ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, DEC. 3, 2008
By Steve Newton
No sooner had I replaced the stylus on my ancient Yamaha turntable than into my mail slot slid a review copy of The Song Remains the Same, a four-disc vinyl re-release recorded during three sold-out Led Zeppelin gigs at Madison Square Garden in 1973.
Thanks kindly, serendipity!
I remember picking up the original double album when it was first released in the fall of ’76, and also seeing the feature-length film, which was something of a mess, what with the insertion of all those tedious fantasy sequences. And by ’76 the only Zeppelin album I really wanted to hear was the previous year’s awesome Physical Graffiti.
Still, the soundtrack of The Song Remains the Same is a precious document of the British rock greats at their peak. From the moment legendary drummer John Bonham hollers “Alright. Let’s go!” and slams out the intro to “Rock and Roll” it’s obvious the band hasn’t come to the Big Apple to mess around.
The performances are strong throughout, and the remastering—overseen by Jimmy Page himself—has paid off big time. For the techno-dweebs out there, the boxed set features half-speed mastering for vinyl on four 180-gram LPs, which sounds mighty fine through my old-school Marantz receiver and Pioneer HPM-100 speakers. (More modern stereo equipment is available if you need it.)
In long-winded ’70s fashion, “No Quarter” and “Stairway to Heaven” take up one side of vinyl each, and the 29-minute “Dazed and Confused” takes up a side and a half. The big bonus for Zep fans is that the reissue contains six previously unreleased tracks from the shows: “Over the Hills and Far Away”, “Heartbreaker”, “Black Dog”, “Misty Mountain Hop”, “Since I’ve Been Loving You”, and “The Ocean”. It also includes a 24-page booklet with previously unpublished photos and liner notes by film director and ’70s-rock know-it-all Cameron Crowe.