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LED ZEPPELIN (BOX SET)

Led Zeppelin

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mystic fred
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A Great Compilation!

This boxed set of four cd's was issued in the United States around the same time as the British "Remasters" set, but includes loads more tracks (54 in total to Remasters' 26) and a few Led Zeppelin rare tracks; "Travelling Riverside Blues", "Hey Hey What Can I Do" and "White Summer/Black Mountain Side". The set is highly sought after by collectors at around 40 at the time of writing. The LP sized set also includes a 28 page booklet and includes posters of the band.

"Travelling Riverside Blues" is an American style traditional blues number, with Jimmy on electric slide guitar, with Robert singing "sweet mama let me be your kid...I know my baby, I see her in the dark.." and such! Includes a nice little solo too, an amazing song I have always thought much too good to leave in the can, and here it is, and I still get all tingly hearing this, every time! References from "The Lemon Song" are here too, also "you got a mortgage on my body but a lease on my soul.."

"Hey Hey What Can I Do"- Only previously available as a 'B' side to the International release of "Immigrant Song", I found a copy of this in Spain in 1971. The simple song contains some great acoustic guitar playing from Jimmy, with great vocals from Robert singing "I wanna tell bout the girl I love, my she looks so fine...." but unfortunately "I gotta little woman stays drunk all the time, I gotta little woman she won't be true.." with a strong back beat from Bonzo and Bass lines from JPJ.

"White Summer/Black Mountain Side"- the legendary live instrumental performance from Jimmy Page eventually captured on cd, an absolutely brilliant piece built around "Black Mountain Side" showing Page's masterly solo playing only seen by the privileged few who were able to see the band live during the 70's.

Though a brilliant compilation set I would recommend for those new to Zeppelin or indeed as an expensive alternative to the British "Remaster" compilation (the bonus rare tracks are really worth it) compilations still really lack the cohesion of the actual studio albums however cleverly arranged, so an excellent addition!

MUSIC RATING 5/5 PROG RATING 4/5

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Send comments to mystic fred (BETA) | Report this review (#100208)
Posted Friday, November 24, 2006 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars THE TRAP ONE

Led Zep fans were rather spared in terms of "special compilation" unlike Yes or Purple ones (my problem is that I am HUGE fan of those two as well). They haven' t put too many of these pricey products onto the market. With the years passing by and the Internet battle on prices (not talking about downloads) one can get serious discounts on this one. The announced price on a very well-known Internet reseller (which name sounds as if it was coming out a Brazilian tropical forest...) is 69.98 US $ but a royal "special" discount of 30% makes it a 48,99 US $ investment. You can get it secondhand for about 30 to 36 US $ depending on the quality.

This compilation was the first ever to be produced by Led Zep. And the fan will have to pay for it. A lot.

This effort is, hopefully, useless these days. For two reasons.

1. In the meantime, the two CD one, called "Remasters" has been released (in 1992). There are no legendary tracks featured on this CD box that are not featured on "Remasters". On the contrary, "Good Times, Bad Times" for example is not in here.

2. Some of the rarest tracks will be featured on the expanded version of "CODA". Their last "album" released in 1982. It will be released in 1994 and will include those "lost jewels".

Several all time highs from the band are featured, but the major part of this box set (which is cleverly not named "best of") is a collection of second or even third-choice songs from the band. A bunch of them come out "Physical" and cannot be considered as Zep' classics.

This box set is not appealing to the casual fan (too many obscure tracks). For the loyal fans who are looking for "rarities" I would recommend "CODA" remastered instead (this will be a 13 ? investment) to complete your Led Zep collection. A die-hard fan might be willing to get it as a document. So, if you can buy this one for 35 bucks or so (25 ?), you might consider it, but only if you are a completionist.

The presentation of the numbers is rather hectic as well. You have to know the band quite well to "re-organize" this collection of songs in the chronological order.

Two stars.

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#115190)
Posted Wednesday, March 14, 2007 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
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Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars I can hear clearly now

The poor quality sound of the early Led Zeppelin albums has been brought up on many occasions. The LPs simply did not do the appropriate justice to the rock landmarks the band recorded. In 1990, Jimmy Page decided it was time to rectify the situation, and set about remastering the entire catalogue with the help of George Marino. This 4 CD box set is the result of that labour. In terms of the sound, the improvement is nothing short of remarkable. The tracks from "Led Zeppelin 2" in particular are transformed.

