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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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This Month in
Led Zeppelin History

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December 16, 1968 - Zep plays Bath Pavilion for a mere £75.
December 26, 1968 - First American concert at the Coliseum in Denver, CO
December xx, 1969 - Led Zeppelin are reported to have sold 5 million dollars worth of albums in the US
December 11, 1969 - Led Zeppelin are presented gold and platinum discs for their first two albums
December xx, 1970 - The band enters Island Studios to begin work on the fourth album
December xx, 1971 - The band plays a few low-key shows back in England
December 23, 1972 - The band break for Christmas holiday after a London gig
December xx, 1973 - John Paul Jones works on studio productions for Madeline Bell
December xx, 1973 - Joe Massot films Jimmy Page’s fantasy sequence at Loch Ness
December 19, 1974 - John Paul Jones and Jimmy Page jam with Bad Company at the Rainbow Theater
December 10, 1975 - Led Zeppelin play a 45-minute show with Norman Hale at Behan’s in Jersey
December xx, 1976 - Led Zeppelin rehearses for the 1977 tour
December 25, 1976 - It’s announced that Plant and Bonham will reunite with the Band of Joy for three shows in the new year
December xx, 1977 - The band minus Robert gather to discuss Led Zeppelin’s future plans
December xx, 1978 - The new album is completed quickly at Polar Studios and mixed at Jimmy’s Plumpton Studio
December xx, 1979 - John Bonham considers joining Paul McCartney’s Wings
December 29, 1979 - The band minus Jimmy Page attend the Paul McCartney And Wings Kampuchea befefit show
December 04, 1980 - Led Zeppelin issue the following statement not to carry on as a band: "We wish it to be known, that the loss of our dear friend and the deep respect we have for his family, together with the deep sense of harmony felt by ourselves and our manager have led us to decide that we could not continue as we were."
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