on 12 June 2000
If you love the studio albums, want a little more looseness but don't want to sit through bootlegs seemingly recorded in a coal scuttle, this album is an absolute must, if only for Robert Plant's hysterical screaming blues version of Something Else. (Why must every woman have to 'go walking in the park' with him? Don't they have cinemas in Wolverhampton?) The three different versions of Communication Breakdown take you in three totally different directions and the production qualities are fantastic throughout. Proof that, on a good night and pre-flaming stage gongs, they probably were just as good live, if not better.
on 24 September 2000
Led Zeppelin were a live band. They had such incredible talant. The studio albums were good but rock music is about live performances and in my opinion Zeppelin were hard to beat. This album is all about the second CD for me. From the start of "Immigrant Song" you are in at the deep end. It is early Zeppelin for sure but it is easy to see why they still move so many people to this day (me included). It is such a shame that more of the live material is not released, I don't care if there is the occasional mistake, that's what it's about, it's live! Whilst the studio stuff on the first CD is nice to listen to buy this one for the second CD because it's what Zep were all about...
on 18 April 2009
Its the 40th anniversary of the release of Led Zeppelin I and II this year. March 69 and October 69.
Having bought them when they came out, it makes me think how time flies away.
I still love Led Zeppelin, they remain one of the greatest rock bands of all time, if not the greatest of all. This is a MUST HAVE for the 2nd CD alone, the complete recording of a John Peel In Concert broadcast for the BBC in 1971. It was recorded in April 1971, a month after they had finished recording Led Zeppelin IV and it captrues them at the height of their creativity when the spark was still strong and before they entered the stratospheric heights of selling 50 million albums and being the biggest band in the universe.
I suspect it was probably the first time Stairway to Heaven was aired to the public at large.
Its stunning to brilliant all the way through, from Peel's dry introduction to the last note dying note.
Jimmy Page's guitar work is mind blowing and the raw nakedness of live radio sound recording emphasises the quality of the musicianship in this band. It also highlights the outstanding abilities of the often under rated John Paul Jones, a man who arranged a lot of the material and who could play melodic keyboards with his hands whilst holding down monster basslines using bass triggered by pedals controlled with his feet.
Yes this band are deservedly immortal and this is a highly recommended purchase for those who love the studio albums and want different versions of the first four.
on 15 August 2015
This 1997 2-CD set collects the vast majority of the BBC radio material recorded by Led Zeppelin before the band became far, far too big to record radio sessions. Not unusually, Zep guitarist and leader Jimmy Page was doing battle with his personal demons when he produced this album. But, with some help, he's compiled an essential release for Led Zeppelin devotees. Disc 1 was recorded throughout 1969 and contains white hot versions of the key songs from their debut album 'LZ1'. Most of it is simply barnstorming. The BBC's historic radio sessions weren’t taped with digital reproduction in mind but the audio quality of disc 1 is fine, its rough edges chiming perfectly with these visceral performances. The combination of Jimmy’s explosive guitar-playing and Robert Plant’s equally exuberant singing, underpinned by a tight-as-a-nut rhythm section, never loses its ability to electrify the listener. Led Zeppelin’s brand of heavy Blues became more polished, but they were never more wildly exciting than they were when they taped these 1969 recordings. A handful of rarer titles are also included on the first disc, together with a couple of tunes from 'LZ2' – an uncompromising rendition of 'Whole Lotta Love' is a real coup. Finite space meant Jimmy had to drop two of the songs from the London Playhouse Theatre gig that brings disc 1 to a close. The 'White Summer' guitar medley had already been issued on a box-set and was the first to get the chop. Jimmy also chose to omit the Zep masterpiece 'Dazed And Confused', surprisingly preferring a repetitious, bludgeoning take on the 12-bar Blues 'You Shook Me'. That ensures a fairer spread of both songs over the two discs, but in my view it’s a bad call. Disc 2 is in excellent sound and consists solely of a 1971 concert that was broadcast from London's Paris Theatre. The intoxicating edginess of Led Zeppelin’s ‘live’ performances owed much to their willingness to take extravagant musical risks. But, mindful that this show would be hitting the airwaves, they took a more restrained approach than usual. Nevertheless, it's a punchy concert that boasts the massive 'LZ4' songs 'Black Dog' and 'Stairway To Heaven' just prior to their release and the stratospheric rise that would place Led Zeppelin above having to market its music by making radio broadcasts. Again, time constraints resulted in a couple of omissions: 'What Is And What Should Never Be' and 'Communication Breakdown' both feature on the first disc so the 1971 versions were deemed expendable. The highlight of the show is 'Dazed And Confused', which serves as a lesson in how to keep a lengthy piece of music focussed and coherent. Also terrific is the medley of rock 'n' roll and R'n'B classics that erupts toward the end of 'Whole Lotta Love'. There's contrast too in the form of a poignant, wistful acoustic set. Jimmy turned up for work with substandard tapes when this album was being remastered and only signed the master reels out of the BBC at the insistence of his engineer. The guitarist owes a debt of gratitude to his co-worker because the outcome is a fabulous double CD set.
