This is book is drawn from extensive interviews with Jimmy Page done by Brad Tolinski, editor of Guitar World. It’s an amalgamation of narrative and Q&A; the chapters open with a narrative about that particular chapter’s theme, followed by a Q&A with Page on the same subject. This is sometimes frustrating when the narrative is longer than the Q&A — as in the chapter on the making of Led Zeppelin IV, when the Q&A is a mere three pages (one could also argue that a chapter purporting to tell the “complete story” of the album in 12 pages is also a bit short).

There are also a number of what are called “Interludes”; supplementary chapters that feature more interviews (with John Paul Jones, Paul Rodgers) and assorted trivia (“Top Ten Led Zeppelin Guitar Moments”; “The Astrology of Jimmy Page”).

The advantage is that being the editor of a respected magazine gives Tolinski access to the major personalities, and he also asks intelligent questions. He’s more interested in stories about the music than in tales of debauchery (undoubtedly to Page’s relief). A few such stories are unavoidable, but Page is careful to keep things on the light side, as when he relates a story about a stewardess who worked on Zeppelin’s private plane who later revealed that stewardesses would routinely pick up the rolled-up hundred dollar bills people used to snort cocaine that were left on the floor after each flight.

Tolinski also writes about Page’s tendency to “keep his guard up,” and it never really comes down in this book; though he shares a lot, it always feels like he’s keeping you at something of a distance. Perhaps that’s why, coupled with the book’s piecemeal approach (narrative/Q&A/Interlude), Light & Shade seems more like a series of anecdotes than an in-depth critique. But that may not matter much to Zeppelin/Page fans, who will no doubt enjoy reading whatever insights Page cares to pass on.

Publisher: Crown Publishers (click here to purchase this book)