Rocks In The Attic #531: Led Zeppelin – ‘The Complete BBC Sessions’ (1997)

rita531I haven’t bothered with any of the recently remastered Zeppelin studio records. I’d like them for the unreleased content of course, some of it very interesting, but I couldn’t justify the cost. Plus, I have early pressings of all the studio albums, so I’d be paying for some songs I might only listen to once or twice (the thing about unreleased bonus content is that it was unreleased at the time of recording for a very good reason), and surely the remastering can’t be that good, can it?

As Donald Trump would say in the Presidential Debates, “WRONG!”

More immediate than the over-bloated Song Remains The Same, but perhaps not as explosive as the (to date) CD-only How The West Was Won, the BBC Sessions are well worth checking out. The material ranges from four BBC sessions in 1969 to a great theatre performance from 1971, and covers material from their first four studio records.

There are more than a few duplicates from the debut album – You Shook Me, I Can’t Quit You Baby, Dazed And Confused and What Is And Should Never Be get three airings each, but Communication Breakdown gets a whopping five renditions. You could argue that these repeated songs are not great value, but at least the collection is an exhaustive representation of everything they recorded for the BBC. And of course, with four sessions recorded in one year, with only a debut record to pull from, a young band is always likely to repeat themselves.

The big selling point for the box-set is a previously unavailable fifth disc, which offers nine unreleased recordings – one of which, Sunshine Woman, is a band-penned song (with some help from Willie Dixon and Robert Johnson) that has never seen the light of day before on an official release. Some of the sound quality on the fifth disc isn’t anything to write home about – again, this is probably why it was left off the original release, but it makes for interesting listening nevertheless.

This remastered 2016 five-disc repressing of the original 2005 BBC Sessions release is extremely ballsy. I don’t get hyperbolic about pressings usually, but this is unusually good. I’m familiar with the CD version of the 1997 release, but didn’t expect this to sound so good. Looks like I might have to check out those remastered studio albums after all…

Hit: Whole Lotta Love

Hidden Gem: The Girl I Love She Got Long Black Wavy Hair

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