A fascinating new Led Zeppelin book arrived via Reel Art Press in August. Led Zeppelin Vinyl, The Essential Collection, by photographer Ross Halfin, collects a multitude of sleeves of the band’s vast array of official and unofficial releases, as well as offering the most comprehensive Zeppelin discography to date. The heavy lifting for the latter was done by Zep singles collector Nick Anderson, with help from Brian Hutchinson.
“It’s the most up-to-date list you’ll ever find,” says Halfin. “All of the live stuff is presented alphabetically, with full info about its background – venue and recording date. That’s what interested Jimmy Page the most.”
Halfin came up with the idea after enduring one too many coffee-table books for collectors of classic rock vinyl. “You know the type,” he says, “it’s always same old stuff – a Joy Division album to be trendy, plus Sgt. Pepper, The Dark Side Of The Moon and the rest. The only Zeppelin they include is IV or the first album. So because I collect records, as does Jimmy, I realised that a gap in the market existed for a book like this.”
For a band with only eight studio albums and supposedly no single releases in their 12-year career, the book is a treasure trove. “Across the band’s existence there were three or four thousand official releases,” Halfin explains. “Atlantic put out singles in Asia and other places that Zeppelin never saw or knew about until many years later. The book is not meant to be complete, because you will always find something that nobody knew about.”
With a recommended retail price of £49.95, The Essential Collection (opens in new tab) is good value for a book of this type. “This is for the fans, and I really wanted it to be affordable,” Halfin says. “Doing a thousand-pound limited-edition book didn’t appeal to me; it had to be something that could be a Christmas or birthday present, or a treat for somebody that collects records.
"My goal was to present unusual graphics. Among the great things about Zeppelin was their artwork, because it asked questions. I used to look at Led Zeppelin II and wonder who on earth were those people on its cover. And you could stare at Physical Graffiti for hours.”
So where should fans seek out some of the unofficial, ‘under the radar’ or rare records featured in the book?
“Nowhere official. And that’s the joy of it,” says Halfin. “Visit record fairs, markets or boot sales. It’s all about what Jimmy once called going on vinyl safari – the thrill is the hunt, who knows what you’ll return with?”