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Led Zeppelin: The Song Remains The Same [1976 film]

por Led Zeppelin, John Bonham, Peter Grant, John Paul Jones, Jimmy Page1 mais, Robert Plant

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Concert film from Led Zeppelin's 1973 performances at Madison Square Garden. Features documentary and fantasy narrative sequences.
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Led Zeppelin

The Song Remains the Same

DVD 1:

1. Rock and Roll
2. Black Dog
3. Since I’ve Been Loving You
4. No Quarter
5. The Song Remains the Same
6. The Rain Song
7. Dazed and Confused
8. Stairway to Heaven
9. Moby Dick
10. Heartbreaker (abridged)
11. Whole Lotta Love

DVD 2:
1. Tampa News Report [3:26]
2. Over the Hills and Far Away [6:19]
3. Boating Down the Thames [8:21]
4. Celebration Day (Cutting Story) [3:40]
5. The Robbery [5:03]
6. Misty Mountain Hop [4:51]
7. Original Film Trailer [0:59]
8. The Ocean [4:42]

Jimmy Page – guitars
Robert Plant – vocals
John Paul Jones – bass, keyboards
John Bonham – drums


Filmed live at Madison Square Garden, 27-29 July 1973.
Additional filming in Baltimore, Pittsburgh and New York (July 1973); in England, Wales and Scotland (October–December 1973); and at Shepperton Studios, Surrey, England (August 1974).
World premiere, 20 October 1976.
First released on DVD, 31 December 1999.
Two-Disc Special Edition first released, 20 November 2007.

Warner Home Video, 2008. Two-Disc Special Edition. TT 2:17:41+37:21. Colour. 1.85:1. Remastered and remixed sound: LPCM Stereo / Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround / DTS 5.1 Surround.

===================================================

What I have to say about this film-concert I have said it elsewhere. Here I would address briefly the differences between the old DVD edition and the more recent Two-Disc Special Edition.

Apart from the remastered, remixed and better-than-ever-before sound, the film-concert on first disc is pretty much same. Don’t be fooled by the fact that this new version is some five and a half minutes longer than the old one. The additional footage is a pastiche of no importance. There are no new songs, neither are the old ones significantly extended. “Heartbreaker” is just as badly mutilated as it was before, and yet again it is used merely as a background for some archive footage about the notorious theft from the Drake Hotel. The only full version is available on the 2007 edition of the soundtrack. I can’t imagine why this was necessary unless due to some technical problem the performance was never shot complete.

The bonus materials on the second disc are something of a mixed bag. The four songs might have fitted better on the first disc with the rest of the concert, but it’s wonderful to have them anyway. “Celebration Day” and “Over the Hills and Far Away” had never been seen before. This was their maiden release. “Misty Mountain Hop” and “The Ocean” had previously appeared only on the 2003 DVD Led Zeppelin. The news report from Tampa is about LZ’s breaking the 1965 attendance record of the Beatles during their 1973 American tour. They played to 56,800 fans at the Tampa Stadium and grossed $309,000 (that’s only some 800 fans and $5,000 more than the Beatles). Cars were parked, an awed reporter said, a mile away from the Tampa Stadium. “The Robbery” is yet another take on the notorious robbery at The Drake, including excerpts from a press conference with Peter Grant, but it tells you nothing you don’t already know from the film. “Boating Down the Thames” is an interview with Grant and Plant devoid of any special insight, but shot on a boat that sails among the ugliest industrial landscape I have ever seen.

So, in a nutshell, the differences are not spectacular, but they are substantial enough to supersede the old edition. The dream remains the same that one fine day the film-concert will be released as a concert, without the tedious “fantasy sequences”. But that dream is almost certainly destined to remain a dream. Apparently there were too many gaps in the original concert footage from MSG, and though some of them were fixed later at Shepperton Studios, the concert cannot stand alone. ( )
2 vote Waldstein | Mar 9, 2016 |
Led Zeppelin

The Song Remains the Same:
In Concert and Beyond


1. Rock and Roll
2. Black Dog
3. Since I’ve Been Loving You
4. No Quarter
5. The Song Remains the Same
6. The Rain Song
7. Dazed and Confused
8. Stairway to Heaven
9. Moby Dick
10. Heartbreaker (abridged)
11. Whole Lotta Love

Jimmy Page – guitars
Robert Plant – vocals
John Paul Jones – bass, keyboards
John Bonham – drums


Filmed live at Madison Square Garden, 27-29 July 1973.
Additional filming in Baltimore, Pittsburgh and New York (July 1973); in England, Wales and Scotland (October–December 1973); and at Shepperton Studios, Surrey, England (August 1974).
World premiere, 20 October 1976.
First released on DVD, 31 December 1999.

