Sunday, May 27, 2012

Mage Music: In Through The Soundscapes

Mage Music: In Through The Soundscapes
Posted with permission, by Dave Lewis, TBL Magazine

Note:  This post was originally published upon Mr. Lewis' receipt of Lucifer Rising.  Links to music and images placed by Lif Strand

Lucifer rises from the underground to offer key insight into Jimmy Page's 'extreme and alternative' 1970s artistic vision

Following the restoration of the Death Wish 2 album to vinyl last December, Jimmy has been readying the release of that great lost project -the soundtrack to Lucifer Rising. Finally in March, the following announcement was mde via his official website:

 "On March 20th, the Spring Equinox 2012, the title music for Lucifer Rising and Other Sound Tracks will have its premiere and release.

"The title music, along with other musical pieces recorded at my home studio in the early Seventies, have been revisited, remixed and released for the first time. This is a musical diary of avant-garde compositions and experiments, one of which was to appear on the film 'Lucifer Rising'.
"The collection has been exhumed and is now ready for public release. This will be available exclusively on the website. There will be a standard release on heavyweight vinyl.In addition there will be a special run of 418 numbered copies. The first 93 copies will be signed and numbered. There are liner notes and commentary to each track." Jimmy Page, March 2012

There was a pre-registration process to apply for the random selection of the 413 deluxe editions and 93 signed, and though I'd put my name down for a deluxe version I initially missed out. However there was a second g for any returns and I struck lucky on that. Come the day of delivery to Bedford (April 5th), I was out when the postman came at lunch time but there was a card left stating that a recorded parcel was awaiting pick up at the central post office in town. Having heard from Gary Foy that he had received his copy of Jimmy Page's Lucifer Rising and Other Sound Tracks album (copy number 392) I'd hoped that my copy was what was waiting at the post office. So the TBL editor author took to the favoured mode of transport (the trusty bike) and duly cycled the mile or so to pick it up. A queue awaited me. I had taken a record bag along to carry it -alas I had forgotten that the Death Wish 2 album had come in a large cardboard wrapper. Anyway said package was handed over and I undertook a bit of a tricky journey home (and I had to take it in the pub when I stopped off for a pint…nerves were kicking in and a beer was required before the grand opening!) As you can see this was a scene that mirrored when I cycled to purchase the In Through The Out Door album on August 20 1979 (six copies with the six sleeves of course!).

33 years later I was off cycling again in pursuit of the same Jimmy Page fix. It was all worth it of course as I am the proud owner of the deluxe edition number 213. A little bit more of vinyl heaven oh yes…So over the Easter weekend I made some time to get intimate with the intense and experimental sounds of Jimmy Page, composer and eternal lord of the strings. Here's my findings:

Well it isn't Outrider 2 but then again it was never intended to be. What we have here is something of a previously unheard missing link in the compositional history of Jimmy Page.

As he explains in the excellent sleeve notes, the guitarist has long since had a penchant for creating unorthodox soundscapes -going right back to the Yardbirds era with Glimpses on their Little Games album. This would subsequently manifested itself on stage with Led Zeppelin during the extensional improvisation of Dazed And Confused and it's various offshoots -latterly the guitar solo extravaganzas on the 1977 tour.

So what is exactly on offer inside the sizeable package sent via Jimmy

The package:  Effective sleeve design based on Gustav Dore's the Eagle.Thick outer cardboard sleeve, heavy weight vinyl inside. For LP enthusiasts such as myself, this is pretty much collector heaven. Effective visuals and informative and deep thinking sleeve notes on the inner sleeve. Each deluxe copy is numbered in gold pen.

The music: Here's how it unfolds over the two sides of vinyl.

The Lucifer Rising soundtrack has long since been a much maligned lost project. Page came up with the piece as a soundtrack for Kenneth Anger's controversial movie but it was only ever aired on early cuts of the film - journalist Nick Kent reported in the NME he had attended an informal screening in Los Angeles in early 1975 where Page had shown a rough cut with his soundtrack on. Anger was allegedly disappointed with Page for only coming up with some 23 minutes of music. The pair had a falling out and Anger brought in Bobby Beausoleil to score it instead -a young musician who went on to be convicted of murder under the influence of Charles Manson's notorious ''Family''. A poor quality bootleg of Page's version surfaced in the 1980s.

