Led Zeppelin (DVD)

Led Zeppelin

Atlantic, 2003


REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


Led Zeppelin's live performances were thrilling to watch but lost something in the audio translation. The band's only live document and movie for many years, The Song Remains The Same, hardly bore repeated listens.

But then the BBC Sessions and How The West Was Won came out, and suddenly we had some more live audio Zeppelin. And apparently, guitarist Jimmy Page was working feverishly on a DVD set that would capture the band in many different ways, from their beginnings to their rock star glory days.

That set is this 2-CD self-titled DVD, which is the best concert DVD ever released and a must-own for all Zeppelin fans. And that is not hyperbole -- this is five hours of concert footage and another half hour of interviews, promo videos and TV clips of the band. The accompanying booklets also explain the painstaking restoration process and the history behind each concert -- four of which are represented in various portions.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The first CD is an hour of the Royal Albert Hall concert, showing a young Zeppelin on their Led Zeppelin II tour loving every minute of their work. The band smiles a lot and is tight but fun, connecting with an audience, who is clearly impressed by what they see. A stunning, drawn-out version of "How Many More Times" anchors the set, while performances of the rarely-heard "Something Else" and "C'mon Everybody" are a treat for fans. Some TV clips are also included -- the best is a four-song set in black and white in front of maybe 40 teenagers sitting cross-legged on the floor.

The second disc is even better. After starting with a few songs from the Madison Square Garden concerts that spawned TSRTS, the DVD segues into the 1975 Earl's Court show. An amazing version of "Trampled Underfoot" and "In My Time Of Dying" greet the listener, twhile the acoustic trilogy of "That's The Way," "Going To California" and "Bron-Y-Aur Stomp" prove the band didn't need amps to be powerful.

And if you can still breathe after all of this, the six songs from the 1979 Knebworth show are in full Hammer God mode, featuring a band that seemed to have no worries. Page tears through "Achilles' Last Stand," with Robert Plant belting out better vocals than he ever had, and versions of "Rock And Roll" and "Whole Lotta Love" are interesting twists on the originals. "In The Evening" is kind of a drag, but it is redeemed by "Kashmir," the ultimate Zep song.

What makes this so good is the restoration. All hints of fuzz and tape problems are gone -- this looks like it was recorded yesterday and sounds the same as well. The true Zep experience is both audio and visual, and watching this loud with the lights down is almost like being at a concert. Four of them, to be exact.

There are a couple of odd editing quirks to the videos, and the cameras focus mainly on Plant and Page while excluding John Paul Jones. Also, some of the songs are not Zep's best, and a few are repeated often on the first disc. But these are minor quibbles. This is a perfect DVD and a testament to the band's legacy, and although it was a long time coming, it was definitely worth waiting for.

Rating: A

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© 2005 Benjamin Ray and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Atlantic, and is used for informational purposes only.