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Flares

Companion discs are rubbish

87 posts in this topic

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.

The tapes in question are nearly 40 years old.  Any material will degrade over time; it's why so many Hollywood films from the Thirties and Forties have been lost.  I don't know if this is the reason why Page made the choices he did with the companion discs but it's something you should consider.

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Well that is an interesting point which could well be valid. But of all the famous in-band producers/mixers etc., drugged out or not, I still find it hard to believe Page would be as cavalier as others who would easily

discard alt takes, tape over versions with diff overdubs, or not take the wisest steps to preserve material.

A big thing here, believe it or not, is that Page does not have Jone's trained arranging/conducting ear.

Jones does not need to hear live or taped instruments to "know " how something should sound. Page on

the other hand at times absolutely needs an outside reference to see what overdub would work best with

other parts. So what does all this blather point to ?? That there is probably huge amounts of tape around.

But you are right, exposed the tapes could be done.

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Rubbish? No, sorry. I don't think so. OK. Let's get something straight, here. Being born in 1987, I was (obviously) way too young to have been fortunate enough to see the band in its hey day. I understand that these releases were a pretty big disappointment for all those who know Led Zeppelin's live catalog in their sleep (the bootlegs aficionados, as I choose to call them), but to me, these companion discs constitute incredibly interesting 'historical documents', a time capsule of sorts that provides a young fan like myself, valuable insights into the recording process of the band! And in my opinion, Jimmy Page certainly need not have taken all this trouble, to give us this time capsule! Plus, these discs gave the world, 'new' Led Zeppelin tunes (beauties like '10 Ribs & All / Carrot Pod Pod (Pod)')! :D I mean, what more could a younger fan like myself, ask for? 

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What bugs me about some of these tunes, is that they are somewhat disingenuous. The In The Light demo is a perfect example: 2 demo bits stitched together with bridge sections from the official release, to make it sound like a cohesive tune in its formative stages, which it certainly is not. It's a frakentune, plain and simple.

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I received the special edition discs for my birthday / Christmas and played them back to back. I found it rather enlightening and was astonished at how much they were prepared to experiment and wonder why LZ III was considered such a misfire at the time.

The two discs I have always struggled with and even on CD I am still having issues is Presence and Houses of the Holy. I think with Presence I think I feel that Roberts voice is still not at full strength after the crash. On a positive note I enjoyed ITTO and Coda and again I concur that the companion discs are amazing.  

How anyone can criticise Bonzo's drumming is beyond me and his later stuff holds up very well and they were still pushing their limits even at the end.

From funk to Chicago style Go Go, to folk heavy rock  they could really do anything.

As a newish listener I found out so much.

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Well one thing that most "critics" at least agree on is that bands like Lynrd Skynrd, Pink Floyd, The Allman

Brothers, King Crimson, Eric Clapton, etc., etc., have generally provided far more varied and interesting

alternate material than the Zep stuff. Not that the Zep companions were trashed, just mostly underwhelming. The one thing never mentioned is Jones and Plant apparently just telling Jimmy he

can do what he wants. This is understandable given the tensions involved, but also unfortunate. I am

weird in that I thought Jimmy might go wild and throw some real curveballs, which I believe do exist, instead he plays it real conservative. When I followed Zep as a kid, they were expected to blow your

head off, not make you think that maybe you liked a track, maybe not.

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Now that I finally have all 9 SDBS, I would not say the companion discs are "rubbish" but I would say most of it is underwhelming. ITTOD just arrived today and the companion audio is, for my ears, nearly a waste of time. Aside from "In the Evening" and maybe "Carouselambra," I doubt I'll listen to it again. But the good news is that all the others are better, IMHO. 

It would be helpful to know what Page had to choose from. I am generally not a big fan of outtakes. Something like "Pod" is an obvious gem, but if a rough mix is only slightly different from what was released, what's the point? I love the lengthy, funky jamming the band did early on "Trampled Underfoot" (the track I have is 19:10). Maybe something like that is riskier than a so-called rough mix, but it would be a lot more fun!

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Alternate mixes? Meh. Mostly ok for one or two listens . Alternate takes and previously unreleased tracks? That's what I'm talkin' 'bout!! When The Levee Breaks, St Tristan's Sword. That's the shit!! Wish there was more like that...but what we got is what we get.

