Lee Speaks About Music… #56

Houses Of The Holy (Deluxe Edition) – Led Zeppelin

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Introduction…

Well you would think just by looking at the album cover that the bands 5th album also was untitled and could of just as well of been Led Zeppelin V. To be honest I do not quite know what it is about this album cover, but for some reason I personally think it’s the best album cover on any Led Zeppelin album.

Though I would also say that it’s title of Houses Of The Holy bears absolutely bugger all in relation to the artwork were looking at. Strangely enough the artwork here resembles something more along the lines of Roger Dean’s artwork even if it’s not.

And my final word about the artwork at this stage of my review. Is that the artwork is perhaps 10 times better than the music that’s on the album :))))))).

Well they do say you should never judge a book by its cover so to speak, and for me personally even though this particular album of the band did still manage to win over the many fans with its sales. This is perhaps were Led Zeppelin made their first real change regarding the material they wrote for it, in comparison to anything that they generally wrote before it.

The Packaging & Artwork…

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As with all these packages they come in rather neat Digipaks that replicate a mini version of the original vinyl album. Some Digipaks are better constructed with thicker material, but in general you will end up paying that bit more for albums that come in that better quality, simply because it costs more for them to buy that kind of packaging in the first place.

These Deluxe Editions also come with a 16 page booklet that mainly consist of photographs and only the last 2 of the pages contain any information at all. Which is basically the track listing and production and writing credits. However the booklet that comes with the Houses Of The Holy is different and 4 of its pages contain information because here they have included all the lyrics too.

But I feel it would of been nice if they included some background on the time they made the album, rather than fill it with photographs.

Artwork.

The artwork was said to be inspired by Arthur C. Clarke’s novel Childhood’s End and was done by one of the designers at Hipgnosis namely Aubrey Powell. Though Powell was not the first choice to do the album cover, and it was originally handed to perhaps a more well known designer who worked for Hipgnosis who had done the design for some of Pink Floyd’s albums namely Storm Thorgerson.

Thorgerson’s original artwork featured an electric green tennis court with a tennis racket. It did not go down very well with the band in the way of him thinking they was making nothing more than a racket :))))))))))) and they fired him, and gave the job to Powell.

Powell took several photographs of Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland and made a collage out of them.

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Giant’s Causeway.

The two siblings on the album cover are of Stefan & Samantha Gates. Stefan was only 5 years old when the photo shoot took place. The photos were shot in black & white and were multi printed to create the effect of 11 of them in total.

Because they could not capture the right light with the photo shoots which took place in the very early hours of the morning at dawn. It was down to some accidental tinting done in the post production, that produced the amazing cover in the end.

Although the original vinyl album never contained any title or even the band name on it. Most CD’s released in the 80’s did have the logos printed on the cover.

Led Zeppelin II (2 CD Deluxe Edition) Review…

The new remastered Deluxe Edition of the Houses Of The Holy was released at the time as Led Zeppelin VI on the 27th October 2014. All the new remasters were presented in the way of a digital downloads and also in the form of a single CD or LP, a double CD or double LP and a box set which contains both the double CD & LP along with other extras.

I myself opted for the double CD to which I purchased from Amazon for £9.99. Though they are the same price at most retailers. For example when I went to order Led Zeppelin III from Amazon I noticed that they had run out of stock, and the alternative was to buy it from another seller (to which was still associated with Amazon Prime so you could get it delivered by the next day) but they was charging £13.67 for it.

So I looked on HMV’s online store and it was £9.99. The only problem was that I was going to be charged postage & packaging on top with HMV unless you spend more than £10, then you can get it delivered for free. So I sent for both Led Zeppelin III & VI at the same time to save on the postage. Unlike Amazon the CD’s did take 5 days to arrive though. But I was not going to be giving some other private seller more money than what the item generally sells for. I like a good bargain and I am prepared to shop elsewhere for one if the price is right.

CD 1.

The first disc contains the newly remastered versions of the 8 tracks that was on the original album. Has with all these new remasters they sound great even on CD. Like I have said before in my reviews of these Led Zeppelin albums is that I always admired Jimmy Page’s production work and how he manages to get a great sound.

However I do feel that this particular album would of benefited more for being remixed rather than a remaster. This has nothing to do with sound quality but is very much down to some of the things I personally felt were mixed really badly in the first place.

CD 2.

The bonus or companion disc is much like the bonus material we got on Led Zeppelin VI in the way that you only get alternative mixes of the albums original tracks and no new unreleased material. Though you only get 7 of the album tracks here instead of the 8. There are some differences with some of the tracks.

For example “The Song Remains The Same” is the reference mix and contains the original guitar overdub by Page and no vocals, as this was originally meant to be an instrumental track. I have to admit it does sound better without Plant’s vocals on it, because for one thing they was so badly mixed on the original studio version.

But I also honestly do not think this would of worked as an instrumental track in the first place. For it to do so Page would have had to have played a hell lot better than what he did on it, and make the guitar sing it I am afraid.

The 2nd bonus track “The Rain Song” is certainly interesting, but perhaps only in the way that this version is supposed to be a mix without the piano in it. Well I can assure you the piano is still there, only they just panned it to the far left (LOL).

Most of the other bonus material is made up of rough mixes and instrumental backing tracks, one of them contains overdubbed keyboards from Jones in place of Plant’s vocals. Personally I do not think there is anything too exiting I can say about the bonus disc, because it does not offer you nothing to really say much about with the differences we have on the bonus tracks we get here.

For example you do get a working mix of “The Ocean“. Now obviously because it’s a working mix it’s never gonna sound as good as the final mix, and it does not. So in reality this is what I would personally see more of a rough mix, and the tracks they state are rough mixes, I feel sound a lot better than being in the way of rough at all.

The trouble is with most bonus material it can be an hit and miss sort of thing, and personally for me the bonus disc we have with this album is a long way off from being a hit or a winner I am afraid.

The bonus disc comes with a total playing time of 36 minutes, 10 seconds.

Musicians & Credits…

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Recorded between December 1971 – August 1972 with the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio at Stargroves.& Headley Grange in Hampshire and at Island Studios London. Produced by Jimmy Page. Mixing Engineers Eddie Kramer. Keith Harwood & Andy Johns on “No Quarter”. Mastering Engineer Bob Ludwig. Sleeve Design by Hipgnosis. Cover Photography by Aubrey Powell. 2014 Reissue remastering by Jimmy Page.

Jimmy Page: Acoustic & Electric Guitars/Theramin (on No Quarter).
Robert Plant: Lead Vocals.
John Paul Jones: Bass Guitar/Keyboards/Synthesiser Bass/Backing Vocals.
John Bonham: Drums/Backing Vocals.

The Original Album Tracks Review…

The original album was released on the 28th March 1973 and was the bands final album to be released on Atlantic Records. The album contained 8 tracks and had a total playing time of 40 minutes, 57 seconds. The material for the album was written right at the end of the year of 1971 in December, up to August of 1972. Though the album took much longer to be released.

It was originally scheduled to be released in January 1973. But got held back due to the making of the album cover. Most of the material had already been played a lot at their live shows in the previous year, and the album was heavily promoted which made it instantly top the album charts upon its release.

The album done very well with sales upon it’s release and today it’s sold more than 11 million copies in America alone and is certified 11 times Platinum. It was another commercial success for the band, only this time around I would of thought myself, that the material that the band had written for this particular album, was heading towards more commercial popular status than any of their previous albums.

Its an album that represented a new turning point into a new musical direction for the band, in the way that its said to have used more layering and production techniques.

It’s also an album that’s said to contain some the bands most famous songs. To be honest whoever said those words seriously needs to get his head examined :))))).

Personally for myself this album represented a drastic change in many ways. No doubt they used new layering and production techniques, and I have to say in some cases they murdered some of the little good material that we have here on the album by doing so.

To even think that the Houses Of The Holy sold nearly twice as many copies as Led Zeppelin III in my eyes is beyond belief. Because in my own opinion this is not even half of a decent album in comparison to it, and any other album of theirs that came before this one, simply wiped the floor with it I am afraid.

So let’s go through the individual tracks one by one, and see where I think they went wrong.

Track 1. The Song Remains The Same.

The opening track on the album “The Song Remains the Same” sees the band trying to do what they do best in the way of making a good rock song. Notice I did say the word “Trying”. Because quite frankly this is by far by any means no classic like we seen on their previous albums. But what even ruins it even more than anything, is their so called new layering and production techniques.

To be perfectly honest the live version of this song is very good, and in fact 100 times better than the disastrous job they have done on this studio album. Now it does not take even an idiot to realise that Robert Plant has a really great rock voice. So just WTF did they process his voice so badly on this song.

Honestly he sounds bloody dreadful, and it’s as if he was sucking on a tube of helium whilst singing it. If this is what they call new mixing techniques, quite frankly they can shove them up their arse as far as I am concerned. It’s got to be the worst produced song I have heard on a Led Zeppelin album.

Just hearing Plant sing the songs title makes me want to smash the record up. Pinky and Perky sound better ffs, and yes Plant’s voice has been speeded up.

The Song Remains the Same” was originally intended to be and instrumental track. But Plant quite liked it and wanted to contribute words and vocals to it. To be honest on this studio album it would of been a damn site better if they left it as an instrumental track having heard what they did with the guys voice.

There is no doubt that this song on the live album of the same title does sound really great, and this song would of been a contender for the top spot on this album. But no way could I give it to this studio version I am afraid. It’s just totally dreadful and unplayable.

I am well surprised that Robert Plant never complained in the first place and let it be released like this. Honestly if somebody did that to my voice, I would be chasing them around the studio with a double barrel shotgun (LOL).

Track 2. The Rain Song.

Originally said to be inspired from a conversation between John Bonham and George Harrison. During the conversation Harrison told Bonham that “the trouble is with you guys, is that you never do any ballads”.

All I can say is that Harrison obviously had never listened to Led Zeppelin because they done several ballads on their previous album’s and in all honestly they were a lot better than this one as well.

But in saying that I cannot knock this song because it is a great ballad of a song that Page & Plant had come up with after hearing what Harrison had told Bonham. I do however feel that it is a bit too long over its 7 minutes and 39 seconds though, and it’s perhaps the orchestral break that runs too long before Plant comes back in with his voice. They could of halved that section and it would of worked better in my own personal opinion.

Speaking of that orchestral section. John Paul Jones plays a mellotron which works pretty well. However I think they personally tried to get it to sound to near to an orchestra in the production, and it does not quite work well enough in comparison to a real stringed orchestra. I think more of the mellotron’s own strings would of worked better, than trying to polish them up so to speak.

No doubt it’s a great song though and thankfully they never speeded Plant’s voice up like they did on the opening track, and you get to hear the real quality of the guys voice. It’s very much a contender for the top spot on the album and I like it a lot. But I do feel a few changes here and there would of made it better. But that’s my own personal opinion about it, which maybe a bit harsh on that score.

Track 3. Over the Hills and Far Away.

This for me this is perhaps the only track on the album that speaks to me in the same way that the material was written for the bands previous albums, and is a classic. That is most likely because this was in fact written a lot earlier back in 1970 whilst Page & Plant was staying at the Bron-Yr-Aur cottage in Wales.

I also personally think that this is the only classic Led Zeppelin song on the whole of this album, and it’s my personal fave and merits my top spot on the album award.

Track 4. The Crunge.

Well it’s time to get the funk out with this one, and here we see a completely different side of Led Zeppelin and I am sorry to say it’s just not my thing one bit. If I wanted an album by James Brown I would of brought one. But unfortunately I cannot stand him, even though he does have a very soulful voice I can respect in some ways.

Thankfully it’s only one song they do like this and not an whole album of it :))))). The less said about it the better I am sorry to say.

Track 5. Dancing Days.

A pop song with a hook a bit of a hook like some of the material the Rolling Stones were doing, only I could perhaps understand it more coming from those guys, and not Led Zeppelin. It’s not too bad I suppose, but I honestly could not say anything else about the song, apart that this was perhaps in some ways a bit like looking into the future at some of Robert Plant’s solo material that was to come out in the 80’s. So it was perhaps ahead of its time even when they made this in some ways.

Track 6. D’yer Mak’er.

Just when you get to think it cannot get much worse, we even get to hear the band do a reggae song ffs. More futuristic Robert Plant solo material is all I can say about this one too. The word “Dire” not “D’yer” springs to mind and if I was going to be completely honest I could of altered the word “Dire” and made something a bit more on the runny side with it as well  :)))))))).

Track 7. No Quarter.

Another song that fairs better for hearing live rather than the studio version here. Once again Plant’s voice has been processed but not as badly as the opening track on the album, but never the less it does not project to its best I am afraid. The song is also very keyboard based almost like 80’s like material.

It’s not a bad song but does not really register with what the band were doing earlier in their career, which was a damn site better I am afraid.

Track 8. The Ocean.

The band do get to pick up better for the last track on the album “The Ocean” which is much more like the bands usual style and not of the likes of some of the stupid pop songs we get on this album, which in all honesty does not even suit the band at all. Though this is no classic by any means but a worthy enough song.

Summary…

For a band that on the release of their previous album who were trying to avoid detection by sticking no title on it. Even though they never printed a title on the Houses Of The Holy either, they certainly promoted it very well to let people know it was out there.

The album even had 2 single releases from it in America to make even more sure it sold. Strange enough what I considered the best track on the album “Over the Hills and Far Away“. Was the first single to be released with “Dancing Days” as the B-Side. It got nowhere. But the second single release “D’yer Mak’er” with its B-Side “The Crunge” broke into the top 20.

It would not surprise me one bit, if it was down to the success of the sales of Led Zeppelin VI that the band tried to write something more commercial on this album to try and better it. But this particular album is also noted as the first genuine album that Led Zeppelin wrote all the material for.

All I can say if it was, is that they must of really sucked at writing their own songs. Because this album is a million miles away from what came before it.

The highlights of the album for myself are “Over the Hills and Far Away“. “The Rain Song” and “The Ocean“. To be perfectly honest if it was not for these 3 songs, there is no way on this earth would I have brought this album again. OK “No Quarter” is not a bad song but it speaks more to me at their live shows and so does “The Song Remains The Same” than it will ever speak to me on these studio versions.

