Lee Speaks About Music… #68

In Through The Out Door (2 CD Deluxe Edition) – Led Zeppelin

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Introduction…

The bands 8th and final studio album must of seemed like a lifetime to be released, and arrived some 3 years after their previous album Presence back in 1976. Once again more tragic events happened to fall upon Robert Plant and when his son Karac died in 1977 time to heal was certainly needed before getting things back to together again. Though when they finally did, once again it did not take them long to knock together the album In Through The Out Door.

The album took 3 weeks to make and they decided to write and record the record at Abba’s Polar Studio in Stockholm Sweden. Once again the band churned out 7 songs and oddly enough it was John Paul Jones and Robert Plant that took on more of an hand in writing them, whilst Jimmy Page took more of a back seat and John Bonham did not even get off his seat to contribute to any of them.

A lot of it was down to Jones having a new keyboard and on most occasions it was he and Plant who arrived at the studio first. Also the fact that both Page & Bonham had their own addictions to deal with at the time which is why they was quite often late getting to the studio. Though there is one familiar Page/Plant song on the album and Page did also contribute to 4 of the songs too with Jones & Plant.

During the recording sessions the band also recorded 3 other songs “Wearing and Tearing“, “Ozone Baby” and “Darlene” but all 3 were dropped from the album due to vinyl limitations and restrictions, and were later released on the album Coda.

In many ways the band were going through a lot of personal turmoil during this time which may had had an effect on the making of In Through The Out Door. So before we take a further look at it, let’s take a look at the packaging.

The Packaging & Artwork…

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Well there is no doubt that they have done a good job of replicating the original vinyl albums with these Deluxe Editions. This one even comes in a brown paper bag :)))). Though I will say you will have to be very careful pulling out the cardboard sleeves that houses the CD’s and the booklet.

The 16 page booklet as ever contains more photos of the band than any real information, and only 2 of its pages contain the linear notes of the credits and production. They are not very informative at all.

The Artwork.

Hipgnosis where the team once again involved in the artwork. The idea behind putting it in a paper bag was to replicate the many bootlegs albums that surfaced around back in those days. It was something that the bands manager Peter Grant was dead against and could not prevent even though he tried too on a number of occasions. It was perhaps a case of, if you cannot beat them join them, and very much done in the way of a gimmick.

It’s certainly far from the best well thought out design to package an album I will say. Though they did throw in another little feature that can be done with pictures on the cardboard sleeves that come inside the brown paper bag. Apparently if you wash the black lined sleeve with water it will become fully coloured.

It’s also rumoured that if you apply a bit of water to the dust jacket on the sepia lined sleeve, it will also change colour like a children’s colouring book. They have also done the same thing as the original vinyl album with this Deluxe CD Edition too. Though I am not gonna get my fingers wet :))))). But I suppose if you get bored listening to the album, it will give you something to do :)))))).

In Through The Out Door (2 CD Deluxe Edition) Review…

The newly remastered 2 CD Deluxe Edition of In Through The Out Door by Led Zeppelin was released on the 31st July 2015 along with the albums Presence and Coda. Just like all these Deluxe Editions they come in various music media releases and can be purchased in the form of a a digital download, a single or double CD. A single or double vinyl album or the Super Deluxe Edition which comes with all of those, plus a book and various other little trinkets depending on the size of your wallet :))))))))).

I opted as usual for the 2 CD version and actually purchased my copy from a website I have never used before called Flubit. The reason I chose to go elsewhere instead of my usual choice of Amazon was down to the price. Most of these 2 CD Deluxe Editions I purchased for £9.99 from Amazon. But for some reason even though this Deluxe Edition only comes with 2 CD’s. Amazon were charging over £15 for it.

What’s so special about this album I honestly would like to know?. It’s very odd why they should be charging more money for it, especially as I even got Physical Graffiti that comes with 3 CD’s for £12.63p which is £3 less than they want for this thing. I honestly find it ridiculous how they could be charging more money for it.

In the end I got it from Flubit for £11.28p and it was even free delivery. Though I personally would not recommend this online store at all, there customer service is diabolical and it took near enough 2 weeks to arrive and they are only in London. I have had goods arrive from Germany faster than this, and if it was not for me complaining after not hearing nothing from them after a week of placing my order, my item would of still been sitting there being processed.

CD 1.

The 1st CD contains the 7 tracks that featured on the original album to which have all been remastered by Jimmy Page. Once again the albums sounds great for the new remaster and I honestly do not see the point of dragging my turntable out of the loft and paying more money for it on vinyl.

CD 2.

The companion disc that comes with this release contains the same 7 tracks as the 1st CD only they are all rough mixes, or at least supposed to be. The overall playing time of this bonus disc is 42 minutes, 49 seconds. To be honest some of them are rough mixes and the rest have just been most likely done by Page messing about with a mixing desk today rather than all those years ago.

It’s not one of the better companion discs that come with these Deluxe Editions I am afraid, and only a few of them come with something that really speaks something different to be honest. Most of them are pointless just like the one that comes with this release.

Musicians & Credits…

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Recorded between 15th – 23rd November 1978 at the Polar Studios Stockholm Sweden. Produced by Jimmy Page. Executive Producer Peter Grant. Mixing Engineer Leif Mases. Additional Engineer Drew Griffiths. Sleeve Design by Hipgnosis. 2015 Reissue remastering by Jimmy Page. Mastered by John Davis.

Jimmy Page: Electric & Acoustic Guitars/Gizmotron.
Robert Plant: Lead Vocals.
John Paul Jones: Bass/Mandolin/Keyboards.
John Bonham: Drums & Percussion.

The Original Album Tracks Review…

Led Zeppelin’s 8th studio album In Through The Out Door was released on the 15th August 1979. The albums 7 tracks spanned over an overall playing time of 42 minutes, 31 seconds and just like their previous album Presence it had no trouble in reaching the number one spot in the American album charts. Once again the album came under critical abuse by many of its critics, though overall this particular album did twice as good in sales over its predecessor, and as sold more than 6 million copies to date.

There was no doubt that whatever album Led Zeppelin put out it was not received that well at all by the many critics, some of the critics who did show some favour for the album even stated that it was the best album they had released since Houses Of The Holy. Well even I would criticise those idiots :))))))))))). I certainly think Physical Graffiti was way better than that thing, though none of them with all respect are up to the quality material of the bands first 4 albums I personally feel.

The albums title was based around Robert Plant’s recent struggles with the death of his son and the fact that the band had to spend 2 years away from their own country in England due to tax exile.

Jimmy Page felt that In Through The Out Door was a relatively milder album at the time of its release, and I would think that too, but does have some fine moments even if I do not personally feel this is a solid album. Like many it has it’s good points and bad points. so now let’s take a look at the individual tracks and see what we have here.

Track 1. In The Evening.

The albums opening track opens up with a mystical drone, perhaps a bit like Steve Hillage doing his version of Donovan’sHurdy Gurdy Man“. The drowning effect is mostly coming from Page’s guitar who at the time was using a Gizmotron, though the bass pedals are also well utilised by Jones too on this intro.

The Gizmotron is an effects device used with electric and bass guitars, and was invented in 1973 by a couple of the members of the band 10CC namely Kevin Godley & Lol Creme. Pictured below is what the device looked like in 1979 and the very thing Page had on his guitar.

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The Gizmotron.

Page described the device as very much sounding like the Hurdy Gurdy instrument that dates back centuries, and a good replacement for his violin bow he often used on his guitar very much giving it the same effect more or less.

Unlike the price of John Paul Jones’s new keyboard (which I will go into later in this review) the Gizmotron was a lot cheaper and could be brought for £199 back in 1979. Godley & Creme first used it on the 10CC instrumental piece entitled “Gismo My Way” back in 1974.

In 1976 Godley & Creme hooked up with a company called Musitronics to work on a mass production of the product, and in 1977 they had already given the device it’s swan song so to speak on their own triple debut album Consequences having both left 10CC by then.

By 1979 both 6 and 4 string models were made and they was expecting them to take off in a big way. Though it was not to be, and by 1981 the company had gone bust and the Gizmotron ceased production and had its day. Though these days other devices have been built modelled on the same idea and the Ebow is perhaps more of the guitarists popular choice today.

Getting back to the song after about near enough a minute the Gizmo’s played it’s part on the intro very well, then we are presented with Plant’s opening vocals followed by a great guitar riff by Page that’s got quite a hook and is more familiar with the bands great style. Bonham thumps this one out on the drums and it’s really great song, and certainly an high contender for the top spot on the album.

Track 2. South Bound Saurez.

A great track for piano players this one and musically it’s very much written around the piano without a doubt. It was actually penned by Jones & Plant and it’s got a great bit of boogie woogie about it and makes you want to get up and dance. Speaking of the word dance, the song is also a bit familiar with the Leo Sayer’s 1975 song “I Can Dance“. You could also easily associate it with bands like The Faces and even Marc Bolan’s T.Rex and many others too.

The band get off on this one for sure, and even though Plant does not play any harmonica on this album, I actually feel it would of been more appropriate to have used one on the break instead of Page’s slide guitar. I quite like this one and it makes me want to jump on my piano and get the old Gob Iron out and give it a go :)))))))).

Track 3. Fool In The Rain.

Well just as the band got off to a very good start, the 3rd track on the album “Fool In The Rain” perhaps gives me the feeling of being a fool for buying the album :)))))). Sorry to say this, but for me this is not what the band Led Zeppelin should be about. It’s very much my contender for the worst track on the album. To be honest I had enough of this dribble on the Houses Of The Holy without having to contend with it here as well.

No doubt the band do well with the whole Calypso vibe, and I suppose it’s OK if you’re on some tropical beach on holiday where you may have that holiday buzz to cope with it all. But sitting here at home listening to it, just does not cut the mustard for my liking. It’s perhaps another song that would of been better off on one of Plant’s pop albums he later went on to do, and not here. Even the guitar tone effect Page uses on the solo is pathetic and so out of place.

Track 4. Hot Dog.

Another bit of honky tonk and a bit of bluegrass boogie that’s got a Rockabilly feel about this one. Once again it’s perhaps a bit out of place for Led Zeppelin and Plant is once again getting off on his Elvis vibe too. But at least it’s a damn site better than the previous song. Though no doubt as good as the band try to do this one, it’s not that precise I am afraid.

For example even though Page plays not to bad on this song and he is without doubt a great rock guitarist, he is however a bit out of his depth here I am afraid. He lacks the technique for country picking to pull it off precisely enough. This is not quite like hearing somebody like Albert Lee or even the guys behind the music of the Two Ronnies when they did their Jehosophat And Jones comedy songs for that matter.

Oddly enough the song was penned by Page & Plant. But for me Jones is the best musician playing on it, and it’s him who handles it better than the other guys.

I quite like the song but as for Led Zeppelin doing things in their own style and making it so good like they do with many other songs. It certainly does not apply here I am afraid. Simply because there are a stack of other bands who work more in this particular field of music, who can do it a damn site better.

It’s also interesting that Led Zeppelin did play this song live at Knebworth in 1979 before the album was released. Though they omitted it from the live concert of that show that was put out on the Led Zeppelin Live 2003 DVD. No doubt it was a struggle for them to play. and get to sound that good.

Track 5. Carouselambra.

The longest track on the album, and it’s the one of a few of the songs on this album that Jones used his new keyboard on. Though to be honest it perhaps gets put to more use on the following track than this one. The new keyboard in question was built by Yamaha in 1973 and is the Yamaha GX-1.

This particular keyboard was called the Electone GX-707 back in 1973 and because of its size and weight the first one was built as a theatre model for use on the stage. It was not until 1975 that Yamaha publicly released it and decided to give it, it’s new name of the Yamaha GX-1.

Though not many was ever made as it was a very expensive keyboard that cost around 60,000 US dollars to buy new back in 1975. Today that is equivalent to around $320,000 and they are extremely rare to come across.

It’s rumoured that John Paul Jones brought a used GX-1 from Keith Emerson who was the very man who extensively used this keyboard, amongst other artists who could actually afford to buy one such as Stevie Wonder and the Swedish band Abba. It’s also rumoured that Keith Emerson brought the keyboard back off Jones in 1980.

However these rumours are not very accurate and somewhat confusing. The one thing I do know is that Keith Emerson did end up buying two Yamaha GX-1’s. The first one he brought was back around 1976/77 and was used on ELP’s album The Works. His original GX-1 got broke in an accident and he ended up buying the one off Jones in 1980 to replace it. He later sold it to Hans Zimmer.

I am not sure why Jones would want to buy a broken Yamaha GX-1 off Emerson in the first place. The rumours do not add up right at all I am afraid.

I came across this interesting short story on Youtube on the Yamaha GX-1 and felt it would be appropriate to put here in my review for those who are interested.

Overall the song ” Carouselambra” is not a bad song, though I do not see it as a contender for the top spot or is anyway an epic or a classic for that matter. Besides the expensive keyboard, it contains some great guitar work from Page. It’s a song that the band never played live though it was rumoured that they did intend to play it live on their North American Tour in 1980. But sadly John Bonham died before they got the chance to perform it.

Track 6. All My Love.

For me this is a fine ballad of a song, and the only song on the album I could perhaps call a classic. Even the expensive Yamaha GX-1 sounds beautiful besides Plant’s great voice. The song itself was penned by Jones & Plant and was written in honour of Plant’s son Karic who died back in 1977.

