I was very happy to read that the first three Led Zeppelin albums from 1969-70 are being remastered, and will be re-released on June 2nd. The Telegraph has an interview with Jimmy Page about the project.
These recordings still sound so crisp, vivid and present, every instrument sharp and separated and occupying its own space. Page has remastered this material before but this time, he says, he has future-proofed it. “Zeppelin vinyl is quite revered in audiophile circles,” according to Page. “But if you are in the business of making music to be heard you’ve got to assess how it is being listened to. In all that time span, there’s so many new formats, so much new technology, so I thought the most sensible thing to do was be prepared with super-high-resolution files for whatever may come.”
The debut album sets it all out, from that fantastic high-impact opening, to the acoustic folk flavours and shifting dynamics of Babe I’m Gonna Leave You, the hypnotic spell of Dazed and Confused, weird and wonky eastern chordal shifts of Black Mountain Side and startling prescient punk blast of Communication Breakdown. It’s all there, a vision of the future of rock that still rings true even now that rock’s future itself seems in doubt. If the album were released this year by a band of young gunslingers, although perhaps not expressing anything new it would certainly still make an impact because it is just too good not to.
The second Zeppelin album is even better, kicking off with the ultimate riff of Whole Lotta Love, refining the vision without sacrificing anything. The third album deepens and expands on the folk flavours and other sonic dimensions, weaving a very different spell, finding space for the mind-blowing Since I’ve Been Loving You, perhaps the most gorgeous, soulful rock ballad ever recorded. There’s an early take of that among the extra tracks, a raw mix that lays bare the incredible interaction of the players, as they hold back and wait each other out, building tension in the spaces, vocals stretching over Jones’s sinuous organ parts, until everyone comes in around Bonham’s explosive drums as if united by some kind of psychic bond. “It was never gladiatorial,” says Page. “This band was really listening intently to each other, improvising and moving things around, it was always interesting.”
Although there was no leftover material at all from sessions for the original album, which was recorded and mixed in just 30 hours, Page has unearthed a fantastic live recording of a 1969 show at the Paris Olympia. This is Led Zeppelin in their primal majesty, completely locked together, performing with none of the loops, sequencers, choral effects and pre-recorded triggers that buoy the sound of almost every band of the modern era: just four fantastic musicians on a mission.
There’s more at the link.
Needless to say, these albums go straight onto my shopping list!