Travelling Riverside Blues

'Travelling Riverside Blues' is a 1990 song by English rock band Led Zeppelin. The song was composed by Jimmy Page, and Robert Plant, with a co-credit to Robert Johnson, and recorded at Studio 4, Aeolian Hall, Maida Vale, England on 24 June 1969, and mixed at Sterling Sounds, New York, in May 1990. It appeared as the eleventh track on Led Zeppelin's 1990 compilation box set Led Zeppelin, released on 29 October 1990, and was also added as a bonus track to the remastered Coda album, for The Complete Studio Recordings box set. 'Travelling Riverside Blues' was also issued as a promotional single in the United States, and Canada, reaching number 7 on the US Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks chart, and number 57 on the Canadian RPM Singles chart. The song is a blues rock track with electric slide guitar and forceful vocals, initially appearing as part of a live broadcast set for John Peel's BBC 'Top Gear' radio programme. The original title for the song was 'Travelling Riverside Blues '69'.

Overview

'Travelling Riverside Blues' was rehearsed and recorded at the BBC studios in Aeolian Hall on 24 June 1969, by studio engineer John Waters, which took place during the band's 1969 United Kingdom summer tour. Guitarist Jimmy Page was unhappy about the quality of the recording and added extra guitar overdubs onto the track, before it was broadcast four days later on John Peel's Top Gear show under the title 'Travelling Riverside Blues '69', and repeated on 11 January 1970. It is quite different from American blues musician Robert Johnson's 'Traveling Riverside Blues', and it is more a pastiche tribute than a straight cover. Johnson's version is now in public domain. The song showcases a riff by Page (also in open G tuning), and in the lyrics singer Robert Plant quotes many standard blues phrases.

'Travelling Riverside Blues' can be found on the 1997 BBC Sessions album, on disc one of the 1990 Led Zeppelin box set, and on the 1993 expanded Coda album from The Complete Studio Recordings box set. It was interest from US radio interviewers and fans during Page's Outrider tour for this song that originally led him to negotiate with BBC Enterprises for the release. A promotional video clip was also released in October 1990, with out-take footage from the band's 1976 concert film, The Song Remains the Same inter-spliced with other footage from the band's archive. The clip also features a railway montage, and underwater shots of the Mississippi River, and received considerable video rotation on MTV. The clip was subsequently added to the 2003 Led Zeppelin DVD.

Live performances

'Travelling Riverside Blues' was performed exclusively for the BBC in 1969, and in a different style as part of the 'How Many More Times' medley 10 March 1970, at Hamburg, Germany.

Chart positions

  • US Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks Chart (1990) 7
  • Canadian RPM Top 100 Chart (1990) 57

Credits

Musicians:

  • Jimmy Page – electric guitar, producer, remastering, digital remastering
  • Robert Plant – vocals, harmonica
  • John Paul Jones – piano, bass guitar
  • John Bonham - drums, percussion

Production:

  • Peter Grant – executive producer
  • John Waters - engineer, mixing
  • Dıck Carruthers – video director
  • Joe Sidore - original CD mastering engineer (mid-1980s)
  • George Marino - remastered CD engineer (1990)

Bibliography

  • Lewis, Dave (2012) Led Zeppelin: From a Whisper to a Scream. London: Omnibus Press. ISBN 978-1-78038-547-1 (OCLC 782996334).
  • Welch, Chris (2009) Led Zeppelin: The Stories Behind Every Led Zeppelin Song. London: Carlton Books. ISBN 978-1-84732-286-9 (OCLC 317254118).

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