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Vinyl, Original recording remastered, August 26, 2008
Led Zeppelin redefined rock in the Seventies and for all time. They were as influential in that decade as the Beatles were in the prior one. Their impact extends to classic and alternative rockers alike. Then and now, Led Zeppelin looms larger than life on the rock landscape as a band for the ages with an almost mystical power to evoke primal passions.
- from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame web page on the band s 1995 induction
It's rare that a group can truly rock today s world, but the arrival of MOTHERSHIP, the first-ever comprehensive 2CD Led Zeppelin compilation with the soon to follow re-release of The Song Remains The Same on CD & DVD and a concert event reuniting Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and John Paul Jones qualifies. Produced by Page and mixed by Kevin Shirley, MOTHERSHIP's 24 monolithic tracks were selected and sequenced by the band, who also oversaw the painstaking remastering. Spanning their epic career, the unprecedented collection pulls immortal songs from all eight of the band s classic studio albums, one of the 20th century's most enduring bodies of musical work. Arguably the most influential and innovative rock band ever, Led Zeppelin has sold over 200 million records worldwide. They continue to inspire successive generations with their passionate, groundbreaking, genre-transcendent, mystic, heavy and blues-infused rock n roll. Forty years since they formed, the song indeed remains the same.
For years, as playlists and multidisc players put Led Zeppelin tracks into a mix, there was a perpetual need to adjust the volume when Zep came on. Their tunes languished in the haze of substandard remastering--until now, at least for the 24 tracks on Mothership and the final fullness of the new Song Remains the Same reissue. For its part, Mothership's crisper, warmer audio owes its heft to the troika of Robert Plant, Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones, who helped oversee the mastering, bringing out untold shades even in the throes of "Heartbreaker" and the sinews of "No Quarter." It's an impressive sonic leap. Where tinny high-ends and muffled lows used to co-exist, fatter and louder depths prevail. It's ever more astonishing that Zep got on with just four blokes. You can quibble with the 24 tracks here (where's "The Ocean"?), but the band picked each track here, from the stone-cold locks ("Communication Breakdown" and "Stairway to Heaven," no, duh) to the robust throb of "When the Levee Breaks." As for "The Ocean," you can find that in fantastically full form, along with five other gems on the newly remastered Song Remains the Same, which shows up for 2007's holiday season on DVD, too. Only rarely have four lads from England made so memorable an auditory and visual blast. --Andrew Bartlett
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Second, then, I find this a very satisfying work. I got a real buzz out of the video portion; I enjoyed also the CD portion. It brought together for me (and recall that I was not a collector of Led Zeppelin as I was of Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones), in one place, a great set of works. So I'm sold on the value of this.
Third, the works themselves. . . . In terms of the video, there are a few items on the DVD that typify the ban's work for me (and I happen to like these songs, so the choice is not random!). "Moby Dick" is interesting mainly because it provides a showcase for John Bonham, the drummer. He really beats those drums here! The band kicks in at a later point to good effect, and Bonham closes out thumping his drum kit. It's a lot of fun to watch and to listen to. One of their classics is "Whole Lotta Love." Plant's vocals growl out one of the main lines, "I wanna whole lotta love." Bonham and Jones provide a great rhythm section, with Jimmy Page's guitar soaring. Fun to watch the group play and enjoyable to see the interaction with the audience. Finally, another of my personal choices, "Black Dog." Talk about "heavy metal"! Page's guitar work is inspired here. The rhythm section is superb.
Then, the CD set. "Dazed and Confused" features Plant's voice nicely. The song shows him to be baffled, as his hard-earned money doesn't seem enough to get his love to respond to his passion. A little more laid back than other cuts. "Rock and Roll" begins with nice guitar work. This represents one of Led Zeppelin's trademark songs. Plant's voice is primal and raw; Page's guitar work stands out. Finally, "Stairway to Heaven." Quite a change of pace from other of their songs. This came to be, perhaps, overplayed on the airwaves, but so what? It's still a great song. There is a sense of poignancy here, and the song features a more diverse instrumental feel, including the use of a recorder.
Fourth, the liner notes in the booklet provide useful background information and is value-added on this CD-DVD set.
So, how to conclude? I think that this is one of the nicest greatest hits of a group CD/DVD around. Of course, if you're an aficionado of Led Zeppelin, there may not be much new here. For others of us, not so steeped in their work, this is a nice addition to our music library.
Not many. After watching this DVD and listening to the CD's I am happy to say I still get goosebumps! I went to my first Zep concert in 1970, in Raleigh, North Carolina. I remember being transfixed and missed catching Bonzo's drumstick by 2" as he threw it into the crowd after the concert was over. That drumstick would still be on my wall if I had caught it! Jimmy Page is tremendous, these tracks and the DVD are catching him and the band at their best. Anybody know of anyone else who used a violin bow to create some awesome riffs?! And Bonzo is great here, he is showcased on the DVD, they ALL are. The remastering is great and it sounds awesome on Dolby Digital. I CAN tell the difference in quality and to me, that is worth every penny I spend on this set which, in the grand spectrum of things, how can you NOT? Highly recommmended!
UPDATE: Let me just add this. If you have quality sound equipment, be it home or auto. The CD quality here is unmatched by any previous efforts. The highs and lows are tremendously enhanced. This remastering is EXCELLENT!