SOME STOCKING STUFFERS CLEANING KIT
MOTOROLA MOTOROKR T505
For years drivers have been able to listen to their GPS guide them through city streets. With the nuvi 880, drivers can talk back. You shoul visit best double din head unit for the money to get more information.
The nuvi 880 is one of the thinnest that features voice-activated navigation, allowing users to keep their hands on the wheel while they navigate their journey. Users simply touch a button on the remote - which attaches to the steering wheel - and say "find address" to start finding their way. The manufacturer says the device will also recognize shortcut phrases in some cases.
It also features a "Where Am I?" function that allows users to speak that question and find the simplest route to the closest police stations, hospital or gas station.
Going shopping in a busy downtown core? The device can even remember where you parked.
Drivers can get all sorts of information from the tiny widescreen device, including real-time weather, traffic, gas prices and movie times through Microsoft Corp.'s MSN Direct service. It also features hands-free calling and an FM transmitter.
In tighter times, people are more likely to be cleaning their own vehicle rather than paying someone else to do it. Here are some suggestions for an inexpensive cleaning kit. Buy a pail or bucket - pick a wild colour and strange shape and fill it with a variety of products from Armor All such as their new wash mitt. One side looks like a shag carpet from days past but is effective as a wash mitt when wet and a duster when dry. The other side has a surface designed for scrubbing to remove stubborn dirt.
A container of cleaning wipes will be appreciated as they are extremely good at getting into little corners and crannies such as the bottom of cup holders, coin bins and cubbyholes. I've had good results with the new carpet and upholstery cleaner - in both the car and home. A ground-in stain on beige carpet and a black mark on light grey upholstery were both removed easily. These products retail for $7-$9 at almost every chain, department and auto-related store in the country.
DYSON DC-16 ANIMAL
I've been a long-time user and proponent of the Dyson DC-16 portable vacuum. More powerful than all others I've tried, it is perfect for those times when you don't want to drag out the big household or shop vacuum and related extension cord. The one drawback has been the inability to dig out ground-in dirt and pet hair. The innovators at Dyson have added a motorized brush to the strange-looking DC-16 and named it the Animal.
The brush is but one of three interchangeable attachments. The DC-16 uses a lithium-ion battery that charges very quickly and provides about six minutes of scrubbing and suction action on a single charge, enough to tackle one vehicle thoroughly. It's $229.99 at Sears, The Bay, Home Outfitters, Future Shop or online at http://www.dyson.com.
STANLEY 3-1 LED TRIPOD FLASHLIGHT
LED lights have become the bright new feature on a number of cars where they are used for parking and tail lights - and soon in combination for headlights. The added brightness, long life and minimal power draw also make them perfect for portable flashlights.
The new Stanley 3-1 LED Tripod takes advantage of this in a compact unit that uses six AA batteries to provide more than 200 hours of run time for a trio of individual flashlights in a weather-resistant, hands-free tripod. All three can be aimed and used as a single bright unit or separated into individual flashlights. It's $35 at major home improvement and general retailers.
Does your car key deserve a Kewi? With winter approaching, you might want to buy a glove for your best speakers for car to protect it from the harsh elements. This stylish, high-quality leather accessory has been custom-crafted to fit the key of nearly every popular make and model on the market.
Not only does it look good, it protects the key from the elements and, with the cost of replacing computerized keys running to more than $150, this $25 item is a worthwhile accessory. Available in a wide variety of colours in metallic and patent leathers to fit.
$39.99Here's a multi-purpose tool that gadget freaks will love. This dandy little item is the size of a small cellphone yet contains eight tools including a digital calculator, digital clock, compass, bright LED flashlight, Phillips screwdriver, tape measure, level and stainless steel knife. Available at a variety of retail outlets throughout North America for $39.99. Check it out at http://www.phillips-screwinnovation.com.
Here's a serious scraper for those tired of wimpy little scrapers that do little but scratch the surface of the heavy ice on the windshield. The Ice Dozer is big and rugged with three "attack surfaces," including one labelled "Tenderizer". Another is a sharp blade that adjusts to the curvature of the glass. A two-fisted grip lets you apply lots of force and the snowplow-like front pushes debris away from your hands and clothes. It even comes with a lifetime guarantee.
