Reunions (Archive Master Series)
Live Aid, JFK Stadium, Philadelphia, PA – July 13th, 1985: Rock And Roll, Whole Lotta Love, Stairway To Heaven, Interview after the show
Atlantic Records’ 40th Anniversary Celebration, Madison Square Garden, New York, NY – May 14th, 1988: Misty Mountain Hop (rehearsals), backstage, Kashmir, Heartbreaker, Whole Lotta Love, Misty Mountain Hop, Stairway To Heaven
Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Induction, Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, New York, NY – January 12th, 1995: Introduction by Steven Tyler and Joe Perry, Train Kept A-Rollin’, For Your Love, Bring It On Home, Long Distance Call Blues, Baby Please Don’t Go, When The Levee Breaks (with Neil Young)
The recent hoopla surrounding the official release of Led Zeppelin’s 2007 O2 reunion on Celebration Day is a testament not only to how great that one off concert was, but to how ragged their previous reunions were. Common wisdom states that their appearances at Live Aid, the Atlantic Records anniversary and their induction into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame were triumphs more of emotion than artistic merit.
Despite the shortcomings, these three are a lot of fun to listen to and hold importance in Led Zeppelin’s overall legacy. Reunions is the latest Archive Master Series Bluray release and one of their most impressive. While the source material limits the effect, this still contains the best available version of these tapes on the market.
All three of these shows appear on the DVD Reunion Collection (Wendy WEDV-01), released in 2005. AMS is an improvement in every way over the Wendy, not only in visual and sound quality, but in completeness and editing. For all three reunions is presents as perfect a record as can reasonably be expected.
For the Live Aid appearance, AMS use a VHS taped from the MTV telecast. Much more clear than the Wendy DVD, it picks up where Phil Collins introduces his friends and runs through Mark Goodman, Martha Quinn and The Cars’ Benjamin Orr commenting on the action (and Orr flirting with Quinn). Also included is the short post-set interview with all of the musicians with MTV VJ Alan Hunter.
The short three song set is ragged and riddled with mistakes. Plant’s voice is very weak and Page gets lost trying to follow the chaotic drumming of Collins and Tony Thompson. But Zeppelin were the highlight of the Philadelphia gig in terms of emotional resonance. And as poor as the performance is, it has enough magic to confirm that Zeppelin did indeed play that night.
Zeppelin wanted to make amends three years later for their set at the Atlantic Records 40th Anniversary celebration in New York in May, 1988. Telecast on HBO and simulcast on local FM radio, AMS use a superior video copy. Compared to Live Aid, the set is longer and much better rehearsed. “Kashmir” starts the set followed by a ragged version of “Heartbreaker” which segues into “Whole Lotta Love.”
“Misty Mountain Hop” fares the best off all – very tight and bouncy. They end with a cold version of “Stairway To Heaven.” Also included are home shot amateur footage of the rehearsal and the band hanging out backstage. The quality isn’t nearly as good as the pro-shot footage, but is still nice to have.
The final third of the disc is occupied with the 1995 Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame induction in New York. It starts off with the telecast’s introduction and the speech by Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, and the acceptance speech by the band and family. AMS splice in the first two songs of the jam, “Train Kept A-Rollin'” and “For Your Love” from another, lesser quality source. The rest, including the back stage chat, comes from a crystal clear dub.
Off all the footage on the disc, this is the most exciting. It’s thrilling to watch them jam with the other musicians, but also the final track with Neil Young, when they play “When The Levee Breaks” with Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth” thrown in, is masterful.
Reunions, along with the other Bluray efforts by AMS, is a phenomenal disc and is worth having.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)