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Led Zeppelin - The Song Remains The Same (Film) CD (album) cover

THE SONG REMAINS THE SAME (FILM)

Led Zeppelin

 

Prog Related

3.98 | 147 ratings

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AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
4 stars This Led Zeppelin live concert movie is groundbreaking as one of the first, way before Spinal Tap's mockumentary that is very similar in style, showing the band struggling with issues and then capping it off with segments from the concert. There are some unforgettable moments such as Led Zeppelin's manager Peter Grant squaring off with merchandisers that are selling photos illegally outside the concert hall; After dropping a dozen f-bombs Grant says to the dismayed organiser, "as long as we can screw a few extra bob out of the group? if there's an extra nickle to be drained by exploiting Led Zeppelin, it's great". Grant is furious and lets the organisers have it, and they have no answers.

It is great to see the enigmatic band behind the scenes preparing to go on tour or hanging around bars, grassy fields with girls, and to see their fantasies realised, though the Mafia section is very odd. A lot of the concert material is complimented by a video clip of each band member. We see Robert Plant sword fighting, on a boat, capturing a castle and rescuing a princess, Bonham driving fast cars and hanging around farms, and we are treated to Jimmie Page changing into a tarot hermit, regressing back to the foetus and back to ancient and then lofting a sword with psychedelic colours emanating during 'Dazed and Confused'; perhaps the highlight of the concert footage.

The concerts are captured well with low angles and close ups and crowd shots showing how the band communicate their magic with the audience. They are a visual treat; with the iconic Plant bending backwards with tiny open vest, Page in starry pants clad in black maintaining poise as he saws a violin bow across his guitar strings, Bonham going manic with the drums and Jones looking aloof. It was one of the only ways of seeing the band play back in the day as, unless you saw them live on a tour, there was very little footage released of the band. Nowadays there is an unbelievable amount of concert footage available but it is mostly bootleg quality.

It is great musically too with some of their greatest songs with crunching speaker blowing riffs in 'Rock And Roll', then moves on to 'Black Dog' with killer riffs and footage showing a drive down the traffic laden streets. 'Since I've Been Loving You' is beautiful and there is a 12 minute version of 'No Quarter', always a classic Zep favourite. 'Dazed And Confused' is the blockbuster here and the film really takes off into a magical realm. The sounds of the violining are as preternatural as the film clip that accompanied it, showing Page slicing a bow over the strings. The psychedelic images are perfectly placed, zooming into Page's eye, watching the angel descend the staircase and then the wielding of the sword; it is a powerful aural and visual experience. We also see backstage some groupies desperately wanting to get in to see the show and some bouncers let them in for free; "a lot of fun" he says turning to the camera. Later we see a fan being wrestled to the ground and kicked out backstage, so it was very random the way gate crashers were treated. It is a time capsule of the 70s and as such has documentary importance to rock history connoisseurs, in the same way "Woodstock" has historical importance outside of the actual music.

After some backstage footage worth a look, a cop on horseback replying to "do you expect trouble?" with "no comment, that's all you are going to get". Plant says onstage "this is a song of hope" and we are treated to the ultimate classic 'Stairway To Heaven' clocking 11 minutes with blue moody lighting. It is an incredible performance from Plant and Page who absolutely destroy the studio version. A safety deposit box is stolen and the manager respond in a press conference, the largest amount ever taken from a hotel reportedly. We see a news report on this event, which is soon cut off by more killer rock concert footage. Live is definitely the best way to hear this iconic piece of mystique. 'Moby Dick' follows with lengthy drum solo and Bonham is brilliant. It ends with the masterpiece 'Whole Lotta Love' which is very different than the original and just as compelling. Then the band stroll off to their Mercedes cars and then hop on a plane and as 'Stairway to Heaven' chimes over we see the planes do a dance on the runway and it's all over.

Overall this movie is a terrific indispensable document of how it was back in the magnificent 70s, a no frills, no effects concert, just a brilliant band giving it everything to a mesmirised well behaved crowd. Recommended to all fans of classic rock at its highest calibre.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 4/5 |

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