On this freshly mixed version, the basic theme of the Lucifer Rising Main Track is undercut by a drone that is similar to the In The Evening intro (particularly the live arrangement opening loop used on the Over Europe 1980 tour). It's then further embellished by chants and mellotron and ARP Odyssey synthesiser effects. A typically bleak eerie sound texture that would have also perfectly fitted as the soundtrack to The Hermit hill climb sequence in The Song Remains The Same movie.

Side two opens with Incubus which continues the drone effects theme.

Damask contains six string bowed guitar effects that hark back to the onstage exotic experiments he was applying on the guitar solo segment that preceded the performances of Achilles Last Stand on Zep's 1977 US tour.

Unharmonics has the clipped effect that can be hard on Shadow in the City on the Death Wish 2 soundtrack (Page explains two of his ideas would later surface on Death Wish 2 ). There's also some precise guitar overdubs with a hint of the revolving style of Over The Hills And Far Away.

Damask (Ambient) continues the bowing theme while the final track Lucifer Rising Percussive Return features additional white noise effect reminiscent of the 1970s work of the German outfits Can and Tangerine Dream and also echoed traces of the sort of experimental recordings to be found on side 2 of David Bowie's Low album.

These sonic soundscapes were originally prepared to be matched to film visuals and they make for decidedly uneasy listening heard in isolation. Repeated plays therefore might not be high on the agenda, but there is little doubt of their value as key reference recordings in the development of Page's career.

What these avant garde experiments starkly reveal is the expansiveness of Page's compositional vision. It was this vision when applied in a more conventional setting that would light up the like of Ten Years Gone, In The Light, Achilles Last Stand and In the Evening. Indeed the back cover photo of him working alone in his home studio in Plumpton (as seen in clips on the official DVD) offers a captivating image of his often solitary quest to open up new horizons and avenues for his music. It could also be argued that without this process of experimentation in, as he puts it 'the extreme and alternative', Page may not have achieved the depth of compositional brilliance attained on the aforementioned Zep epics.

Lucifer Rising And Other Soundtracks therefore offers key insight into the mind of a musician who has constantly expanded the parameters of his ability. As he states it in the sleeve notes - ''I had an interest in underground everything''.  Lucifer has duly risen from the underground to tell us a little more about Jimmy Page than we already knew…

And of course that thirst to hear and know more remains unquenchable. Now that the Death Wish 2 and Lucifer Rising soundtracks have emerged from the Jimmy archives, the question is of course what might be served up next? Over the past few months Jimmy has aired tantalising extracts on his web site of work in progress home demos of Sick Again, The Wanton Song and Ten Years Gone. There's also been clips from sessions such as the 1999 Depot rehearsal recordings with the late great drummer Michael Lee. There could be scope to gather these work in progress demos and sketches into an album that again presents a portrait of the artist at play.  

Also on my wish list would be a career expanding box set that chronicles the 1960s sessions he often logs and goes through The Yardbirds into Zeppelin and beyond - in effect a 50 year career overview. Now that would be something special.

Ultimately I am sure we all also crave new music from the man and it would be fantastic for that to happen. There is little doubt though, the establishing of Jimmy has offered a unique platform for the once reticent and private musician to re- connect with his vast fan base.

The release of the Lucifer Rising And Other Sound Tracks LP is another significant milestone in the recent reaffirmation of Jimmy Page, musician and composer. Long may his underground archives rise up to enlighten and inform.

Dave Lewis  Copyright Dave Lewis/TBL 2012 not to be reproduced without prior permission
Thank you Dave!

Friday, May 25, 2012

TBL Plug - Thanks, Dave Lewis!

Dave Lewis will be guest blogger for MAGE MUSIC for Sunday, May 27, 2012.  Thank you Dave!

Tight But Loose issue 32 –once again taking you closer to the world of Led Zeppelin…

The new issue of the Tight But Loose magazine is simply one of the best issues ever with a host of news, views and features, all guaranteed to take you closer to the world of Led Zeppelin.

If you are new to TBL – this is the ideal issue to step on board!

If you a past subscriber - don’t miss out –re-subscribe now!

TBL 32 kicks off the three issue TBL 2012 subscription. By subscribing  to the magazine you will never miss out (past sold out back issues are in regular demand on eBay) and each issue will be sent to you as published (TBL 32 May –TBL 33 September and TBL 34 January 2013).  

