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Flares

Companion discs are rubbish

112 posts in this topic

I've been extremely disappointed with all the companion discs. 90 per cent of the songs on them have been slightly different mixes with a louder tambourine, etc. Fans wanted early work in progress versions or unreleased stuff. A total swizz. Page got it all wrong. I'm guessing that he didn't want to release stuff that was a bit rough playing-wise, or sound quality wise, but it was a huge mistake and a massive missed opportunity. There's even omissions like the brilliant Swan Song. No wait, we'll put a mix of a song with slightly more reverb instead. I mean, what's more interesting?

Other 70s rock bands are so generous with the amount of content they provide their fans. Zep are miserly in comparison. Same with the live stuff. Aside from the Led Zeppelin DVD, post 73 live is not even represented on audio. That's three tours plus the Copenhage/Knebworth shows (the first Copenhagen warm-up is killer).

I'm sure it will be down to Page frowning at his sloppy playing and perhaps the availability of multi-tracks, but surely they can get one show, or a compilation show, from each tour to put on CD. The time delays and inertia, make being a Zep fan very frustrating!

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Ohhhh boy, that topic title alone is deliberately provocative and I said it wouldn't lure me in, but....

I've been extremely disappointed with all the companion discs. 90 per cent of the songs on them have been slightly different mixes with a louder tambourine, etc. Fans wanted early work in progress versions or unreleased stuff. A total swizz. Page got it all wrong. I'm guessing that he didn't want to release stuff that was a bit rough playing-wise, or sound quality wise, but it was a huge mistake and a massive missed opportunity. There's even omissions like the brilliant Swan Song. No wait, we'll put a mix of a song with slightly more reverb instead. I mean, what's more interesting?

I wouldn't make a declarative statement that the companion discs are "rubbish" because from what I've read since the remasters campaign started, a lot of people have greatly enjoyed the companion material, so they're clearly not rubbish to them good folks. With hindsight, Jimmy maybe should have not worried what was on bootlegs and just released the best companion material he had, period, so the likes of 'Swan Song' and the extended 'All My Love' would have been certain for inclusion... that's just my opinion, but then again, I haven't purchased any of the deluxe editions, didn't feel neither the need nor urge to do so, the albums by themselves do just fine for me (Coda is a whole other matter however...), but I take nothing away from those who really enjoy the companion discs, horses for courses and all that. As I've stated before, the only real fault I can lay at the remasters' door is the fact that the standalone CD editions didn't come with protective inner sleeves, and thus some people got scratched and/or scuffed discs they had to return, other than that, it was a success all round.

Other 70s rock bands are so generous with the amount of content they provide their fans. Zep are miserly in comparison. Same with the live stuff. Aside from the Led Zeppelin DVD, post 73 live is not even represented on audio. That's three tours plus the Copenhage/Knebworth shows (the first Copenhagen warm-up is killer).

I'm sure it will be down to Page frowning at his sloppy playing and perhaps the availability of multi-tracks, but surely they can get one show, or a compilation show, from each tour to put on CD. The time delays and inertia, make being a Zep fan very frustrating!

We have some very excellent official live audio material indeed, granted (and as you point out) it's from 1972-73 and nothing after that has been officially released in album form, but that's because for the most part, it's not worth releasing in album form what they have in the multi-track archives; Earl's Court 1975 is the only real and likely contender for a possible future album release, and none of the 1977 shows were multi-tracked at all, plus by 1979-80, the band had their moments but were far from at the top of their game live for reasons only too well discussed elsewhere and since, even Kevin Shirley commented on some of those later multi-track recordings he heard back in 2002, and he wasn't exactly complimentary about them either... miaow!

Just enjoy what we have so far and be thankful for it, and don't worry about what we don't have, Jimmy ain't taking his dirt nap for a while yet (God willing)...

