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27 May 2014 4,388 views 3 Comments

companion adio 1


Here’s the final exclusive TBL Led Zeppelin Reissues preview. This is my view of the Led Zeppelin III Companion Audio Disc:

Led Zeppelin III

The Companion Audio Disc:

After the hectic pace of the previous 18 months, the schedule slowed for the recording of the third album. In May 1970 Page and Plant decided to head for the hills to compose material for the third album at a run down cottage Robert had remembered holidaying at when he was a child. The cottage known as Bron–Yr-Aur (Welsh for ‘golden hill,”breast of the gold’ or ‘hill of the gold’) was an 18th century building located in South Snowdonia.

Whislt there are no recordings from that location, the influence of that trip away from it all prevails in the material. Of course when they got back to Olympic Studios, the Marshall amps were right back on – the performances on the companion audio disc are clear evidence that the electric material also carried a fresh invigoration.

The Immigrant Song (Alternate mix 2.25)

The count in is way down in the mix and then it’s off into an alternate mix of Track one, Side one Led Zep III. Again the stereo effect and split is very pronounced, with Jimmy’s reverberated tremolo arm guitar effects very precise and to the fore . There’s a few more vocal effects and double tracking on the vocal noticeably on the line ‘’In spite of all your losing’’. On the outro the “Oooo ooohh” lines from Robert are more prominent and further enhanced -sounding mysterious and slightly sinister. Again you sense they knew that working on this session (in the early summer of 1970) they were breaking new ground.

Friends (No vocal 3.42 )

This vocal less mix is led by strumming acoustic guitar bass guitar and bongos –all much further upfront in the mix – all heard to greater effect as there is no string arrangement as yet – this helps heighten the hypnotic quality of the piece. Full ending with no swirl effect. All in all this is extremely captivating.

Celebration Day (Alternate mix 3.19)

The same vocal track as the released version but again a slightly different texture to it. The solo is mixed slightly differently as is the outro – you can hear some of the Page guitar nuances previously buried in the mix come to the fore.

Since I’ve Been Loving You (Rough mix of first recording 7.17)

This is just out of this world. Simply tremendous.

A completely different take, with a different intro. All very fluid and more instant than the released version, Jonesy’s organ comes in slightly phased and then “Hey!” shouts the vocalist. There’s a fair few alternate lyrics, such as “Really been the biggest fool, what can I do now”… “So now I’m gonna do… stop my cryin’… I’m leaving the dark’’ – plus differing vocal nuances along the way. The solo… simply breathtaking. Again, hearing this solo going in a completely different direction to the way we know so well is just shocking – in a very good way, of course.

Then we get more vocal differences on the outro. “My tears, they fell like rain, falling, falling, you build my hopes so high, then you let me down. I need ya, I need ya.” Robert Plant is just outstanding on this. The arrangement is in fact close to the live versions they were already performing in the January to April 1970 touring period. In fact it’s altogether a very live in the studio performance. I should also mention Jonesy again -his bass pedals and organ adding to the magic, and Bonzo. As Jimmy put it – It will make you smile . The ending merges cymbals, organ and guitar into one glorious finale.

Folks, this version of is what the phrase ‘tight but loose’ was invented for

In short, this take of Since I’ve Been Loving You is fucking incredible. And I use the adjective quite purposely and forcefully. Absolutely fucking incredible.

Bathroom Sound (No vocal 4.01)

An instrumental version (which previously surfaced on bootleg in the late 90s) of what would be later retitled Out On The Tiles. This backing track re-emphasises the crunching quality of the Page riff – and the Bonham drum assault which is of course  a masterclass of percussive brilliance. A total delight.

Gallows Pole (Rough mix 5.20)

Very pronounced stereo split at the intro with Robert coming in on the left hand speaker and Jimmy’s acoustic guitar on the right. Very upfront vocal mix – you can hear Robert bump the mic slightly during the first few lines. Once again startling in its simplicity – with no overdubs, mandolin or banjo – there is drums of course, and when John Bonham adds his contribution it’s a supreme moment.

It’s also easy to detect the sheer synergy of the band. That means John Paul Jones’ bass patterns are heard right up front and to full effect, and it sounds invigorating. This is again a different take, with minor phasing effects towards the close. Given the simplicity of the arrangement, the point where it begins to speed up is heightened and suddenly it’s all rolling towards a climax. This has a longer fade than the released version, with Jimmy strumming furiously against Jones’ prominent bass, Bonzo’s percussive stampede and Robert’s wailings. It fades and then ends with an acoustic motif from Jimmy. Simply stunning. What this version of Gallows Pole demonstrates so effectively is the unity of all four players, as they merge as one to add – as Jimmy would put it – that ‘fifth element’. You will know exactly what I mean when you hear this simply remarkable performance.

That’s The Way (Rough mix with dulcimer & backwards echo 5.23)

Same vocal track –mandolin much more pronounced in the mix and the addition of Jimmy on dulcimer adds to the overall ethereal quality. There’s no electric guitar overdub. The mandolin arrangement is reminiscent of the simple live arrangement they employed on stage. The fade (shorter than the released version) has no tambourine and Robert’s vocal has a real purity about it. A beautiful alternate listening experience to one of the undoubted highlights of Led Zeppelin III.

