Led Zeppelin – The Song Remains The Same album review

Sing out Hare Hare, dance the hoochie-coo! Zeppelin’s 1973 set given another remastering.

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The Song Remains The Same (Super Deluxe Boxset)

Disc: 1
1. Rock And Roll (Remastered)
2. Celebration Day (Remastered)
3. Black Dog (Remastered)
4. Over The Hills And Far Away (Remastered)
5. Misty Mountain Hop (Remastered)
6. Since I've Been Loving You (Remastered)
7. No Quarter (Remastered)
8. The Song Remains The Same (Remastered)
9. The Rain Song (Remastered)
10. The Ocean (Remastered)

Disc: 2
1. Dazed And Confused (Remastered)
2. Stairway To Heaven (Remastered)
3. Moby Dick (Remastered)
4. Heartbreaker (Remastered)
5. Whole Lotta Love (Remastered)

Disc: 3
1. Rock And Roll (Remastered)
2. Celebration Day (Remastered)
3. Black Dog (Remastered)
4. Over The Hills And Far Away (Remastered)

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Disc: 4
1. Misty Mountain Hop (Remastered)
2. Since I've Been Loving You (Remastered)
3. The Ocean (Remastered)

Disc: 5
1. The Song Remains The Same (Remastered)
2. The Rain Song (Remastered)

Disc: 6  
1. No Quarter (Remastered)

Disc: 7
1. Dazed And Confused (Remastered)

Disc: 8
1. Moby Dick (Remastered)

Disc: 9
1. Stairway To Heaven (Remastered)

Disc: 10
1. Heartbreaker (Remastered)
2. Whole Lotta Love (Remastered)

Disc: 11
1. Led Zeppelin: The Song Remains The Same Film

Disc: 12
1. Video Extras

Disc: 13
1. Rock And Roll (Remastered)
2. Celebration Day (Remastered)
3. Black Dog (Remastered)
4. Over The Hills And Far Away (Remastered)
5. Misty Mountain Hop (Remastered)
6. Since I've Been Loving You (Remastered)
7. No Quarter (Remastered)
8. The Song Remains The Same (Remastered)
9. The Rain Song (Remastered)
10. The Ocean (Remastered)
11. Dazed And Confused (Remastered)
12. Stairway To Heaven (Remastered)
13. Moby Dick (Remastered)
14. Heartbreaker (Remastered)
15. Whole Lotta Love (Remastered)
16. Rock And Roll (Remastered)
17. Celebration Day (Remastered)
18. Black Dog (Remastered)
19. Over The Hills And Far Away (Remastered)
20. Misty Mountain Hop (Remastered)
21. Since I've Been Loving You (Remastered)
22. No Quarter (Remastered)
23. The Song Remains The Same (Remastered)
24. The Rain Song (Remastered)
25. The Ocean (Remastered)
26. Dazed And Confused (Remastered)
27. Stairway To Heaven (Remastered)
28. Moby Dick (Remastered)
29. Heartbreaker (Remastered)
30. Whole Lotta Love (Remastered)

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While long-toothed wisdom decrees Zep’s three-night highlights from Madison Square Garden 1973 a somewhat underwhelming affair, another polish at a 40-odd year distance merits further re-examination. Of course, consensus doesn’t usually materialise without reason (politics aside), and the convoluted provenance and circumstance of the album did much to steer it towards the bottom of most Zep Albums Ranked Best To Worst! lists. The band were overcooked at the end of a three-month tour, and any musical considerations were entirely subsumed by the needs of the film, most impactful of which being its release date – over three years later.

Curiously patched together, with a confusing amount of track omissions/additions from the film, it’s notable that when Page first remastered the back cataloguein the early 90s, the album was ignored. Not so now it would appear; an expanded remastered and edited version appeared in 2007 with the same track listing as this. Perhaps the best context from which to view it is that of a stand- alone soundtrack rather than a live set. Raid the Blueberry Hill bootleg drawer for that, or slap on How The West Was Won. Approached from this perspective, there is much wonder and beauty within, albeit half-muddied with occasional bovine meandering.

Of the original 1976 release material, No Quarter is the closest to magisterial: Jones’s tremulous keyboard breakdown and the one-two re-entry of Bonham’s phased fill and Page’s solo intro dazzle with understated perfection. Of the ‘new’, a sublime Since I’ve Been Loving You is without equal, and both Heartbreaker and The Ocean stick their hands up for distinction. Shorn of the visual accompaniments of Page as The Hermit clambering up a mountain, and Bonham’s man-around-village vignettes, behemoths Dazed And Confused and Moby Dick – never the album’s finest moments – seem anachronistically adrift in 2018.

Available in a multitudinous array of formats, including Blu-ray, 4LP and hoodie bundle, as they say, it’s your money... but, and it’s a big one, wherever it sits in the canon and whatever its limitations, for millions of second-generation Zeppelin fans, too young to see the band live, the film and soundtrack was a crucial imprinting – a doorway to a lifetime’s love, and one that essentially renders any critical appraisal, now or then, redundant.