Tight But Loose – The essential Led Zeppelin Magazine 32 page all colour content. Beyond mere websites – this is the tangible printed word you will want to collect and read again and again…

Here’s the expansive line-up for the new issue:

TBL Investigates: Exactly when and where did Led Zeppelin stage their first band rehearsal? Mike Tremaglio gathers the facts in an extensive research feature that offers the most accurate timeline ever published of The Yardbirds transistor into Led Zeppelin. Plus the TBL Two step out onto the streets of Chinatown in search of more proof of when history was made in August 1968.  The end result is one of the most insightful features in this magazine’s long history.

Warren Grant: ‘’My father was the man who Led Zeppelin - these are my memories’’: Warren Grant relays his memories of being right in the centre of the world of Led Zeppelin as the son of the man who just happened to be their manager and one of the most powerful figures in the music industry. In the first part of the interview, Warren recalls his early years at their Horselunges manor house in East Sussex as his family reaped the rewards of their father’s many years of hard work plus his experiences of being at the curtailed Tampa show and Oakland Coliseum show in 1977 –all illustrated with photos from warren’s personal collection.

Led Zeppelin 1972: Thunder Down Under: Mike Tremaglio tracks Zep on tour in Australia and New Zealand 40 years on – every show of the tour analysed and illustrated with rare photos and images.  Plus Gerard Sparaco highlights the unofficial CD releases that capture key Zep live on the road moments during their Australian and New Zealand tour dates.

The Taping of The Thunder Down Under - The Live in Sydney TBL interviews: A revealing insight into how the Led Zeppelin February 27th 1972 Sydney Showgrounds concert was recorded by a member of the audience on a National Panasonic tape deck – and how the tape was  subsequently restored nearly 30 years later.

John Paul Jones: The TBL Interview: Talking Led Zep, bass guitars, opera and guest appearances and the Kettle’s Yard Composer Portrait event in an exclusive TBL interview.

John Paul Jones News Reports: At  the London Bass Guitar Fair, Floating in Warwick with Robyn Hitchcock, down under with Seasick Steve, at the John Cage Musicircus and the Kettle’s Yard Cambridge Composer Portrait event. Website Watch: Simon Cadman reports on the Jimmy Page web site activity of the past three months.

Jimmy Page Lucifer Rising and other Soundtracks: Dave Lewis steps in through the soundscapes to dissect the recently released great lost Page soundtrack album of the 1970s.

Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters in Gloucester: The live debut of Robert Plant new ad hoc line up caused the biggest Zep related ticket rush since the 02 reunion. Dave Lewis reports from down the front on the  welcome returned of the old witchdoctor.

Plus Justin Adams in another exclusive TBL interview relays his thoughts on the Gloucester Guildhall gig, Ju Ju summer festival dates & a decade of working with Robert Plant.

Multi-tracking Led Zeppelin 11: Ian Avey dissects the recently surfaced multi-track recordings of four songs from the Led Zeppelin II album.

Jeff Strawman’s Instrument Watch: The first of a regular TBL series focusing on the instruments and gear deployed by the members of Led Zeppelin. In this issue, Jeff chronicles Jimmy Page’s Gibson EDS 1275 double neck guitar.

Underground Uprising: Gerard Sparaco rounds up the latest underground CD releases including Berkeley Daze First Night, LZ Riders in AZ and The Calm & the Storm.

From A Whisper To A Scream –the Complete Guide to the Music of Led Zeppelin: Details of the new book by Dave Lewis via Omnibus Press, This is an extensive album by album track by track analysis of every Led Zeppelin recording. The book is guaranteed to take you make to the music with fresh perspective and there is –with news of the exclusive TBL edition due for publication in July – signed by the author and only available via the TBL website.

Plus News Round Up: Jimmy Page in attendance at Genesis David Bowie book launch and comments on his plans ahead to BBC 6 Music, : Ross Halfin Jimmy Page photo the 100,00 digitised shot in National Gallery, Neal Preston’s Gods And Rockers London Exhibition, BCC Live In Europe CD and Bonzo’s Birthday Bash all star rock drumming event, Mica Ertegun Oxford Scholarship, Peter Grant memorial Scholarship and latest Robert Plant news roundup -  Plus Loose Talk – a quick snapshot of latest Zep related happenings

Here is just one of many satisfied subscriber feedback comments:
‘’I’m an avid reader of Mojo, Q, Uncut, Record Collector and Rolling Stone but my subscription to TBL is far and away the best value for money.’’ Michael Rae, Australia

To order the TBL 2012 Subscription which commences with TBL 32 - go to the TBL 2012 Subscription link here and follow the instructions to pay via paypal.

