Classic Rock Review

The home of old record and bootleg reviews…

Led Zeppelin Earls Court 1975 DVD


Earls Court, London, England – May 24th, 1975

Rock And Roll, Sick Again, Over The Hills And Far Away, In My Time Of Dying, The Song Remains The Same, The Rain Song, Kashmir, No Quarter, Tangerine, Going To California, That’s The Way, Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp, Trampled Underfoot, Moby Dick, Dazed And Confused, Stairway To Heaven, Whole Lotta Love, Black Dog

Boogie Mama have pressed onto one DVD the professional shot Earls Court footage. The fourth of five shows in London that May, this first received widespread circulation about the time of the official DVD. Previous releases include Heavy Metal Kids (Empress Valley EVSDVDV005-007) which also includes a fragment of the May 25th show, Earl’s Court 1975 Definitive Edition (Celebration CDVD-005AB) and Earl’s Court 75 (Cashmere CS-03-001/002) on 2DVD, and the most noted edition Earls Court May 24, 1975 (Cosmic Energy CE-013) on DVDR.

The video and soundtrack are complete except for “Going To California.” The audience recording of this show is edited in accompanied by slow motion replays of the action on stage. Early releases were also missing “Moby Dick” but is present here in its twenty-eight minute glory. In line with their other DVD release, they utilize DVD9 technology to fit the entire three hour plus show onto one disc. It is pressed in NTSC region 0 with 5.1 surround sound. The video looks great and the soundtrack even better.

Watching the video is valuable because, although the aural experience is key for music, watching the musicians embody the music also enhances the overall effect. The video is a competent combination of close ups and wideshots showing both their facial expressions in reaction to the music and their interaction with one another. As such it is good theater: meaningful watching that holds ones interest. At this point in their live career Led Zeppelin were a compelling live act producing such massive music in a shroud of mystery.

Robert Plant said many times that their best songs convey a sense of journey and movement. “The Song Remains The Same,” “Kashmir,” “No Quarter” and “Stairway To Heaven” all bring the participant into a liminal state which is exciting. But this sense is embodied in kinetic movement and grand gestures onstage recalling archetypes of strength and power. It is this aspect of Led Zeppelin, almost completely lost on audio recordings, which is captured very well on video recordings such as these and make this an essential piece for the collection. Boogie Mama utilize a cardboard digipack sleeve with photos from the Earls Court concerts and the poster of the event on the front cover. It is basic and used by many different labels, but the point is made that the contents contain the May 24th Earls Court show, one of the best of their career available in an excellent, almost complete video document.

June 22, 2013 Posted by | Led Zeppelin Earls Court 1975, Led Zeppelin Earls Court 1975 DVD | , , | Leave a comment

Led Zeppelin Mean Business DVD (Knebworth, August 1979)


Led Zeppelin, after a two year absence from the stage, scheduled one of the biggest comebacks in the history of of rock. With two massive festival appearances in August, it was meant to give the band the biggest amount of exposure on the biggest stage in the British festival circuit. The importance of these shows is best summed up by author Dave Lewis, who wrote: “For many in attendance it was their first ever concert experience. For many it would be the only time that they would get to see Zeppelin perform live. For that reason alone it holds a special affection in their live history. The first show in particular, with so much riding on it, was perhaps the most important they ever played.” (Led Zeppelin: Celebration II: The ‘Tight But Loose’ Files).

The two warm up shows in Copenhagen revealed a band who were not quite ready to headline such massive events, a point that Robert Plant stated shortly after the two when he said: “Knebworth was useless. It was no good at all. It was no good because we weren’t ready to do it, the whole thing was a management decision. It felt like I was cheating myself because I wasn’t as relaxed as I could have been. There was so much expectation there and the least we could have done was to have been confident enough to kill. We maimed the beast for life, but we didn’t kill it. It was good, but only because everybody made it good. There was that sense of event.”

Journalist Chris Welch, fifteen years afterwards, observed: “Fans [at Knebworth] were still supporting the band, but there was definitely a feeling [Led Zeppelin’s] days were numbered. Audience reaction at Knebworth had not been overwhelming and many seemed content to stand and stare, like mesmerized spectators at an alien ritual, a far cry from the hysteria of earlier shows. Robert Plant seemed perplexed at the silence between songs, when you could practically hear a pin drop in that vast, cold field.

“It wasn’t until he led the way into ‘Stairway to Heaven’ and ‘Trampled Underfoot’ that roars of appreciation began to echo around Knebworth. Robert’s only comment at the end of the last show was a guarded ‘It’s been quite good.’” The soundboard tapes caused a general re-evaluation of the event which was given another boost when much of the August 4th show was used on the official Led Zeppelin DVD.

Both shows from the professional source have been in circulation for many years and have seen many worthy releases. Cosmic Energy, on of the pioneer labels for video titles, gives the two Knebworth shows a sterling BluRay transfer. Much like with their work on the Earl’s Court and Page & Plant in Irvine videos, there is noticeable improvement in clarity over other versions. The picture is more sharp and the colors are more rich and vibrant.

Cosmic Energy also score high marks for packaging. The carry case come in a brown paper bag (inspired by the In Through The Outdoor marketing campaign) and has many other artifacts such as a miniature reproduction of the program, tickets, button and a poster. It’s one of the best packages Cosmic Energy has ever assembled.

Knebworth Festival, Stevanage, England – August 4th, 1979

BluRay Disc 1: The Song Remains the Same, Celebration Day, (Out On the Tiles intro) Black Dog, Nobody’s Fault But Mine, Over the Hills and Far Away, Misty Mountain Hop, Since I’ve Been Loving You, No Quarter, Ten Years Gone, Hot Dog, Rain Song, White Summer ~ Black Mountainside, Kashmir, Trampled Underfoot, Sick Again, Achilles Last Stand, Jimmy Page solo, In The Evening, Stairway to Heaven, Rock and Roll, Whole Lotta Love, Heartbreaker

The video tape begins with the pre-show canned music before “The Song Remains The Same” and “Celebration Day” both sounding very intense and afterwards Plant sounds very excited greeting an audience in England for many years: ”Well, I said Well. ah ah. I said Well. Good evening. Good evening. It’s nice to see you again. I told Pagey that one or two people would be here, but he said he doubted it very much. Well I can’t tell you how it feels. I think you can probably, you’ve got a good idea anyway, but it’s great.”

“Black Dog” in 1979 sounds very light and punkish compared to versions in the past. “Nobody’s Fault But Mine” is referred to as the time they “went to Munich and made an album called Presence which had a track on it Charles Schaar Murray really liked…he’s still taking the pills.”

