Led Zeppelin III (2014)
Well, let’s just get it out of the way and complete the trifecta. As with the reissues of Led Zeppelin I and II, may I just say that there is nothing I can add to the decades of writing and scholarship and fandom that has followed these records into history. It’s all been done and said far better than I could ever manage.
And Led Zeppelin III, the 2014 remaster? It sounds crisp, clear, and friggin’ gorgeous. An amazing album done justice in this release.
As with the other two sets, the real meat and potatoes (for me) is the Companion Audio. With Led Zeppelin I, it was a glorious full concert from 1969. With II, it was some interesting studio outtakes and my wish that, optimally, there’d been live stuff instead.
With III, I still would rather that there had been live stuff included. Again, surely, there would be enough to have done live recordings with each of these, as with I. A missed opportunity, in my opinion.
But I won’t be so quick to say it’s only more studio outtakes on this release and carry on. It’s true, of course, but there’s some tracks here to make Zeppelin fans salivate.
First up is an alternate mix of The Immigrant Song. Man, what a riff. I didn’t find any really noticeable difference from the studio track. If anyone else did, I’d be pleased to know what I missed. But may I also note, here, that now every time I hear this song I think of Scott at Heavymetaloverload. “We are your overlords…”
Friends is, as with a couple of song versions on II, just the music, no vocals. It’s karaoke time! But this time with bongos! This really shows off just what a great track this is. I didn’t find myself missing the vocals as much here. I mean, obviously I did, but also not…
Celebration Day’s alternate remix, again, wasn’t different enough for me to notice much. Again I stand prepared to be shown.
Since I’ve Been Loving You, here, is a rough mix of the first recording. It’s a gorgeous slow blues, as always. But there’s a noticeable difference in the vocals. The organ is more understated and I preferred it to the album track. This is a great version.
Bathroom Sound, another instrumental track, is really just the precursor to what would become Out On The Tiles. Interesting to hear it in its embryonic stages.
Gallows Pole (rough mix), the old traditional tune, is another gem in these bonus tracks. A brilliant version with that sweet build-up.
That’s The Way, a rough mix with dulcimer and backwards echo, is a very different acoustic version without the studio track’s electric guitar noodling. It’s more like a sketch, in comparison, a work in progress (hence the ‘rough mix’ notice, eh?). I liked it, still.
Jennings Farm Blues (rough mix of all guitar overdubs that day) is an early version of Bron-Y-Aur Stomp. It’s a bit more pop-rock in feel but I still liked it.
Key To The Highway/Trouble In Mind (rough mix) is a great blues jam with trippy vocals. This is a superb unheard track!
NB: We do not get alternate versions of Tangerine or Hats Off To Roy Harper. It’s OK, I think the stuff here more than makes up for it. But for the price they’re charging for these sets, it likely wouldn’t kill them to have thrown something of those two in as well and made it an 11-track disc. Alas.
Led Zeppelin III is just so damn good. And the Companion Audio here is worth the price of admission, for sure. Beautiful.