Edited by The Old Hermit

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Well Flares, I'm not saying Robert Plant would agree with you, but he did say something along the lines of "they weren't interesting at all, just bits and pieces of how things might have gone"....just paraphrasing there.

Like Hermit, I haven't purchased any of the discs either, and frankly most of the Companion material I have heard, I would be very much in agreement with RP. Some of it (Kashmir) made me wonder "why bother"?

Others have def enjoyed them, so kudos to them!

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Well, I don´t think they are all ruish, but I do understand many fans´ dissapointment. Many, really many companion disc tracks are nearly identical to the original ones.

I own no studio bootlegs, but from what I have read, many fans would have prefered already heard stuff in good or slighly sub-standard quality rather than these alternate takes in pristine quality. And with his idea, I think JP has betrayed himself. LZ was, to his own accounts, all about feel, improvisation and spontaneity.

Therefore and IMHO, yes this was a missed opportunity.

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The time delays and inertia, make being a Zep fan very frustrating!

I understand where you are coming from, I felt that way for years about music, where active bands can take 5 to 10 years to put out an album, bands like Zeppelin take forever to do anything, but just try to take in lots of music and not get hung up on any one band because you will disappoint yourself otherwise. I don't have a "favorite" band anymore, it all depends on my mood I'm in on a given day and so on.

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Keep in mind that Jimmy steered clear of what was out there on bootleg. IMHO, that is why the In Through the Out Door companion is so weak, all the good stuff came out already!

Jimmy has given us, by my count, INCLUDING his website releases, unloaded hours of totally new material, I mean, what more do you want?

Jimmy has very high quality control standards, he's not going to release inferior 2 track rehearsal tapes and the like. Zep is collectively massively wealthy, they simply don't need to release anything that isn't top notch.

Yes on the other hand? Some other acts, they are scraping the bottom of the barrel a lot because they need the money. Some of those Doors live releases were ATROCIOUS.

Anyways, no pleasing some folks I guess, but I'm happy.

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"Some other acts, they are scraping the bottom of the barrel" Unlike Zeppelin, who are releasing remasters of the remasters of the remasters. Basically the same material again and again.

At least these bands are putting out "new" stuff. It's up to the fan to make the decision if he wants to buy it and feels the quality is acceptable.

Page said he didn't wanted to replicate the bootleg stuff, but what about your average fan who doesn't have that, or the fan who wants it in the best quality possible. He needed to put the best stuff on there he had.

I would rather have a slightly inferior sound-wise rehearsal, that could be EQ'd and sound good, rather than The Battle of Evermore with a slightly louder mandolin. That would have been far more of a "portal" into the creative process, than a near-final different mix.

Page got it wrong.

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I love the companion material, but I too can see how some folks wouldn't find it very interesting. I would note that Page and Plant actually are in agreement on the factual level: they seem to agree these are bits and pieces of what they were doing at the time. The difference is that Page views this as "a portal" into the process of Led Zeppelin, while Plant views it as "not particularly relevant." That's just a reflection of each man's level of interest in revisiting Zep at this time.

The reason I think the companion material is great is this: For $1 to $3 extra per album. you get a companion CD.

So at the end of the day, for a grand total of about $20, you get at least 3 full CDs' worth of great stuff - including never before released alt. takes of Since I've Been Loving You, Sick Again, Bring It on Home and The Wanton Song; St. Tristan's Sword; the Bombay tracks; an instrumental The Song Remains the Same with never before heard guitar parts; a completely unexpected additional track from the Zep I sessions and one from the Presence sessions; and a never before released blues track from the Zep III sessions. And you get a 4th CD with a live 1969 show on it.

If Zep had released such a set - a 4-CD set with those outtakes, plus the Paris concert - for $20, every Zep fan would be throwing $20 bills at their computer screens to buy it, and would be saying, "This is the most amazing thing ever!"

