If The Song Remains The Same movie was hamstrung by tiresome between-song interludes, then Zeppelin were on surer footing with its accompanying live album culled from three nights at Madison Square Garden in July 1973. The band still weren’t satisfied, though, with the resulting nine-track behemoth; over the years, perennial tinkerer Jimmy Page has ironed out most of those quibbles, re-editing performances and adding to its tracklisting. The 2007 remaster was an improvement in audio quality, and this release to celebrate the band’s 50th anniversary takes that to the next level. Page’s guitar shimmers while John Paul Jones and John Bonham sound impressively weighty. An opening salvo of a raucous Rock And Roll, blazing Celebration Day and nimble Black Dog is edge-of-the-seat stuff – while Zep stretch out on Over The Hills And Far Away, shifting effortlessly from folk to hard rock. The straight-up boogie of Misty Mountain Hop and blues-rock masterclass Since I’ve Been Loving You retain their power and the wonderfully eerie No Quarter is stunning. However, a half-hour version of Dazed And Confused feels bloated, likewise Moby Dick’s eight-minute drum solo. Ultimately, they’re rescued by an expansive Stairway To Heaven and the sledgehammer riffage of Heartbreaker and Whole Lotta Love, but those side-long dinosaur-rock excursions should remain fossilised forever.
Written by Steve Harnell. Released on Rhino.