Or How Jimmy Page 'Lifted' Joe Walsh's Les Paul
It's the spring of 1969, and the London sun refuses to shine and winter still won’t leave. A young ex-guitarist, a budding superstar of rock at the age of 25, should be floating on a cloud with his first brilliant record of his own band Led Zeppelin under his belt, and nearly the whole world branding them geniuses. Jimmy, however, had his mind on other things: like taking for keeps his mate Joe Walsh’s Gibson, a ratty 1959 Les Paul Standard, “number one”. After 3000 repair jobs, his new acquisition became one of his favourites, and the Telecasters collected dust, among those was one that Jeff Beck had given him years back when he insisted that he be the one to replace none other than Eric Clapton of the Yardbirds.
Officially, James Patrick “Jimmy” Page, ( Heston, Middlesex, England, 9 Jan. 1944) took possession of Walsh's guitar in April of 1969, one month after recording the first BBC ‘sessions’ that are now being edited as “complete”, with 8 famous songs that mysteriously went missing while compiling this album for the first time in 1997. This is one giant chunk of history in a forgotten can that will now see daylight in a rich format, with several versions; a collector's nightmare.
But knowing Page, it wouldn't be surprising that he'd use his new acquisition in BBC studios and sets, as a test run, say. He had his new toy in hand, this geek of the 6-chord neighbourhood, which means we cannot rule out the possibility that he'd use any other model or make. By then, they still hadn't stolen his Black Beauty. That was one year later.
The biggest fans can entertain themselves by trolling the credits of the ample documentation - 48 pages- that comes with the triple box set, even look for videos of that era. Given that the experts can't agree, our story can be as real as any other legend revolving around Led Zeppelin.
The indisputable reality is what those tapes were hiding, the creative honesty of 4 musicians in whose veins ran an enthusiasm without additives. Robert Plant, John Paul Jones, John Bonham and Jimmy Page were about to take the leap from rhythm & blues to hard rock; their prestige as instrumentalists gave them credibility. Their individual talents did the rest.
Without Plant's voice it wouldn't have been the same, but without Page's guitar it would have been impossible. On the bonus disc which rolls out 8 new relics , you can listen to them in ‘blues mode’ from the old school, - I Can't Quit You, You Shook Me...- the throat-clearing sound of the original recording makes it even richer; in the ‘folk mode’ with the breathtaking White Summer, and in pure ‘Page mode’, with both versions of Communication Breakdown live and in studio, in case there were any doubts.
The real gem, of course, is kept for last in the spotlight as ‘previously unreleased’ Sunshine Woman, recorded the 14 of March 1969, and two words say it all: Rock and Roll.