Jun 132008

Earlier this week, Mr. Moderator provided an overview of the developmental history of the Rock Face as used by Robbie Robertson. There, he noted Robertson’s occasional use of a Rock Face to stand in for notes not even being played in the song.

Above is The Firm in their 1985 video for Satisfaction Guaranteed. Please review the materials and provide your thoughts on the performance of Jimmy Page contained therein. Specifically, please share your thoughts on Page’s moves while performing in the video.

Some questions for discussion after the jump.

In your opinion, was Page being sincere in his performance? Are the moves on display what he thought represented the music of The Firm and what he was playing? Or was he engaging in a parody of rock “moves” and, if so, does this affect your judgment of the overall performance?

Please feel free to critique the success or failure of specific moves used by Page during this performance. How do they make you feel about the overall product of The Firm and, perhaps, life in general?

Does Page’s scarf play into the success or failure of this clip? Is it more or less successful than bassist Tony Franklin’s hair? Do the hair and scarf compliment each other? Which member of The Firm best acquits himself in this video?

Within the world of this video, how effective was The Firm as a band? Do you think the band regularly plays at this bar, and have become old hat to the patrons? Has the oppressive heat tempered the enthusiasm of the patrons and the special guest bartender?

Etiquette question: What is the proper use of a bottle of liquid refreshment handed to you by a fan when playing in an unbearably hot South American bar? Was Page’s instinct correct?


  19 Responses to “Performance Analysis: The Firm and Jimmy Page”

  1. The Firm Fuckin Blows!
    I won’t even watch this video.
    Worse than Power Station.
    and not by a little bit.

  2. a haiku and a half.

  3. Wow! What a turd.

  4. saturnismine

    Was Page being sincere? Sadly, yes. There’s no irony or parody there.

    The director’s choice not to show the band until approximately 55 seconds into the video: success.

    The gratuitous use of a violin bow: surprisingly effective.

    Left hand over the top of the fret board: moderately effective; a 6 on a cool scale of 1 – 10, 10 being the coolest.

    Acknowledgement of Rogers or bassist Franklin ca. 1:20: a convincing display of lucidity.

    Charming “wink wink” and gesture with violin bow to the overheated audience ca. 1:35: not bad, Pagey. Ya still got it.

    Sliding bottleneck off of the guitar neck while strumming hand is moved away from axe while puckering lips and gazing out from beneath hair over eyes: the piece de resistance of the video!

    Placing the bottle on the table when he’s done: a stunning capper to a completely off kilter guitar solo that expands our perceived limitations of the instrument!!! Success, Pagey! Success!!!

    Even though he’s a little disoriented, he’s body synching to a crappy, overproduced Firm song, he manages to make that other British kid with the pipes look like a loaf of wonder bread. And what’s that bald drummer getting so excited about? And someone tell the bassist that the auditions for the Broadway musical production of “Horton Hears a Who” are down the hall.

    Bartender Les Paul and I agree: this Page kid’s got talent. With a little practice, he might be a big star some day.

  5. BigSteve

    A scarf with a hawaiian shirt? Weird. And did everyone in the 80s have to wear those white pleated linen pants? I find it hard to believe this performance was not a form of subconscious self-parody. The violin bow is the first clue.

    And speaking of “the world of this video,” what do they serve at that bar, animal tranquilizers? Heat alone cannot explain the extreme torpor on display.

  6. Mr. Moderator

    At the 1:14 mark you can see Page smirk at the end of some hand-over-the-neck move. I also noticed that he’s choreographed with the bassist, who looks like he fell out of the Gun Club or something.

    Around 1:19 he does some kind of pleading lunge. It’s a highly effective face until the 1:23 mark, when – again – he seems to be suppressing a more embarrassed smirk.

    The bassist’s stumble on his pirouette at 1:26 is worth noting.

    How about Page’s half-assed grin at the 1:37 mark? I suspect that he was actually pointing his bow at a green screen, and that Rae Dawn Chong/Lt. Uhuru Lookalike #3 is actually a CGI creation.

