Lee Speaks About Music… #67

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

b9809dd9bc8be742bb83cc9d047912fb

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…

29513833_1645163188896562_1773094478_o

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)…

htwww-sdb-available-now

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.

SS1

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”.

SS2

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.

SS3

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.

SS4

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.

3 thoughts on “Lee Speaks About Music… #67

  1. Pingback: Lee Speaks About Music… #67 – Progarchy

  2. The Vinyl-buyers are idiots haha … I get your point about erasing “Hello Mary Lou”, but I am not so sure, that it was edited out to save space for vinyl. You say it’s an edition of four vinyl-records. On each of them you could store around thirty minutes of music, so they had space for 240 minutes, but the track-list contains just around 140 minutes (if I doesn’t miscalculate, I was never good in calculating). You are very right, that the limitation of Vinyl is a major disadvantage, but I guess most people don’t listen to vinyl, because they really believe, that it’s more comfortable than a CD (Those people would be idiots). Most will buy vinyl because of the special sound (even if it’s not better than the CD) and because of the tactile experience (setting up a record can be a ritual) or because of nostalgia. Maybe it was an artistic decision and Page hated the “Hello Mary Lou”-part? I have to admit, that I missed “How the West was won”, because it was published, when I was not so much into LZ anymore. But I bought the Live DVD later. Another insightful review and I would wish, that you start a serial about The Who some day.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I think the limitation of what you can put on one side of a vinyl record is around 18 or 19 minutes anything over and sound deterioration comes into play. So for safe purposes 1 LP would = 38 minutes. Times that by 4 and it = 152 minutes to which you should have 2 minutes spare. But you are still gonna have to juggle around the track listing to fit them on the LP’s. For example Dazed And Confused is 25 minutes and 25 seconds long. Now if he has fitted this track on 1 side of the LP then that track is gonna deteriorate towards the end and it will be saturated.

    Now I do not know how the tracks have been fitted on the 4 vinyl albums but I would of thought that he would have to break that track down and put so many minutes of it on one side of the LP and the rest of it on the other side. If he has not then the vinyl release as got no chance of sounding better than the CD 🙂

    Juggling tracks around to make them fit leaves you less space to fit everything on. So it’s not just a case of having 150 minutes of material and thinking it will fit because you have 152 minutes or even 160 minutes space to fit it on. For all I know it may not have been the vinyl limitations that was the reason Page left off “Hello Mary Lou”. But breaking a track down and putting it on 2 sides of a vinyl album and you have to turn the thing over to hear the rest of the song would spoil my listening pleasure completely.

    It just does not work at all for me especially when you never had to do that with the CD in the first place. Regarding The Who. I only ever brought one of their albums which is Quadrophenia. I have a couple of live DVD’s of them as well but I was not so much into them like I was with many other bands. I will have to check them out more…

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s