on 30 July 2000
I listened to the two hour long concerts which make up most of this album and taped them at the time, the tapes died ages ago. Incredibly it took the BBC 30 years to get the recordings out. It's hard to express what I felt at the time, no one had made music like this, the power was immense, you had no idea what was coming next, I didn't even know if I liked it!
The best tracks are from the two concerts rather than the sessions - the BBC screwed up - they should have released the two concerts in their entirity and put the session tracks on a third CD.
Some of this music is the most electrifying ever recorded, you may find it hard to cope with at first but I think it's the greatest recorded live rock music there is.
This 2-disk set, finally released in 1997, is the pick of Zeppelin’s BBC radio sessions between 1969 & 1971.
Disk 1 takes 14 tracks from March & June ’69 sessions, so includes material from the first and second albums plus a number of the blues standards the band performed in the early days to beef-out their stage shows, ‘Travelling riverside blues’, ‘The girl I love she got long black wavy hair’ (both released as singles only in the USA & Canada) and ‘Somethin’ else’.
All the material on disk 2 is from an ‘In Concert’ session before a small live audience at the Paris Theatre, London on 1st April 1971. The interesting thing about this concert is that, along with material from the contemporary third album plus a couple of by-then-classic numbers like ‘Dazed & Confused’ and Heartbreaker’, the band performed three songs from the fourth album which was not to be released for another 8 months: ‘Black Dog’, ‘Goin’ to California’ and ‘Stairway’. This may be the earliest surviving recording of Zeppelin performing these now-classic numbers live. The original show was introduced to the BBC radio audience by the late John Peel.
These classic live sessions on BBC radio were multiply bootlegged, usually recorded from the original radio broadcasts on poor-quality cassette recorders. Finally in 1997 fans could hear the concerts with excellent sound quality, delivered here in a fine package with tasteful monochrome artwork to evoke the period. Whilst the music may lack the polish & production values of their studio recordings with Atlantic Records - which are great in a different way - it has all the raw energy of the band live, and demonstrates what a class act they always were.
The smaller venues used for these sessions gives the music a more intimate feel, and because the BBC was a leading-edge professional media/recording company proficient in delivering every type of music to TV and radio audiences with exemplary sound quality, that’s basically what you get. Above all, Jimmy Page’s persistence and attention to detail has made these sessions available at last, though why it took so many years is nothing short of a scandal. I would rate this package four-and-a-half stars rather than five only because it’s just short of the seminal excellence of the 2003-released ‘How the West was Won’, which contains indisputably the best live Zeppelin material ever released.
on 11 July 2002
Being too young to experience Led Zeppelin the first time around I had to come at them second-hand, after realising, in about 1995, that guitar-based music was in its death throes and the future rested with dance music. But hey, who needs to listen to second-rate guitar bands doing the same thing for the 1000th time when you can immerse yourself in the most fertile and innovative period in modern music production -- 1968-71. At the forefront of the explosion that happened at this time were the Zep, and this album captures them in their natural habitat: live and alive. If you're new to LZ then the second or fourth album are the best places to start, but as soon as you've caught the bug and realised how astounding their music is, you will want to hear them live. This BBC sessions album is a much better bet than the double live record 'The Song Remains the Same', because the recording quality is superior, and it was recorded 69-71 when these four musicians were at their creative zenith -- a fact that translates to these live performances with shocking clarity. Put your skin-tight flares on, pretend you've got long hair, and immerse yourself in the sound of the most vital band of the most important period in twentieth-century music. The live sound captures LZ's blues obsession more clearly than the studio albums, especially on the blues reworkings of classic tracks like 'You Shook Me' (twice on this album just in case you missed it the first time round) and 'I Can't Quit you Baby'. Although top marks must go to the amazing 'new' blues creation of 'Travelling Riverside Blues' (Robert Johnson isn't given a credit), previously unreleased. Jimmy Page takes us to slide guitar heaven. It is simply amazing. CD two has some classics from Led Zeppelin IV, which were being recorded here 8 months before the album release. Its probably the only time you'll hear LZ live without the opening notes of 'Stairway to Heaven' being greeted with orgasmic woops. And catch the dizzy, heady atmosphere of the times when during 'How Many More Times' Robert Plant cries 'I don't know what I'm saying, but I'm having a good time'! Page, Plant, Jones, and Bonham at their incredible best -- worth 10 times the asking price... but I'm sure the three surviving lads don't really need the royalties.
