Light & Shade: Conversations with Jimmy Page

I read many rock star biographies and they usually go like this: rock star has difficult childhood, starts band, leads life of reckless drug abuse, marries and divorces multiple times and finally finds wisdom and redemption in old age. Unfortunately, the books do not always talk about the music, which is what really matters. Perhaps this is why I found Light & Shade so refreshing. Built around a series of interviews with Brad Tolinski, the editor in chief of Guitar World, Light & Shade is a nice look at what made Jimmy Page's recordings with and beyond Led Zeppelin so unique.

There must have been some rock and roll in the water in the area southwest of London that Page came from since it also bred Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck, all of whom served in the groundbreaking Yardbirds at some point (with Beck recommended for the job by Page who had initially turned it down). What many people don't realize about Page's career is that even before the Yardbirds he played on sessions in what the book estimates as 60 percent of the records made in Britain in the early 1960s. His guitar shows up on hundreds of tracks including tracks by The Who, Tom Jones, Shirley Bassey, Petula Clark and Rolling Stones.

The real meat of the book involves Page speaking on how he was able to get the unique sounds on the various Led Zeppelin recordings. Not all of this revolves around the guitar, as their drum sound was truly remarkable and had been midwifed by Page. However, guitar lovers should rest assured that there is plenty of detail given to Page's various guitars, including a chapter devoted to all of his gear. There are other interludes as well, including interviews with Paul Rodgers and Jack White.

Jimmy Page's career has not been profiled as extensively as those of other guitar heroes and that made this book very refreshing and informative to me. While his partying antics during the Led Zeppelin heyday years are legendary, the publishing world has been relatively subdued when it comes to profiles of his importance as a musician. This book should be a welcome addition to any rock music lover's shelf.

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