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Author Topic: The Zeppelin Thread.....By Itself  (Read 13325 times)

bblackwood

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The Zeppelin Thread.....By Itself
« on: February 01, 2005, 11:16:34 am »

Tell us everything about working on Led Zeppelin III!
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Brad Blackwood
euphonic masters

j.hall

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Re: OK, no need to mess around...
« Reply #1 on: February 01, 2005, 11:18:27 am »

agreed!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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lucey

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Re: OK, no need to mess around...
« Reply #2 on: February 01, 2005, 03:54:52 pm »


Mics and preamps and the rooms please ...
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Brian Lucey
Magic Garden Mastering

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drew

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Re: OK, no need to mess around...
« Reply #3 on: February 01, 2005, 04:58:09 pm »

ahh, the almost all acoustic one! not my favorite but very cool and moody. bet there was some serious pot smoking goin gon there!!! Very Happy
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Brendan Thompson

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Re: OK, no need to mess around...
« Reply #4 on: February 02, 2005, 02:10:04 am »

Better yet... why don't you post the multitracks Laughing
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compasspnt

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Re: OK, no need to mess around...
« Reply #5 on: February 02, 2005, 04:17:01 am »

Now where did I put those multitracks....??

Thanks, guys.  I will get into LZ stuff tomorrow...already after 4 am.

Best,

TM
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Collins

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Re: OK, no need to mess around...
« Reply #6 on: February 03, 2005, 10:19:44 am »

Terry,

In another thread about the ZEP Remasters you mentioned
doing the lead out Scribes....

Among all the other questions, i was
checking my copy of the LP, and im curious about
how "So Mote Be it" and "Do What Thou Wilt" came
about....Page and his Aleister Crowley interests
at the time?

Thank you Sir,

Paul

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drumsound

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Re: OK, no need to mess around...
« Reply #7 on: February 03, 2005, 11:03:26 pm »

I can't wait for these stories!
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Curve Dominant

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Re: OK, no need to mess around...
« Reply #8 on: February 03, 2005, 11:23:32 pm »

Led Zep III was a favorite record of mine when a child, I bought the sheet music and learned all the songs on my moms acoustic guitar, so I'm looking forward to hearing about the sessions.

It's particularly interesting because last year I produced a southern rock singer/songwriter guitarist who wanted a sort of HipHop "bounce" to her production, and LZ III was one of the recordings I turned to for inspiration (Bron Yr Aur Stomp is SOOO FLY).

bblackwood

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Re: OK, no need to mess around...
« Reply #9 on: February 04, 2005, 11:07:48 am »

compasspnt wrote on Wed, 02 February 2005 03:17

Now where did I put those multitracks....??

Thanks, guys.  I will get into LZ stuff tomorrow...already after 4 am.

Ahem...

(sniff, shuffles feet, coughs, wait patiently...)
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Brad Blackwood
euphonic masters

j.hall

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Re: OK, no need to mess around...
« Reply #10 on: February 04, 2005, 11:13:47 am »

*purple in the face from holding breathe*

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compasspnt

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Re: OK, no need to mess around...
« Reply #11 on: February 04, 2005, 10:07:11 pm »

OK, where to start on Zeppelin?  (Couldn't find the multitracks; they must have been thrown away from our tape vault when we did a major clean out!)

I'll try to do the story, but keep it as short as possible.

I met Jimmy Page while playing in a regional band based in Memphis.  The Yardbirds (which then included Page) were playing on this Dick Clark Caravan of Stars tour.  They were one of the stars; we weren't.  Dick would pick up locally or regionally known groups (cheap) to fill out the tour with some opening acts.  I was a HUGE Yardbirds fan, so I made sure to seek out JP.  Beck was playing lead, and I think Jimmy was actually on bass at the time, and also doing occasional rhythm guitar.  Clapton had already left.  The next tour the 'Birds did, I made sure to go and hook back up with them, although we weren't playing on that one.  I went to several shows, but one in particular I remember was at Murray State University in Kentucky.  Jeff Beck had just quit the group, so Jimmy was taking over lead guitar duties.  This was his first night as leader...we all wondered:  "Could he handle it?"  Don't worry though, he could.  After the show, JP rode back with me through the night to Memphis, and we arrived at Ardent Studios very early in the morning.  I showed him around the studio, we played guitar a bit, and he really wanted my '52 Telecaster which I had brought out.  He offered to trade even for Beck's Esquire, which had been left behind.  I've always wondered if I should have made that trade...but it didn't seem quite right to take Jeff's guitar, when he wasn't there to defend himself.  We decided to keep in close touch, and Jimmy asked if I might be interested in either joining, or recording, his new band that he wanted to put together someday.  Sounded interesting to me.  I said OK.  He was going to call it The New Yardbirds.

