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This review is from: Hammer of the Gods: Led Zeppelin Unauthorised (Paperback)
I found this book in a second-hand shop a couple of weeks ago, and picked it up out of curiosity. First published in 1985 (and updated ten years later), it was one of the earliest attempts to tell the extraordinary story of Led Zeppelin's rise and fall, and is also the source of most of the tales about their antics on the road.
Although Davis makes some attempt to describe the band's music and its evolution over the course of just eight studio albums in ten years, he spends most of his time describing these stories from behind the scenes. His source for most of them is Richard Cole, who was the band's road manager before being fired in 1980. Apart from the fact that the music is always more interesting than stories of sex, drugs and violence, it's impossible to say how true any of this stuff is (although perhaps that doesn't matter when it comes to creating a larger-than-life legend about the band). However, there were occasional flashes of insight: there's a detailed account of the group's origins, and a repeated reminder that, while Page and Jones were sophisticated session musicians with comparatively lengthy experience of touring and the London studio scene, Plant and Bonham were plucked from relative obscurity in workman-like Midlands groups to join the band.
As others have pointed out, the author's touch falters several times in the course of the book; I was surprised to realise that he'd co-written Levon Helm's autobiography, which is a much better account of a musical life. But on the whole, this book does pretty much what it says on the tin.