Led Zeppelin start a thorough reissue program of releases in June 2014 with remastered discs on multiple formats of Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin II and Led Zeppelin III. All other original Led Zeppelin albums will eventually get the same style of expanded releases.
But does it matter? Do you care?
For debate’s sake here’s some Yes and No arguments. Please join in…
YES! 2014 Led Zeppelin matters!
1. A legendary rock band such as Led Zeppelin still deserve to heard as much as possible, even in 2014. They remain hugely influential and loved - and fans will love these reissues. The packaging alone is superb.
2. Remastering can sometimes be great. One example: The Smiths’ Complete remasters of a 2011 seemed to bring a new sparkle to the band’s 1980s indie recordings. With Jimmy Page’s production nous you can rely on these remasters being the best you’ve ever heard Led Zeppelin.
3. There’s live and bonus material. Led Zeppelin comes with a live disc, Live at the Olympia (Paris, France) from October 10, 1969. And the bonus disc for III has “Jennings Farm Blues” (an instrumental forerunner of “Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp”), “Bathroom Sound” (an instrumental version of “Out on the Tiles”), and Zep’s take on the blues classics “Keys to the Highway/Trouble in Mind.”
“The material on the companion discs presents a portal to the time of the recording of Led Zeppelin,” says Jimmy Page. “It’s a selection of work in progress, with rough mixes, backing tracks, alternate versions, and new material recorded at the time.”
4. There’s a “new” unreleased song, called “La La” on the bonus disc for Led Zeppelin II. It’s the first “new” Zeppelin release in 30-plus years and will get fans excited.
5. In the 2014 boxset of Led Zeppelin, you get a hard bound, 70-plus page book with rare and previously unseen photos and memorabilia. Early buyers get a copy of the band’s original press release. Very nice stuff for collectors.
NO! 2014 Led Zeppelin Doesn’t Matter!
1. Although Zep remain one of the greatest ever bands, they split in 1980. Robert Plant has always been content, and entertainingly so, to keep moving on with new songs and new projects. Maybe his old band’s record company should do the same?
2. Led Zeppelin albums were always brilliantly produced, so there’ll be no tinkering on that side. Jimmy Page would never let that happen anyway. So, we’re left with “remastering.”
Remastering may sound great in the world’s best studios, but for most listeners’ current habits – vinyl, CD or MP3 on “everyday” audio equipment – you may not notice any difference at all. It could be just an aural illusion.
3. “How Many More Times?” to quote one of Zep’s own songs. We’ve already had the Led Zeppelin Remasters albums of 1990. They were then collected in the Boxed Set of 1990. Then the also-remastered Early Days & Latter Days compilations (released separately, then together) from 1999 to 2002. Then the Mothership collection in 2007, which was also remastered. How much remastering does a classic Led Zeppelin recording really need?
4. There’s the “new” song “La La.” But with that title you guess it’s unlikely to be on a par with “Kashmir,” “Achilles Last Stand” or “Stairway to Heaven.” Every band has studio jams and proto-songs that are “previously unreleased.” A cynic might say these songs weren’t originally released because maybe they weren’t up to scratch? In 1982, Zeppelin released Coda, with their best unreleased songs. Bassist John Paul Jones has said before: “We used everything.”
5. Any fervent Zep fan will already own numerous books with the best photos and writing, and possibly a host of live bootlegs too. Will new glossy presentation of what you might already own add anything, for even a hardcore fan? Cost? The 2014 “Super Deluxe Edition” of debut album Led Zeppelin alone is nearly $120.
You decide. Fans can chose to buy or not, of course – and there’s nothing wrong with putting product out.
But is this Led Zeppelin remaster series something that you will buy into? Or is it just whole lotta hype? Please disquss!