There is no provision for clearing snow, so you'll need a separate long-handled brush for that purpose. But when you're faced with a thick coat of ice and a cold morning, the Ice Dozer will be a welcome tool. Available online for $17.95 to $19.95 at http://www.innovationfactory.com, click on the Canadian flag in the upper corner. All Canadian orders are shipped by priority post so you'll get it in time for the holidays.
TRAVEL FOR THE LONG DISTANCE
THE DIFFERENT ACTIONS OF THE TEAM
Clean accommodations for us were a given. Attractive decor followed closely after. Since the cobblestone sidewalks in the Cotswolds figuratively roll up at night, evening entertainment was of a rarefied form. On All Souls' Eve we photographed ancient gravestones in a churchyard. Another night we stayed "home" to watch a "Chief Inspector Wexley" mystery on the telly.
One Sunday evening in Chipping Campden we attended evensong at the Church of St. James -- premier of the Cotswold "wool" churches built of the great prosperity brought to the area in the 14th century by the sheep and the weavers. We arrived too early for the service, but, with the assistance of the verger in black robes who demonstrated the draw draperies and light switches arranged to protect the cathedral relics, we had an impromptu tour of a minimuseum.
Although we carried detailed Ordinance Survey maps in the car, no passenger wanted to miss a scrap of scenery while studying them. Inevitably we would arrive at a traffic circle that might set us off in another direction. Round and round we'd drive, peeling off when we agreed on an arrow. In this manner we reached Broadway -- a "must" for high-season tourist buses -- unforgettable Snowshill, and Stratford-upon-Avon. Although it is only 120 miles as the crow flies from our start in Chester to the car dropoff in Oxford, we had roamed in five days through the milestones of the centuries.
PARTICULARS OF FOUR B & B'S HOW TO LOOK
Tourist Information Centers, which keep current lists of bed and breakfast establishments, are marked by a sign displaying a small letter "i" inside a square. Reservations made by the centers -- both local as well as Book a Bed Ahead -- are limited to same night or next night only.
In addition to the $4 or so (at the current exchange rate) booking fee (a single charge for the entire party and for the total duration of stay at each B & B), some centers may collect 10 percent of the total bill, but the guest pays no more because that charge is deducted from the B & B bill.If unsure about sight-unseen accommodations, reserve for one night only so that should you move the 10 percent deposit will not be lost. Be prepared to pay in pounds since credit cards, travelers checks and American dollars are not accepted. A Source of Information can see at dropshipping.
A free brochure, "Bed & Breakfast: What It Is and How It Works," is available from the British Tourist Authority, 40 West 57th Street, New York, N. Y. 10019. The brochure includes a map marking towns in Britain where information centers offer a Book A Bed Ahead service and also carries ads for seven agencies. The Tourist Authority also has a limited number of brochures published by the English Tourist Board, which list B & B's by region.
WHERE WE STAYED
The British Tourist Authority's own brochure also lists B & B books for sale through the British Travel Bookshop, which is at the same 57th Street address but is unaffiliated. (Unfortunately, most B & B guidebooks charge for inclusion so objectivity is not guaranteed.)
Fernrock, 5 Lower Park Road, Queens Park, Chester, England CH4 7BB. (244) 683511. About $27 a person.
Ivy House, 145 Ellesmere Road, Route A528, Shrewsbury SY1 2RA, England; (743) 366794. About $24 a person.
Brymbo, Honeybourne Lane, Mickleton, Chipping Campden. Gloucestershire, England; (386) 438890. About $22 a person.
Chevrons, corner of High Street and Swan Lane, Burford, Oxfordshire OX8 4SH, England; (99 382) 3416. About $24 a person. -- I. H. F.