One of the highlights of the show is “No Quarter” where Plant introduces John Paul Jones as “the man from Casablanca…some say a man in his own right, other say Royal Orleans” because of his white suit. At eighteen minutes long, Jones plays a tasteful solo on the electric piano recalling the same unified vision of the Earls Court performances capped off by one of the best solos by Page of the evening. “Ten Years Gone” is also tight. This is also the final time it is played live by Led Zeppelin since it will be dropped the following week.

Before “Hot Dog” Plant addresses all the people who came, from “Comharden, Newcastle, Birmingham, Kidderminster, Freddie Bannister” and laments the delay of the new album, “so the album that came out two weeks ago unfortunately got delayed again. First it was a fortnight ago, and then it was a week ago, now it’s next Friday. It just goes on and on and on. This is a track from it that we should dedicate to trials in America.” He is surprised that people know the title already, “How come you know what it’s called? You’ve been reading about the Swedish and the Danish, hey?”

After the tepid performance he becomes defensive, saying “Yes, still got a sense of humor….So we got all the way here, and now the equipment blows up. Never mind. It’s got to be better than Earls Court. Who’s the person who owned that goat and the little wagon that we saw out there two nights ago, camping out there? Just come round the back with us afterwards, and write an acoustic set with us.”

The guitar solo before “In The Evening” is a bit longer than in Copenhagen with the same fanfare Page used on the 1977 tour. The Götterdammerung introduction is very effective as a prelude to the new track which has its rough patches but is a great live vehicle. Before the final number Plant thanks the crowd for coming, saying “well all you people who’ve come so far, it’s been like a blind date, if you like. We’ve even loosened up and laughing. This is a song I guess we should …so many people who’ve helped us over the years, and no people more important that yourselves who come here on a blind date. This is for you.”

There is no editing in the tape after “Stairway To Heaven” so several minutes of chanting and cheering in audible before the encore set. Each of the Copenhagen shows received one, but both Knebworth shows got three. “Rock And Roll” is the first and following which the crowd serenade the band with “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” Plant joins and in twenty years afterwards, in an article in Mojo magazine, Page is quoted saying, “there were tears in the eyes” during that event.

“Whole Lotta Love” is played in the same arrangement premiered in the second Copenhagen show and although Page stumbles at bit in the transition from first verse to middle, comes off fine and “Heartbreaker” closes what is one of the most important gigs in Zeppelin’s career. Plant’s assessment is correct. It is a very good and professional performance that hints at their former prowess but their two year layoff is all too apparent.

Knebworth Festival, Stevanage, England – August 11th, 1979

BluRay Disc 2: The Song Remains the Same, Celebration Day, (Out On the Tiles intro) Black Dog, Nobody’s Fault But Mine, Over the Hills and Far Away, Misty Mountain Hop, Since I’ve Been Loving You, No Quarter, Hot Dog, Rain Song, White Summer ~ Black Mountainside, Kashmir, Trampled Underfoot, Sick Again, Achilles Last Stand, Jimmy Page solo, In The Evening, Stairway to Heaven, Rock and Roll, Whole Lotta Love, Communication Breakdown

After the opening songs Plant shows his bitterness at being slammed in the press after the first Knebworth show, saying, “Well, it didn’t rain, but it rained on us in the week from one or two sources, and we’re just gonna stick it right where it really belongs.” It is immediately obvious that the emotion and intensity of the first week is lacking.

“Over The Hills And Far Away” is ruined by a loud crackling in the PA system. Page in particular sounds distracted during the solo and stumbles into the second half. “What’s going on?” Plant asks. “It must be the samosas” he jokes but the noises persist through “Misty Mountain Hop” which, “apart from a load of crackling featured Jonesy on narcissistic keyboards.”

“No Quarter” is fifteen minutes long and includes a masterful duet between Jones and Page in the middle section where there seems to be some telepathy between them proving this is one of the greatest live vehicles written by Led Zeppelin and it is a shame this would be the final live version.

“Ten Years Gone” is dropped so Plant goes into the long introduction to the first new song of the set, saying, “In the neolithic caves in Peru they’ve been finding a lot of colored drawings on the walls, and along with the colored drawings they also found a new album cover. We’re managing to get the album out in about two weeks. As you’ve no doubt read the reviews, it’s tremendous. You can imagine. It’s called In Through the Out Door, which is one of the methods of entry that proves to be harder that one would originally expect. And this is one of the tracks from it. It’s called…and we dedicate this to the Texas road crew, and all the people to be found in the sleazy hangouts around there…it’s called Hot Dog.”

“The Rain Song” is very strong and the tape picks up Jones playing some pretty and unique bass-lines in the middle of the piece. The next portion of the set is occupied with some of their most adventurous songs of tours and journeys beginning with “White Summer.”

Whether the thematic link was intentional or not, but “Kashmir,” “Trampled Underfoot,” “Sick Again” and “Achilles Last Stand” all deal with motion and adventures in foreign lands in one way or another. They are performed well although “Sick Again” seems to puzzle the audience and “Achilles Last Stand” stumbles out of the gate and is generally sloppy.

Everyone seems tires after “In The Evening” as Plant introduces the final song of the main set, saying, “it comes to the time now when we really got to thank you for hanging about for four years you English folk. And you French people, for hanging about since ooh, I don’t know how long. I would like to thank everybody who’s come from everywhere to create part of the atmosphere that we’ve had. The other bands that we’ve had with us, Commander Cody. Good, good, good, good. Todd, Keith, and Ronny [Keith Richards and Ron Wood who opened for Zeppelin as the New Barbarians]. Peter Grant. Thanks everybody.”

A tired version of “Stairway To Heaven” is played before they come back for the encores. “Can you do the dinosaur rock?” Plant asks before “Rock And Roll.” The new arrangement of “Whole Lotta Love” is much more tight and vicious this evening and the final encore is a quick version of “Communication Breakdown.”

“It’s been great….We’ll see you very soon. Don’t know about the Marquee, but somewhere soon. See you later, bye” are Plant’s parting words. For an historical piece this is a great document to have of this show, warts and all.

It’s remarkable how well these shows have aged. Each new release over the years has improved these festival’s reputation, and Mean Business certainly does that. It’s definitely worth the asking price and stands as the new definitive collection for these latter day Zeppelin concerts.

June 6, 2013 Posted by | Led Zeppelin Mean Business | , , | Leave a comment

The Who The Kids Are Alright DVD (Deluxe Edition) (2008)


Really, I just don’t know how this DVD could be any better.

It seems like every night, Dave and Jay have some new band on stage. Some angst-projecting vocalist trying to sound like Kurt Cobain, some guitarist who knows 5 chords and 2 ways to strum each one, a bassist who plays one note at a time, and a drummer who knows only one rythem – bump-bah-bump-bah-bump-bah-badump. But no matter how bad they are, they all have one thing in common – they’re all pretty enough for MTV. It’s enough to make me scream in frustration, because I know how good rock and roll can really be, and this DVD is it.

