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Flares

Companion discs are rubbish

87 posts in this topic

I bought the first three and decided to not buy the others. I wasn't blown away either. A slightly different mix isn't exactly what I was expecting after all the hype and one unreleased track here and there.

Now a complete Earls Court or Knebworth show? Sign me up.

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I'll admit I gave up on purchasing these releases after Physical Graffiti, in large part because the companion disc content is so underwhelming. Mind you, I'm sure I'll eventually pick up the releases I skipped.

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Page really compromised the Zeppelin "brand" with the companions. No one thought of this, but perhaps he is/was too old to take this

project on properly. I say this because there seem to be so many lazy choices. No Zep studio archivist is going to convince me that much

of the material was taped over, discarded, lost, blah, blah,blah. Certainly Page was not around much for ITTOD, but I find it unbelievable

that he did not save, store or put in a vault the alt versions, diff overdub versions, alt lyric versions, etc.,. Zep may have operated a bit

different than other bands but again as OTHERS have even mentioned usually the variety and scope of the "post career" releases is

far more considered and interesting than what Page has put out. Might not be age, as he certainly appears energetic for his age in those

live interviews. Lazy.

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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.

Fuck the era of social media, this is Jimmy Page & if he doesn't want to tell a journalist something then he's more than entitled not to.

Good on him.

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Jimmy is right to be somewhat coy and evasive in interviews, he's there to talk about the music, not regale the masses with lurid stories about drugs, Lori Maddox, and Aleister Crowley... Stephen Davis already did that 30 years ago!

Edited by The Old Hermit

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While I wouldn't call them rubbish, I do find the Companion Audio to be very disappointing. Like OP said, and I have said similar many times in the last thirteen months, most of the tracks are just the masters we know with a slightly different mix (tambourine higher), fewer overdubs, or a missing vocal.

When these remasters were announced, and it was said we would get unreleased material, I was expecting alternative takes, demos/song sketches, outtakes... something akin to The Beatles Anthology. I agree with The Old Hermit, I wish Page hadn't been so hardliner on not released already bootlegged material. I would have been totally ok with material that has been bootlegged if it were clean, clear, and coming from master or early-generation tapes. It angers me when Page says the vaults are empty and there's nothing left. We Zep heads know there's more!

Page was getting there with the alternate SIBLY, In The Light (both alt. versions), Bring It on Home, and India recordings, but he really dropped the ball. Not a good way to close the Zeppelin vaults.

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And now Ladies and Gentlemen, the question that kills :

if Plant hadn't vetoed the post O2 project (new album and tour), do you still think Page would have considered relevant to immerse himself in this extended campaign ?

I don't think so.

They'd have known better things to do.

For me, Page has lost his beautiful focus on action along the way with this project coming to reality. But I don't blame him at all. Because what he had in mind for his band in 2008 and so on was a total different beast that what we have now.

So by deciding to remaster all the studio catalogue one more time, Page has made a choice by default. That's a problem when you try to think in terms of idealistic art direction.

Edited by seaweed gate

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Fuck the era of social media, this is Jimmy Page & if he doesn't want to tell a journalist something then he's more than entitled not to.

Good on him.

Exactly.. as far as his personal life goes, he owes them ... and us, no explaination.

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It's really a simple answer, nobody is forcing you to buy them. I have chosen no to, but I wouldn't call them rubbish either. Music is so subjective, look at how different the opinions are, on which track is the best on every album. I have the first box, that came out, & that's good enough for me. I do find some alternate takes interesting, but some of the new tracks, I did find underwhelming, but that is only my opinion.

If you enjoy them, buy them all, life's too short, enjoy.

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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.

If Page never picks up a guitar again, that's fine with me. The problem I and other fans have is that he says he's working on new music, but nothing ever materializes. He's 71 years old now. If he wants to spend his golden years smelling the roses and playing with his grandchildren that's cool. He doesn't need to make a big announcement. All he needs to do is reply that he is retired the next time a journalist asks him about future musical projects.

I suppose it is possible that Page really wants to make new music and, for whatever reason, he hasn't been able to move forward with the musical projects he envisions. If this is the case, why not just admit that he's run into a brick wall when journalists ask him about his future musical plans. There is no shame in writers' block, not being able to get the collaborators you want or any other reason musical projects don't pan out.

My impression is that stonewalling is Page's default reaction for dealing with journalists. His management team has probably explained to him that more frankness during interviews would better serve him from a PR standpoint but, he is who he is. I haven't purchased any of the re-releases so I can't offer an opinion of the companion disks.