A BUSY MONTH FOR ENTHUSIASTS WITH THE CAR AUDIO
The latest in the wide range of carefully tuned niche model Mazdas is the 121 Funtop, a sunroof model of the company's clever small car. For $18,990 the buyer gets a sunroof, alloy wheels, a rear spoiler, power front windows and mirrors and central locking. It is a further $1300. There is also a Shades 121 model which lifts the basic 121 price of $16,390 to $16,590 and includes air-conditioning.
Some dealers have offered the basic 121 model for $13,990. Australia's biggest car importer, Melbourne-based Mazda Motors, plans to reduce sales this year _ to control losses, it says, due to the strength of the Japanese currency. Other importers plan to gradually increase prices while waiting for a predicted lift in the value of the Australian dollar. "We wanted to hit 30,000 sales last year, got 30,424 but made no money," said Mazda spokesman, Mike Quist.
Mazda's sales momentum had continued but the Japanese yen had become 22 per cent stronger against the Australian dollar in the past year. "This year, we aim to sell 28,000 vehicles and January sales of 2281 vehicles are already behind the 2441 sold in January last year," he added.
OVERVIEW ABOUT PETER STURROCK
Peter Sturrock, the Sydney-based managing director of Inchcape Pty Limited, which imports Audi-VWs from Germany, Peugeots from France, Jaguars from England and Subarus from Japan, plans to offset currency moves with gradual price increases while waiting for the Australian dollar's value to rise.
"We had gradual Subaru price increases last year but we are looking at another 10 per cent this year," he said. "We will announce a new, smaller N55 Subaru soon at the Melbourne Motor Show and have other adjustments in the range this year to offset gradual price increases in this brand. We aim to sell 16,000 Subarus this year. (In 1992, 14,834 were sold according to Paxus).
"We buy our Jaguars (1992: 155 _ Paxus) from England in Australian dollars so the weakening British currency does not help much," he said. The French franc moved 25 per cent against the Australian currency and Inchcape recovered some of this but there would still have to be 20 per cent movement in Peugeot prices. (1991: 953 _ Paxus). Luxury tax limits and a desire to retain air-conditioning, power steering and windows, central locking and a music system meant some safety items, such as air bags, would perhaps be unobtainable.
The factories had helped with the price differences. "We expect the German and French currencies to weaken this year and the value of the Australian dollar to rise in the second half of the year. "Currency movements of 20-25 per cent remain the biggest problem for importers and the benefit of a tariff 2.5 per cent a year reduction is more than wiped out," he said.
RECOMMEND TO BUY AC ACE
WHEN Lance Dixon appears at Albert Park on Sunday it will be at the wheel of the best speakers for car, his AC Ace, rather than one of the Saab, Range Rover, Land Rover Discovery or Ferrari vehicles sold at his Doncaster car business. "A 1954 car, the AC seems perfect for Sunday at Albert Park since it comes from the era which produced the great races there," said Dixon.
The AC Ace is the car from which Carroll Shelby crafted his popular and profitable Cobra line by simply shoe-horning a Ford V8 engine and transmission into the light British AC. The AC was chosen because it had a strong tubular ladder chassis and independent suspension. Independent suspension was a rarity and highly prized in the 1950s.
The association with Shelby was strong enough, however, for Dixon to find a Shelby Mustang to compete later this year in the Targa Tasmania. "I used an Iso Lele last year. I also saw the number of cars which were damaged or broken so I wanted a car for which parts would be easily available _ and I followed Stirling Moss last year in his Shelby Mustang.
"That car accelerated out of the dips impressively," said Dixon who found a Shelby Mustang in Western Australia. It is now being prepared for the Targa Tasmania in his impressive Doncaster workshop where many enthusiasts store their Ferraris. There will be more than 1000 classic vehicles at Sunday's Albert Park meeting including at least 200 Ferraris and Porsches.
THE BEST CAR SPEAKER SYTEM IS ILLUSION OR NOT
THE SECOND ILLUSION
The second illusion is that a big screen will actually look big. It did, of course, and yet somehow it seemed smaller than it should. I never could believe that it was almost seven times the surface area of our own TV. It seems that getting a bigger TV is like getting a newer computer. Even while it's impressing you with how fast it is, you're wondering why it isn't faster still.
