The Austin Chronicle

Phases & Stages


Reviewed by Raoul Hernandez, July 18, 2014, Music

Led Zeppelin


Led Zeppelin II


Led Zeppelin III


With the Beatles – sophomore slump? Revisit McCartney frill "Hold Me Tight," ersatz Harrison cover "Devil in Her Heart," and Lennon throwaway "Not a Second Time." Even the Mop Tops shed filler. There's a case to be made for Great Britain's other Fab Four having produced the leanest, meanest catalog of all time, eight studio LPs with virtually no waste. ("Carouselambra," maybe?) As such, Jimmy Page's two-year dig of the Led Zeppelin archives yields no grails for the first triptych of double discs from a yearlong, nine-title rollout (posthumous 1982 scrapper Coda caps the campaign). Standard for deluxe editions, the fearsome foursome's eponymous, 1969 debut pairs its volcanic blues and folk with a raw performance from that same year in Paris. Five live set staples eat most of the run time, including 15, brownish acid minutes of "Dazed and Confused," but almost 10 of Page solo "White Summer/Black Mountain Side" presages Physical Graffiti's "In My Time of Dying." Led Zeppelin II binds the biggest and baddest of the group's heavyweight first chapter with the thinest of extras, 33 minutes of early mixes and backing tracks, although the rough of "Heartbreaker" bests the original by stripping off the polish. And whereas most alternate mixes of classic albums (Bob Marley's Island Records bow; the Beatles' Let It Be) gain little over initial versions, the second CD of Led Zeppelin III expands on its mothership's psychograss exhilaration. An undubbed "Gallows Pole" demonstrates the genius of any immortal act – knowing when to accessorize – while the music matte to "Out on the Tiles" smoothes the first version's slight warp. Unused electric guitar overdubs to acoustic back-breaker "Bron-Y-Aur Stomp" outdoes the digipak's pinwheel reproduction of the original album art. On deck: the early roots of Joan Baez/Anne Bredon ("Babe, I'm Gonna Leave You") and Willie Dixon ("Whole Lotta Love") steamrolled by songcraft and sonics on Led Zeppelin IV, Houses of the Holy, and double album demolition Physical Graffiti.

(Led Zeppelin) ****

(Led Zeppelin II) ***

(Led Zeppelin III) ***.5

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