aNewDomain.net — Led Zeppelin is still getting the lead out. Lead guitarist, recording engineer and record producer Jimmy Page says the band is releasing remastered versions of Zep’s iconic first three albums — Led Zeppelin I, II and III — on June 3, 2014. The Led Zeppelin reissues are hotly anticipated by serious rock fans. Find out why below the fold.
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For one thing, music geeks all know that Jimmy Page is a guitar virtuoso who is regarded as the greatest innovator of his generation. A great pioneer of layering multiple guitar parts in the studio, he’s best known among guitar afficionados for intricately combining those multiple parts into one distinct riff in the live setting.
Page’s guitar artistry has inspired countless musicians, including Rush guitar virtuoso Alex Lifeson.
Led Zeppelin historically has been reluctant to release original albums in MP3 format. The band feels, rightly, that MP3-formatted songs are a whisper of their original selves. MP3 compresses signals so much that, say Page and other band members, it squashes the many layers of sound Led Zeppelin tracks are known for. And it risks original artistic intention, too. Page says:
The catalog was last remastered 20 years ago. 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.”
A Brief History
One of the biggest rock ‘n’ roll artists in history, Led Zeppelin broke up on September 25th, 1980, due to the untimely death of the band’s drummer, John Bonham. Bonham, a heavy drinker, drank himself into such a stupor that he was unable to wake up when he was choking on his own chunder.
For rock fans generally, and Led Zeppelin followers especially, Bonham’s death was a profound loss. His sound and style were unique to the sound of the band. Band members felt Bonham was irreplaceable and the band amicably agreed to split up permanently immediately after his death.
An eerie aside: Bonham died in the home of Jimmy Page, a mansion previously owned by black magic practitioner Aleister Crowley.
Page, who during his Zeppelin career was known to be fascinated with the occult, was a huge collector of “all things Crowley.”
Page’s interest spooked lead singer Robert Plant. In 1977, for instance, Plant’s young son Karac Pendragon Plant died of a mysterious illness. According to reports, Plant refused to have anything to do with Page until, in 1979, he read a news article in a magazine which said that Page was getting blues artist Roy Harper to write material for a new Led Zeppelin album. Furious, Plant contacted Page and reached a truce. The band got together to record what became the last Led Zeppelin album, In Through the Out Door.
It was an immediate hit, featuring some now-classic Zep songs including “In the Evening” and “All of My Love” (the latter having been about Karac Plant). The 1980 Led Zeppelin world tour promoted that album.
The opening electronic soundscape on In Through The Out Door is “In the Evening.” It is thundering.
It featured music that Page had originally composed for Kenneth Anger’s movie Lucifer Rising.
The album’s overall sound is dominated by the synthesizer work and arrangements of the band’s most under-sung-but-equally-phenomenal member on bass and keyboards, John Paul Jones.
Page was fighting a heroin addiction at the time but stayed in the mix while Plant and Jones took dominant compositional roles.
In 1982 the band released the album Coda, which consisted of previously-unreleased tracks that had ended up on the cutting-room floor in the 1970s. The word “coda” is a musical term meaning “an ending.”
Many years later, on December 10, 2007, the band performed a concert at London’s O2 Arena in honor of its old label boss, Ahmet Ertegun. John Bonham’s son, Jason Bonham, filled in as drummer.
A recording of that concert was released as Celebration Day in 2012. “Celebration Day” was the title of a hard-rocking song on the album Led Zeppelin III, though the band didn’t perform it at the concert.
Plant suggests that some of the material to be released on the upcoming new discs in June 2014 might feature Jones singing lead vocals. Each reissued album, by the way, will feature two discs. One will hold the remastered version of the original. The other will contains outtakes, previously-unreleased tracks, never-released live recordings, alternate mixes of songs on the original album and some “added sonic and visual thrills,” says Page.
As for Jones’ vocal contributions on the reissues, Plant quips:
So far, he’s going to give me two cars and a greenhouse not to get ‘em on the album. Oh, John … you can’t wait to hear yourself singing all over the world.”
And millions of people all over the world can’t wait to get their hands on the new Led Zeppelin discs. I can’t either. For aNewDomain.net, I’m Brant David.