Edited by tmtomh

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Flares, I like your points. For years, we Bob Dylan fans collected crappy sounding bootlegs. And then Dylan and Columbia started "The Bootleg Series", with just some incredible stuff, lots of it better than stuff he released! Would have been awesome if Page did this, but I think the problem here is Dylan recorded enormous quantities of songs, sometimes 30 or 40 for an album that would turn out to have only 10 songs. The others went into the vaults where they eventually leaked out to bootleggers. Zep didn't do this, in fact, I seem to remember JP or someone saying Physical Graffiti had all the outtakes at that point in time.

Totally agree with tmtomh, if they had released four CDs of the really good stuff as one package, everyone would have been raving about it!

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They're growing on me. I pretty much appreciate all of the tracks without vocals. They make me appreciate Zep's abilities as musicians. I get to test out my vocal chops in the truck too. If you bought the discs just for the compilations, I could understand your disappointmemt. I for one don't think it was unreasonable to re-visit the studio catalog after 25 years. I've enjoyed the ride. Another plus is I haven't listened to Zep boots in a year and a half. That's a good thing for when I dive back in. Enjoyed all the Jimmy exposure too.

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Page got it wrong.

So don't fuckin' buy them then. :rolleyes:

Personally I listen to the companions way more often than the originals. So good for me and when commenting about them, I just include it in the threads that are already discussing them instead of grandstanding.

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They're growing on me. I pretty much appreciate all of the tracks without vocals. They make me appreciate Zep's abilities as musicians. I get to test out my vocal chops in the truck too. If you bought the discs just for the compilations, I could understand your disappointmemt. I for one don't think it was unreasonable to re-visit the studio catalog after 25 years. I've enjoyed the ride. Another plus is I haven't listened to Zep boots in a year and a half. That's a good thing for when I dive back in. Enjoyed all the Jimmy exposure too.

Exactly bong-man. I've hardly been listening to shows for the duration and will probably enjoy the shows even more when getting around to revisiting them. Win-win.

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I wonder why everyone is so interested in The Swan Song outtakes, in my 35 years listening to Zeppelin I feel it's the least interesting outtake. It can be heard almost verbatim on The Firm's Midnight Moonlight so it's not like there is no way for people to hear it. As far as the companion discs go, after the second round of releases I felt they were lacking but looking at the whole thing I have changed my mind. There is a phantom albums worth of stuff never heard even by many long time collectors. We get a few great alternates, some unknowns and a lot of looks into the recording process which reveal Jimmy's absolute genius. In the words of Adrian Belew,

"I Like It"!

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What is needed now is the STUDIO BOOTLEG DISC with extended AOML, FIRE, SWAN SONG, etc and we all would be happy.

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Walter, I didn't buy them, because 90 per cent of it was virtually the same as the studio mix. Tmtomh, was right, one or two discs with the best bits plus Paris would have been great. If Page wanted to exclude the bootleg stuff already out there, a decision should have been made that there wasn't enough to release a companion disc for each album. But then he would have had no hook to get people to buy the re-issues...again. It was a commercial decision to get people to buy the remasters of the remasters. That's why I feel that Page short-changed the fans. It was all about shifting units. And I forgot all about Fire, the bootleg rehearsal I heard of that was stunning. Bonham's drums were monster. Another gem missed. The "portal" ended up being more of a rabbit-hole.

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The reissues are about the sonic improvement of the original albums and the companion material is gravy which is provided at very little extra cost and is completely optional. There are no hooks because none were needed. If you can get by without these releases and keep that greedy Jimmy Page from stealing your money, well that’s a win for you. If you can’t hear and enjoy the significant sound upgrade as well as the awesomeness of “St. Tristan’s Sword”, among other gems, well that’s your loss.