In short, I spent those first minutes doing what many people probably do when their home-theatre systems come out of the box. I obsessed about bigness--what it was, what it should look like, and whether I truly had it. I began to understand why, at the stereo warehouses, it's mostly men who browse the home-theatre section. Maybe now that big cars are extinct and the Cold War is over, this is one of the main new outlets for males who want to worship big toys.
Having such a toy puts a certain stamp on you. It was interesting to watch the reaction of friends when I told them about our new acquisition, without at first saying how or why we got it. A few said things like "What for?", as if the function of such an appliance were in any way mysterious, while their eyes seemed to signal a rapid reappraisal of the assumptions they had formed about my character. A couple of male colleagues, who already knew what I was up to, consulted some internal calendar, and said, with the fervour of visionaries.
We passed on the game, but word of the system got around, and people started assembling in our dining room for evening screenings. Sometimes we pulled the settee in from the sitting room, other times we just camped on the floor with pillows. I discovered that the best position for one of the small rear speakers was inside the open door of the wall clock. Putting it in there, which meant stopping the pendulum, reminded me of going to drive-ins when I was a kid, and hitching the 6.5 component speakers for you on the car window.
I came to terms with the three remote control units, each of which had about 80 buttons apiece. Clearly, you had to be insane to want to figure them all out, and I needed a visit from a service person to uncover a few that really mattered. One of the less essential buttons reduced the active image to quarter-size, and flanked it with still images, constantly refreshed, of what was happening on half a dozen other channels. The perfect feature for those who don't want to buy six TVs! Other buttons called up on-screen menus, with more choices than a Chinese restaurant. One of these revealed that the TV had five different colour intensities, depending on whether you were watching a movie (bright), the news (brighter) or sports (brightest). Apparently, the amount of recommended brilliance is inversely proportional to the risk that the material may stimulate deep thought.
We backed off, and Big Bird started to teach me something. He introduced me to two illusions I had been harbouring, which I suspect are fairly common among buyers of home-theatre equipment. The first is that when you get a bigger and better system, TV will get better too. Somehow, against all reason, I expected that broadcast television would rise to meet my exalted hardware, that it would be more noble, more satisfying, more intelligent. Without running down Big Bird, who is at least as intelligent as Jerry Springer, I could see that this was not going to happen.
Now here was a riot of play-school primary colours, propelling us backward. At a distance of less than three metres, a 53-inch screen starts to break up into horizontal lines. Within about one metre, all you see is the grain, and the colours swirling into incoherence, as your eye darts around the picture and then just loses itself in the peripheral flood. You begin to think that this experience might be good with drugs, if it weren't for the incipient nausea.
THE EXPERIENCE IN DAVEY COMPANY
THE FIRST TIME AT DAVEY
WHILE other fathers were giving their sons plush offices in the family business, the owners of the Davey Company were sending their sons to the beater room.
"That was my first experience in the company," said William A. Dodd, 71 years old and chairman of the 150-year-old binder's-board manufacturing company here. "My father said: 'You have to learn the whole thing. You start at the beginning.' "
The beater room was where recycled paper was literally beaten to a pulp, a task now performed by a hydropulping machine. But since 1842, the product has remained the same: binder's board, which is used in the covers of collectors' editions, medical and legal volumes, textbooks and other fine hard-cover books. (A New Jersey Historical Society exhibition on the company and the founding family is planned for this autumn.)
The company produces enough binder's board for 30 million books and has three factories and 300 employees. It is the country's largest manufacturer of binder's board and a pioneer in large-scale recycling. It also remains under the control of the descendants of William B. Davey, the founder. Not a Dying Business.
"My grandfather said when my father and uncle went into the business after World War I that it was a dying business," said Mr. Dodd, a sixth-generation Davey descendant. "Since then he's been proven wrong, but there were times that weren't easy."
The use of cheaper materials to make hard-cover books were both expected to write binder's board's final chapter, but it has not happened.
