Speaking Tuesday in an onstage Q&A at the London launch of the latest batch of Zeppelin reissues, Page – who has agitated for a more permanent reunion ever since the band’s triumphant one-off 2007 show at London’s O2 Arena – finally seemed to rule out the band playing together again.
“I don’t think it looks as though that’s on the cards, so there’s not much more I can say about that,” he said. (Although, for once, Page declined to put the blame at Plant’s door). “I’m not going to give you a detail-by-detail account of what one person says and another person says,” he added. “All I can say is it just doesn’t look very likely.”
However, that doesn’t mean you won’t ever hear Page play Zeppelin classics again in a different setup, as the guitarist revealed plans to put a new band together and play live next year. “If I was to play again it would be with musicians … some of them might be new to you,” he said. “I haven’t put the musicians together, I’m going to do that next year.
“If I went out to play again, I would play material that spanned my recording career,” continued the musician. “I’d go back to the very early days, [including] Yardbirds material, and it would certainly have some new material as well. And I’d hopefully play all of the things I’m known to play – instrumental versions of ‘Dazed and Confused’ etc. etc.”
At the former Olympic Studios in Barnes, West London (where Zeppelin often recorded, although the building is now primarily a restaurant/cinema), Page also unveiled some of the previously unreleased versions of songs that will feature on the reissues of Led Zeppelin IV and Houses of the Holy, set for release on October 28th. Songs on the companion discs accompanying the remastered original albums include the renowned Sunset Sound Mix of “Stairway to Heaven” and versions of “No Quarter” and “Black Dog” that place the respective contributions of bassist/keyboard player John Paul Jones and late drummer John Bonham even higher in the mix.
“It was really important to showcase everybody’s talents within this project,” Page said. “Listening to John Bonham is just a sheer celebration of his playing – it can’t help but fill you with so much joy.”
Both of the reissued albums have sold tens of millions of copies around the world, figures rarely – if ever – approached by modern artists. But Page declined to compare eras, describing “the Led Zeppelin of then and the new bands of now” as “two completely different worlds.”
“But it’s fair to say,” he added, “Because Led Zeppelin weren’t having to worry about doing singles, each time we went in to record, it was a body of work for an album. So you could get the shift and the movement forwards as opposed to having to be rooted back to a single that might have been done a year ago.
“I prefer to hear an artist’s work and what they can do so, as far as I’m concerned, I’d get a lot more out of a collection of songs, to be able to understand what the musician is doing. The album’s not dead for me; I still buy vinyl albums.”
Page is also releasing a new version of his picture autobiography, although he said the full written story will have to wait. “I’d want it to be published posthumously,” he said. “There’s two good reasons for that; the first thing is you can’t get sued, and the second thing is, you don’t have to promote it.”
Whether such propriety leads to a thawing of his relationship with Plant, of course, remains to be seen.