Led Zeppelin - How The West Was Won
Whether that would have been different had I got to see Led Zeppelin live, I do not know. They toured the UK infrequently in their latter years and I was too young for the Earls Court gigs and not in the country for their final appearance in the UK. However, I had always believed the received wisdom that Led Zeppelin were the best live act of the seventies. However, the only thing I had to base this opinion on, other than what people told me, was the sometimes excruciating The Song Remains the Same. Gradually, as time wore on, my opinion of Led Zeppelin as a live act changed too, along with my opinion of them as a studio act. They may have been good on occasions, but on others they were not. If they were good, they would have put out a live album to prove it.
However, now I am once again convinced. Led Zeppelin were the best live act of the seventies. No doubt about that. Why should I say this now? Well, I bought this album a few years back and it blew me away. Expensive it may be but essential is a more apt description. It may have come thirty years late, but when Led Zeppelin finally did put out a live album, it proves to be a corker. Recorded over two concerts at the Long Beach Arena and the LA Forum, these songs date from only a year before the recordings which featured on The Song Remains the Same. But the difference is palpable.
Just listening to the first CD reminds you just what a genius Jimmy Page is. There is no-one, and I mean no-one who can play the guitar quite like him. The highpoint of Page's performance for me is "Heartbreaker" which is, as you would expect, longer than the studio version, but never once drags. Even "Dazed and Confused", weighing in at over 25 minutes, doesn't drag as much as it does on The Song Remains the Same. And if Page at his peak was not enough, then there was John Bonham. The drums on this are superb and while "Moby Dick" may be somewhat overblown and indulgent, it is his work on the other tracks which reminds you what an incredibly powerful drummer he was. Plant's vocals are at their best, the range and the power is unsurpassed, while John Paul Jones's bass is there quietly in the background, and his keyboard work really stands out on "Stairway to Heaven" which is far better than the other live version on The Song Remains the Same, though probably below the standard set on the BBC Sessions.
This is the album that The Song Remains the Same aspired to be, but was never able to make it. This is what Led Zeppelin were truly like, live and unencumbered by people with cameras and all the rest of the shit. This album clearly demonstrates why they got the reputation they did. In short, proof positive if anyone ever doubted it just how incredible Led Zeppelin really were at their prime. I shall never doubt again.
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on 2013-03-20 firstname.lastname@example.org Said:
Definitely an amazing live album and a perfect compliment to the DVD that came out with it - the video we'd been waiting for! BBC Sessions was also great, but Celebration Day is still blowing me away. The bootleg videos from the 2007 show are just not even close to the official release. They took their usual Zeppelin-like time to release it, but definitely better late then never! Zeppelin lives forever!