Mud Sharks, Satanism and Stairways: The Truth About Zep!

Get Lit: Led Zeppelin FAQ: All That's Left to Know About the Greatest Hard Rock Band of All Time By George Case 370 pp., $19.99,

This entry into Backbeat's exhaustive and incredibly detailed FAQ series tackles the mighty Zep - so there's plenty of coverage about purported Satanism, musical plagiarism, the epochal "Stairway to Heaven," and the occasional use of the mud-shark as an adult toy.

As an author -- and obvious fan -- Case digs deep in his bite-sized and insanely detailed entries, so the hardcore fan can find a listing of every session Jimmy Page ever played on (including Tom Jones' "It's Not Unusual" and Petula Clark's "Downtown"), every studio they set foot in, instrument details, every member of the road crew and favored groupies, and even a drawing of the private plane used on the 1977 tour (called "Caesar's Chariot" -- there's your bar trivia-bet winner).

Oh, and the twin boy and girl who were photographed nude and duplicated on the cover to Houses of the Holy? Stefan and Samantha Gates.

And with sections titled "Mama Let Me Pump You: Led Zeppelin as Cock Rock" and "Despite All Your Losing: Led Zeppelin and Hostile or Indifferent Audiences," you know this tome is aimed toward someone who wants a bit more detail than Hammer of the Gods provided. (Case also lists every Zep record, book, DVD, and Web site.)

However, Case -- like other FAQ authors, also pulls no punches and calls the musicians out where he sees fit. He calls Jimmy Page, who regularly floats near the top of lists of classic's rocks best or most influential guitarists, as "perhaps the least proficient member of the group and the least adventurous after" the band broke up.

He adds "strip away fable and urban legend... and Jimmy Page emerges as a good but seldom brilliant artist." Case goes on to call the guitarist lucky -- with a legend built more by "passive association than deliberate action," then adds he's a better acoustic than electric axe man. Ouch!

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Bob Ruggiero has been writing about music, books, visual arts and entertainment for the Houston Press since 1997, with an emphasis on classic rock. He used to have an incredible and luxurious mullet in college as well. He is the author of the band biography Slippin’ Out of Darkness: The Story of WAR.
Contact: Bob Ruggiero