ZepIpromo[Photo: Getty Images]
Zep1[Artwork courtesy of Rhino Records]
ZepIIpromo[Photo: Getty Images]
Zep2[Artwork courtesy of Rhino Records]
Zep3[Artwork courtesy of Rhino Records]
Like the title of their 2007 greatest hits package, the “Mothership” has indeed landed for Led Zeppelin fans. News spread like a brushfire earlier this month that the band was about to embark on their first major reissue campaign since the 1990s. Over the course of the next year all of the band’s original albums will be reissued in deluxe packages with a full albums worth of alternate takes and mixes, live tracks and other rarities which previously were only available on rare bootlegs. Lead guitarist and band guiding light Jimmy Page shared a selection of the bonus material off the band’s career-making first three albums yesterday in New York City and the tracks were revelatory and once again reaffirmed the band’s greatness.
At 70s years old Jimmy Page is still every bit the rock star, lithe but powerful in stature, impeccably dressed in all-black finery. First up were 2 live tracks recorded in Paris in 1969 as Led Zeppelin were supporting their self-titled debut album, which will be part of that albums reissue. Ferocious takes on “Communication Breakdown” and “You Shook Me” made it obvious why the band took the world by storm on those early tours with their amped up take on traditional rock n’roll and blues forms. “The idea was to do something radical with the blues” said Page later during the question and answer period.
Hear “Good Times Bad Times / Communication Breakdown (Live in Paris, 1969)” taken from the Companion Audio Disc for the Led Zeppelin Deluxe Edition reissue.
Next up were two rough mixes of “Whole Lotta Love” and “Heartbreaker” off Led Zeppelin II, the album which truly cemented their reputation as hard rock gods. Stripped of their many overdubs, the raw tracks humanize the band, particularly Bonham’s in-the-pocket drumming, which also makes the end results that much more remarkable. “The most important thing about Led Zeppelin,” Page said, “is that we were musical equals. That’s what’s so well reflected on this” Finishing the previews were four tracks from the band’s underrated third album Led Zeppelin III. Most impressive was a full-throttle alternate take of the slow blues epic “”Since I’ve Been Loving You,” giving one the impression that the master versions of these we songs were the ones where they dialed back their formidable musical muscle.
Answering questions about the reissues Page was authoritative but playful, at one point saying “I’m not giving away all my trade secrets” with a laugh when pressed about the technical details of the remastering itself. Asked how the new tracks change the story the original albums tell about the band, Page replied “I don’t think it does. I think it augments it.” On display were the Super Deluxe Edition Box Sets of each album which include the original albums and the companion discs in both CD and vinyl formats with coffee table books filled to the bursting point with time-appropriate photographs, ephemera and concert posters, truly a sumptuous feast for any Led Zeppelin fanatic. The first three albums are available now for pre-order before the official release date of June 3rd with the subsequent releases coming out over the next year.