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Led Zeppelin - The Song Remains the Same [Blu-ray]

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★★★★☆
(152 Reviews)

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  • This film/album had actually been shelved in 1973, never intended to be released because of what was perceived by the band to be a mediocre performance. It only saw the light of day because of a decision that the band needed to fill a void of 18 months due to Robert Plant’s personal problems (he suffered a badly fractured leg in an auto accident and it was feared that he would never walk again without a cane). First of all, The Song Remains the Same was out of date – the film was shot well before the release of the band’s monumental Physical Graffiti album and, obviously, contained none of that album’s material. Secondly, the band members themselves lament to this very day that this was their only live performance officially captured for posterity. They were at the end of an extensive American tour at the time and were understandably exhausted. Circumstances prevented Zeppelin from ever producing the definitive live recording that they so desperately desired. Such a project was slated for the band’s ‘80-’81 tour, but was obviously scrapped by the death of John Bonham.It’s best to think of The Song Remains the Same more as a historical peice than as the definitive live Led Zeppelin, which it is not. It captures a moment in time. An inside-glimpse at the larger-than-life Led Zeppelin, complete with their flaws (even Zep was not perfect). And in that way, The Song Remains the Same is actually more intriguing and has more of an enduring charm than some pristine, studio-exact live excercise.But don’t be deceived into thinking that this album is slop. There are certainly moments of grandeur here that other bands would kill for on their best day. Page’s guitar blitz on “Celebration Day” obliterates the studio version. That breathtaking final solo provides fresh open-mouthed astonishment every time. Of course, any time Zeppelin straps it on for “Dazed and Confused”, it’s an adventure – although the running time here of nearly 27 minutes is shockingly self-indulgent for a live album, especially considering the wealth of material they had to draw from (believe it or not, they were known to go even LONGER in their early days). And who could fail to mention the most famous improvised line ever in a live recording, Robert Plant’s, “Does anybody remember laughter?” during “Stairway…” – so well known in fact, that many people think it’s part of the studio version.Taking the good with the bad, The Song Remains the Same soundtrack is an essential momento for any Zep fan, while it should perhaps be left until later for Zep novices (at the very least, get 2 or 3 of the first 6 studio albums before you jump into this).

    Posted on December 30, 2009