Patch your DVD player through your stereo, put masking tape on all your window glass, stuff the dog’s ears with cotton, protect all small children with DOT approved devices, then pop this DVD in and hide under the couch, because THIS is rock and roll as it was and is meant to be – master musicians with genuine f— it all attitude, playing through 10 tons of Marshall Hiwatt amps. In the late 70’s there was a famous ad in “Stereo Review” showing a guy sitting in an armchair in front of a speaker, with his necktie being blown straight back behind him. Picture that, and you get an idea of what this movie and this band are all about.

The movie itself is half comedy and half action-drama. The comedy comes during interviews and conversations with the band, with Keith initiating most of it and everyone else either joining in or, in the case of the slick corporate “host” types, getting skewered. The action-drama is all on stage, with Pete whirling his way through incredible guitar playing, Roger providing his usual peerless singing, Keith bringing something almost otherworldly to his drums, and John holding it all down, standing there motionless like the rock of Gibralter, his fingers on the bass a blur.

Unlike so many modern bands, who surround themselves with “star” mystique and who are always safe and cool on stage, The Who were self-deprecating and able to laugh at themselves when they weren’t playing, and when they were playing… well, when they were playing, they consistently reached for the stars. Sometimes it didn’t work – sometimes they sounded like crap. But when they were in the sweet spot, when they were in “the zone,” they were, to use the apt words of another reviewer, “the greatest rock and roll band ever to draw breath.”

Most of what you get in this DVD special edition is “in the zone,” and what little isn’t, doesn’t really detract from the experience. Everyone who worked on producing this DVD edition should get a medal, as the film looks and sounds as close to perfection as it is ever going to get.

By the way, if you are listening through an old-fashioned, two speaker system, choose “stereo” under sound options. The reviewer who panned the sound, probably hadn’t tried that option yet – on my system (Carver tuner with 2 Dahlquist DQM-9 Compact loudspeakers) choosing “stereo” cleaned up the sound greatly.

Unfortunately, most of the people who buy this DVD, probably already know how great it is. You won’t be disappointed, and if you show it to a friend or two, maybe the memory of The Who won’t die with us. There’s never been another band like them, and this DVD does them justice for the ages.

May 31, 2013 Posted by | The Who The Kids Are Alright DVD | , | Leave a comment

No Quarter – Jimmy Page & Robert Plant Unledded DVD (1994)


Review Ex-Led Zeppelin vocalist and lyricist Robert Plant always said that the true spirit of Led Zeppelin as represented within a single song was more evident in “Kashmir” than it was in AOR standby classic tracks like “Rock & Roll” and “Black Dog”; the notion that a hard rock blues-based band of English white boys who practically invented the heavy metal music genre could in fact be considered the godfathers of “World Beat” music a full generation before Peter Gabriel came along is conveniently overlooked by Western rock music fans, as is the notion that the principles of Eastern music (in terms of Indian and Arabic theories and applications) were far more prevalent within Led Zeppelin’s work than that of the Beatles, typically more associated with Indian music thanks to George Harrison’s association with Ravi Shankar.

This outstanding live performance recorded 10 years ago as of this writing is a fantastic example of Plant’s opinion and the Led Zeppelin vision of musical exploration gloriously realized. As detailed within the interview included with this DVD’s bonus features, Plant and guitarist/co-songwriter Jimmy Page chose a set that lent itself well to a broad interpretation and that reflected less the brute force of the riff-driven heavy metal classic tracks that permeate albums such as “Led Zeppelin II” and their self-titled 4th album (although “Four Sticks” and a wild reinterpretation of “When The Levee Breaks” are included) and more of the songs crafted as introspective compositions from “Led Zeppelin III” and “Houses Of The Holy”.

This is not Led Zeppelin in their prime; that would be “How The West Was Won”. And in truth John Paul Jones’ absence is much lamented by this listener as he may well have been the best musician in the band and was the unifying force keeping them together during their last years…but the musicians filling in for him and the late John Bonham are certainly competent and their absence tugs at the sentiment of the heart rather than the sensitivity of the ear.

But for me the accompanying musicians are what really makes this set go. This is not a case of adding an extra guitarist (i.e., Pat Smear from the “Nirvana: MTV Unplugged” concert); the musicians added to this performance play every thing from banjo to hurdy-gurdy to native Arabic lutes, in addition to both Western and Eastern string sections as well as Arabic percussion specialists. The culmination of the meshing of musical talents and the melding of musical sensibilities is no better realized than in the epic performance of “Kashmir”, my personal favourite Led Zeppelin song (and perhaps my favourite song by any performer). The song is hardly recognizable as the 8-plus minute classic rock radio staple; it has instead become the living embodiment of the spirit of the band and with its new energy surpasses the original studio recording whose orchestral sounds were generated from an early synthesizer (by John Paul Jones); the energy and the determination exhibited by the lead and supporting musicians during its performance is thoroughly inspiring and worthy of one of the finest performances in contemporary rock history.

This is a tremendous sampling of a band broken down to its most musical elements. Not specifically rock, folk, or even acoustic. Just evidence of the work of one of the finest bands to ever record. All the elements are there; you owe it to yourself to partake of them.

Review Well, Sir Robert and James Page have done it again!

This time, in a re-release of MTV’s 1994 Special UnLedded Page and Plant video, the full beauty of Robert’s voice, and Jimmy Page and his mastery of guitar legend abound.

It is replete with wonderful moments, such as Gallows Pole, featuring Jimmy playing one of his own Black Mountainside Brand custom acoustic guitars, Friends, a fabulous, exotic song from Zep III, and a heavy version of THE song, Kashmir, replete with cello phenom Caroline Dale, her entire ensemble of British cellists, Giles, Milne, et al, an Egyptian string ensemble, (with monstrously talented Egyptian violin soloist Wael Abu Bakr) doing lead violin solo, and Jimmy playing the 50,000$, multi computerized Gibson Les Paul Transperformance guitar – capable of instantaneously moving and retuning to nearly 100 different modal tunings real time- with relish. Jimmy has that device down to a science. Kashmir is simply still astonishing and brings tears to the eyes delivered like this. Power and glory abound here.

There is EVEN Page/Plant/Jones and Lee, doing a parody of Dred Zeppelins’ (Nobody’s Fault) doing a parody of Led Zep. How about that for turnabout? All in good fun of course. It’s even dumbed down to Dreds level for extra gusto.

