What does it sound like?:
Recorded over three nights at Madison Square Garden at the end of July 1973 and released originally in the autumn of 1976, for many a year this was the only official live recording of Led Zeppelin. Oddly the album and the film of which this was ostensibly the soundtrack did not contain the same songs, although that anomaly was corrected in the 2007 reissue, which reinstated the missing music and corrected the running order. I don’t recall ever hearing that new version of the album at the time, but this 2018 edition, which concludes this series of reissues of the Zep catalogue, repeats the exercise. Having been sonically tweaked by Jimmy Page in conjunction with Kevin Shirley, this version does sound noticeably better than the original – in particular the 5.1 mix on the bluray is very powerful. For me though, this is a set of two halves. The first cd contains the generally shorter pieces, and is a great record of the band really firing on all cylinders. Perhaps surprisingly, the slower, more atmospheric songs work best – No Quarter, The Rain Song and Since I’ve Been Loving You – but there’s no denying the energy of The Ocean, Over The Hills and Far Away and Rock & Roll. The second cd is less successful, containing overlong bloated versions of Dazed And Confused and Moby Dick, before being redeemed by a storming Heartbreaker and the inevitable Whole Lotta Love. Although the subsequent How The West Was Won set arguably has the band in leaner, hungrier form the previous year, this set is still a good record of their live show at the time, capturing as it does every nuance of their performances over those three seminal summer nights when they were at the peak of their powers and influence.
What does it all *mean*?
In the band’s fiftieth anniversary year their music is still essential listening.
Goes well with…
Recalling the days when giants still walked the earth.
Might suit people who like…
Hard rock, blues, looking back.