relic from the week they ended conceptually though they hung around for a few more years. When Plant's son passed away and they abandoned the tour; Zeppelin was over. Elvis died the next month soon followed by Bing. The three biggest 20th century rock stars eclipsed during the same time. When the two sevens clashed.
Flying into the Indian nation, looking like Led Zeppelin on a rock vacation. Marlon Brando.16 It's about tapes. It's about recordings from the past. Living ON in the present. Yu Gung. The notion of exclusively w/ bootlegs has disappeared. The access for everyone allows the illusion of the avant garde to escape. And now everyone is a cultural critic. Everyone has something to say. I wish they'd use their silence to say goodbye. The cassette played Poptones.
June third 77. Gemini, things could go either way. My friend was in the parking lot, inching home after the thunderstorm began. He knew Zeppelin wasn't coming back. They didn't play in the rain. According to the Tampa Times, Led Zeppelin left in a flotilla of thirteen limousines. "This is the worst, it sucks," says a guy near the tape deck. The recording captures the water coming down while "Nobody's Fault But Mine" plays on. Fifteen-minute break, "bear with us; are you cool?" pleads Mr. Plant. The sound of a megaphone about tickets that were exploded and a valid heavy metal silence. 70,000 in the crowd, two dozen arrested. The feeding of the four thousand involved in the melee says the news tape. My old friend Frank Mullen told me that he heard about the riot while he was in traffic leaving the gig.
A young woman in the arts & crafts store. A fresh tattoo of "Zoso" on her bicep. I told her that I've been listening to a lot of Zeppelin. She smiled and said that they mean a lot to her. She just got the ink and likes it when people compliment her. I flashed to the funeral with the flowers shaped like "Zoso" symbol.
The Atlanta Pop Festival tape was the first new Zep tape in nine years. No one had heard this performance in 52 years. They were good. It was the standard early set during a year of ferocious touring. Comments on the musical quality is a valid argument. It's also the venue of occult scholars. Who cares? No one cares. Tape traders are the new Rosicrucian's. Linked to a long and heroic tradition. Total room temperature. Moments like this never last.
Brain Jones was sitting in the balcony. He watches the fan getting the band's artwork tattooed on their bodies like some goat in Morocco. Cos-play. The audience dresses up like the band to show their unity and oneness. Could you walk on the water? "Reinvent yourself," reads the poster. Of course, but the reinvention reveals remembering all the fun you used to have. Before you turned into this, or into that. A personality documented by cultural choices. Oh, he's into that, he's into this. The fetish of the commodity (let the ant like labor of the future grad students of rock, let them document the list of tomes and sacred screeds). "Collectors customize an identity via the serialization of objects."17 Dan with the Mellow Hair.
Unsourced note: one million streams equal $8000 if you own the masters. Destroy the handicapped. An old dead friend lived down the hall from a Trotskyite who would get drunk and play Judy Collins records repeatedly. A West Virginia form of trephination. A railroad underground rock star says he never reads rock books, especially ones about his own band.18 An ode to Marietta, Georgia while thinking of Brian Jones, deceased. Hope isn't a plan. Love has won.
"When freedom is practiced in a closed circle, it fades into a dream and becomes a mere representation of itself."19 The ubiquitous scenester starts their own label. The cos-play character begins to believe in magic. The dedicated fan gets the singer's artwork etched on their arms, authentically. Behavior might change but desire never does. In post-industrial society, you pick a star from the sky until you run out of masks. A loud bash of elderly punk rock feelings. The TV commercial for anti-depressants w/ the woman carrying around a cardboard smiley face. Pass the straw, I think I'm Dash Snow.
It was always about the music. I like bootleg recordings because it shapes the delivery of the sounds in an alternative way re: record collectors are pretentious assholes. They focus on the delivery. Narrowing down the specifics to a physical product...
Listening to digital streams of bootleg seventies tapes is like mapping an ancient crime scene. The purveyors of these original tapes disguising themselves in wheelchairs to bring their equipment into the L.A. Forum. At least they were participating, these contemporary YouTube record collectors just hold up things they bought. All these record collectors imagine themselves as punk rock Harry Smith's. Forgetting that the culture is not forgotten but the curator always is- but if everything is streamed. If everything is available on a flat static surface, there is no difference anymore. Christ, even Deadheads leave the house.
When people want to comment in the ubiquitous forums, they always give a numerical date as to when they heard a certain cultural product to give the spectator a value based on WHEN they heard it as opposed to all these newbies- the notion of the avant garde is now designated as a point in time. We can prove this; we have this under surveillance. The On Kawara date paintings become real. "Today all undated reality seems vague and invalid, having the insubstantial forms of a ghost."20
At first you start; you think you're Martin Sheen going after Colonel Kurtz the psycho up at the edge of the jungle and then suddenly you realize that you're Colonel Kurtz. You're the one that's snapped and has to be eliminated because you no longer serve the contemporary culture.
Technology fools you into thinking that the past is different than the present. Do the memories of interaction w/ pop culture have a value? Bootleg tapes were art w/a value but not a price. Traded through the mail from xeroxed catalogs.
Like the Dead played sex machine. TG pointed out why can anyone just experience a concert once? And without these tapes, we wouldn't have them. And I'm afraid to point out, now everyone conceals a device to record. So, these tapes in the seventies were flags of freedom. Ha! Skinheads smoke dope!
The record collector with his precious tomes. Charlie stared dismally at the walls. The live Bing Crosby tapes, when he was doing the radio show. It blows the studio stuff off the map. There's such a freshness. The fans use Zep as astral projection since there's no cos-play they take on the obscure trappings of esotericism into the ritual cuttings of psychic youth (who are now really old).
The rock critic as performance piece, delving into 45-year-old tapes as a way to prove that the present-day rock critic refuses to die (!) though by writing about static music he demonstrates that he isn't alive, he's merely undead.
Zeppelin's last US gig in Oakland was not only precipitated by violence but the stage was a mural of Stonehenge. Tall stones from another era. Standing mutely. The rock critic is a spoke on a wheel. The New York Post reports that the reasonable ex-president had dinner with some Hollywood folks. He had a six-car motorcade. Seven less than Zeppelin. Once you choose love, you're going in the right direction. What more can I say?
Close the door, put out the lights.
Marietta, Georgia; United States of America
The Autumnal Equinox 2022
sun in Libra moon in Leo
1) Bob Ross "The Clock is still running on the Led Zeppelin affair," St. Petersburg Times, 7 July 77
2) Atlanta Pop Festival July 6, 1969
4) Mike Millard
5) 7/7/77 MSG, audience
6) Jan 18 '75, Bloomington MN. First US gig.
7) No Trend & Lydia Lunch
8) Throbbing Gristle at Ajanta Cinema, Derby 4/12/79
9) Sincerely, John Head was the name of a Portland (OR) art collective who did a 2007 installation piece about Foghat Live. Parts of it were interesting. The friend I saw it w/ is now dead. He saw Zep in Tampa '77..
10) Trotsky, live in Petrograd 10/25/17
11) The mysterious internet cabal that find these recordings who I really appreciate
12) Poggiolo, Theory of the Avant Garde. (Harvard, 1968)
13) MSG 7/7/77
14) Purple Mountains
15) Rhode Island 7/21/73
16) Pass the straw, I think I'm Dash Snow.
17) Amanda Petrusich. Do Not Sell at Any Price p 5
18) As if shelves are groaning w/ them
19) Debord, On the passage of a few people through a rather brief moment in time
20) Marias, Generations: A Historical Method, as quoted by John Lukacs
|MAIN PAGE||ARTICLES||STAFF/FAVORITE MUSIC||LINKS|