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LED ZEPPELIN REISSUES – USA RELEASE DATE TODAY/ MORE OF YOUR FEEDBACK/ZEPP III CLASSIC ROCK WEBSITE/STREETS OF LONDON PAVED WITH ZEP

3 June 2014 4,084 views 9 Comments

hmv kris 1

The Led Zeppelin Reissues – now for America

A pretty momentous day here yesterday with the UK release of the first three Led Zeppelin Reissues. The streets of London are  adorned with Zep imprints, the HMV store racked out with new Zep product (pic by Krys Jantzen) , the TV advert was aired here on Channel 4 and fans across the UK soaked up the contents of these landmark releases.

Today it’s the official release date in the USA – and what a prospect in store for countless fans across the water…I look forward to hearing first hand experiences of soaking up the feast of delights ahead…

Meanwhile back in the UK – here’s some further initial feedback commencing with my musings on Led Zeppelin 1:

THEN:

Led Zeppelin in the white heat of technology in October 1968  – in the listening booths of Braggins department store Bedford and on a reel to reel tape recorder… 

Though I had been a Zep fan since the end of 1969, I did not hear Led Zeppelin 1 until early in 1971.  My Zep running order took in Led Zeppelin III on the day of release and then Led Zep II soon after that. Before then, pocket money did not stretch to shelling out the required 39 shillings and 11 as was the asking price back then.

However, I did know the opening track quite well as I had frequently  requested it to be played on the listening booth in Braggins ,our local department store that sold records.

Their ruling however for any youngsters requesting a listen to an album, was that they would only play the opening track on side one – thus I knew all about Good Times Bad Times but nothing else…I therefore would gaze at  live gig reviews of the time and dream in wonderment of what Communication Breakdown and Dazed And Confused actually sounded like!

That situation is quite hard to believe when you consider today’s modern world of all accessibility le downloads/you tube/ etc. Back in those days, access to the world of Led Zep was like entering a secret society.

All was eventually revealed by a recording I acquired on my reel to reel tape recorder in early 1971- less a remaster more a case of  a hissmaster….but hey I had the entire 45 minute contents and was now in command of their complete catalogue.

My affinity for the first Zep album was perhaps always less than Zep II and III. One of the major reasons was that I soon began to accumulate a large collection of bootleg LPs and cassettes and this of course took me into the cave of Zep live recordings.  That is when I realised that the studio albums were only the starting point.  Thus I soon became obsessed with searching out the marathon live performances of Dazed And Confused, the medley filled How many More Times, the sparky Communication Breakdown with it’s improvised middle section – as for You Shook me and I Can’t Quite You Baby – the extended BBC session versions quickly became the template for those particular bluesy romps.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Zep 1 with a passion but over the years it has not been as high of the playlist as the latter creations such as Houses of The Holy, Presence and Physical Graffiti.

Come the CD age, there was a resurgence of interest in my playing of all the Zep albums and it was back in the forefront again. As for the Zep 1 pressings, I have a fair few – the turquoise sleeve pressing I acquired through my good friend Dec around 1977 – for a £10. I have a very nice South African pressing with a brown lettering and an original US pressing with an impressively sturdy sleeve.

Over the years I have analysed the Zep 1 album in print for my various books and magazines – notably a major feature that ran in Record Collector in early 2009. I love the whole scenario surrounding it,  such as the contribution to the PJ Proby Three Week Hero album during the making of it and the fact that Sandie Shaw recorded the first ever Zep cover version with her take on Your Gonna Come, appearing on her excellent Reviewing The Situation album in late 1969.

As for the known outtakes – when I met up with Andy Adams recently, we reminisced about the impact of the emergence of the unofficial Olympic Gold CD in the early 90s with the Tribute To Bert Burns/Baby Come On Home sequence , You Shook Me take 1 and two startling versions of Babe I’m Gonna Leave You – the latter indicating the creative process that went into developing that track with Plant’s vocals at that point harsh and driven in contrast to the more controlled official version.

As we now know In approaching the companion disc for the Led Zeppelin 1 reissue, Jimmy felt there was not enough material – incidentally the studio logs featured in the accompanying Zep 1 book reveals that the bootlegged Sugar Mama was recorded at Olympic in October – I’d previously had this as a Zep II recording. We also know he was keen not to replicate too much material that was already out there -so the Zep I outtakes (said to be salvaged from being thrown out during a studio clear out) remain an illicit thrill.