It’s also described as the saddest and most heartfelt song Led Zeppelin wrote. The band also got to perform it live on their earlier European tour in 1980 and it was very received from the audience. It’s my personal favourite track on the album and it’s a real Gem.

In an interview Plant described the song as one of Led Zeppelin’s finest moments. Well no doubt I have deep sympathy with him on that score. For me personally it’s certainly one of their finest rock ballads, though my personal fave of all them will always be “Thank You” from the bands 2nd album.

Page was not that fond of the song and Bonham was not keen on the songs chorus. I have no idea what Jones thought of it, though he must of enjoyed the keyboard solo as I very much did.

Track 7. I’m Gonna Crawl.

From a rock ballad to a soothing lullaby and no doubt a much lighter approach from the band this one. I suppose it puts the album to bed nicely enough and yourself to sleep at the same time :))))).

This once again could be seen as what was to come with Plant’s more commercial side of his solo career rather than a real Led Zeppelin song. Though it does have some fine moments and even picks it’s pace up well to in parts. Oddly enough Page’s guitar solo is also a bit like that of Ritchie Blackmore to some extent.

The band do a good enough job of it, though it’s not gonna exactly set the world on fire I am afraid. Although the song is credited to Jones, Page and Plant it was mostly written by Jones on his Yamaha GX-1 at home before the band went to record it in the studios. It’s another song that the band never performed live, and was most likely influenced by the likes of Wilson Pickett and Ottis Redding.

Summary…

To sum up my review of the 2 CD Deluxe Edition of Led Zeppelin’s In Through The Out Door. The package itself replicates the vinyl version very well, and the gimmick of the brown paper bag could be seen as a nice touch, though it’s not very practical and you will have to be extremely careful not to damage it.

Regarding the bonus material on the companion disc. Personally I think it was pointless of Jimmy Page even trying to make a double album with what material he had to use. There is nothing different enough about it, for it to make it that much of a difference. It’s very disappointing that he could not find something that had never been released before, rather than sit at mixing desk twiddling a few knobs.

Conclusion…

Overall In Through The Out Door by Led Zeppelin is a half decent enough album. The band do make some sort of an effort to try and recapture some of that old magic in some respects with a couple of the tracks. I suppose the one thing I can be grateful for is that at least they did not try and do Punk Rock :))))))). Now that would of pissed me off LOL..

My personal highlights from the album are “All My Love“. “In The Evening” and “South Bound Saurez“.

It’s perhaps an album in some respects that’s not really worthy of upgrading your old vinyl or CD for, unless you have one of those older CD’s that came out before around the year 2000. The fact that I never did buy this album on vinyl and I only had an old CD from the 80’s, is why I brought it. Don’t get me wrong because it does sound really great for the remastering. Though it’s far from a great album.

Sadly it was to be John Bonham’s final album he made with the band whilst he was still alive. Apart from the unused material that was used and complied to make up the 1982 album Coda. It was also the bands final album too. Who knows what the band would of went on to do. Though personally like many other bands who failed to capture those golden times of their earlier career. I doubt very much Led Zeppelin would of either.

The Tides Have Caused The Flame To Dim

The album track listing is as follows:

Disc 1.

01. In The Evening. 6:53.
02. South Bound Saurez. 4:13.
03. Fool In The Rain. 6:10.
04. Hot Dog. 3:18.
05. Carouselambra. 10:33.
06. All My Love. 5:53.
07. I’m Gonna Crawl. 5:31.

Disc 2.

01. In The Evening (Rough Mix). 6:54.
02. Southbound Piano (South Bound Saurez) [Rough Mix]. 4:14.
03. Fool In The Rain (Rough Mix). 6:13.
04. Hot Dog (Rough Mix). 3:17.
05. The Epic (Carouselambra) (Rough Mix). 10:48.
06. The Hook (All My Love) (Rough Mix). 5:52.
07. Blot (I’m Gonna Crawl) (Rough Mix). 5:31.

Lee’s overall Complete Package Value Rating…

The Packaging Rating Score. 6/10

The Price Point Rating Score. 7/10

The Bonus CD Rating Score. 0/10

The Original Album Rating Score. 6/10.

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Lee Speaks About Music… #67

How The West Was Won (Blu Ray Audio) – Led Zeppelin

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Introduction…

Well it’s time for another Led Zeppelin review, and to be honest I was quite hoping to bring you the review of the bands 8th studio album In Through The Out Door but it’s delayed down to the fact that I so stupidly ordered it from a website I have never used before to try and save a few pennies, and it has not yet arrived. So instead I thought I would review the bands very latest remastered release of their 2003 triple live album How The West Was won.

To be honest I cannot remember when I actually brought the original triple live CD of this release, but I know it was not back in 2003 and much later on and would of been around 2008/9 mark. By that time the DVD version with the 5.1 mix of the album was way out of print, and that’s why I ended up with the triple CD in the first place.

The one thing I can tell you about the original triple CD release is that the quality of the live recordings are quite staggeringly very good. As a matter of a fact they were that good that there is no way on this earth I can see why this particular album needed to be remastered in the first place. But the fact that I missed out on the 5.1 DVD is the only thing about this new release I was excited about to see, and was glad that Jimmy Page had decided to remaster it and reissue it again.

So for me personally this new Blu Ray Audio version that as replaced the DVD was very much a must, because this is one terrific album. So let’s first take a look at the packaging.

The Packaging & Artwork…

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I have to say I am not a fan of the way Blu Ray’s come in their more familiar blue plastic cases that are slightly smaller than a DVD. No doubt just like the DVD these type of cases provide good protection for the disc and do a good job though.

What we have here, is what I would call a slightly more stylish DVD presentation of how it comes with a cardboard box and a nice cardboard gatefold way of displaying the disc in a more up to date DVD package design. It’s certainly more fitting and appealing for both the DVD & Blu Ray I feel, and it’s a very nice quality package indeed.

It also comes with a very nice 18 page high gloss photo papered booklet that contains some super pictures of the band in high gloss resolution, and a couple of pages of linear notes with information of the production, credits and track information. It also stores away nicely in the pocket on the left hand side of the case.

Though just like the new remastered Deluxe Editions of their studio albums I have been reviewing, it does not provide any real information about the concert itself. But overall I am quite impressed with this booklet and the quality of it, plus the fact that it is bigger than a booklet that comes with a CD, it does look better for it.

The Artwork.

To be honest there is very little information regarding the artwork for this release, and about the only two things I can tell you about it, is that it was based around a Jimmy Page idea of how he saw their song “Achilles Last Stand” though the concert itself comes from before they even wrote that song, and it’s not even on here. The only other thing I can tell you is that it was done by a guy called Phil Lemon who seen it not worthy enough to even mention it :)))))))))).

How The West Was Won (Remastered Editons)…

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The latest remastered edition of How The West Was Won by Led Zeppelin was released last Friday on the 23rd March. Just like the Deluxe Editions of their other releases it comes in quite a few media releases. Though I have to say this particular release is quite odd in a few ways, and it’s very strange what as been done here I will say.

For example the Super Deluxe Box Set which is priced up at £129.99 does not even include the Blu Ray. Though it does include a DVD, and oddly enough if you want the DVD you are going to have to fork out the bucks for this Super Edition to get your hands on it, unlike the Blu Ray to which they released as an individual release.

I opted for the Blu Ray Audio and pre-ordered it from Amazon on the 29th January and it arrived on the day of its release, and it cost a few pennies cheaper than its retail price of £19.99 and I got it for £19.42.

The other odd thing they have done here, is that you’re not exactly getting the full shilling with this release at all. They have in fact edited out “Hello Mary Lou” from the “Whole Lot Of Love” medley which is perhaps understandable for the new vinyl release down to vinyl limitations and restrictions. But why on earth did they do the same thing for all the other media which do not have these restrictions.

Now as much as they are trying to bring vinyl back. I am sorry to say that this is where vinyl does not really work or beat the CD I am afraid, and will always prove to be an inferior product because of its limitations. No way would I drag my turntable back out of the loft I am afraid, and if you want to pay £60 for 4 LP’s when you can get the same thing on 3 CD’s for £12.99. Honestly you must be idiots :))))) .

Personally for me vinyl is too restricted with its limitations of just what you can fit on it. A perfect example of that comes from the new vinyl release of Storie Fuori Dal Tempo by the band I have recently been reviewing the Conqueror.

Because that album was only ever released on CD back in 2005 and the fact that it has a 31 minute track on it. It just does not work with vinyl I am afraid. For example they have had to make the album in to a double album for its vinyl release, and that particular 31 minute track takes up the whole of the 2 sides of the 2nd album, and you are going to have to turn the album over half way through it.

Honestly it’s just ridiculous and will spoil my listening pleasure straight away having to do such a thing. Sorry to say, but give me the CD any day of the week :))))))).

Though what I will say in the case of this new release is. If you already have the original triple CD from 2003, and you are not like me wanting a 5.1 version. Forget buying this, because like I said in the first place, the quality of the recordings on that 2003 CD release were staggering, and no way did this album need remastering at all.

How The West Was Won (Blu Ray) In Review…

The live recordings that are contained on How The West Was Won are all from when the band was at its peak in 1972. The live audio concert footage was taken from two shows that the band performed at the LA Forum indoor arena on the 25th June and Long Beach Arena on the 27th June and both venues were in California in America.

Although many bootleg recordings were put out of this concert with poor quality. There was some better quality releases that did surface later on from soundboard recordings that was stolen from Jimmy Page’s archives in the 80’s, though they never managed to get hold of the soundboard recordings from both of these venues they played at. How The West Was Won was the first official release put out on Atlantic Records, and it contained the quality live recordings from the actual soundboard of those shows.

The fact that I already have the original 2003 triple CD release. I can very much verify that these recordings are quite spectacular and it’s up there with the very best live audio footage there is of Led Zeppelin. So let now take a look at the Blu Ray in general and it’s 5.1 mix to see if it can make it even more spectacular.

The Blu Ray Audio.

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The Blu Ray’s main menu displays the album cover on a plain white background and gives you 3 options to choose from. “Play Concert”. “Playlist” and “Audio Setup”. It’s a simple enough menu and I like the fact that the default setting of the audio is already set in my personal favourite choice, so I can simply press on “Play Concert”.

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The Blu Ray comes with 3 choices of Audio and all are in high quality 96/24. It’s also a good thing that they have also included both the 5.1 Surround Mix and the Stereo Mix with a DTS HD Master. Also included is a PCM Stereo Mix.

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The “Playlist” gives you the option to go to any of the 18 tracks and play them rather than listen to the whole concert. It comes in handy if you want to show somebody a specific song, its perhaps the only time I myself would use this option because as a rule I like to watch the whole concert. But it’s always a handy feature to have.

It’s also interesting that all the options on the main menu are quickly accessed, and by clicking on them it automatically displays them, rather than take you to another menu screen which could take slightly longer to load up.

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Though this is a Blu Ray Audio and it does not contain any film footage of the concert. It does display a different picture for all the 18 tracks of the concert. Though these pictures are not as good as the high resolution pictures that are in the actual booklet, and they are also more DVD quality rather than Blu Ray and are not HD.

The 5.1 Mix.

Unless you have a more up to date live concert rather than something from as far back as 1972 in this case. It’ very rare to find any 5.1 mix being worthy of mixing in 5.1 in the first place. But in saying that, having the Led Zeppelin 2003 Live DVD which was also officially released in the same year as this original concert was, there is no doubt that the 5.1 mix on that 2003 DVD was pretty darn good in my book.

Now back in 2003 when they released How The West Was Won. It was also released with a 5.1 mix on an individual DVD Audio release. Like I mentioned earlier on it was something I missed out on, and was out of print by the time I got around to buying it on CD. So I never had it to make any comparisons here.

But having read quite a few reviews of that original 2003 5.1 mix on DVD Audio. Many found the 5.1 mix quite disappointing.

To be honest I do not quite know what to make of those reviews and as both the Led Zeppelin 2003 Live DVD and the DVD Audio of How The West Was Won 5.1 mixes were done in the same year. It’s hard to believe that the 5.1 mix was disappointing especially as both concerts Kevin Shirley was the engineer who did the 5.1 mixes. Also the fact the CD sounded pretty amazing itself.

The latest Blu Ray Audio of How The West Was Won has been remastered and once again they have used Kevin Shirley’s 5.1 surround mix, only this time it’s been done with a better audio quality of 96/24 instead of the 48/24 that was on the 2003 DVD Audio. It’s also been mastered by a different mastering engineer namely John Davis and comes in a lossless format rather than compressed.

So how does it sound?. Well I would say it’s very much up there with the 5.1 mix that comes on Zeppelin 2003 Live DVD and has been very well done. It’s much better than what the 5.1 mix that was on the Blu Ray of the film The Song Remains The Same and it does bring out the dynamics a bit more to which that concert lacked.

There is also some mind blowing panning effects that are well effective that utilises a 5.1 surround system very well. Even the fact that they have included a DTS Master lossless 96/24 Stereo mix makes this Blu Ray pretty much the definitive version of the concert. They have really done a cracking job of it.

