Review Summary: "...To be a rock, and not to roll."
This album is the definitive Led Zeppelin experience. It captures all of the power, intensity, and mysticism that flourished through the atmosphere of their live performances. The music itself is a reflection of the many different chapters in Led Zeppelin's career, with each song serving as a personal souvenir that represents all of the musical voyages their albums have invited us to embark on through the years. This album is a celebration of their legacy, moments of musical alchemy recorded in time for us to simply enjoy.
Led Zeppelin has often been renowned for their phenomenal live performances, and this album serves as our window into all of the energy and passion that each member of the band brought to the stage. One of the other live albums in the Led Zeppelin discography is How The West Was Won
, which features a lot of the long instrumental passages and musical spontaneity that Led Zeppelin often dwelled upon in their concerts. The performance in this album, for the most part, is much more straightforward, as the songs featured on the album remain faithful to their studio incarnations.
As I said before, each song on this album represents the many different musical styles Led Zeppelin explored throughout their career. "I Can't Quit You Baby"
reflects the prominent blues influences of their earlier efforts. Robert Plant's vocal deliveries on this song are some of the most impressive on the album. His sorrowful, yet passionate cries of heartbreak and deceit exquisitely compliment Jimmy Page's dreary guitar work, both elements working together to create an expressive southern blues tone. Another highlight of the album is "Dazed And Confused"
. This song has always provided some of Led Zeppelin's finest instrumental moments. The musicianship in this song has such a hypnotic vibe to it. John Paul Jones keeps the rhythmic groove flowing along, allowing Jimmy Page to erupt with a set of explosive solos. Jimmy Page's innovative guitar antics is certainly what makes this song such a captivating experience, but it's John Bonham's drumming that gives "Dazed And Confused"
its overwhelming sense of intensity. Thunderous and magnetic, Bonzo's percussive dynamics practically steal the spotlight from everyone else in more than one occasion throughout the album.
We also get to see the more abstract side of Led Zeppelin on this album. The compilation has the decency to offer both the ordinary, as well as alternative versions of "Whole Lotta Love"
and "Dazed And Confused"
. The musical structure of "Whole Lotta Love"
is one that easily lends itself to experimental potentiality. As we've seen in various performances, Led Zeppelin often takes advantage of the instrumental midsection of "Whole Lotta Love"
to incorporate lengthy musical passages, but on this version we find the band taking us on a long musical voyage were we encounter a collective medley of traditional Blues songs. There is a complimenting diversity in the selection of the songs within this album, offering heavy favorites like "Immigrant Song"
, to even more delicate ballads like "Going To California"
. But of course, no Led Zeppelin compilation is complete without having perhaps their most illustrious piece, "Stairway To Heaven"
"Stairway To Heaven"
is not just a mere song, it's an experience. An accession that takes the listener away into a sensuous musical ecstasy. "Stairway To Heaven"
is a journey, it's a constant progression into something different, exposing us to something new with each passing moment. From a gentle folk piece, we hear it evolve in sound, growing louder and more abstract, before finally blossoming into an unforgettable climax. But it isn't just the music that makes this song so mesmerizing, the lyrical narratives are the centerpiece of the entire experience. It's a reflection of our existential role in this world, a reminder that everything we do in our lives and everything we experience, is always under our control. There are different paths that are always laid out in front of us, and with the wisdom we manage to pick up throughout our growth, it is up to our best judgement to decide which one will lead to our essential well-being. This is one of the best Led Zeppelin compilations out there, from beginning to end, it has something to offer to every loyal fan. I highly recommend this album to all.