Conclusion…

Well I am not gonna beat about the bush here, but personally I think for any fan of Led Zeppelin who was into the band before they made this album, and having brought it said it was a great album. I would seriously think their brains had been fried and they was deranged. Because quite frankly this is not even half of a decent album as far as I am concerned. Even a lot of the production is bad, and that is most unusual for Jimmy Page.

To be perfectly honest if I produced this album I would honestly be too embarrassed to own up to the fact that I did :))))))).

There is no doubt that it’s always very hard for any band or artist to be consistent and please everybody all the time, and personally for me this is the first time at this stage of their career that I felt this band had lost the plot.

Some people may very well be thinking why on earth I even bothered to buy this album again after reading my review here. The simple truth is that these Deluxe Editions are cheap and a bargain at £9.99. I also thought the bonus disc might have something else to offer. But unfortunately that is not exciting either, and not gonna really give you anything that extra on this release.

No doubt the Houses Of The Holy is an album that will appeal to the masses in some way or another. It does contain some great tracks, but perhaps too little for my own personal taste, and I do feel the production is hampered on a couple of my favourites here, and I already knew that from years ago when I brought the album.

To be perfectly honest even though there are a lot of tracks I dislike here, I always play the album in its entirety when I play the biggest majority of my albums. The time slot on these particular albums is easy to do so as well, and is not gonna really annoy me that much at all.

But no way would I say that this was a good album at all. I could play the album a million times over, and my review of it would still be exactly the same I am afraid.

Well the song may remain the same as they say, but hopefully it does not for my sake on the bands next album Physical Graffiti to which I will be reviewing next month.

Many Have I Loved, And Many Times Been Bitten…

The album track listing is as follows:

Disc 1.

01. The Song Remains the Same. 5:29.
02. The Rain Song. 7:39.
03. Over the Hills and Far Away. 4:50.
04. The Crunge. 3:17.
05. Dancing Days. 3:43.
06. D’yer Mak’er. 4:22.
07. No Quarter. 7:02.
08. The Ocean. 4:33.

Disc 2.

01. The Song Remains the Same (Guitar Overdub Reference Mix). 5:30.
02. The Rain Song (Mix Minus Piano). 7:45.
03. Over the Hills and Far Away (Guitar Mix Backing Track). 4:22.
04. The Crunge (Rough Mix – Keys Up). 3:16.
05. Dancing Days (Rough Mix with Vocal). 3:46.
06. No Quarter (Rough Mix with JPJ Keyboard Overdubs – No Vocal). 7:03.
07. The Ocean (Working Mix). 4:28.

Lee’s overall Complete Package Value Rating…

The Packaging Rating Score. 7/10

The Price Point Rating Score. 10/10

The Bonus CD Rating Score. 2/10

The Original Album Rating Score. 3/10.

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Lee Speaks About Music… #55

Led Zeppelin IV (Deluxe Edition) – Led Zeppelin

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Introduction…

There is no doubt that Led Zeppelin set out to make albums to avoid all the commercial success from making pop records and releasing them as singles. They just wanted to make music in their own way more than anything else. I am also pretty sure they was just as surprised by the way people came out in flocks of droves to see them play live, especially in America.

The fact that their albums were selling like hot cakes at the same level of charted pop singles back in those days, is what gave them that commercial status. Because their music in reality was never pop music, or really seen as being like the commercial side of things one sees in more popular music.

But when one gets all that success and all of sudden gets kicked in the teeth, which is what happened with the press reviews and drop of sales of their 3rd album. One has to wonder what went wrong, and what was so different to cause all this commotion in the first place.

For the 4 members of band Led Zeppelin to be honest I do not think they gave a flying rats arse about the lack of album sales, and they certainly never had the attitude to say OK I will show you how good we are with our next album, and see how the press react to that. They done completely the opposite and tried even avoid detection with how they released their follow up album. It never even had the bands name printed on it.

The band certainly never changed anything either at this stage of their career, and carried on in same style and way they made their last album If you listen close enough to their 4th album, it still contains the same folk. blues and rock elements all the way down the line. Yet their 4th album was to become their biggest selling studio album ever. So just why did this happen one may wonder?.

The answer really boils down to one song. “Stairway To Heaven“. Yet this song contained all 3 of those elements and genres I mentioned within it. OK there is no denying it’s classic song, just as some of the other tracks on this album and their other albums are. But for some reason even though the track was the longest track on the album and 8 minutes long, it seemed to appeal to a much wider audience and in some ways just how most pop songs will reach out to a wider audience.

The very fact that this song did exactly that, is the very reason Robert Plant eventually got to dislike the song.

The Packaging & Artwork…

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Back to the same packaging we seen with the Deluxe Editions of the first 2 albums with this release. Once again it’s slim and neat and thankfully no faults to report this time around. Once again the package comes with a 16 page booklet to which 14 of its pages are pictures only, and it only contains 2 pages of information about the album credits.

Artwork.

The front and back cover of the album was made up from a rustic 19th century painting that Robert Plant had brought from a junk shop in Reading, England and a photograph of a block of flats in the Ladywood area of my own town of Birmingham. The company Graphreaks was the ones who fused the two together and done the album design.

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Four Symbols

The inside artwork also contained a symbol for each member of the band members. Both Page & Plant drew their own symbols whilst Jones & Bonham picked them out of a book. There was also a 5th symbol inside that was chosen by the female guest vocalist Sandy Denny.

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The Hermit

The picture and illustration of the “Hermit” that was also featured inside was done by Barrington Colby (M.O.M.). The character was later portrayed by  Jimmy Page himself in the bands concert film The Song Remains The Same.

Led Zeppelin IV (2 CD Deluxe Edition) Review…

The Super Deluxe and Deluxe Editions of Led Zeppelin IV was released a bit later on in the same year that the first 3 albums were put out, and was released on the 27th of October 2014.

The Super Deluxe Edition does come with an hardback book along with other memorabilia plus 2 vinyl LP’s and 2 CD’s and is currently priced on Amazon at £92. Prices may vary from time to time, but does one really need 2 LP’s and 2 CD’s.

Serious collectors may want a package like this, but considering you can buy the 2 CD’s for £9.99 and the 2 LP’s for £15.99 which total £25.98. How on earth is the rest of what you get in the box worth £66.02. I think it’s seriously overpriced just for an individual album and you are better off by just buying either the CD or Vinyl to suit your choice.

CD 1.

Just like all the CD’s that come with these new 2014 remasters they contain quality recordings and I am very happy with them to be honest. For vinyl lovers paying an extra £6 for the double LP is also a genuine bargain as well with the cost of vinyl these days. It’s nothing like years ago when they cost £3 or less when I first brought this album on vinyl. But a lot of vinyl albums these days can cost more for the price of just a single album, than this double album your getting.

CD 2.

The fact that you do now get a companion disc to go along with it, is all the more reason to re-buy these releases and update your old albums with. At these prices its certainly cheap to do so, and the extra bonus material adds to it all and in many ways it will get you to appreciate this great band all over again.

But then again not all albums come with really great bonus tracks in some circumstances, and they are mainly alternative mixes, out-takes, single edited versions and so on. It’s perhaps the unreleased material and some of the alternative mixes in some cases that make them more interesting.

So far out of these albums I have reviewed including this album. The best bonus material is certainly on their first album to which is a complete unreleased live concert from the same year the album was released. Second to that I would have to say the bonus material that came with their 3rd album is also very good.

The bonus material that comes with Led Zeppelin IV is perhaps the least interesting out of the 4 so far, in that its of the same 8 tracks that was on the original album. For example the opening bonus track “Black Dog” now comes with guitar overdubs. To be honest I never really noticed anything different and thought the original track had them on anyway :))))).

They also include the mix at Sunset Studios of “Stairway To Heaven” that the band was not happy with and flew all the way back to England to mix it again. Well if they was not happy with it in the first case WTF makes them feel that we will be either :))))))). You can hear the difference though I will say, and it seems to be more drowned in reverb.

For me personally the only 2 bonus tracks that are interesting and well good are “Going To California” which is a mandolin/guitar mix and is an instrumental version of the track. And the alternative UK mix of “When The Levee Breaks” to which in my opinion is a lot better than the mix that was on the original album.

Musicians & Credits…

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Recorded between November 1970 – January 1971 with the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio at Headley Grange in Hampshire and at Island Studios London. Produced by Jimmy Page. Executive producer Peter Grant. Mixing Engineers George Chkiantz & Andy Johns. Album Design by Graphreaks. Hermit Illustration by Barrington Colby (M.O.M.).  2014 Reissue remastering by Jimmy Page.

Jimmy Page: Acoustic & Electric Guitars/Mandolin.
Robert Plant: Lead & Backing Vocals/Harmonica/Tambourine.
John Paul Jones: Bass Guitar/Electric Piano/EMS VC3 Synth/Acoustic Guitar/Recorders.
John Bonham: Drums/Percussion.

Guest Musicians.

Sandy Denny – Vocals on the “The Battle of Evermore”.
Ian Stewart – Piano on “Rock and Roll”.

The Original Album Tracks Review…

Released on the 8th November 1971 Led Zeppelin IV was the bands biggest selling album. It became the biggest selling album in America and is still only equalled today by two other albums. It’s one of the biggest selling albums in the world selling over 37 million copies. It went 23 times Platinum in America selling over 23 million copies.

The original album contained 8 tracks and had an overall playing time of 42 minutes and 34 seconds. It also featured a couple of guest appearances to feature on a couple of the songs. The British folk singer Sandy Denny and the bands friend and Rolling Stones road manager Ian Stewart.

The album was meant to be released earlier in the same year, only it got held back due to taking the master tapes to Sunset Studios in Los Angeles for the final mixing. However they was not happy with the final mix and it resulted in them taking the master tapes back to England and doing the final mix there.

For many people Led Zeppelin IV is their favourite album and many see it as the best  album they ever made. Personally for me I still think that belongs to Led Zeppelin II. Though no doubt this is another really great album though.

It also contains one of the bands biggest ever classics “Stairway To Heaven” which no doubt influenced a lot folks to buy this album in the first place. Even those who had never brought a Led Zeppelin album in their life before, I would of thought.

This one song had a massive impact on people, but how did the rest of the album tracks match up to it, and could they at all ?. Well let’s find out as I take you through them individually one by one in my review here.

Track 1. Black Dog.

The album opens up with a classic rock song that got its title from a black labrador retriever that the band spotted wandering around Headley Grange where the band was recording some of the songs for the album. The songs main riff was created by John Paul Jones and was penned by Jones, Page & Plant.

Plant’s stop and start vocal acappella is said to be inspired by Fleetwood Mac’s 1969 song “Oh Well” though Jones was not having none of it, and claimed he wrote his riff on the back of a train ticket the year before.  Jones also originally planned the song to be done in a time signature of 6/8. But later realised it would be a lot harder to perform the song live, so they done it in 5/4 instead.

If you play the song loud enough you will also hear Bonham’s sticks tapping together keeping the time and to signal to the band when to come back in, in between the stops. Page said that back in those days you could not eliminate the sound of the sticks tapping together like you can these days.

Black Dog” was aired at many of the bands live shows and became one of their classic songs their fans cried out for. It had the bands stamp all over it, and Plant delivers the song superbly with his great voice. It was also released as a single in America only with “Misty Mountain Hop” as the B-Side and it has to be an high contender for the top spot on the album too.

Track 2. Rock and Roll.

Another classic on the album and one that came out of a 3 chord jam in between struggling to finish off “Four Sticks” at Headley Grange. They decided to take a break from working on “Four Sticks” and knocked this one out first. I am not surprised because this song really grabs you and was an instant smash with their fans including myself.

The song was sparked off by an intro from Bonaham’s drums and the rest of the band just joined in, and the basis of the song was put down in no time at all. It’s another one of their classics credited to all 4 members of the band and gets played at near enough all their lives shows. The song also features Ian Stewart on the piano. No doubt another contender for the top spot on the album.

Track 3. The Battle of Evermore.

A change of pace and all the adrenalin that utilised the bands energy on the opening 2 tracks, and a even a change of genre with this really great folk song done in the style of traditional folk rock. It’s the only Led Zeppelin song to feature a guest vocalist and that vocalist happens to be my all time favourite female singer Sandy Denny.

The song is sung as a duet between both Plant & Denny. Plant playing the part of the narrator telling the story, and Denny played the part of a town crier in an answering back sort of way. The words that Plant wrote for the song contained some references from J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord Of The Rings just like many of the songs did around this time.

It’s also said that the song came about instantly at Headley Grange when Page had picked up John Paul Joneses mandolin. Page had never played a mandolin before and this was the result of him doing so.

The Battle of Evermore” is a great song and simmers the album down very well. Though they never got to perform the song live with Sandy Denny but they did however play it a few times later on at some of their live shows with Jones singing Denny’s part, and sometimes even Bonham would even join in.

In 1994 Page & Plant re-recorded the song for their No Quarter album. Najma Akhtar sang Denny’s part on that version. In 2008 Plant performed the song with Fairport Convention at their Cropedy Festival with Kristina Donahue on vocals.

To show their appreciation to Denny’s contribution to the song, they decided to give her a symbol of 3 pyramids and included it in the album sleeve.

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Sandy Denny’s Symbol.

Track 4. Stairway To Heaven.

Well if Led Zeppelin ever wrote one particular song that was about to set the world on fire, it perhaps was this classic without a doubt. This one song alone is the very reason this album became their biggest selling album ever, people brought it as if it was a pop single and they did not mind paying the extra price of the album to get their hands on it either. A very clever bit of sales marketing by the bands manager Peter Grant.

When the band had completed their 4th album. Atlantic Records wanted to release “Stairway To Heaven” as a single. Although Grant had let some of their previous other album tracks including “Black Dog” from this album be released on a single in America only, he put his foot down and refused to let Atlantic release it, because he knew it would damage album sales.

The album sales rocketed upon the release of the album, and it even brought the band many more new fans flocking to their live shows to hear it be played. It was this new wave of fans that perhaps would eventually get to Robert Plant and was the very reason most likely further on down the line for him not liking the song, and not wanting to play it any more at the bands live shows.