"I've found that if people tend to read paperback books, they start a library and buy hardback books," Mr. Dodd said, adding, "We don't compete with many hard-cover books because they're made with chip board."
Chip board is less dense and is produced by fast, high-volume multicylinder machines. To create thickness in chip board, manufacturers laminate it into glued layers.
By contrast, binder's board is made on slower single-cylinder machines on which layers of wet stock are accumulated until the desired thickness is achieved. The pulp is then squeezed by a press and oven-dried. The pressure and drying force the paper fibers to intertwine further. The result: a board that is solid, strong, stable and highly resistant to warping. Like a Building's Framework
"Our product is like the steel in a skyscraper," said Alfred C. Brooks, Davey Company vice president. "It's not something you see, but it's the framework on which the rest of the building sits."
The board is cut to size and shipped to customers in the United States and several foreign countries. Any board damaged during production is simply re-added to the incoming paper. Like all roads' leading to Rome, all pipes at the Davey Company lead to the pulper.
THE DODD AND DAVEY COMPANY
"We're in the recycling business," Mr. Brooks said. "That's very chic at the moment, but we've been doing it for 150 years."
The company founder and family patriarch, William B. Davey, was born in 1789 in Somersetshire, England. He first visited the United States in 1816, returning with his family four years later. In 1827, in a transaction of some portent, Davey bought five acres of land in Bloomfield from the heirs of John Dodd.
The Dodds had settled there in 1667, becoming so well established that an area adjoining Bloomfield was known as Doddtown. The Dodd family prospered in occupations as diverse as construction, cider milling, paper making and mail delivering. Started Making Fustian
In 1830, Davey diversified from farming and entered into a partnership to make fustian, a tightly woven material favored for work clothes. And in 1842, in the start of the modern company, he began making binder's board at a mill in Bloomfield. At first, the board was used not only for book covers but also to construct strong, lightweight trunks for trans-Atlantic travel and Western expansion.
The Dodd and Davey lines intertwined in the late 19th century when Allison Dodd married Mary Edwards Van Winkle, Davey's great-granddaughter. In 1923, the original Bloomfield company merged with another binder's-board operation founded in Jersey City by one of Davey's sons, creating the united Davey Company.
BREAK TIME FOR A WEEK
WATTLE YOU GROW
mythconceptions - Dr Karl S. Kruszelnicki tackles life's myths, curiosities and absurdities. A* A friend of mine who works in the NSW Royal Botanic Gardens often gets asked for gardening tips. "What's wrong with my wattle?" inquire relative strangers. "Do you water it?" my friend asks. "No." "Do you feed it?" "No." "Do you prune it?" "No, it's a native" is the plaintive reply. That may be so but, contrary to popular belief, Australian natives often need exactly this sort of attention.
First, a few definitions. An "Australian native" is a plant from anywhere in Australia, while an "indigenous" plant is from a smaller area with a specific climate. And you can immediately see part of the problem: across this wide brown land, the climate varies from hot to cold, wet to dry, windy to calm, tropical to alpine, while the soil can be alkaline or acid, fertile or sterile, clay, loam or sand.
So which of the 25,000-plus species of Australian plants do you want for your garden? An arid-area plant will tend to do well if transplanted into a dry area. So some arid-land South African plants (agapanthus, gazania) do better in dry-ish Australian gardens than native rainforest plants, which are often chosen for their lovely colours. No wonder they don't thrive - these plants have very timid roots, do not like dry winds, and prefer low levels of phosphorus.
SPEAKING OF THRIVING
Natives are not magically immune to the laws of growth and metabolism - they do need fertilising during their first year or so. Once they are established, they can get by on less. And most plants need some degree of pruning while they are growing. This encourages flowering, and gives a denser bush. In the wild, bushfires will "prune" the plants on average every 10 to 20 years.
Soil can also be very important. For example, some waratahs grow well in sandy loam (a soil with fine clay particles). Therefore, it is sometimes assumed they will grow well in sandy soil. They don't. Waratahs like a good, well-drained soil. Hence, they prosper in the rich, volcanic, well-drained soils of Victoria.
