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Mothership: The Very Best of Led Zeppelin Original recording remastered
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MOTHERSHIP (The Very Best of Led Zeppelin)
· 2 CD comprehensive collection
· 24 tracks chosen and sequenced by the band members
· Remastered with the band members' oversight
· Liner notes by David Fricke
Where's the sense of reviewing an album filled with material that every right-thinking human being must already own? Well, let's not forget those over 80s and under 20s out there who may have yet to experience the full majesty of the band who set the benchmark for stadium-packing epic blues/folk rock. And, on the eve of the most hyped reunion gig of all time, Mothership lays it all out in chronological form.
Born from the ashes of the Yardbirds in 1968, Jimmy Page joined with fellow session monkey, John Paul Jones, and hotly-tipped West Midland youngsters Robert Plant and John Bonham This was alchemy of the highest order. Plant and Page's love of West Coast psychedelia, folk and primal blues was bolstered by Jones' arranging acumen and Bonham's powerhouse skinsmanship. Within weeks the first album was spawned. Already it contained the seeds of their greatest moments: The stinging bite of "Communication Breakdown", the doomy blues of ''Dazed And Confused'' and the widescreen pastorality of "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You".
An ability to turn every live event into an extemporised trip through rock's back catalogue meant that the USA fell within months of hard touring. Missive number two contained more pilfered blues, but combined it with Page's now fully-matured Les Paul attack. Plant's wailing on "Whole Lotta Love" highlights the sexual nature of their cross gender appeal while "Ramble On" ushered in their ability to wrap nuance around sword and sorcery nonsense.
Now asssured of their place as rock gods, the band used the freedom to explore their gentler side on III. They drew on their love of SF tricksters like Kaleidoscope as well as English pioneers, Fairport Convention. Unfortunately this is where Mothership falls way short; opting to include the harder numbers rather than gems like ''Gallows Pole'' or ''That's The Way''. Shame...
By Four the band were unstoppable. "Black Dog" (tricky time signature yet hypnotic as hell), or the multi-part epic of "Stairway To Heaven": It all seemed so easy. To cap it all, "When The Levee Breaks" showed that their mastery of the blues was now a genre in itself. A juggernaut of ambient darkness, it's no wonder that people began to mutter about pacts with the devil.
On Houses Of The Holy the experimentation went a little awry. "No Quarter" is another dark classic but it's a mystery as to why compilers still include the dreadful cod-reggae of "D'yer Maker" (though Bonham's drums are jaw-droppingly amazing).
No matter, Physical Graffiti showed the band still had it in spades. "Kashmir" is eastern mysticism for the masses while "Trampled Underfoot" now added funk to their arsenal, and it worked.
Well-documented tragedy followed, yet Presence was still awesome. A true fan's favourite, the multi-tracked epic, "Achilles Last Stand" is a one-stop primer as to why Page is rightly regarded as a guitar master.
Last album, In Through The Out Door, saw the godlike status falter. Time was catching up. Truth be told, we were probably lucky not to experience Zeppelin through the 80s; a decade when nearly every contemporary went off the rails in search of new directions. This is why their legacy still stands proud. Of course to get the true picture you shouldn't bother with this album, just get the LOT. But Mothership still shows why the three-remaining English legends are just that. Peerless, in every sense of the word. --Chris Jones
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Top Customer Reviews
A great collection of the best from Zeppelin's catalogue and a VERY worthwhile addition to any serious rock fans music collection. Do yourself a favour and see how good one of the best rock bands of all time can sound...........
A solid 5 stars is earned, if I could award more I would.
(If you disagree after hearing it, them I will buy you a beer!).
Firstly, the music here all sounds better than I ever heard it before. I did direct A-B comparisons and would defy anyone to say they cannot hear an improvement. This improvement might not be significant for some, but to me it really lets each instrument and musician really stand on their own. Pages guitar army really glows and buckles in a way that reinforces his genius. No-one else in rock, or jazz for matter, has had such a wide palette of sounds and to hear it so clearly is an unalloyed pleasure. Overdubs, stereo placement, space around each instrument, cymbal decay and all of the other anorak details that I love are all here. This is not just a quick re-eq with a bit extra top end thrown in to compensate for hearing loss with age and a general lowering of the standard of stereo gear these days but a real reworking of the digital master tapes. Good Times Bad Times sounds like it was recorded earlier today by a band with enough energy to light up London.
Secondly, which tracks do you leave out when picking Zeps best? I can think of a handful that were on In Through The Out Door and they have been left out. After that???? The tracks here are all stoaters, fine examples of a band that took risks, stretching the envelope, taking the listener on a journey through several worlds, middle , middle eastern, far eastern, the under and the over.
I have bought every Zep album on vinyl, and cd, so there is nothing here that is new. I can however recommend this to anyone who is curious about Zep, anyone with a love for great sound quality and production and lovers of damn fine rock music. Enjoy!
Diehards who complain that there's nothing new here for them are absolutely right. Although the songs have been remastered once again, this time by John Davis of Alchemy, it's unlikely that anyone who already owns the entire oeuvre would buy Mothership for that reason alone. They'd be more likely to cherrypick, now that the entire back catalogue has been made available for legal digital download.
Where this collection scores high is as an initial introduction to the work of probably the greatest rock band ever to have existed. Unlike many of their contemporaries, Led Zeppelin have never really ceased to be cool - and that means that a succession of new generations are ripe for the sheer exhilaration of discovering this music. Rather than allowing it to gather dust in the digital archives, it's right to remarket it every few years - in the same way as new productions of classic plays reintroduce Shakespeare to a new generation, or CGI-fest trilogies from New Zealand reawaken interest in Tolkien.
So how good a primer is this? Any sixteen-year-old getting this 2-CD collection for Christmas has instant access to most of the band's best work without the need for a costly trawl through musical history. There are some wonderfully informative sleeve notes from Rolling Stone veteran journalist David Fricke.Read more ›