‘Time to shift and focus that way': Jimmy Page says break between solo projects has been beneficial

Between Led Zeppelin archival releases and Robert Plant’s steadfast refusal to reform, Jimmy Page has spent an extended time away from the stage — and, the guitarist tells Absolute Radio, he misses it.

“I’ve been involved with these Led Zeppelin projects,” Page says. “Even though this stuff is coming out over the next couple of years, the fact is, there’s been Celebration Day and all that, and it has taken up a huge amount of time. What it’s meant is that I wouldn’t be in a position to be seen to be playing. By that, I mean on a stage, even if I was guesting with someone. I miss playing live. I like making up music, and I’m good at that.”

Page has also been writing music for a new recording, perhaps his first solo project since 1988’s Outrider. In retrospective, however, he says he’s happy that he never made time to put it to tape. After all, there have been a number of technological paradigm shifts over that period of time.

“I’ve got music written, stockpiled,” Page adds, “but I haven’t recorded it — which is good. Because I didn’t want to date it, anyway. So, I think that’s definitely the next thing. I’ve been focusing on all of this other stuff. Now, it’s time to shift and focus that way.”

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  • Mason Leightle

    I wish Page would have focused more on writing and playing than reworking/remastering all the classic Led Zeppelin albums. I would add I don’t regret he didn’t remaster The Film/Soundtrack for The Song Remains The Same because it needed it badly, or the Live DVD which was nothing more/nothing less than the biggest gift he could have bestowed on fans who never saw the band live in it’s heyday.

    Personally, the remastered Led Zeppelin I sounds little different than any of the first impressions got from that first listen, meaning, it never needed remastered. If Rembrandt were alive today and still remastering some of his famous works, as an artist, one would consider that nostalgic and repeating the past. Sonically speaking, I have to wonder about all the remastering going on today. It’s not very rock n roll to say we can perfect the sonic quality of these analog to digital conversions by yet another remastering.

    I bought Led Zeppelin I as a record album in 1978, and toted it home by the handlebars on my Huffy Bike when I was 10 years old; flapping in the wind all the 10 miles it took to get there and back from the record store. When I played it for the first time, I had no mega tube stereo system, but a solid state, olive green record player made by Sears which was a hand me down from dad and his collection of stereo systems. In my setup at home, I was not converted to Led Zeppelin from the pureness of the sound coming from the speakers or stereo system, nor was my copy of Led Zeppelin I the bastard child of many a remastered versions of the same…it was 1978…what I had in my possession I assumed to be what everyone had first heard in 1968, and even from my crappy stereo system, the sound was mean, dark, furious and pushed the limits of my imagination and began to learn how to play drums on the carpeted floor of my bedroom by listening to Bonham.

    I say, Jimmy, let it go and just give us more new music to listen to….hate to undermine what work you’ve put into it, but few can tell the difference from one remastered version from the other, or should we start asking for refunds? Your debut album and successive albums changed the music world, and that of rock n roll forever…you can’t perfect what already was “perfect”

    • TheDingus

      What a wonderful post! Brought me right back to the days of buying my first record albums.

      I do have to play devil’s advocate, to this extent: Page is a sonic architect. Sound is his life. The first releases of Zep on CDs was less than wonderful. In a recent interview he talked about how he re-mastered the catalog to
      a high level for many formats, except, he didn’t re-master for MP3s.
      Because he knows sound.

      Maybe the records sound like when they were released: but I lost my vinyl Zep albums decades ago, so I welcome these. I like knowing they’ve been done to their architect’s standards.

      This is also about the legacy of the band, and I love that he did took the opportunity to place them in the context of their times – like you did. :-)

      • Mason Leightle

        I understand what you are saying however, I know something of the “sonic” world, even though I am not in the same class as Page. Ask anyone who knows anything about pro audio.. with all the variables in listening equipment, from headphones to speakers to mp3 players and stereo systems old/new, there’s going to be little difference between that first mastering to digital and this new one that even the keenest ears can tell. Conversion of wave-forms to 1’s and 0’s to something legible for the human ears, has a .0001 – 1% without the reduction of noise or the adding of compression. When I listened to the remastered Led Zeppelin III I could barely tell there was a difference with the exception that I knew it was remastered and expected something that was improved….but I was kidding myself…There are limitations to the media it was recorded on (analog tape), and there’s very little Page or anyone could have done to “improve” the quality of the sound without veering into a remix which ultimately would change that snapshot of the band at that moment.

        all, just my opinion….personally, I think releasing and remastering the bonus material, unheard music as companion disks to the albums was a good idea, but another Led Zeppelin remastered album collection? just disagree that it was necessary.

        When it comes to clarity that remastering can bring I think of classical music, that I can understand, but remastering distorted guitars, vocals harmonica and compressed drums in a rock n roll setting? kinda silly if you ask me….or what was rock n roll all about…again, I’d make that singular argument that even in my crappy stereo from ’70 that album sounded so good, the technology today says much can be done to improve older recordings, but probably only the dogs could tell

        • TheDingus

          I understand your point, especially about not being able to improve on the original masters, which are what they are. I am by no means as into sound as people who know a lot about pro audio, but I have a few questions, and a comment. First, there seems to be something missing from the following sentence, and I’d like to understand it: “Conversion of wave-forms to 1’s and 0’s to something legible for the human ears, has a .0001 – 1% without the reduction of noise or the adding of compression.” A .0001 – 1% what? And, isn’t there quite a range between .0001% and 1%, that should be handled with care?

