Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Ripple Library: Light & Shade: Conversations with Jimmy Page


“Great music is about tension and release.” – Jimmy Page

What a quote! What a fabulous statement, and one that sums up the musical output of the man, and a phrase that captures the pure essence of this book! Authored by Guitar World Magazine Editor-In-Chief, Brad Tolinski, Light & Shade: Conversations with Jimmy Page is an in depth and detailed account of the musical career of Jimmy Page, practically from the time that he picked up his first guitar to his most recent forays on the world stage as a British ambassador at the Olympic Games in China in 2008.

I saw this book sitting on the bookshelf in The Big Bald Bastards office, and simply reading the words “Light & Shade” on the binding, I knew it had to do with Zeppelin to some degree. Just knew it, for no band mastered that alternation swing of emotion so immaculately than the Mighty Zep. So, when he handed the book to me and said that it came in for review, I immediately sequestered myself in my temporary office and consumed the book with the devotion of one of Page’s biggest fans. I’m not one of Page’s biggest fans, however, I respect the man and his body of work, and ultimately, after reading this book, I’m a bigger fan and have an even greater respect for the dude.

It’s easy to think that because it’s a collection of guitar magazine interviews that it might be a gear heads wet dream and over the heads of the casual fan. Nay nay, friends. This book is a much more personal reflection on the behind the scenes happenings of the Yardbirds, the Zeppelin classics that we all have come to know and love, and all the follow up projects that I can no longer discount because they didn’t strike me with the power of Zeppelin. It’s rich in personal reflection on Page’s relationships with other musicians, artists, and his approach to capturing sound. While not as in depth in the live show and party aspects of the quintessential Zeppelin tome, Hammer Of The Gods, Light & Shade offers up some fascinating perspectives on how certain guitar and drum sounds were captured, the mind sets of the musicians as they entered the studios, or how they simply sat down to create the masterpieces that they did.

Brad Tolinski did a wonderful job of collecting tons of interviews with Page, putting together a brilliant chronological account of the man and his work. And, his inclusion of interviews with some of the players in Page’s past, such as Jeff Beck, Paul Rodgers, and Jack White, was a welcome touch . . . adding another perspective, some extra spices, to the man’s legendary status.

I’ve never listened to the Yardbirds. While I grew up hearing Zeppelin, it wasn’t until the early 2000’s that I finally understood the brilliance of the music. I thought The Firm was just okay, and I never heard Page’s solo record. After reading Light & Shade: Conversations with Jimmy Page, I now want all of it in my collection, as well as a number of his other side projects, so that I can refer back to it over and over again. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is the casual Page fan, and if you’re a rabid fan, well . . . you probably have already read this and don’t need me to tell you what you already know.

--Pope

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