Plant had got to see it more like a pop song in the way that the new wave of fans only really brought the album for this song alone, even though the album just like all the albums that came before it contained other great classic songs on them.

I think the lack of interest in the bands previous album and how the critics put it down also played a part in Plant’s reasoning as well. Because in reality if you look at the material that was written for the both albums Led Zeppelin III & VI they are more or less alike.

They both have rock songs on them. They also both have acoustic and folk rock songs on them. They even both contain classic songs. Yet one album lost them fans, and the other one gave them even more fans.

For me personally “Stairway To Heaven” was just another one of the bands many classic songs. But to the majority of newcomers to the band, it was always seen as the bands best song ever, and that in reality is how this album had way more sales than the rest and perhaps was why Plant disliked it so much. Simply because he knew there was more to Led Zeppelin than one song.

In 2014 the bass guitarist Mark Andes of the 60’s band Spirit filed a lawsuit against Led Zeppelin claiming that the arpeggios on “Stairway To Heaven” was a close resemblance to their 1968 instrumental piece entitled “Taurus“.

To be perfectly honest myself at the time this case was going on over a couple of years, I thought that Andes never stood a chance of winning, simply because their instrumental piece may resemble some similarities to how the melody is played on the opening verses, but it’s not exactly the same, and there are also more chord changes in the verse section of “Stairway To Heaven“.

Not only that their song never even had any lyrics or the same way it developed and progressed in the way it had built its way along. Andes was bound to lose and in 2016 he did, and quite rightly too in my eyes.

Stairway To Heaven” is very much a classic song that was quite a remarkable achievement and made a big impact on people’s lives. The song has been played that many times, that these days it’s very much considered to be banned from guitarists playing it in guitar shops.

It’s a beautiful ballad of a song and builds its way up superbly into a powerful rock crescendo and finally comes back down to earth at the end. In many ways it’s a songwriters song and I personally never seen it has a pop song the way Plant seen it. But I can see why he felt that way with how other people seen the song.

Is it the best song Led Zeppelin ever wrote and produced?. To many it may be, but for me it’s just another one of their many classics, and this particular classic without a doubt does merit my top spot award on the album and is my personal favourite track on the album.

Track 5. Misty Mountain Hop.

Penned by Jones, Page & PlantMisty Mountain Hop” is a song that features John Paul Jones on the electric piano and the song was most likely written around the piano, though Page claims it all started from his opening riff on the guitar, and Jones put the chords in for the songs chorus. It was another of those songs that they threw up together very quickly.

Once again Plant’s lyrics were inspired by Tolkien’s book on the Hobbits and they also refer to the rally that took place in Hyde Park to legalise pot back in 1968. It’s another fine song and got played at many of their live shows including on their final concert at the O2 Arena London in 2007 with Jason Bonham on drums.

Track 6. Four Sticks.

The songs title came about from John Bonham who used 4 drum sticks to play it with. It was also very hard to play as well, and they had to record the song several times to get it right due to its changing time signatures of 5/8 and 6/8. Hence the reason it never got played live. Though according to legend they did play it live once in Copenhagen on their European tour in 1971.

Jones also incorporates a touch of the east to it as well with his VCS3 synthesizer. During their trip to India in 1972 both Page & Plant played another version of this song and also “Friends” from their previous album with the Bombay Orchestra. Both were recorded and were released in 2015 on the Deluxe Edition of Coda.

Track 7. Going to California.

No doubt another acoustic classic folk ballad of a song penned by Page & Plant. Only 3 of the band members feature on the song. Page on guitar, Jones on mandolin and Plant on vocals. Though the lyrics Plant wrote were about the craziness he experienced in California trying to come to terms with himself back in those early days with the band and groupies and all that.

The words in the song “To find a queen without a king, they say she plays guitar and cries and sings” were about his infatuation of the Canadian folk singer Joni Mitchell..

The song was played live at virtually everyone of the bands acoustic sets during their shows. It’s a sheer beauty of a classic song and very much an high contender for the top spot on this album too.

Track 8. When The Levee Breaks.

The blues rocker of the album this one and another Led Zeppelin classic song. Although the song is not entirely their own and the lyrics that tell the story of the Mississippi flood disaster back in 1927 were written by Minnie Lawlers a.k,a. Memphis Minnie. Minnie wrote the song with her husband Joe McCoy way back in 1929 and they both used to perform is as a blues duo back then. They even gave their version the same song title too.

The music to Led Zeppelin’s version was written by all 4 band members and has always included Memphis Minnie in the writing credits along with them. Unlike some of the songs they forgot too and later got busted for :))))))))).

The song was heavily produced making it practically impossible to play live and get it to sound anything like what they did in the studio. They only played it a couple of times live and dropped it from their live set. It was also the only song on the album that never got remixed back in England with the other 7 tracks that suffered from a bad mix in America. Another version of song was also recorded at Headley Grange in December of 1970 and they included a rough mix of it on the Deluxe Edition of Coda released in 2015.

Summary…

Overall the 2 CD Deluxe Edition of Led Zeppelin IV is a very good purchase. The bonus material on the companion disc is perhaps not that special apart from a couple of the tracks on it. But once again at this price point of £9.99 it’s not as if you’re paying any extra money for it.

Some may think for the sake of a couple of really good bonus tracks is it worth updating their existing vinyl album. Perhaps not. But if you have the older CD versions that was released back in the 80’s. I would certainly say go for it. Because these remastered recordings are way better.

I think the Digipaks also add a nice touch too, over the conventional plastic jewel cases. I do like the fact that buying these new Deluxe Editions will also add to you getting to hear this great band once again, and see how their music has stood the test of time in many ways.

By no means I am I suggesting you go and buy them, and I am not associated with Amazon Associates either trying to convince you to buy them so I can earn a couple of quid. I am simply putting across the way I see buying a product such as this I already have twice over in the first place in my case, and for me personally I think they are a really great bargain.

Conclusion…

To conclude my review here the first thing I would like to point out is that, throughout my whole review I have refereed to this album as being Led Zeppelin VI. Basically because in reality that is what it is and always has been to me. The album does have other titles people have given it over the years such as “Untitled” which is exactly what it is just like their debut album and Led Zeppelin II & III. For example if one was to call say Led Zeppelin II a title, in reality if you call this album Untitled you are still giving it a name and a title. None of their first 4 albums have titles.

Others even gave it a title of 4 Symbols after they came across 4 symbols on the sleeve that the vinyl album came in, and never even stopped to think there was in fact 5 symbols :))))))). But for me it always will be Led Zeppelin IV and I do not think anybody will convince me otherwise.

Led Zeppelin IV is a really great album and once again there is nothing remotely bad about it, and it contains quite a few classic songs along the way. It’s more or less a solid album with the material that was written for it, and my personal highlights are as follows: “Stairway To Heaven“. “Black Dog“. “Rock and Roll“. “Going to California” and “When The Levee Breaks“.

Personally I cannot fault anything about the bands first 4 albums and every one of them were so consistent and contain many classic songs. Could the band keep it going with the release of their 5th album. Find out in my next review.

And As We Wind On Down The Road…

The album track listing is as follows:

Disc 1.

01. Black Dog. 4:56.
02. Rock and Roll. 3:40.
03. The Battle of Evermore. 5:51.
04. Stairway To Heaven. 8:02.
05. Misty Mountain Hop. 4:38.
06. Four Sticks. 4:45.
07. Going to California. 3:32.
08. When The Levee Breaks. 7:10.

Disc 2.

01. Black Dog (Basic Track with Guitar Overdubs). 4:35.
02. Rock and Roll (Alternate Mix). 3:39.
03. The Battle of Evermore (Mandolin/Guitar Mix from Headley). 4:13.
04. Stairway to Heaven (Sunset Sound Mix). 8:03.
05. Misty Mountain Hop (Alternate Mix). 4:45.
06. Four Sticks (Alternate Mix). 4:33.
07. Going to Calfornia (Mandolin/Guitar Mix). 3:34.
08. When the Levee Breaks (Alternate U.K. Mix). 7:10.

Lee’s overall Complete Package Value Rating…

The Packaging Rating Score. 7/10

The Price Point Rating Score. 10/10

The Bonus CD Rating Score. 3/10

The Original Album Rating Score. 9/10.

Lee Speaks About Music… #54

Led Zeppelin III (Deluxe Edition) – Led Zeppelin

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Introduction…

Coming off the back of several hectic tours and a highly successful selling album left the band quite exhausted and in need of a break. Most of the material they wrote for their previous album was written on the road whilst the band was touring. their debut album, and the band had been working their socks off nonstop over the last couple of years.

Whenever any band or artist make an highly successful album, it will always present them with a problem. That problem is. How do you follow it up?.

There is no doubt that the bands 2nd album Led Zeppelin II created an explosion and brought the band even more commercial success and brought in many more fans. It was always gonna be very hard to come up with material to match it.

The release of the bands 3rd album was to become a paradise for critics to get their teeth into and heavily criticise it. Many of their fans had mixed feelings about it and thought their band had lost the plot. It was not very well received upon its release, and it took some time for the album to sink in so to speak.

Many of the tracks were written by Page & Plant in a much more rural and relaxing environment at Bron-Yr-Aur cottage in Wales. Both of them was enjoying their new peaceful environment and would often sit down by the banks of a river with an acoustic guitar and write songs together.

Both Jones & Bonham joined in later when they went to Headley Grange Studio which was another peaceful location. Further work was done in a couple of other studios in London. Most of the material for the album was acoustic based, rather than the heavy head banging material we got to hear on their previous album.

I suppose to many it was quite a change in direction and a bit of a come down in comparison to both the first two albums. But I personally never seen this album as a drastic change, and the band were stretching out a bit more and showing another very good talented side with what they could do with their capabilities.

The Packaging & Artwork…

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The packaging for the 2 CD Deluxe Edition of Led Zeppelin III is different to the previous 2 albums, in that it’s made out of more thicker cardboard perhaps in the same way they would make the packaging to accommodate 3 discs instead of 2. There is also no centre wallet to store the booklet either like the others.

This is because on this release they have actually made it with the rotating Volvelle wheel to which the original vinyl album had upon it’s release back in those days.

I have to say it’s a nice touch, especially has my older CD never had this feature at all, and it was always considered to difficult to make for the much smaller music media. So this is very much a welcoming return.

The booklet that comes with it is not so much different though and comes like the others in that it only consists of 2 pages of the credits and titles information out of the 16 pages, and the other 14 pages are all photographs.

I would also say that this packaging does have a much better quality feel about it, and is a bit thicker and not so much slim and neat like others. It certainly adds a few more points to the overall packaging score, and I am quite impressed by this Digipak.

Speaking of those other slim and neat packages that the first 2 albums came in. I did encounter a bit of a problem when I sent for the 2 CD Deluxe Edition of Led Zeppelin II and thought I should mention it.

Perhaps Not So Slim & Neat After All.

Well the packaging may look slim and neat has I mentioned in my two previous reviews. But you are going to have to be perhaps a bit more careful with some of them, judging by the experience I had when I ordered Led Zeppelin II from Amazon.

When I ordered Led Zeppelin II from Amazon I made a very silly mistake and sent for their debut album by mistake. About 4 hours after I had ordered it, I happened to be checking my email and seen my order and spotted the mistake I had made. So I quickly went to my Amazon account to cancel the order. When I got in there I noticed the CD had not been dispatched, so I cancelled the order.

But then I received another email instantly telling me that I was too late to cancel the order. So when it arrived the next day, I went on Amazon to fill in a returns form so I could send it back. Upon doing so I noticed that there was no way you could simply send it back and replace it for a different item.

The only way you could replace it was to replace it with the same product you originally purchased. I also knew that waiting for a refund for anything you return can take a couple of weeks. So in the end I decided to give Amazon a ring to see if they could sort it out in a more simpler way.

I was soon speaking to a woman on the phone and simply told her the truth. That I made a genuine mistake and foolishly sent for the same CD I already had, and if you check my account you will see that the CD that arrived today. I already ordered last Monday and received it the following day on the Tuesday.

I then asked her if there was any way I could simply send the item back and they would replace it for Led Zeppelin II. She told me that unfortunately that is something she could not do, and then told me I can see your a good customer, so what I will do is refund you your money right now and put it on an Amazon Gift voucher so that I could send for the CD myself.

She also told me that instead of sending the CD I had sent for twice back I could simply keep it for nothing. I did tell her I would send it back and it’s no problem for me to simply place it in Amazon Locker. But she insisted that I should not do that and keep it.

Excellent service I will say, and I was able to order Led Zeppelin II on the same day which was a Saturday (all this happened by the way) and it arrived the next day on the Sunday.

Well anyway I was just gonna leave the CD I had now twice wrapped up in it’s cellophane. Then I suddenly remembered the crease I had on the back of the plastic on the one I already had, that I pointed out in my review of Led Zeppelin’s debut album. Here : https://leespeaksoutaboutmusic.wordpress.com/2018/01/13/lee-speaks-about-music-52/

So I thought perhaps I should have the new one they sent, and I could either sell or give away the one I already had. But upon removing the cellophane this is what I discovered.

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Well has you can see this new one had 2 creases in it, and looked worse than the one I already had. But not only that take a look at the next picture and see what else I found.

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Has you can see both of the sides of the pockets where the CD’s are stored had come loose and they was not very well glued down in the first place. Not very good at all.

Though of course this can be easily rectified with a bit of glue. But if I had left it in its cellophane and sold it on ebay. I might have had some not very pleasant feedback on my ebay account by an unhappy customer.

So you can see that these DigiPak’s are not constructed out of quality cardboard and have been made on the cheap. But once again it’s hardly surprising they have been packaged on the cheap so they can actually sell them at this bargain price in the first place.

Artwork.

The albums artwork was quite a novelty on the original vinyl release. Page contacted his old art media friend Richard Drew he knew way back in his own town of Surrey he had known since 1963 to do the album cover.  Drew was more known as Zacron to which was the name he gave to his studio set up, and came up with what was an innovative cover design by having a few holes here and there in the gatefold sleeves front cover, and by inserting a rotating wheel on the inside with artwork on known as a Volvelle.

