Thursday, December 7, 2023

A Sense Of Zooma


When was the last time you listened to John Paul Jones' first proper solo album "Zooma?" Have you ever listened to John Paul Jones' first proper solo album "Zooma?" 

I've been on an inadvertent solo Led Zeppelin kick since early November, when I wrote about seeing Jimmy Page on the 35th anniversary of his tour behind his mediocre solo album "Outrider." You can read about that fun night over here.

Then, just a few weeks ago, 1993's "Coverdale • Page" got its first legitimate vinyl release in 30 years over in Japan. I had to grab a copy because even though it suffers a bit from some unnecessary hair band production, I truly enjoy most of it. Hell, at that point, it was the closest thing to a new Led Zeppelin record available.

Last night, I decided to play "Walking Into Clarksdale," Page & Plant's disappointing 1998 studio reunion. Sad to say, it still disappoints in the very same places it did 25 years ago. The material is better than the production, which is dense and muddy. Is that Steve Albini's fault? He recorded and mixed the album. Or is it Jimmy and Robert's fault? They are listed as producers. Maybe it is the material. 

Now on to "Zooma," a record I haven't listened to since 1999. This was a pleasant surprise. I don't recall loving it as much back then. If I did, I would have most likely listened to it at some point in the last 25 years.

When it's not sounding like a 90's version of King is on the DGM label and King Crimson alumnus Trey Gunn is featured on it---it has elements of JPJ's most famous band, mostly in the tone of the guitar, which at times, I could swear was Jimmy himself. But in fact, the guitar player credited is Butthole Surfer Paul Leary.

"Zooma" is all instrumental, and like King Crimson, it can occasionally cause a racket. But more often than not, there is some very subtle beauty in the melodies amidst the racket.

Check out the two tracks posted here. "The Smile Of Your Shadow" begins with an acoustic section that is a perfect mix of both KC and LZ, and then opens up at the three minute mark with a finish that would have served "Led Zeppelin III" well. "Snake Eyes" is "When The Levee Breaks" via KC's "Red."


buzzbabyjesus said...

I had a copy, purchased from NYCD, which I played maybe twice. I don't know if it made the move to Massachusetts. I'll have to look for it as the cuts you posted sound better than I remember.

Anonymous said...

I've always enjoyed Zooma and have listened to it numerous times over the years. I love the 'heaviness' in many of the songs, which shows that JPJ provided much of the thunder in the songs of his previous little band. I've always liked Thunderthief as well - he gets to sing on that one!

Everyone has always bashed Page for his limited output since Led Zeppelin - unfortunately, Jones has not been productive either. He's obviously a great, great talent, it's a shame he's not been heard from for the past 20 years.


Noel M said...

I love Zooma, and the tour around it. The ass-kickage inherent in it is too high, too much, to deny.

jonder said...

JPJ can be heard loud and clear on the 2010 album by Them Crooked Vultures, and he will perform at the Big Ears festival in March 2024.