Exciting news for a die hard Led Zeppelin fan like myself.
“It will be coming out, bit by bit,” Jimmy Page says with a tantalizing lilt in his voice. The Led Zeppelin guitarist is referring to his current labors in the band’s archive, preparing new deluxe editions of each of Zeppelin’s studio albums, from 1969’s Led Zeppelin to 1979’s In Through the Out Door, plus the 1982 post-breakup collection, Coda. Page says the reissues will include “added sonic and visual thrills,” and he expects to begin issuing the first albums in the series sometime next year.
“The catalog was last remastered 20 years ago,” Page said, referring to the 1990 release of the four-CD box set, Led Zeppelin. “That’s a long time. Everything is being transferred from analog to a higher-resolution digital format. That’s one of the problems with the Zeppelin stuff. It sounds ridiculous on MP3. You can’t hear what’s there properly.”
Based on the unreleased studio tracks that have circulated on bootlegs since Led Zeppelin split in 1980, following the death of drummer John Bonham, the group did not record a lot of additional songs for each LP. “But there was an overage of material – different versions of things, different approaches to the mixes,” Page explained. He mentioned experiments with equipment and sound on early alternative takes at Headley Grange, the English manor where Zeppelin recorded some of their most iconic work, particularly their 1971 untitled fourth album.
“The classic there was ‘When the Levee Breaks,'” Page said, “where the drums were set up in the hallway. You know what it sounded like – immense – from the recorded version. But we used the drums in the hall for a number of things, like ‘Kashmir’ [on 1975’s Physical Graffiti] – some with closer miking. So there were a lot of different approaches. It will be fascinating for people to witness the work in progress.”
Page is also looking at relevant live recordings and film to accompany the reissues. “There are concerts that were recorded – some that might have appeared on bootleg in some shape or form – and a certain amount of footage, though not a lot,” he said.
(click here to continue reading Jimmy Page Digs Up ‘Substantial’ Rarities for New Led Zeppelin Remasters | David Fricke | Rolling Stone.)
For some of the Led Zeppelin albums, this will be the fourth time I’ve purchased them. I originally had the entire Zep catalog on cassette tape, then I upgraded to vinyl – some records were purchased used from Waterloo, or the Record Exchange on The Drag, and thus not sonically pristine, like In Through The Out Door and the live The Song Remains the Same. I think initially, I wanted to see what the crazy Physical Graffiti artwork was all about, or I’m just a consumer. I also remember spending $20 on a bootleg album that had such crappy sound, I could barely listen to it. New LPs were in the neighborhood for $7 at the time, so this bootleg was a lot of money, and used in addition, I was crushed when the album quality sucked so bad. I forget where it was recorded, but it was probably from the 1973 tour.
After I reluctantly started buying CDs1, I picked up copies of all the albums again, plus the box set Led Zeppelin, and so on. That isn’t even counting converting CDs to MP3 files – and then re-ripping later at a higher bit rate, and even a third time, for some albums.
I just finished reading Light and Shade2, Jimmy Page’s new biography/autobiography, and there is discussion of the process of finding all the original analog tapes, and cataloging them. Page takes this archival work very seriously, which is a boon for fans. I can’t wait until these are released, again! If I was in charge, I’d release them one at a time, every week, in order from oldest to newest. Let them stand alone for a moment.