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By David Duran on November 27, 2007
Format: Audio CD
Over the past 7 or 8 years, record companies have adopted a way of thinking that basically boils down to louder = better. Many new albums have been ruined because they are "mastered" too loud. Rush's "Vapor Trails" is a great example of this.

For the non technical folks, mastering is the process by which a finished, mixed tape of an artist's song is then put through a series of refinements to make the sound a little more uniform for all listening situations. It is also at that stage that the "master" is created from which all copies are then produced.

In the early days of CD and digital sound, the process of converting analog sound to a digital signal was not as good as it is now. Also, coming out of the age of vinyl, where too loud a sound on vinyl could cause the needle to jump, CD's tended to be mastered about the same volume as vinyl. The CD is capable of volume levels that are louder than vinyl.

But, rather than use technology to create a better sounding product, the record companies took a perspective that louder = better = more sales. In other words, the louder the product is, the more people will notice it.

The problem for those of us who enjoy music is that by making CD's a whole lot louder, we are also losing dynamics and dimension. Music is by nature, supposed to have peaks of loudness. There needs to be contrast. A visual representation of what we should be hearing versus what we are getting out of newer CD's would be aptly demonstrated IF I BEGAN TYPING IN ALL CAPS. THERE IS NO CONTRAST BETWEEN LOUD AND soft.

So, with Led Zeppelin's "Mothership" we are now getting louder music at the expense of dynamics. Jimmy Page remastered the entire Zeppelin catalog in 1991 and did a great job of using the technology available at that time.
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Format: Audio CD
Music: 5 Stars; DVD: 5 Stars; Economic Value: 5 Stars; New Relevance: 1 Star

Almost 5 years ago to the day, the compilation "Early Days and Latter Days" was released, hence apparently bringing the 'ultimate' 2 CD "best of" Led Zeppelin on the market. A year after that, the ultimate live DVD compilation "Led Zeppelin" was released, to general acclaim. Fast forward to Fall 2007: Les Zeppelin has finally released its music digitally, plus "The Song Remains The Same" album and movie gets new life on upgraded releases, and oh yea, there is a one-off reunion concert coming up in early December in London. So how to 'celebrate' the occasion? Well, how about another "best of" release!

"Mothership" (2 CDs, 24 tracks, 140 min.) is a virtual copy of "Earlier Days and Latter Days": 20 of the 23 tracks from that appear on "Mothership", including all the staples, from "Whole Lotta Love" to "Black Dog" to Kashmir", and on and on. To mix is up just a little bit, "What Is and What Should Never Be", "The Battle of Evermore" and "Ten Years Gone" were dropped from "Early Days and Latter Days", and these 4 songs were added instead: "Ramble On", Heartbreaker", "Over the Hills and Far Away" and "D'Yer Mak'er". Too me those are minor changes on the fringes. It all sounds terrific, of course, due to yet more remastering from Jimmy Page.

As to the bonus DVD, there is nothing new here. This is a sampling/reduced version of the 2003 "Led Zeppelin" DVD: in order, there are 9 songs from the 1970 Royal Albert Hall show, 4 songs from the 1973 Madison Square Garden show that produced "The Song Remains the Same" movie, 3 songs from the 1975 Earl's Court show, and 4 songs from the 1979 Knebworth show. As such all performances are (and sound) pretty much terrific.
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Format: Audio CD
A disclaimer for the 25 people who, before I rewrote this, had stated that it was helpful. They may not think the same of what they read here now.

I had originally written that "finally there is Zep on cd that sounds as musical as it deserves to sound! for anybody who has been dissatisfied by the digital representation of zep to the point that I have (the last remasterings sound so lousy to me that I can't enjoy them; so I've been listening to Zep on vinyl only) this collection will be a Godsend. For those who couldn't care less about sonics there is no reason to get this, as 'nothing is revealed'."
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A 'hat in hand' update of this review posted after further listening on 11/30/2007:

Mothership sounded great to me at first but after reading other folks at Steve Hoffman forums all pointing to the 80's cds as being straight transfers from the analog, i had to check it out.

I realized i may have never heard the 80's version but because i never liked the 90's remasters (compared to my analog copies) i just assumed the 80's were worse - this also was based on prejudice from hating 80's cd's from many other catalogs (miles davis is a good example).
so this re-review stands as unrequired further proof that prejudice is bad and assuming makes a you-know-what out of you-know-who.

Yesterday I got an 80's copy of zep I and sat down with it and "mothership" - and after going back and forth again and again and again - I came to the same conclusion as those others had: the 80's cds sound better.

there are still digitally induced problems with the new versions though they remain vastly superior to the 90's masters to my ear.
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