While the box does not contain the entire studio works of Led Zeppelin (Boxed set 2 gathers in those which were omitted) it does contain the bulk of their work. The tracks are not arranged in the same order as they originally appeared, but they do flow approximately from oldest to newest. For example, disc one opens with "Whole lotta love", then takes in tracks from the first two albums before moving on to Led Zeppelin 3. The variances in the order have clearly been done in order to improve the way the tracks sit together here, and also to balance the LP side lengths. While Led Zeppelin tracks are always complete pieces in themselves, it can be disconcerting to here some out of sequence. For example, the sudden end to "Heartbreaker" just does not sound right without the instant start to "Livin' lovin' maid" (the latter is relegated to "Boxed set 2".)

There is little in the way of bonus material, with the excellent B side "Hey hey what can I do" being the only studio addition. There are also a couple of BBC recordings and a composite version of "Moby Dick" and "Bonzo's Montreux". While most albums lose several tracks to the second box, "Led Zeppelin 4" appears in its entirely with the exception of "Four sticks".

Fans of the band will inevitably prefer to have the now remastered individual CDs of the albums, but this box offers a wonderful opportunity to obtain the bulk of their catalogue in a lavishly presented format. While the "Boxed set 2" compilation is inevitably the weaker, it is essential in order to complete the picture.

Initial batches of this release came in an LP sized box with a plastic insert to hold the individual CD boxes and a separate LP sized booklet. Later versions are in the oblong style book type box which holds the CDs themselves and a smaller sized booklet. The booklet contains several essays about the band, a foldout picture section, and a complete illustrated discography listing. The set was also available as 4 cassettes or 6 LPs.

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Send comments to Easy Livin (BETA) | Report this review (#117295)
Posted Wednesday, April 04, 2007 | Review Permalink
fuxi
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars I first started listening to prog in the mid-1970s, when Led Zeppelin were huge - but Zep's style did not appeal to me. There were two main reasons. First of all, I couldn't stand Robert Plant's shrieking. When I heard "The Immigrant Song" I admired the playing, but I thought the vocals were way over the top. Secondly, I didn't like the band's image - particularly Plant's bare-chested look. I preferred nice, old-fashioned musicians who kept their kaftans firmly buttoned up, such as Steve Howe!

In spite of these reservations, I couldn't ignore Led Zep completely, and at the end of the seventies I compiled one or two tapes of 'bearable' tracks from their best-known albums, which I had borrowed here and there. It seems that, as the years went on, I started enjoying these tapes more and more, for when this 4-CD box set was eventually released, I immediately thought: 'Now is the moment to really get hold of their best material!' I bought the set and heroically overcame my aversion to Plant's vocals. The music contained herein now belongs among my all-time favourite rock 'n' roll.

Virtually all material in this set is first-rate. I cannot imagine there will be prog freaks who WON'T get carried away by marvellous tracks such as "Since I've been loving you", "Kashmir" or "Achilles' Last Stand". The set as a whole caused me to revise my personal poll of favourite musicians. Nowadays, I love Led Zep ALMOST as much as Yes, Jethro Tull and King Crimson, and I believe Jimmy Page was responsible (at least in the 1970s!) for more exciting solos, and more imaginative musical arrangements, than Howe, Hackett or any other prog guitarist.

Funny how musical reputations wax and wane. When Led Zep disbanded, their critical reputation was not too good. In the United States, the rock press reviled them for not being 'honest' or 'authentic'. In the U.K., punks loathed them. If John Bonham, their drummer, hadn't died, and if they had carried on through the 1980s and 1990s, they probably wouldn't have acquired legendary status. But they were saved by the tragedy of Bonham's early death, which prevented them from going down the same sorry road as Genesis or Jethro Tull. These days, the Led Zep repertoire stands as one of the cornerstones of late 1960s-1970s rock.

Surely there's no better introduction to Led Zep's oeuvre than this set. If you're not yet familiar with this band, and you feel you deserve a treat, go ahead and buy it. You won't regret it. And if you're like me, you'll soon want most of their other stuff as well.

