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Date: Mon, 7 Nov 1994 19:30:14 -0500 From: Betsy Ramsey Subject: AP Article Copyright (c) 1994 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. November 3, 1994. AP ARTS: PLANT AND PAGE By Kira L. Billik NEW YORK (AP) -- Bid farewell to the solo careers of Robert Plant and Jimmy Page. But don't mourn too bitterly. They've reunited -- something fans of their previous incarnation, Led Zeppelin, have been craving for the past 14 years. And another thing: Don't call them Led Zeppelin, which Plant and Page both say died with John "Bonzo" Bonham in 1980. Plant separates the current joining with Page from what he calls "the same old middle-aged troubadours churning around making a dollar and going out with women younger than their kids." "Maybe our time as vital, young, wild rockers, if you like, captured the imagination of a generation and the songs continued to keep that imagery going," he said in an interview at a Manhattan hotel. "The appeal that we have now hopefully will be the fact that we're gonna take people on an adventure musically. This was what Led Zeppelin was always about." Led Zeppelin was formed in the late 1960s as part of the British invasion, after the New Yardbirds split up. Page was on guitar, Plant handled vocals, John Paul Jones was on bass and Bonham drums. After Bonham died and choked in his sleep, the group, which had a string of hits for more than a decade, decided not to continue. The latest union was nurtured in North Africa, inspired by African drum patterns and suggested in the first place by MTV. Plant and Page's "get-together," as Plant calls it, has come in the form of a short film alternately titled _Unledded_ and _No Quarter_. An accompanying soundtrack album was released Nov. 1. A tour will follow. The pair redid nine Zeppelin classics and wrote three new songs. They're backed by several members of Plant's band, the London Metropolitan Orchestra, the Hossam Ramzy Egyptian Ensemble (consisting of strings and percussion), and other guest musicians playing such instruments as the hurdy-gurdy and the banjo. "Throughout our careers individually, we've done some interesting things and some things that were quite predictable, but this coming together is quite a strong one," Plant said. "We both agreed that we had to make it something quite unexpected for everybody." MTV wanted Plant and Page to perform for its "Unplugged" series, but they refused. But the suggestion encouraged the duo to unite for a project. "We both throught the `Unplugged' thing was a bit stale," Plant said. "But we thought it might be a neat idea to take cameras down to the desert and show what was behind the thinking of Led Zep outside of `Whole Lotta Love.' " "How it started was us getting together in a room just to see what would happen in every respect -- socially but primarily musically," Page said. Martin Meissonier, a producer friend of Plant's, sent the duo tape loops of African drum patterns. The rhythms proved to be a profound inspiration. "It was just a crunching, repetitious rhythm, and us two standing there going, `Fourteen years, eh? Now what will we do?' " said Plant. "It was like, `Here we are then -- this is what we're here for,' " Page said. "We know what we can do. Let's see if we can still do it, so that we can rise to the occasion as opposed to crumble." Page still has his boyishly round face and unruly mop of black hair. In his trademark black, he is the subdued shade to Plant's boisterous light. Plant peered around the corner and lobbed a tea sandwich to mark his entrance into the room. He sported his usual leonine mane of blond curls and wore a white T-shirt, black leather pants and heavy black boots. He sipped a neat Scotch and Perrier and smoked a cigarette. In the film, they play one of the new songs, "Wah Wah," in a Marrakesh square with members of the gnaoui (pronounced ga-NAUW), spiritual healers originally brought into Morocco as slaves. Working with people who are so proud of their roots made the pair think about their own. "Their roots have been passed on through generations," Page said. "We've had to sort of invent (our roots) for ourselves." "My Anglo-Saxon roots, if you like, often need highlights," Plant quipped, "and they come from North Africa. They come from cultures where the music hasn't really changed." The timeless quality of that music has been woven into the songs on _Unledded-No Quarter_. Ghazali vocalist Najma Akhtar's undulating, unearthly keen can be heard in "Battle of Evermore." In "Kashmir," an Egyptian violinist plays his solo with a rapt, Middle-Eastern expression. Of the new songs, "Yallah" is hypnotic, with its crushing bass drum line and Page's swirling, twisting riff. "Wah Wah" is a simple, chiming sing-along. "Wonderful One" is stripped down to acoustic guitar, a bit of percussion and Plant's vocals -- it's similar to some of Plant's solo work in theme and sound. As for the Zeppelin material used in the project, Plant defends using it. "How else are we going to be able to reinvent ourselves if we don't borrow and elaborate?" he said. "That is the approach that we took onto everything that we were doing," Page added. "To have a new lease on it..." "Mess with it a bit, turn it 'round, distort it, embellish it," Plant chimed in. "Augment it -- you can use any adjective you wish," Page finished. "We were given the opportunity to think about our work together more," Plant said. "And I suppose it we'd have thought about it even more, we would have done it differently again. That's probably what will happen when we play live."

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