Too The Show…

The particular live audio footage that was put on this release. I have always enjoyed quite a lot since I brought it on CD. In many ways this actual concert beats some the bands studio albums without a doubt, and is well worthy of having.

The concert on the Blu Ray contains 18 tracks and it comes with an overall playing time of 2 hours and 27 and half minutes. It’s just over 2 minutes shorter than the original 2003 release because they have edited out “Hello Mary Lou“. No doubt for purists this will be something many will complain about. Personally I blame the vinyl lovers and I hope that many will not buy it on vinyl to teach Jimmy Page a lesson for doing this :)))))).

The concert opens up with a short drone which is all of 14 seconds, and even though they have counted it as an actual track, quite a few of the 17 remaining tracks certainly make up for it. You very soon feel the real energy and power of this band as they proceed to roll out the “Immigrant Song“. “Heartbreaker” and “Black Dog“. The performance is purely fantastic and you’re in for one very exciting ride.

Over The Hills And Far Away” is my favourite track from Houses Of The Holy and it was performed live here a year before that album was released, and sounds way better than the studio version too. Both classics “Since I’ve Been Loving You” and “Stairway To Heaven” follow this and I could go on about every track, but I would be here all day.

As with most of Led Zeppelin’s live shows they tend to improvise a lot, and some of these songs are a lot longer than the original studio versions. This is either something you may like or dislike, because they do tend to drag out some of the songs in the same way that a band that only had very little material would, and it’s not as if Led Zeppelin did not have enough songs written by the time they played these concerts.

For example do people really want to hear John Bonham bashing away on his drums 15 minutes longer on “Moby Dick” than the studio version. It’s perhaps down to taste, but personally I quite like drum solos though to be perfectly honest I have heard other drummers do better ones than this. But I quite like this version even if I do prefer the studio version better.

Dazed And Confused” is another one of the lengthy tracks and this live version is some 25 minutes long. It also incorporates both “Walters Walk” and “The Crunge” which were originally written for Houses Of The Holy. The latter of those actually got released on that album a year later, and the first of those two eventually found its way on the album Coda in 1982.

Walters Walk” is the more experimental track of the two that features Page with his bow on the guitar and it sounds superb in 5.1. Thankfully they only play a bit of “The Crunge” and it mainly consists of the just the funky guitar riff as I would of expected the lyrics would had not even been written at this stage for the dreadful song. It also follows up with quite a bit of improvisation before finally going back into main song which is by far the classic here.

In total there are 3 lengthy tracks you get here and the last of them is the classic “Whole Lotta Love” which now incorporates 3 other songs rather than the 4 you got on the original release. This medley they incorporate with these other well known hits of other artists songs is perhaps something of a bit of fun, and something a bit different to give to the fans. Personally I do not so much mind that they have edited out “Hello Mary Lou” and I like the improvisation they have also incorporated into the 21 minutes here.

The concert is rounded off with “Bring It On Home/Bring It On Back” which they performed at the LA Forum. Once again the band deliver it superbly with the performance as they do throughout the whole show of the both venues they play at here. Even at the end of the almost 2 and half hour duration of the show it will leave you wanting more and singing along to the many classics they so well done here.

Summary…

To sum up the new remastered and mastered Blu Ray Audio version of How The West Was Won. I personally think that there is no doubt it does sound better than the original 2003 release that was released on CD. Both the 5.1 mixes and stereo mixes sound superb. But I am not sure if that as anything to do with the new remastering and mastering, or down to the fact that it comes in a lossless format and has much higher quality audio with the 24 bits and 96K.

The only real thing that is missing is the fact that it’s in audio only and does not come with any film footage of the band playing the songs. That is where the Led Zeppelin Live 2003 DVD will always have the edge over this release. But there is no doubt that both of these releases are of superb quality, and like I said before even better quality than some of their studio albums.

The Blu Ray Audio is retailed at a price of £19.99. It’s perhaps a bit steep. I personally think it will come down in price rather than go up. But overall I am very happy with it at the price I paid, though personally I feel it’s price point is over pitched a little and should of retailed for around £16.

To be honest I do not know why they tend to sell Blu Ray Audio only at an higher price of a Blu Ray disc that comes with film footage on it. Its not as if they are using a different disc, and in reality your getting less for your money. You do not even get any bonus material so if anything they should be sold at a lot cheaper price.

Conclusion…

To conclude my review of the Blu Ray Audio of How The West Was Won by Led Zeppelin. I would honestly say if your into Led Zeppelin and you have not got this on any media format, you must be NUTS. Because these are truly great live performances that come with quality audio regardless of if you have it on Blu Ray, Vinyl or CD. I cannot even fault the original CD that was released in 2003 and if your happy with that, I would not even bother buying this new release unless you are a surround freak like myself.

Led Zeppelin purely rocked at both of these venues back in 1972 and How The West Was Won is without doubt truly documented the fact that they did. It’s always been one of my go to concerts of the band since I originally had it, and I well chuffed to finally have a 5.1 mix of it.

No doubt this new release will get hammered by many critics and it will receive many bad reviews over the way this particular new release as been put out with the many new media formats it’s been put on. Personally I cannot fault the Blu Ray Audio apart from the fact that it’s missing 2 minutes and 9 seconds. But that in all honesty is down to the idiots who wanted a vinyl release :))))))).

Hey, Mama Said The Way You Move Gon’ Make You Sweat, gon’ Make You Groove…

The track listing is as follows:

01. LA Drone* 0:14.
02. Immigrant Song* 3:42.
03. Heartbreaker* 7:25.
04. Black Dog** 5:41.
05. Over The Hills And Far Away** 5:12.
06. Since I’ve Been Loving You* 7:59.
07. Stairway To Heaven* 9:38.
08. Going To California* 5:37.
09. That’s The Way** 5:54.
10. Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp* 4:55.
11. Dazed And Confused** 25:25.
12. What Is And What Should Never Be* 4:41.
13. Dancing Days* 3:42.
14. Moby Dick** 19:20.
15. Whole Lotta Love** 20:59.
16. Rock And Roll* 3:56.
17.T he Ocean** 4::21.
18. Bring It On Home** 9:39.

*Long Beach Arena
**L.A. Forum

Lee’s overall Complete Blu Ray Audio Value Rating…

The Packaging Rating Score. 10/10

The Price Point Rating Score. 8/10

The 5.1 Mix Rating Score. 8/10

The Concert Rating Score. 10/10.

Lee Speaks About Music… #66

Sprazzi Di Luce (EP) – Conqueror

C - SDL

Introduction…

The EP Sprazzi Di Luce is perhaps quite a different bit of output from the Conqueror in that it’s got more of a contemporary classical popular approach to the music they present here. But the one thing that does remain is the bands distinctive style. It’s nothing unusual for many bands to come out with something a bit different from time to time, and many prog rock bands have done so on a good few occasions.

One of the more modern prog rock bands that came about a couple of years before the Conqueror that springs to mind are the Welsh prog rock band Magenta.

They themselves churned out a couple of really good prog rock albums with Revolutions & Seven. Then they started churning out a bit of pop music with the release of their EP I’m Alive and even their 3rd studio album Home was not entirely prog rock and contained quite a few pop songs on it. But even some of those pop songs are very well written songs and can still speak in leaps and bounds.

I myself am pretty versatile with my own record collection, and even though progressive rock is perhaps my favourite of all genres of music. I also have a stack of other genres in my record collection including pop music. For me personally I like a vast variety of music and the most important thing to me is that the song is very well written and played well by real musicians.

The composition of any song is the most important factor. The best musicians in the world do not always write great songs, and without a great song you have nothing I am afraid. For me the music has to speak to me, and it has to say something. If it doesn’t, it does not necessary mean it’s bad at all. It’s more of a case of it not suiting my own particular taste, and every one of us have individual tastes on that score.

The one thing you will always find in any of my reviews is honesty. I have very much always spoke my mind regarding how music comes across to myself, and all my reviews are based on how the music comes across to me and nobody else. Just because there are certain things I may not like about a particular piece of music, does not mean that it will not appeal, or even speak more to other people.

Having said all that and gone off the subject matter of my review for this EP. You may very well think that this EP is gonna get one of my bad reviews :)))))). Well let’s find out. But as always, let’s first take a look at the packaging. 

The Packaging & Artwork…

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Just like most EP’s they come in a slimline Jewel Case. Though I am mainly an albums man myself, I do have a few of these type of EP’s that come packaged this way. The one thing I can always praise about any Jewel Case is that they protect the CD very well, and even if they break, they are easy to obtain and cheap enough to replace.

As is the case with most EP’s as well, they do not come with a booklet. But it does contain all the linear notes of the credits for each song and the production. But unfortunately it comes minus the lyrics. So for all intense purposes of my review here, I am going to have to do the best I can without them I am afraid.

The Artwork.

The artwork on the front cover is an edited photograph taken and edited by Mario Pollino. To be honest I am not sure what it is, but it looks like either a photo taken of a cathedral’s stained glass windows lit up at night time, or some form of tapestry. The artwork was supervised by the bands drummer Natale Russo.

The title of the EP and song Sprazzi Di Luce translates to Flashes Of Light. So that is perhaps what the front cover is supposed to represent. Though personally I would of felt either a streak of lightening or even a camera with a flash light flashing may have been a bit more appropriate.

The EP In Review…

The EP Sprazzi Di Luce was released sometime in June 2009. It contains 4 tracks which are all songs with words, and has a total playing of time of 20 minutes and 49 seconds. Oddly enough each song also features a different line up of the band, and the EP was recorded and produced between January 2008 and May 2009.

The EP contains 2 new songs, 1 cover song, plus a live version of one of their older songs entitled “Pensieri Fragili” to which the studio version can be found on the bands 2003 debut album Istinto to which I have only just reviewed in my last post.

This particular EP came off the back of the extensive live shows Conqueror had been playing over the last couple of years promoting their 3rd album 74 Giorni that was released in 2007. The EP may have came about from the two sisters Simona and Sabrina collaborating together, and the 2 new Conqueror compositions we have here were mainly written by those two.

Apart from the last live track on the EP. The other 3 songs are very much on the short side of things, just like one would get with most pop songs, which generally have more of a chance of getting some radio play with them being over the shorter distance. So did Conqueror intend to make a mini pop album here one might ask?.

Let’s find out as I take you through the individual tracks on the EP.

Track 1. Sprazzi Di Luce.

The EP kicks off with its self titled track “Sprazzi Di Luce” or in English “Flashes Of Light“. This is the first of the 2 new written songs and is credited to Simona Rigano. Natale Russo and Sabrina Rigano. The line-up of the band is as follows:

Simona Rigano: Vocals & Keyboards.
Natale Russo: Drums.
Sabrina Rigano: Flute.
Daniele Bambino: Bass.
Ottavio Leo: (Special Guest) Guitar.

The special guest Ottavio Leo is actually the bands sound engineer and as appeared with the band for the odd song now and then at some of their live concerts. This was the bass player Daniele Bambino’s last contribution to the band, having spent a year with them from 2007 – 2008. He also played bass on Conqueror’s 3rd album 74 Giorni.

Musically the song was written around the piano and the flute and is constructed around those instruments. To be honest the only way I can actually see the bands drummer Natale contributing to the writing is if he actually wrote the lyrics, or contributed some ideas to the direction of the music we have here.

If Natale is the bands lyric writer, all I can say that he has quite a gift with words, especially with all the great poetry that can be found on the bands first 2 albums I have reviewed so far. Though I do suspect that these lyrics are very much different, and are written in the form of a love song, more so than the mythical fantasies we got on their earlier albums.

But without having the lyrics to this song I am only using my own judgement from the expression of Simona’s voice, and how the music presents itself in the way of a fine ballad of a song.

The musical intro with the piano and flute gives it a bit of the prog rock band Camel feel about it. It’s got quite a contemporary classical feel about the music and the combination of the instrumentation works really well throughout the song. To be honest it’s perhaps only the vocal line that gives this song more of a pop ballad approach in reality.

The song does have an uplifting feel about its chorus and it’s quite catchy and bright with its presentation. The song also features some great flute and keyboard interplay with the solos, though the solos are played over the same chord progression we get in the verse sections of the song, so this is perhaps not what I would call prog rock even though some of the other reviews I have read tend to think that it is.

No doubt the song does contain some fine chord progression, but personally for me the music needs to go in more directions than the progression we have here to call it progressive rock.

No doubt others will disagree with my own viewpoint of progressive rock music and see things different to myself. For example many people would say that The Moody Blues were prog rock, yet 90% of their material is nothing more than pop and folk songs I am afraid.

But just as much as I like The Moody Blues I also like what we have here with this song. The song is still a really great composition and is very well structured in the way it’s been put together. It’s actually my favourite out of the 3 studio tracks we get on this EP.

Track 2. E Mi Manchi Tanto.

The 2nd track on the EP happens to be a cover of a 1973 song written by Paolo Morelli who was in the Italian pop band Alunni Del Sole. It’s title translates to “And I Miss You A Lot“. The band Alunni Del Sole were quite popular in Italy back in the 70’s especially around the years of 1973 – 1978 in which they had a few hit records in their own country back in those days.

Unlike the band Conqueror, whose lyrics are impossible to find on the internet :)))))) it’s a doddle to find the lyrics for the band Alunni Del Sole. So I have the lyrics for this one and can you tell straight away that this is a simple love song.