There are good reasons for using indigenous plants: to attract wildlife; to re-create an environment like that which existed before European settlement. But planting inappropriate natives, simply because they're Australian, can be a mistake. Some, when imported from other parts of the country for domestic use, can escape into nearby bush and become "environmental weeds".
THE GOLDEN WATTLE
Australia's floral emblem, grows naturally in south-eastern Australia, but it's a pest in parts of Tasmania and Western Australia. The Cootamundra wattle was once restricted to near Donald Bradman's birthplace of Cootamundra. Sadly, it has turned into a weed in some parts of NSW, SA, WA, Victoria and Queensland, and is unaffectionately nicknamed "Coota-Bloody-Mongrel wattle". number crunch A
Number of australians each year who will suffer from pneumococcal pneumonia: 23,000 to 36,000 A* Height of an adult giraffe (world's tallest mammal): about 6 metres; at birth: 1.7 to 2 metres A* Average gestation period of the Asian elephant: 650 days A* Estimated temperature at the centre of the Sun: 15.6 billion degrees Celsius A
Longest ears measured on a rabbit: 79 centimetres A* Number of divorces per thousand married couples in Australia in 2004: 13.1; in 1981: 11.9 A* Number of cards in a full tarot pack: 78 A* Value of cigarettes sold in supermarkets in Australia in 2003/4: $3.5 billion; number of cigarettes sold: 10.39 billion A* Number of mentions of "asses" in the Bible: 150; "rams": 165 A* Number of Australians who watched the wedding of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles on television: 1.46 million quick quiz.
THE NEW SONGS
ABOUT POPULAR MUSIC
Songwriters Leiber and Stoller have given the world many memorable tunes. JIM SCHEMBRI talks to Mike Stoller about popular music, the blues and Elvis Presley. OF THE two obvious questions that cry out to be asked of Mike Stoller, only one of them gets asked a lot. As half of the hit songwriting team of Leiber and Stoller, he and partner Jerry gave talents such as Elvis Presley, Ben E. King, Ray Charles, The Drifters and Buddy Holly some of their biggest hits.
Poison Ivy, Yakety Yak, Love Potion #9, Little Egypt, Jailhouse Rock, Stand By Me, Hound Dog, they wrote all them. But never mind any of that. What was Elvis really like? Sitting in Her Majesty's Theatre where a tribute to their work, Smokey Joe's Cafe, is being staged, Stoller automatically recites anecdotes while sipping his tea.
He was good to work with, he says, but he did not elicit the affection from them that, say, the black group The Coasters did, for whom they wrote 18 hits. "At one point when we were in New York and he was recording in California we got all these wires saying, `You must come because Elvis considers you his good luck charm.'
TRY ON AMERICAN MUSIC
We could have gone, but we didn't feel like being summoned, and that was the end of our regular working relationship with Elvis. " What Stoller, 63, doesn't get asked a great deal is what, in his words, Leiber and Stoller contributed to the pyramid base of the evolution of rock `n' roll. "I have never really thought about it in that way. I never have," he muses.
"That we loved blues is what really started all this. As far as our being part of the history of rhythm and blues and rock `n' roll, yeah, I feel that we fit in there somewhere!" It could just be because of a massive attack of modesty, but it takes some gentle pressing for Stoller to offer a considered reflection, while looking into his rapidly cooling cup of tea.
"I think what Jerry and I did, in the broader sense, was putting the focus on what we loved at the particular time when we started writing back in 1950, which was black American music, black culture, black humor. In the course of wanting to be a part of that and to create songs that we hoped people would think sounded authentic I think we participated in the changing of the American taste in popular music to include black culture, and ultimately black performers.
WHO’S WRITTEN JAIHOUSE ROCK
"One aspect of their legacy is constantly making itself felt in their everyday life. "We make our living off royalties, " he says, and is about all the detail he will surrender. One imagines it would be worth millions a year. "Oh, it's comfortable," he says with a wide smile. Sometimes writing songs was a production-line affair. "In the case of Presley we were given scripts for movies, and most of them were inane, but we probably wouldn't have written Jailhouse Rock if there wasn't a scene in jail where they said they `were going to have an amateur show'.