    Page’s little karate move at 1:53 is a sight to behold, although more for conceptual reasons. I’m not sure if “sincerity” is the issue here. I think the guy’s got a load on. A couple of a cups of coffee and another take on that late-period Elvis move and the video – and his synched solo – would have improved by leaps and bounds. The beer bottle slam, as Saturnismine pointed out, is a stone cold winner! Meanwhile, Rae Dawn Chong lookalikes enter from every doorway.

    Page has trouble maintaining his screen presence in solo shots, but check out his chemistry with the bassist. I would hope that video directors of following videos by The Firm would develop this. At 2:21 the bassist does some air slapping on the bass before sending a six-gun Page’s way, at which point the attentive legend does a little pole dance with his axe.

    Gotta love drummer Chris Slade’s mouthing of the chorus at 2:55. Then he does this devilish grin that really brings it home.

    Variations on Rae Dawn Chong continue to populate the crowd scenes. Damn it’s hot in there!

    When the lightning strikes, around 3:17, Page is inspired, pulling out a number of strutting, dipping moves not seen since The Song Remains the Same.

    I know some of you have questioned the Hawaiian shirt/scarf combo, asking WTF?!?!. Actually, I think it makes a lot of sense. It’s not a knitted winter scarf but a silk scarf, like something a pilot of a little plane running drugs might wear. I’d be curious to compare this video, frame by frame, with the Stones’ sweaty “Undercover of the Night” video. I’d bet a lot of parallels could be drawn.

    At 3:37, Page raises his thumb and first two fingers to his mouth while looking over at the bassist. I believe he’s asking him if he wants to duck out back and spark a doobie after the shoot. The drummer catches this exchange and clearly mouths the word “Yeah!” Then Page seems to execute the distinctive James Brown shuffle, although his feet are not shown. Those video directors have all kinds of tricks up their sleeve.

    Regarding your etiquette question, I think Page’s use of the bottle for his improvised solo was appropriate, although giving the steamy Rae Dawn Chong lookalike #1 a suggestive spray of suds would have been more satisfying.

  7. saturnismine

    I like the part where Rae Dawn #1 walks away from him in the middle of the solo. pretty funny.

    mod, we agree on the karate move. it’s what i meant when i wrote: “sliding bottleneck off of the guitar neck while strumming hand is moved away from axe while puckering lips and gazing out from beneath hair over eyes”.

    it is indeed a sight to behold.

  8. Mr. Moderator

    Yes, that Just Walk Away Rae moment was an apt response.

  9. BigSteve

    All of Page’s moves are arena-sized. Rodgers basically doesn’t do anything, just a couple of fairly subtle hand gestures. He’s underplaying, as if he’s on TV, which he is. What’s weird is that Page gets close-ups, while Rodgers doesn’t; in fact the singer is mostly shown in full band shots. This is the exact opposite of the way you ought to shoot something like this. Those problems of scale are actually very similar to the way the sound of the music is all out of whack.

  10. alexmagic

    Excellent work by all!

    I’m glad to see that most of my favorite parts of the performance have been mentioned, like the emphatic bottle slam, Chris Slade’s weird, unwarranted burst of excitement at about 2:55 and Franklin sort of tripping when he tries to match moves with Page.

    Some other highlights:

    I’m intrigued by Page’s reaction to his own use of the bow at about 1:03, where he flips it up and looks at it, either like he’s surprised how it got in his hand, or like it’s a dipstick and he’s run completely out of oil.

    Right before the two minute mark, Les Paul really does seem pretty excited to be watching the show, but when he shows up again around 3:40, he’s lost all interest.

    The woman who arrives late for the show at 2:25 is my favorite extra, thanks to her amazing non-reaction. She walks in to see The Firm on stage and doesn’t seem to be excited, bummed out or have any emotional response whatsoever. We see her again when she sits down at about 3:08, and the guy at her table is barely able to look over at her, while she merely slumps down in her chair in resignation at her fate.

    While I agree that Page does the best possible audience-assisted-beer-bottle-slide-guitar move possible in this situation, I disagree that it was the right move because – as has been noted – of the woman’s reaction, giving a half eyeroll and walking out in the middle of the solo. I think Jimmy either blew his shot with her after the show, or she was hoping he would complete the Mean Joe Greene moment and hand her the scarf in exchange for the drink.

