How the West Was Won (2003)


 
Disc One 1. L.A. Drone 2. Immigrant Song 3. Heartbreaker 4. Black Dog 5. Over the Hills and Far Away 6. Since I've Been Loving You 7. Stairway to Heaven 8. Going to California 9. That's the Way 10. Bron-Yr-Aur stomp Disc Two 1. Dazed and Confused 2. What Is and What Should Never Be 3. Dancing Days 4. Moby Dick Disc Three 1. Whole Lotta Love 2. Rock and Roll 3. The Ocean 4. Bring it On Home

 

The first thing that goes through my mind when I first listened to this album was not the fact that it was so awesome (which it was), but rather “How come this release sounds so incredible when the band’s other live album taken from the same tour sounds so awful, lethargic, and boring?” I mean, everything on this triple CD is amazing. The song selection, the production quality, and, most importantly, the raw energy. The band sounds like they’re really having fun and putting a lot of muscle into the performance.

This collection was taken from two different nights in Los Angeles in 1973 on the Houses of the Holy tour. Since the disc is 2 ½ hours long, I’m guessing some songs were swapped from night to night, but I’m really not sure. Having a 3 CD set also means that the band is able to include a lot more material. This is crucial with a band like Led Zeppelin. It’s not necessarily that they have so much great material (which they do), but the fact that during the overindulgent seventies, it was fairly common to take a 3 or 4-minute song and turn into a twenty-minute marathon. They do this three times - Dazed and Confused, Moby Dick, and Whole Lotta Love. These three songs average about 22 minutes. This is never a pleasant experience for me, but for some reason, these drawn out versions don’t bother me in the slightest. It probably helps that on Dazed and Confused and Whole Lotta Love that the band includes some melodies of other songs (original and cover) as opposed to something like an excruciating 20-minute guitar solo (which they did on The Song Remains The Same on Dazed and Confused). Yes, the drum solo on Moby Dick is very long, but production wise, it’s so intoxicating that it simply doesn’t matter. Again, though, three compact discs means that so much more can be included.

Also, unlike The Song Remains The Same, they picked better songs to feature. Some of the band’s best-known material from their first five albums is here. No, not everything, but all of the great radio staples and fan favorites are included. Especially pleasant is the three-song acoustic set which concludes the first disc.

I’m really not sure why the band waited 30 years to release this thing. I’m very glad they did. I really hope that there are other shows in the archives similar to this one that the band will release one day – preferably from a later tour so that many latter-day period songs can be included.

Back To Main Page
Go To Next Review