You can also order TBL 32 as a single issue on its own at this link

Get on board for the Zep Fix you can rely on!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Music and The Magic

Mage Music: The Music and The Magic
What I’m listening to as I write: Ten Years Gone
Led Zeppelin Physical Graffiti
Led Zeppelin Atlanta 1977
Led Zeppelin Seattle 1977
Led Zeppelin California 1977
Led Zeppelin MSG New York 1977
Led Zeppelin Knebworth 1979
Led Zeppelin Cleveland 1979
Page & Plant Rehearsal 1996
Page & Plant Japan 1996
The Black Crowes with Jimmy Page New York 2000

Jimmy Page is often referred to as a Mage or Magus. A mage is a person who performs a paranormal kind of magic as opposed to magical tricks like a stage illusionist in Las Vegas. It's likely the label originally reflected Mr. Page's interest in the occult teachings of Aleister Crowley, although today it holds true for a different reason: Jimmy Page's uncanny musical ability.

A mage can also be referred to as an enchanter, wizard, magus, thaumaturgist, or simply magician. Each term has a subtly different meaning - some more negative than others - but all terms that refer to the occult kind of magic revolve around the manipulation of reality through supernatural means or through knowledge of occult laws.

Magic is similar to religion in many ways. Although magic is generally more result-oriented and religion more worship-oriented, both (ideally) are about spiritual growth. And, as with religion, magic may take different approaches: That of the holographic or sympathetic universe (the practitioner's actions cause a parallel effect elsewhere), or that of collaboration (the practitioner gets supernatural beings to cause the effect).

In some ways all meanings apply to Jimmy Page as magus, especially since he, himself, described his life as “a fusion of magick and music” (Guitar World, January 2008). (Note the alternate spelling: magick. Crowley chose the spelling with “k” at the end to differentiate between occult vs. stage illusionist practice).

Rituals are sets of symbolic actions, performed in a certain order. Almost all religions and magic use rituals in their practice, however those more "purely" spiritual are seen as being able to practice without need of ritual. For most practitioners, pure or otherwise, ritual is a tool that serves as a means of settling the mind into the right frame to achieve the transformation desired.

The specific ritual used in magic depends on the type of magician and his/her approach to the practice, but the purpose for using ritual for all practitioners is the same: To create a focus of the will (focused desire) of the mage in order to bring about the desired transformations and to focus and unify the other participants in the ceremony (ceremonial participants are generally a source of power for the magician).

It would be easy to simply say that Jimmy Page’s musical work is magical because it is so very good, but that says nothing much at all.

It would be more accurate to say that Jimmy Page’s musical work is magical because it is about manipulation of reality through music and, in my opinion, because it is also for purposes of spiritual growth.
In his own words and actions, Mr. Page shows that his music speaks for him in a magical way. In a 1973 interview he stated that “We're all still seeking for truth - the search goes on", and “…at those times when I've hit it [when performing], it's just like I'm a vehicle for some greater force."

Of course, people grow, people change. The beliefs of the young are tempered by age. The Jimmy Page of 1973 is not the Jimmy Page of today, yet in 2010 Mr. Page still believed in the power of music: “ I think it’s got to be all part of our DNA, this mass communication through music” (The Scotsman interview).

Pure magic, the transformation of the world, is achieved almost every time that Jimmy Page performs. Mr. Page has been dismissed by critics for his sloppy playing, for not always staying in tune – basically for lack of perfection - but even on his worst, most tuneless, sloppy days, his music conveys an extra layer of meaning, a communication that makes the manner in which it is performed almost irrelevant. It is magic coming through, as Jimmy Page says about Embryo, a work in progress that he plays in the movie It Might Get Loud.

It is what we, the participants in the ritualistic ceremony of the music of Jimmy Page, understand is the guitar alchemy of a powerful mage.

Friday, May 18, 2012

New Resources Tab

I've added a Resources tab to MAGE MUSIC on the navigation bar, above.  I invite you to add useful resources about Jimmy Page that you've discovered in the comment section.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Have you seen Jimmy Page?

I'm doing a little survey at  If you've ever seen Jimmy Page perform live at any time in his career, please click on the link above and post the date and location of the concert - and please Like my Facebook page.  Thanks!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Light and Shade: Domino

Painters and other visual artists will, in the process of creation, discover something – a technique, an image detail, color combinations, shapes – that intrigue them and lead them into exploration in their next works. All creative artists look at other artists’ work, at life around them or deep inside themselves and discover something that intrigues them. They will absorb it, play with it and reinterpret it, make it their own and let it come out in their subsequent work. Thus the artistic products evolve. It has ever been so with all artwork, and students of the various artistic mediums can follow the evolution of the inspiration from artist to artist, and within one artist’s work.