So to the contents of Led Zeppelin 1

The formula was simple but striking:

A a case of something old – Dazed And Confused and How Many More Times being leftover ideas from Jimmy’s last days with The Yardbirds, something new -Good Times Bad Times and Communication Breakdown were born out of their initial rehearsals together.

Something borrowed – Back Mountain Side being based on Bert Jansch’s arrangement of an old traditional tune titled Black Waterside, Babe I’m Gonna Leave You derived from folkie Anne Bredon and had been  heard by Page on a Joan Baez album -Dazed now being attributed on the new remaster as being ”inspired by Jake Holmes”.

And something blue – their versions of  Willie Dixons’ You Shook Me and the Otis Rush showcase I Can’t Quit You Baby was in keeping with the British blues boom of the time and also displaying both Page and Plant’s affinity for the blues.

Add in the immense musicianship  of JPJ’s keyboard and bass playing, the discovery of the greatest drummer of all time in John Bonham and Plant’s unique howling at the moon  – well the chemistry was complete – Jimmy Page had found his niche and musically this really would be the only way to fly.

One final point – though this album (and indeed Led Zep II) may have been derivative in both style and material, it was always performed by Led Zeppelin  in such a convincing manner as to make it totally distinctive.

pressings

NOW:

Led Zeppelin in the white heat of studio technology in October 1968….on remastered vinyl  and sounding better than ever before….

So to the Led Zeppelin 1 on remastered vinyl – this is how it sounded to these ears yesterday…

From the off…there’s just so much new sonic clarity to marvel at…

Good Times Bad Times – the echo on the opening riffs and Robert’s vocal – John Bonham’s bass drum patterns sounding more impressive than ever…just awe inspiring…and the first of what Jimmy described as ”heavy chorus’s” and it reminded me of how effective that tactic works.

Babe I’m Gonna Leave You – when the thrust of John’s drumming comes in – what a moment…Jimmy’s acoustic overlays so precise…

You Shook Me – that laugh in the vocal early on at around one minute 24, is now more prominent and the moment Jimmy’s guitars cascade across the speakers in the solo…phew…

Dazed And Confused – everything about this is sonic perfection –Jonesy’s bass on the intro, the return to the riff after the solo –all quite breathtaking.

JPJ’s organ intro to Your Time Is Gonna Come –this has never sounded so grand and regal like…then there’s the subtly of Jimmy’s pedal steel guitar parts and that rush of bass drum patterns as the song cross fades into Black Mountain Side – the first chord – oh yes..… the tabla drums throughout Black Mountain Side more pronounced than before..

Communication Breakdown – great chording and oh the moment Robert squeals ‘Suck!’ as they hit the guitar solo. Lordy mama we’re gonna groove!

I Can’t Quite You Baby – this the real revelation for me – this has never really been high on my Zep radar but wow this is such a blast – you can hear John’s tympani and snare sound with a real crisp ‘right there live in the studio’ clarity and the whole ‘just having a blow quality’ is presented with a crystal clarity.

How Many More Times – the entry of the wah wah –just exhilarating and overall Robert Plant’s vocal depth again captured with renewed verve and swagger.

Summary: The vinyl has an incredibly expansive sound – all widescreen and clear but with an empathic boost at all the right times – best ever sound on this album I’ve ever heard -simple as that

Now I’m no audiophile but I know what I hear and this is just stunning.

As for the CD version – again a superb job, not quite with the expansiveness of the vinyl version but not compressed in any way and with a sonic thrust that more than does justice to the album’s dynamics. Jimmy and John Davis have done an incredibly admirable job.

In fact listening to it from start to finish, I was reminded what a total assault this debut Led Zeppelin album is on one’s musical senses.

This then is Led Zeppelin in the white heat of studio technology in October 1968 as presented as never before . Until the arrival of these new reissues I thought I could not love this album any more than I have done for the past 40 plus years…

I was wrong – I’ve just fallen in love with it all over again – as you will too…

Dave Lewis – 3.30 pm June 2nd, 2014.