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The companion material ranges from incredible to uninspiring, but overall, most of it is pretty darn good. There was roughly enough new material to make a whole LP, and for that, I am extremely grateful. If I had one criticism, it would be that I am not a big fan of frankensongs, which some of these clearly are (ie: LaLa). Nonetheless, pretty cool stuff overall, and there is no doubt that Jimmy kept a few tracks aside for future release, perhaps for record store day, or to sweeten the pot on some future compilation. The pricing was fair, and I am not disappointed overall, although I will say that I let my imagination run wild in the days prior to the first release, and was a bit let down. Now, that the dust has settled, I'm good with the companion material.

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Flares, I like your points. For years, we Bob Dylan fans collected crappy sounding bootlegs. And then Dylan and Columbia started "The Bootleg Series", with just some incredible stuff, lots of it better than stuff he released! Would have been awesome if Page did this, but I think the problem here is Dylan recorded enormous quantities of songs, sometimes 30 or 40 for an album that would turn out to have only 10 songs. The others went into the vaults where they eventually leaked out to bootleggers. Zep didn't do this, in fact, I seem to remember JP or someone saying Physical Graffiti had all the outtakes at that point in time.

Totally agree with tmtomh, if they had released four CDs of the really good stuff as one package, everyone would have been raving about it!

As i see it Zeppelin had awesome quality control that lead to a pretty much perfect run of lp's

You have so much left over material from other bands because of certain factors

1 Other bands spent lots of time noodling about and discarding things which leads to leftovers

2 Zeppelin had a clear idea of what they were going to achieve before they entered the studio

and got in and out as quickly as possible.

3 Everything was used up by presence

4 Most bands have a creative span of 5-6 years

Taking this into account Page wanted to refresh the catalogue wanted to add value

felt this portal idea was the way to go and didn't realise the hardcore fans wouldn't see it his way.

Personally, while expensive i think the superdeluxe boxes are beautifully realised works of art

the extra content is just that, extra, take it or leave it!

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I'll leave it. 90 per cent karaoke versions and mixes where the difference is negligible. There is much better stuff on Studio Magik that could have been presented in pristine sound quality. That would have been much more of a "portal" into the creative process than a louder tambourine here or there.

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He can't please everyone.. There's some very cool stuff.. Some I agree might not be necessary, but I'd rather have it than not have it.. if Jennings Farm blues is a 2 track cassette or if the Master tape is messed up, there's no way in hell Page would release it.. The only real surprises that I have about what wasn't included was the extended All My Love and Swan Song.. I'm not going to lose sleep over either one..

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Rubbish? That may be going too far overall but I can't say they're great either and some are better than others. ITTOD being by far the worst in my opinion and that one I would say is rubbish

Page said he didn't want to release things that were already on bootleg but then did (didn't he?) I don't have many bootlegs but I've got tangible vandalism the physical graffiti out takes album and aren't some of those versions of in the light much the same? What about Jennings farm blues etc that were already out there?

I bought all the albums on vinyl with the companions as I wanted to replace my old copies which are pretty worn so I though I'd go with the new stuff to see what was there and there are some nuggets, SIBLY, pod, Bombay sessions, BIOH, TU, St Tristan etc where there are real differences. But, the versions that at nigh on identical except the guitar is panned 2 degrees further to the left or fractionally more/less reverb etc are insulting and don't offer any portal into how the songs were progressing as Page claimed they would. I'm not complaining, I chose to buy them and after the first three releases knew what we were and weren't likely to get.

I think they were reasonably priced and to get the bonus albums didn't cost that much more than the regular version alone so it seemed fair enough to get them too

It seems ITTOD has attracted the most criticism and I agree with that, IMO it's pretty hopeless. Why not give us the extended All My Love? Just because a few people have it already shouldn't stop the millions who aren't collectors getting to hear it. I'd rather have had that in quality sound then a mono mix of the song that is essential the same as the original every time.

The other thing with this round of rereleased is that for all the interviews and promotion that Page has done, what have we learned that is new really? Not a lot, he trots out the same old stories he has done for decades and gets very defensive when probed on anything that isn't standard fare Q&A stuff. His refusal to concede in anyway that his playing suffered through his heroin years is laughable. I don't want him to get all confessional and contrite about that time, like many rock stars later do, but to be in denial of any effect on his playing at all wins him no new friends.

