They Will Rock You
Largely without the benefit of mass media exposure, Led Zeppelin built its reputation as one of the greatest bands in rock history through a decade-plus of groundbreaking albums and transcendent live performances. But as far as live documents went, there were hardly any audio or video recordings that band members deemed worthy of release, much less survived years in storage.
All that is about to change with Atlantic's release this week of the five-hour, double-disc "Led Zeppelin DVD" and the triple-disc live album "How the West Was Won." It's a veritable bonanza of Zeppelin concert material that guitarist Jimmy Page has been conceptualizing for more than 20 years and took him nearly a year to compile.
Page managed to unearth what he proudly calls "the full story" of Led Zeppelin -- an endlessly compelling peek at the legendary U.K. quartet on stage in 1970, 1973, 1975, and 1979. The DVD kicks off with a searing 1970 set from London's Royal Albert Hall, as the group bulldozes through the blues-inflected material from its early self-titled albums. Page even extracted outtakes from the 1976 Zeppelin concert film "The Song Remains the Same" and located rare footage from the band's scant television appearances.
As for "How the West Was Won," which combines material from two July 1972 concerts in California, Page enthuses, "as far as a live performance, without a doubt it was one of Zeppelin at its best. Even without the visuals, it was just coming right at you. It was leaping out of the speakers." The set is highlighted by performances of tracks like "The Ocean" and "Over the Hills and Far Away" from the then-unreleased album "Houses of the Holy," plus a mind-bending, 23-minute medley during "Whole Lotta Love."