Edited by Disco Duck

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The only little part I cringe at are his interviews on how ITTOD came to be, and the whole Jonesy and the 80's
Stevie Wonder keyboard scripted sounding  answer.  LOL I end up saying under my breath: *sigh* Jimmy Jimmy Jimmy I
wish to hear a (dare I say) more truth telling answer on why JPJ was moved to the forefront and why you REALLY  took
somewhat of a backseat in the creative process of this album  -  It was night and day compared to their other ones.
But then again that would be me fishing for some info on his private life and he doesn't owe me that.

Bottom line I'll read/listen to what Jimmy Page has to say about the making of  Led Zeppelin's music whether it was written
with him in a suit and tie sober as a church mouse, or he was buck naked with women climbing on top of him, while wearing
only a pointed wizard's hat and high on smack.

I'm going to keep on listening to the music regardless. :)

Edited by KellyGirl

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IMO i think for the most part the companions have been great but i can see where most fans have felt underwhelmed.The more tambourine mixes have been a waste of time but i am happy that they are there.As mentioned ITTOD has been the most disappointing with only ITE and Carouselambra standing out.Why on earth Page would put out lo-fi mono mixes is beyond me and yet he is reluctant to put out polished up bootleg rehearsals.I do however agree with Page that there couldn't have been two much left in the can and this will probably be the last of it as far as studio stuff goes.If ever my other favourite band Rush did a similar thing,which i am sure they won't,there would be no extra songs because they worked on each song till they got it right,similar to Zep.Perhaps more cowbell on YYZ Mr Peart.

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I agree with the thread starter.

I was/am dissapointed with the releases as well and only bought I and II. When they announced the whole campaign I thought they'd release more interesting stuff. The companion disc for I was great. Nice to have a live show from 1969 in a better quality than the bootleg version. The bonus disc for "II" was boring and so I didn't feel the need to buy the other releases. I mean buying them for only 1-2 songs / demos that have not been avalible before?? I listened to most of the unreleased stuff on youtube and found most of it boring. I was hoping for alternative takes with different solos, different vocals etc. Different mixes are not very interesting.

 

What happened to things like that?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lkymn83webk

I was really hoping Page would choose more interesting material. Who care if it is already out on bootleg or if the band messeed-up? Karaoke-versions are not needed at all. He is way too professional in releasing stuff when it comes to playing mistakes. He was never that professional on stage as he pretends to be and always played plenty of mistakes in every concert. So what's the deal in hiding them? It was always part of his playing.

This re-release campaign feels like a huge missed opportunity... :(

 

 

Edited by the-ocean87

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The Companion Discs are not "rubbish". But they are not exactly on the level of The Beatles "Anthology" set, either. 

The argument seems to be whether the material exists in the vaults that would have allowed these LZ companion discs to be as revealing and thorough as The Beatles "Anthology" sets or Bob Dylan's "Bootleg" series. When The Beatles "Anthology" came out, it was remarkable, for example, to hear the many different takes of "Strawberry Fields Forever" and see how the song mutated from its early beginning to the final form. Now, we don't really know if Jimmy Page was able to show us the same type of progression for "Stairway to Heaven" or "Rain Song" or "Achilles Last Stand". Some people seem to think more exists than what Jimmy has let on. Only those who have been in the vaults and have heard all the tapes would have a clue.

I do know one thing. As soon as Jimmy Page said in an interview that he didn't want to put something out that was already out on bootleg, I had concerns, and if you search way back on this forum you will see where I lamented this approach by Jimmy. I mean, who was he remastering the catalogue for: the general fans and public or the Japanese bootleg industry? The fans and public should have been his first priority and concern, not some elite group of bootleggers and their lackeys.

Who cares if "Fixing-to-Die"/"That's All Right" or "Fire" or "All My Love" with extended guitar outro was already in the hands of a few hundred collectors? How do those few anoraks trump the millions and millions of Led Zeppelin fans who do not haunt the record swap meets and collect bootlegs and live tapes? Besides, even if tracks were already out there on bootlegs, it would not be in the best possible sound that an official release would provide. From the get-go, Jimmy should not have worried about what was or wasn't out on bootlegs. His priority should have been what he stated in pre-release interviews: to give fans a portal, a window into the process of Led Zeppelin in the studio.

Measured against what The Beatles, Bob Dylan, and a few others have done with their studio outtakes, Led Zeppelin's companion audio discs come up short. And not just in playing time, haha. Seriously, some of the companion discs are barely over 30 minutes...on a cd that can hold up to 80 minutes. Also, I can't believe I am saying this but Jimmy could take a page from the Rolling Stones and their way of releasing shows from the vault, warts-and-all. Which is a miracle, because for decades the Stones were even more stingy than Zeppelin when it came to releasing live shows from their golden age. 

