It’s not quite a Led Zeppelin “holy grail” recording, but Jimmy Page himself is “really pleased” with his new release. It’s an album he produced, way back in 1961, for the UK’s Chris Farlowe and The Thunderbirds.

Page’s pre-Zeppelin career as a session and studio player has been well documented over the years, but these recordings have never been issued before. Essentially they are demos, but will give Page collectors and completists a rare glimpse into his studio skills from early on. Page was just 17 at the time.

Page met Farlowe at a Thunderbirds gig and convinced him to record a demo album, and they booked RG Jones Sound Studio in Morden, south London. The 12 songs on Chris Farlowe and the Thunderbirds: The Beginning… are mostly R&B chestnuts, like “What’d I Say,” “Let the Good Times Roll” and “Kansas City.” Farlowe’s take on Barrett Strong’s “Money” was cut two years before the Beatles‘ version.

A year after cutting these demos, Farlowe and the Thunderbirds were signed to Decca, and then Columbia. He moved to Andrew Loog Oldham’s Immediate label in 1965 and spent the next few years releasing songs originally recorded by the Rolling Stones and the Small Faces, including “Out of Time,” “Yesterday’s Papers” and “My Way of Giving.” Farlowe’s “Out of Time” was a U.K. No.1. Farlowe also charted with the original version of “Handbags and Gladrags” in 1967, two years before Rod Stewart recorded it.

The Beginning… is being sold at Page’s website, JimmyPage.com, and features liner notes from Page and Farlowe in a one-LP/one-CD Standard Edition, with a limited-run Deluxe Edition that features the signatures of both men. It’s actually released on April 30.

Chris Farlowe Thunderbirds

“I’m really pleased to be able to make this musical document available for the first time to give an idea of the musical cauldron that was going on in London in 1961, a few years before the Chicago blues renaissance and the Beatles,” Page said.

Chris Farlowe and The Thunderbirds: The Beginning… tracklisting is:

  1. “Entry of the Slaves”
  2. “Spring is Near”
  3. “What’d I Say”
  4. “Let the Good Times Roll”
  5. “Sticks and Stones”
  6. “Kansas City”
  7. “I’m Moving On”
  8. “Just a Dream”
  9. “Matchbox”
  10. “Money”
  11. “Hurtin’ Inside”
  12. “Watch Your Step”

Chris Farlowe Thunderbirds