The Song Remains the Same (1976)


 
Disc One 1. Rock and Roll 2. Celebration Day 3. The Song Remains the Same 4. Rain Song 5. Dazed and Confused Disc Two 1. No Quarter 2. Stairway to Heaven 3. Moby Dick 4. Whole Lotta Love Bonus version also includes: Black Dog Over the Hills and Far Away Misty Mountain Hop Since I've Been Loving You The Ocean Heartbreaker

 

One of the biggest cardinal sins in rock and roll is the fact that this live album served as the only memoir of the band in concert for more than a quarter of a century. If you never saw them live, or if you were one of the millions of fans that were too young to remember, one listen to this album would have you convinced that Led Zeppelin sucked as a live band. Talk about misinformed injustice.

Taken from the 1973 tour promoting Houses of the Holy, the first gaffe is that the band just sounds uninspired and as though they are simply going through the motions. What makes the album worse (much worse) is the song selection. This is a double album that contains only 9 songs. Do the math here kids. Strangely, at this point in their career, just about everything they did was A+ material, but it seems as though they picked the worst songs that they could when compiling this album.

Fortunately, three of the band’s best songs are here: Rock and Roll, Whole Lotta Love, and the ubiquitous Stairway to Heaven. None of these songs, however, sound particularly inspiring. Rock and Roll might be a slight exception. It is a powerful way to open the album, but the album goes downhill from there and never recovers. Side two features one song – a 27-minute version of Dazed and Confused. 27 minutes. Say that a few times and let it really sink in. Had the song been half that length it still would have been way too long. It’s frankly unlistenable. It’s drawn out by over indulgent guitar solos and meaningless interludes. The thing has ‘Spinal Tap’ written all over it. The biggest irony is that the song title represents exactly how one feels when listening to it.

Moby Dick is another disappointment. Fans know this song as John Bonham’s turn in the spotlight. He’s one of my favorite drummers, but this thing just goes on way too long. Perhaps I’m spoiled by years of seeing and hearing Neil Peart of Rush. After you’ve seen Peart do a drum solo a few times, you feel compelled to instigate a new rule that says he’s the only one that should ever perform long, extended drum solos. I’m not saying Peart is better (although I’m not saying he’s not), but he’s the only one that can keep a crowd interested for more than five minutes performing a solo.. Sadly, Bonham is no exception. I’m sure it was great if you were there – especially if you were stone out of your gourd, but it simply doesn’t translate well on a live album.

When I first bought this album, I usually gave up after finishing side one. This is a thoroughly depressing experience. I must point out that there are some hard-core fans that say the album has aged well, and that the remastered thing sounds much better. Sadly, I can’t tell a lick of difference. The newer CD is even “expanded” with more songs. It does nothing for me either. The expanded songs sound just as lifeless. Fortunately, the band released a 3 CD set in 2003 called How the West Was Won that puts this thing to shame. Please start with that one. Ironically, that album is from the same tour.

The movie was pretty awful as well.

Back To Main Page
Go To Next Review