Friday, 24 January 2014

Led Zep III Turntable Cover

Led Zeppelin III is a fantastic album. Even the dreaded Daily Mail's Live Magazine said it was "the greatest rock album of all time". So it must be true. OK it was in 2007, a full 37 years after it was produced. But you hardly expect the Daily Mail to be in the vanguard of popular music news. Not sure what they made of “Immigrant Song” though.  

The original vinyl edition was designed by Zacron, a multi-media artist whom Page had met in 1963 whilst Zacron was a student at Kingston College of Art. He had recently dropped out from a lectureship at Leeds Polytechnic to found Zacron Studios.

Behind the front cover was a rotatable laminated card disc, or volvelles, which shows through holes in the cover. Moving an image into place behind one hole would usually bring one or two others into place behind other holes. This could not be replicated on a conventional cassette or CD cover, but apparently there have been Japanese and British CDs packaged in miniature versions of the original sleeve.

Jimmy Page once famously criticized the artwork in a guitar magazine saying he thought it was “Tenny Bopperish”. Personally I think the word “unique” might be better employed. I suppose it depends what frame of mind you’re in. Enhanced or otherwise.

I originally saw the vinyl back in my student days. A friend of mine, who was a brilliant guitarist, brought it round to my rabbit hutch and flung it on the turntable. And out popped the inner sleeve, and my eyes lit up and scanned the rich phantasmagoria before me.

“Wowwwww… Vinny, that’s ACE.” (for that was his name).
“Oh yer can have it lar”
“Get away- it’ll ruin the LP. It won’t be in one piece”
“Ah never mind- take it!”

So I did, in thanks. It sat in various boxes and folders for several years, as a project in waiting. And finally I managed to mount it in a wooden glass picture frame with purple velvet on the background. Now that little piece of phantasmagoria takes pride of place in my living room like a permanent portal to an LSD trip, just hanging on the wall.

Vinny went on to play guitar for the Pete Best Band, the former drummer for the Beatles (before Ringo). They went to the USA and God knows where else touring the world doing Beatles covers. He had a whale of a time. I like to think it was good Karma for his act of generosity. I have lost touch with him to show him the fruits of his kindness hanging on my wall.

One very endearing feature of this album (and there are many I can think of), is that Led Zep retreated to Bron Y Aur cottage in Gwynedd, North Wales to experiment and develop the pastoral side of the music of the band. This has generated some sublime contrasts in the album. 


 by South Utsire

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