Led Zeppelin BBC Sessions
I recently bought this album after eyeing it for months and ended up enjoyed it so much I decided to review it. These recordings are a testament to the great live act that was Led Zeppelin, it shows how this great band can play 10 different versions of the same song and still keep it fresh and interesting.
Countless bootlegs of these recordings circulated for years before Jimmy Page authorized an official release in November of 1997. This is one of only three live Led Zeppelin albums (not including the Led Zeppelin DVD) the others being �The Song Remains the same� and �How the west was won�
BBC Sessions contains two discs with a total of 24 tracks, disc 1 has recordings from three different sessions recorded between 3 March 1969 and 27 June 1969. Disc 2 contains 10 tracks performed in concert at the Paris theatre in London on the 1st of April 1971. Now seeing as I intend to make this review shorter than my others I must move onto the bulk of the review.
I usually do track by track reviews but this album is a bit long for that, so I�m going to only go over the highlights that make this album well worth the listen.
Some people for unknown reasons discredit the mighty Led Zeppelin as a live outfit. I, having listened to this and countless bootleg recordings beg to differ. The opening track of disc 1 (You shook me) was recorded by Led Zeppelin for the British television show �Top Gear� and is proof that zeppelin were a better live band than a studio band. The studio recording of �You shook me� featured on their debut album Led Zeppelin I is boring and bit of a let down, but the live version on this album is nothing short of epic, Page�s solo is much more interesting and Bonham and John Paul Jones are amazing, Plant is also on top form. The overall tempo of the track is slower than the studio recording but it has as much feeling as possible with a live take.
Seven out of the fourteen tracks on disc one were recorded for �Top Gear� and if I must be honest, are all excellent and leave you wanting more. Among these is their signature, �Dazed and confused� The familiar Bass line from Jones opens as Page puts in his insane bending notes, Plant is soulful and Bonham is on time with the beats, I again prefer this to the studio recording as it is never static and surprises you at every turn.
�Traveling Riverside Blues� is a track which cannot be found on any of the bands studio albums and is a real treat. It kicks of with an unorthodox Page riff and moves on as JPJ adds some bass. Plants vocals on this track are not perfect but do the job.
Other highlights include Pages Wah wah debut (Communication Breakdown) and the rare gem �The girl I love she got long black wavy hair�
Disc 2 contains a live performance of tracks featured on the bands first four albums.
The �Immigrant song� kicks off the concert in style as Plant sings out of key, otherwise this track is okay. Next up is one of my favorites, �Heartbreaker� has an infectious Page riff and an off the wall solo, JPJ again shines, with his bass turned to 11 he delivers an admirable performance.
�Since I�ve been loving you� is complimented with a stellar performance, the live energy is captured beautifully as Jimmy�s guitar weeps with emotion, Plant sings like a bird here and Bonham is in excellent form.
�Black Dog� is opened with a riff borrowed from �Out of the Tiles� and again shows the bands onstage prowess, the tempo is fast but fun and Plant does well belting out this tongue in cheek number.
Next is the 18 min 36 second epic that is �Dazed and Confused� this rendition of a Zeppelin staple is anything but boring and opens with an extended bass intro from Jonesey. Bonham shines through with a series of drum fills, Page is also incredible with spine curling sounds emulating from his Gibson Les Paul, he later pulls out the violin bow for a series of slapping noises. there is really nothing left wanted on this pillar track except maybe a little more length. 18 minutes may seem long but it goes by in a flash.
�Stairway to heaven� then makes its live debut (7 months before Led Zeppelin IV is even released) This performance is nothing special but is worth a listen just because it is Zeppelin�s first live performance of the epic that would become.
Amongst other entertaining tracks �Going to California� is beautiful from start to finish, and is yet another live track that could replace its studio counterpart.
�That�s the way� hits the spot nicely as the album winds down to the more mellow tracks. Page shows his ability on acoustic guitar as he is complimented by Jones on mandolin, Plant is definitely better suited for singing the slower folk numbers and even adds tambourine to towards the close.
Just when you�re nice and relaxed, Zeppelin throws a spanner in the works and the recognizable riff of �Whole lotta love� can be heard. I think its played in a different key as it sounds noticeably different from the one I�m accustomed to. At nearly 14 minutes this track can get a little bit much. �Whole lotta love� has the spotlight for just over 3 minutes and then a full on jam session prevails and Plant can be heard singing the lyrics to other blues obscurities such as: Boogie Chillun/Fixin� to die, that�s alright mama and a mess of blues, the crowd applauds and then the band ease back into the song they started, Page puts in a decent solo and then its all over.
Bonham opens up the Baez cover (Thank you)with a mighty symbol crash, the beautiful number is then aided a minute later by a very rhythmic Page solo, Plant sings excellently and shows just why he was picked by Page to sing in the greatest rock band ever.
Overall, an excellent listen, lots of Page solos, Bonham fills and the maestro that is John Baldwin (John Paul Jones) Plant is really great on most of the tracks even if on occasion he hits an off note.
I would highly recommend this album to anyone who loves the early Led Zeppelin and their blues inspired material (if you don�t like the blues don�t bother with it, you will hate it)
-Long track list
-A good variety of tracks from 4 different albums
-Some may be put off by price
-Plants voice is not always perfect