Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Review: Led Zeppelin Mothership

Putting together a Led Zeppelin greatest hits package is a daunting task. They were never a hit single band, so the obvious, "these 20 songs sold the most singles/reached highest on Billboard" simply doesn't apply. And while such songs do exist, Zeppelin released 10 singles, it is too few, and not at all representative of the Zeppelin output. Ironically, one of the songs that did chart, In Through The Out Door's Fool in the Rain didn't even make the cut.

A second method would be to use their songs that have become Zeppelin standards, either then or now. Certainly at present some songs get more radio play than others: D'yer Maker; Kashmir; Rock and Roll; Black Dog; Stairway to Heaven; All My Love; Immigrant Song and Whole Lotta Love are all here. Again the missing element from this requirement is Fool In The Rain. Further, you could add in the songs that would have been considered musts on a Zeppelin compilation in their heyday: Ramble On; Dazed and Confused; Heartbreaker; Over The Hills and Far Away; Achilles Last Stand and No Quarter are also all here. But such a list doesn't explain Houses of the Holy, Night Flight or When the Levee breaks making the list. Surely by any of the above two standards, Dancing Days would be here before Night Flight, even if I personally would chose the latter.

What the members of Zeppelin, Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and John Paul Jones, did do was chose the songs themselves, for their own reasons. Thus what we end up with is an a eclectic mix that showcases a band that was, at it's best, eclectic. Many of the song choices can be argued on their own merit, what can not be argued is the final product, which takes you chronologically through each of Zeppelin's 8 studio albums (there is no material from Coda, Zeppelin's post Bonham collection of outtakes). The history of Zeppelin, while incomplete, is covered throughout this set. The only complaints really amount to songs that could be added in, but not really at the expense of anything on the list. Really, what I am asking for here is a three CD set, which is probably more than necessary.

Finally a word on the re-mixing of the set, which has garnered much attention. While the sound is crisp and clean, what it really sounds to me is over-compressed. I kept reaching for the treble slider on my CD player, trying to get more high end, even though it was already on high. And Plant's voice sounds uninterested, as though he is going through the motions. There is something dead sounding about the songs. Yes it's sonically better sounding, but some life has come out of the songs. Not a lot, not enough to ruin the set, but it's noticeable.

One final moan: the packaging. I bought the special edition set, with the DVD included (review coming later), and found the CD's, DVD and booklet difficult to get out of the sleeves. The package is a cardboard, with slots on top for removal. It won't be long before the package is damaged as it is all far too tightly packaged, and getting it back in was even harder.

Overall though, these are mere issues. It is a well put together set that has two+ hours of great Zeppelin music on it. It works very well, and will be an integral part of my future collection - 4/5.

Standard Edition:

Disc One

1. Good Times Bad Times
2. Communication Breakdown
3. Dazed And Confused
4. Babe I’m Gonna Leave You
5. Whole Lotta Love
6. Ramble On
7. Heartbreaker
8. Immigrant Song
9. Since I’ve Been Loving You
10. Rock And Roll
11. Black Dog
12. When The Levee Breaks
13. Stairway To Heaven

Disc Two

1. Song Remains The Same
2. Over The Hills And Far Away
3. D’Yer Maker
4. No Quarter
5. Trampled Under Foot
6. Houses Of The Holy
7. Kashmir
8. Nobody’s Fault But Mine
9. Achilles Last Stand
10. In The Evening
11. All My Love

Deluxe Edition Same as standard plus

Disc Three: DVD (Deluxe Edition)

1. We’re Gonna Groove
(Royal Albert Hall)
2. I Can’t Quit You Babe
(Royal Albert Hall)
3. Dazed & Confused (Royal Albert Hall)
4. White Summer (Royal Albert Hall)
5. What Is & What Should Never Be
(Royal Albert Hall)
6. Moby Dick (Royal Albert Hall)
7. Whole Lotta Love (Royal Albert Hall)
8. Communication Breakdown
(Royal Albert Hall)
9. Bring It On Home (Royal Albert Hall)
10. Immigrant Song (Audio: 1972 /
Pics, Australia 1972 Super 8)
11. Black Dog (Madison Square Garden)
12. Misty Mountain Hop (Madison Square Garden)
13. The Ocean (Madison Square Garden)
14. Going To California (Earls Court)
15. In My Time Of Dying (Earls Court)
16. Stairway To Heaven (Earls Court)
17. Rock And Roll (Knebworth)
18. Nobody’s Fault But Mine
19. Kashmir (Knebworth)
20. Whole Lotta Love (Knebworth)

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