London Royal Albert Hall January 9, 1970 (Virgin Vinyl Records)
Side A: We’re Gonna Groove; I Can’t Quit You Baby; Dazed and Confused (Part I)
Side B: Dazed and Confused (Part II); White Summer
Side C: What Is and What Should Never Be; How Many More Times (Part I)
Side D: How Many More Times (Part II); Moby Dick (Part I)
Side E: Moby Dick (Part II); Whole Lotta Love; Communication Breakdown
Side F: C’Mon Everybody; Somethin’ Else; Bring It On Home
CD 1: We’re Gonna Groove; I Can’t Quit You Baby; Dazed and Confused; White Summer; What Is and What Should Never Be; How Many More Times
CD 2: Moby Dick; Whole Lotta Love; Communication Breakdown; C’Mon Everybody; Somethin’ Else; Bring It On Home
DVD: We’re Gonna Groove; I Can’t Quit You Baby; Dazed and Confused; White Summer; What Is and What Should Never Be; How Many More Times; Moby Dick; Whole Lotta Love; Communication Breakdown; C’Mon Everybody; Somethin’ Else; Bring It On Home
Many have legitimately questioned why the powers behind Led Zeppelin’s kingdom did not market more media forms beyond the stunning DVD of the band’s incendiary 1970 Royal Albert Hall concert. As ever, there were dedicated fan productions of the audio on CD after 2003’s release of the DVD. That helped for those who wanted to hear the show while driving, on the iPod, etc. But it is widely recognized that Jimmy Page is an ardent fan and supporter of music on vinyl. This was most recently evidenced by the gorgeous 180 gram, 3 LP vinyl release of Celebration Day, which was also made available in numerous other media formats including a blu-ray audio disc. So why wasn’t similar treatment given to the Royal Albert Hall show? Hopefully the upcoming reissue of Zep’s catalog will be offered to the public like Celebration Day.
Virgin Vinyl Records have taken a stab at producing a mega-media version of the Royal Albert Hall concert. Three separately colored heavy vinyl albums, two compact discs and one dvd are presented of the show we all know and love so dearly. It’s all in a lavish box decorated with multiple stills from the video and includes a glossy, full-sized foldout booklet with beautiful pictures and reproduction of an interesting January 1970 review of the concert. The three vinyl albums are in different colors and play nicely with fidelity arguably different than what we hear on compact disc. Inclusion of the vinyl was admittedly the attraction to this release and, visually, this release is a winner for an unofficial production.
But there are also issues with this release, which is not cheap. In contrast to our ability to enjoy complete songs on compact disc, we are reminded about the format of vinyl and how sometimes songs may end on one side of an album and be completed on the next side. In order to keep the songs in the order they were played that night, Dazed and Confused, How Many More Times and Moby Dick are unfortunately split between sides of the three albums.
A strange packaging decision was also made for the two compact discs. They are housed in plastic sleeves literally glued shut on the box’s inside cover, and can only be removed by sliding them out of a side of the sleeve. Once removed, the attractive discs in this reviewed release had some adhesive on the front side. This was unfortunate, given the obvious care and thought otherwise put into this production. The discs play and sound perfect, but the tracking on disc one is bizarre. Track one is 10:38, which means it consists of both We’re Gonna Groove and I Can’t Quit You Baby. Dazed and Confused is then split between tracks two and three. As a result, the earlier fan productions of the audio on compact disc remain definitive. The DVD, which has a cool opening menu screen, is what’s available commercially and understandably nothing new.
All in all, this release is to be applauded for attempting to do what Led Zeppelin should have done in the first place. Despite its shortcomings, some legitimate and some not, we collectors may now be seeing the start of an exciting trend in full blown productions enjoyable in multiple media formats. It’s about time.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)