I remember finding this – the triple-LP edition – in the racks at King Bee Records in Chorlton. I didn’t need it; I already had all the Zeppelin albums on vinyl (I had made this my first priority when I started buying vinyl). So why would I fork out for this, two hours and thirteen minutes of music I already owned?
Looking at my record collection as a whole, this compilation probably means more to me than any other compilation out there. When I first started listening to rock music, this set – the double-CD edition – was one of the first things I pilfered from my Dad’s collection. I only knew the odd Zeppelin song at that point, so it was a lot to take in at first listen. The CD version is slightly longer too, as it adds Misty Mountain Hop and The Rain Song, which are both absent from the vinyl version.
I remember being challenged listening to this compilation – as both a listener of music, and also an aspiring musician – trying to find a way in to a very dense, rich set of songs that were completely new on me. Zeppelin songs are thankfully absent from being used (and overused) in television and film, so it’s not like I had a frame of reference from hearing the songs elsewhere.
The collection encompasses their entire career too, so there are various genres of music covered. Up to now I had only listened to rock, and rock alone; but here was Zeppelin playing heavy blues, soul, R&B, reggae, and all shades of rock in-between. As a guitarist listening to this for the first time, Jimmy Page’s catalogue of guitar riffs are a wonderful thing to discover.
It’s also pretty unique in that, yes it’s a compilation, but Zeppelin never released any singles; so what is it exactly a compilation of? In 1990, Jimmy Page got together with George Marino and remastered their entire back catalogue, releasing them over two boxed sets. The Remasters album is a scaled-down “sampler” of those two sets. With no list of hit singles to choose a tracklisting from, Remasters is simply a collection of the songs Jimmy Page regards as the bands most popular songs.
This album led me onto buying each of their studio albums, one by one. I already had Led Zeppelin II on vinyl (again, stolen from my Dad’s record collection), but that was the first one I bought on CD because I loved it so much. I think I then bought each of the studio albums in chronological order.
Remasters served as a way in to each studio album; there were always a couple of songs at least on every album that I knew from Remasters. When I listen to the album now, it just washes over me because I know it so well – it’s part of my musical DNA. Sometimes it gets so bad that I have to really think hard about which song I’m listening to. I find that happens a lot when you know a compilation album so well. Without the flow that the songs were intended for on their original studio album, they take on a structure of their own.
Hit: Stairway To Heaven
Hidden Gem: Achilles Last Stand