Half Notes: Led Zeppelin – The Song Remains the Same (1976)

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I remember one of the fundamental disappointments when getting into Led Zeppelin was, sadly, this live album. It was just a mess. Sprawling, rambling, incoherent, it just didn’t jell, and there was good reason: it had been chopped up to fit on two pieces of vinyl and was never readjusted for CD. We could go on and on about the video version of it, the fantasy segments of which were a complete surprise when my friends and I rented it one night as teens just getting into the band. Confused is about the only word that comes to mind. “What is going on here? Why are his eyes glowing? Why is he sword fighting? Why are we watching cars?” Now, having seen it via VH-1 Classic a few times, those fantasy segments merely look quaint and a bit charmingly self-absorbed.

In 2007, we finally got the CDs the way they should have been — all 15 songs represented in the setlist played on the nights at Madison Square Garden in 1973, remastered for sound quality and reflecting the actual concert represented in the film. The DVD, unfortunately, does not represent the concert alone: It is still the movie as it was back then, due to legal reasons that I don’t understand that prevented Page and engineer Kevin Shirley from re-editing it back to just the music, but now it’s in Dolby 5.1, and includes a second disc with the four missing songs, some interviews, coverage by Tampa news crews of the band’s arrival there, and a few other small things.

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‘Half Notes’ are quick-take thoughts on music from Something Else! Reviews, presented whenever the mood strikes us.

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