Remember when bands just rocked out on stage? Before the frills? Of course they've always had to be entertainers, but every band starts with the basics. Led Zeppelin, who became showmen of the 1970s, started with nothing more than the four band mates on a stage.
With the new Deluxe edition sets of their first three albums, we get a better look at their early, raw beginnings. Thus far, a large majority of the live releases from Robert, Jimmy, Bonzo, and Jonesy have been after 1970, when the double neck guitar, smoke machines, and 4 hour marathon shows became their staples. 2004's Led Zeppelin DVD caught a glimpse of the band at Royal Albert Hall right as they started transitioning to arenas. Raw in many respects, the performance showed how they could captivate an audience on their own. Although the bonus features also had early glimpses of the band, they were awkward TV performances that didn't seem to suit them, which led to no live TV appearances after 1969.
With the bonus tracks included for the new release, we now get a better look at the band from their early days. Led Zeppelin I features live tracks from a show in France, the first live concert before 1970 released by the band. “Communication Breakdown” is blistering with dirty guitar licks from Jimmy Page and the powerful wails of a young Robert Plant.
Led Zeppelin II offers a look into their recording process. Whole Lotta Love always seemed destined to be a rich track with layering unlike many bands before, but their demo shows how the band made changes along the way. Originally recorded without the now trademark chorus, they later change the chorus from the original Willie Dixon penned “You Need Love” to “Whole Lotta Love”, likely to avoid copyright issues that still came when the band settled with the bluesman in 1985. Also included is “La La”, an experimental track that foreshadows what was to come in 1970.
The final installment of this set of re-releases is Led Zeppelin III, the album where the band showed their lighter side. The bonus disc here includes another inside look at the album’s roots. The alternate mix of “Immigrant Song” leaves out the reverb that made the song iconic.
A number of versions of deluxe editions go on sale Tuesday, June 3rd, including a 2-CD set and more multiple CD, Vinyl, and Digital formats available along with limited edition super deluxe boxed sets.