Jun 10, 2003

Smoked my stuff and drank all my wine:
A review of How the West was Won

The Led Zeppelin’s newly released live album, collected from two California concerts in 1972, is an excellent work with the fire, the pounding and the delicacy of that band all on display with the vibrations of the live performance.

Some live performances are just a ‘the best of’ with a scream track. The better musicians—think Bob Dylan or The Who—have performances that vary and dance to bring the most veteran listener into the music. Zeppelin’s work is of this variety. The music is real and raw on ‘How the West Was Won.’ With Zeppelin, ‘never let them tell you that they’re all the same.’

Zep had a real piece of art going in their concerts.

We’re treated to some flights, with guitar rifts tearing away from the song written down and flying for a while. We even have a 19 minute drum solo named ‘Moby Dick’ where John Bonham shows he’s more than just the rhythm section accompanying talent: he’s beating the earth with the hammers of the gods.

The album’s ‘Stairway to Heaven’ shows the difference between a live and studio performance. Here the presence of all four musicians is constant and never fully blended in the polish of the dubbing. The guitar is separate from the drums and the singing and the bass and works with them.

Playing the song as a joint effort, the vocals and the guitar trade places leading the song.

All around an excellent CD that finishes off the band’s body of work with an intelligent effort showing the unrefined glory of Led Zeppelin.