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Volvelle

Page thought it was fantastic at the time, but much later he changed his mind and he did not think it was appropriate for the material they had produced for the album.

Unfortunately because of its design it was not possible to create it for other music media apart from the larger 12 inch vinyl album. Though some CD’s released in Japan and here in England did surface with a slightly different version of it.

I was so glad to see that they had successfully managed to do scale it down and included it in this 2 CD Deluxe Edition.

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Led Zeppelin III Original Artwork. (Now On CD)

Led Zeppelin III (2 CD Deluxe Edition) Review…

The 2 CD Deluxe Edition of Led Zeppelin III was released on the 2nd June 2014 at the same time the other two previous Deluxe Editions were released. These CD’s are very good value and because you get 2 CD’s you get a companion disc with extras on for the same price as a single CD album.

Besides the 2 CD Deluxe Edition you can also buy Super Deluxe Editions that come with vinyl albums and the CD’s along with a hardback book and various other things. Though these do come at a lot higher price.

There is also a 2 LP release for vinyl lovers that does also feature the original gatefold sleeve has designed by Zacron. I do believe that they have inverted the colour for the bonus album and it comes with a black background rather then it’s original white background.

I do also believe that in total these remasters for all 9 of Zeppelin’s studio albums come in 6 formats including 1 single CD and 1 LP releases. Though by looking at these single releases on Amazon it’s pretty hard to make sure you are actually getting the new 2014 remastered version of the CD and not an older version. The single version is also only a £1 cheaper. So you might just as well go for the 2 CD Edition.

CD 1.

The 1st disc contains the 10 tracks from the original 1970 album and no extras. I much prefer all CD’s this way to be honest, and prefer any bonus material to be placed on another disc. I also prefer the album to have its original time slot rather than be made longer by adding something to it that was not originally there in the first place. So I take my hat off to Jimmy Page for doing these releases that way.

CD 2.

The bonus disc or companion disc comes with 9 bonus tracks and has a playing time of 41 minutes, 29 seconds. With most bonus material they can be a bit hit and miss in that they contain instrumental backing tracks, alternative versions, rough mixes and so on. It depends on the individual to what they get out of them. For example some may like the idea of the backing track without words so they can sing along too. Personally I do not rate these being great bonus tracks to have.

The things that I value with any bonus material, is if the rough mixes or alternative mixes are a lot different to the original songs. In most cases they are not at all. But perhaps the best thing one could expect out of bonus material is previously unreleased material, and 3 of the 9 tracks here actually are of that sort. It certainly makes this companion disc more of a bonus, and I prefer this bonus disc over the one that came with Led Zeppelin II.

The previously unreleased tracks are as follows: “Bathroom Sound“, “Jennings Farm Blues” and “Key To The Highway/Trouble In Mind“. The first 2 of the 3 are instrumental only tracks. I am pretty sure the first of them would of been written with vocals in mind eventually. The last of the 3 here you actually get 2 songs, they do have vocals and are both blues cover songs and not their own. I quite like all the tracks on this bonus disc.

Musicians & Credits…

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Recorded between May – August 1970 with the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio. Headley Grange Studios Hampshire. Island & Olympic Studios London. Produced by Jimmy Page. Executive producer Peter Grant. Recording & Mixing Engineer Andy Johns. Mixing Engineers Eddie Kramer & Terry Manning. Mastering by Paul Richmond. Cover Design by Zacron. 2014 Reissue mastering by Jimmy Page.

Jimmy Page: Acoustic & Electric Guitars/Pedal Steel Guitars/Banjo/Dulcimer/Bass Guitar.
Robert Plant: Lead Vocals/Harmonica.
John Paul Jones: Bass Guitar/Hammond Organ/Moog Synthesiser/Mandolin/Double Bass/String Arrangement.
John Bonham: Drums/Percussion/Backing Vocals.

The Original Album Tracks Review…

Originally released on the 5th of October 1970 the bands 3rd album entitled Led Zeppelin III contained 10 tracks over a playing time of 43 minutes, 8 seconds. Despite all of its criticism and confusion with many of the bands fans, the album still managed to hit the number 1 spot in many countries.

Though the band were certainly more popular in America than any other country in reality, and that’s where they generated their biggest majority of albums sales. But this album only sold half the amount of copies that their previous album had sold, and even 2 million less than their debut album did in America.

But even 6 X Platinum and over 6 million albums sales in America is nothing to sniff at. Though it sold nowhere near that figure in other countries and just over 300,000 in their own country. The drop in sales and lack of interest had even got to the band at this point of their career.

So now let’s take a look at the album tracks and try and see where the band went wrong or if they did at all.

Track 1. Immigrant Song.

The opening track on the album is very much a rocker and perhaps they was trying to give the impression that they had started where they had left off on their previous album. Though the “Immigrant Song” is one they belted out at quite a few of their live shows, I think it’s a good effort and great song. But not quite up to the standards of their best rocking songs from that previous album with songs like “Whole Lotta Love” and “Heartbreaker” for example. Those songs are real balls breakers in my book.

It’s a song that was written by Page & Plant whilst they was on tour in Iceland and some other countries in the summer of 1970. The trip to Iceland inspired the opening lyrics Plant wrote for the song. It’s also a song that was released as a single in America only a month later, most likely because of the lack of album sales.

The single did quite well and got into the top 20 in the American singles charts and peaked at number 16. A none album track penned by all 4 members of the band featured on the B-Side entitled “Hey, Hey, What Can I Do“. The song later appeared a couple of years later on a compilation album entitled The New Age Of Atlantic which was an album released as an Atlantic Records sampler.

It also appeared much later in 1990 in the Led Zeppelin Box Set and various other compilations and so on. To be perfectly honest I think it should of been put on the companion disc that comes with this Deluxe Edition. But they decided to put it on the Deluxe Edition of their last made up studio album Coda instead.

I think for many the “Immigrant Song” may be their favourite track on the album. Personally it’s not mine but I suppose it has to be a contender.

Track 2. Friends.

The first of many acoustic tracks on the album and one that uses a drone played by Page on his guitar and an eastern style string arrangement by Jones. This same style was later used on “Kashmir” and various other songs that both Page & Plant went on to do much later together with other world musicians way after Led Zeppelin had disbanded in places like Morocco.

Personally I think this eastern style does suit Led Zeppelin and Page always had an interest in other musical styles from other countries. India included. I think they do a fine job on this song too. But I can also see why they lost a few fans along the way. Because this in reality is quite a change from their previous albums.

I have to admit I myself am not that fond of world music and eastern music in particular. I would even say that “Kashmir” lacks the balls that the band Rainbow produced later on in the 70’s on their 3rd album Long Live Rock N’ Roll when it comes to this style of music, with their song “The Gates Of Babylon“. to which had an Egyptian presence about it.

I know too many that “Kashmir” has always been seen as a Zeppelin classic. But at times I can find it all too monotonous. It’s one of those songs that does have progression, but goes nowhere by repeating itself over and over.

I think both “Friends” and “Kashmir” are fine songs, but for me personally they speak an entirely different language to what came off those first couple of albums they made. For many of their fans at the time this album was released. It’s easy to see this was quite a change from what people had brought their records for in the first place. With this song in particular it’s easy to see why album sales dropped. Though it’s not exactly a bad song either once one gets accustomed to it.

Track 3. Celebration Day.

The 2nd of the electric tracks on the album and a quite a jingly jangly and almost country style of a rocker of a song this one. The song was penned by Page, Jones & Plant and originally the song had a Bonham drum intro that kicked it all off they intended to use, which accidentally got erased by one of the studio engineers. It resulted in Bonham refusing to play the intro again.

The intro uses several riffs overdubbed from Page’s 6 string and 12 string electric guitars. They also used the same drone played by Jones on the moog synth that ended the previous track “Friends” in the intro. Plant got the inspiration for the lyrics from his impressions of New York City and on tour in 1971 he would often call the song “The New York Song” at the their live shows.

It’s another great song on the album and another contender for the top spot.

Track 4. Since I’ve Been Loving You.

Now this is one of those songs that I do consider a classic, and certainly more in the same style of the material we got on the bands first two albums. You could even place it on either of those first two albums and it would fit like a glove. This song is perhaps worth the price of the album alone.

Though the song was credited and still is credited to all 4 members of the band. There is no doubt that Plant had been at it again and thieving lyrics. And the opening lyrics to this song are quite identical to the 1968 song “Never” written by Bob Mosley the bass guitarist of the American band  Moby Grape. Even the music is a bit similar, but most music for blues songs are in reality. The band got very lucky here that no lawsuit had been filed against them.

Since I’ve Been Loving You” is very much my favourite track on the album and merits the albums top spot award.

Track 5. Out On The Tiles.

Well considering the band set out to make more of an acoustic album this time around, there is certainly no shortage of rock songs on this 1st side of the album. “Out On The Tiles” is another great rock song and one that came about from the many nights John Bonham had spent out on the tiles with his drinking habits.

He often sang about his nights out and when Page heard him singing the words “I’ve had a pint of bitter and now I’m feeling better and I’m out on the tiles. We’re going down the rubbers and we’re going to pull some scrubbers because we’re out on the tiles.”. He decided to play a riff on his guitar around Bonham’s voice singing the words. He also felt that maybe Plant should write the lyrics to clean it up a bit :)))))))))).

Not a bad effort at all considering it all came from one man’s pleasure of having a jolly good knees up of a time out on the piss :)))))))).

Track 6. Gallows Pole.

Very much another classic on the album and here we see the bands own approach to traditional folk rock music, and they do quite a good job at it I will say. Page makes great use of the banjo and Jones on the mandolin on this traditional song they arranged, and they have a fine cutting edge to it all with how they approach it.

The song featured in many of their live shows including much later on with the Page & Plant on their unleaded live acoustic shows and featured on their No Quarter album.

The “Gallows Pole” is very much a song that the band could never get away with crediting it to themselves. It had been played by way to many other artists before them. It’s very much an high contender for the top spot on this album too.

Track 7. Tangerine.

A lovely acoustic song penned by Page. Though it was originally titled “Knowing That I’m Losing You” and one he wrote (or presumably wrote) back in 1968 whilst he was still in the Yardbirds. Though there maybe some controversy floating about over whether he wrote the actual lyrics, nobody has tried to sue him over it. So therefore it’s most likely penned by Page and is why his name still stands alone on the credits.

No doubt this version of the song with Plant on vocals brings out the real quality of the song in comparison to how Keith Relf sang it with the Yardbirds. Oddly enough Jimmy Page produced and released a double album of the Yardbirds entitled Yardbirds 68′ in November 2017. The 2nd disc contained the original song “Knowing That I’m Losing You” only Page had left out Relf’s vocals and put out an instrumental version only. Perhaps he never felt it sounded right without Plant’s voice on it :)))))))))).

Track 8. That’s The Way.

Another really great song penned by Page & Plant. The song got played quite often at their live shows during 1971/72 it was also recalled in 1975 for the bands acoustic live set at Earl’s Court in London. It was also done live in 1994 by Page & Plant for their No Quarter Unleaded live concert  that was released on DVD. That’s another quality DVD I have in my own collection too and well worth getting.

Page also played the bass on this studio version, whilst Jones played the mandolin. It’s another song I would consider as a contender for the top spot on this album.

Track 9. Bron-y-Aur Stomp.

A song inspired from the name of the cottage and the rural surroundings both Page & Plant stayed at in Wales. The name “Bron-y-Aur” in Welsh translates to golden breast or either breast of gold. The song is credited to Jones, Page & Plant and features Jones on double bass and Bonham on spoons and castanets. Page used his Martin D-28 on the track. It’s another really great acoustic song, and this side of the album is full of them.

Track 10. Hats Off To [Roy] Harper.

A tribute to the folk musician and songwriter of the same name in the title. Roy Harper was a close friend of Page and he even had him as the opening act to support Led Zeppelin on some of their later concert tours in 1971. They both made an album together after the band had disbanded entitled Whatever Happened to Jugula? which was released in 1985.

The song is an arrangement by Page of a 1937 authentic blues song entitled “Shake ‘Em On Down” written by Bukka White. Page used a humorous pseudonym name of Charles Obscure in the credits for it. Plant’s voice was processed through a vibrato amp to give it a tremolo effect. Page plays the bottle neck slide on the song and only Page & Plant are on this song.

It rounded off the album in great blues style. But personally I do not think this is one of those many songs Led Zeppelin made any better. But then again only half of the band are on this one.

Summary…

To sum up the 2 CD Deluxe Edition of the bands 3rd album. I think the companion disc is a worthy addition with the bonus material you get here, and considering your getting it for free more or less with the price of the package, it’s a genuine bargain.

Both discs have quality recordings on them and sound genuinely really great for the new remastering done by Jimmy Page. I have always admired the production work of Page and he knows how to get a great quality sound for the music he makes.

These new Deluxe Editions may be cheap to buy, but I assure you there is nothing remotely cheap about the sound quality on the CD’s. The only thing has been done on the cheap is perhaps the actual packaging. But even that is the case with the biggest majority of Digipaks.

But the Deluxe Edition of this particular album is a lot better constructed, and because they made it like the original vinyl album including its wheel. I had to give it top marks in the overall packaging score.

Conclusion…

To conclude my review of Led Zeppelin III. I think it’s a really great album and the material is still quite strong. No doubt the band was never really going to compete with their last album in the way that it was much more of a heavier powerhouse album, and that may have had their fans a bit bewildered upon the release of this album hearing it for the first time.

But deep down this is not a massive change in direction at all ,and in reality the band are still heading in the same direction with the material we have here, which is a form of blues, rock and rock n’ roll. The 2nd side of the album is certainly the more acoustic side of it. But the material is still strong with its blues and melancholy feel to the great ballads and acoustic numbers the album presents here.

There is also perhaps some folk elements thrown into equation no doubt, but personally I felt a lot more of those elements was also to be found on the album that was to follow. Jimmy Page was always impressed by the guitarist Bert Jansch and I am not surprised because he is another extremely superb guitarist.

Personally I cannot fault the material that was written for Led Zeppelin III, and they was still making music I was into in the first place, and music that appealed to my personal taste. It’s not as if they jumped from one genre into something completely different at all, like disco and reggae for example. So personally I cannot see why some people never liked it in the first place and turned their back on the band at this point of their career.

