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The Song Remains The Same (Remastered / Expanded) (2CD)

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Average Rating
★★★★☆
(76 Reviews)

Metal Album Reviews[RSS]

  • First off, let me say that I am a huge fan of the original album – in fact, it’s one of my favorite albums of all time. I’ve listened to it hundreds of times, whereas I’ve “only” seen the movie perhaps a dozen times. I also have perhaps a half-dozen LZ bootleg concerts on record, and I must disagree with those, including members of the band, who claim that this was an average concert. The versions of No Quarter, The Song Remains the Same, and Dazed and Confused on the album are perhaps the best that I’ve heard of them in concert, this Stairway is the definitive version, and the solo at the end of Celebration Day on the original album is by far the best version of this song ever. Since I’ve Been Loving You from the movie and this new album is also perhaps the best version of this song that they’ve recorded. Granted, Heartbreaker, The Ocean, and especially Misty Mountain Hop are subpar and the other songs are merely average (although Whole Lotta Love does have a few very special moments), but still this would have to rate among their better concerts.

    The things I like about this new issue are:
    1. It includes the 2.5 songs (Black Dog, Since I’ve Been Loving You, and parts of Heartbreaker) that were included in the movie but not on the album. As I mentioned above, the second of these should never have been omitted from the original album in the first place.
    2. It includes another 3.5 songs (The Ocean, Misty Mountain Hop, Over The Hills And Far Away, the rest of Heartbreaker) that didn’t appear either on the album or in the movie. Of these Over The Hills in particular is very good, although the band sounds flat on the others. The Ocean has a lot of energy, but I’ve heard much better versions on other bootlegs.
    3. The songs have been remixed, making the bass work stand out more in particular. More jarring is how different Plant’s vocals sound, deeper, with more texture, especially right away on Rock And Roll. It makes you realize how muddy the original record was – it’s clearly the same version of the song, but sounds radically different.
    4. Some of Bonham’s great whaling at the end of songs that appeared in the movie but not the album, such at the end of Dazed, I think, are here. So is the entire violin bow part that was partially edited on the album.

    For these reasons I have rated this 5 stars despite my disappointment (see below) and recommend purchasing it for fans of the original. But I must say, the original was better. If you don’t have either CD, buy the older one instead.

    But now here’s the bad news: Instead of combining the new songs with a remastered version of the original album, they’ve gone back and released the audio from the film, which as any real fan knows is different from the album. Many pieces of the music (especially mistakes – my favorite is when Jones gently chides Bonzo for forgetting a beat) were cut when the album was made, but conversely many small pieces that appear on the album were inexplicably cut from the movie. Moreover, the cuts in the movie are much more obvious: Was there something wrong with the video footage that necessitated these parts being removed? The most egregious jumps occur in the funky part of Whole Lotta Love before the theremin solo, Dazed and Confused between the early vocal parts and the violin bow solo (where the movie also includes some parts not on the album instead), and in a couple of places during the No Quarter guitar solo, which really butchers one of Page’s finest solos ever. Whenever I’ve watched the movie these have always annoyed me – now they irritate me on the album, too. Why couldn’t Page have kept the parts that were cut out of both sources?

    But it doesn’t stop there. A lot of Plant’s yelps are missing, such as his “Dig It! Dig It!” during one part of The Song Remains The Same. In fact so many of these are missing, it makes one wonder, Did Page add them from a different recording for the original album? Conversely, some of the vocals that Page wisely edited for the original album (“Hangman!”) are back. The gong hits, such as in No Quarter, have been muted. Some echo effects with the vocals and guitars near the end of Dazed have been removed, whereas others have been added, such as the “Talk!” near the end of The Rain Song. And don’t get me started on what they’ve done to Moby Dick with those flange effects. This wasn’t in the original movie or album and makes the song almost unlistenable. In fact, the drum solo is so chopped up, I can’t recognize it at all.

    The introductions to the songs have been rearranged to conform to the movie. “I think this is a song of hope” may be the most recognizable difference, but how could Plant introduce TSRTS as just “This is called the Song Remains The Same” instead of “In between the last time we came and this time we managed to get an album out called ‘Houses of the Holy’ and…we decided that this would be an apt title for a thing that’s called ‘The Song Remains The Same’,” where he mentions that they’re filming? At least now we can hear “John Bonham! John Bonham! John Bonham!”

    Probably the most disappointing change is the fact that they’ve used a different version of (at least the end of) Celebration Day from the one on the original album. Granted, it wasn’t in the movie, and for all I know maybe the original album combined versions from different concerts, but it was so good, every time I listen to this new album I immediately want to play the old one just to hear this song.

    Page said that he wanted this new CD to match the movie, but I have to ask, Why? So that we can play both at the same time? The original record benefited from the fact that Page could edit the concert, combining the best parts from several different performances and cutting some mistakes, as well as including parts that perhaps couldn’t be included in the movie because the film was missing or damaged. Why couldn’t he have stuck with these sensible decisions? I can only hope that some day another version will be released that includes the entire audio of everything that they have from the MSG shows. I know I’d buy it.

    Posted on January 22, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • As much as I agree with the other reviewers of this title that is has supurb sound, the rest of it is a very big let down. When the movie and sountrack came out in 1976, they were two seperate items. Now what has happened is that they took the remixed soundtrack from the movie itself and put it onto the CD. What’s wrong with that is that there are a lot of bad edits in the movie that were transfered over to the CD itself. That did not happen in 1976. THIS IS TOTALLY UNEXCEPTABLE. I cannot believe that Jimmy Page would alow this to happen. If you want to save yourself some money this holiday season, buy the DVD and listen to the music. Don’t waste your time on the CD (I would take mine back for a refund if I could). I am so happy I didn’t get rid of my original copy.

