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Led Zeppelin DVD

Led Zeppelin
[Click above for album images]

With the help of Dick Caruthers, band member Jimmy Page produced this DVD package. A feast for the eyes and ears, this excellent package captures the evolution of the band and brings together footage of Zeppelin playing live and on television, all of it previously unreleased. The set consists primarily of excerpts from four well-known Zeppelin concerts. It also includes eight live performances from other sources and a few interview clips.

The first (and best) segment of the two-disc set is an entire Zeppelin concert from 1970 at the Royal Albert Hall, which comprises most of the first disc. The band, barely a year old at that time, had just released its second album, Led Zeppelin II.

Seeing and hearing the early Zeppelin perform on stage, I finally understand why the band so deserved its name. Playing together, guitarist Jimmy Page, vocalist Robert Plant, drummer John Bonham and bassist John Paul Jones were heavy like metal but nimble enough to fly like a blimp. The live versions of "We're Gonna Groove," "Communication Breakdown," "Bring It On Home," "Dazed and Confused," and "What Is and What Should Never Be" simply blow the studio versions away. Metal truly was born on the backs of this band, and this collection, especially the RAH concert, makes that clear. The power and complexity of these performances is so overwhelming that it becomes difficult to believe there are only four performers.

The second disc includes a four-song sequence culled from the same 1973 Madison Square Garden performances that served as the source for The Song Remains The Same. However, none of the footage here appeared in that film. Shot in 35 millimeter, these performances look and sound much more polished than those from the Royal Albert Hall show, and by '73, the frumpy, hippie clothes worn by the band in '69 had given way to flashy embroidered shirts and flared pants. The band had moved away from its roots as pure interpreters of the blues and moved into its prime as the leading progenitors of the bigger-than-huge sound of heavy metal.

Thankfully, the Madison Square Garden clips on Led Zeppelin DVD are not disrupted by the fictional vignettes that marred The Song Remains The Same, and the focus remains on the band's performances. Here, a masterfully edited clip of "Misty Mountain Hop," powered by John Paul Jones' melodic organ work, artfully exposes the high level of communication between the band members. During "The Ocean," Page displays total control of his instrument and complete command of the stage as he trades funky licks with Bonham, who, surprisingly, grabs a microphone to harmonize with Plant.

Nearly an hour of footage of Zeppelin's headlining performance at Knebworth in 1979 rounds out the two DVD set. Here, the band sounds and looks even more polished than in the mid-'70s. Adjusting to the ascendancy of New Wave, Zeppelin makes use of synthesizers and wears clean-cut clothing, looking almost like a bunch of preppies. In certain respects, by this time the group has lost its bite, sounding almost tired as it plays hits from years before. On the other hand, the energy of the massive crowd at Knebworth and the Zeppelin's forcefulness on certain excellent tracks cuts through the band's new, slick facade. Second only to "Stairway to Heaven" in its distinctiveness, significance, and influence, the Eastern-tinged epic "Kashmir" here becomes even more mystical than on record. During "Whole Lotta Love," Plant engages in a deafening call-and-response with the hundreds of thousands in attendance; slick maybe, past their prime, no.

Visually, the Knebworth footage is most striking in that the band is captured by a number of cameras, from every conceivable angle. Page and Caruthers create a neat effect by toggling between grainy footage of the concert shot by fans in the crowd and the crisp footage that was projected on a giant screen behind the band as it played. At the end of the Knebworth concert, after singing "Whole Lotta Love," Plant thanks the crowd for its eleven years of support, as if he was about to announce the demise of the band, the end of its evolution. He was unaware, of course, that the band would indeed dissolve little more than a year later, as a result of Bonham's untimely death.

Led Zeppelin DVD seems to be another way that the band is thanking its fans. As Page commented recently, Zeppelin was never much of a pop band: it was despised by critics, rarely released singles, and nearly never appeared on TV. Plant, Page, Jones, and Bonham focused on cutting albums and playing live for their fans. More than five hours of great performance footage, this new set is a gift to those fans, one that lets them see and hear what Zeppelin was all about. - PopMatters
Statistics

Released:
May 27, 2003 (US)
May 26, 2003 (UK)

Chart Position:
#1 (US) #1 (UK)

Certified:
Gold 05-26-03
Multi Platinum 13x 07-09-12

Length:
138 mins. (US) 132 mins. (UK)

