Various Artists – The Roots Of Led Zeppelin (Proper Records 149)

The Roots Of Led Zeppelin (Proper Records 149)

Disc 1 (59:41):  Jesus Make Up My Dying Bed – Blind Willie Johnson, Nobody’s Fault But Mine – Blind Willie Johnson, Stealin’ Stealin’ – Memphis Jug Band, When The Levee Breaks – Robert Wilkins, That’s No Way To Get Along – John Estes, The Girl I Love – Sleepy John Estes, I Can’t Be Satisfied – Oscar Woods, Drop Down Mama – Robert Johnson, Lone Wolf Blues – Sonny Boy Williamson, Travelin’ Riverside Blues – Robert Johnson, Got The Bottle Up And Gone – Sonny Boy Williamson, Shake ‘Em On Down – Bukka White, Sugar Mama Blues – Sonny Boy Williamson, Sweet Home Chicago – Robert Johnson, Good Morning School Girl – Sonny Boy Williamson, Trucking Little Woman – Big Bill Broonzy, I Want Some Of Your Pie – Blind Boy Fuller, Fixin’ To Die – Bukka White, The Gallows Song – Leadbelly, Goin’ Down Slow – St. Louis Jimmy

Disc 2 (55:00):  Honeydripper – Joe Liggins, That’s Alright Mama – Arthur Crudup, Rockin’ At Midnight – Roy Brown, Down By The Riverside – Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Boogie Chillen – John Lee Hooker, I’m Movin’ On – Hank Snow, Rollin’ And Tumblin’ – Muddy Waters, Three O’ Clock Blues – BB King, Long Distance Call – Muddy Waters, I’m In The Mood – John Lee Hooker, How Many More Years – Howlin’ Wolf, Smokestack Lightnin’ – Elvis Presley, Honey Bee – Bo Diddley, Dust My Broom – Elvis Presley, I Got A Woman – Gene Vincent, No Place To Go – (?), Rock Island Line – Little Richard, Baby Let’s Play House – Eddie Cochran, I’m A Man – Otis Rush, Baby I Don’t Care – Elvis Presley, Be Bop A Lula – Dale Hawkins

Disc 3:  Blueberry Hill – Johnny Burnette, The Girl Can’t Help It – Little Richard, Twenty Flight Rock – Chuck Berry, I Can’t Quit You Baby – Howlin’ Wolf, Lawdy Miss Clawdy – Elvis Presley, Susie Q – Little Richard, Train Kept A Rollin’ – Jerry Lee Lewis, Long Tall Sally – The Diamonds, Roll Over Beethoven – The Monotones, Smokestack Lightnin’ – Howlin’ Wolf, Cotton Song – Chas McDevitt, Keep -A – Knockin’ – Little Richard, Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On – Jerry Lee Lewis, The Stroll – The Diamonds, The Book Of Love – The Monotones, Kisses Sweeter Than Wine – Jimmy Rodgers, Rave On – Buddy Holly, Johnny B Goode – Chuck Berry, Smoke Gets In Your Eyes – The Platters

Disc 4:  1. DVD – ‘TALKIN’ LED ZEPPELIN’ – Muddy Waters 2. DVD – ‘TALKIN’ LED ZEPPELIN’ – Robert Johnson 3. DVD – ‘TALKIN’ LED ZEPPELIN’ – Howlin’ Wolf 4. DVD – ‘TALKIN’ LED ZEPPELIN’ – Muddy Waters 5. DVD – ‘TALKIN’ LED ZEPPELIN’ – Leadbelly 6. DVD – ‘TALKIN’ LED ZEPPELIN’ – Arthur Crudup

Proper Records is a UK based label dedicated to producing comprehensive boxsets from the blues and jazz eras.  The Roots Of Led Zeppelin is a three disc set presenting songs which either influenced Led Zeppelin’s songs or songs Zeppelin played in concert.  There have been many releases in the past which presents this material, but Proper Records is much more comprehensive and also use the original recordings by the original artists.  Another virtue of the set is beginning with the first disc, the songs are presented in chronological order so it also offers a comprehensive view of American music from the 20’s through to the 60’s.

Also included is a DVD where various experts like Charles Shaar Murray, Nigel Williamson, Sid Griffin and the curator of Sun Studios in Memphis as well as Delta historian Robert Birdsong speak about the music and the influence upon Zeppelin.  It is strictly a “talking head” affair which becomes monontonus and boring at points, but some of the information is very interesting.  There is also a booklet with extensive liner notes describing Zeppelin’s use of this material.  

It is obvious, just by looking at the track listing, that Proper records really did their homework.  While past collections like this point out the obvious tracks (“How Many More Years,” “Bring It On Home,” etc), this collection really plumbs the depths of Zeppelin’s live act and come up with some oddball obscurities.  Not many casual fans would understand why “Bottle Up And Gone,” “Suzy Q” and “Twenty Flight Rock” would be included.  Out of all the Zeppelin “roots” releases, this one stands out as the very best and is highly recommended.  Since their products are sold only in the UK, this can be ordered through their website. 

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