My personal highlights from the album are as follows: “Since I’ve Been Loving You“. “Gallows Pole“. “Tangerine“.”That’s The Way“. “Celebration Day” and the “Immigrant Song“.

The band did manage to win back some of its fans and many more besides on their next album, and you can find out just how they managed to achieve that in my next review.

I’m about to lose my worried mind…

The album track listing is as follows:

Disc 1.

01. Immigrant Song. 2:27.
02. Friends. 3:54.
03. Celebration Day. 3:30.
04. Since I’ve Been Loving You. 7:24.
05. Out On The Tiles. 4:07.
06. Gallows Pole. 4:57.
07. Tangerine. 3:11.
08. That’s The Way. 5:37.
09. Bron-y-Aur Stomp. 4:17.
10. Hats Off To [Roy] Harper. 3:44.

Disc 2.

01. The Immigrant Song [Alternate Mix]. 2:25.
02. Friends [Track No Vocal]. 3:43.
03. Celebration Day [Alternate Mix]. 3:19.
04. Since I’ve Been Loving You [Rough Mix Of First Recording]. 7:17.
05. Bathroom Sound [Track No Vocal]. 4:01.
06. Gallows Pole [Rough Mix]. 5:20.
07. That’s The Way [Rough Mix]. 5:23.
08. Jenning’s Farm Blues [Rough Mix]. 5:54.
09. Key To The Highway – Trouble In Mind [Rough Mix]. 4:07.

Lee’s overall Complete Package Value Rating…

The Packaging Rating Score. 10/10

The Price Point Rating Score. 10/10

The Bonus CD Rating Score. 8/10

The Original Album Rating Score. 8/10.

Lee Speaks About Music… #53

Led Zeppelin II (Deluxe Edition) – Led Zeppelin

LZ - LZ2

Introduction…

It seemed there was no time to stop since the release of the bands debut album in January 1969 and whilst they was busy touring Europe and North America they had started writing songs for what was to be their next album.

Many of the songs were written in hotel rooms, some came out of the time they spent rehearsing to play their next show. Some even came from playing improvisations they played in between playing the songs from their debut album live on stage.

Has each song was written, no matter what part of the world they was in, they would book a studio for a couple of hours and record it. They did not even care how good the quality of the studio was either and some were cheap small dingy dives.

Robert Plant recalls how crazy the process was. He says it was crazy and they would record say a rhythm track in London, add the vocals in New York, add an harmonica in Vancouver and then finish the mixing off back in New York.

6 studios were used in total to record the album during April to August in 1969 in 3 different countries. Once again Jimmy Page took care of all the production work and it was their first album to utilise the skills and techniques of the sound recording engineer Eddie Kramer who in the past had worked with the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and many other artists who are now in the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame.

Led Zeppelin II was the very album that broke the mould and put the band into to super stardom. Many see this album because of it ‘s sales as a commercial album. But the material that was written for it was far from the case. For me personally it’s the most solid album the band ever made and certainly the best  and most powerful rock album they ever made.

Even the bands own country took notice when this album was released. The 60’s was coming to an end and gone was the more tin pan alley sound that was associated with many of the recordings that came out of it. Led Zeppelin were about to explode.

Early Thoughts…

I must admit it took me awhile to get into Led Zeppelin back in the early 70’s and even though I was into rock bands like Black Sabbath and Deep Purple beforehand. I tended to stay clear of them basically because I thought they was too big headed for their boots.

One of my best friends was a fan of them and he would quite often play their albums when I popped around his house and try and convince me they was a really great band. He could not see why I never liked them, especially because both myself and him had a lot of the same tastes with the rock and prog rock music we was into at the time.

It was not until 1973 that I stumbled across the album Led Zeppelin II in a second hand shop. The cover was a bit tatty but on inspecting the LP there was no marks on it and it looked like it was in good condition. It was priced up at 50p so I thought why not, and brought it.

I remembered some of the tracks by the titles from hearing them at my mates house, and of course I think everybody knew “A Whole Lot Of Love” simply because it’s guitar riff was blasted out every week on the TV on Top Of The Pops. Even before I brought the album I was aware just how good Robert Plant’s voice really was, and admired his voice a lot.

Having already been into Black Sabbath and Deep Purple it did not take long for me to get into this particular album of Led Zeppelin. It was without doubt a very strong and powerful album, just like I always seen in Deep Purple’s album In Rock at the time.

It was something special and even today I still regard Led Zeppelin. Deep Purple and Black Sabbath has the best rock bands that ever came out. I personally do not know one other band who could match them in the earlier days of their career. Especially between the years of 1969 – 1973.

Later on I got into many other rock bands such has Queen. Judas Priest. Guns n’ Roses. Ugly Kid Joe. Nickelback. Creed and countless others and way too many to even think of. But none of them matched what any of those 3 bands had. I like them all but those 3 bands had something more special and I guess it was down to that particular decade of the 70’s.

The Packaging & Artwork…

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The same thin cardboard has been used to construct the Digipak album cover that we seen in my previous review of the bands debut album and they may have done on the cheap, but never the less they are slim, neat and take up less storage space that Digipak’s that have been constructed out more thicker material.

Once again it comes with a 16 page booklet and just like the debut album 14 of them are pictures only and the other 2 only contain the disc and credits information, and the booklet stores away in the middle panel of the Digipak.

Artwork.

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Jimmy Page gave the job of the artwork to David Juniper a fellow student from the same art college he went too. The band simply told Juniper to come up with something interesting. His design came from the photograph above of the German Air force’s Jagdstaffel 11 Division back in World War 1.

Juniper decided to apply a tint to the photograph first and then he air brushed the faces of the band from a publicity photo he came across of them back in 1969. It’s also believed that he changed the other faces that was on the original photograph as well, to people like Miles Davis. Blind Willie Johnson and some others.

Led Zeppelin II (2 CD Deluxe Edition) Review…

Along with both the albums Led Zeppelin I & III the 2 CD Deluxe Edition of Led Zeppelin II was released on the 2nd June 2014. Has with all these newly remastered editions they have also been released in the form of a Super Deluxe Box Set costing around £85. And a Double Vinyl LP Deluxe Edition at £15.99. This particular 2 CD Deluxe Edition I purchased from Amazon for £9.99.

CD 1.

The 1st disc contains the 9 tracks from the original 1969 album to which have been newly remastered by Jimmy Page for this release. Has a producer Page was quite brilliant and he always got a great quality sound on those early Led Zeppelin albums that were released on vinyl back in there day.

To be honest I even would of thought that you could not really better the sound quality of this album that was put on vinyl back in those days, because it was sonically superb and captured all the dynamics.

But what I will say regarding the sound quality he has achieved on these new remasters put onto CD. Is that they do contain all those dynamics that was on those original vinyl albums, and these CD’s contain genuine really great sound quality.

My older CD never had this quality I can assure you. But then again a lot of those CD’s of older album’s were rushed out back in the 80’s and they did lack a lot of quality. But these new remasters that have been put on CD I can honestly live with.

I would even say that it’s even more pleasure to listen to Led Zeppelin again with these new remasters, and it was the lack of quality those early CD’s had that perhaps deterred me from dragging them out more often. So for myself these are an excellent buy.

CD 2.

You even get more added value in the way that it comes now with a companion disc. The companion disc that came with their debut album was really superb in that they gave you a complete live unreleased concert from Paris.

The bonus material that has been compiled for this extra disc is a mixture of early rough mixes, backing tracks without vocals so you can sing along to yourself and 1 previously unreleased track entitled “La La“.

Some of the rough mixes are quite good and present you with a different way of hearing them. If you can sing like Robert Plant then you may want to do a bit of karaoke to the couple of backing tracks that are here. The unreleased track is quite good and is an instrumental track written by Page & Jones that came out of the sessions.

The bonus or companion disc comes with 8 tracks and has a total playing time of 32 minutes and 39 seconds. The track listing I have put at the end of this review.

Musicians & Credits…

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Recorded between April – August 1969 at the Olympic & Morgan Studios London. A&M Quantum, Sunset, Mirror Sound and Mystic Studios Los Angeles. Ardent Studios Memphis. A&R Juggy Sound, Groove and Mayfair Studios in New York City. The Hut Vancouver.

Produced by Jimmy Page. Executive producer Peter Grant. Director of Engineering & mixing Eddie Kramer. Artwork by David Juniper. 2014 Reissue mastering by Jimmy Page.

Jimmy Page: Acoustic & Electric Guitars/Pedal Steel Guitar/Theramin.
Robert Plant: Lead Vocals/Harmonica.
John Paul Jones: Bass Guitar/Organ/Backing Vocals.
John Bonham: Drums/Timpani/Backing Vocals.

The Original Album Tracks Review…

Originally released on Atlantic Records on the 22nd of October 1969. The bands 2nd album Led Zeppelin II contained 9 tracks and had a total playing time of 41 minutes, 38 seconds. The album was an instant commercial success, and very quickly hit number 1 in both the album charts of the US and the UK. It was an album that rocketed them to super stardom.

The name Led Zeppelin was becoming as popular as the Beatles and they was packing out stadiums by the thousands. Today it’s sold over 12 million albums in the US alone and it’s got a 12 times Platinum status there. It also has a 9 times Platinum status in Canada. 4 times in the UK and Australia and this is still not the bands biggest selling album.

For me personally it’s best rock album they ever made and by far the only album of theirs that is a solid rock album with the material that’s upon it. This albums has power and balls and is one of the best rock albums I have ever encountered on the planet. It was this very album that made me go out and buy them all.

It was also this album that Robert Plant started to contribute lyrics to the bands music and I have to say they just got better and better. To be honest if you was to look at the lyrics on the bands debut album, they was certainly nothing to write home about and purely simple.

So let’s see what a power house album this really is, has I go through the individual tracks of the album.

Track 1. Whole Lotta Love.

The album kicks off with the most powerful rock song Led Zeppelin ever wrote. Well upon its release it was credited to all 4 members of the band only. In 1985 Willie Dixon filed a law suit against the band for using part of his lyrics. Since then it’s now credited to the band and Dixon.

I have to say the whole thing is completely utterly ridiculous because the only words Plant took from Dixon’s song “You Need Love” was the words “way down inside, you need love”. There was no doubt Plant was a fan of Dixon’s songs but no way did Plant express these words in the same manner has what Muddy Waters did who had the hit with Dixon’s original 1962 song.

At the end of the day words are words, you cannot put an artistic licence on them. OK if you was to rip off the whole set of lyrics to a song then you would have a case, but a couple of sentences is ridiculous. Just look at how many songs have the same song titles, next people will be suing each other for that for Christ’s sake.

In my opinion Dixon was lucky the band settled up out of court, because personally I never thought he had a case or a leg to stand on. It would of most likely of got thrown out of court. Though no doubt Led Zeppelin have been done for a lot plagiarism and more is to come on this album too.

A “Whole Lotta Love” is a pure classic, and just like later songs to come like “Stairway To Heaven” and “Kashmir” were also classics they never had the power or the balls this song had, and were far more graceful. A “Whole Lotta Love” was that much of a classic that the band simply could never leave it off the set list at their live gigs. It had to be played.

This is the very song that made the band in reality, it not only had the power and the balls, but it also had the power to win a lot of interest in the band and gave them a massive following. Though no doubt there are many classics on this album alone, and some of the others also have the power and have the balls. There is more power and balls on this album than any other album they ever made.

There are that many great songs on this album that it really is very hard to choose a personal favourite. But I feel that I have to give it to this particular song and therefore it merits my top spot award on the album.

Track 2. What Is and What Should Never Be.

Penned by Page & Plant this is the very first song with lyrics by Robert Plant to be aired live at the bands live shows. Plant was always fascinated by myths and legends and had a romantic streak about him. It’s most likely inspired by a romantic walk by a castle.

A phasing effect had been applied to Plant’s vocals on the verses of the song  The distortion on Page’s guitar is quite interesting too, and I will never forget playing this album on vinyl back in the 70’s. At first I thought the LP was clogged up with dust has the needle was playing over it. The sound of his distortion sounds exactly like playing a vinyl album with dirt on, and it’s still instantly noticeable on this CD version too.

I love the use of the panning on Page’s guitars on this one too. Also if you listen to how Plant’s vocal lines run along the song, they are quite reminiscent to the Rap that’s seen in today’s generation of songs. The song not only has a touch of the past with its psychedelic feel, but could also be even seen as the start of a futuristic genre known as rap.

Track 3. The Lemon Song.

Well I suppose it’s just as well that Led Zeppelin was never interested in releasing singles, because this would of no doubt have been banned :))))))).

The Lemon Song” is another one of those songs that was credited to all 4 members of the band. Though once again Plant’s influence from the earlier blues artists appeared to have slipped his mind when writing the lyrics.

The song is said to be likened to Howlin’ Wolfe’s 1966 song “Killing Floor” and no doubt Plant was inspired by the song. Has a matter of a fact the band even covered Wolfe’s song on their very first tour in America when they first started. “The Lemon Song” was also a song the band originally created from live improvisations on the stage a short time after during the 2nd and 3rd tours of North America.

The only likeness between the “The Lemon Song” and Wolfe’sKilling Floor” are the opening lyrics of the song of “I should of quit you, a long time ago”. Musically the song is entirely different and even how Plant expresses those opening lyrics. To be honest had Plant have only used that opening sentence everything would of been fine. But the fact that he also mentions the title “Killing Floor” in the song was perhaps his big mistake.

Today the song is credited to the 4 band members and Chester Burnett which is Howlin’ Wolfe’s real name. “The Lemon Song” is another really great song and contender for the top spot on the album.

Track 4. Thank You.

One of my all time favourite ballads of the band. It’s also believed that this is the first song that Plant did write all the lyrics too on his own as well. Penned by Page & Plant the song “Thank You” is a pure classic. The words Plant wrote were as a tribute to his wife back then Maureen.

Plant’s voice on this song is purely Golden and so to are both the Hammond Organ from Jones and Page’s 12 string guitar. Here is a picture of the 12 string vox guitar Page used on this song.