This "new" group did come about, slowly.  I decided not to leave the recording situation I was in, as things were going great at  Stax, but I said I might be around if needed for any engineering work.  The New Yardbirds played around a bit, with not huge success, but a couple of their songs would resurface on the first Zeppelin album, I think "Dazed and Confused" and "How Many More Times,"  but it's been many years since I heard those by the 'Birds.  Jimmy wanted to change the group name to something original,  and find a couple of new members.  He decided on a singer who was also a friend of mine, Terry Reid (I had taken the album cover photo, and done the layout, for TR's second album).  Terry was a great guy and a great singer, and he wanted to do it, but his manager/producer, Mickey Most, wouldn't let him out of a contractual obligation, so Terry suggested the singer from Robert Plant and The Band of Joy.  That singer was Robert Plant.  The drummer, I think, for that same group was John Bonham.  Jimmy knew John Baldwin, aka John Paul Jones, from the session musician scene around London, and the four of them got together to try things out.  Jimmy told me that about two songs into the first rehearsal, in the middle of a great sounding piece, everybody just started looking around at each other and laughing.  It was obvious right from the start that they had "IT."

Of course, they recorded the first album, and the rest is history, as they say.  JP sent me a cassette of the first one well before release...wish I knew where that was right now!  Then the second one took things to a higher level yet.  Jimmy called me to ask if I would move to London and set up their own private studio for them.  I  actually did start immigrations paperwork to do this, and had made long equipment lists, contacts with suppliers, etc., but again, there was so much else going on, I decided not to go.  Jimmy understood, but asked if I would be available if they got into a jam with any new recordings.  I  said OK.

Well, it turned out that they did get into time trouble.  There was a big tour totally scheduled, and it was to coincide with the release of the third album.  But they got way behind getting ready for the recording, and the start was delayed so much, that by the time they got some of it recorded (at Olympic in South London, with Andy Johns, brother of Glyn), it was time to leave for the tour, with the album only partly done.  This could be a marketing disaster.  JP called me and asked if he could come in to record in Memphis in short spurts, that is, in between shows.  I said OK.  So they would play a show or two, and on the days off, JP and whomever (always Peter Grant, as well) would fly in.  I would pick up at airport, and drive directly to the old Ardent studio at 1457 National Street.  We overdubbed things, tracked some things, and edited and mixed everything.  I had just taken delivery of a new 3M 16 track 2", which was good, as that's what the previous tracks were recorded on.  But Dolby's were required, which we didn't have, so I had to scramble with Ray to get the units needed there quickly (A's, the big grey 2 chan ones).  I recorded with Jimmy at Olympic in London already for some bits, so I was familiar with most things already.

Mics which were used were just the standard mics I always used.  67's, 87's, 47's, EV (RE15?) or Shure (I think 545?).  We didn't have or use any Sennheiser's yet.  They hadn't really made it to the US in any big way at that time.  Neumann was the king, except you had to deal with Gotham Audio in NY, which I must admit was not much fun.  So I found a dealer in Germany, and would get mics sent in directly from there, which infuriated Gotham.  On drums, John wanted as few mics as possible.  He would say the HE would control the levels and dynamics, not the engineer.  And he could.  I believe there were sometimes 3 mics, two on the kit (only because stereo was getting popular) and a bass drum mic.  But on some songs there was only one kit mic and a bass drum one.  I distinctly remember panning from centre for the normal kit, to left for the beginning of a tom roll, then on through to the centre and then right for the rest of the roll, then quickly back to centre for the normal beat again.  Pretty high tech!  Had to be fast, though.  Jimmy also helped with occasional fader moves or pans when there was too much for me to do alone (no automation, of course, and I still don't really like automation).

For guitars, I think there were Neumann "pencil" mics on acoustics, either 84's or their predecessors, or perhaps 86's, if they were around by then.  Electrics would vary from 47 or 67 on softer sounds to EV or Shure on louder ones.  A great story from Jimmy was that he did the amazing solo on "Since I've Been Loving You" as an overdub in one take, through some strange amp that had been left in the studio by another group, with no real "messing around with the sound."  Just plug in and go...there was a second take attempt, but it couldn't be bettered.  Now I think this is one of the best rock guitar  solos ever...such feeling.  Another story was that Jimmy said A. Johns had some secret technique to get doubling effects, or delays, that he (JP) didn't remember, but he wanted to use it.  So I called Andy to find it out.  He really didn't want to divulge this, but Jimmy insisted; so Andy finally told me that he'd turn the tape around backwards and "pre delay" a sound (with a tape delay), then turn the tape back right and "undelay" it with varispeed tape delay to get the right timing.  Worked like a charm.

