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Kevin Shirley Interview About Remixing The Song Remains The Same

November 20, 2007, sees the release of Led Zeppelin's The Song Remains The Same movie DVD from Warner Home Video and, simultaneously, the release of a 2-CD The Song Remains The Same soundtrack through Rhino Records. Thanks in large part to the efforts of sound engineer Kevin Shirley, the titles are much more than recycled, re-packaged material - both are a fresh sonic adventure that breathe new life into "The Biggest Band In The World" on stage changing rock 'n' roll into Rock.

As Jimmy Page indicates in a pre-release one-sheet, the two titles represent more than a simple remixing and remastering. "We have revisited [emphasis added] The Song Remains The Same," says Page, "and can now offer the complete set as played at Madison Square Garden. This differs substantially from the original soundtrack released in 1976, and highlights the technical prowess of Kevin Shirley, who worked with us on How The West Was Won. When it comes to The Song Remains The Same, the expansion of the DVD and soundtrack are as good as it gets on the Led Zeppelin wish list."

Although intended as a movie and not a documentary or standard concert video, The Song Remains The Same centers on three Led Zeppelin concerts that took place on July 27, 28 and 29, 1973, at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The 1976 theatrical release of The Song Remains The Same was a patchwork quilt of audio and video edits that included audio and concert footage from the MSG shows, subsequent soundstage elements, and the famous "fantasy sequences" starring each Led Zeppelin member - Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and John Bonham. Though it may have been state of the art in the early to mid-'70s, the surviving members of Led Zeppelin (John Bonham passed away in 1980) felt that the movie soundtrack could be enhanced through advances made in recording technology since the film and soundtrack's original release and enlisted the aid of producer and sound engineer Kevin Shirley with whom they had worked on previous projects, such as 2003's re-working of How The West Was Won and the live compilation Led Zeppelin DVD.

According to the new The Song Remains The Same liner notes written by Cameron Crowe in August of this year:

"In the years following the group's breakup, Page had promised to return to the best-recorded document of their heady middle-period peak in 1973, those kinetic summer nights at Madison Square Garden. In 2003 Jimmy assembled the highly successful live compilation Led Zeppelin DVD with engineer Kevin Shirley, [and] the band began to circle the recordings, and their filmic record, The Song Remains The Same. Legalities prevented any re-editing of the film itself. The quest began to refurbish the picture's soundscape. 'We wanted it to sound as it did, as strong as it was, a bit cocky and precocious,' says Plant of the process. 'With [Dolby] 5.1 (sound), we knew we had a chance. We trolled through, dug into it, and there it was. Finally, there was the warmth and the feel of the room (Madison Square Garden) and it sounded good. It's of its time, so confident. It was the ' was 'Let's have a go at this!'"

As mentioned by Jimmy Page above, the new The Song Remains The Same 2-CD soundtrack features the entire set from the MSG concerts by including Black Dog, Over The Hills And Far Away, Misty Mountain Hop, Since I've Been Loving You, The Ocean and Heartbreaker, which do not appear on the original soundtrack release. A full track listing is provided following the interview below.

Modern Guitars spoke with Kevin Shirley on October 13, 2007, about his work on The Song Remains the Same as Kevin prepared for a trip to Peru where he'll participate in a high-altitude bike ride to help raise money for Mencap, a charity dedicated to a world where people with a learning disability gain an equal right to choice, opportunity and respect.

Read the entire interview here


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Led Zeppelin History

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October xx, 1968 - Led Zeppelin is recorded
October 19, 1968 - Final performance as the New Yardbirds
October 31, 1969 - Led Zeppelin II is released in the US
October 17, 1969 - Bonham is thrilled to play Carnegie Hall where Buddy Rich and Gene Krupa have performed
October 23, 1970 - Led Zeppelin III is released in the US
October xx, 1970 - The press lash out at the band over the Led Zeppelin III acoustic content
October xx, 1971 - Page and Plant venture around Thailand and India after the Japan tour
October 18, 1972 - Zeppelin rehearse at the Rainbow Theater for a UK tour
October xx, 1973 - Each member performs an individual film sequence for their concept film
October 31, 1974 - Swan Song hosts a party for the launch of its UK division
October xx, 1975 - Led Zeppelin decide not to tour and concentrate on recording new material
October 20, 1976 - The Song Remains The Same premieres at New York’s Cinema One
October xx, 1977 - Jimmy starts assembling a Led Zeppelin live album from recordings as far back as 1969
October xx, 1978 - Jones and Bonham record with Paul McCartney at Abbey Road Studios
October xx, 1978 - Rehearsals for In Through The Out Door in London
October xx, 1979 - All nine Led Zeppelin albums enter the Billboards Top 200 -- no other band has ever achieved this
October 10, 1980 - A private funeral is held for John Bonham at Rushock church in Worcestershire
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