I noted that in the edition of Mojo magazine after their Physical Graffitin special a reader wrote in to complain that the lack of probing questions and acceptance of Page being allowed to use his standard party line speech rendered the article pretty much just a promotional item for the album rather than any aspect of journalism which even to a fan like myself also seemed the case

Rubbish is perhaps going too far though some parts certainly were, though many were also good but it has been a missed opportunity. I suppose it would have been difficult for him to start the campaign with the mention of "well some of the new tracks are really interesting and some are so similar you'll barely notice" that wouldn't have boded well would it?

Edited to alter bron yr stomp to Jennings farm blues

Edited by jsj

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"This isn't just the floatsam and jetsam"

, Jimmy Page 2012

What Is and What Should Never Be (Rough Mix with Vocal)

Thank You (Backing Track)

Heartbreaker (Rough Mix with Vocal)

Living Loving Maid (She's Just a Woman)

Ramble On (Rough Mix with Vocal)

Moby Dick

The Immigrant Song (Alternate Mix)

Friends (Track, No Vocal)

Celebration Day (Alternate Mix)

Bathroom Sound (Track, No Vocal)

That's The Way (Rough Mix with Dulcimer & Backwards Echo)

Gallows Pole (Rough Mix)

Black Dog (Basic Track With Guitar Overdubs)

Rock And Roll (Alternate Mix)

The Battle of Evermore (Mandolin/Guitar Mix From Headley Grange)
Stairway to Heaven (Sunset Sound Mix)
Misty Mountain Hop (Alternate Mix)
Four Sticks (Alternate Mix)
Going to California (Mandolin/Guitar Mix)
When the Levee Breaks (Alternate U.K. Mix)
The Song Remains the Same (Guitar Overdub Reference Mix)
The Rain Song (Mix Minus Piano)
Over the Hills and Far Away (Guitar Mix Backing Track)
The Crunge (Rough Mix - Keys Up)
Dancing Days (Rough Mix with Vocal)
No Quarter (Rough Mix with JPJ Keyboard Overdubs - No Vocal)
The Ocean (Working Mix)
Brandy & Coke (Initial/Rough Mix)
In My Time of Dying (Initial/Rough Mix)
Houses of the Holy (Rough Mix with Overdubs)
Boogie with Stu (Sunset Sound Mix)
Driving Through Kashmir (Rough Orchestra Mix)
Two Ones Are Won (Reference Mix)
Hots On For Nowhere (Reference Mix)
Southbound Piano (Rough Mix)
Fool in the Rain (Rough Mix)
Hot Dog (Rough Mix)
The Epic (Rough Mix)
The Hook (Rough Mix)
Blot (Rough Mix)
We're Gonna Groove (Alternate Mix)
Bonzo's Montreux (Mix Construction in Progress)
Poor Tom (Instrumental Mix)
Desire (Rough Mix)
Walter's Walk (Rough Mix)
Even though some things are revelations (some of the instrumental tracks were very interesting) this is mainly exactly that; floatsam and jetsam.
However, there were some incredible revelations:

Whole Lotta Love(Rough Mix with Vocal)

La La
Since I've Been Loving You (Rough Mix of First Recording)
Jenning's Farm Blues (Rough Mix of All Guitar Overdubs That Day)
Keys to the Highway / Trouble In Mind (Rough Mix)
Sick Again (Early Version)
Everybody Makes It Through (Early Version/In Transit)

For Your Life (Reference Mix)

10 Ribs & All / Carrot Pod Pod (Pod) (Reference Mix)

Royal Orleans (Reference Mix)

In the Evening (Rough Mix)
If It Keeps On Raining (Rough Mix)
Sugar Mama (Mix)
Four Hands (Bombay Orchestra)
Friends (Bombay Orchestra)
St. Tristan's Sword (Rough Mix)
Bring It On Home (Rough Mix)
Everybody Makes It Through (Rough Mix)

And all things considered, these tracks were well worth the price of admission alone! Yes, they could have fit on a 2 or 3 CD set but reissue campaigns taken into consideration, it wasn't the worst!