……………………

It felt like something from a bygone age to catch a bus into town especially to get the new Led Zeppelin reissues, to walk into our local surviving (perhaps soon to go) HMV and see THE display there.. “HMV LOVES LED ZEPPELIN” – the liars, do they actually ‘love’ anything?

hmv kevin

A free set of prints with all three albums. I decamped at my ‘Leicester Office’ Brucianni’s cafe, a place that I’ve been going to since I was a tot in the 1950s. Today I estimate I was was 12 years old. I fought with shrink wrap and marveled at unseen photos and the unreal feeling of holding official unreleased Zeppelin.

I thought God, what must the (to me unaffordable) box sets of each of them be like? Brucciani’s cafe is directly opposite the building that was Lewis’s where I got LZ III in 1970. My mum was with me and was shocked at how much more it cost than normal LPs “It’s because of the fancy cover” I sagely told her – grown ups eh? She seemed very old to me of course, she was all of 32 then, and she just didn’t ‘get it’! Getting these things home felt very exciting.. getting them on and playing them was out of this world. I decided to do each album and bonus album together.

The first album did it’s thing, their bold statement of purpose, a very young and daring band absolutely taking the songs on with a unity and confidence that belied the mere few weeks that they had been a unit. Bonzo’s drumming is whip smart, lyrical and sharp, the remaster seems to have uncaged the might and flight of Bonham in a spectacular way.

Logic decrees that John Paul Jones has no right to be such a brilliant bassist AND organist and you get the full sound of his genius here. Jimmy Page got a hell of a lot out of that Telecaster, clusters of inventive and frenetic notes explode out of the speaker, ‘Dazed And Confused’ and ‘Communication Breakdown’ seem to have renewed power and energy. Robert Plant sounds like he is in the room singing with you – full of youth, sex and more “Baby Baby Baby’s’ than ever known in previous recorded history. He is almost still just a baby himself but he seized this chance and gave his all.

The bonus disc is a 71 minute romp through their 1969 set, they are set on ‘stun’ throughout. My only tiny quibble is that some of it is edited – I would rather they had made it a triple set with the whole concert over 2 discs but it is a tiny quibble – you get an hour and eleven minutes of dazzling bravado. Only The Who at their very best could touch this.

Now for LZ II!!!

Kevin Hewick – Leicester

So the first three albums are here…. As Jim himself has ALWAYS insisted. “It’s about the MUSIC. And hasn’t that always been the case and so right? This morning I have been transported transfixed and shaking my head in disbelief.

Transported back to my own youth. Transfixed by the utter genius of this man who has given me so much. He’s made the familiar songs sound so very different.

This is LED ZEPPELIN as they SHOULD be heard. Many a tear has been shed this morning and I expect will continue to do so over the coming days and weeks. I SHUDDER to think about what he’s done to the other albums……

YET ANOTHER complete triumph. Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water, Jimmy Page has other ideas.

 Mark Harrison – Leighton Buzzard

Thirty-nine years ago I was still coming down from seeing the greatest band in history at Earls Court. Can it really be that long? A moment seems like a life-time or should it be the other way round? Anyway late last year I was diagnosed with prostate cancer and as well as my faith in God and amazing support from wife, family and church I had your reports on the forthcoming re-issues to sustain me.

These last few days have been very special, since I finished radiotherapy on Thursday. I celebrated by having a family gathering at a Letz Zep concert at the Astor Community Theatre in Deal on Saturday. It was fantastic and really whetted the appetite for the arrival of the post today.

My biggest conundrum was to decide what to play first- my wife was out shopping so I put on the new version of Since I’ve Been Loving You  really loud. It is incredible, the tension in certain passages, the clarity and Bonzo’s drumming. I then intended to switch and listen to either the Olympia disc or try to compare one of the remasters with the previous releases. I couldn’t do it though- the driving riff of Bathroom Sound kicked in and I was gone, captivated and loving everything that was to follow on the companion disc to Led Zep III.

I have purchased new editions and bonus discs for the last 30 years and usually you play them once and try to forget them. We’re reminded that even in the studio as a producer Jimmy is a genius, he has given us such a rich overview of how the tracks evolved during the creative process. It just shows too what an incredible group Led Zeppelin were in that the companion discs stand up in their own right.

I was just recovering from this when my wife returned. A special moment on Saturday night had been holding her as we listened to Thank You performed live. I duly put on the remastered version from Led Zep II and I was blown away once again. The splendour of the track is newly revealed in all its beauty and we both found it incredibly moving. My tears they felt like rain!