I can also tell you that the lyrics are simple like most love songs, and nothing genuinely to write home about at all. These lyrics are far from clever and have nowhere near the potential of the lyrics that was written for the Conquerors first 2 albums I am afraid.

Although the Conqueror have used Morelli’s lyrics, the one thing they have done is arrange the music to fit their own unique style. To be honest having heard both versions of the song, the Conquerors version is quite different with how they have approached the song. It’s most likely down to them using a faster tempo and slightly rearranging the piano melody lines in the verse sections.

To show exactly what I mean here is the original song by Alunni Del Sole.

And here is Conquerors version of the song you can listen to by clicking on the following link: https://maracashrecords.bandcamp.com/track/e-mi-manchi-tanto

Both versions are very good, and doing a cover of any song is perhaps the hardest thing in the world to do it better than the original song in the first place. And I am certainly not going to say that the Conqueror’s version is better on that score. But it does have its moments, and for me personally the best thing I love about the Conqueror’s version is actually the solo at the end with Sabrina’s sax.

To be perfectly honest Sabrina’s contribution of the flute and sax on this song is to die for, and her job on both those instruments is far more precise than what the original version had. The arrangement is excellent.

The line-up of the band for this song is as follows:

Simona Rigano: Vocals & Keyboards.
Natale Russo: Drums.
Sabrina Rigano: Flute & Saxaphone.
Andrea Trimarchi: Bass.
Mario Pollino: Guitar & Vocals.

This was the bass player Andrea Trimarchi’s first and last contribution to the band as he only joined the band at the beginning of 2009 and left not long after.

There is no doubt that the song “E Mi Manchi Tanto” will appeal perhaps to a lot of Italian’s and over here in England it was something rather very new to me. I do like the way the Conqueror have presented the song in their own style with their own arrangement though, and there is even some magical moments here.

Track 3. Semplice.

The 2nd of the new Conqueror songs on the EP is entitled “Simple” in English. The song was penned by the band vocalist and keyboard player Simona Rigano. It’s the shortest song out of the 4 on the EP and besides Simona herself, the only other musicians who contribute to it are Sabrina on flute and Natale on percussion.

Once again I am afraid I do not have the lyrics to know what it’s all about, but it’s another fine ballad of a song and I would expect that the songs title says just exactly  what it is. Pure and simple is perhaps the best way I can describe it. It’s perhaps not one of those songs that is gonna exactly set the world on fire. But is pleasant enough to listen too is another way of looking at it.

Track 4. Pensieri Fragili (Live Bonus Track).

The finale track on the EP translates to “Fragile Thoughts”. It’s a song from the bands 2003 debut album Istinto only this is a live version of the song played by the same band line-up that featured on their 2nd 2005 studio album Storie Fuori Dal Tempo. It was Recorded live in Riposto. Italy on the 19 august 2006.

The band handle the song with ease live, and I like the addition of the flute and sax in the song which was not on the studio version, because Sabrina never joined the band till after their debut album was released. This live version I feel gives it that extra element with her contribution and I prefer this live version to the studio version.

Here is an armature video shot in the audience of the band performing it at a different venue in the same year. It features the same band line-up that’s on this live version and it was played at the Andria Prog-Fest a month earlier on the 14th of July.

Pensieri Fragili” is perhaps one of the bands firm favourites from their debut album Istinto that tends to get played live more times than the other great songs on that album. It’s perhaps not my firm favourite on that album, but it is a great song, and their debut album is full of great songs.

The real bonus of having this live release on the EP is that’s it’s the only official live release of the song that features the band playing it as a 5 piece rather than a 4 piece. The song is also played live on the bands live album Un’altra verità but once again as a 4 piece band. This is also marked down as a bonus track on this EP and for me it’s my personal favourite track on this EP too.

Summary…

There is no doubt the material written for the EP Sprazzi Di Luce could be seen as a more commercial approach, and the band may have been trying to attract more attention to attain and draw in a wider following. But there is also no doubt that the band have also maintained their true style and originality and even their skills to craft out the music we have here also.

To be honest even though I have not got the Conqueror’s 3rd album 74 Giorni yet. I have listened to the album a couple of times on Bandcamp and that album does have a bit of a pop feel to some of the songs on that album too. So this is perhaps not so much of a change of style from that album in some respects.

There is no doubt that Conqueror have their own uniqueness to the music they present and for me the highlights from this EP are the opening track “Sprazzi Di Luce” and the live version of “Pensieri Fragili“.

Conclusion…

To conclude my review of the Conqueror’s 4 track EP Sprazzi Di Luce. I would say in answer to my original question of did the band intend to release a mini pop album. I very much do not think so at all, even if the studio material on EP does lean more to towards the popular side of that pop genre.

I think it’s more of a case of the band playing and recording a few songs that they perhaps felt would not be suited to an album, and so they decided to put them out on an EP instead, rather than just leave them on a shelf and not put them out at all.

But overall personally I cannot fault the material on this EP at all. Its very well written and arranged, and I quite like it. Though I will say it is different to the prog rock style that is on the bands first couple of albums, and even though I got this EP as a gift and never had to pay for it. I would of still brought it because it does provide great listening pleasure and it does have its moments.

The EP Sprazzi Di Luce is available as a digital download of your choice of audio format on Bandcamp for 4 Euro. The physical CD is priced up at 10 Euro on Bandcamp which for me is way overpriced for a 20 minute EP. You can get it from the bands own website for 6 Euro which is more reasonable.

Dreams That Never Die, Remain Immortal…

You can listen to, or even buy the EP from Bandcamp here: https://maracashrecords.bandcamp.com/album/sprazzi-di-luce

Alternatively you can use the bands website to buy the EP here : http://www.conqueror.it/eng/default.asp

The EP track listing is as follows:

01. Sprazzi Di Luce. 4:40.
02. E Mi Manchi Tanto. 4:33.
03. Semplice. 3:45.
04. Pensieri Fragili (Live Bonus Track). 7:51.

Lee’s Packaging Rating Score. 8/10.

Lee’s Price Point Rating Score. 7/10.

Lee’s EP Rating Score. 7/10.

Lee Speaks About Music… #65

Istinto – Conqueror

C - I

Introduction…

Well for those who read who read my review of the Conqueror’s 2nd album Storie Fuori Dal Tempo I posted last month on the February 15th here: https://leespeaksoutaboutmusic.wordpress.com/2018/02/15/lee-speaks-about-music-60/ you would of read that I was that well impressed by this great Italian band, that I would be purchasing their entire discography.

Istinto is the bands 1st album and once again it’s another truly great album that certainly delivers. Though I will say that getting these albums delivered to me, does take some time due to Italy’s postal service not being the best in the world. However even though the items I did send for took 3 weeks to get here, I did get a nice surprise in the package to cater for long wait, making it worthwhile.

I originally sent off for 3 of the bands albums which were Istinto. Stems and their live CD/DVD Un’altra verità. I ordered them from the founding member and drummer of the band Natale who also threw in a nice couple of freebies, which was very generous and kind of him.

Goodies

The couple of freebies I received was their 2009 EP Sprazzi di luce and a DVD-R which contains a short bit of video footage of the band playing live back in 2006. They play some of the material from their 3rd album 74 Giorni, along with a bit of “Firth Of Fifth” by Genesis plus the video the band made for “Mosaico di Colori” from the bands 2nd great album I have already reviewed.

No doubt I shall be reviewing all the bands 5 albums and EP when I get chance too, and when I have brought their 3rd and 4th albums to complete the collection. But right now let’s get back to this review of the bands debut album Istinto. But first up let’s take a look at the packaging and artwork.

The Packaging & Artwork…

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As you can see from the photo above the album Istinto unlike their 2nd album Storie Fuori Dal Tempo which came in a Digipak, it comes in a standard Jewel Case. This is simply because their 2nd album as not long been re-issued again and comes with a bonus track. I do believe that Storie Fuori Dal Tempo is due to also be re-released on vinyl too.

I have already sited the vinyl release too on the bands record label Ma.Ra.Cash Records. It’s up for sale right now and comes in the form of Gatefold Sleeve and it’s been released as a double album and is priced up at 30 Euro. Though I am not dragging my turntable back out of the loft I am afraid, and I am quite happy with the CD.

But at least it’s now been made available for all you vinyl lovers, though I have to say that’s an expensive game these days.

The booklet that comes with the album Istinto contains all the lyrics to the songs and all the writing and band credits. Unfortunately though they are all in Italian. So once again I am going to have the painstaking job of typing it all out in Italian in my word processor, so I can simply copy and paste them into one of the many translators on the internet. This is because the bands lyrics are nowhere to be found on the net.

I have once again asked the bands drummer Natale if he could perhaps put them on the bands website even if they are in Italian. At least I could simply copy and paste them from there into a translator, rather than type them all out in Italian myself in my word processor first. Hopefully Natale will see to eventually get around to doing this as I have requested. It would save me a lot of hassle for my reviews that’s for sure.

The Artwork.

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The albums artwork was done by the drummers aunt Graziella Russo before he was born himself, and here you can see Natale pointing to her original painting on the wall. She did a grand job on the painting too.

The Album In Review…

The bands album Istinto was released back in October 2003. It was the bands debut album, and just like the bands 2nd album Storie Fuori Dal Tempo it also features material that was written with the bands previous keyboard player Salvatore Chillemi who left the band in 1998.

Just like I mentioned in my review of the bands 2nd album the original band was formed by the drummer Natale Russo back in 1994. By the time Salvatore Chillemi left the band, the band already had enough written material to put out an album in 1999. But I suspect putting the band together with a new line up took longer than expected. So the bulk of the material that was co-written by Chillemi got spread over the bands first 2 albums, and I have to say both albums are exceptionally superb albums.

There is also no doubt that the band had to work on writing their own material besides doing the arrangements for the previous written material. The band have gone through many line-up changes over the years, but both the bands drummer Natale Russo and the bands keyboard player and main singer Simona Rigano have managed to stay the course throughout Conqueror’s career since the release of this album, and when they started working on it in 2002.

Istinto when translated into English means “Instinct“. The album itself comes with 8 tracks and has an overall playing time of 54 minutes, 21 seconds. 7 of the 8 tracks are songs, and it contains 1 instrumental piece, though the band do focus very well on the musical side of things, leaving plenty of scope and space for the musical interludes to work very well with the vocal sections.

If your into progressive rock, I think you will love what the band have to offer on this album and there 2nd album. The music very much speaks for itself regardless of the vocals being in Italian. To put in a nutshell. These guys have prog rock music down to a fine art, and have done quite a remarkable job of it.

So before I take on the individual tracks on the album. Let’s first take a look at the musicians and credits.

Musicians & Credits…

2003 Group

The 2003 Line-Up Of The Band

Produced by Conqueror at Conqueror and Cultural Association. Sound Engineer: Ottavio Leo. Artwork Cover Painting: Graziella Russo.  Graphic & Photo: Gianfranco Stracuzzi. Booklet Linear Writing by GraficaUnita. Duplication by Duplitape.

Musicians:
Simona Rigano: Keyboards and Voice.
Gaetano Scarcella: Guitar.
Tony Rose: Bass.
Natale Russo: Drums.

The Album Tracks In Review…

There is no doubt that some of the material written for the album Istinto was done a lot earlier back in the 90’s with the likes of the keyboard player Salvatore Chillemi and notably even the guitar player Gaetano Scarcella had a very short stint with the band back in 1995. Though Scarcella also left in 1995 having spent around 10 months with the band, it’s quite intriguing that he rejoined the band in 2002 and left a few months before the release of this album in 2003.

To be perfectly honest it makes me wonder why Gaetano Scarcella left the band having just contributed some superb guitar playing to this quite remarkable debut album. It’s also notable that 2 of the tracks on the album were actually credited to Chillemi, Russo & Scarcella. Though I am sure Scarcella had his reasons for leaving, just as many other musicians have done in many other bands over the years at such pivotal moments in time.

It’s a shame really because there is no doubt that Gaetano Scarcella done some extremely incredible work on this album, and in some ways the guitar work shines more so on this album than any of the other albums. Though no doubt the band always  brought in some great musicians to replace many of those that left over the years.

Even the bands bass player Tony Rose who had only joined the band back in 2002 left the same time as the guitarist before the album was released.

To be honest if I was working with a band that had just made a debut album this good. I do not think I would want to be leaving it that’s for sure. So let’s now take a look at the individual tracks that make up with is album.

Track 1. Storie di Favole.

Just like a lot of the bands earlier albums they tend to base the lyrical content around legends, myths, old fables and ghostly tales. The title of this track translates in English to “Stories of Fables“.

They also tend to present the lyrical content in the same mannerism with the use of poetry to put over the stories they present, and they also perhaps like to present their words and music in the form of a concept album of short stories just like we got on their 2005 follow up album Storie Fuori Dal Tempo I have already reviewed.

This opening track could be seen as the starting point of the many stories that the album portrays, in that it fills one’s mind floating amongst the clouds floating in a world of fantasy, mystery and imagination.

This particular song could also be seen as the albums title track in that it mentions the title of the album “Instinct” in the following sentence “Clouds covering fleeting memories of moments. vulnerable instincts of complicity”.