The other piece de resistance’ is No Quarter, the beginning song, filmed outdoors, in the woods, in Wales, with Jimmy doing a totally re-worked No quarter in modal 12 string, acoustic, and Robert handling his own array of black boxes (on his lap) through which he does misty mountain hopping special FX for his voice, in real time. THIS is priceless.

There are a few (very few) weak spots here and there, but after all, these guys are middle aged fellows, like many of us, here, and none of us are what we were when we were 25. And Bonham’s presence is noticeable at times. Thank You could have been a better take.

But on the whole, this is thrilling music, with enormous scope, big time arrangements, TOP talent doing backup roles. The hurdy gurdy, rich mandolins, and violas and Bodhran add especially flavourful ethnic mixes to the final product. It is exciting, fresh, and full of new twists. I loved the jam with the musicians in Morrocco. And in Marrackech, that anthem, with Pagey doing the moonwalk, is just plain loud fun.

Where Pagey gets these special effects is anyone’s guess. He never runs out of new ideas, or new gear. No one, save perhaps Gilmour, knows more about the technical end of guitar, electronics, FX, cutting edge tech, and the like. These two fellows have pushed the state of the guitar ahead 100 years… if only there were people behind them picking up where they left off. As long as that is not the case, WE need JP showing us the way..

SIBLY is again, great. If you liked Led Zep, I dare say you will probably love this video. It is worth watching and keeping. You won’t find another live rock band like this for another hundred years or more. And with this high calibre of musicians backing them up, you won’t see a show like this again. That much is assured. Guaranteed.

May 25, 2013 Posted by | No Quarter - Jimmy Page & Robert Plant Unledded | , | Leave a comment

Led Zeppelin Good Times Bad Times DVD (2012)


Review Let’s get it out of the way- this is an absolutely fantastic set and shouldn’t be missed. The video quality is excellent, as is the sound, and it’s an absolute bargain given the 5+ hour running time. Buy it now.
So why only four stars? Well, the production team couldn’t just stop at a masterful restoration of the deteriorated masters- they had to ‘improve’ it.

Bootleg videos of the vast majority of this material has been floating around for years, and having seen much of it, I can vouch for the astounding restoration work this set represents. On the other hand, they saw fit to reedit nearly all the sequences to a 90’s MTV aesthetic.

Where the original may show a 10 second shot of Page’s hands playing a solo, this version will feature 4 or 5 fast intercuts to footage of Plant clapping (culled from earlier in the set), digitally fuzzified and pseudo-shakycam versions of the original shot of Page’s handwork, an audience shot culled from another show, another shot of Plant digitally slowed down in an attempt to make his clapping sync with the audio, etc., etc., ad infinitum.

In some instances it’s apparent that this was done to cover minor glitches (probably unrestorable) in the video, but the vast majority of the embellishment is in sequences with excellent quality. The fuzzy faux-shakycam treatment is particularly galling, since it’s such a cliche in recent MTV fare and obscures some truly lovely passages.

I’m not expecting an historical document, so I have no problem with the usual monkeying with the set order or the merciful editing of Plant’s traditional lengthy (and quite stoned) patter between songs, but every time one of these ‘improved’ segments kicks in I’m left longing for the beautiful set that would have remained had the producers stopped after the restoration process. Sometimes less is more.

Review Before purchasing this DVD set, you must ask yourself this simple question: “Am I a true Led Zeppelin fan or do I just like a few songs I hear on the radio?”
If you are just a casual fan who likes the cuts they hear on the radio and may own an album or two, this DVD is definitely not for you. This DVD is for the hardest of hardcore Led Zeppelin fans. For those of us who weren’t fortunate enough to be around during Zeppelin’s heyday, then this DVD is a dream come true.

For years I had heard all the stories about how amazing Led Zeppelin’s live shows were. Of course I’ve seen “The Song Remains the Same” countless times and have a few bootlegs that are just good enough to tease. After completing just half of the first DVD, I felt that I had finally found the Zeppelin Holy Grail.

The performances on this DVD don’t completely live up to the hype, but they sure do come close. While the performances themselves are amazing, it’s the little things that really turned me on. Watching how the band communicates through their improv sessions, the fact that John Bonham sung backup on Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp, seeing John Paul Jones playing the mandolin parts that I always thought were Jimmy’s, and countless other little bits that make it all worth the watch.

I’m not going to state that all the performances are perfect, because they certainly are not. The reason Led Zeppelin’s live shows were so legendary was because of how much improvisation they emphasize in the performances. It’s extremely rare to see that in a Rock and Roll band outside of the Dead. I believe the band maintained the ethic that sure it may not be perfect, and sometimes downright messy, but when they get into a groove, it’s truly lightning in a bottle. These improvised jams tend to be something that only musicians with jazz or blues backgrounds tend to understand. That’s exactly why Led Zeppelin was in a class all their own.

I personally tend to disagree with those that make Led Zeppelin out to be the fathers of heavy metal. True, they were a major influence then and now, but it’s got too much of a base in blues and jazz to be compared to Metal. I think we’re better off leaving that title to the likes of Black Sabbath. After seeing and hearing some of the material on this DVD it just re-emphasized this thought. The concert at Royal Albert Hall is just one blues jam after another with hints of their songs thrown in to give it a sense of cohesion.

For all of those musicians out there who idolized Jimmy Page as I did, you will not be disappointed in the slightest. To see how he communicates with the rest of the band as he goes through his wild improvisations is simply amazing. While it is true that Jimmy tends to be a very sloppy guitarist, it doesn’t change the fact that when he’s on, he’s REALLY on. To me the term “sloppy” is kind of silly. No he’s not precise like your Joe Satriani’s or Eddie Van Halen’s, he is however extremely musical. To be as improvisation oriented as he is takes a lot of talent, knowledge, and well…balls. Something that many of today’s guitarists simply don’t have.

While I love going to rock concerts to listen to my favorite bands, I always feel a bit ripped off because what is being performed is almost identical to what you were just listening to on the radio coming to the show. This can never be said about Led Zeppelin’s live performances. Every night is its own experience.

That is captured, for the most part, throughout this DVD. As I have repeatedly stated, these performances are more jams than just song after song. If you watch this DVD over and over again, sure you will find tons of musical mistakes. However, if you take it for what it is, a single moment in time, then you can’t deny its power. Led Zeppelin was one of the gutsiest, energetic, and awe inspiring live bands in the history of music.

If you are a musician and don’t find this to be a major educational and emotional experience, then in my humble opinion, it’s time to re-evaluate what music is to you. To me music was always a way to convey an emotional state through your performance. If you limit yourself to a pre-existing structure, then you’ve just taken away the essence of what the music was meant to be.

Essence. That is what this DVD is. The essence of the music, culture, and time that was all Led Zeppelin’s.