Warner Home Video, 2000. TT 2:12:04. Colour. 1.85:1. Stereo. No track-list on the cover. Crude scene-selection menu.

===================================================

There is nothing to be said against the musical part of this film except that Plant’s voice is a little coarser than it used to be earlier and that he might have taken some songs (“Rock and Roll”, for example) more seriously. That aside, the band is captured at their peak that makes most of their studio stuff pale in comparison. Jimmy is a force of nature on the stage, spinning breathtaking solos in something like trance or coaxing insane sounds from his guitar with a bow. Bonzo is equally impressive, his famous drum solo in “Moby Dick” being just about four times longer than its studio original. None of the four members cares for repeating exactly what they have already done in the studio. The results are exhilarating improvisations and epic medleys. “Dazed and Confused” is the most extreme example: a suite nearly 27 minutes long that makes the six and a half of the studio version look really tame.

The visual side is another matter, though. The concert itself is filmed well enough, evidently by professionals who know their business. I might disagree with a few directorial choices, but there is nothing to complain about. There is a good deal of extra footage from behind the scenes inserted between the songs. Some of it was shot in New York, some in Baltimore, and some in Pittsburgh, but all of it is interesting as a historical curiosity. One of these episodes is about the theft of some $180,000 of the band’s money from a safe deposit box at the Drake Hotel. The money was never recovered and no one was ever charged. Several episodes benefit from the massive presence of Peter Grant, the tough manager often regarded as the band’s fifth member, at his scintillating best. I am pleased to say that his numerous expletives are not censored.

The big problem with this film is the inclusion of the notorious “fantasy sequences”. Cheesy is an understatement. They were intended to give some insight into the personalities of the four members, but they failed miserably. The film opens with Peter Grant playing a Mafioso from the 1920s whose thugs with machine guns shot a band of freaks around a gambling table. Then we see the four members receiving invitations in various parts of the English countryside and being rushed on the next day from the airport to MSG to perform. If you think that’s bad enough, wait to see the personal sketches. Page (during “Dazed and Confused”) is climbing a slimy slope trying to reach the hermit with the lantern (familiar from the artwork for the Fourth album) on the top only to realise that the mysterious figure is – surprise! surprise! – himself. Plant (“The Song Remains the Same”, “Rain Song”) is a prince sailing, riding and finally rescuing a princess with his sword. (What the…?!) John Paul Jones (“No Quarter”) is first shown playing a monstrous organ à la the Phantom of the Opera, then wearing some outlandish mask and scaring the village ladies at night, and finally coming home to his wife and children. (What the…?!) Bonzo’s portrait (“Moby Dick”, of course) presents him as a regular fellow who is dancing with his wife, encouraging his son at the mini drum kit, drinking beer, playing billiards, driving fast cars and motorcycles, and repairing his house. True or not, that’s the only “fantasy sequence” I like.

The best that can be said about these intrusions is that they at least don’t interrupt the music. It’s a pity you don’t see the band on the stage, but at least you can hear it. This is more than can be said about Black Sabbath’s The Last Supper DVD on which – scandalously! – most of the songs are interrupted for the sake of interviews and the like. This is one DVD which I, despite my fondness for Sabbath, have not been able to keep.

For many years, this film-concert was the only officially issued footage of the band live on the stage. Fortunately, this is no longer true. 2003 saw the release of a double DVD simply titled Led Zeppelin which redressed the balance with a vengeance and completely superseded The Song Remains the Same. Of course you must have the old film if you are an LZ fan. In this case, you are well-advised to purchase not the edition I’ve just tried to review, but the expanded one from 2007. The latter contains, in addition to improved sound and picture, two never-seen-before tracks (“Over the Hills and Far Away”, “Celebration Day”) and two others (“Misty Mountain Hop”, “The Ocean”) which could be seen only on the 2003 DVD before. Unfortunately, “Heartbreaker” is just as badly mutilated in the 2007 edition as it is here. It can only be heard complete on the soundtrack (again the 2007 expanded edition).

PS Another concert, albeit one without picture, which is a must for LZ fans is the triple album How the West Was Won (2003) culled from performances in California on 25 and 27 June 1972. 2003 saw its release in fine quality, too, pirated sources in atrocious sound having circulated for decades. ( )
2 vote Waldstein | Mar 7, 2016 |
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Concert film from Led Zeppelin's 1973 performances at Madison Square Garden. Features documentary and fantasy narrative sequences.

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