Published by Faber and Faber, 1 October 2012
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar
Interviewing almost 200 of the main players in the epic saga of Led Zeppelin, Barney Hoskyns has assembled a mostly impressive, thorough, and insightful ‘oral history’ of this most ground breaking of bands.
Apart from a few intro paragraphs to certain sections, Hoskyns keeps his voice out of proceedings, piecing together the band’s history by chopping up all these interviews and it mostly works brilliantly. Mostly.
Where Trampled Underfoot falls down is two-fold: Firstly, by piecing things together one soundbite at a time from many different sources (and, indeed, time periods), there is a contradictory nature to the story, which also poses certain contextual questions. Ie – Has the author edited every quote completely in context? Mostly it would seem so, and to be fair, anyone’s history as told by a wide cross section of friends, family, business associates etc would probably appear contradictory to some extent.
Secondly, and more pressing, is the question of narrative. By not providing an ongoing narrative, even a Led Zep fan of thirty years standing such as this reviewer had to consult google several times to familiarise myself with the back story of certain key events – this is good in one respect: it means the book is delving into the darkness behind the legend, peeling back the curtain on shadowy dealings.
That said, this nearly 550 page tome is a fascinating read, one which exposes the band and its team in all their glory AND disgrace as they became rock royalty, then lost themselves in a blizzard of cocaine and heroin and booze.
With a little more narrative from the author, and a little more detail on the post band solo careers of the band members, this could have been THE definitive book on Led Zeppelin. As it is, it falls slightly short, but short of exhaustive and frank interviews with the three band members still alive, no other tome will come close to the wealth of information contained in the personal statements of musicians, management, label, security, roadies, groupies, press and assorted hangers on included herein.
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Filed Under: Book Reviews
About the Author: Editor, 100% ROCK MAGAZINE