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1967 Vox Phantom XII 12 String.

The combination of Page & Plant’s writing on this song is on equal stature to the likes of Lennon & McCartney and Elton John & Bernie Taupin. It’s purely brilliant. It’s has to be a very high contender for the top spot on the album.

Track 5. Heartbreaker.

Just as side 1 of the original vinyl album kicked off with power and balls, so did side 2. “Heartbreaker” is another solid heavy rocking classic from this magic album. Created from a great guitar riff by Page and also features a great solo from the guy. It’s also the first song that Page used a combination of a Gibson Les Paul with a Marshal stack.

It’s a song that featured in many of the bands live shows along with “Communication Breakdown“. It was recorded at the A&R Studios in New York and credited to all 4 band members. It has to be another contender for the top spot on the album, and is another classic.

Track 6. Living Loving Maid (She’s Just A Woman).

Well for me personally this is another great rocker though Jimmy Page never really liked it, and it was his least favourite of all Led Zeppelin’s songs. It also was never played live by band either due to Page’s disliking of it. Personally I do not know WTF is not to like about it, the song actually follows the previous track “Heartbreaker” immediately and is perfectly placed for it to do so, and fits in like a glove.

It’s one of the 4 songs on the album penned by Page & Plant and even though I would not say it was a contender for top spot on the album. But this really rock n’ rolls and is a cracker.

Track 7. Ramble On.

Another superb song penned by Page & Plant. The song’s lyrics that Plant wrote were inspired by J. R. R. Tolkein’s poem Namárië from Lord Of The Rings.

The song starts off with Page playing an open tuned acoustic guitar closely followed by some very well tightly timed pattering percussion by Bonham.

Over the years it puzzled people just what Bonham was using to produce this percussion sound. To be honest I am not even gonna go there, because I cannot make out exactly what it is he using either :))))).

The bass line by Jone’s is very melodic and Plant’s voice is pure Gold. It’s perhaps one of those songs the audience would of been screaming out to be played at their live shows. But the band only ever played a small section of it now and then upon its release. The band finally played it in its entirety decades later at their one off concert in 2007 at the O2 Arena in London with Bonham’s son Jason Bonham on the drums.

Ramble On” is a Zeppelin classic and another high contender for the top spot on the album.

Track 8. Moby Dick.

Well judging by the title somebody is having a Whale of a time, and that someone who features highly on the only instrumental piece on the album is John Bonham. The song opens up with a really great guitar riff and also finishes off in the same great style. The rest of the track features a superb drum solo by Bonham.

Though it’s only a 4 minute track on the album. This is one on some occasions the band could drag out to the 40 minute mark live on the stage. Some people may not be into drum solos, but I think this is a super little track.

Track 9. Bring it On Home.

Well there was no doubt the band made a massive mistake by not giving credit to the original songwriter when they released this song on the album. There is also no doubt that both the intro and the outro of song follows very closely, and in fact is based on Sonny Boy Williamson’s version of Willie Dixon’s song that goes by the same title.

To even think they would get away with it has got to be ludicrous when you think about it. What on earth was they thinking when this song was credited on the album to Page & Plant. There is no doubt that everything in between the intro and outro was written by them both.

Three years later in 1972 they paid the price has once again a lawsuit was filed against them. The band may have thought they got off lightly by settling out of court. But the middle section of the song which was written by Page & Plant no longer belongs to them, and the only person to receive royalties from this song is Willie Dixon and his name is the only name it’s now credited too.

This is another song the band played a lot on tour right up until 1973 when they dropped it from their live shows. However they did use the middle section of the song to which they re-titled to “Bring It On Back” as an intro to “Black Dog” at their live shows. They did also play the full version with Jason Bonham at his wedding in 1990.

Bring It On Hone” is a great blues song that gets well rocked up with power in it’s middle section. It ends the album off very well.

Summary…

The 2 CD Deluxe Edition of the bands 2nd album offers tremendous value for money. The companion disc that comes with it, is perhaps not up to what the live concert gave you in the way of extras that came with their debut album with these Deluxe Editions.

Never the less there is some good and interesting bonus material out of the 8 tracks you do get. But considering it only costs £9.99 for 2 CD’s. The companion disc you are getting, could be seen as free for that price point.

There is no doubt that these remsaters are quality too and I am pretty sure that even though these recordings have been put on CD they are up with the quality of the vinyl album.

But for vinyl lovers the price of £15.99 is a superb price for a Double Album especially with how expensive vinyl is to buy these days. That price is cheaper than what some artists are charging for 1 vinyl album.

Conclusion…

The bands 2nd album Led Zeppelin II is very much a solid album with the strong material that was written for it. Personally I think they band broke the mould when they released this album, and even though I quite like most of their albums, this one for me has always been my personal favourite out of them all.

The album contains many great classics and the highlights for me are “Whole Lotta Love“. “The Lemon Song“. “Thank You“. “Heartbreaker” and “Ramble On“. The album has balls and is certainly the most solid rock album the band ever made. It was also a very hard album to try and follow, and you can find out just how well they did in my next review of the bands 3rd album.

I Got To Ramble, Oh Yeah…

The album track listing is as follows:

Disc 1.

01. Whole Lotta Love. 5:35.
02. What Is and What Should Never Be. 4:46.
03. The Lemon Song. 6:19.
04. Thank You. 4:49.
05. Heartbreaker. 4:14.
06. Living Loving Maid (She’s Just A Woman). 2:39.
07. Ramble On. 4:34.
08. Moby Dick. 4:21.
09. Bring it On Home. 4:21.

Disc 2.

01. Whole Lotta Love (Rough Mix with Vocal). 5:39.
02. What Is And What Should Never Be (Rough Mix with Vocal). 4:33.
03. Thank You (Backing Track). 4:20.
04. Heartbreaker (Rough Mix with Vocal). 4:25.
05. Living Loving Maid (She’s Just A Woman) (Backing Track). 3:11.
06. Ramble On (Rough Mix with Vocal). 4:44.
07. Moby Dick (Backing Track). 1:38.
08. La La (Intro/Outro Rough Mix). 4:09.

Lee’s overall Complete Package Value Rating…

The Packaging Rating Score. 7/10

The Price Point Rating Score. 10/10

The Bonus CD Rating Score. 5/10

The Original Album Rating Score. 10/10.

Lee Speaks About Music… #52

Led Zeppelin (Deluxe Edition) – Led Zeppelin

LZ - LZ1

Introduction…

Well I am sure everybody who was into this band would of had their albums just like myself many moons ago on vinyl. Over the years I even got their back catalogue on CD and I have been well impressed by the DVD they released in 2003 which contained restored live concert footage from as far back as 1969 – 1979.

To be perfectly honest the restoration on the 2003 Double DVD that got released, I would say is the best I have ever seen of any artist or band from many moons ago. It was breathtaking and they made it look like it was actually filmed with today’s technology. Even the 5.1 mix was superb. and it’s up there with the best DVD’s and Blu Ray’s I have ever brought for pristine high quality.

For anybody who read my last blog on books. You would of noticed that I am currently reading one written by Chris Welch on the band. I did notice a couple of years back that Jimmy Page had remastered all of the Led Zeppelin Studio Discography. I even watched a lot of footage of him speaking about the band and the new remasters on YouTube.

The only thing that put me off buying these new remastered Deluxe Editions. Was very much down to the fact that he had not done no 5.1 mixes of them. It’s only really 5.1 mixes that entice me more than anything to update my own music collection. But being has I was reading the book, it did prompt me to further investigate them.

A Brief Bit Of History Of How The Band Came About…

I am sure many will know the background history of the band Led Zeppelin. So I am not going to be going into great detail here for this review. But basically the band was formed from the left over members of the Yardbirds back in 1968 to which Jimmy Page was left on his own from the breakup of the band, and he was left with the band name and even a series of concerts that the band were booked for to play in Scandinavia.

Page tried to put the band back together being has he did not want to let those concerts pass by. His first idea was to get a singer so he could write some new material with. His first choice to fill that spot was a guy who Page had come across during his session playing days and was a guy by the name of Terry Reid.

Reid was a session vocalist and guitarist and at the time Page approached him he was already committed to go on a couple of tours supporting The Rolling Stones and Cream. Reid had supported the Stones a couple of years earlier too when he was with his band called the Jaywalkers and because of this commitment he turned Page down.

However it was Reid who did suggest a singer by the name of Robert Plant who was creating quite a stir around my own town of Birmingham even though he was born in black country in West Bromwich. He also told him to check out the drummer John Bonham who could also be found playing around the town of Birmingham even though he was born in Redditch. Both towns are quite close to my own town.

The Londoner Page travelled to Birmingham to seek out Plant and found him singing in a band named the Obs-Tweedle in a college Reid had told him he would find him. Page was immediately impressed by the singer and knew he had found the right man for the job.

Having found the singer for the job Page told Plant of his ideas and invited him to his house in London where they worked on many of the songs that was going to be featured on the band’s debut album. Plant also suggested John Bonham to him has he had played with the drummer in both the Crawling King Snakes and later they both went on to form the New Band Of Joy to which Plant was in the previous incarnation of the band beforehand and before it originally had split up.

Though Bonham took a lot more persuading to join has he was already doing well and was receiving better offers from Joe Cocker and Chris Farlowe to which he was already playing drums for them from time to time.

Both Page and his manger Peter Grant went to see Bonham play for Tim Rose at the Marquee club in London and were convinced he was the right man for the job. It’s also rumoured that Plant had sent 8 telegrams to Bonham and Grant had sent 40 to finally win him over.

Although when Page eventually got Bonham it was not really working out between the two of them simply because Bonham was too loud and quite unruly in the way that everything Page had told him to do, he simply ignored him and carried on doing his own thing.

This even resulted in Page phoning up his manager Grant to tell him it was not working out between him and the drummer and he was gonna have to let him go and bring in somebody else.

Peter Grant was quite a beast and a very powerful guy who did not let anybody get in his way.  He had managed many famous artists way before becoming the last manager of the Yardbirds and knew how to handle himself and the music business. Many people feared him. He spent most of his time handling his business in America.

It’s rumoured that upon hearing the trouble Page was having with Bonham over that phone conversation. That he came over and told Bonham straight. He basically told him if you want to play drums for this band, then you had better buck up your ideas and listen to what Page was telling him to do. Otherwise fuck off now.

Most people thought that the session player John Paul Jones was the first person Page had recruited. But in reality he was the last member to join the band.

It was down to the fact the he had heard Page was putting a band together, that he got in touch with Page and asked if he could be their bass player. It was also alleged that it was his wife was the one to make him to make the phone call in the first place.

Page and Jones had bumped into one another on many occasions during their session days and Page knew he was the right man for the job. Has a matter of a fact Page and Jones were the more professional musicians and more wider known than both Plant and Bonham. Both of the latter two were only really known in Birmingham at the time and not really beyond it.

Most musicians back in those days from Birmingham only became more known by travelling to London to play at the clubs there. It was the place to be if you really wanted to make a name for yourself. It was also the place were most people in the music business could spot potential and talent a mile off. so the chances of making it meant that you had to travel to London.

The band Black Sabbath were perhaps one of the exceptions and actually became famous for playing in their own town of Birmingham. Not many did what they did to get noticed. But even both Plant and Bonham and many others in Birmingham felt they was a laughing stock at the time and would never make it.

Though the band first aired their new material live under the name of the New Yardbirds in 1968. The name of Led Zepplein they already had and intended to change it to, when they finished the set of concerts they still had to play which was originally contracted to the Yardbirds.

The actual name came from a chat Page remembered a few years earlier when he Jeff Beck. Keith Moon and John Entwistle were thinking of putting band together. Moon joked that it would probably go down like a “Lead Balloon” and Entwistle followed up with or a “Lead Zeppelin”.

Page at first chose the name “Lead Zeppelin” and it was his manager Grant who suggested dropping out the “A” from the word “Lead” so it read Led Zeppelin. The rest is history and they certainly made their mark.

The Deluxe Edition Releases…

The Deluxe and Super Deluxe Edition of Led Zeppelin’s 1969 debut album was all newly remastered and released in 2014. They come in the form of 3 different packages to suit your choice. They are as follows:

A Super Deluxe Edition Box Set containing 2 CD’s & 3 Vinyl LP’s. A 72 page album sized book. A replica of the original Atlantic press kit and a Download Card so that you can download the album in high quality audio formats of 96/24 & 48/24. It’s currently priced up on Amazon for £84.99.

A Triple Album Deluxe Edition that contains 3 Vinyl LP’s is currently priced on Amazon at £29.79 for all you vinyl lovers.

A Deluxe Edition that contains 2 CD’s. A 16 page booklet is priced on Amazon at £9.95. This was my personal choice, especially has I have no intention of dragging my Turntable back out of the loft and paying more for the vinyl album.

Incidentally the best way to find these releases on Amazon is via Led Zeppelin’s website. Otherwise you could end up paying something stupid for them or be put off by some of the ridiculous prices private sellers have on there.

The band’s website features all 9 studio albums across the top of the page and by clicking on them you will be able to see the newly remastered Deluxe Editions and by clicking on the link to buy them, it will take you to the right place on Amazon with the best price.

The website is here: http://www.ledzeppelin.com/

So let’s now take a look at the packaging.

The Packaging & Artwork…

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The packaging is constructed out of thin cardboard but very slim and neat in the way it is packaged up. It’s a lot slimmer than the packaging that was used for the Definitive Editions that the Yes albums came in, I reviewed last year.

But amazingly works better simply because there are no issues when closing it all up. Because of it’s sleek slender slim design it also takes up less space storing as well, and will take up perhaps half the space of those Yes albums.

The 2 CD’s are housed on both sides of the sleeve and can be retrieved from the top as in the picture above. The pockets they are housed in have a matt coated finish on the inside. For better protection a gloss coating or even a paper sleeve with polyurethane inside would of worked better. But at this price one cannot really complain.

The 16 page booklet is a bit disappointing unless your into pictures of the band. 14 of its pages are only pictures I am afraid and it gives you no information about the time the album was made at all, and the last 2 pages merely gives you the disc information and credits.

