I just finished the book “Light and Shade: Conversations with Jimmy Page”. It’s a must-read for any Zeppelin or Page fan. The bulk of the book is culled from one-on-one interviews with the man himself. For a guy who has had a notoriously prickly relationship with the press, this is about as “inside” as a fan is going to get.
As a guitarist, there’s lots of good meaty stuff about his process and gear—particularly some recording details (I really nerd-out on that stuff). Though, surprisingly, he’s very cagey about sharing any particular details on amplifiers. Apparently he’s concerned that there would be a run on whatever obscure out-of-production amps he’s using. Truthfully, he’s probably right.
One surprising thing I learned was that a good bit of “The Song Remains The Same” was re-filmed on a soundstage. Apparently the original director hadn’t ordered enough film and there were significant bits of the Madison Square Garden show that just weren’t filmed. Alas, it seems like the sort of thing every Zeppelin fan should know, so color me embarassed to be so late to the party.
I guess that explains why the editing in the film looks so off in some places. As an earnest teenager I remember watching Page’s hands intently and thinking, “did they even try to match the footage up?” I mean, how high were these guys? It turns out that even Page himself couldn’t replicate his playing note-for-note from one performance to the next. Honestly though, few can.
The book also includes a few interviews with others like John Paul Jones (which is great) and an interview with Jimmy’s astrologist (which I could have done without). While that felt like cheap padding, the rest of the book overshadows this unfortunuate short-coming. For any Zepplin fan looking for some inside dope from the original source, you’d be hard-pressed to find something better.