Jimmy Page Masterminds the Reissue of Every Led Zeppelin Album
Led Zeppelin fans have a lot to look forward to from the upcoming reissues of every one of the band’s nine albums, a huge undertaking spearheaded by guitarist Jimmy Page, who has spent much of recent years working on the project and otherwise seeking to gain as much control of the band’s legacy as possible.
The new deluxe editions of Led Zeppelin I, Led Zeppelin II, and Led Zeppelin III will come out on June 3. The reissue for each album will include multiple CDs, LPs, and coffee table books, meaning hours of material for die-hard fans to comb through, much of which hasn’t even been found in bootlegs.
“I left no stone unturned,” Page told Rolling Stone of the effort he put into compiling the expansive reissues, which involved him listening to every single Led Zeppelin song he could get his hands on and combing through the band’s master tapes, which are kept in a vault in a secret location in London, along with other important contributions to British culture. “I can’t have anyone else do it, because I want it done properly. I dread to think how it could have been thrown together if I wasn’t around,” he said.
Treats to be found in the first three albums’ worth of reissues include a rare demo take of “Whole Lotta Love,” an outtake of “Immigrant Song,” and an unknown cover of the blues standard “Keys to the Highway.” Perhaps the most exciting finds are the tapes of a 1969 performance in Paris that were once broadcast on the radio at a Japanese record store. Page told Rolling Stone that he searched all over the world to find the original tapes, which now make up one of the bonus discs for Led Zeppelin I.
“I see them as companion discs,” Page said to Rolling Stone of the bonus material he’s including in the boxed sets of each album. “They comprise work done around the exact time of each album. They are fascinating to hear and they hold up alongside the original albums.”
Singer Robert Plant described Page’s efforts as “professorial.” Page let the project consume much of his time in recent years, but doing so has left fans with what he believes are valuable additions to Zeppelin’s catalog. “I was pretty diligent with my detection work,” Page told Rolling Stone. “I didn’t want to put together a compilation where ninety percent of it had been bootlegged. I asked a guy that runs one of the fanzines if he’s heard any of this material before. He told me he hadn’t. That was a really good feeling.”
Page didn’t give away any details about the next six reissues, all of which have been compiled already, but did tease that there would “absolutely” be unheard recordings from the “Stairway to Heaven” sessions.
Page’s influence on the project gives it a different flavor than the typical rock band reissue, which can often be compiled with little involvement from the musicians themselves. Page has dedicated years to the massive Led Zeppelin reissue project, lending the knowledge of someone who was there, someone who knows the music best on every level. This is something that could not happen for a Jimi Hendrix or Janis Joplin collection.
Even the In Utero reissue that came out last year to much fanfare doesn’t have the touch of Kurt Cobain himself saying that these are the rarest Nirvana songs and here’s where they belong in time and space. Not that he would have been even remotely interested in doing anything of the sort. Even musicians who have survived don’t often dedicate years of effort to cultivating such a huge project. Zeppelin fans have a gift in Page’s interest and involvement with his own musical legacy, something lovers of rock and roll are lucky he decided to pursue at the age of 70.
Page has a couple of speaking engagements lined up in Boston and Paris in the coming weeks, during which he will likely shed some more light on what went into compiling the huge amount of material for the Zeppelin reissues.
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