The booklet also is stored in a side pocket in the centre of the packaging which does make it a little harder to retrieve unlike the discs. But for what little information you do get here, I can hardly imagine anybody wanting to take it out of its pocket that often :))))).

I thought I should also mention that on the back of the packaging after unwrapping and removing the cellophane it came wrapped in. That there is a square plastic coated sticker on the back has seen in the picture below.

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Mine had a crease in it has you can see in the picture here, and it runs across the middle in a diagonal direction in between the track information of the both discs. Whoever stuck it on never did their job right in the first place.

Upon first inspection I thought it was just another piece of cellophane you have to peel off. But when I started to peel it from one of the corners I soon noticed that the white printed words had been printed on the cellophane itself, and not on the back of the cover. So I just stuck it back down to prevent any further damage.

I could of been a bit of a nitpicker and sent it back to Amazon for a replacement. But this is far too minor in reality and I am not like that. Though if the actual cover was ripped. I certainly would of sent it back and wanted a replacement.

To be honest I could of most likely peeled this back and got out the crease. But I was a bit too scared and did not really want to risk damaging it any more.

I felt I should mention it just in case somebody else thinks it’s just a piece of cellophane and makes the mistake of removing it.

Artwork.

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LZ 129 Hindenburg

The artwork was chosen by Jimmy Page and was an original photograph taken by Sam Sheer who captured the airships disaster has it burst into flames has it tried to land in New Jersey on the 6th may 1937.

The design of the album sleeve was coordinated by George Hardie who went on to do more work for the bands cover designs. To get the effect that is seen on the albums cover he rendered the original black & white photograph using a Rapidograph technical pen and used a Mezzotint technique.

The photographs of the band that was also featured on the cover was taken by Chris Dreja a former member of the Yardbirds.

Led Zeppelin (2 CD Deluxe Edition) Review…

The 2 CD Deluxe Edition of Led Zeppelin’s debut album was released on the 2nd June 2014. Both Led Zeppelin II & III were released on the same day. Has with all bonus material that comes with most Deluxe Editions that is featured on the 2nd disc. It mainly consists of early and alternative takes, live material and some previously unreleased material and sorts of that kind so to speak.

CD 1.

The 1st disc contains the original 1969 material to which has now been newly remastered by Jimmy Page. I have to say that these recordings on CD are quite remarkable and a hell of a lot better than the CD I brought back in the 80’s.

I would even go as far as to say that it’s that good, I can live and am extremely happy with it. There is also no need to drag my turntable and the original vinyl album out of the loft to make comparisons either.

CD 2.

The 2nd disc contains a live concert from the 10th of October 1969 which they performed at the Olympia in Paris France. It does state that this concert is previously unreleased but I am pretty sure some of it did appear in some of the previous box sets they released, though not in it’s entirety like we have here.

I also dare say there would of been a countless amount of bootlegs of this concert that surfaced over the years too. But those will never match this recording I can assure you. It’s quality and I only wish they would of had the film footage on a DVD to accompany it as well. But that might be wishing too hard.

The concert is some 71 minutes long and is purely awesome. Having checked out all the bonus material that comes with the bands other 8 studio albums in these new Deluxe Editions. This is the only one of them that features a whole live concert and for me personally it makes this Deluxe Edition a genuine must to have for fans alike.

Musicians & Credits…

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Recorded between September – October 1968 at the Olympic Studios London. Produced by Jimmy Page. Executive producer Peter Grant. Engineered by Glyn Johns. Cover Design by George Hardie. Back cover photography by Chris Dreja. 2014 Reissue mastering by Jimmy Page.

Jimmy Page: Acoustic & Electric Guitars/Pedal Steel Guitars.
Robert Plant: Lead Vocals/Harmonica.
John Paul Jones: Bass Guitar/Hammond Organ/Backing Vocals.
John Bonham: Drums/Timpani/Backing Vocals.

The Original Album Tracks Review…

The original self titled album Led Zeppelin was released on the 12th January 1969 on Atlantic Records. The album contained 9 tracks and had a total playing time of 44 minutes and 52 seconds. Even though the band had no intention of being commercial by refusing to put out singles and only wanted to make albums. The band were launched into a massive commercial success in America upon the release of their debut album.

Though it was heavily criticised by a lot of the press and not so well received in their own country at the time. The album did peak at number 6 in the UK Album Charts 4 places higher than its peak of number 10 in the US Album Charts.

But no doubt the band had already broke America and the albums release coincided with the bands first North American tour. By July of the same year the album had already reached Gold Status.

Even this 2014 release put them back in the album charts and it peaked at number 7. Today the album has sold more than 8 million copies in the America alone and holds a status of 8 X Platinum there, and this is by far not their biggest selling album.

Having not long read about Marc Bolan and how much he used to brag about his record sales I have to laugh. Because in reality he sold peanuts in comparison to this band. Though I should not knock him cause he was another prolific artist who I liked a lot.

In all fairness even today Jimmy Page can still be quite big headed, and he still thinks Led Zeppelin were the greatest band ever. Even though both Page and Bolan’s egos were high, you certainly cannot deny the success they had and the music they filled so many people’s hearts of joy with.

So without further adieu let’s get down to the album tracks.

Track 1. Good Times Bad Times.

Though the bands manager Peter Grant did not want the band to release singles because it would harm their success and reduce the amount of album sales. America did insist on them releasing the odd single here and there, even though they were never released in their own country back here in the UK.

Good Times Bad Times” was the only single release off the album in the US and “Communication Breakdown” was the B-Side. To be honest it never really dented the singles charts in America and only reached around the number 80 mark. It was released on the 10th March 1969.

Other singles have materialised of it over the years in many other countries. Some with different B-Sides and even in the form of a 3 track EP. But they came much later and may not of been official releases. But to be perfectly honest I have no idea and just like Led Zeppelin. I am very much an albums man myself.

In many interviews I have seen of Jimmy Page over the years he often says that the sound of Led Zeppelin was something new. Like it had never been done before and they invented it. In my own opinion I honestly do not see his observations of being nothing new or of the sort.

For example take this opening track on the album “Good Times Bad Times” and just listen to what we have here. For starters the album has that typical 60’s sound with the reverb applied to the drums.

Has for the song itself it’s no different to listening to what Deep Purple was doing the year before when they released “Hush” and many other bands like Cream and Jeff Beck was doing for that matter. It’s a combination of the blues and rock n’ roll for Christ’s sake and nearly everybody was at it :)))))).

At this point in the bands career they was certainly more blues based than the harder edge they had on their follow up album that was to come. No doubt the band were very good musicians though, and had one hell of a singer with a rock voice. In my opinion the very best rock singer.

Good Times Bad Times” is a great song but not one I would consider a contender for the top spot on the album.

Track 2. Babe I’m Gonna Leave You.

Now we come to one of the stand out tracks on the album and here we can certainly see the quality this band really had, and yes they do stand out from the crowd here I have to say. The song has great progression and the combination of acoustic and electric guitars adds to the melancholy and more raunchier rock side of the band to which they was superb at doing. Plant’s voice on this track is to die for.

Led Zeppelin no doubt back in these days were well known for ripping off other peoples songs, and Plant never contributed any lyrics to this debut album at all. Some of the songs on this album were originally credited to them as the sole writers and those credits have been changed over the years since they got found out.

Babe I’m Gonna Leave You” was not quite one of those songs and Page had originally heard it performed by Joan Baez and got the inspiration to do his own version from her. Though Baez did not claim she wrote the original lyrics and even thought they were traditional lyrics from an unknown writer.

Later on it was discovered that the original song was written by Anne Bredon in the 50’s was an American folk singer back then. Originally the music was credited to Page and the words traditional. Since back then it’s now credited to Bredon & Page.

Babe I’m Gonna Leave You” is my personal favourite track on the album and merits my top album spot award.

Track 3. You Shook Me.

A very long version of a cover song the band done in typical blues style. Though the song was originally written by Willie Dixon and J. B. Lenoir who were musicians themselves and more popular in Chicago in the US. It was also covered by many other blues artists such as Muddy Waters. Howlin Wolf and all those. Even Jeff Beck covered it come to think of it.

I quite like Jones Hammond playing on this one, and Plant’s job on the harmonica too. Though I would not say that their version was really any better than the many others who did it on that score. It’s certainly more raunchier and rocked up I suppose, but I can also be a stickler for authentic blues too.

It’s very hard to do a cover better than the original artist in the first place. But the band do OK with this one.

Track 4. Dazed and Confused.

The rocker of the album this one and one that Page originally wrote whilst he was still with the Yardbirds. That band even rehearsed it in the studio though it was not as well developed as this version with this line up, and they never played it live with the Yardbirds. It was one that Page held back for his future plans.

For many this may well be seen as the best track on the album and it’s has to be a very high contender for the top spot as well being the rocker I am myself. It’s also a song that Page uses a violin bow on his guitar strings, and this is something he also did whilst playing with the Yardbirds. 

It was not just something new he introduced in the band that was to become Led Zeppelin. Though no doubt he had further developed the technique of using the bow with them. He got the original idea from the actor David McCallum’s father who was a session player violinist and gave him the bow and told him to try it out.

Page used his Fender Telecastor and his violin bow and recorded the song in one take just has he had played it with the Yardbirds when he first wrote it. It’s even said that Plant had changed some of Page’s original lyrics for the song, but this has never been proven to be the case and is a controversy.

Although on the original album the song had been credited solely to Page he was in fact inspired from another American songwriter  and folk singer who went by the name of Jack Holmes and heard him play his acoustic song he had entitled “I’m Confused” whilst in New York.

These days it is rightly credited to Page and bears the words “inspired” by Jack Holmes. The song became a showcase for the bands live shows.

Track 5. Your Time Is Gonna Come.

Your Time Is Gonna Come” is another quality well written song on the album. The pipe organ intro played by Jones is quite skilful and very reminiscent of Rick Wakeman’s playing with Yes. It was at this stage that Page had brought a Fender Pedal Steel guitar and learned to play it. It’s also used to very good effect on this song.

The song was only ever performed live at those early Scandinavian gigs under the name of the New Yardbirds they was contracted to play and finish. A snippet of the song was also performed live later on, and was used in the medley sometimes on “Whole Lotta Love“. Page also go to perform it live with the Black Crowes in 1999.

It’s a really great song that both Page and Jones penned, and is another contender for the top spot on the album.

Track 6. Black Mountain Side.

A most beautiful acoustic instrumental piece written by Page that he played on a borrowed Gibson J-200 acoustic guitar he had tuned to D – A – D – G – A – D to simulate the sound of a sitar. The piece is accompanied by some superbly well executed tabla drums played by Viram Jasani a very well respected Indian musician.

The piece was influenced by “White Summer” to which he had played and recorded earlier with the Yardbirds. It was also said to be inspired by a traditional Irish folk song entitled “Down To The Black Waterside” the guitar arrangement closely follows Bert Jansch’s version of that song. It was Al Stewart who taught Page how to play that song back in 1967 when Page played as a session player on Stewart’s debut album Bedsitter Images.

It’s perhaps hard to even think how an acoustic track such as this could of ended up on the bands album when they had such a great singer. But this little ditty is a pure Gem and could even be another contender for the top spot on the album. It really is gorgeous.

Track 7. Communication Breakdown.

Another one of the bands great rockers that they played live a lot and was first played whilst they was still under the name of the New Yardbirds. It was often used as an anthem in this early stage and was rivalled by “Whole Lotta Love” which followed on their next album.

The song came from a hammering guitar riff Page delivered in the spirit of Eddie Cochran and was penned by Page, Jones and Bonham and not by Page and Plant as many believed. The song is quite short on the album, but with many of their songs they could stretch them out way longer when performed live on stage.

Page’s downstroke rapid guitar riff was also an inspiration later on for the Ramone’s guitarist Johnny Ramone. It’s a great song to belt out and  good fun.

Track 8. I Can’t Quit You Baby.

Another blues cover penned by Willie Dixon who Plant was very much a fan of. Plant’s voice works a treat on this classic and Page goes to town on his Les Paul. Bonham’s bass pedal works like a jack hammer. The whole band do the business on the song and certainly made it their own to some extent.

Track 9. How Many More Times.

The final track on the album is the longest weighing in at hefty 8 and half minutes. It’s credited to Page, Jones and Bonham. Though back then Plant was later credited too ASCAP credits but has Plant never contributed any lyrics to this album he has once again been removed from the writing credits.

Even though it was written by the above they did do a bit of stealing and just as Plant sings “Steal away” they certainly did and added “The Hunter” which was penned by Carl Wells and some of the members of Brooker T & The MG’s whilst they writing songs for  Stax Records. The song was made popular in 1967 by Albert King. Though they only used a quotation from that song.

Page originally started work on the song whilst he was with the Yardbirds has he did with quite a few of the songs, and had some bits and pieces of it he had pieced together. There maybe even some influences from Jeff BecksBolero” which was originally inspirered by Ravel’sBolero” to which Page mainly wrote whilst he was with Jeff Beck. John Paul Jones. Keith Moon and Nicky Hopkins making the record back in 1966.

The song was played live in the earlier years of Led Zepplin’s carer and later dropped from their live performances. It’s another great song and rounds off the album very well.

Summary…

To sum up this 2014 remastered Deluxe Edition of Led Zeppelin’s self titled debut album. I can honestly say it’s an excellent purchase in many ways. Firstly the recordings are really superb and freshen up your desire to listen to this great band again. Secondly the bonus disc presents you with a superb live concert which you never had before, and makes it even more worth buying it. For it’s price point of £10 for a double CD it’s an absolute steal and a genuine bargain.

Has debut albums go Led Zeppelin got off to a flying start especially in America which was down to their manager Peter Grant who was mainly based over there. It’s rumoured that Grant could not even get the band signed up to a record company here in England. Which is why they wound up being signed to Atlantic Records in the first place.

Peter Grant may have looked and acted like a gangster at times. But he was genuinely an honest business man who only wanted what was deemed as right for the artists he had under his belt. He would even take on the Mafia and risk his own life in the process in doing so. He was without doubt one of the best guys in the music business. He was often referred to as being the bands 5th member and quite rightly too.