          Second, the first CDs were developed in the 1980s, with the Zeppelin complete studio recordings box set released in 1993. Has not only listening equipment, but pro audio production equipment improved since those times? Doesn’t Page have better tools, now?

          My comment is, if you think Led Zeppelin is only “distorted guitars, vocals, harmonica and compressed drums in a rock n roll setting”, then I see where our opinions might differ. I can only say, Plant had some growing up to do on vocals although heaven knows he was powerful, and he could blow some harp. Other than that I must cry out: pay no heed, Bonzo! Don’t listen, Jonesy! It’s ok, Jimmy!

          Please listen to “Bron-Yr-Aur” as it might begin to expand your conception of their music: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-WRtoY_eus

          • Mason Leightle

            Dude, trust me, I know all about their acoustic music, or softer side, I am a big fan of Zeppelin III, and Rain Song and Bron Yr Aur….And did I not say I bought the newly remastered Zeppelin III and could not tell the difference? Definitely their acoustic landmark album. Now my knowing the reason there doesn’t seem to be a difference has more to do with what the technology today says it can do from the sense of remastering, cleaning up that barely audible thing called digital distortion. Caused from how digital systems back in the day handle analog distortion in conversions from one format to another. One of the things you might not understand is that wonderful analog tape and compression, even analog mixers all contribute to a certain level of warmth (distortion) when driven to a certain point. As far as I can tell in my so called top of the line stereo equipment in my studio, used to listen to playback of my fresh recordings, that Led Zeppelin I & III CD’s I bought years ago sounds exactly the same as the remastered versions. Perhaps Jimmy did something for some other future format we won’t be privy to for a while, and that was the reason? But like I said, it’s only my opinion that he should be writing instead messing around with all this. I don’t feel gipped I bought the remastered version, but it wasn’t necessary, at least on CD….there are new audio formats coming down the pike, some advertised as game changing in the world of digital audio. As far as your comment about how systems are better today? I have 4 pairs of headphones. My studio headphones, my iPad headphones, sony ear buds and whatever…I also have android phone, iPhone records players and mp3 players….quality and non-quality gear. Led Zeppelin songs sound different in every presentation. That’s what I mean about how that effort to resolve 1’s and 0’s ill conceived in the conversion from tape to CD isn’t going to amount to a hill of beans to most people.

            • TheDingus

              Don’t get your board shorts in a twist. :-) I was going by your statement that you could understand re-mastering classical music, but didn’t see the point in re-mastering something in a “rock n roll” setting. Glad to know you’re a fan of Zeppelin, from the “whisper to the thunder.” (Well, possibly to the thunder. I find the masterful control of distorted guitars to be a sonic achievement, in itself.)

              Newer digital formats are coming down the pike, and re-mastering for them is one of Page’s stated reasons for doing this work now.

              I get your point about CDs, honest; sometimes I’m listening inside a 20 year old truck with one speaker blown out. Doesn’t matter who does what re-mastering; in that environment, it certainly won’t amount to a hill of beans. That’s why I wrote that I was glad to be able to renew my collection of vinyl. For convenience’ sake, I look forward to the newer formats, too.

              I would also love to see Page perform new work, no doubt about it. But far be it from me to be dismissive that he takes care of Zeppelin’s legacy, which more than adequately represents a life’s work. It’s like people complaining that Sir Edmund Hillary hasn’t climbed Everest lately, so what’s his legacy, anyway?

              • Mason Leightle

                No shorts twisted…I sincerely believe the guys that moved all those analog master tapes to CD’s years did their homework and it was done for the purpose of redistributing music to CD format which has it’s limitations…….I have heard some of the new formats and still can’t hardly tell the difference…all I’d ask is you to understand, like we must in the pro-audio world, people make a lot of $ off selling old sh*t as new, or pass new technology off as making things more brilliant, sonically pure..quite often, they are correct from a scientific point of view, but the human ear does not have the sensitivities to pick out these few minute percentage points difference in quality. Page has the luxury of doing what he whilt with his material, but personally I sick of all the reissues and repackaging of the same material.. most anything of value comes in the rare gems of “unreleased material’ or new Page material, which he’s been talking about for years. He’s talked of a tune similar in construction to Stairway, he says he still got the chops and the drive….the last thing I wanted in all this time was a Zeppelin re-issue….But see I am just voicing an opinion here and I am not going to change Page’s mind….or yours….y’know the record companies are going to work with his estate and pull this remastered thing over and over after he’s gone with this zeppelin material. I would like to know what he has to offer us today, before he’s gone….he’s 70 man…my plea is based on the fact, that (unless you believe the lore on him selling his soul to the devil) he’s not going to live forever…