Trampled Under Foot: The Power and Excess of Led Zeppelin, By Barney Hoskyns
The stories remain the same
Sunday 09 September 2012
This monolithic tome (sadly it isn't all black, like the enigmatic obelisk on the Presence sleeve) tells the familiar story of the band that was to the Seventies what the Beatles were to the Sixties. Told through the fading memories of those alive and attractive when the marauding eight-legged rock beast ruled the world, it describes a distant age, when bands didn't bother with videos and tacitly encouraged rumour of their daemonic power – a power largely used to seduce impressionable if willing teenage girls, who are now grandmothers.
There's precious little about the music here, and it's assumed that the reader already knows core Zep lore. The classic stories are present – mud sharks applied to groupies, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant bonding over obscure singles, an embarrassed Zep in drag meeting an understandably bemused Stevie Wonder. Genuinely illuminating is the author Edward St Aubyn's wonderfully catty description of a visit to Page's Windsor home. He marvels at dining chairs painted as tarot cards and push-button conveniences installed by the previous owner, Michael Caine. ("The house had two generations of bad taste …").
They were men out of time even before their honourable dissolution following the drummer John Bonham's 1980 death by vodka. Those old records still sound fantastic though, inimitably moving air. Truth be told, readers of Stephen Davis's tabloidy biography of the band Hammer of the Gods won't find much new here. But one's inner spoddy teenager will enjoy being reminded of this strange cultural phenomenon.
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