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Led Zeppelin's global 'masterplan'

Published 16/06/2015

Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and John Bonham dreamt of playing their way around the world
Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and John Bonham dreamt of playing their way around the world

Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page has revealed he wanted the band to play their way from England to Australia at the height of their fame on a tour that would have seen the rock legends trade riffs with local musicians in Africa and India.

Page, 71, said the idea came about after he and Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant travelled to India to play a session with the Bombay Orchestra in 1972, and would have seen them stop off at stages of the journey Down Under in the days before direct flights.

The Indian-infused tracks they created, special versions of Friends and Four Sticks, are included on new deluxe versions of Led Zeppelin's last three studio albums - Presence, In Through The Out Door and Coda - which have been remastered by Page.

Launching the new versions today at London's Olympic Studios - where the band recorded their first album, Page also said he was thrilled to have finished his epic task of remastering the band's nine studio albums and would be moving on to focus on a new guitar project.

He hailed the percussion abilities of the Indian musicians they played with in 1972 and said although the tracks had not been included on Led Zeppelin Four he had been inspired by the trip to Mumbai.

He said: "The overall masterplan of it though was that in those days when you went to Australia you would be stopping off in all cities along the way, it wasn't direct flights.

"So I could see a way that maybe we could go to Cairo with the band ... so if we went to Cairo and we played we could have recorded with the orchestras there, and we could also have recorded in India if we could play in Mumbai, at the cricket ground there. And then continue on to Australia.

"It was a great idea, the only thing was of course there was no infrastructure to do this sort of thing. I think the band that was going to play there first out of all groups was the Police and they played some 12 years later after that."

An Indian-flavoured song did make it on to an album, with the legendary sitar-driven Kashmir appearing on 1975's Physical Graffiti.

The band, famous for their powerful stage shows and outrageous backstage behaviour, played to thousands of fans and sold millions of records in their 1970s heyday.

Founding members - Page, Plant and bass player John Paul Jones - famously reunited on stage in 2007 along with Jason Bonham, the son of late drummer John, at a tribute concert for Ahmet Ertegun, the founder of the band's label Atlantic Records.

The remastered versions of the final three Zeppelin albums include several previously unreleased tracks, including the blues-heavy early track Suga Mama, recorded in 1968 and added to Coda.

The reissue of 1976's Presence will include a previously unheard instrumental, the unusually downbeat piano-led Pod, while Coda will also feature an unreleased instrumental called St Tristan's Sword recorded for their third album.

Page said he had listened to hundreds of hours of studio material to produce extra albums of unreleased tracks and different versions of classic tracks, and that he was full of "jubilation" at finishing the long project.

He said: "There has been a lot of material. However as far as the studio side of things ... this is it as far as what is going to be released. Unless something might pop up on international record day, but that is a long way off."

He added: "It's clear what I will be doing next. I want to do something which involves being seen to play the guitar."

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