Whereas my review of Led Zeppelin’s debut album specified it only got its 4.5 clowns if you don’t consider the awful bonus disc, here I’m stipulating that this review definitely considers the bonus disc. I’ve actually had the original (CD) version since high school, but I’ve never reviewed it and, since I was going through Led Zeppelin’s albums anyway, I thought I’d check out the bonus disc of last year’s deluxe edition while I’m at it. (On a bit of a side note, there are a few cases where I have like what’s considered the worst album of a great band on CD because it was a few bucks cheaper than the others (it usually had a The Nice Price sticker on it), and why not start there? The other one I can think of off the top of my head is U2’s October, which, like this album, I think is unfairly maligned.)
Yeah, so, I don’t know why this album isn’t as well regarded as much of the rest of the band’s catalog. I mean, part of it is that the rest of their catalog is so good. But heck, I like this more than what’s generally considered their best: IV. (And in fact I have to go all contrarian and say that IV is the worst of their first four.) The obvious reason this wouldn’t be as appreciated is because it doesn’t have as much sledgehammer, ploddy heaviness on it, especially after you get past first side opener and closer “Immigrant Song” and “Out On The Tiles,” respectively. The rest of the album spends its time between bouncy, upbeat numbers (“Celebration Day,” “Bron-Y-Aur Stomp”) and slow blues burners (“Since I’ve Been Loving You” and “Tangerine”). But, hell, they’re all pretty good, with the notable exception of the weird final “Hats Off To (Roy) Harper,” making this the second album in a row the band couldn’t figure out how to end. What’s with that? Just pick one of the great ones and put it there.
Anyhoo, about that bonus disc. It’s a lot like that of II, where it’s like alternate mixes and mixes without the vocal (again, wtf?), and they’re generally hotter. Here, though, some of the alternate mixes come out with a higher rating than the original versions. The alternate mix of “Celebration Day” gets mixed, both versions of “Since I’ve Been Loving You” get the same rating because they bring different strengths to the table, as do the versions of “Gallows Pole,” whose alternate version sounds great in headphones where the bass is very prominent.
So, fine, I will admit that this is maybe the album that, in the first four, is kinda doin’ it’s own thing with so little heaviness. But, still, the non-heavy stuff is stuff they’ve got all over Led Zeppelin and throughout IV, too. And when they are heavy it’s “Immigrant Song” and “Out On The Tiles,” for cryin’ out loud, two of my favorite Led Zeppelin songs. It’s basically an album any band would love to have in its discography, but when it’s surrounded by Led Zeppelin’s discography it doesn’t look so awesome, I guess.
Mix: “Out On The Tiles,” “Celebration Day (Alternate Mix)”
Love: “Immigrant Song,” “Celebration Day”
Really Like: “Friends,” “Since I’ve Been Loving You,” “Gallows Pole,” “Tangerine,” “Bron-Y-Aur Stomp,” “Since I’ve Been Loving You (Rough Mix),” “Bathroom Sound (Track – No Vocal),” “Gallows Pole (Rough Mix),” “Jennings Farm Blues (Rough Mix)”
Like: “That’s The Way,” “The Immigrant Song (Alternate Mix),” “That’s The Way (Rough Mix),” “Key To The Highway/Trouble In Mind”
Meh: “Hats Off To (Roy) Harper,” “Friends (Track – No Vocal)”
Filed Between: Led Zeppelin’s II and IV
Song Notes: After the jump
Disc 1: Original Album
- Immigrant Song –
- Friends –
- Celebration Day –
- Since I’ve Been Loving You –
- Out On The Tiles –
- Gallows Pole –
- Tangerine – love the tone of the guitar in the solo
- That’s The Way –
- Bron-Y-Aur Stomp –
- Hats Off To (Roy) Harper
Disc 2: 2014 Deluxe Edition Bonus Disc
- The Immigrant Song (Alternate Mix) [sic] – a little too bright
- Friends (Track – No Vocal)
- Celebration Day (Alternate Mix) – fuller sound here
- Since I’ve Been Loving You (Rough Mix) – not much bass
- Bathroom Sound (Track – No Vocal) – it’s the “Out On The Tiles” backing track
- Gallows Pole (Rough Mix) – sounds way better in headphones. first verse/chorus is basically only vocals in speakers with guitar so quiet. In phones bass is very prominent in left channel and comes in with this cool spacey sound effect.
- That’s The Way (Rough Mix) –
- Jennings Farm Blues (Rough Mix) – “Bron-Y-Aur Stomp” backing track
- Key To The Highway/Trouble In Mind