on 8 October 2009
I've been a long time fan of Led Zeppelin but somehow never got round to buying this particular album. So, with a few quid to spare, I thought I'd plug a gap in my collection. This is a fantastic representation of Led Zeppelin in their natural habitat - that is - live. The sheer excitement and exuberance demonstrated here show why Zep rose to be one the greatest and most influential bands of all time. No doubt the sessions have been "cleaned up" but the content of this album - particularly some of the less frequently heard stuff - is as close to hearing them live that you'll get now 9other than bootleg recordings that will, ineviatbly, be of lower quality). If you're a fan and don't have this - get it. If you're casually interested in what it's all about, this is a great place to start. I wish I'd bought it year ago.
on 24 June 2016
This album is insanely good. You will never hear another album with this kind of raw power and intensity. Death metal ain't got sh*t on LED F'N ZEPPELIN!!! Every single member of the band is so ridiculously on top of their game. Despite this, it never feels like they're trying to outshine one another and the music never suffers. They all have very strong inputs in the music, (the strongest being of course the amazing guitar work of the Dark Lord Himself, Jimmy Page) but they all flow together, to ultimately create a piece greater than the sum of its parts.
KEY THINGS: Disc 2 features the hardest hitting drumming I have ever heard. Check out SIBLY, Dazed and Confused and Thank You. The power of John Bonham is amazing. The man could carve a mountain with his limbs. Jones is incredible on bass AND Keys, particularly noticeable on Thank You. The highlight of the whole album (and there are a LOT of options to choose from, including the incredible Disc 2 version of Dazed and Confused, and the early iteration of Stairway) is, for me, Since I've Been Loving You. Just...wow. The guitar playing scratches at your very soul, and when you think it can't get any more intense and emotional, Jimmy Page proves you wrong. The drumming on this version is insane, so much power, subtlety and GROOVE. Jones' keys are sad little rain drops that increase to thunderstorm and torrential downpour during the solo, providing Jimmy's guitar with the biggest boost ever, like an emotional platform of sound for his guitar to bounce off. And as you have probably noticed, I have not mentioned Robert Plant a single time during this review. He is great, phenomenal even, throughout both discs. But on Since I've Been Loving You, the man shines! His voice cuts you in half, and if you close your eyes you can see the expressions of pain in his face as he sings about this love gone sour.
In short, BUY THIS ALBUM. Even if you have never heard Zeppelin before, this is a great introduction to them, as it shows what they were known for: Incredibly energetic live performances that deviate from the album, in the best way possible. Every show was different, all of them a stroke of the genius paintbrush, all of them a singular conversation, lost in time immediately after its over.
on 18 May 2010
I think this is the best official live album produced by Led Zeppelin or anyone else for that matter. Disc number one was recorded in 1969 and contains the more blues driven sound of the first two albums. Nearly all of these songs will be familiar to Led Zeppelin fans but the quality of the takes are much better than the album versions: the playing is better, the band are tighter and it has that live feel that simply cannot be reproduced in the studio. The standout number on disc one is, in my opinion, Travelling Riverside Blues, a cover of the Robert Johnson song which sees Jimmy Page on twelve string guitar and slide. I also have something of a soft spot for this version of What Is And What Should Never Be which is significantly faster than the one on Led Zep. II, giving it a more jazzy feel while retaining it's whimsical charm.
The second disc is even better and contains material from albums two, three and four. John Peel introduces the disc which is a single live performance from 1971 and just about manages to say 'This is something we've been waiting for a long time ... Led Zeppelin' before Immigrant song kicks off. This rendition of the song is absolutely astonishing and could be compared to a train hitting you full in the face (in a good way!) and leaves the album version feeling somewhat irrelevant. The tone is set for the rest of the set and the quality never diminishes. Each song is played more tightly and to a higher musical standard than it's album counterpart. The best example of this is Thankyou which is infinitely better than the edition on Led Zeppelin II and contains one of Jimmy Page's best guitar solos and some brilliant organ work by John Paul Jones.
All in all this album is heaven for any fan of Led Zeppelin and would be a brilliant place for a new comer to make a start. The band produce visceral performances thoughout and it highlights the development that the songs continued to make after they were recorded.