More great poetry is found in the final paragraph of lyrics they wrote for this song. Which are as follows:

“Frosty waves that take away traces of legends
mysterious shadows
mythical stories of fables
far away from all weather quickly dissolve”

There is no doubt the words are very well written and so too is the structure of the music the band present to them. Speaking of the music on this particular song it does have some really great textures which are very well layered and blended with all the instrumentation we have here.

It contains lush bass lines from Tony Rose that interweave their way along with Natale Russo’s great drums, and the rhythm guitar and keyboards. You also get some great interplay in the small break sections between Gaetano Scarcella’s guitar solos and Simona Rigano’s keyboard solos. All topped up very with her fine voice too. It really is a great opening track and set’s the wheels in motion for the more delights the album has in store.

Track 2. Quartar.

Well I have to confess that I have rattled my brains out trying to find out what the “Quartar” exactly is in relation to the lyrics in this song. The obvious answer would be to say that the word “Quartar” would translate in English to “Quarter”. If that is the case, the only logical way I can see why the band decided on its title, is that it’s the second of 8 tracks on the album, and it could be perhaps seen as the “Quarter” stage of the album.

Though I am pretty sure my own theory of how this title relates to the song is far from the case, and other examples of just what “Quartar” could mean, tend to hark back to the ice and stone age, or the Quaternary period with what I have researched and found that may have some bearings in relation to what the lyrics are about.

For example looking at the lyrics we have here such as “Between the paths of nothingness” and that it also refers to “remains of utopias” and thus a “Message that crosses the boundaries of silence, in the fear of loneliness” which are all found within the lyrical content. Could relate to that Quaternary period.

However I have tried to decipher this fine set of lyrics we have here. I find them quite magical and relating to a time before a lot of things even existed. These lyrics I find that fascinating that I have decided to post them here.

In the clouds of a dream
remains of utopias immerse you, scrutinize you
a play of light and shadow
a breath of joy and melancholy, and a cry of hope

Desire to cry, laughing
to live to cancel

Message that crosses the boundaries of silence
in the fear of loneliness

Silent merciless
of free souls
from violence and hatred

Between the paths of nothingness, traps of anguish
they tend to match dreams
stories of ironic ghosts
mock your madness

in the fear of loneliness
immerse you scrutinize you
a play of light and shadow
a breath of joy and melancholy and a cry of hope

Quartar” is actually one of the 2 songs that was credited to Chillemi, Russo & Scarcella on this album. I do not know which one of them penned these lyrics, but they deserve a very good pat on the back.

Musically the song kicks off with a very dominant theme or melody line played on the piano at quite a hurried pace. It’s also accompanied by the vocals. Then around the 1:17 mark the song comes down from it’s fast tempo with a short interlude on the keyboards, and settles down into a more steady pace as it builds itself along, and gradually finds its way back into that fast paced intro.

The song also features some great chord progression and interplay between the guitar and keyboards. Even the percussion plays a nice role with the use of the clave’s and the rimshot in a small section. It also ends off in great style, and it’s one of my contenders for the top spot on the album.

Track 3. Pensieri Fragili.

Pensieri Fragili” or “Fragile Thoughts” it translates too, is perhaps one of the most popular tracks the band tend to play live from this album. For example a live version of the song from 2007 appears on their 2009 EP Sprazzi di luce and a 2014 live version is also included on their 2015 live CD/DVD Un’altra verità.

Musically it’s quite an interesting song that starts of quite pleasantly with its opening piano melody, a bit further on down the line the guitar adds to its melody and it takes some 3 minutes and 40 seconds for the vocals to come into play. It’s quite a long intro considering the song is only 7 minutes and 48 seconds long.

In some ways the song tends to have more of a pop approach with its brighter melody line and it’s vocal line. Though it does also have some fine progression and we do get some fine keyboard work and a nice guitar solo too. It’s got perhaps a more modern approach to progressive rock, and that is perhaps the best way I can describe it myself.

The songs lyrical content pertains towards never ending dreams, mysterious harmonies and atmospheres, flying across oceans and skies, and all sort of images that hide behind the face of reality in our fragile thoughts.

Track 4. La Strada del Graal.

The 4th track on the album translates to “The Graal Road“. It starts off with a very strong theme played on the guitar that makes quite a bold statement in the same way that perhaps some of Carlos Santana or Gary Moore’s melody lines do on some of their music. This is soon followed up by the opening verse of the song.. Scarcella’s guitar is featured quite a bit throughout this song, and it contains a couple of great little solos too. It also features a cracking keyboard solo from Simona too.

The lyrical content is based around amazing dreams and fantasies as one would expect along their journey on this road. The song is one of the 3 tracks on the album that was written by Silvana Chillemi & Natale Russo. It’s got to be another contender for the top spot on the album and is a really great track.

Track 5. In the Cave.

Well this title is perhaps the odd one out on the album. But only because it’s title is actually written in English :))))))). In Italian it would be titled “Nella Grotta“. It’s also the shortest track on the album. Just as short as it is, it’s another really great track. It’s also the 2nd song on the album that was written by Chillemi, Russo & Scarcella.

The lyrical content is as far as I can make out is based on Greek Mythology. Being that it refers to Eurydice. The fact that it’s also in a cave could pertain to the myth of Inanna’s descent to the underworld. Eurydice and her husband can also be compared to Lot and his wife in the bible, hence these words from the song we have here “do not stop, never turn around”.

Track 6. Cristalli di Solitudine.

My personal favourite track on the album and it merits my top spot award. In English it translates to “Crystals of Solitude“. In some ways musically, this is perhaps the only track on the album that uses those familiar Camel and Marillion influences that were featured heavily on the bands 2nd album Storie Fuori Dal Tempo.

Though whereas the bands 2nd album is perhaps more familiar with Camel especially with the keyboard sounds that are used. It’s only really the intro on the electric piano and a few short sections in the song that have that Camel feel to them on this song. It’s certainly got a lot more of Marillion influence with the guitar and keyboard solos we get here.

I have chosen this amateur video shot from somebody in the audience to give you some idea of the song, though for the best representation it would be better to listen this original studio version on Bandcamp here: https://maracashrecords.bandcamp.com/track/cristalli-di-solitudine

The video features the same 2005 line-up of the band that featured on the bands 2nd album Storie Fuori Dal Tempo. This is also a 5 piece band, rather than the 4 piece outfit we have on this album, and I quite like the addition of the woodwind player Sabrina Rigano who contributes another texture to the song with the addition of the flute.

The so called special ending we get in the amateur video is a short burst from the final instrumental track on this album “Entropia“.

The lyrical content relates to the situation of being alone, like being imprisoned abandoned from freedom, the crystals are perhaps enlightened to the drops of rain and the false sense that even the season of spring can sometimes feel like autumn at times. Once again the lyrical content is very well constructed in the form of great poetry.

The song itself is the second song on the album that was penned by Silvana Chillemi & Natale Russo and goes back to 1997.

Track 7. Porte Straniere.

Once again we have another really great song here that translates to “Foreign Doors“. Lyrically the song is pertaining to breaking down barriers of time, and to find the heart to attain other magical goals along our path so to speak. musically it’s quite striking with its melody lines and diversity, and it’s perhaps my 2nd favourite track on the album and very much an high contender for the top spot of the album too.

Once again we get some great solos from the keyboards and guitars and plenty of great progression as the song goes along its path. The band feed off each other so well on this song and it’s a very well constructed piece of work.

Track 8. Entropia.

The finale track on the album is the longest track on the album at just under the 9 minute mark. This instrumental piece would of also have been written back in the 90’s and was penned once again by Silvana Chillemi & Natale Russo.

It’s another high contender of the top spot on the album, that has some excellent transnational changes and chord progression along its path. Beautiful guitar and keyboard solos and is quite haunting too. It’s a really great stand out track and winds up this truly great album in great style.

Summary…

The album Istinto by Conqueror is an excellent debut album and one I could even consider as a great starting point to get into this really great band. It’s quite a solid album with the material they have came up with and wrote here. Once again the band show great diversity and there is perhaps not as many influences on this album either.

If anything it is perhaps even more of their own style than the album that followed it in 2005. Though I do feel that the bands 2nd album Storie Fuori Dal Tempo is marginally a better album overall. But no doubt if you like myself you are into progressive rock. Both albums do not disappoint one bit, and provide a truly great contribution to this fine art of music.

Just like I stated in my earlier review of Storie Fuori Dal Tempo. One should never put language barriers between the music one listens to and enjoys. The music that the band Conqueror present is way too impressive for that.

Conclusion…

To conclude my review of the bands debut album Istinto. I personally think it’s a very strong and very well produced album with the material we have here. It does not disappoint one bit and is a very well structured and crafted piece of work. It does not need my recommendation, simply because the music speaks for itself.

I know that in the interview on the live DVD of Un’altra verità. That the bands keyboard player Simona Rigano felt that this album never got quite the production that their 2nd album got, due to them recording it in a more professional studio.

I honestly beg to differ, because the production on Istinto and the sound quality is superb, and for the life of me I cannot see any difference at all. Both albums are quality all the way.

My personal highlights from the album are “Cristalli di solitudine“. “Porte Straniere“. “Entropia“. “La Strada del Graal” and “Quartar“.

The album Istinto can be purchased from Bandcamp in the form of a digital download of your choice for 8 Euro. Though the physical CD is more expensive from there and is priced at 15 Euro.

You can get the physical CD for 10 Euro plus 2 Euro to cover the postage and packaging from the bands website, or via Paypal by simply sending it too nat@conqueror.it

You can also use the same email to send Natale a message to say that you have ordered it. He may even wave the 2 Euro postage and packaging if you have a nice word with him. Or it may be wise to order 2 or 3 CD’s at the same to save on the postage. It does take time to arrive by post depending which part of the world you live of course.

The Conqueror are a truly great band that have captured the true spirit of progressive rock with their great music. Their music can captivate you, and they do it in great style. No doubt there will be more to come from this great band, and I am looking forward to reviewing their other albums from their great discography.

Clouds covering fleeting memories of moments vulnerable instincts of complicity…

You can listen to, or even buy this album from Bandcamp here: https://maracashrecords.bandcamp.com/album/istinto

Alternatively you can use the bands website to buy their albums here : http://www.conqueror.it/eng/default.asp

The album track listing is as follows:

01. Storie di Favole. 4:52.
02. Quartar. 6:03.
03. Pensieri Fragili. 7:48.
04. La Strada del Graal. 5:59.
05. In the Cave. 4:45.
06. Cristalli di solitudine. 8:28.
07. Porte Straniere. 7:29.
08. Entropia. 8:57.

Lee’s Packaging Rating Score. 8/10.

Lee’s Price Point Rating Score. 10/10.

Lee’s Album Rating Score. 9/10.

Lee Speaks About Music… #64

Heavy Horses (40th Anniversary New Shoes Edition) – Jethro Tull

Heavy Horse (New Shoes)

Introduction…

Well the wait is finally over and the 40th Anniversary of Jethro Tull’s 1978 classic album Heavy Horses is finally here. It was officially released on the 2nd of March and having pre-ordered my copy last year on the 11th of December from Amazon it actually arrived a day earlier.

I have to say I love the way these packages are presented in an hardbound book and just like last years 40th Anniversary of Songs From The Wood I reviewed here: https://leespeaksoutaboutmusic.wordpress.com/2017/06/05/lee-speaks-about-music-6/ it comes with 3 CD’s & 2 DVD’s. Though this was not quite the same amazing bargain I got when I pre-ordered Songs From The Wood to which I got in the end for £19.19. This one cost me £30.96 and even though this is the most expensive price I have paid out of all the 9 of these book editions that have been released so far, I have to say is still represents value for money and is worth it’s price point.

Heavy Horses was the 2nd of the 3 folk rock trilogy albums Ian Anderson had planned for the band, and just like its predecessor Songs From The Wood it’s a very well crafted album. With the material that was written for both albums they could of quite easily have made a double album and it would of worked perfectly, simply because both albums contain the same well structured folk rock material and are quite identical in the way they have also incorporated a prog rock feel to some of the songs we have here.

To be perfectly honest it’s very hard to say which of these 2 albums is the best, because they are in reality equally both as good as each other, unlike the 3rd album Stormwatch in this trilogy, which for me personally was a bit of let down and a much weaker album. If anything the 1979 album Stormwatch was perhaps the first real crack or dent in the ice where the bands music started to decline and go downhill with the material that they presented. Some really dreadful albums came after it as well.

I have no idea how far Ian Anderson intends to go with the Jethro Tull discography with these new book editions, but I will certainly continue to buy them regardless of some of those dreadful albums that came after. But there is also no doubt another couple really good albums that came out in the 80’s such as Broadsword & The Beast and Crest Of A Knave. So I would certainly love to see more of these new editions and also the bands classic 3rd 1970 album Benefit get the book treatment too, which is long overdue to be done.

Just looking at the picture here with my Collectors Edison of Benefit you can plainly see something is not right here :))))))))).

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So please sort this out Mr. Anderson. Preferably before Stormwatch. Because Benefit is a way better album and a solid album at that, and is even more worthy of this treatment.

Packaging & Contents…

Heavy Horses

Well no doubt if I was giving out awards for the best packages, these book editions would win every time. In my opinion they are far more superior than any package I have ever seen. Constructed with thick quality cardboard just like an hardback book and contains very well made sturdy plastic jewel case inserts to house the discs. I simply cannot fault the package it’s 100% quality and perfect. My highest appraises goes out to the ones who designed them.