Once Led Zeppelin was formed and Jimmy Page was able to become fully creative with his own music we can more clearly hear his exploration of themes and pushing of the musical envelope that is so characteristic of his musical genius. Expression of “light and shade” has always been a fundamental part of Mr. Page’s music. He may have picked up the term during his time at art school, although the use of light and shade to provide contrast is a concept used in all forms of art. Unlike in life when things may be much the same for long periods of time, an artist has control over the use of contrast to bring focus to and highlight certain areas of the work.

Painting:  Skull of a Skeleton with Burning Cigarette, 1885–1886, oil on canvas, Van Gogh Museum
Skull of a Skeleton with Burning Cigarette,1885–1886, oil on canvas, Van Gogh Museum
In music, the technique of light and shade may be brought about through changes in volume, tone, rhythm and speed, the use of different instruments, of melody versus chorus, and various other techniques. Jimmy Page uses every means in his considerable arsenal to achieve contrast with just one musical instrument - his guitar - intensifying the depth of his music to an incredible degree. Part of the magic of his music is in his use of light and shade, which draws us in and delivers us to the heights and depths of Mr. Page’s inner vision.

One of the light and shade areas that Jimmy Page appears to be drawn to is that of allowing his music to rise from a version of drone. In music, drone is a note or chord that is continuously sounded throughout most or all of a piece. We know that Middle Eastern tuning is one of the techniques Page uses (Kashmir, discussed last week, being a great example); drone originated in instrumental music of southwestern Asia and spread to Europe, India and Africa.  It can be used to evoke an emotional atmosphere, which we see Mr. Page do to great effect, such as can be heard in in Domino (1999), where sometimes the extended low growl of the guitar’s chords is used as a drone and other places it is the memory of the drone and the return to it that gives the impression of drone.

Domino YouTube video:

Page’s melodies rise out of the drone effect throughout Domino, and using light/shade, he returns to the drone again and again to give the mind rest before the contrast of the notes that rise like a fiery phoenix from the dark.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


Kashmir: The best ever song anywhere, anytime. Yet the music (melody) is simple and the lyrics not all that important (Plant's voice, in my opinion, is what it's about - not what the words mean but how they sound).

What the heck is it about that song that makes it better than Staircase to Heaven (which shares the mystery, but doesn't tap into the magic as strongly)?

Kashmir on YouTube (from Led Zeppelin's album, Physical Graffiti) Almost 10.5 million views now.

Moroccan influence: In 1994 Kashmir was recorded for No Quarter: Jimmy Page & Robert Plant Unledded  and was performed with a Moroccan ensemble. Robert Plant said of Jimmy Page and No Quarter, "His riffs were spectacular. To take it as far as we did... it's one of the most ambitious and mind altering experiences."

People have described Kashmir as "spiritual". Plant says "mind altering". I would agree - this is incredibly uplifting music - but what makes it that way?  And do you find, as I do, that when Kashmir is performed by others it doesn't carry that extra something, that magic?

Monday, May 7, 2012


I'm curious about music - why it works, why it generates the responses it does.  I'm not educated in music theory, but I want to know more about music than just that I like it or that it seems powerful.  I want to know why.  I'm hoping you do, too.

There's lots of pages devoted to Jimmy Page as guitarist, solo, with Led Zeppelin and others.  There's discussion of the lyrics of the songs, and there's lots about Mr. Page's guitars and techniques too.  There's not so much out there about the music itself, though.

I'm curious about the music.  About why it is so magical, how someone with no classical music education could compose the way Mr. Page does, about what works, what doesn't.  About the influences - both on Mr. Page and that of his music on others.

With the help of thinking people everywhere who admire Jimmy Page and his work, this blog is dedicated to serious (and maybe not-so-serious) analysis of his awesome music.

Be advised that it is this blogmaster's opinion that Jimmy Page is truly The Rock God; nevertheless we understand that there are other musicians and music of value.  Thus, all music can be discussed with reference to Mr. Page's work as long as it is done in a respectful manner, and with insight that will allow us all to learn.

PS - we will NOT beg Jimmy Page to reunite Led Zeppelin on this blog, OK?