7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Whole Lotta Drugs,
This review is from: Trampled Under Foot: The Power and Excess of Led Zeppelin (Hardcover)
I have been a Zeppelin fan since I was 11 years old when I first heard Four Symbols. I saw them at their first Knebworth date in 1979 and have kept the faith even through the eighties when their currency was at its lowest.
I have also bought plenty of Zep biographies over the years (Mylett, Welch, Lewis, Yorke, Davis, Cole, Wall) and with the arrival of any new book on them I hope the author gets the best out of this fairly familiar tale. As with Mick Wall's attempt at getting really in the Zep story I had great hopes for Hoskyn's work - hoping that finally we might get the definitive book.
Unlike most reviewers on here I have to report a deep sense of disappointment with the lack of balance achieved in Trampled Underfoot. Led Zeppelin were all about light and shade both on stage, off stage, and behind closed doors. This book is heavily skewed towards the dark side of their exploits - drink, women, drugs, hotel rooms, security guys - all were treated with contempt by the Zep men and if you didn't know better you'd think that was all they did........
Anyone looking for a Revolution in the Head style appreciation of Zeppelin music are not going to find it here among the 500 plus pages of eyewitness accounts of what the band and their entourage, as well as the entire stable of Swan Song artists it appears, got up to.
So this is not the definitive account of the band that I was hoping for - but is it worth reading? Yes it is. In it you do get a very clear picture of how messed up the whole Zep camp became particularly post-1975. But you get very little critical insight into thier music and practically no social context either. While Page and Grant in particualr were out of their brains trying to come to terms with the death of their friend a lot of people in the UK were dealing with mass unemployment and confronting equally unsettling times. The author of the book has left it to the reader to contemplate such ironies.
The lack of narrative is another failing of the book in my view - it just feels like such a lazy approach that would, if tackled differently, have provided a better better read as well as editing out some of the repetitive tales of gore that had me wincing at least once a session. I'm not naiive - I know this is what bands did - but they also got in the charts, sold gig tickets faster than anyone else around them, commanded great respect from fans and other musicians. When you've read one bitter account of how someone got treated badly by the band, you've probably read them all. Yes there are a lot of new accounts in this book from Swan Song employees and I gained a lot of insight from what they had to say on the running of the company. And while I have no idea who Vicky Hodge was/is, I wish I had been on the Starship as she did cart wheels down the central aisle........
Zeppelin were Giants that Walked the Earth - their music was everything at some point - it marketed itself like no other before it or since. Page was an inventive, hugely influential guitarist and in rock music terms, lifted the genre to uncomparable heights at times. Plant wrote some interesting lyrics and sang them with passion and humour that others could have learned from. Jones and Bonham kept the whole thing steady as a rock and pegged to the ground.
Trampled Underfoot gets nowhere near to the brilliance they once displayed as a rock band. An oportunity missed (again).
To anyone considering writing a Zeppelin book - try a new angle next time. Tell us about the music AND the times it was made in, but leave some space for the stuff they would wish for us to forget.
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Initial post: 26 Oct 2013 10:54:07 BDT
F. T. J. Pas says:
I have only read Mick Wall's book, apart from all the magazine articles and such. Does that book have your highest recommendation, as a person who's read them all, or is there another really good one?
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