Jennings Farm Blues (Rough mix of all guitar overdubs that day 5.54)

Familiar to bootleg collectors via the multiple takes to be heard on the Jennings Farm Blues CD that first surfaced on the Scorpio label in the early 90s. Familiar or not, this is a welcomed official release for what is an electric up tempo instrumental delivery of the basic structure of what became Bron Yr Aur Stomp.

This is an early attempt at the Page guitar army approach with a multitude of guitar overdubs, backed by some class Bonzo drumming. Very clean mix. All in all, a much welcomed official appearance of a previously unreleased gem.

Key To The Highway/Trouble In Mind (Rough mix 4.05)   

And finally… something off beat and playful. An amalgamation of Keys To The Highway, the old blues standard, recorded by (among others) Big Bill Broonzy, Little Walter and Eric Clapton, with Trouble In Mind written by jazz pianist Richard M Jones, and again widely recorded, notably by Dinah Washington and Nina Simone.

This is just Jimmy on acoustic guitar and Robert singing and blowing the harp through a small Vox amp. Performed in the vein of Hats Off To (Roy) Harper. The much bootlegged, so called Blues Medley (which incorporates That’s Alright Mama and Fixin’ to Die) is also in a similar arrangement.

This feels like a cleaner mix than the aforementioned Blues Medley and again I noticed the stereo panning with harmonica and vocals on the right channels and Jimmy’s acoustic coming in on the left. There’s some occasional reverb on the vocal. The spontaneity of the performance is evident – Jimmy plays some classic blues lines (not dissimilar to the slowed down section of the Stones Get Yer Ya Ya’s Out version of Midnight Rambler) and Robert ad libs a few stock phrases (“moon keeps on shining, oh lawdy mama”) as they ease from Keys into Trouble In Mind. There’s a final harmonica and guitar merging on the coda and it ends. Stark, subtle and totally authentic – you could almost be in the studio with them…


companion aduio 2


Once again my advise is to treat this as one complete album – Jimmy has again cleverly sequenced the songs here to line up as a true alternative snapshot of the Led Zeppelin III album. There is a hugely enjoyable  ride though the summer of 1970 as played out by the in progress third Led Zeppelin album – with the absolutely awesome version of Since I’ve Been Loving You lining up as the template for what this reissue project is all about.

Overall Summary of the first three Led Zeppelin reissues:

As I said before, these thrilling insights into the working methods of Led Zeppelin are going to please an awful lot of people across the globe. And this is only the start. One can only speculate about what delights lay ahead in the latter part of the catalogue.

My advice. When you finally get your hands on these three releases in early June, lock yourself away and get right into the Zeppelin zone and be ready to scrutinise every unfolding moment – and get ready to send your feedback to TBL.

To summarise: We all recall where we first heard Led Zeppelin I, II and III, and where we first purchased them. We have loved and cherished these albums for years and years. They really are like old very reliable friends. Re discovering them again in this new context, is going to make us all fall in love with them all over again. In fact you could call it a renewal of your Zeppelin vows.

One final note on it all: This music developed and presented by Led Zeppelin – be it the original albums or the companion discs – sounds as fresh and vital today as it did when it was recorded some four decades ago.

There’s something uniquely eternal about these recordings that in our minds at least, keeps us forever young.

The countdown is nearly at an end …get ready to strip away the years and party like it’s 1969…and 1970…

Dave Lewis May 27th, 2014


Guardian interview:

image (12)

Mojo front cover story and 21 page special:

Just read this – an excellent interview with Jimmy by Phil Alexander dissecting the transition period of the Yardbirds into Zeppelin – plus an analysis of the top 50 Zep tracks and reviews of the albums. The accompanying Heavy Nuggets III CD compilation also contains some great stuff.


Jimmy Page Radio One Rock Show Interview:

Thanks to James Cook


New Whole Lotta Love official video: 

This is the new official video ( first unveiled at last week’s Paris Press Conference) to accompany the version of Whole Lotta Love (Rough mix with Vocal) featured on the Led Zeppelin II companion audio disc..pretty sensational I’d say…


Jimmy Page – Rock City  Japanese Interview:


Coming soon – Details of how you can engage with TBL to offer your thoughts on the release of the first three Led Zeppelin Reissues…

Until next time…

Have a great week

Keep listening, keep reading… Dave Lewis/Gary Foy – May 27th, 2014.

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  • mark birtles said:

    Just heard the new SIBLY. You can take me out and shoot me now.

  • Stephen said:

    Interesting comment from Jimmy in the Japenese interview when he says there’s no point in recording new material unless he’s going to tour afterwards. Might explain why he’s never recorded any of the songs he has presumably has built up since the demise of Page/Plant. I wonder if it’s a financial thing and he needs the tour to pay for the costs of making the album. Doubt it, but it’s a curios one. I thought now, at the age of 70, he would be happy just to record and maybe do the odd one-off show. Old Jimbo, always the enigma!

  • Ed-Washington DC said:

    Dave renders as strong an endorsement of the alternate “Since I’ve Been Loving You” as one might muster, so I am certainly taking due note of that.

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