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Led Zeppelin - How the West was Won

Review: 162
Date: 11 Jan 04

 


Rating: 5 Stars

Musicians:
Robert Plant - Vocals and Harmonica
Jimmy Page - Acoustic and Electric Guitars
John Paul Jones - Bass Guitar, Keyboards, and Mandolin
John Bonham - Drums and Percussion

Tracks Listing:
Disc One
La Drone
Immigrant Song
Heartbreaker
Black Dog
Over The Hills And Far Away
Since I've Been Loving You
Stairway To Heaven
Going To California
That's The Way
Bron-Yr-Aur-Stomp

Disc Two
Dazed And Confused
What Is And What Should Never Be
Dancing Days
Moby Dick

Disc Three
Whole Lotta Love
Rock And Roll
The Ocean
Bring It On Home

 


This is the Rock Album release of 2003 by a country mile. This collection of songs stands head and shoulders above anything else during the last twelve months. The only disappointment being that it was not released thirty-one years ago, at the time of its recording.

Over the last thirty years the Led Zeppelin live selection available to the public has been extremely slim pickings. The best of them was some recordings from the dear old B.B.C., which, while not exactly bad, did not contain the excitement of a real in your face concert. The only official release during the band s  oh too brief lifespan was 'The Song Remains The Same'. This was, if you like, a recording of the best band in the world playing one of the worst concerts they ever played. Other than that you had to rely upon bootlegs and sorting the good from the bad was not always easy. But with this release all has been put to rights.

This is a compilation of two concerts from June 1972, put together in the correct running order to show off an entire show of Led Zeppelin at the height of their powers playing in front of their rabid fans. Led Zeppelin was the finest rock band to ever tread the boards, and  How the West Was Won catches them at their peak. Not only is this the rock release of 2003, but it also makes it the best live rock album ever. Full stop here - no arguments.

Each member of the band is brim full of confidence, skill, and comfort in their own abilities and those of their partners. Hard to believe they had only been together for just over three years, but had released five classic albums from which there is a selection from each here. These concerts were recorded on the  Houses of the Holy tour. (The Songbook list was already overloaded with Cannon, and they still had to release  Physical Graffiti and  Presence . Listening you wonder what they are going to drop to put in 'Kashmir', etc.)

Robert Plant shows off confirming why he was the ultimate front man. With his unique voice with its yelps, yells and none too subtle innuendo, he was often copied, but never bettered.

Jimmy Page is not only the finest and most versatile guitarist, but leaves you in no mind, who the leader was of this crew.

John Paul Jones often does not get the credit he deserves, but as well as being such a jolly useful chap with his multi-instrumental talent, he also helped co-write many of Zeppelin's classic tracks.

John Bonham is awesome. His drumming throughout is superb and his stamina breathtaking. His almost twenty minute drum solo in 'Moby Dick' leaves all other drum solos in the dirt. (Not forgetting that the opening guitar lick of  Moby Dick most bands would make a career out of.)

What you get, spread over three discs; ten songs on disc one, four on disc two, and four on disc three. That may sound a bit unfair, but then on disc two you get 'Dazed and Confused' clocking in at over twenty-five minutes and 'Moby Dick' at just under twenty minutes. Led Zeppelin go through the full range of their material from the acoustic songs that come at the end of disc one, the cosmic blues of 'Since I've been Loving You'. The majestic 'Stairway to Heaven' (I know you've heard it a thousand times, but only these four guys can get it right) to the let your hair down let's all go mad of 'Rock and Roll'.

Highlights over the three discs are far too many to mention, but for this dog the complete twenty-three minutes of the 'Whole Lotta Love' medley, and directly after the storming opener of  Immigrant Song , when Jimmy Page goes directly into the guitar riff of  Heartbreaker ,  DANG DANG DANG DANG DA-DA-DANG, DA-DA-DA-DA-DA DANG DANG DA-DA-DANG are the absolute pinnacle of Rock and Roll bliss. (Skip back and read the DANG DANG bit again and you know I'm right.) During happy hour at Tahitian Queen, when  Heartbreaker' slams its way out of the speakers, look around and you can see everybody is reaching for their air guitars as their heads rock back. One listen to this collection and you can hear  How The West Was Won by Led Zeppelin in the early seventies. If this is not enough for you, don't forget there is an accompanying DVD simply titled Led Zeppelin with over five hours of different unreleased material, which is spread over Led Zeppelins entire career. Happy Daze indeed.

 

Pawed by Mott The Dog
Re-chewed by Ella Crew

E-mail: review@mott-the-dog.com


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