" When composing a song, he jokes that the matter of what came first, the music (his department) or the words (Leiber's), was not an issue. What fuelled the process, he says with a laugh, was "the phone call". But occasionally, he says, things would come from inspiration. "Jerry was reading some novellas by Thomas Mann and he started writing little vignettes that were based upon disillusionment.
He recited a couple of them to me and I thought they were fascinating and I wrote some kind of accompanying music. "Georgia Brown said she needed songs for a London TV special, so we played it to her and she said it was great, but that `you have to have a tag'.
THE METAL MODE KICKED IN ROCK UPSTART
AT THE BEATLES’ ABBEY ROAD
Special to The Globe and Mail TWO days after the last Noel of the 1960s, the unthinkable happened at the top of the Billboard Charts. Which had been basking comfortably in the No. 1 spot for months, was dislodged by a rude, riff-heavy upstart called Led Zeppelin II.
Hindsight 25 years on is never short on portents and this - along with Manson, Nixon, Altamont and the soon-to-erupt Kent State -seemed another sign that the decade of countercultural harmony was at an end. With the mass-market success of Led Zeppelin, a mega-decibel British blues-based outfit Rolling Stone magazine had infamously slagged as "a competent rhythm section and pretty soul-belter who can do a good spade imitation," the age of Aquarian rock was over. On the other hand, the age of stadium rock, heavy metal and (very likely) suburban rec-room air guitar was airborne. Within a year the Beatles were history, and the 1970s would be Led Zeppelin's for the taking.
TAKE IT THEY WOULD
Although less than a year old at the time its second album was released, ex-Yardbird Jimmy Page's new band had already sent shrapnel flying through the music industry. Formed by the 24-year-old Page, a calculating veteran session player and virtuoso guitarist, after the troubled Yardbirds finally fragmented, the new outfit was intended to realize two of his principal goals.
It would be completely self-managed and independent of record-company interference, and it would fill the hard rock gap created by the dissolution of (fellow ex-Yardbird) Eric Clapton's Cream and unfulfilled by the folk-rock mewlings of the likes of Crosby, Stills and Nash.
As fiscally shrewd as he was technically gifted, the epicene Page figured he could steer this new flying machine right down the middle. After meeting Robert Plant, a young, goldilocked singer from Birmingham with a Dudley Do-right jawline and a voice like an electroshocked banshee, Page took him home in mid-1968 and played him - of all things - Joan Baez's rendition of the traditional ballad Babe I'm Gonna Leave You. He then explained his vision. "I'd like to play it heavy," he said, "but with a lot of light and shade."
THE LIGHT / HEAVY FORMULA
Which would still be defining the sound of bands such as Nirvana, Soundgarden and Smashing Pumpkins two decades later, was in sonic abundance on the group's hastily recorded (30 hours) first album, released early in 1969, but it would be honed to an assaultive art on the second.
Complemented by John Paul Jones, another veteran session musician and arranger, on bass, and John (Bonzo) Bonham, another wide-eyed Birmingham noisemaker on drums, Led Zeppelin - the band claims the name was suggested by Keith Moon, drummer for The Who, but John Entwistle, that band's bassist, insists he first uttered it - rode a tidal wave of blues-derived noise against a breakwall of critical hostility and industry indifference. But the levee eventually broke.
Believing that word-of-mouth generated by knockout live performances would build the band's bedrock following, Page toured the new outfit relentlessly in its first year. While initially faced with massive disinterest at home, the Zeppelin conquered the United States almost as soon as it landed.
So great was the Stateside demand for the band's distinctive brand of white-boy blues assault, Led Zeppelin toured the United States three times during 1969 alone. Obviously, this didn't leave much time for recording, let alone recording what would prove to be one of the most influential rock albums of all time.
Believing that the only way to maintain momentum was by balancing live dates with a supply of new product, Page insisted the band record its second album during the punishing touring schedule of 1969.