I do love the alternate mix of In The Evening though, Jones bass is much more pronounced and you can really hear him playing his ass off. Lotta Duck Dunn and Jamerson in there!

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The Beatles anthology was what we were looking for. The list of tracks for the imminent Pink Floyd early years box set looks fab too.

Two scenarios:

- Page didn't want to release warts and all rehersal versions and alt takes in less than pristine quality

- There wasn't anything left in the can.

Personally, I love the film Let it Be and other movies, box sets, which give an insight into the creative process of our heros. I'd much rather have had that - if it was possible - than the alt mixes, which are mostly one listen jobs.

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Same here . I enjoyed the physical graffiti rehearsal and the one where they were writing stairway far more than the companion discs. I bought the first three then after that figured why bother. 

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I bought them and to be honest, primarily for the bonus discs. I dig them, but I would like some type of live box that covers the span of their career. I have boots and whatnot, but look at what he did with the Forum shows for HTWWW. He could do the same thing in the studio with audio from any of the tours and release them. I would buy them just to have a somewhat cleaner sound.

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Sounds good, everyone hears things differently. HTWWW initially I liked, but then started hearing an additional guitar,

some of the notes/lines in solos weren't the same as the boots, and so on. Certainly great shows, but Page went too

far trying to fix everything. As far back as 75' or was it 77' Page had talked of a chronological live album, but If I remember

right Robert was not for that. All this messing by Page is silly, this is not the 70's where Page could do no wrong, everybody

knows now that he was sloppy at times, as if Jimmy could magically erase his sometimes sloppiness simply by releasing

a totally messed with live show. We all love Jimmy, mistakes and all, and at his best Jimmy was almost peerless, and that's

precisely why there is such a large following of the boots.

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I think some live versions and the best of the outtake stuff for each album would have been great. That would have satisfied fans. 

I mean, imagine having a killer live Trampled Underfoot from 1980 or Sick Again from 1975. A top quality SB would have sufficed, if no multi-tracks were available.

This argument from Page that he wanted to put out stuff that wasn't on bootleg already doesn't wash for me. 

80 per cent of the companion discs are boring, slightly different alternate mixes

 

Edited by Boleskinner

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59 minutes ago, Boleskinner said:

This argument from Page that I wanted to put out stuff that wasn't on bootleg already doesn't wash for me. 

I'm actually alright with that having been his primary guiding principle for the companion discs, however it seems most of us had great unmet expectations for what that would yield. 

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25 minutes ago, SteveAJones said:

I'm actually alright with that having been his primary guiding principle for the companion discs, however it seems most of us had great unmet expectations for what that would yield. 

ha ha. bit of a typo there.

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My fan expectations raced far ahead of what is made available.

When I slowed down and finally got back to reality I have an appreciation for being allowed into "the window of the creative process" as to how some tracks arrived.  The exclusion of some material baffles me- some questions answered now being included on the new release. The inclusion of some material loses my interest after one or two times listening- yet it does accomplish the above in providing a window and for this I am grateful.

As a technical textbook/workbook the Physical Graffiti companion is a treasure to me. It's clever, it's sharp, it's loaded with signature moments.

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48 minutes ago, Boleskinner said:

ha ha. bit of a typo there.

Just to be clear: the companion discs failed to meet my expectations. Alt mixes bore me.

Edited by SteveAJones

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28 minutes ago, SteveAJones said:

Just to be clear: the companion discs failed to meet my expectations. Alt mixes bore me.

Do you suspect there was/is different stuff available 

I enjoy them. On reflection I think it was a creative way to put out the last scraps of material, the stuff that couldn't stand on its own 

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1 hour ago, JAP said:

Do you suspect there was/is different stuff available?

Yes. There must be unreleased alternate takes, for example. More previously unreleased songs? Possible, but unlikely.

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8 minutes ago, SteveAJones said:

There must be unreleased alternate takes...

On LZII there was a full mix done prior to the test press that if available was heavy bias toward bass and had less consistent spatial pattern/separation from track to track... which would have been ok by me.  The second mix [bass pulled down] is what we enjoy in release.

