Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Review: Led Zeppelin - Mothership


Released: November 13, 2007

Is there really such a thing as a comprehensive Led Zeppelin box? Yeah, it's nine discs and includes I, II, III, IV, Houses of the Holy, Physical Graffiti, Presence and In Through the Out Door in their entirety (I think we can let Coda and The Song Remains the Same slide). Of course that's the whole studio catalog, but it's pretty much all essential. I suppose, if forced at gunpoint, I could narrow it down to seven discs (the first five albums, the one great album's worth on Physical Graffiti and the best tracks from the final two releases), but to narrow it down to a double CD is ludicrous. Just looking at the track listing, I notice immediately that my two favorite Zeppelin tunes ("Tangerine" and "Out on the Tiles") are absent. Of course, I can't exactly figure out what I'd remove to make space for them though, because everything here is essential, the collection is just woefully incomplete.

Having established that Mothership falls well short of what would make up an essential Zeppelin collection, I do want to note that two things were really done right. First, the remastering (under the watchful eye of the three living members) is very good. I've been listening to these on vinyl, so this may be a step down for me, but for those who've spent their days listening to Zeppelin on CD, Mothership should prove to be a richer experience. Second, the package is beautiful and over ten pages of liner notes from David Fricke certainly adds value.

In addition to the regular two CD set, there is a limited edition set that also includes a DVD with a collection of live videos. The footage is decent and the performances are strong, but it is marred by the insertion of stills and cheap effects that interrupt the raw power of Zeppelin's performances. Still, the limited edition is only $5 more, making it a no brainer if you plan to pick up a copy of Mothership.

Rating: How do I rate this? The music is clearly 10/10 and while the package is a nice one, it isn't essential since you already own all the albums. You do have them all, don't you?



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Blogger taotechuck said...

I worked in a record store in 1990 and at least once a week, someone would bring back a Zeppelin CD and say that the sound quality was rotten. So I bought the remastered 1990 box and have been loathe to buy any other CDs.

But buying that box was a mistake, because as you point out here, even relatively casual fans often want the first five albums in their entirety.

The whole catalog was remastered on CD in 1994. Now whether those masters are as good as what Plant/Page/Jones did on this set is a question I cannot answer, but I can't imagine that the 1994 versions are so terrible as to justify buying a random "hits" collection, even if it does have 10 pages of kickass liner notes.

If I'm going to invest any money in beefing up my Zeppelin collection, it'll be to buy the '94 releases of the studio catalog (I'll skip Song, thanks). And rest assured, if these remasters are that much better than the '94 discs, the whole catalog will be re-released on CD.

12:21 AM  
Anonymous mike kelly said...

Without a doubt any Zeppelin
compilation gets an A+ just on
merit alone.It just seems that these boxed sets and remastered this and thats keep springing up every couple years,as if someone's(jimmy page)
afraid that Zeppelin is gonna fade away or people will forget the legacy,which we all know isn't possible.I discovered Led Zeppelin
the way it was meant to be,when i was 14 in my parents vinyl collection,and I own the entire catalog.I don't see myself shelling out any hard earned dough for a bunch of tracks I own,and have heard a million times.Oh and I won't be rushing out to get the new remasterd "The Song Remains The Same",even as much as I always felt jipped in the original version when they are about to rip into "Celebration Day",then cut it from the film.

8:16 AM  
Blogger The Mad Hatter said...

I suppose it depends on what you're rating: the music or the compilation itself. If the latter, it deserves a big fat F. Why dish out more money for these guys? Is it not enough that all of their albums, especially their early ones, have cemented their legacy in rock history and that most of their die-hard fans own them all anyway? You can't buy or sell your own legend. You can, however, tarnish it by continually releasing compilations and becoming soundtracks to car commercials.

10:36 PM  

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