One of my favorite albums of all time is the first Led Zepplin record. I can’t say I became a huge fan but I absolutely loved that record. The recording, the songs, the energy, the band and, of course, the vocals of Robert Plant are just incredible. It’s no surprise that the record and the band has transcended time and remains as popular today as they ever were…and not just because old guys like me are reeling in the years. It turns out that Led Zepplin has managed to appeal to generation X and Y. My math metal doesn’t give a hoot about the Beatles but holds a special spot for the Led Zepplin. It’s hard to accept but true.
So it’s a very big deal when the group and their record label decide to reissue the original albums as special boxed sets with extra features galore AND completely remastered. On June 3rd, the first three albums will finally reach their dedicated fans in physical form and as 96 khZ/24-bit PCM downloads from HDtracks (other may have the licenses as well but I’m not sure).
According to Robert Baird over at Stereophile’s site, Jimmy Page played some of the new retransferred, remastered tunes and answered a bunch of questions from the gathered press. Apparently, some of the questions weren’t particularly well received by the legendary guitarist. Journalists need to be sensitive to the artists AND know their stuff before opening their mouths.
So should the audiophile crowd be excited about the Led Zeppelin products? Yes and no. This is what Jimmy Page said, “I don’t think it changes any story, I think it just augments it. It gives more color to it. The final masters which are on the studio albums that you know, quite clearly were going to be the best ones, however these [other] things are fascinating, of intrinsic and historical value.” Kudos to him. He acknowledges that the final masters are the definitive versions and the new releases shed some new light on the old stuff and open the vault for a couple of things that will appeal to their fans.
But the HDtracks 96 kHz/24-bit downloads are headed this way and I suspect that a lot of audiophiles will spend the money to purchase them. I’m not going to be one of them. I will continue to enjoy the CDs. I hope that I’ll have the opportunity to evaluate them and actually see what the remastering has done. But it’s just not worth $25 to get the tracks one more time.
There’s been a great deal of confusion about the provenance of the Led Zeppelin tracks. I’ve not followed it but I suspect that the original multitracks masters and the mixed masters are long gone. They may have used the EQ’d masters. I do know that this was one of the first stereo only releases.