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This review is from: How The West Was Won: Live (3CD) (Audio CD)
At last a fitting testament to the live phenomenon that was Led Zeppelin. Zep aficionados will have doubtless sought out and listened to the 'unofficial' live recordings that have always seemed plentiful, as well as, of course the half a show that is the soundtrack to 'The Song Remains the Same'. The advent of 'How The West Was Won' means all those disappointing recordings, with their poor sound and haphazard presentation, can be left to gather dust. This is how Led Zeppelin were supposed to sound live. The quality is excellent, conveying the true might of a band that dominated rock for a decade and beyond. More importantly, the performances are superb. Sure, there is the odd rough edge, but this is a LIVE performance, without a studio overdub in earshot. The renditions of 'Back Dog' and 'Since I've been Loving You' are far better than on 'The Song Remains The Same' while a whole new dimension has been added with the inclusion of the quieter, acoustic based numbers so glaringly absent from that album. In this complete 'show' (actually culled from two seperate gigs played a couple of days apart) the full spectrum of Zeppelin's musical prowess is presented. Plant's singing is magical on 'Going to California', 'That's The Way' and What Is and What Should Never Be'. But to say that it is any less so anywhere else on the album would be doing him a grave injustice. Only six of the eighteen tracks are repeated from 'The Song Remains The Same' CD (seven if you include 'Since I've Been Loving You', which is performed in the film). To hear live for the first time - properly recorded and mixed - songs such as 'Over The Hills and Far Away', 'Dancing Days' and 'The Ocean' is a joy. We do get the obligatory vast versions of 'Dazed and Confused' and 'Moby Dick' which, at times can teeter on the brink of self indulgence. But there is so much musical brilliance and finesse on these numbers that there is never any real danger of them falling into the precipice. Besides, this wouldn't be a Led Zeppelin show without them. Never has it been more evident than on this showing why filling Bonham's drum stool at a (more and more unlikely to happen) Zeppelin reunion would be an impossible task. 'Whole Lotta Love' is also a huge number; a rock'n'roll medley in which the band really turn up the LA heat, and Page dazzles with some truly outstanding guitar work. For those who have long sought evidence of Led Zeppelin's true live prowess then look no further. Long overdue, but welcomed like a prodigal son, this album encapsulates the magic and the power of band not yet even at the height if their powers. An essential acquisition.