Led Zeppelin BBC Sessions Review
Led Zeppelin bootlegs proved immensely popular over the years mainly due to the fact that the band split while they were still the biggest band on the planet – they left the crowd demanding more. The only official live release, The Song Remains the Same, failed to capture the band at their best and bootleg copies of the Led Zeppelin BBC Sessions had been circulating for years. Therefore an official release of these BBC sessions seemed a good idea.
What seemed like a good idea in fact turned out to be a great idea. For real Led Zeppelin fans at least the Led Zeppelin BBC Sessions are a treasure trove. Spanning two discs, the first comprising various studio and theatre sessions recorded from 1969. The second disc is a recording of a concert at The Paris Theatre, London from 1971, complete with an introduction from BBC DJ, John Peel.
The collection kicks off with a version of You Shook Me which is actually better than the official recording on Led Zeppelin I. Robert Plant’s singing is magnificently over the top while Jimmy Page excels with some superb guitar work and John Paul Jones adds some organ. The track hits much harder than the album version. The same can be said of the version resented here of Communication Breakdown. These feature an extended “lemon squeezing” middle section not included on the album version before descending into the main riff played at manic intensity towards the end of the song.
Other highlights include cover versions of The Girl I Love She Got Long Black Wavy Hair, Somethin’ Else and Robert Johnson’s Travelling Riverside Blues. The latter is a magnificent track featuring a superb solo from Jimmy Page. Most bands would feature as a centre piece of any album. That Led Zeppelin should leave the track unreleased until the Led Zeppelin BBC Sessions release demonstrates how good and how confident they were.
Elsewhere on Disc 1 we get the Led Zeppelin BBC sessions versions of Whole Lotta Love, How Many More Times, Dazed and Confused and a lovely slow version of What Is And What Should Never Be from Led Zeppelin II.
The second disc shows how far Led Zeppelin had come in the two years since the material on Disc 1 was recorded in 1969. We are treated to tracks from Led Zeppelin III such as Immigrant Song and That’s the Way. There are also early live versions of Black Dog and Stairway to Heaven from Led Zeppelin IV.
Critics have pointed to the fact that around seven minutes was cut from the Whole Lotta Love Medley on the live disc. However, this does not detract from what is an excellent compilation of rarities and alternate versions that are often better than those on the official album. Perhaps only true fans will appreciate this Led Zeppelin BBC Sessions disc but the quality of the performances here cannot be disputed.
Rated Sound gives Led Zeppelin BBC Sessions a rating of 9/10.
Led Zeppelin BBC Sessions (1997) Track Listing
1. You Shook Me
2. I Can’t Quit You Baby
3. Communication Breakdown
4. Dazed And Confused
5. The Girl I Love She Got Long Black Wavy Hair
6. What Is And What Should Never Be
7. Communication Breakdown
8. Travelling Riverside Blues
9. Whole Lotta Love
10. Somethin’ Else
11. Communication Breakdown
12. I Can’t Quit You Baby
13. You Shook Me
14. How Many More Times
1. Immigrant Song
3. Since I’ve Been Loving You
4. Black Dog
5. Dazed And Confused
6. Stairway To Heaven
7. Going To California
8. That’s The Way
9. Whole Lotta Love (Medley)
10. Thank You