You can can see how well the package is in this little video presentation I made of it. Though there are others on Youtube that do show it way better than myself I will say.

The Contents.

Well just like an hardback book it comes with one, and you get 96 pages containing all the information around the time the album was made. There is no real shortage of information here, and it also comes with stunning high resolution glossary photographs and makes a very exciting read.

Besides the book we also have 5 discs. 3 of which are CD’s and the other 2 DVD’s. I have to say despite this being just a release of one particular album you are in for a treat and a feast with the array of bonus material we get here. So let’s take a look further at the 5 discs.

CD 1.

The 1st CD contains the original 9 tracks that made up the original album Heavy Horses plus 9 bonus tracks. They are all new mixes done by Steven Wilson. I have to say these new mixes sound purely and genuinely fantastic. There is no doubt you will get complaints from purists who want the original recordings untouched. But they have nothing to complain about here, because those have been included on the 1st DVD.

I shall review the albums original 9 tracks individually further on down the line, but first let’s take a look at the bonus tracks you get here.

Bonus Tracks.

With a lot of bonus material that gets put on compilation albums and other box sets  artists release from time to time, you generally end up with something you may already have. But there are quite a few gems here that have genuinely never seen the light of day before. No doubt that some of them have appeared on other albums, but even most of them are other versions.

They are all genuine too, unlike some of the bonus material Jimmy Page has put on some of the companion discs that come with some of the Led Zeppelin Deluxe Editions to which I very much think a lot of that material is a complete farce.

To be perfectly honest even though I do have some of the bonus tracks here on other albums, they are not quite like these versions. I would also say that some of the bonus material we have here are a damn site better than some of the tracks that was put on the 1979 album Stormwatch.

For example the song “Jack a Lynn“. Now this is a song I already do have, but this is an earlier version of the song, and although I would not say this version is quite as good as the original version, there is no doubt it’s a very well good written song. It’s up there with what I consider the best song on the album Stormwatch which for me is “Dun Ringall“.

Even the studio version of the instrumental piece “Quatrain” is damn site better than some of the material that was written for Stormwatch in my own opinion. As a matter of fact if Ian Anderson replaced some of the tracks on Stormwatch with some of great bonus tracks that are here, it would of been a better album. But then again I suppose he would of had to have changed the albums title.

Although “Living in These Hard Times” was released on both the 20th Anniversary Box Set back in 1988 and on the 2003 remastered release of Heavy Horses as a bonus track. You get a 2nd version of the song here too, which was never released before. I actually prefer this unreleased version too.

Other unreleased tracks we get here are “Everything in Our Lives“. “Horse-Hoeing Husbandry“. “Botanic Man” and “Botanic Man Theme“. In total 7 out of the 9 bonus tracks have never been released anywhere before.

Both the Botanic Man” and “Botanic Man Theme” were originally done and intended for a TV Series that David Bellamy was going to be presenting. The TV series was put out, however it was not clear if the TV company had heard or received the demo’s, so they was just left in Ian Anderson’s vault until now.

Even though it only states there are 9 bonus tracks. It does also contain a little secret track which has the title of “A Town In England“. Anderson remembers at the time of doing the piece at the time that he had only written and sang one verse on the song. The song was around 6 minutes long but cause he only sang on one verse, he thought he would use that little snippet at the end of the album to round it off.

5 Years later he did go back to the song and do it again for his first solo album Walk Into Light released in 1983 and he re-titled the song “Made in England“.

CD’s 2 & 3.

The other couple of CD’s contain the whole concert that was played at the Bern Festhalle in Switzerland, on 25 May 1978. It was recorded during their European tour between May – June of that year and I am sure all those (like myself) who went out and brought the double live album Bursting Out that got released in September of the same year, they will be familiar with the set list we have here.

The double live album Bursting Out was made up from several songs performed during that European tour from May – June. They did in fact use the following 5 songs from this concert to make up that great live album. They were most of the “Flute Solo“. “Cross Eyed Mary“. “Too Old To Rock n’ Roll, Too Young To Die“. “Aqualung“, “Locomotive Breath/The Dambusters March“.

In some respects it’s perhaps like listening to the Bursting Out live album but this is no doubt different in that your hearing all the songs come from one live show, and some of them are longer tracks, especially “Songs From The Wood” and “Minstrel In The Gallery” to which they play more or less the whole of those songs here, and not just a short snippet of them that you got on the Bursting Out album.

Ian Anderson also noted that when they released the Bursting Out album it had some minor tweaks in the post production, something of which David Palmer was not too happy with at the time. So for this release there are no tweaks and it comes with all mistakes including warts en’ all.

DVD 1.

SS1

The menu of the first DVD presents you with the choice of new Steven Wilson mixes or the original flat transfer of the original album in stereo only. The original stereo album comes with only 3 of the bonus tracks which are “Living in These Hard Times (Version 2). “Beltane” and “Quatrain“. By clicking on the Wilson mixes it presents you with the following menu.

SS2

This menu presents you with a few more options, for example the track selection and the audio setup. By clicking on “Play Album” it plays all the 9 tracks of the original album only witch have been remixed by Steven Wilson. The other 9 bonus tracks are under the “Associated Recordings” at the bottom of the menu.

SS3

The “Audio” menu gives you 3 choices of audio to select from which are DTS 5.1. Dolby Digital 5.1 and LPCM Stereo. By default its set to the DTS 5.1 mix. All come in high quality 96K/24 including the original flat transfer of the original album.

SS4

The 9 bonus tracks in the “Associated Recordings” of the Steven Wilson mixes also give you the same 3 choices of high quality audio and the same couple of 5.1 mixes and 1 stereo mix. I am so glad they have also done them with my preferred choice of DTS 5.1 and the 96K/24 is also a great bonus.

You also get a great slideshow of pictures on display whilst playing the album and the bonus tracks. They are mainly pictures that came with the original album and some from the time they was recording the album in the Maison Rouge Studios.

DVD 2.

DVD 2 SS1

The 2nd DVD contains the whole of the concert from the Bern Festhalle in Switzerland 1978 that we have on the 2nd & 3rd CD’s. Unfortunately unlike the concert that came with last year’s release of Songs From The Wood. This concert is in Audio only and there is no visual film footage of the concert. The concert has a playing time of just under 1 hour and 50 minutes.

The main menu presents you with the track selection and the audio setup, besides just clicking on play concert, and the only bit of film footage we do get on this disc is in the “Videos” section at the bottom of the menu.

DVD 2 SS2

The “Audio” menu gives you 3 choices of audio to select from just like the first DVD which are DTS 5.1. Dolby Digital 5.1 and LPCM Stereo. By default its set to the Stereo LPCM on this menu. All come in high quality 96K/24 including the original flat transfer of the original album.

The only genuine benefit you are getting here seeing as it’s in audio only, is that it comes with high quality audio formats of 96K/24 and it also comes with a DTS 5.1 mix. All the mixes on this 2nd DVD were done by  Jakko Jakszyk.

DVD 2 SS3

The only video content that is on both DVD’s are in the “Videos” section on this 2nd DVD. You get the videos  of “Heavy Horses” and “Moths” plus 2 little TV Ads that was used to promote the double live album Bursting Out back in 1978.

You also get a slideshow of concert pictures whilst listening to the live concert, though I do not believe they was taken from this actual concert, and most likely they would of come from the concert they played at Madison Square Gardens in the same year on their American tour.

The 5.1 Mixes.

The 1st DVD.

The 5.1 mixes of the original album and the bonus tracks on the 1st DVD done by Steve Wilson are really excellent. Wilson as done once again a very well detailed mix and as usual he has not gone over the top and paid careful consideration to the placement of the instruments and it’s very well detailed mix that presents great dynamics and clarity.

I also love the attention he as paid to the vocals on this particular mix too. He’s even separated the double track vocals of Ian Anderson as well as the backing vocals by the other members of the band, and they work superbly with the utilisation of the 6 channels and placement.

You are without a doubt hearing things that could never have been heard before and he really as done a superb job here.

The 2nd DVD.

Doing a 5.1 surround mix for a live concert is perhaps a lot harder to work with, simply because most concert footage recorded back in those days lack the dynamics of a studio album in most cases. So it’s a lot more harder for even 5.1 mixes to work and give you something any better than the stereo mix.

Just by looking at the fact that stereo mix is the default on this 2nd DVD and not the 5.1 mix. May have some bearing in relation to it being a very hard job to get the clarity and the dynamics to project so well in a 5.1 mix. Working with a studio album generally will result in the best quality on that score.

Though these days live sound recording has improved vastly since back in the days of the 70’s. Most concerts done today or over the past decade contain just as much high quality as any studio recording. Some are even way better.

The man who had the task of doing the stereo and surround mixes for this concert was Jakko Jakszyk. To be honest he’s done quite a grand job considering this is old audio footage recorded from the 70’s. Though it’s never gonna beat the 5.1 mix of the studio album, and one simply cannot expect it too either.

But I give credit where credit is due, and even though the 5.1 mix is not gonna bring out the dynamics, the clarity works pretty well on this mix and overall it is slightly better hearing the surround mix in relation to the stereo mix, but not by a large margin.

But I do quite enjoy this 5.1 mix and I also like how Jakko’s utilised the 6 channels with the placement of the instrumentation and vocals. Even the flute solo is well effective for its clarity in the way that he has projected Ian Anderson’s slurping and breathing between the front and rear speakers.

Even the use of the heavier percussion also adds to effect being placed in the rear speakers and whacks you on the head. I have to say he’s done extremely well here and this 5.1 mix does have some great moments and is far from anything that disappointing.

Musicians & Credits…

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Recorded in January 1978 at the Maison Rouge Studios Fulham. London. Produced by Ian Anderson. Mixing Engineer Robin Black. Front Cover Photography by James Cotier. Back Cover Photography by Shona Anderson. Heavy Horses Surround & Stereo New Mixes by Steven Wilson. Live at Berne Audio by Jakko Jakszyk. CD Master & DVD Authoring by Ray Shulman at Isonic.

Ian Anderson: Vocals/Flute/Acoustic & Occasional Electric Guitars/Mandolin.
Martin Barre: Electric Guitar.
John Evan: Piano & Organ.
David Palmer: Portative Pipe Organ/Keyboards & Orchestral Arrangements.
John Glascock: Bass Guitar & Backing Vocals.
Barriemore Barlow: Drums & Percussion.

Additional Musicians.
Darryl Way: Violin (On “Acres Wild” & “Heavy Horses”).

The Original Album Tracks Review…

The original album Heavy Horses was released in the UK on the 21st April 1978. The album contained 9 tracks spanned over an overall playing time of 42 minutes, 25 seconds. The album was recorded at Maison Rouge Studio to which Ian Anderson had just brought and set up at the time.

He sold the studio 4 years later due to the fact that it was forever costing money to update the equipment to the newer technology that was coming out all the time, especially in the 80’s, and it was losing money and costing too much to run. He sold it too Nick Richards who was a member of the band Boys Don’t Cry. He managed to keep it running as a studio for another 4 years before selling it on himself. The property was eventually sold to property developers and was demolished in the year 2000.

In the book that comes with the New Shoes Edition Ian Anderson describes how he could of made a fortune if he had brought the premises for his studio in other locations in London he had looked at first, with how prices in London have shot up today. In the end he just about managed to scrape his money back he paid out for it.

At the time Jethro Tull were making Heavy Horses in the Maison Rouge Studios. Ian Anderson was also doing the production work for Steeleye Span’s vocalist Maddy Prior who was working on her first solo album at the time entitled Woman In The Wings. Nearly all the musician’s from Jethro Tull played on the album including Anderson himself.

Maddy loved both the Songs From The Wood and Heavy Horses albums and was amazed that she never got to hear one of the tracks from the album whilst they were making the album and hers at the same time.

Anderson describes his role as a producer as a very important role, and that was to devote and focus the time and attention they was paying him for, to their project alone.  Time is too important to waste on letting other people hear your own songs, whilst you’re supposed to be devoting it to theirs. It’s a very good theory and practice.

So let’s take a deeper look into the 9 tracks that written for this superb album…

Track 1. …And The Mouse Police Never Sleeps.

I suppose lyrically this could be seen as a whimsical tale that was inspired by Ian Anderson’s cat at the time, who he gave the name of Mistletoe too. His cat even got an album credit on the sleeve due to the purring sound that you hear immediately on the intro. It’s very much based on the animals instincts to hunt which is why the mouse is always on the lookout.

I quite like these lyrics and for me personally they sort of remind me of the same sort of subject matter the band Genesis would do with the many creatures they put into their songs back in that golden decade of their early career.

Musically Anderson states in the book we get here that the music was inspired by the rhythm and energy of Captain Beefheart’s drummer Arty Trip on the track “Click, Click” from the Spotlight Kid album. It was something he got to hear whilst the band was on tour in the USA with Beefheart, and even Barriemore Barlow had picked up on it’s strange offbeat.

Though personally I would say there is a lot more to this song than just a drum kit and the musicianship is outstanding with its array of instrumentation. The one thing I always loved about Jethro Tull was the fact that a lot of its members were multi instrumentalists, and that they never went over the top in a studio. This is why they was such a great live act.