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Jsj you are bang on the money:

"The other thing with this round of rereleased is that for all the interviews and promotion that Page has done, what have we learned that is new really? Not a lot, he trots out the same old stories he has done for decades and gets very defensive when probed on anything that isn't standard fare Q&A stuff. His refusal to concede in anyway that his playing suffered through his heroin years is laughable. I don't want him to get all confessional and contrite about that time, like many rock stars later do, but to be in denial of any effect on his playing at all wins him no new friends.

I noted that in the edition of Mojo magazine after their Physical Graffitin special a reader wrote in to complain that the lack of probing questions and acceptance of Page being allowed to use his standard party line speech rendered the article pretty much just a promotional item for the album rather than any aspect of journalism which even to a fan like myself also seemed the case."

Page got so defensive and indignant when journalists dare ask a question that wasn't a pat on the back or a glowing compliment. He just whitewashed everything and wanted to talk about how brilliant the band were all the time. I suspect journalists did want to ask more probing questions, but they were told that if you do you will be barred from the next round of interviews. That's how the PR game works these days. This journo from The Guardian got sick of his evasion and put footnotes to his interview with him:

http://www.theguardian.com/music/2015/jul/24/jimmy-page-interview-robert-plant-led-zeppelin-remasters

Another thing that is annoying is Page's lack of transparency with fans. It's not the 70s anymore, this veil of mystique and non-communication doesn't float in the era of social media. Since the demise of P&P, he says every year or so, I'm putting a new band together and it's going to be dynamite but that's all I can say. It's just smoke and mirrors. He hasn't done anything and just stringed along fans for years. Pick up the guitar Jiimmy and be more honest and open with your fans, who clearly love you.

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Jsj you are bang on the money:

"The other thing with this round of rereleased is that for all the interviews and promotion that Page has done, what have we learned that is new really? Not a lot, he trots out the same old stories he has done for decades and gets very defensive when probed on anything that isn't standard fare Q&A stuff. His refusal to concede in anyway that his playing suffered through his heroin years is laughable. I don't want him to get all confessional and contrite about that time, like many rock stars later do, but to be in denial of any effect on his playing at all wins him no new friends.

I noted that in the edition of Mojo magazine after their Physical Graffitin special a reader wrote in to complain that the lack of probing questions and acceptance of Page being allowed to use his standard party line speech rendered the article pretty much just a promotional item for the album rather than any aspect of journalism which even to a fan like myself also seemed the case."

Page got so defensive and indignant when journalists dare ask a question that wasn't a pat on the back or a glowing compliment. He just whitewashed everything and wanted to talk about how brilliant the band were all the time. I suspect journalists did want to ask more probing questions, but they were told that if you do you will be barred from the next round of interviews. That's how the PR game works these days. This journo from The Guardian got sick of his evasion and put footnotes to his interview with him:

http://www.theguardian.com/music/2015/jul/24/jimmy-page-interview-robert-plant-led-zeppelin-remasters

Another thing that is annoying is Page's lack of transparency with fans. It's not the 70s anymore, this veil of mystique and non-communication doesn't float in the era of social media. Since the demise of P&P, he says every year or so, I'm putting a new band together and it's going to be dynamite but that's all I can say. It's just smoke and mirrors. He hasn't done anything and just stringed along fans for years. Pick up the guitar Jiimmy and be more honest and open with your fans, who clearly love you.

Jimmy Page doesn't owe you a god damn thing. He's given plenty. Gratefully accept what he offers and say thank you. Loving fans don't make demands.

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