May 23, 2013 Posted by | Led Zeppelin Good Times Bad Times DVD | , | Leave a comment

Neil Young Weld VHS (1991)


Review This is the video to go with the “Weld” CD. It has the same songs as the 2 CD-set except the classic “Like A Hurricane” and “Farmer John” – it does have an interesting introduction featuring the infamous Roadas (roadies dressed as Jawas) as Jimi Hendrix’s rendition of the Star Spangled Banner is played.
All the music is electric and justifies why Neil is called the godfather of grunge by many people. There is a lot of juicy distortion.

The album features many classic Neil tunes such as “Hey Hey My My”, “Welfare Mothers”, “Cortez The Killer”, “Powderfinger”, “Tonight’s The Night” and “Roll another Number for The Road”. There are also newer classics such as the ultimate rendition of “Rockin’ In The Free World” (forget Pearl Jam’s!)

Obviously the music sounds better from a CD-quality recording than a VHS tape.

It’s very enjoyable to watch Neil and the Horse play, especially on his rampaging solos and thrashing of his guitar.

My only complaint is that the camera focuses too much on the audience and there are some real freaks in there!

Review Man, this one is frustrating. Director Bernard Shakey, who did such terrific work on the “Rust Never Sleeps” and “Live In A Rusted Out Garage” video concerts, really lets us down on this one.

Rather than focusing on Neil and Crazy Horse, the cameras spend far too much time zeroing in on the concertgoers. Yeah, we know that everyone in the crowd knows all the words to all the songs, but to endlessly have to watch them lip synch the words through the better part of this concert is annoying.

We do get to see some fairly hot babes during “Cinnamon Girl,” but the rest of time we get to spend a lot of cring-inducing time viewing average Joes playing air guitar/drums, pumping their fists into the air and singing along with Neil’s songs.

Make no mistake, the band is terrific…Crazy Horse may never have sounded better than on this tour. And they’re a lot of fun to watch…that is, when the cameras feature the band, which is where they should have stayed.

The five stars is for the music and performance of the band.

As a footnote: The album/CD mix for Weld and the Laser Disc (which is what I’m reviewing, transferred to DVD) mixes are markedly different. Neil and Billy Talbot messed with the album mix, adding overdubs and such, after producer David Briggs was satisfied with the finished product. The album/CD resulted in a muddy, bass-heavy mix and bore a “produced by Neil Young and Billy Talbot” credit. The Laser Disc version retains the far-superior David Briggs mixes and production credit goes to David Briggs. Neil Young, in hindsight, has stated the “real” Weld is the Laser Disc.

May 20, 2013 Posted by | Neil Young Weld VHS | , | Leave a comment

Jeff Beck: Performing This Week… Live at Ronnie Scott’s DVD (2009)


The Jeff Beck live at Ronnie Scott’s DVD is now available and for $10 every guitarist should have one. Jeff is in great form, seeming happy and relaxed and his playing is quite precise. That man really knows how to work a whammy bar.

The whole band is good, but Drummer Vinny Colaiuta (a Zappa and Sting alumni) especially stands out. Tal Wilkenfeld, the female bassist who looks like a 12 year old, is also very good. Her appearances at the Crossroads show attracted a lot of attention due to her youthful appearance and the fact that she looked incredibly surprised and happy to be on stage with Beck.

On this DVD she doesn’t seem as confident in her playing and as extroverted as she did in the band’s appearance at the Crossroads festival. (I believe this DVD was shot before the Crossroads concert) However, as in the Crossroads videos, there’s still those odd, charming moments when Jeff gives her a gesture of approval after she takes a solo and she looks back with a big proud and happy smile. It’s a cross between the look of a proud father and daughter and the look of a lecherous college professor giving approval to the ambitious and lusty female student that he’s having an affair with.

In this video we don’t see much of keyboardist Jason Rebello, but he does a fine job of responding to Jeff’s lines and emulating his predecessors in Beck’s bands.

The interviews indicate that the band was put together shortly before the shows were shot, with about one month of rehearsal. Everyone knows their parts, but I think this project could have been taken to another level of excellence if the band had worked together for a longer period of time and had the collective experience required to confidently stretch out and improvise a bit more.

Stereo, Dolby surround and DTS surround soundtracks are provided. As usual the DTS soundtrack sounds audibly better than the Dolby. I hate it when concert films use the rear speakers only for audience noise; I want my DVD to sound better than what the audience heard, and audience noise is not my favorite part of the live performance experience. In this case, the use of surround is good, placing the listener in the middle of the band without being too obvious or gimmicky.

Another of my peeves about concert videos is that they rarely let you see the details of what the guitarist is doing. This one stands out for providing a lot of good shots that will help guitarists figure out how Beck gets his unique sounds.

The choice of material comprises a good “greatest hits” for Beck with a nice mix of the fast fusiony material and the slower, soulful material. I would have liked to have heard a bit more of the excellent techno influenced material from his most recent albums, but I’m surely in the minority in that opinion.

There are guest appearances by Joss Stone, Imogen Heap and Clapton. Stone was OK, but doesn’t have the maturity and depth to add much to the proceedings, she’s just another young Janis/Arethra wannabe as far as I can tell. Imogen is more unique with a quirkier presence that made for a more useful contribution.

Clapton joined the band for two blues numbers, one fast, one slow. Clapton has been in fine form lately, but as a guitarist he’s not in the same league as Beck. However, his vocals have never been better and Jeff and Clapton do a nice Yardbirds style raveup on Willie Dixon’s “You Need Love.” (the inspiration for Led Zep’s Whole Lotta Love.

This DVD is the only commercially available video of a whole Jeff Beck show and overall they did it up right. If you like Beck there is no doubt that you should get this DVD. Help other customers find the most helpful reviews
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May 20, 2013 Posted by | Jeff Beck Performing This Week...Live at Ronnie Scott's DVD | , | Leave a comment

Led Zeppelin Celebration Day DVD: ‘There was a swagger – we knew we were good’ from The Guardian (October 2012)

Celebration-Day-18x24-poster-01From The Guardian 11th October 2012

The first thing you notice is how close together they are. Led Zeppelin are not scattered around the huge stage of the O2 arena in London like 100m relay runners awaiting the baton, like most bands at this venue. They are huddled within a few feet of each other in the centre of the stage, and they stay that way for most of the two hours or so of Celebration Day, the new movie that captures their one-off return to playing live in December 2007. Jimmy Page might wander off a few feet to hit a guitar pedal, John Paul Jones occasionally sets his bass down to sit at a keyboard, but Robert Plant sings from the heart of the group, just in front of the drum kit – occupied by Jason Bonham, son of Zeppelin’s drummer John, who died in 1980. For most of the film, all four of them are in frame simultaneously.

