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 are 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

January 09, 1944 - James Patrick Page was born in Heston, Middlesex
January 03, 1946 - John Baldwin was born in Sidcup, Kent
January 02, 1946 - Led Zeppelin Tour Manager Richard Cole was born in Kensal Rise, London, England
January 05, 1967 - Jimmy Page begins recording Little Games with The Yardbirds at De Lane Lea Studios in London.
January 17, 1969 - Led Zeppelin released in the US
January xx, 1970 - Led Zeppelin now play without support acts in order to perform longer sets
January 09, 1970 - Royal Albert Hall gig filmed and recorded for documentary that is eventually scraped. (But was recalled for 2003’s DVD)
January xx, 1971 - Recording continues at Headley Grange
January xx, 1972 - Page has a studio built into his home
January 02, 1973 - Plant’s car breaks down and Bonham and he barely make the Sheffield City Hall gig
January 22, 1973 - Led Zeppelin record a live gig at Southampton University
January xx, 1974 - Recording Physical Graffiti at Headley Grange
January xx, 1974 - The band resigns with Atlantic and forms their own label
January 03, 1975 - Jimmy breaks a finger at Victoria Station just a week before the European warm up shows
January 17, 1975 - The band rehearses in Minneapolis for the upcoming US tour. Bootleg "Johnny Kidd And The Pirates" evolves out of this rehearsal
January xx, 1976 - Jimmy contemplates the release of The Song Remains The Same film but, continues work on the soundtrack
January 01, 1976 - In Paris, Robert takes his first unaided steps since his car accident
January xx, 1977 - Rehearsals for US tour take place at Manticore Studios in Fulham
January 24, 1977 - Bonham and Plant watch The Damned perform at the Roxy in London
January xx, 1978 - Media still claims Led Zeppelin have broke up
January 21, 1979 - Robert Plant is now proud father to son Logan Romero
January xx, 1980 - Zeppelin donate Candy Store Rock to a benefit album to benefit children
January 31, 1995 - Jimmy Page escaped being knifed when a fan rushed the stage at a Page and Plant gig at Auburn Hills, Michigan. The fan was stopped by two security guards, who he knifed instead. After his arrest, he told police that he wanted to kill Jimmy Page because of the Satanic music he was playing.
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