Tracks

Royal Albert Hall-1970
• We're Gonna Groove
• I Can't Quit You Baby
• Dazed And Confused
• White Summer
• What Is And What Should Never Be
• How Many More Times
• Moby Dick
• Whole Lotta Love
• Communication Breakdown
• C''mon Everybody
• Something Else
• Bring It On Home

Communication Breakdown-1969

Danmarks Radio-1969

• Communication Breakdown
• Dazed And Confused
• Babe I'm Gonna Leave You
• How Many More Times

Supershow-1969
• Dazed And Confused

Tous En Scene-1969
• Communication Breakdown
• Dazed And Confused


DVD TWO
Immigrant Song-1972

Madison Square Garden-1973
• Black Dog
• Misty Mountain Hop
• Since I've Been Loving You
• The Ocean

Earl's Court-1975
• Going To California
• That's The Way
• Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp
• In My Time Of Dying
• Trampled Underfoot
• Stairway To Heaven

Knebworth-1979
• Rock And Roll
• Nobody's Fault But Mine
• Sick Again
• Achilles Last Stand
• In The Evening
• Kashmir
• Whole Lotta Love

NYC Press Conference-1970

Down Under-1972
• Rock And Roll
• Interviews

The Old Grey Whistle Test-1975
• Robert Plant Interview

Promo 1-1990
• Over The Hills And Far Away

Promo 2-1990
• Travelling Riverside Blues


Quick Fact

Producer Kevin Shirley said that some of the source tapes needed a bit of work physically done to them so that they would be able to be read by tape machines.

"We had to bake all these tapes in an oven because some of them had moisture in them," Shirley continues, "which turns the glue that bonds the oxide to the tape into a sort of jelly. When you play a tape like that back, the oxide will scrape off and stick to the tape head. So you can destroy the tape just by playing it. Through baking at about 55°C you get the moisture out and the tapes are playable again, at least for a while. The first playback is usually the most stable. But it takes about 60 hours to bake each tape, so immediately we were weeks behind while we waited for the tapes to be baked."
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This Month in
Led Zeppelin History

February 7, 1962 - Deborah Bonham, sister to John, was born in Redditch, Worcestershire, England
February 23, 1966 - Warren Grant, son of Peter, was born.
February xx, 1969 - Led Zeppelin enters the Billboard Top 40
February 16, 1969 - Led Zeppelin wrap up their first American tour in Baltimore, MD.
February 07, 1970 - Edinburgh gig cancelled after Plant receives facial injuries in a car accident
February 28, 1970 - The band performs as "The Nobs" in Copenhagen after threat of legal action from Countess Von Zeppelin
February xx, 1971 - John Paul Jones involved in legal issues regarding a musician who shares the same name
February xx, 1971 - Overdubs for the fourth album are recorded at Island Studios
February 14, 1972 - The band is refused admission into Singapore due to their long hair
February 16, 1972 - The Australian tour begins in Perth
February 21, 1972 - Led Zeppelin: Rock and Roll b/w Four Sticks (Atlantic 45-2865) 45 single is released in the US.
February xx, 1973 - The band makes final preparations for the European tour
February 16, 1973 - The release date for Houses Of The Holy is pushed back due to some sleeve problems
February xx, 1974 - Sessions for Physical Graffiti continue
February 14, 1974 - Page, Plant and Bonham attend a Roy Harper concert
February 04, 1975 - Zeppelin perform a last minute show at Nassau Coliseum to accomodate fans after being banned in Boston
February 24, 1975 - Physical Graffiti finally issued worldwide to phenomenal sales
February xx, 1976 - Media reports that Zeppelin are due to release an album entitled Obelisk
February xx, 1977 - Robert contracts a bout of tonsillitis postponing the American tour
February xx, 1978 - Robert Plant helps produce a record for punk band Dansette Damage
February 16, 1978 - The cases against Bonham, Cole & Grant stemming from the Oakland incident are heard and all receive suspended prison sentences and fines
February xx, 1979 - Although absent from the US stage or market, Led Zeppelin rank best in many music magazine categories
February xx, 1979 - Mixing sessions for In Through The Out Door take place at Polar Studios. Rumors fly of a European tour
February 03, 1980 - Robert joins Dave Edmund’s Rockpile at the Birmingham Top Rank
February 13, 2005 - Led Zeppelin receives a Grammy for Lifetime Achievment.
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