“It was like a shield wall – it was a Romano-British shield wall, and what was coming at us was the idea of failure and ridiculousness – for me,” says Plant, speaking on a sunny autumn morning in his local in north London. “It would be precocious of me to walk to the front of the stage and take on a kind of rock singer pose, at that time in my being – and that’s five years ago. I could only send it up, and I don’t want to do that.”

“It was always like that,” counters Jones, talking later that day amid the old-money graciousness of the Connaught hotel in Mayfair, where he and Page are both ensconced. “You need to be that close. There’s a lot going on, a lot to concentrate on and focus on. Plus, I like to feel the wind from the bass drum.”

“This was going to be a critical show,” Page says. “We only had one shot at it, so we needed to go out there and do it really well. There was a lot of listening to be done, there was a lot of communication – nods and winks, and you can see this generate through the course of the evening to the point where we’re really communicating through the music.”

Celebration Day will likely mark the world’s last chance to see Led Zeppelin communicating through the music. At a press conference the following day, they will avoid questions about whether they will ever again reunite, but Plant’s ambivalence about Zeppelin’s role in his current life is evident during our conversation. He talks about how being the singer in the band is “just kind of narrating some bits and pieces which hold together some great instrumentation”. He says fronting Led Zeppelin means being specifically a rock’n’roll singer – and how that’s not what he is any more; he’s a singer. He talks about how the lyrics of those old, old songs are the words of a young man – “There was nothing cerebral about what I was doing at all” – even if he knows his writing got better as the band matured.

And he talks about how the last years of the group were something different anyway, after first he and his wife were seriously injured in a car crash in 1975, and then his five-year-old son Karac died of a respiratory infection in 1977. “My boyhood was over,” he says. “I was 27 [in 1975] and flattened. A little premature, but that was it. It was over. Whatever happened after that was going to be different, and so it was.”

What you experience on Celebration Day, then – those extraordinary songs, somehow combining intricacy and technical excellence with the wham! and the bam! of the earliest rock’n’roll – is just a reminder of how things must have been before it had to be different. For almost the whole point of Led Zeppelin is that it was music made by young men supremely confident in their ability to bend anything to their will – hard rock, folk, blues, funk, Arab-influenced epics, balladry. There is no doubt in their music: Dazed and Confused is as inaptly titled a signature song as could be. “There was a Zeppelin swagger, definitely,” Jones says drily. “We knew we were good. At our best, we thought we could be a match for any band on the planet. And at our worst, we were better than most of them.”

In one way, though, Celebration Day captures Led Zeppelin rather more perfectly than any previous live document: it’s tight and punchy and unrelenting. Might it even be a better representation of Zeppelin’s strengths than live shows in their heyday, when they might surrender half the set to lengthy solo instrumental excursions? “I think you should ask Jimmy that,” Plant says, with a slight laugh. “Time is a funny thing when you’re onstage. It did leave me occasionally a little bit adrift. But I’m a Jimmy Page fan, so I like to hear where he goes.”

I do put the question to Page, who punches his hand quickly and repeatedly. “Like that!” he says, illustrating the ferocity of their presentation. “That’s exactly what we were. That was the intention. We’re doing that to bring in the element of surprise.”

Then he notices the implicit criticism of lengthy solo instrumental excursions. “Can I just say, the thing with Led Zeppelin in the day – sure, the sets got longer, but it wasn’t necessarily because of extended solos. Although that certainly would have helped.” The problem, he says, was the desire never to lose anything from the set, even when new songs were added after each album. “We’d start out with a stripped-down show and by the end of the tour we were playing twice as long,” Jones says. “And then, the next tour, we’d strip it all down again and start again.”

Page formed Led Zeppelin in 1968, after the Yardbirds broke up around him. His first recruit was Jones, whom he had known from the sessions they had worked on in the mid-60s. “I just wanted to stop going crazy and do something creative,” Jones says. “And so I thought: ‘I don’t care what it is, as long as it’s good.'” He was followed by Plant and Bonham, a young singer and drummer whom Page travelled up to Birmingham to scout.

Jones remembers their first rehearsal, in a basement in Chinatown, London in August 1968. “You think: ‘I hope this drummer’s all right, I really do,’ because if the drummer’s not listening or not on the ball, it’s really hard work for a bass player. The first number we played – ‘Ah, thank God for that; he’s not only good, he’s great; this is gonna be a joy.'”
Robert Plant and Jimmy Page onstage in 1975 in the US. Robert Plant and Jimmy Page onstage in 1975 in the US. Photograph: Neal Preston/Corbis
Page already had a design for the group, having seen the way a new rock scene was developing in the US when he toured with the Yardbirds. “The FM stations were playing full sides of albums. Plus I’d been playing what were called the underground clubs – the Fillmores and places like that – with the Yardbirds. I could see the way it could go. One of the things we didn’t adhere to was the singles market. We didn’t have to do that because we had the mindset of these stations. It made a difference to how you would sequence the numbers and how one thing would roll into another – the cascading hills and valleys within the music.”

The first Zeppelin album came out less than six months after the group had formed, and so began the relentless process of becoming the biggest band in the world. “It was hard touring,” Jones recalls. “We toured by car for the first tour. There was another bloke in a little van driving the equipment. We finally got it right and got the private jet. We finally figured it out.” It’s surprising to see, given Zeppelin’s live reputation, that only 295 shows are listed on their website, across the entire course of their career – less surprising that 133 of them were in the US.

The bigger the band got, the more of the world they got to see, and the more their music opened out, assimilating influences way beyond the scope of their hard rock peers. There were visits to India, to Morocco, to other places where 12-bar blues wasn’t the muscial lingua franca. “In Morocco, we had some Nakamichi recording gear, which was quite the thing in those days, that Jimmy had got hold of,” Plant says. “Every year there was a folklore festival in Marrakech and I got a press pass. I said I was working for the NME. And I could get right to the front with my recorder, and there were a lot of Berber rhythms that were spectacular.”

And sometimes, Plant says, they left impressions of their own: “Jimmy and I played in a club in Bombay in 1972. I played drums and he played guitar and it was the only club in Bombay that had a drum kit. Somehow or other we ended up in there with loads and loads of illicit substances. Some guy is writing a book about rock in India – and apparently it was born in this club with Page and me wired out of our faces. I’m not a very good drummer, to say the least, but for some reason or another it left a mark.”

When they returned from their travels and the four of them became Led Zeppelin again, the process of integrating the ideas into song began, be it some fragile acoustic snippet, or one of those towering electric edifices – Kashmir, Achilles’ Last Stand, In My Time of Dying, Stairway to Heaven – that still startle with their grandeur. It was all done before they reached the studio, hence the fact that even their final album – with Bonham and Page reportedly deep in their narcotic and alcoholic addictions – took only three weeks to record.