On IV alone there were two full shots at mixing.  The cause was reputed to be the vocals were buried and the drums were over worked. If accurate, the final test press required almost 6months re-work to get there.  Have heard that BOE also had percussion at one point which did not make it to release.

Unreleased songs:
   speculation on a track that was recorded concurrent to HHWCID, seen as even more camp/commercial than LLM and dropped.
   speculation on a track recorded during the ITTOD sessions at Polar [different than what was used in The Firm and CP].

Have always expected Jimmy to pull the drum track out and do another Montreax with guitar over it.  Rumored to have been given some time again during rehearsals in June at Shepperton on 6/6/80 heavy, heavy slide and whammy work on the guitar.

I have my hopes up that a LZ single will be released one day... 

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15 minutes ago, Dallas Knebs said:

On LZII there was a full mix done prior to the test press that if available was heavy bias toward bass and had less consistent spatial pattern/separation from track to track... which would have been ok by me.  The second mix [bass pulled down] is what we enjoy in release.

On IV alone there were two full shots at mixing.  The cause was reputed to be the vocals were buried and the drums were over worked. If accurate, the final test press required almost 6months re-work to get there.  Have heard that BOE also had percussion at one point which did not make it to release.

Unreleased songs:
   speculation on a track that was recorded concurrent to HHWCID, seen as even more camp/commercial than LLM and dropped.
   speculation on a track recorded during the ITTOD sessions at Polar [different than what was used in The Firm and CP].

Have always expected Jimmy to pull the drum track out and do another Montreax with guitar over it.  Rumored to have been given some time again during rehearsals in June at Shepperton on 6/6/80 heavy, heavy slide and whammy work on the guitar.

I have my hopes up that a LZ single will be released one day... 

Well a I'm aware that there's tracks called Fire, take me home, and possibly one or two more untitled which can be found on that brutal artistry. Could it be there's enough for an EP even! Or a "coda ii"! 

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Mountains of 1/4" tape could make mountains of releases yet why bother when it is outside the scope of what the band was about... ref. Roger Waters travesties...

so including companions LZ has released more than 20discs which for me is plenty.


Live LZ music is available thru boots although so many marked as "SoundBoards" are not.  Plenty of boots for me. EC official release, now that is it for me.

"Take Me Home/In the Morning/In the Light" and "Fire/HOFN +Closer by The Firm + SMT on C/P" and a few of the others on The Firm and Walking into Clarksdale have their origins from '71 & '72.

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Honestly after LZ1 putting out the excellent Paris concert officially I did tend to view alot of what came afterwards as a bit of a disappointment bar some gems like Pod but what I would say is that the Coda reissue justifies things somewhat in retrospect. The bonus disks for that reissue include alot of stuff I thought should have been included on the earlier albums bonus disk plus of course some stuff I didn't know about like the earlier Levee.

The impression I get is that beefing up Coda was actually a big focus for Page from the start, it has afterall always been the Zep album held in lowest regard. You could also argue this is a more generous move in terms of the fans, alot of non hard-core listeners after all might not own Coda at all and now to hear alot of the best material in these reissues they just need to buy one new album rather than 9 albums they already own.

Not perfect as there is some stuff like Pod, Jennings,the other EVerbody Makes it Though, etc that's very interesting on the other reissues but still I'm sure Coda alone will be enough for many. Meanwhile the other versions with smaller differences are there for the more hardcore fans who likely have an interest in them.

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Now that it's been awhile, I still enjoy listening to the "Houses of the Holy" more than the others.  "The Rain Song" & TSRTS are sonically pleasing, and OTHAFA ain't too bad either.  The alternative disc seems to retain the flow of the original album compared to the others, and there's just enough subtle differences in the mixes to make it interesting.   It seems to get the biggest reaction from people who haven't heard the new reissues whenever I pop it on. "Going to California" & "Thank-you" without vocals are favorites too.   

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Yeah, these companion discs are complete rubbish in my humble opinion; a money and attention grab.  I understand for hardcore fans to get a glimpse of practice sessions, etc, is cool and interesting, but Page is only concern is keeping Zeppelin in the news and making money doing it without selling out to Hollywood.  Page will continue to release Zeppelin material from time to time up until he dies.  Its his life, and though its very sad he never moved on past the 70's, he didn't really have to!    

 

 

 

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