Kirkus Reviews QR Code
LIGHT & SHADE by Brad Tolinski

LIGHT & SHADE

Conversations with Jimmy Page

By Brad Tolinski

Pub Date: Oct. 23rd, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-307-98571-2
Publisher: Crown

The wizardly, tight-lipped guitarist-producer-songwriter of Led Zeppelin opens up…a little.

Guitar World editor in chief Tolinski notes that Page has long been “the paradigm for rock-star inscrutability,” a Sphinx-like figure with little affection for the music press. Thus a collection of extended interviews with Page would appear a vital bibliographic entry. However, this unnecessarily repetitive and idolatrous volume only fitfully sheds light on its subject’s craft. After a slavering introduction, the author, plainly dredging material from occasional interviews for his magazine, dutifully runs down Page’s prodigious career as a top 1960s studio musician in London and his climb to fame in the Yardbirds. The book hits what passes for its stride with the genesis of Led Zeppelin, whose debut 1969 album Page financed and produced himself. Then Tolinski focuses on the quartet’s meteoric climb to the top of the ’70s rock heap and its sudden caesura with the alcohol-related death of drummer John Bonham in 1980. In his chats with the author, most of them clearly pegged to latter-day album and DVD releases, Page emerges as a smart, dry and unsurprisingly blunt and arrogant character. The best material here illuminates the innovative studio techniques that animated Zeppelin’s metal assaults and folk-inflected sorties; Page is less generous with details about his improvisational approach. The book peters out with details about Page’s later, lesser work with the Firm, David Coverdale, Zep vocalist Robert Plant and the reunited Zeppelin itself. Tolinski bulks up the book with mostly superfluous interviews with old mates (guitar peer Jeff Beck), collaborators (Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones, the Firm’s Paul Rodgers, the Yardbirds’ Chris Dreja) and uber-fans (Jack White), and thuds to an end with useless offerings from fashion designer John Varvatos and an astrologer.

For die-hard Zep fans and guitar geeks only.