There was no doubt that the band were doing English Folk Rock music at this stage of their career in style. They nailed the English Traditional side of folk music and added the element of prog rock to it which gave it very much it’s edge. Personally I do not think no band were quite like it, and they even outdone both Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span in my book, and I am massive fan of both those great bands too.

…And The Mouse Police Never Sleeps” gets the album off to cracking start the interplay with the acoustic guitar and flute works a treat, and so does the interplay between the flute and portative pipe organ in the break. No doubt it’s a contender for the top spot on the album.

2. Acres Wild.

Although “Acres Wild” could be seen as a love song. I myself would consider it more of a great songwriters song and even a classic just like “The Whistler” was from the previous album Songs From The Wood. John Glascock’s bass line on this song reminds me a lot of Dave Pegg from Fairport Convention. He really was a great bass guitarist.

The song also features Darryl Way of the band Curved Air on violin. Another fine musician who Anderson come to notice whilst touring with the band in America.

Even though the song could be seen as a Scottish song with its lyrical content, especially in the chorus, the song itself as all the magic elements that make truly great English traditional folk rock songs, they have even got all the fine instrumentation down to a tee. Another truly great song and contender for the top spot on the album.

3. No Lullaby.

The second longest track on the album happens to be my personal favourite track on the album that merits my top spot award. It’s the heaviest track on the album and certainly the most electrified track on the album too. It’s perhaps the “Pibroch (Cap in Hand)” track of the album that has all that dark heavy prog goodness about it which was also on their previous album.

Ian Anderson describes it as a sort of anti lullaby of a story he told to his son when he was about 1 years old. Just as well his son was only a year old, otherwise he might have had a few nightmares :)))))). The band do a super job on the song  and it’s one of those that gives Martin Barre the chance to fly and really rock it out.

4. Moths.

In some ways “Moths” could be seen as another love song on the album or perhaps the “Fires At Midnight” from the previous album but a bit more batty so to speak. Oddly enough Ian Anderson got his inspiration from espionage novelist John le Carré for the lyrics. Though the book that Anderson read was one of Carré’s one off novels with no genre entitled The Naïve and Sentimental Lover that Carré had writ whilst going through a divorce from his first marriage.

The version of the song on this release is also 5 seconds longer and that was down to Steve Wilson spotting that the original master tape was some 30-40 cents sharp which would of resulted from a faulty MCI Machine running a bit slower at the time. So Wilson has fixed the slightly off pitch correction, and it’s now running at the correctly recorded A440 pitch.

Moths” was the only single release from the album. it was released in the UK a couple of weeks before the album on the 7th April 1978. The much earlier song “Life Is A Long Song” was put on the B-Side. It was also scheduled to be released as a single in the US too with “Beltane” on the B-Side. But it got withdrawn before its release. It’s another very well written song.

5. Journeyman.

Another song very well crafted around a great John Glascock bass line. Though apart from Anderson it was only Martin Barre and David Palmer who contributed slightly to the songs on this album and received any royalties. There is no doubt that these are in reality the songs of Ian Anderson.

Anderson is a an extremely well talented multi instrumentalist who was very capable of playing all the instruments to the songs we have here. It was he who also taught the bands previous bass player Jeffrey Hammond the bass guitar. Anderson also played the bass on most of the songs on the bands next album Stormwatch due to Glascock’s illness and eventually dying in the same following year.

Journeyman” is another great song on the album, and another song about a train taking onboard a day to day journey of commuting with the people and what one sees to occupy themselves with to take away the boredom of all the travelling. It was also the last track on side one of the vinyl album.

6. Rover.

Another firm favourite of mine this song and a classic very well written song superbly arranged with the use of vibes in the percussion department, great use of the acoustic guitar, mandolin and keyboards working off each other and everything that’s thrown into the pot including its lyrical content.

It’s very much another brilliant songwriters song on the album and one that inspired by Ian Anderson’s dog Lupus who appeared on the front cover of the Songs From The Wood Album. Musically this song also has that up-tempo jolly feel about it, just like the “The Whistler” from that album too. It’s very much another contender for the top spot on the album.

7. One Brown Mouse.

No doubt yet another classic on the album and an high contender for the top spot on the album. There is no doubt that this album does contain many classics and all of which could quite easily qualify to merit the top spot on the album.

Once again the portative pipe organ plays a great part on this particular song along with all the other delightful goodies in the instrumental department. I suppose in some ways this also could be one of those whimsical songs that harks back to early Genesis with the lyrical content we have here.

Ian Anderson got the inspiration for the lyrics from a Robert Burns poem “To A Mouse” and looking back into his childhood days when he had a pet mouse and was wondering what was going on behind that tiny brain of it so to speak.

To be honest if I was to put out a single release from this album, this song would of been the one I would of chose and not “Moths“. I also feel it would of sold more copies too.

8. Heavy Horses.

The self titled track of the album happens to be the longest track on the album weighing in at just over the 9 minute mark. Although Ian Anderson was not an horse lover and did not know a lot about them. I have to say the lyrics are exceptionally well written. Though I suppose his move to the countryside and the fact that his wife knew quite a bit about horses and was more fond of the these marvellous beasts lent an hand here.

To be perfectly honest it was a very hard decision for me not to give this the top spot on the album. It is without doubt another classic and I suppose the highest contender for the top spot, and no doubt for many others it may very well be their favourite track on the album.

Once again Darryl Way contributes some excellent violin here, and it perhaps features as more of a dominate role here than what it does on “Acres Wild” on that score. “Heavy Horses” no doubt is a prolific bit of songwriting and a truly remarkable song.

9. Weathercock.

The albums ends off with another super songwriter song done in the style of good old traditional English Folklore. It’s very much another classic in my eyes and once again reflects on the same magical songwriting we got on the previous album Songs From The Wood. Though I have to say Ian Anderson’s Weathercock as somehow changed these days judging by the picture :)))))))).

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Weathercat.

The weathercat was put up at Ian’s home to remind him of all the great times he had in the past with his beloved pets. It could very well be Mistletoe who inspired the first song on the album. “Weathercock” put this superb album to bed very well indeed.

Summary…

To sum up the 40th Anniversary New Shoes Edition of Heavy Horses by Jethro Tull. There is no doubt even down to the fact that it did cost me £10 and bit more than the 40th Anniversary Country Set of Songs From The Wood. This package still offers great value for the buck.

Considering your getting a quality hardback book plus 3 CD’s and 2 DVD’s I would say that it’s retail price of £34.99 is about right, and even at that price these particular packages are made of far more superior quality material than what I have seen with box sets that cost over £300. Not only that, they not only look more spectacular, but are a damn site more easier to store as well.

Considering both the book editions of Songs From The Wood and Heavy Horses come with the same amount of discs, they both could be seen as equally the same regarding the bonus material. Whereas Songs From The Wood wins on the concert side of things, in that it also comes with the film footage and not just in audio only. Heavy Horses wins on the extra unreleased bonus material you get here.

Both Steve Wilson and Jakko Jakszyk have done exceptionally well with the 5.1 mixes and even if you prefer just the stereo mixes this package is still worthy of its price point. The 5,1 mixes have always been my biggest incentive for buying a package like this, and for me personally it’s a winner.

Conclusion…

To conclude my review of the 40th Anniversary New Shoes Edition of Heavy Horses by Jethro Tull. It’s a superb package done of another truly superb album by Jethro Tull. The album Heavy Horses is very much a solid album with the material that was originally written for it. Like I mentioned earlier in my review, it’s very hard for me to say which album out of Songs From The Wood and Heavy Horses is the best.

If I did have to choose I would give it marginally to Songs From The Wood. Both albums contain just as many classics and superb well written material that have been so skilfully crafted. Both the musicianship and songwriting skills are very high on the both of these albums.

Considering both of these albums were the very first time Jethro Tull had stepped into the world of English Traditional Folk Rock. They not only was equally on par with the rest of the field, but they may have even outclassed every artist who had worked in this field of Traditional Folk Rock. It’s a truly remarkable achievement, and there is no doubt that both albums made their mark on the world of English Traditional Folk Rock Music.

My only quibble with Ian Anderson these days and in fact for decades now, is that whenever he plays live, he only seems to feature mainly the both self titled album tracks from both of these albums. He may occasionally throw in “Hunting Girl” and “One Brown Mouse” from them. But there is a lot more to the songs that are on both albums, and they certainly deserve more attention paid to them when he goes out and plays live, instead of playing the same old routine all the time.

I cannot recommend these Book Editions highly enough and for all Tull fans I very much think they are well worthy of getting. They are only doing one run of them, and once they are gone (to which some of them already have) you will be paying stupid money to get your hands on them.

A Heavy Horse And A Tumbling Sky, Brewing Heavy Weather

The CD track listing is as follows:

Disc 1.

01. And The Mouse Police Never Sleeps. 3:13.
02. Acres Wild. 3:26.
03. No Lullaby. 7:53.
04. Moths. 3:31.
05. Journeyman. 4:01.
06. Rover. 4:33.
07. One Brown Mouse. 3:24.
08. Heavy Horses. 9:04.
09. Weathercock. 4:04.
10. Living in These Hard Times [#][Version Two]. 3:19.
11. Everything in Our Lives [#]. 3:23.
12. Jack a Lynn [#][Early Version]. 3:49.
13. Quatrain [#][Studio Version]. 3:51.
14. Horse-Hoeing Husbandry [#]. 4:12.
15. Beltane. 5:21.
16. Botanic Man [#]. 3:14.
17. Living in These Hard Times [Version One]. 3:09.
18. Botanic Man Theme [#]. 2:49.

Disc 2. [Live In Concert In Berne, Switzerland, May 1978 – Part One].

01. Opening Music (Quartet). 2:48.
02. Introduction by Claude Nobs. 0:25.
03. No Lullaby. 4:48.
04. Sweet Dream. 6:01.
05. Skating Away On The Thin Ice Of The New Day. 3:28.
06. Jack In The Green. 3:09.
07. One Brown Mouse. 4:01.
08. Heavy Horses. 9:53.
09. A New Day Yesterday. 3:10.
10. Flute Solo Improvisation / God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen / Bouree. 5:31.
11. Living In The Past / A New Day Yesterday (reprise). 1:47.
12. Songs From The Wood. 5:09.

Disc 3. [Live In Concert In Berne, Switzerland, May 1978 – Part Two].

01. Thick As A Brick. 13:24.
02. Hunting Girl. 5:33.
03. Too Old To Rock ‘n’ Roll. 3:51.
04. Conundrum. 8:02.
05. Minstrel In The Gallery. 5:28.
06. Cross Eyed Mary. 4:24.
07. Quatrain. 1:37.
08. Aqualung. 8:08.
09. Locomotive Breath. 5:32.
10. Dambusters March / Aqualung (reprise). 3:29.

Lee’s overall Complete Package Value Rating…

The Packaging Rating Score. 10/10

The Price Point Rating Score. 10/10

The Bonus Material Rating Score. 9/10

The 5.1 Mix Rating Score. 9/10

The Original Album Rating Score. 10/10

Lee Speaks About Music… #63

The Song Remains The Same (Blu Ray) – Led Zeppelin

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Introduction…

Well whilst I was updating my Led Zeppelin collection with the new Deluxe Editions of the bands studio albums, I thought it would be a good idea to update my old VHS Video of The Song Remains The Same with the Blu Ray edition.

To be honest I doubt very much if I could find my old VHS Video has they all got packed away in boxes years ago and shoved in one of the many cupboards somewhere. I do remember it being released on DVD a good while ago as well, and remember a mate of mine updating his VHS Video to that as well. I was going to get it at the time, but it obviously slipped my mind.

I came across the Blu Ray on Amazon whilst I was shopping on their buying the new Deluxe Editions I have been reviewing, and it’s low price of £7 was too much of a tempting turkey to let it slip by. So I just popped it in the basket and brought it on the spot.

To be honest I am glad I did buy it, because I have not seen the film in yonks, and even though I am not a great believer in older films being transferred to Blu Ray that was not filmed in HD in the first place, in most cases you may as well just buy the DVD. Because no way is any old film really in HD even if the transfer may look very good in some cases.

But hey for £7 I was not gonna make a fuss and thought sure, let’s just see how good it has turned out. So let’s take a look to see just how well it turned out, and see if this can be seen as a genuine bargain at its low price point.

The Song Remains The Same (Blu Ray) In Review…

Well most people will know that until the year 2003 The Song Remains The Same contained the only live footage released of Led Zeppelin. It was originally released back in 1976 on a double vinyl album and the film was put on the cinemas and later was released on Video around 1984 here in the UK.

It was not until the 31st of December 1999 that it got it’s release on DVD. I am pretty sure this would of been around the time my mate actually brought it, and it has been at least a couple of decades or more since I watched the film myself.

The Led Zeppelin Live double DVD that got released in 2003 I did very much buy on its release, and still till this day I am totally blown away with how so darn good they restored all that old film footage.

Some of it goes back way before the film footage at Madison Square Gardens captured in 1973 that was featured in this film The Song Remains The Same and yet it looks as if they even filmed it today. Even the 5.1 mix is purely awesome.

On the 20th of November 2007 The Song Remains The Same got re-released again. Only this time it even contained extended footage of the actual concert and extra bonus features that had never been seen before. It was released in 3 media formats and put on DVD. HD-DVD and Blu Ray.