    Steve notes that Rodgers is playing for TV, which is why I think he fares best here. He’s dressed most appropriately for his age, the weather, the locale and for the overall vibe of his band. He also does the least to draw attention to himself, wisely choosing to fade into the background and just get it over with, the smart move when you realize you’re in The Firm.

    My overall take on Page’s moves is that his body language reminds me most of either Soap-era Richard Mulligan or more directly, the late, famed Clown Prince of Baseball, Max Patkin. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AOZcUYRylu0

  11. Mr. Moderator

    Where else on the Web do you get analysis of a Firm video that ends with a Richard Mulligan/Max Patkin comparison? Bravo!

  12. saturnismine

    “Playing for television”? That’s a clever idea, but since when does one have to downplay one’s shtick, whatever it may be, just because the venue is television?

    I think you guys are giviing Rogers far too much credit.

    Youtube any Bad Company performance, from an arena, a TV appearance (lip syched, or live), even from their absolute pinnacle, but especially from their late period, and you’ll find him doing almost exactly the same thing he’s doing here: being uncharismatic, boring.

    If Rogers was able to do anything the camera liked, the shots they had of him would have wound up in the video. But he’s just such a stiff, that there was probably nothing but shots of him doing thin wooden Indian routine.

    Meanwhile, Page has this stock of larger than life moves designed to reach the back of the arena, moves he’s been cultivating since ’69. They worked in closeups of Song Remains the Same. Why not deploy them for the idiot box?

  13. dbuskirk

    That Page is stealing moves everywhere. At 1:55 he’s doing Bobo Brazil’s “Coco-Butt”.

    You might be able to get away with jumping around like Luke with his light saber if you’re playing something as cool as “Kashmere” but no one is going to look good dancing to “The Firm”.

  14. “Playing for television”? That’s a clever idea, but since when does one have to downplay one’s shtick, whatever it may be, just because the venue is television?

    I think what they were getting at was the idea that a lot of stage-trained actors had in the earlier days of movies, that you pulled back and acted “smaller” than you did in the theater, when you were playing to the balconies — Olivier was a big proponent of this idea.

  15. hrrundivbakshi

    A few notes:

    1. Page definitely wins the Footwear Wars in this band with those ace two-tone winklepickers. Dang!

    2. Surprised nobody has mentioned Walter Zwol on drums back there.

    3. The sight of Clarence Clemons in drag is a bit disconcerting. (He’s the guy in the floral print dress fanning himself throughout this fiery performance.)

    4. Here’s a guy (a local guy!) who really knew how to play slide with a beer bottle. More impressively, he knows how to clean a guitar neck! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uNWG__txmew


  16. mockcarr

    Tony Franklin’s hair is only symbolic of the larger amount of hairdressing involved in this video. The faux sweat created in that swamp does not affect coiffs in the region by some magical property I can’t determine. It’s a counterbalance to having a bald drummer, just as the drummer’s enthusiasm for tedium is the counterbalance for everybody’ else’s recognition of that lassitude. The thunderstorm changes nothing except which dull song will be played.

    Page let me down by not using the bow and the crap beer at the same time. I bet Creation bow-guitarist Eddie Phillips would have, Page is just a hack! The proper use of that beer was, of course, a hair pomade.

  17. alexmagic

    Thank you for mentioning the thunderstorm. When I rewatched the video the first time, I had initial hopes that the flash of bright light at the beginning was actually The Firm arriving via some kind of space laser/teleportation ray/time travel device. Surely, KISS, the Nelson kids or maybe even Damn Yankees would have arrived in the video through some kind of sorcery or super-science means like that.

    But at the end of the video, it turns out this was just some lightning flashing before the rain, and The Firm got to that bar via normal means, like a cargo plane or via burros.

  18. at 1:54 – the on-the-beat head nod really caps off the karate move

    Also, what lame ass video drumming?

    I think Paul Rogers is just reacting to the lack of crowd energy while Jimmy Page is trying to get the crowd going.

    It could also be the heat.I think The Firm needs to get a better booker for thier tours. That is one bad club they got booked into

  19. Mr. Moderator

    Andyr, I think Larry was the booking guy at that club.

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