I then went back to the studio album of Led Zep III as Elizabeth prefers the acoustic side of the band and I could not believe how fresh everything is. I am astonished that after all this time a band has released remasters where you can truly hear the difference. It’s like I will be able to rediscover the albums all over again, when I thought that I knew every little nuance of their material.

Anyway I had better stop now, I’ve got so much more to listen to. And so today, my world it smiles!

Dave God bless, and thank you for all your incredible work over the years, keeping the Zeppelin flame burning.

Joe Gregory – Sheerness Kent.

Thank you Joe for an incredibly moving piece…as Jimmy put it – ”you got it…”

………………………..

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A nice Zeppelin feel to Newcastle’s HMV store when I popped up from work for my goodies at lunchtime on Monday.

There was an impressive window merchandise display – picture to follow – and once over the threshold, racks of new T-shirts featuring the Zep I, II, and III album covers. (I fancy the Zep I offering for my hols!)

Bron-Y-Aur stomp was blasting on the shop sound system when I walked in and, by the time I walked out, it was Good Times Bad Times – as they were clearly playing the three albums in rotation, along with promotional video footage on TV screens.

(Any One Direction fans in the shop might have been a bit bemused).

I’m afraid I’m having to slum it with the Deluxe versions, although the lad behind the counter pointed at a pile of impressive looking boxes when I asked if many people had ordered the Super Deluxe.

The chap in front of me in the queue, who looked well into his 60s, was also buying the CDs, and further back down the line a teenage lad in a Zep Mothership T-shirt looked to be doing likewise.

A nice touch from HMV was a high-quality print – on card – of the Zep I album cover if you pre-ordered with them.

Sadly, due to work and domestic preoccupations, I’ve only had time to flick through the discs. A full “immersion” – complete with headphones and a bottle of wine – will take place later this week.

But, nearly 35 years on from buying the then new album In Through The Out Door on the day of release at a shop on the same Newcastle street, for me the Zeppelin buzz is as strong as ever…

Dave Morton – Newcastle

 …………………………….

Many thanks for the above contributions – keep ’em coming!

………………………

Classic Rock website: 25 things you didn’t know about Led Zeppelin III:

As compiled by your TBL editor for the Classic Rock website – you have to log in first but it’s all worth it!

http://classicrock.teamrock.com/features/2014-06-02/25-things-you-didn-t-know-about-led-zeppelin-iii

………..

And finally – the streets of  London paths paved with Zeppelin gold…. pics by Robin Guise and Matt O’Kane.

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streets 1

Until next time…have a great week

Keep listening, keep reading…

Dave Lewis/Gary Foy – June 3rd , 2014.

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9 Comments »

  • Kristine said:

    My orders have been shipped according to Amazon,but delivery date is late in June.
    I can wait..I think

  • Tony Butler said:

    Steve…..I agree pretty damn cheap….I think they call it maximising profit!!

  • Ian Saikia said:

    Jimmy Page was interviewed on Simon Mayo’s BBC Radio 2 show yesterday (4 June) – look out for the downloadable podcast next week.

    Jimmy Page talked through the Zep days, the thinking and process behind the 2014 remasters and companion discs – fascinating insights. According to the interview the 9 studio albums, Led Zep I through to Coda have all been remastered as one huge project, with the phased release of the remaining 6 albums due over the next 18 months. Sounds like The Song Remains The Same live album is excluded ??

    Finally, Jimmy Page said that he wants to get back to playing the guitar, and making music with other guitarists/musicians in 2015 (“it doesn’t look like it…does it?” was his response to the question…will Led Zeppelin ever perform any future concerts).

  • Stanley Patel said:

    I am 47 years old

    Led Zeppelin was a band I only heard of in name in the 1970s & seeing some posters of some bloke with a double headed guitar.

    My first musical interests as a kid were Elvis, The Marc Bolan show, Darts , Showaddywaddy !!!!! I knew nothing I had flares , long hair & was getting off on the Six Million Dollar Man & Rentaghost!!!!!

    My parents got divorced & in 1979 I heard the music of Sex Pistols = MIND BLOWN. I wanted to know everything about them. And rightly or wrongly when I read interviews they seemed to have it in for Led Zeppelin!!! The claim was they travel around with bodyguards, limos play stadiums, charge too much for their concerts and were out of touch with people on the street. To be honest with you in 1979 pictures of Robert Plant having hair as long as Charlies Angels was laughable to me .