“Page and I were studio musicians originally,” Jones says, “and you don’t waste time in a studio by trying to figure out the chord sequences. Studios cost money. If you want to work out everything you hire some old house or wherever and just go and sit there for however long it takes. Then you go and record it.”The preferred old house was Headley Grange, a former workhouse in Hampshire, where Zeppelin would write and rehearse and then, when ready, summon the Rolling Stones’s mobile studio to record the results, with Page overseeing sessions with minute attention to detail.

“I was curious to know how things had been recorded on some of the records that I was really keen on,” he says. “From Robert Johnson, where you can hear how he’s moving in and out on the mic, to those recordings that were done by Sam Phillips, and the Little Richard records. Where were the mics placed? How many mics were there? I learned various things that I now put into practice. And when I was a studio musician, then I could really see how recording worked, and also how it didn’t work – like a drummer who was stuck in a little isolated booth, which was padded out so you couldn’t hear any of the natural ambience of his kit. And so I knew instinctively that the drums had to breathe, but the fact was you had John Bonham, who really knew how to tune his drums, he really knew how to make them project.”

And so Led Zeppelin developed that huge, spacious signature sound. Plant sounded as if he had hatched from some alien egg, all disembodied yowls and indecipherable screams, compared to the other blues-rock shouters of the day; Jones could arrange songs into new shapes or offer basslines beyond the imagination of other players. And then there was Page’s guitar. For all the epic soloing, the Zeppelin records show off a player with a startling lack of vanity: he’s always serving the song, and often he’s low in the mix, letting Bonham and Jones rumble on before the necessary colour is added. His most effective interjections could be the simplest: the strange, off-key, rhythmic stabs that give the end of Immigrant Song its dramatic tension, for example.

For all that Zeppelin soon became a huge band, they were spurned and mocked by critics. “All you knew was that the Stones got all the press, and we sold a shitload of records,” Plant says. Jones remembers being shocked by Rolling Stone’s damning review of their first album, and still sounds irritated by the resentment of the group’s success. “I thought we were about the most honest band out there,” he says. “We were playing music that we loved for the reason that we loved it. I remember reading somewhere a musician saying that at a festival: ‘I saw piles of Fender basses.’ I thought: you bastard. I had one bass for like eight years in Zeppelin. One Jazz bass, my 1962 Jazz bass – and I know it was 1962 because that was the year I bought it, new.”

As with any band, it always comes back to the songs. And when you get as successful as Led Zeppelin did – the record concert attendances, the private planes, the platinum records – your songs cease to be your own: they become owned by the audience, and it is the crowd that grants them their meaning. As Plant says at the following day’s press conference about Stairway to Heaven: “Maybe I’m still trying to work out what I was talking about. Every other fucker is.”

“Part of the investment for all music lovers is selfish, because it takes us to places we want to be and we want to remember,” he says in the pub, more thoughtfully. “It takes us to a different person than the one who’s now listening to it.”

Page is sanguine about it. He knew what people wanted at the O2, and he was happy to deliver. “There’s no way that we could get together, and omit something like Stairway, that would’ve been insulting to the public. We’d have to do certain things: Whole Lotta Love’s obviously gonna be in there, Kashmir just has to be in there, and Stairway.”

But, Plant points out, the music still holds its power because it has not been overused: it doesn’t represent anything but itself. “Because we haven’t gone out and flogged it, there’s an anticipation and a memory of it being clean and pure and not part of some sort of threshing middle-aged circus, which I think is very much to our credit. If we’d been part of the merry-go-round year after year, or every two years, I think it might have damaged everything.”

A degree-course’s worth of books has been written about Zeppelin over the years, all containing their share of astonishing and horrifying stories. If only a fraction held any truth – and there are simply too many tales of violence, paranoia, underage groupies and the like for some of them not to be true – you can still be fairly certain that being in Led Zeppelin in the 1970s made possible decadence beyond imagining, and misbehaviour beyond mere condemnation. The tales provide ample fodder for those who see the band as vile representatives of a predatory, aggressive, arrogant male sexuality, even if for others they feed into the image of Zeppelin as the fullest representation of rock at its most swaggering. Ask them about what is often referred to as their “aura”, though, and you meet a brick wall.

“It’s the music,” Page says. “My life has been about that, not just trying to create a stir over something else that’s irrelevant to the music. I’ll tell you something: in all those books you won’t get any more understanding about the music than you will by actually listening to it. It’s not about some bit of insanity over here, it’s about that music that’s recorded across those albums.”

“Any peripheral bullshit left me cold and still does,” Plant says. “The band was always four guys that got together and played and when they get together it becomes a different chemical combination. And in the middle of all that, there was probably a tiny fraction, a minuscule amount of what might be there now, of people being ‘busy’, people who were angling, people who wanted to encourage and advance their interests. It was a good thing to be near, because it was so powerful when it worked. It was an amulet for a lot of people.”

Perhaps they are ashamed of what went on. Perhaps they feel not acknowledging the legend contributes to their lasting impact. Because, in a way, Zeppelin knew it wasn’t really only about the music. Hence the attention lavished on their album sleeves. Led Zeppelin III – the one with the spinning card; Led Zeppelin IV – the one with no writing on it and the four symbols inside; Houses of the Holy – the one with the creepy cover of naked kids on the Giant’s Causeway; Physical Graffiti – the one with the die-cut sleeve so the inner bag became part of the design; Presence – the one with the strange black obelisk and the embossed band name; In Through the Out Door – the one in the brown paper bag. Their albums were events.

“It was a major part,” Page says of the designs. “It was quite interesting with the fourth album. We were getting flak from the press because they really couldn’t understand what we were about. OK, we’ll show you what it is, we’ll put out an album with nothing on it, because it’s what’s inside that’s going to be the important thing.”

Of the three remaining men who once conquered the arenas of the world, you would bet on it being Page who most wishes they could do it again, though guessing what he’s thinking is almost certainly a mug’s game. After the band broke up, Plant was able to forge a successful solo career; after a period in which he “couldn’t get arrested”, Jones became an in-demand producer. Only Page never quite seemed to find a new musical home. Curiously, with his long white hair, he’s the one who still looks most like a rock star from the days when bands were still big. And to hear him talk, you wish you could have been there during those days, too. “Sometimes we’d really be going at such a speed, to see whether we could really do it,” he says of the band’s shows back then. “If you go out with that sort of attitude, you’re not going out there to fool around. There might be an area where it might dip – but it certainly comes back with a fury.”

“All these cliches and terms that are used for whatever we were are fine,” Plant says. “We were just a bunch of guys who could play in many different ways. And for young guys who were loaded with expectations of life and its promises, sometimes a tough backbeat doesn’t hurt.”

