The guitar legend turned 73 today. Here’s our list of 10 great non-Led Zep collaborations he’s made. These tunes give your ears a whole lotta love
Jimmy Page said that he is going back out on the road this year for the first time since touring with Robert Plant in 1998, and will be releasing a new album that will feature material from the different eras of his many-splendored career. Though fans do still wish he’d Get the Led Out with Robert Plant, the classic rock guitar icon has played on numerous memorable tracks beyond Led Zeppelin.
During his early career as a London six-string studio wiz, Page cut sides with The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, The Who, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, Herman’s Hermits and David Jones aka Bowie as well as the seemingly incongruous Burt Bacharach, Tom Jones and Petula Clark. Then there’s his work with The Yardbirds, The Firm and other bands, blues legends like Sonny Boy Williamson II and more. Here’s 10 gems on which Pagey shines.
10) “I’m A Man” by The Yardbirds (1967)
This vintage ’60s clip has a Top of the Pops feel, what with bobbysoxers clapping as they attempt to dance to this Muddy Waters blues. Once Keith Relf – an able vocalist lacking in the harmonica department – puts his harp down and lets J.P. wail on his oddly-reflectively-stickered Telecaster, the Y’birds train gets a-rollin’. Page even brings out his violin bow on the Tele at 4:13. Well, Zep was the New Yardbirds, right?
9) “Train Kept A-Rollin'” by The Yardbirds with Page + Beck on the Blow-Up soundtrack
Jeff Beck and Page were both in The Yardbirds at the same time, briefly, for a few months in 1966. And that is when the Italian master filmmaker Michelangelo Antonioni captured them in this scene from his surreal drama of alienation, high fashion and groupies, Blow-Up, doing a version of the band’s U.K. hit tune on a set that resembled the popular venue in Windsor called The Ricky Tick Club. Watch photographer David Hemmings and what he does with Jeff Beck’s destroyed and abandoned guitar neck.
8) “Miles Road” by Clapton + Page
This cut off a quintessential 1965 Immediate Records collection, Blues Anytime Vol.3 An Anthology of British Blues, is just two bluesmen noodling around and having a good time – except it’s not just two bluesmen, it’s God and the Archangel Michael.. This was one of several jams recorded on a Simon tape recorder (into which you could directly plug electric guitars) when Clapton came to visit at Miles Road, the house in Epsom, Surrey, where Jimmy still lived with his parents. Page let Andrew Loog-Oldham know about the tapes, and that’s how they got released. Reportedly, Clapton was not pleased.
7) “Don’t Send Me No Flowers” with Sonny Boy Williamson II
Page was deeply affected by the blues and nowhere was this more evident than on this song from an album called Jimmy Page – Special Early Works Featuring Sonny Boy Williamson (Springboard International Records SPB-4038) originally recorded in 1965. Pagey is content to play gentle rhythm behind the master. Do you blame him?
6) Clapton, Beck + Page at ARMS Concert, 12/83, Madison Square Garden
In December of ’83, various Brits of high stature – former Yardbirds Clapton, Beck and Page performing together onstage for the first time with Joe Cocker, Paul Rodgers, Bill Wyman, Kenney Jones and a scene-stealing, frenetic percussionist in the person of Ray Cooper – played Dallas, San Francisco. Los Angeles and New York City to benefit multiple sclerosis research in honor of MS sufferer Ronnie Lane from The Faces/Small Faces. From my position in the front row, it was obvious that the stature of the performers was not the only thing that was high, and while Page in particular was a little bit loosey-goosey on this rundown of Clapton’s “Layla,” it sure did have some balls to it.
5) “Prison Blues” from his solo Outrider LP
This is a blues-drenched exemplar of Page at his honeydripping best, and while he professed to leave the Zep behind on his first solo album in 1988, “Prison Blues” is a heavy-breathing shoutout to the blues-metal heyday of the ’70s. Wild and brilliant, absolutely.
4) “Bald Headed Woman” by The Sneekers
While Pete Townshend has downplayed Page’s presence on “I Can’t Explain,” Roger Daltrey admits that Page played six-string rhythm guitar on the sessions for The Who’s first single, and he also played lead guitar on the B-side “Bald Headed Woman.” Now here’s where it gets interesting. The song was written by producer Shel Talmy, and appears as the B-side of a single recorded in 1964 – “I Just Can’t Go To Sleep” b/w “Bald-Headed Woman” – by The Sneekers, a band from Staines, Middlesex, who supported the early Who a lot, with a younger Jimmy Page playing the guitar on both tracks. The song was also covered by The Kinks and Harry Belafonte. Jimmy Page played guitar on The Kinks’ version as well.
3) “Bye Bye Blackbird” by Joe Cocker (1969)
Pagey kicks in around 1:32 and doesn’t let go. Not only savage licks. but that tone, perfectly matched with the late soul singer’s gravelly voice. From the album With a Little Help From My Friends, Cocker’s debut, the song is a moody, sentimental ballad punctuated by Page’s searing axe work and Chris Stainton’s organ. Fun fact: featured on a recent episode of Quantico.
2) “Radioactive” by The Firm (1985)
Five years after the breakup of Led Zeppelin, Page created a new brand of sorcery for the ’80s with Bad Company singer Paul Rodgers. This first single from the band’s 1985 eponymous LP hit the charts with a poppy panache, and while the catchy tune was what got it out there to the classic rock public, it was the chemistry of Page and Rodgers that made it wail. Page is really showing off here, and having a good time doing it.
1) “You Shook Me” by Jimmy Page and The Black Crowes
Another seminal Willie Dixon tune that appeared on both Jeff Beck’s 1969 album Truth and Led Zeppelin in the same year. This raunchy, rockin’ version was the result of a pairing that was made in rock’n’roll heaven when Page and Crowes performed this in Los Angeles, released in 2000 on Live At The Greek. Crowe Chris Robinson is a worthy foil for Pagey’s outstanding guitar, with his vocals and funky harmonica. Yow!