Jimmy Page was also a man with the right head on his shoulders with everything he had picked up and learned about the music business during his days has a session player. He too knew the business like the back of his hand, and he knew what was best for the band.

I would not say that Led Zeppelin broke the mould when they made this particular album, but it was the start of something that was to become much bigger and no doubt in their heyday they did become one of the biggest and most successful bands in the world.

There is no doubt the success of the band went to Jimmy Page’s head and his ego is still as large as life today. In a more recent interview of him from last year I watched on YouTube. He stated that this album was where it all started and writing 8 tracks of our own for their debut album out of the 9 and only having one cover on it was a major achievement.

Well that statement is of course false and his ego is either too large or he is going senile in his old age. because only 6 of the 9 tracks on this album was genuinely written by him and the band. But of course the band have been had several times for plagiarism over the years, but there is no doubt that when the band do make a song, they more or less make it their own regardless.

Conclusion…

To conclude my review of the bands self titled debut album. I would say that it’s near enough a solid album, and there is nothing here that I do not like on it. It’s an album that still holds up well today and can give you complete satisfaction and even more with this Deluxe Edition release.

Has for the band they was perhaps more blues based at this stage of their career. They showed some hard edge on some of the tracks and the highlights of the album for me personally are as follows: “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You“. “Dazed and Confused“. “Your Time Is Gonna Come” and “Black Mountain Side“.

Is there such a thing as the greatest band in the world. Personally I do not think so. The only way there could possibly be such a thing is if an individual person only collected the music of one band only. Then that maybe the best band in the world. But it would only be to that one person I am afraid.

My own music collection consists of many bands and artists and just like Led Zeppelin they too can make terrific albums. For me Led Zeppelin maybe the greatest one week and the next week it would be somebody else like Yes or whoever else I am listening to at the time. I am pretty sure it’s the same for all of us.

But no doubt Led Zeppelin did make a big impact on people’s lives back in their day, and they will also go down in history for sure. They certainly rocked my boat, but I have to confess it took me awhile for them to do so, and you can read all about that in my next review of the bands 2nd album.

I Got To Ramble, Oh Yeah…

The album track listing is as follows:

Disc 1.

01. Good Times Bad Times. 2:47.
02. Babe I’m Gonna Leave You. 6:42.
03. You Shook Me. 6:28.
04. Dazed and Confused. 6:28.
05. Your Time Is Gonna Come. 4:34.
06. Black Mountain Side. 2:12.
07. Communication Breakdown. 2:30.
08. I Can’t Quit You Baby. 4:42.
09. How Many More Times. 8:29.

Disc 2.

01. Good Times Bad Times / Communication Breakdown (Live in Paris, 1969). 3:52.
02. I Can’t Quit You Baby (Live in Paris, 1969). 6:41.
03. Heartbreaker (Live in Paris, 1969). 3:49.
04. Dazed and Confused (Live in Paris, 1969). 15:01.
05. White Summer / Black Mountain Side (Live in Paris, 1969). 9:19.
06. You Shook Me (Live in Paris, 1969). 11:55.
07. Moby Dick (Live in Paris, 1969). 9:21.
08. How Many More Times (Live in Paris, 1969). 11:14.

Lee’s overall Complete Package Value Rating…

The Packaging Rating Score. 7/10

The Price Point Rating Score. 10/10

The Bonus CD Rating Score. 10/10

The Original Album Rating Score. 8/10.

Lee Speaks About Music… #51

Mainstream Artist Books…

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Introduction…

Well I must admit this is perhaps not the usual form of music media I generally speak about, and to be perfectly honest I have not read a book in around 3 decades until recently. But just before Christmas I noticed an advert from Greg Lake’s Facebook page advertising the latest autobiography of Greg Lake entitled Lucky Man.

The fact that Greg Lake had died at the end of 2016 and much earlier in the same year Keith Emerson had decided to end it all himself, left me feeling quite sad. I have always admired both artists individually and their work with Emerson Lake and Palmer. The Nice and King Crimson.

My hobbies have never really extended to reading books. Well not since I was in my 20’s when back then I did also buy a few autobiographies of mainstream artists, such as the Yes. Genesis. The Rolling Stones. The Doors and even Roger Deans Art book. Before then I would have to go back to my school days when I read fiction stories such as Biggles and Animal Farm as such.

However I have to confess that I did in fact listen to a free Audio Book based on a Crime Thriller that I had given me a couple of years back which was written by a good friend I met on Soundcloud. Who used to play guitar and put some of his music on there.

Then became more involved as an author of Crime Thrillers. His name is William Patching and I have to say I did thoroughly enjoy his book and he as even written another 2 sequels since.

But for me music and autobiographies have always been my preferred taste rather than crime stories and other fictional books.

Most of these so called autobiographies are mainly written by other people rather than the artists themselves.

But what struck me more than anything is that this book of Lake’s is that it was written by himself when he knew he was actually dying, and just how many people get the chance to do such a thing.

Rekindling My Interest Again In Books…

Two things rekindled my interest to buy books again. The first being Greg Lake and the second was the price. To be honest I could not believe how cheap you can obtain these books for. For example when I first seen that advert for Greg Lake’s Lucky Man. I clicked on it and it was linked to his website and the hardback edition was priced at £26.

This led me to see how much it was on Amazon and you could get the Kindle Edition for your phone or pad for £.9.99. The Paperback for £15 and amazingly the Hardback Edition was advertised with £20 off and was on there for £6.

Personally for me the hardback edition is the way to go, and my preferred choice. The Kindle edition maybe cheap. but I am a stickler for having something in my hand I can feel and hold. Just like I am with the music media I buy.

Not only that, but since I have amassed more physical music media. I very much have to extend my music media shelving and buy a new rack this year. So the books will help me fill it out a bit more.

But anyway I did order Greg Lake’s book from Amazon around the 3rd of November last year. Being a prime member I expected it the next day. But instead I got an email off them stating that the book was out of stock, and they would send it just as more became available.

I never heard nothing from them again till around 2 weeks before Christmas when they sent me another email telling me it was still out of stock, and I could either wait or cancel my order.

So I Googled Lake’s book and low and behold I came across a website called The Works.Co.UK. This particular stationary shop had recently opened up a shop in my local shopping centre just down the road from where I live. It had only been there a couple of weeks. On their website I noticed they too had the hardback edition for £6. So at first I popped down to the shop to see if they had it in.

No such luck. So I ordered it on their website and had it delivered to the shop to save on postage and packaging. It took 5 days as promised on their website, and whilst I was in the shop I noticed a book on Elton John which again was a hardback edition so I purchased that and read it first whilst waiting for Greg Lake’s Lucky Man to arrive.

Book Reviews…

Well I am not going to go into great detail on these new purchases of mine I got over the Christmas period, and scratch the surface a bit, to see what I thought of them, and give them some sort of score rating. So here goes starting with the first book I read…

Captain Fantastic

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By Tom Doyle…

I have to say the price of £4 was a genuine bargain, and one I could not resist. To be honest I never thought there was a lot this book could tell me about Elton’s career during the 70’s, because back in those days I was a massive fan of Elton John.

Over the years I have watched no end of documentaries on the guy, and even if you have (like I do upon its release back in 1975) his album Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy you would of noticed that it actually came with a scrapbook and another book which had a lot about his early career in that as well.

But this book is not just about the album Captain Fantastic and goes completely through his career and as far back as the early 60’s right up to the end of the 70’s, and even contains content in here I never knew myself.

Though this book is not written by Elton himself and by Tom Doyle. He has obtained the information from Elton himself and many of the musicians that played on his albums. It also contains some facts from his personal diary.

I have to say I very much enjoyed this book and found it very informative and accurate too. If like myself you enjoyed Elton’s music in the 70’s to which was the highest point of his career. I very much think you will enjoy this.

Regarding it’s original price point of £16.99. I would say it was worthy of it. But would I have spent that much originally on a book like this?. Perhaps not and I would most likely of spent that money on other music media instead. But for this bargain price you could not even make it yourself for it.

Lee’s overall Rating 10/10…

Lucky Man

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By Greg Lake…

Greg Lake’s Lucky Man The Autobiography covers quite a bit of ground from the time he was born up to the day he more or less died. Considering only 282 pages are written by Lake and it closes with a short 4 page Eulogy by his closest friend and manager Stewart Young. It does take in quite a great deal.

Though over the years I have heard many other stories from various band members of the bands he was involved in which are perhaps not touched upon here.

It not only takes in his personal career with every band he played for, but even includes his short stint he had filling in for John Wetton on tour with the band Asia. It also takes in his family and his best friends. It even takes in Keith Emerson’s suicide to which Greg felt was not because of the problem he had with his hand at all, had he had that problem since way back in 1994.

Greg Lake was diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer back in February 2014. He had left it too late in noticing it, and there was no cure. Hence the very reason he would of wrote this autobiography.

Greg was no doubt a Lucky Man and this is a book that good that it even reduced me to tears of sadness at the end reading his final words. The final words to his fans from a dying man, and one who will not be forgotten for sure.

To be honest this book of Greg’s I most likely would of brought at full price if I could not of got it cheaper. I love the fact the he wrote it himself. Getting it for £6 was a massive bonus.

Lee’s overall Rating 10/10…

Beautiful Dreamer

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By John Bramley…

Beautiful Dreamer is a book that you may have gathered by the cover about Mark Bolan. It’s not an autobiography but takes in this superstars career from the point of a big fan. To which the writer here John Bramley very much was.

Has with all these books they are around the 280 to 300 page mark and are comfortable for the likes of myself to read. Bramley does cover Bolan’s career right from the start when he was picked up by a fashion magazine back in the early 60’s and was featured in it for the smart way he dressed. Right up to his death and a bit beyond.

Though it does not take in the fact of what happened to Bolan’s millions, and a lot of what is here is not perhaps quite as exciting as many of the documentaries that have already been put out of this Godfather of Glam Rock.

Never the less it does go into every album that was released from his first single in 1965 then later his career with Tyrannosaurus Rex and T. Rex as well as his solo career.

Marc Bolan was perhaps a guy who thought he was IT regarding his stardom status, and from when he was just a mere boy, he knew he was going to be famous.

However big headed he may have been, he even proved it to the DJ John Peel who was the very guy that really got him started when he was known as Tyrannosaurus Rex. A side of Bolan’s music Peel loved the most, and it broke their relationship up when Bolan decided to go electric and come out of his shell so to speak.

For me personally I love both the acoustic and the electric side of Marc Bolan. My all time favourite of all his albums was actually the very first T.Rex album done back in 1970. I seriously shudder to think how on earth John Peel never liked it and decided to turn his back on Bolan at that stage of his career.

But then again Peel did recognise talent, and if it was not for him in the first place. I am sure many bands and artists would of never became successful in the first place.

Beautiful Dreamer by John Bramley is a worthy read even if it’s just to refresh your mind on who Marc Bolan was and what great music he wrote. The book even includes some quotes from Marc Bolan fans on Facebook.

I personally do not think it’s worth the original price of £20. But for the £6 I paid for it, it was a great bargain and I quite enjoyed it.

Lee’s overall Rating 7/10…

Led Zeppelin – The Biggest Band Of The 1970’s

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By Chris Welch…

Well I don’t know about the Biggest Band of the 70’s so much, but this is certainly the biggest book I got over the Christmas period, and I got this at a right bargain price of £4 a couple of days before Christmas day.

Has with all the books I got they was all released last year in 2017 and this one is perhaps one that comes with the most pictures in it. It really is a superb well detailed book for its photography and the history of the band portrayed by long time music journalist Chris Welch.

The book itself contains 192 pages which may seem rather short. But taking in the size of the pages you get here, it’s easy to see that you can fit at least 4 or 5 pages of information on 1 of its pages of the other books I purchased above.

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Has you can see from the pictures above this is a very well detailed book. It weighs a ton and to be honest when seated in my computer chair reading it in my hands on my lap. after awhile I have to put it down cause my arms and hands ache :))))))).

It’s very much a book that really needs to be placed on a table to read because of its heavy weight. To even think you can get something of this quality for £4 quite frankly it’s beyond belief. It really is a treasure.

I am currently still reading this book right now and am around half way through it. But what I can say is that it takes you through every album and even details every track of every album better than I could with my own reviews.

It also takes in every band member individually and everything about the band as far as I can tell so far. Even if you paid the top price of £25 for this book I would say it’s genuinely worth it. Even based on the fact that I have not yet completed reading the book. My overall rating score can only be what it is here.

Lee’s overall Rating 10/10…

Summary…

Well I can only thank Greg Lake and the shop The Works.Co.Uk for rekindling my pleasure from reading books once again. No doubt I will be getting some more in the future, but still would prefer to focus my attention more on the music that I will be purchasing this year, and am looking forward to what comes out this year as well.

Do not be surprised if you see reviews from some of the artists albums in these books either.

Having just recently looked at the Deluxe Editions of Led Zeppelin’s entire studio discography that was released back in 2014 and 2015. I shall certainly be updating my Led Zeppelin collection with those. despite the fact that they have not made any 5.1 mixes of the albums.

Though most of them are only £10 for a double CD and that is still a bargain I will say. And it will not be too costly if for some reason the band do decide to make 5.1 mixes of the albums on their 50th Anniversary and I have to buy them all over again :)))))))).

Conclusion…

To conclude here I would just like to say that I had an exciting read over Christmas and am still enjoying reading in the new year with the last book I purchased here. I always love a good bargain and these were genuine ones at that.

I am not sure how books shops are in other countries, but one thing I do know is that all the books I got here was from one shop The Works.Co.UK and they are also cheaper than Amazon, which is why I use it, and will continue to do so for such items.

All 4 books here also come with the artists complete discography printed at the back of the book. Though you can of course find that out with the internet on many sites including the artists websites too.

Coming up next will be the first album review of the new year, and it will be Led Zeppelin’s debut album to which I sent for the 2014 Deluxe Edition today from Amazon. That should be with me tomorrow and it should be a blast and the review should be out by the weekend or sometime next week.

Incidentally according to Jimmy Page on Led Zeppelin’s website. There is even another book being written right now on the band and is scheduled to be published later this year.

Until then I hope all my readers had a great Christmas and are doing well in what little of the New Year we are now in to.