LED ZEPPELIN DVD
Review by Mark Wiechman
Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, John Bonham
Audio: Dolby Surround, 5.1, DTS
Video: Full Frame color and B & W
Studio: WEA Corp
Features: See Review
Length: 320 minutes
Release Date: May 27, 2003
I am coming!"
Some would say that Led Zeppelin did not invent heavy
metal, that their offstage debauchery and open interest in the occult makes
their music dangerous, that their sound and success was a great example of the
whole being greater than the sum of its parts, and that they blatantly stole
many of their early riffs. All of
these are at least somewhat true. Yet
no one soars like the mighty Zeppelin.
How many bands from
the 1970's can boast that all four members are household names?
Any but this one? The primordial shriek of Robert Plant, the inventive guitar
virtuosity of Jimmy Page, the solid and creative bass and keyboard playing of
John Paul Jones, and the incomparable power of drummer John Bonham changed rock
music forever. Their name was
perfect, as their masterpiece "Stairway to Heaven" begins as a lyrical
acoustic piece set in a peaceful pagan forest and then builds to a Bolero-like
climax heavier than anything rock had heard before.
Led Zeppelin cut a swath through rock unlike anything since
Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring caused riots in symphony halls years before.
And despite many talented bands who followed, no one has dethroned them
from their place at the top of hard rock music.
Believe it or not I hated this music the first time I heard
it. Having inherited their first
four albums on LP, I thought "You Shook Me" and "Whole Lotta
Love" were the rudest, loudest, nastiest things I had ever heard.
Then I heard "Hearbreaker".
Music had never scared me before I heard Plant telling his woman that her
time had come. I believed him.
Late at night, listening through headphones while the world was sleeping,
I discovered what millions already knew: The
Beatles wanted to hold your hand, Chicago wanted to make you smile, but Led
Zeppelin wanted to give you every inch of their love!
At five hours and
twenty minutes, there is more than enough here on the Led Zeppelin DVD to
satisfy any Zeppelin fan. There are
several true gems here, such as comparing “Whole Lotta Love” in 1970 at
Albert Hall with the version years later, and seeing John Bonham sing harmony on
“Bron Y Aur Stomp”.
I have always wondered how they pulled off “In
the Evening”, “Kashmir”, and
“Achilles Last Stand”
live, and while they do differ from the recorded versions, they are still
Even the menus have snippets of video and audio that are interesting
but were not complete enough to merit inclusion with the rest. This set includes
some unreleased footage from The Song
Remains the Same but as a whole is a much better representation of their
The version of “The Immigrant Song” which opens Disc 2 is interesting because the audio is intense, but the video was partly incomplete and is from a different show, yet they work together, almost like an abstract collage of sight and sound. A great version of “The Ocean” from Madison Square Garden is also featured. I have it from reliable sources that longer versions of these concerts are floating around, but surely they are not of this quality. I suspect Mr. Page only released material worthy of the source. And of course, this take of “Stairway to Heaven “is stunning. It will make you love the song all over again.
My favorite moments are probably the Albert Hall concert and the Danish TV appearance. They have some of the same songs in each, but the band was still young, lean, healthy, and tight without any of the rock star garb they later wore. Jimmy is wearing blue jeans and Robert’s shirt is actually buttoned, for crying out loud!
Disc 1: Live at the Royal Albert Hall
(1970) 1hr 42 mins:
We're Gonna Groove, I Can't Quit You Baby, Dazed and Confused, White Summer, What is and What Should Never Be, How Many More Times, Moby Dick, Whole Lotta Love, Communication Breakdown, C'mon Everybody, Something Else, Bring it on Home
Disc 2: The Immigrant Song. Madison
Square Garden (1973) 23:24 mins:
Black Dog, Misty Mountain Hop, Since I've Been Loving You, The Ocean. Earls Court (1975) 49 mins: Going to California, That's The Way, Bron Y Aur Stomp, In My Time of Dying, Trampled Underfoot, Stairway to Heaven. Live at Knebworth (1979) 51:41 mins: Rock'n Roll, Nobody's Fault But Mine, Sick Again, Achilles Last Stand, In The Evening, Kashmir, Whole Lotta Love
This is difficult
to rate, because the two booklets that come with the set explain how difficult
it was to go through over a hundred cans of negatives to find anything usable.
Restoring the Albert Hall concert, which looks excellent, took a year to
digitally clean up and prepare for the set.
The playback machines used for many of these shows is obsolete, so the
production team should be congratulated just for giving us usable footage, let
alone a final product of this quality. Not
flawless but easy to watch, very few spots or lines.
The B & W footage from Danish TV looks especially good.
Again, hard to rate
considering the problems with the source tape, but the DTS is loud and proud and
the stereo is completely respectable. The
performances themselves are excellent, showing how tight and yet fresh the band
could be. The mix of instruments
and the dynamic range is also excellent. This is surely due to Jimmy Page’s involvement with
the production of the package.
Disc One contains
an early video for “Communication Breakdown”, plus three live Zeppelin
television appearances, where they play songs for Danmarks Radio, the Supershow,
and France’s Tous En Scene. Disc
Two features some brief interviews and two promotional films using “Over
The Hills and Far Away” and
“Traveling Riverside Blues”.
The two booklets that come with the discs are long and detailed and
earned this category an extra star. The
coolest feature though is the fact that both discs play right away when
inserted! No menus or
copyright threats! Incredible!
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Because the program starts right
away, you DO have to either go to the menu or use the 'audio' button on your
remote to select the Dolby Digital or DTS tracks...otherwise, it defaults to