To be honest this release totally slipped by me, and had I have noticed it, I dare say it would of cost me more than double the price I got it for now, some 10 years later.

Even when I ordered it, I thought in my mind that surely they have not done the pristine quality job they did with all the film footage of those concerts that was put on that live double DVD back in 2003. Even though this got re-released some 4 years later.

Well the one thing I can tell you having watched it a couple of times now, is that it certainly did not disappoint, and there was in fact some vast improvements in parts of it overall.

So let’s first of all take a look at the Blu Ray and its contents.

The Blu Ray.

SS 1

The one thing the Blu Ray does not come with is a Main Menu and the film starts straight away when your insert the disc into your player. However it does come with one sub menu (as seen in the picture above) and this can be accessed by hitting the main menu button on your remote control.

The sub menu basically shows you the bonus features that comes with the Blu Ray and does not even give you an Audio Setup to select your preferred audio choice. So once again you are going to have to use your remote control and hit the Audio Button to change the audio.

You get the choices of 3 Audio formats and by default it gives you the best of the 3 which is Dolby True HD 5.1. Which is the original master. You also get the choice of Dolby Digital 5.1 and LPCM Stereo all come in 48K/24.

All the audio for this release as been remastered and mastered again, and sounds quite spectacular in comparison to earlier releases. The original film was shot on a 35 mm movie cameras and came with a Quadraphonic audio mix on 24 tracks which was shown on the cinemas.

The Bonus Features.

The bonus material not only contains some extra songs that were performed at the live concert back in July 1973 at Madison Square Gardens. But it also contains some interviews and news reels about the robbery that took place at the Drake Hotel where 200 thousand dollars of the bands money they got for the show, was stolen from the hotels safety deposit box.

No doubt a lot of this extra footage can be seen on Youtube these days, but I had never seen it before, so it was quite a bonus and well interesting to watch.

I do however think it was a shame they could not of put the extra concert footage in the film itself, rather than place the 4 extra songs from the show in the bonus section has they did here.

The extra 4 songs you do get are “Over the Hills and Far Away“. “Celebration Day“. “Misty Mountain Hop” and “The Ocean“. In total they add up to about 20 minutes extra, but the way they have placed them in the bonus menu is not very good either, because there is no option to play them all at once, and they have placed other bonus footage in between the songs.

The songs do offer you the audio choice of Dolby Digital 5.1 and Stereo. The other bonus footage is mainly mono. So let’s now take a look at the picture quality.

The Picture Quality.

SS 2

Well I am certainly not going to lie to you through my back teeth and tell you that the transfer of the old film footage onto Blu Ray for this movie is pristine, brilliant, out of this world or very good. Some transfers do come out better than others and it really boils down to a stack of things in reality.

There is no doubt that some old films can be carefully restored with the techniques they have these days, and there are experienced people who work on such things who can do some pretty amazing things.

To be honest I am no expert on this matter, but basically I know how good a film put on Blu Ray (that is filmed in real HD using real HD cameras) looks in comparison to any transfer of an old film.

You simply cannot beat the real thing, and no transfer is genuine HD quality unless it was filmed with HD cameras in the first place. But they can get close. But unfortunately the colours we have on the original footage shot in the 70’s of The Song Remains The Same are very weak and washed out in certain places.

But rest assured it’s not all that bad, and the main part of the film which is the actual concert footage has by far come out the best here. The actual acting parts of the footage will show grain and weak colours, and in all honesty these parts are not gonna really benefit that much from being put onto Blu Ray over the DVD in reality.

SS 3

The transfer will make a slight difference in certain parts of the acting sections depending on the times of the day and the light they had at the time of shooting the film. But in general these sections are not by any means that much of an improvement over the DVD I am afraid. For example you’re going to see grain and washed out colours.

But by no means let that put you off. Because the live stage footage is where you will really benefit regarding the picture quality, and without doubt this may beat the DVD though both will leave your old VHS Video in the dust on that score.

But as for the Blu Ray providing you with a better picture than the DVD. I really do not think so, especially as most DVD Players today can upscale the picture quality very well too, and even playing DVD’s in Blu Ray players will do that job for you as well. If not even better so than your DVD player.

The one thing I was also pleased to see being as this is an old film, is that it displays in widescreen at 16.9 and not the old 4:3 ratio and looks well good for it.

The real difference you will benefit from having the Blu Ray is very much in the sound quality department. This is simply because the Blu Ray caters for uncompressed sound formats, and they are a lot higher quality than what you will find on a DVD.

I can tell you now that the actual sound quality they have remixed for this release will leave any older releases also in the dust. They have done a superb job of it. So now let’s take a look at the 5.1 mix and other sound formats that comes on the Blu Ray.

The 5.1 Mix.

I certainly do not think the surround freaks will be disappointed with this release. The very fact that we have acting scenes as well as a live concert certainly makes more use of the 5.1 surround system, and utilises its 6 channels very effectively well.

Watching a movie that comes with a 5.1 mix on it as always been one of my favourite things about the surround system. This is basically because there is a hell of a lot more sounds to project across the 6 channels than what your gonna find put on an album or a music concert.

Even though 5.1 mixes work very well to bring out the dynamics and clarity for music, films are much more realistic by the use of a 5.1 surround mix.

The action scenes in the movie The Song Remains The Same I suppose are a bit like watching a film about the mafia like The Godfather or Bonnie & Clyde sort of thing. All this particular sort of action contains sounds such as bullets flying across the room, broken glass, doors being kicked in and various other sorts.

All the sounds project so much realistically through a 5.1 system, and in some cases whilst your watching the film you are not only just gonna be hearing things like somebody is upstairs in your bedroom above trashing the place,  and your windows are being smashed in your house, and somebody is kicking in your front door. but your gonna think it’s actually happening.

That is how realistic a 5.1 mix can project over 6 channels. It’s something stereo could never do in a million years I am afraid. Not only will you hear all these things in a film, but the sound will also pinpoint to all the locations in your house it’s coming from, and it can even project itself as far as being outside in your garden, even at the end of your garden path so to speak, which could be 30 to 40 foot away from you. Even if your rear speakers are only several inches away from your ears.

But with any 5.1 system all this can only really be achieved on a surround system in your own home, and set up for the benefit of 1 person only. You cannot get the same out of a 5.1 surround system that they have in Cinema Houses for example.

It’s got nothing to do with how much your system costs either. It’s all about the speaker placement, the correct head height and measurement levels that are measured to one centre seat you are sitting in, in your home.

The biggest majority of Cinema Houses are very poorly set up regarding the placement of the speakers. In most cases the speakers are way too far apart from each other, and will create a gap, just like one will get when they place their speakers to wide apart on a stereo system.

They may have expensive surround systems but in all honesty for what use they are doing with them is a complete waste of space in my opinion, and I have yet to hear 5.1 work well in any cinema house for that matter.

There is just no way any 5.1 system is gonna work properly unless your bang in the middle of it. No 5.1 surround system can cater for all those people in a Cinema House I am afraid. The 5.1 system is a very selfish thing in reality, if you want to get the best benefits out of it.

And by saying being bang in the middle of it, does not mean that you have to be seated in the middle of your room or in the middle of all your speakers so to speak.

But you do have to be central and in the middle even if your seat is set up at the back of your room, You do need to be in the middle of your rear speakers and the front speakers also need to placed correctly so that you are also in the middle of those, even though they are further away from you, or even wider apart from each other.

Your centre speaker should be placed bang in the middle of your front speakers, and from your seat at the back of the room, this is the very thing that is looking you directly in the face apart from your TV from a central point of view.

Has for the subwoofer. This can be placed more or less anywhere apart from a corner of a room, and not too close a wall. It’s good to find a nice spot or even a sweet spot where it works the best for you.

Kevin Shirley was the guy behind the new audio stereo and 5.1 mixes and as done a pretty much a bang on job with them too. Both the film footage and concert footage certainly benefit for it, and are quite a big improvement and very impressive. Much more impressive than the picture quality in reality.

Though I would not say the dynamics are that great in comparison to the Led Zeppelin 2003 DVD. The Celebration Day Blu Ray or even the triple CD of How The West Was Won. But overall it still beats the crap out of the vinyl album :)))))).

Summary…

I think no matter how bizarre or mad all those rock and pop artists that have gone into making silly films such as The Beatles, The Who and many others have done in the past. The good thing about Led Zeppelin’s film of The Song Remains The Same is that is also features the footage of an actual live concert which I think makes it that more appealing and worthy of owning.

It’s far from like watching something totally stupid, like the film Tommy and the many other ridiculous films that was made, even if you have the odd bit of silly acting you get here. It’s really the concert footage that is the magic we get here in this film that really sells it.

No doubt if you want a concert of Led Zeppelin with its original members then the Led Zeppelin 2003 Double DVD will certainly give you that. But you cannot simply dismiss this amazing concert that was also caught at Madison Square Gardens back in 1973.

I certainly think the Blu Ray makes it even more appealing and will very much refresh and give that extra bit of polish to it all with both the picture and especially the sound quality. Though I dare say the soundtrack of the album will appeal to the biggest majority in the way that it’s more easier to give the album more attention to listening too, rather than watch a film over and over.

However for surround sound freaks like myself. I very much do prefer the film in relation to the soundtrack live album. Simply because I love 5.1 for how it can project things much more sonically and dynamically as a rule. I also like to see the band play as well with my own eyes. Though this is perhaps as not that dynamic like I stated earlier, but it’s still got a greater sound quality about it.

To be honest I am the same with the film of The Wall by Pink Floyd. The fact that I have the film on DVD with a 5.1 mix that is stunningly superb in sound quality and the way it projects through 6 channels instead of 2. I actually prefer playing that to the double album. Even though it’s got Bob Geldoff singing most of the songs, and I much prefer Pink Floyd themselves singing them in reality.

Conclusion…

The Song Remains The Same by Led Zeppelin is a film that features a truly great concert and captures the band at the height of their career. There is no doubt this 2007 re-release is by far better than any previous releases of the film. Not only do you get extra bonus footage, but quality wise it’s far more superior to those earlier releases, especially in the sound department.

Regardless of buying it on Blu Ray or DVD I would say they are both a winner and well worthy of upgrading too. Though I do feel the Blue Ray will give you that bit better quality regarding the sound. Though I doubt very much that there is actually any difference regarding the picture quality. If there is, it would most likely be in section of the concert footage only.

But regarding the picture quality, there is no doubt that the Led Zeppelin 2003 Double DVD release beats this hands down, and that is only on DVD, and that is more or less the same pristine quality you got with their much later concert Celebration Day which was filmed in HD at the O2 Arena in London, and is even near enough as pristine as the quality of that Blu Ray.

There is no doubt that they have gone to town on all the 5.1 mixes that come with Led Zeppelin 2003. The Song Remains The Same and Celebration Day. They have done a purely awesome job on all 3 of them. I would even say that sound wise. All 3 of these concerts have superior sound quality over their studio albums. The only studio album that comes close would have to be Led Zeppelin II. The sound quality of that album is far more superior than the rest.

At its price point of £7 for the Blu Ray you simply cannot go wrong, and I am so glad I did buy it again, and it’s given me the chance to enjoy this great film all over again. I love the way the film ends too, because they play the whole of the studio version of “Stairway To Heaven” during the titles.

Even though the titles run out and your left with a blank screen, they make sure they play it all. It’s been remastered with a 5.1 mix too and sounds way better than the new remastered version I have of it on the Deluxe Edition of Led Zeppelin IV. Even that’s a terrific bonus in my book.

It’s Been A Long Time Since The Rock And Roll…

The Concert Set List is as follows:

01. Bron-Yr-Aur.
02. Rock And Roll.
03. Black Dog.
04. Since I’ve Been Loving You.
05. No Quarter.
06. The Song Remains The Same.
07. The Rain Song.
08. Dazed And Confused.
09. Stairway To Heaven.
10. Moby Dick.
11. Heartbreaker.
12. Whole Lotta Love.

The Bonus Material is as follows:

Bonus Songs (SD, 20 minutes) – Four are included (all never-or-rarely seen before in video form): “Over the Hills and Far Away,” “Celebration Day,” “Misty Mountain Hop” and “The Ocean.” All of the songs offer Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround and Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo audio.

Featurette: “The Robbery” (SD, 4 minutes) – This oddity is a vintage fake documentary on the $200M supposedly ripped off from the safe deposit box in the Drake Hotel that features in the film.

TV Excerpt : “Boating Down the Thames: Robert Plant and Peter Grant” (SD, 8 minutes). This except features Plant and Grant being interviewed as they float down the Thames on the Swanage Queen, talking about the film.

TV Report (SD, 3 minutes) – A brief clip from a 1973 TV report on Led Zeppelin’s show at the Tampa Stadium.

Theatrical Trailer (SD) – The film’s original theatrical trailer is presented in only decent-quality video, but if nothing else, it serves to illuminate how well-mastered the feature film on this Blu-Ray actually is.

Lee’s overall Complete Blu Ray Value Rating…

The Picture Quality Rating Score. 7/10

The 5.1 Mix Rating Score. 9/10.

The Bonus Material Rating Score. 8/10

The Overall Film Rating Score. 9/10.