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Send comments to fuxi (BETA) | Report this review (#118434)
Posted Sunday, April 15, 2007 | Review Permalink
Chicapah
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars There are really two categories of proggers who need this gigantic box set. The first is the neophyte Ledhead who doesn't have any of their studio albums and wants to dive headlong into their vast catalogue of music. Instead of paying over $100 (and that's being very conservative) to procure all nine studio releases individually one can invest somewhere in the neighborhood of $60 and get 54 tracks and four hours/fifty minutes of great Zep on 4 CDs. While you won't be getting every single cut, the ones missing are not extremely vital (except for the inexcusable omission of the very prog-oriented and kickass "Four Sticks." Shame, shame, shame.). Believe me, after sitting through the entire quad set in preparation for this review I can guarantee that you get a whole lotta LZ here. The other division of Zeppers that need this is the one that I was in. All my albums are vinyl and it's very hard to play them in the car or on my portable disc player. If you are in this sector then, by all means, grab this one up.

Disc one is the gem in this collection because the early tunes are the ones that benefit most from the exquisite remastering job performed expertly and with love by Jimmy Page and technician George Marino. Focused mainly on the debut and the second LP, what was once rather muddy and mid-range heavy back in the late 60s is now brightly crystal clear and the difference is staggering. You can hear everything, including the inadvertent string/stick noises and rough edges that gave the recordings an unimpeachable realism and relatable quality that defines honest-to-God rock & roll. It's incredibly refreshing and may provide huge clues to future generations as to why this unique foursome is so revered and respected. I find the live performance of Willie Dixon's "I Can't Quit You Baby" to be better than the studio version mainly because it rocks especially hard and it was taped at a rehearsal, for Pete's sake. Jeez, these guys were even intense about their sound checks! The previously unreleased "Travelling Riverside Blues" (basically a jam session but Page's acoustic slide guitar work is stellar) and the down-and- dirty "Hey, Hey What Can I Do" are both deserving inclusions. I like the fact that they threw in the 1969 radio broadcast of Jimmy's solo performance of "White Summer/Black Mountain Side" but I have to tell y'all that I find both the original studio version of "White Summer" on the Yardbirds' "Little Games" album and his ferocious performance of the same instrumental on the rare "Live Yardbirds featuring Jimmy Page" LP (yes, I have a pristine copy so eat your hearts out) are superior. I'm just sayin'.

Disc two also profits from the vastly improved audio but not nearly as much because studio techniques were constantly improving by leaps and bounds in the early 70s. This CD blends an array of songs from III, IV and Houses of the Holy in an interesting collage. By now you are aware that these tunes are not presented in anything resembling chronological order and I'm on board with that because if I wanted them in the same procession as originally presented then I'd just slap the records on the turntable. Or you can buy the original albums if you're a fussy stickler for protocol. Me, I kinda like Jimmy's personal Led Zeppelin showcase. Highlights include the strong prog-folk of "The Battle of Evermore," John Paul Jones' Mellotron musings on "The Rain Song" and Robert Plant's soulful, emotional wailing on the wonderful "Since I've Been Loving You."

Disc three places emphasis on selections from Houses of the Holy, Physical Graffiti and Presence, displaying the band's evolution away from their blues roots and into a more progressive era. While they unquestionably become more experimental and envelope-pushing in their approach, they also tended to be more than a little self-indulgent and repetitive when some tactful editing could have been employed. Still, the tunes are way above average although I don't like the irritating "Trampled Under Foot" and never will so that's where I would have preferred to hear "Four Sticks" but that's just me. John Bonham's planet- shaking drums on the stupendous "When the Levee Breaks" go a long way in making up for that error in judgment and the quirky "Dancing Days" is always a spirit-lifter.

Disc four is a mixed bag. Some great stuff juxtaposed against some not-so-great stuff, in essence. "The Ocean" has that odd riff that would have been right at home in a King Crimson ditty, "Poor Tom" takes me back to the acoustic mindset of the 3rd LP and "Moby Dick/Bonzo's Montreaux" is an interesting drum casserole cooked up by Page for this project. And, before I finish, it behooves me to say that by the time you finish listening to all this you have to come away with an even more eyebrow-raising admiration for the artistry of Jimmy Page on guitar. Not only did he have the genius to surround himself with extraordinary virtuosos that functioned like clockwork in this band but his bold, risk-taking guitarisms that made Led Zeppelin a history-making force in music are nothing short of awesome.

If you already have all of the remastered albums then there's not much incentive for you to get this. The glossy, picture-filled booklet doesn't really offer any tidbits that aren't available elsewhere and you've already got the musical goods. But for the folks residing in the two groupings I outlined at the beginning this is a justifiable expenditure and something that you won't regret acquiring for your prog library. 3.8 stars.

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Send comments to Chicapah (BETA) | Report this review (#135719)
Posted Saturday, September 01, 2007 | Review Permalink

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