As for mic pre's...no one ever heard of, or thought of, any outboard mic pre's then...that's what the console was for.  It was full of mic pre's...so we used them.  As nostalgic, vintage, or mythological as it may seem to people now to have worked in these (supposedly) golden days with all that vintage gear, it just wasn't thought of in that way at that time.  We just used what we had, and did the best we could.  That's the same thing I'm doing today, only it's not with Jimmy Page, and some (but not all) of the gear is newer.  Again, the console at Ardent was a SpectraSonics.  This one was not one of the ones built by Dilly in Utah, but by Welton Jetton in Memphis, under license from Dilly, and using Dilly's spec'd parts.  It was simple, and sounded great.  But not a lot of  the "features" known today.  We did also have some SpectraSonics limiters, which I always thought were OK, a bit "hard," but not as good as my 176's.  I think the console at Olympic was a Helios, so those would have been the pre's there.

Anyway, we mixed to 1/4" tape.  There were some extra mixes, which I still have today on the original 1/4", that we thought were WAY too radical to use...no one would have accepted them, we thought.  I hear them now and wonder what the differences really were! I then took the masters to Auditronics (also owned by Mr. Jetton) for mastering.  I made all the decisions on EQ, compression, etc., approved by Jimmy, who was also there.  Peter Grant was present as well.  I remember that the first time I got "that feeling" that this was something special (I never think much about this sort of thing while in the recording or mixing process, because there's just too much to do) was when I went to the bathroom down the hall while "Loving You" was playing out of the mastering room door.  It sounded pretty good, and I realized that Plant's vocal was awfully distinctive on this one.

We cut several sets of parts, and I inscribed the sayings into the lead out groove spaces (very carefully).  Jimmy was a huge fan of Aleister Crowley, the "first hippy," and Crowley's philosphies.  He had given me the books, which I read, and was interested in, but I found it a little too free and unrestricted, that one could do anything one wanted.  I remember asking Jimmy at mastering if it was OK to kill someone if you "felt like it."  He wasn't amused.  But I wrote "Do what Thou Wilt" on one side of one set, and "Shall Be The Whole of The Law" on the other side of the same set.  I remember writing "So mote it Be" on one side of another set, but I've forgotten the rest.  We joked that with different things written on different lacquers, real fans would have to buy 2 or more records to complete the set!  This was absurdly funny to us, as we couldn't imagine anything like that might really happen.

Then I took the masters, carefully boxed in grouped sets, and put them in the trunk (boot) of John Fry's Mercedes 600 SEL 6.3 (which I  had bought back from Germany for him), and drove them to Nashville, where LZ were playing their next show.  There I gave them to Peter Grant, who had them delivered by hand to the various pressing plants.  Atlantic never saw them, nor had anything to do with them, at Peter's insistence.

Everyone asks "Wow, what was it like to work with Zeppelin," and I can only answer that it was just like today, only the people and songs were different.  Usually it is only with hindsight that things seem historical, or become mythologized.  One great thing Jimmy did I will never forget.  When the LZ3 album covers came back from the printing plant, to be joined with the vinyl pressings, Jimmy looked at them for approval, and found that they had left off the credit for me that he had written to be there.  So he had them all destroyed, and completely re-printed to include my credit!  What a guy!  And these were pretty expensive and involved covers, with the spinning photo wheel and all!

Well, that's a lot for now.  Maybe I'll think of some other stories later...got to get back to more vocal comping.

Best to all,

Terry
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bblackwood

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Re: OK, no need to mess around...
« Reply #12 on: February 04, 2005, 10:58:07 pm »

Thanks, Terry.

Def worth the wait...
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Brad Blackwood
euphonic masters

jfrigo

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Re: OK, no need to mess around...
« Reply #13 on: February 05, 2005, 12:46:42 am »

A great read. Thanks, Terry!

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ted nightshade

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Re: OK, no need to mess around...
« Reply #14 on: February 05, 2005, 12:58:17 pm »

Oh yeah! So what do we have to do to hear those "outre" mixes to 1/4"?!!!
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Ted Nightshade aka Cowan

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