    As a hard-core fan who has been waiting over 20 years for this to come out, I do not recommend it at all. A very big disappointment.

    Posted on January 21, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • I’m one of those who saw the movie when it came out in 1976, more than once in fact. It was an immediate ‘Saturday midnight’ favorite where I grew up (Belgium). By then the band’s reputation was larger than life and there simply was not much of an opportunity ever to see them live. I bought the double-album when it came out, and I never understood why the album was so much maligned by both fans and critics. I thought it was pretty darn good. Now after 31 years, and amid a frenzy of renewed Led Zeppelin activity (catalog on iTunes, the “Mothership” best of, and of course the upcoming one-off show in London–among swirling rumors the band may tour proper in 2008), now comes a newly expanded version of this album.

    On “The Song Remains the Same” (2 CDs; 15 tracks; 132 min.), the first CD starts off with the classic “Rock and Roll” and “Celebration Day”, then dives straight into 4 previously unreleased tracks, including a rousing “Misty Mountain Top”, but even better is the slowburner “Since I’ve Been Loving You”. CD1 (10 tracks, 60 min.) finishes with 4 songs from the “Houses of the Holy” album, which the band was touring behind at the time, including a previously unreleased “The Ocean”. It is impossible for me to listen to “No Quarter” and not think of the John Paul Jones ‘fantasy sequences’ in the movie. CD2 (5 tracks, 72 min.) brings one more new track (“Heartbreaker”) but the lead-off track, a 25 min. epic “Dazed and Confused” towers over everything else. It is for me the ultimate Led Zeppelin track. I usually skip “Stairway to Heaven” (overrated and played to death on classic radio), but still like the “Moby Dick” drum solo, as well as the closer “Whole Lotta Love”.

    The remastering by Jimmy Page sounds fantastic, and the packaging (with nice liner notes from Cameron Crow, with lines like : “The brown cardboard sing in the window simply read ‘It’s here’”–referring to the release of Led Zep II in late 1969) is done quite nicely. All in all, I am really pleased with the remastered and expanded CD release of “The Song Remains the Same”, which is like discovering a new album in the Led Zeppelin catalog. (Incidentally, I did get to see the band in concert once, on their 1980 European tour, only months before John Bonham passed away.)

    Posted on January 21, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • This updated version had the potential to be up there with “Made In Japan”, “Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out” etc. etc. as a classic live album even if the performances are somewhat uneven mainly due to them going into unknown territory and natural causes. That’s the great thing about LZ if you listen to their live bootlegs – no version of any song is the same as another. It’s a hit and miss but always exiting game.
    Plant’s voice changed dramatically for the worse after hitting his peak in Australia in 1972. However, he still hits plenty of peaks as well as the lows here. In fact, still great compared to years to come!
    As stated by other reviewers, yes the sound is great and the edits are incomprehensible. TSRTS was never an honest document in either version and the disappointment is now larger than previously. I’ve got bootlegs of the Madison Square shows and therefore can confirm there are huge chunks missing from many songs: Black Dog was always played in full unlike this circumcised edit; Dazed and Confused has been chopped in the section before San Fransisco; No Quarter here has Page jumping straight into the his solo whereas we know he feels his way around before exploding; Heartbreaker has a chunk of Pages solo missing after the drums and bass come back in just before WLL; Whole Lotta Love’s edits are glaring even to the blind. There’s alot more but i’ll leave it alone. The question is, why?? Another confusing band decision has The Ocean placed at the end of the 1st cd when it was actually played as an encore – I even looked at the time length of the 2nd cd and there’s no problem there with room to fit it in (??). (I’ve burnt myself a copy with The Ocean where it should be).
    On a positive note, it’s great to hear the extra songs even if they aren’t all the ultimate renditions.
    I’ll still give it 3* based on the sound quality and the sheer balls they play with at times – the title track and The Rain Song have never sounded better and that includes other bootlegs from the same, and different years.
    Let’s hope the surviving band members listen to their fans and decide to release a 3rd version as a triple cd without the edits. Hey Jimmy – you readin’ this, mate?
    Overall, I’ll still recommend it. Make sure you keep your old copy – if you don’t have it, hurry and get it before it’s deleted.
    As Otto the bus driver on The Simpsons says – “Zeppelin rules!!”

    Posted on January 21, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • I admit I wasn’t a fan of The Song Remains the Same live album when it was released back in 1976 (was it that long ago?). The concert seemed flat. When the CD was first issued, I thought it sounded even worse. Hardly any highs or lows — sound-wise and performance-wise.

    But Jimmy Page and Kevin Shirley have waved a magic wand over the master tapes. This isn’t the same album any more. It’s dynamic, vibrant, blistering. The bass guitar is there now! The guitar rings out clear as a bell. And Plant’s voice is right up front where it belongs.

    I’ve been listening all afternoon to this remastered edition of The Song Remains the Same. There have been projects around the house I was supposed to get to. There was another new CD I wanted to hear. But I couldn’t take this 2-CD set out of my player. It held me in its grip for the entire concert.

    Led Zeppelin continues to astound some 25 years after they broke up, and a full three decades plus after this concert was performed at Madison Square Garden in 1973.

    If you’ve held off buying this because the original version left a bad taste in your mouth, rest assured this is a unique experience now. It’s crisp as a new can of Pringles and twice as tasty.

    I highly recommend The Song Remains the Same remastered 2-CD edition.

    Posted on January 21, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now