Led Zeppelin Mothership/The Song Remains the Same

Led Zeppelin Mothership/The Song Remains the Same
Nerdy debates aside about whether the world needs another collection of Zep tunes (the answer is probably no, but we do like different track orders and cover art), it’s hard to not be blown away by Mothership. A double CD collection taking a chronological walk through the band’s eight studio albums, it has some of the songs you’d expect ("Stairway to Heaven”) and a few odd omissions ("The Battle of Evermore”), but you can’t win them all. The liner notes by rock journalist David Fricke are a good read, the art and packaging is nice, but the main attraction is the remastered (again?) sound, bringing out the splendid bass playing of John Paul Jones and the drumming of John Bonham in all its unhinged glory. And let’s face it: these songs are only getting better with time. The Song Remains the Same is a double CD reissue of the band’s 1976 live album, notable for a few reasons. One, liner notes from Cameron Crowe are wrapped up in the nice packaging. Two, this is remastered as well, but although it sounds pristine, that doesn’t take away from the album’s faults. Three, and most excitingly for Zep-heads, is the inclusion of no less than six tracks not on the original release. Of those, "Black Dog” is cool for its "Bring it on Home” intro and the explosive "Since I’ve Been Loving You” is a highlight, almost good enough to make the listener ignore the sloppiness and rambling nature of the bulk of the tracks (disc two is a write-off). All told, a couple more entries to the canon of one of rock’s best: a band that managed to sing about Gollum and sound awesome at the same time, and a band that did enough good that we can forgive the exhausting 29-minute live jams. (Swan Song/Atlantic)