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Led Zeppelin - BBC Sessions CD (album) cover


Led Zeppelin


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4.27 | 172 ratings

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5 stars A wonderfully fruitful chunk of early Led Zep history; rare within their minimal discography.

The sessions on disc 1 capture perfectly everything that the 1969 band was about: hard yet funky electric blues rock drenched in howling impulse guitar and sexual vocals. The rhythm section is as tight and groovy as on the first two studio albums, and Plant chucks the phrase "Squeeze my lemon..." into almost every song. We have various live cuts, mainly from the debut but with a couple from 'Led Zep II' and some unreleased songs; it is therefore both of high quality and freshness (even the familar songs deviate from their studio counterparts, with the loose improvisational style that embodied the band at this time). Collectors/diehards will be in heaven with some songs appearing twice ('Communication Breakdown' three times) allowing for critical comparison, or simply more variety for those with the "I want as much material as possible from this band" approach. It may isolate lesser fans but hey, that's what the skip button is for!

And if over an hour of blues in the key of E demands for some variation, then disc 2 has that covered nicely. It is a ten-song set from a live gig in 1971, featuring an amazing choice of songs that are pretty much evenly distributed from the first four albums (a personal shame that none of 'Houses of the Holy' is here, but the cream of that album would appear on the concert film 'The Song Remains The Same' anyway). The first few songs vary in interest, with most being an improvement on the original songs, but 'Since I've Been Loving You' lacking it's earlier power unfortunately. 'Dazed and Confused' is 18 minutes long, actually considered medium-length for this song, and has some nice spontaneous moments. 'Stairway...' and the remaining acoustic tracks are well-chosen and well delivered, but I have heard better versions of the famous epic. And in a brown-bomber finale, 'Whole Lotta Love' and a rare but beautiful 'Thank You' close off the album. The world-tour days and beyond would never see a set-list quite as interesting and varied as this one. It also has a very clean and intimate sound (the venue wasn't massive) and no weak tracks at all. Some are indifferent to their original versions, but that by no means makes them bad.

This unique capsule of early Led Zeppelin has been unmatched in it's variety, charm, and energy. There's two and a half hours to indulge in, much of which will be new and exciting. In performance, this band was quite a different beast. If only for the intimate nature of the recordings, I thoroughly recommend this gem.

thehallway | 5/5 |


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