    I once heard in 1983 a bit of The Immigrant Song of Led Zep 3 around a mates house (his sisters copy) and I confess I laughed my head off! By the time I heard Friends I said , ” Bloody hippies get this off!”. Zep was in fashion as much as Tony Blair!!!

    Fast forward 1985 I’m 18 my favourite band was Killing Joke a friend insisted in playing me this record at my house . Grey cover , old man on front, ” What is it?” my friend ,” Shut up & and just hear it. You will like it” Like it I did , Who are they???? LED ZEPPELIN = MIND BLOWN!!! A valuable lesson I learnt that day THINK FOR YOURSELF. I bought Led Zep 4 on cd & bought all the albums within a year (CDs were very expensive then). All my mates from all walks of life got into Zep as well.

    Anyway Monday June 2nd . Got up 6.00 am very excited. At Sister Ray record shop 10.20 am & bought Led Zep 1 , 2 & 3 on double cd & single 180g LP. Got home early & did some boring chores made some dinner then from 4.00 I listened . First the CD of the original album , then the LP. SUPERB!!! Sound quality is an improvement for the better. I took a break to watch Eastenders just to calm down & finished off with Led Zep 3 on headphones.

    Last night I played Paris on cd . Loved it . Drifted off to Led Zep 2 outtakes on headphones .

    I haven’t played Led Zep 3 outtakes yet but one things for certain I won’t be saying bloody hippies!

    Anyway thanks for reading & I hope I didn’t upset anyone. Led Zep are the most hard rock band EVER . End off!!!

  • Chris Serratella said:

    Had reserved the super deluxe editions at a local shop only to be called and told the shipment did not arrive as planned. Ensuing panic had me leaving the job early and in time to catch the last of each at another shop in town. Apparently the super deluxe editions were in short supply in the US due to some printing screw ups with the cover art. Some things never change! A heavy purchase in more ways than one as this was clearly a two handed carry out the door these things are massive), extra promo goodies such as beer coasters, art prints, and a super cool LZ3 reverse image turntable felt flat in hand as a bonus. The race home to queue it all up on the big rig and the choice for me was…the Brown Bomber! Yep, bypassed I for II with the anticipation of the outtakes overruling the already known Paris Par Excellence show on the EV boot. Once we get that throat clearing rasp there is nothing left to do but bask in the sonic glory once again. Then, follow this up quickly with the outtakes disc. The raw version of Whole Lotta Love is too much as are the rest. A short break and then it was off to the races with I. I have to say, the packaging is top notch insofar as the cases and the book are concerned. Minor niggle for me are the lightweight LP and CD covers. They could have taken notes from to top reissue labels and upgraded the card stock to be thicker given the lovely vinyl each sleeve holds. Versus the last Simply Vinyl 200g versions, these covers pale in comparison. But overall, no complaints!

  • Graham Rodger said:

    Couldn’t agree more Steve. Very cheap and uninspiring packaging for the 2-disc deluxe editions. Reminds me of the 2012 Pink Floyd remasters: amazing music, beautifully recorded and remastered, only to be sacrificed on the altar of profit with crap packaging that devalues the content. Shame.

  • Tom Cory said:

    This week has been so frustrating..

    All 3 of my boxed sets are still reading ‘Preparing for dispatch’ on the amazon website, and have been since yesterday!

    They cannot arrive soon enough. I hope that they’re worth the wait!

  • andrew R said:

    Lovely piece Dave as have all the pieces you have done in this
    momentous run up to the re- releases.For me its always been LZ1
    to me it contains all the light and shade that influenced all their later work.
    The sound of it is also important the clarity and power blew me away the first time i heard it and no doubt will again(as soon as my sets turn up!)with these new releases.Now if we could only have JPJ on board, to explain what lies behind the famous walking bass pattern on D&C, my joy would be complete!

  • Steve Harrison. said:

    Love them all BUT one gripe ,the cd versions are a waste ,K scope do some really nice hard cover book style cds, couldnt Atlantic have spent a few pence more on each?Taking the booklet out of led Z 1 i ripped all the back sleeve out trying to get it out(and thats without rushing and nerves)mORE CASH TO BE SPENT NOW.

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