However, taken as a whole package with the upgrade in sound on the original album CDs, the vinyl, and the nice books, these LZ releases are still worth the money and I have no regrets getting all the Super Deluxe Box Sets. I also splurged on extra Deluxe CD packages for each album, as well. Could the bonus discs been better? Absolutely. But the raison d'être of Led Zeppelin is still the original albums. That is where the gold is, notwithstanding a "10 Ribs and All" or "St. Tristan's Sword" or two. These are the best these albums have sounded in years...certainly the best they have sounded in the CD era. If that isn't enough to warrant buying them, that is your problem.

If you want an example of a reissue that really was rubbish, look no further than Soundgarden's "Superunknown" 20th Anniversary remaster. Ugh...BRICKWALLED to death!

 

 

 

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I would rather have a slightly inferior sound-wise rehearsal, that could be EQ'd and sound good

'cos they'd never think of doing that in the mastering studio

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A few people have mentioned this already, but after reviewing all the companion discs or bonus tracks, it seems to me that LZ I is the best bang for the buck. You get about 1/2 to 3/4 of a Live show from '69 that doesn't sound like it was recorded in a telephone booth(remember those?)

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I think there are hours of great music on the companion discs....ok maybe an hour

it is up to tha listenahh

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I haven't purchased any of the companion discs except for Zep I for the concert.

I have downloaded all the deluxe material. 

The rough mixes are really cool. The reference mixes, not so much.

I do enjoy the backing tracks too. 

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The led Zeppelin 3 companion disk is worth it's weight in gold.

Coda companion disk rocks. All the others are lame and not worth a second listen.

Page enough already. 

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Well many valid points are being made. I do think the MAJOR over riding problem with the companions

is that for someone as thorough and meticulous as J.Page, there sure seem to be a almost ridiculously

small choice of material he had to choose from. Like Page didn't have an alt take of ALS with different

guitar overdubs, or a song where perhaps JPJ tried playing keys instead of bass ?? Maybe not exactly,

but someone like Page, except maybe in his heroin daze, would surely have the tapes rolling , or at least

not tape over songs with diff. Arrangements and such. There is certainly much more material but maybe

Page at this stage simply didn't have the energy for this highly demanding task , for anyone. Or laziness,

obviously I hope not, although some of the choices seem like it. It would be incredible for me to have one of

the engineers for one of the albums say,:"Well Jimmy said the album is finished, so you can do what you

want with the unused material". !?!?!? A not small amount of people actually seem to believe this, in one

form or another. I was around when CODA was released, and EVERYBODY believed that bull as well.

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I'm surprised there arent any complaints or gripes over the fact that anyone who bought these new CD's are not getting the full quality.     It's like buying an HD movie in 720p , when they real release in 1080P or 4K  has yet to come out

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I think the companion audio would be better if the rough mixes and reference mixes were basically the songs without overdubs. At all.

Like, for example, Ten Years Gone with only the basic Rhythm Track, and without the 13 other guitars added to it. And also Stairway with just the acoustic Guitar and the Solo, and that's it.

That would be much better than say a slightly different mix of a song, but happens to also sound virtually the same.

Edited by Stairway is NOT stolen

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Unfortunately, it was one big "yawn"; it was the 3rd time (!) he has remastered the Zep catalogue; and notice the very telling absence of any Plant or JPJ involvement in the whole dragged out release process. I have been a fan for 45 years, and this was the 1st time I did not "buy into anything". The boring and repetitive interviews were dreadful, with little insight into anything that wasn't said during the 1st reissues. It was always exciting in the past to be a Zep/Page fan, but not this time out. At least Dave Lewis is happy. As for me , I will continue to watch the P&P 1998 bootleg videos, as they are the last great playing of Page (to me). Why they don't release an official version of one of those shows is beyond understanding, as they are playing as a 4 piece, and the best in years. A compilation of the best shows from 1998 would blow people away: and they are just sitting on the tapes which are now 17 years old. 

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I've noticed there are quite a few versions of The Battle Of Evermore that still has not surfaced.  The version I have is a bit slower and has more heart and soul kinda, but Plant is not hitting the high notes.  This should be proof enough there is still quite a lot of stuff to be released.     News is saying medical experts say there is someone alive today that will live to 1,000 years old.   If they are a Zeppelin fan, they will have the best luck what is yet to come.

Edit: I mean the version I have it not from Studio Magik and much different then the 6 version they have.  I think it's even multi-track because the vocals are completely in left channel and full music in right channel.   Kinda creepy, muting the right channel and just hear Robert 100%

Edited by TheGreatOne

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