May 14, 2013 Posted by | Led Zeppelin Celebration Day | , | Leave a comment

Neil Young The Complex Sessions VHS (1995)


‘The Complex Sessions’ is a VHS-EP featuring four songs drawn from Neil Young’s 1994 ‘Sleeps With Angels’ CD release together with Crazy Horse. Those four songs are arguably the choice moments from the ‘Sleeps With Angels’ album. The recordings are made in my favorite format: nothing but the band, a recording studio (in this case the Complex Studios in Los Angeles), and several camera’s as the only audience.

The album ‘Sleeps With Angels’ was critically acclaimed and garnered sentimental accoutrements due to the connection between Young and the recently departed Kurt Cobain. That connection may be popularly overstated as Young and Cobain never actually met, but Cobain did reference Young’s lyric “it’s better to burn out than to fade away” in his suicide note, and interestingly Young was trying to contact Cobain out of concern for his well-being the very week that Cobain took his own life.

Young has added to the intrigue by being especially tight-lipped regarding their ethereal connection, but in a 2002 interview with the Sydney Morning Herald he stated, “I like to think that I possibly could have done something… It’s just too bad I didn’t get a shot”. While the title track from the ‘Sleeps With Angels’ album is often attributed to memorializing Cobain’s death, it’s tempting to view many other tracks from the disc as having a connection as well. The first three songs from this VHS-EP are prime candidates.

Neil opens with the acoustic ‘My Heart’. The filming is limited to a close-up of Neil delivering the vocals and playing tack piano, while Crazy Horse can be heard backing up with bass marimba, vibes, and drums. The whole song alludes easily to the Cobain tragedy with lyrics such as “…in the night sky a star is falling down…”, and “…when life is hanging in the breeze, I don’t know what love can do”. It’s a soft, gentle, beautiful number, and a faithful rendition.

‘Prime of Life’ follows, picking up the rock theme which anchors the remaining tracks. The chorus, “Are you feeling alright, not feeling too bad myself, are you feeling alright my friend?”, again seem to allude to Young’s attempt to reach out as mentor, muse, and friend to Cobain. The coup de gras, ‘Change Your Mind’ follows, offering “the magic touch”, “supporting you”, “protecting you”, “soothing you” and “embracing you”… perhaps everything Cobain needed, and perhaps what Young might have enabled him to find. Even the concept of “change you mind” seems so fundamental as the answer Cobain needed. The song itself offers extended instrumental passages that seem to descend into non-existence (at one point rhythm guitarist Frank Sampedro reduces his “strumming” to a massage of the six metal strings with his palm), only to come back to life again and again, and awakening to the hopeful chorus. There seems to be a message there… but as with many Young songs, you just never know.

The final track, what Neil might call “some more trash for ya” (as he referred to the encore ‘Roll Another Number’ on the Weld video), the rambunctious indictment of consumerism, ‘Piece Of Crap’. It’s an odd, but fun way to top off this short series of performances, seemingly out-of-place with the exception of extending the evolving intensity of both sound and tempo over the four tracks to its ultimate heights.

Young first began performing ‘Change Your Mind’ while on tour with Booker T. & the MG’s in late 1993, but only three public performances of all four tracks with Crazy Horse (at Farm Aid and the two Bridge School Benefit Concerts) preceded these recordings. That’s probably just enough “rehearsing” to get everything tight without losing the edge that only fresh can deliver. Jonathan Demme receives many kudo’s for the filming and production, but I find the relative absence of close-ups of Ralph Molina (drums), Sampedro, and bassist Billy Talbot a bit disconcerting. All in all, a four star effort, essential for true Young fans, and a great one-time viewing for everyone else. Available only on VHS at the time of this writing.

May 8, 2013 Posted by | Neil Young The Complex Sessions VHS | , | Leave a comment

Led Zeppelin Over The Top DVD (Seattle, July 1977)


Kingdome, Seattle, WA – July 17th, 1977

The Song Remains The Same, Sick Again, Nobody’s Fault But Mine, Over The Hills And Far Away, Since I’ve Been Loving You, No Quarter, Ten Years Gone, The Battle Of Evermore, Going To California, Black Country Woman, Bron-Y-Aur Stomp, White Summer/Black Mountain Side, Kashmir, Moby Dick, Guitar solo, Achilles Last Stand, Stairway To Heaven, Whole Lotta Love, Rock And Roll

Ever since the complete video of Zeppelin’s show in Seattle surfaced several years ago there have been many and various permutations of both the audio and video. The video tape has been released as Heavy Metal, Rock Show / Cameras Roll on Akashic Records, Kingdome Come on Watch Tower, on DVDR as Seattle 1977 on Cosmic Energy which was copied onto silver DVD’s as Kingdome Seattle Washington on New Depression Music, An Evening With Led Zeppelin (Cashmere), Kingdome Seattle 1977 (Hercules) 3 DVD, and the latest version Supersonic Seattle (Genuine Masters GM-LZ-17.07.1977-DVD-04).

Over The Top is produced by the Scorpio people and released on their Bad Wizard label as a dual layer DVD-9. It isn’t any closer to the master than any other release and suffers from pixilation issues in the more dark scenes with heavy blues and reds. It is good to have it on one disc and the images do look very clear and enjoyable for the most part.

Since it was the in-house feed for a closed circuit broadcast the emphasis is upon close ups on Plant and Page especially, but also nice images of Bonham and Jones as well. Some of the camera angles are questionable but in general are very well thought out. I do wonder why the camera focuses upon Bonham during “Bron-Y-Aur Stomp” when Page’s guitar needs repair. Some have asked who is playing drums on the stand up bass and we’ll never know (although I thought I read it was Page).

During Page’s noise solo there are some very effective and powerful images like his posturing in front of the theremin, the laser show at the end and watching him play “Won’t Get Fooled Again” on the knobs of the Les Paul. “No Quarter” is also very enjoyable watching Jones play the piano, talk to a stage hand and even stand up at one point before the camera focuses upon Page playing the solo with Bonham behind him. It’s a shame there are no wide shots to get an idea of the audience and venue because they look very isolated without any other visual information to place it in context.

The sound is very clean and synced properly but also betrays the weakness of raw soundboards. Comments have been made about the weakness of the performance at the end with “Kashmir”, “Achilles Last Stand”, “Stairway To Heaven” and the encores. Agreed there are better versions from the 1977 tour out there, but I’d recommend listening to the very good audience source of this show on In A Delirious Daze on Equinox to get another view which sounds much more exciting. Since this is the only complete professionally shot video from their eleventh tour and for that this is an essential purchase.

May 7, 2013 Posted by | Led Zeppelin Over The Top DVD | , , | Leave a comment