Release Date: Oct 28, 2014
Record label: Atlantic
It's easy to forget just how quickly Led Zeppelin went from sharply juxtaposing blues thump with delicate folk on their debut to blending the two sounds seamlessly at once. After releasing three masterfully multidimensional LPs in 1969 and 1970, the group began its middle period relatively early, in 1971, with the release of its untitled fourth album. That record remains Led Zeppelin's masterpiece because it showcases everything the band did best – acoustic flourishes, heavy blues, insightful poetry, tawdry catcalls – in equal measure.
Led ZeppelinIV/Houses of the Holy-Deluxe Edition(Atlantic/Swan Song/Rhino)Rating: 5 out of 5 stars Jimmy Page, never one to miss an opportunity, continues his Led Zeppelin reissue series with these two titles, just in time for Christmas season 2014. As with the first batch released earlier this year, these feature remastered audio of the original tracks on one disc and add, in the deluxe version, a second with remixes and alternate takes although notably no previously unreleased songs. The passage of time (IV was released in 1971, Houses … in 1973), provides the luxury to reassess these albums, examining them through the looking glass of history and within the broader scope of the group’s overall output.
When you listen to guitarist Jimmy Page talk about Led Zeppelin now – about the importance of the synergy they shared and the extensive research he puts into each of the band’s reissues – you start to understand why Led Zeppelin worked so well and why it had to end when it did. Even when the band’s faith began to wane toward the end of their run, there was always talk of maintaining the integrity of Led Zeppelin and what it stood for — what it was in the abstract. Page has characterized it most eloquently as an affair of the heart, perhaps best capturing the deeply emotional nature of the bond and forecasting its impending, abrupt end.
Individual Ratings:IV: Remastered Album (10.0), Deluxe (5.0)Houses of the Holy: (9.0), Deluxe (5.0) The scene: Rock legend Jimmy Page, fresh off announcing a series of revelatory Led Zeppelin reissue campaigns, sits flummoxed behind a vintage mixing console. “Is this really all there is?” he asks an anonymous studio gopher. “Yes, Mr. Page,” the young man responds, averting eye contact.
[Led Zeppelin launched a massive, Jimmy Page-supervised reissue campaign in 2014, where each of their studio albums was remastered and then expanded with a bonus disc of alternate versions (in the case of the super deluxe editions, they were also supplemented by vinyl pressings and a massive hardcover book). The supplemental disc for Led Zeppelin IV is constructed as a mirror image of the finished album, comprised almost entirely of alternate mixes and instrumentals. "The Battle of Evermore" and "Going to California" belong to the latter category, consisting of nothing but the acoustic guitar and mandolin parts from the finished track, while the rest of the record is devoted to alternate mixes from various sources.