Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Release Day

Yesterday, the newly remastered editions of Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin II and Led Zeppelin III were released to stores, although many fans were reporting as early as Friday and Saturday that online orders had arrived (and one poster at FBO posted that he saw the albums on the shelf at a record store in Ohio late last week). The albums come in standard and deluxe editions, with the deluxe editions featuring previously unreleased material.

The albums, both standard and deluxe can be purchased as files at various online sites, including iTunes and Amazon  If you prefer shopping in-store, your local store should have the CD of each edition, LP of each edition, and the box set featuring LP, CD, a high definition download and a booklet. As well, HD Tracks is selling standalone hi-rez files.

Myself, I started with the iTunes files and will add physical releases, likely LPs, as family gift giving opportunities arise (that is to say kids, Fathers Day is coming up, and my birthday is not that far off). As for the bonus, previously unreleased material, it is mixed:

The bonus material from the second album, backing tracks and alternate mixes of the songs on that album mostly, is weak. It has some interesting moments to be sure, but how many times will you listen to Living Loving Maid without vocals? or Ramble On that's musically pared back a little? It's not the material is bad, it's that the interest level for it will be low for most fans. Highlights are Heartbreaker, with an alternate solo and Whole Lotta Love, stripped down and groovin'. Could do without the aforementioned vocal-less Living Loving Maid and Moby Dick minus the drum solo. And don't miss Keys to the Highway/Trouble in Mind, a dynamite acoustic blues, Page and Plant at their finest.

The bonus material on III is much stronger with truly alternate versions of songs, and one complete new song. Gallows Pole gets the stripped back treatment, much as Ramble On does, however, this time it works exceptionally well. The alternate take of That's the Way is just as lovely as the original and Since I've Been Loving You will blow you away all over again. A completely different version of the song, it's almost as devastating as the original. Could do without an instrumental version of Out on the Tiles and Friends. Don't Miss Lala, instrumental though it is you get the band rolling through a number of ideas and a rollicking Jimmy Page solo.

The bonus material on the first album is different than the above, as it is a live show from Paris Olympia October 10, 1969. The band were young, new fresh and raw in 1969, playing hungry and playing with ferocity. Dynamic and, at times, undisciplined, Page could be brilliant and sloppy in the same musical phrase, Plant electric, exciting and wildly off note all at once. That is to say they were fantastic, but less polished than they would later become. This particular show is a good one, but the sound really is just a notch or two above bootleg quality. All in though, I absolutely love this recording, faults and all. (But don't take my word for it, ask Lif what he thinks of the first album re-issue)

While personally I am looking more forward to the later albums (IV, Physical Graffiti, Presence and In Through The Out Door), this is a good start, and should keep me in Led Zeppelin mode through to Christmas (because there is nothing better in life than a Led Zeppelin record under the Christmas Tree or for your birthday).


1 comment:

Wyatt said...

I really enjoy the instrumentals; I find it easier to notice things that I may have missed or glossed-over otherwise... and Ramble On has a nice kick in its stripped-down format.

The positions of 'La La' and 'Keys to the Highway' have been transposed in your review (La La is on II, Keys is on III). I keep thinking of La La on III for some reason, too - but it's from April 14, 1969 according to recording notes posted on Royal-Orleans.