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How the West Was Won

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  • The alternate title for this review is “Got Zeppelin?”. Cause if you don’t, you really need to do so immediately. The release of this 3CD live set confirms what many of us have believed for some time. Many, if not most, of the bands that we grew up with taped their shows. We all have talked about where are the live releases of these concerts. Now we know, at least in the case of Led Zeppelin.In 1972, these 4 lads were in total command of their composing and performing powers. They had 4 solid releases behind them and were touring in advance of “Houses of the Holy”. The power of this band was always in their live performances. This is irrevocably confirmed in the first listen of the first disc. Jimmy gets this whole secondary riff thing going in “Immigrant Song” that just leaps out at you. My reaction was one of “oh, yea, that works”. HOTH is first experienced on track 5, “Over The Hills And Far Away”, where the band lays it out ever so finely with Plant’s vocals at center stage. Variations on a theme are heard as Page noodles an alternate riff throughout. To those of us, and there are many, who know Zep’s music note for note, this is so refreshing. To hear these alternate riffs throughout this album makes it very engaging and absolutely essential. The blues base of the band is in your face throughout an 8 minute “Since I’ve Been Loving You”. The alternate or secondary riff thing happens again as Jimmy and John Paul trade licks on “Going to California”. John Paul’s mandolin playing is sweet, yet forceful, a ying to Jimmy’s guitar yang. Disc 2 burns rubber as “Dazed and Confused” commands 25 minutes of attention. This is not your mother’s D+C, or even the D+C we know so well from a certain Live Concert Film from Madison Square Garden. This is something else entirely. Blues with serious bashing is experienced again with “What Is And What Should Never Be”. The vocals here are just superb. Plant is the man. He knows it. We know it. Then and now. Wow.Disc 3 requires the donning of protective eyewear as the shredding of Page’s guitar is potentially hazardous. “Whole Lotta Love” also reintroduces the world to the best rock drummer of the era, John Bonham. He crushes the skins throughout the 3CDs, but totally shines on WLL. Say what you will about the (many) other great drummers of the late 60s into the 70s. When you are done, listen to Bonham’s playing on this 3CD set and see if you do not agree. If WLL does not convince you, check out “Rock And Roll”, which follows. Bonham is awfully good there, too. It still does not make me aspire to be a Caddy owner, though.In the end, I am left both satiated and hungry. Satiated that I have had a full meal deal listening to one of the absolute titans of rock at the apex of their performing. Hungry for more from them and the many other bands we all treasure/d and wondering where all those tapes went. Here’s hoping for more, soon.

    Posted on December 31, 2009