Something For The Weekend – New Vinyl Out 23 March
The blurring of the myth and the reality of Zeppelin is part of the appeal, but you can hear clearly that How The West Was Won documents a band on the crest of their own creative wave. Coming seven months after the release of IV and eight before Houses Of The Holy, they were eager to show off their next opus, with a number of songs previewed on the tour, with the heavy groove of The Ocean here underlining again what a powerhouse John Bonham was. Especially so with Page’s remaster. Though for vinyl fans there is no luxury of comparison with this 4LP boxset, next to the original 2003 CD recording, there’s noticeably more bottom-end girth for Jones’ and Bonham’s engine room.
There’s also incredible confidence; the extended medley that throws Whole Lotta Love into a mix with Going Down Slow (curiously, now missing Hello Mary Lou) would be arrogant in lesser hands. So too the journey through 9/8 funk and four-to-the-floor fire in two then-unreleased compositions, The Crunge and Walter’s Walk, in a fascinating 25-minute Dazed And Confused. But what’s easier to overlook is how well Zeppelin could deliver their own gentler material, showcased in the three-song acoustic section here; Going To California, especially, is aided by the mandolin of secret weapon John Paul Jones.
Led Zeppelin would go on to scale further heights – the sprawling Physical Graffiti still lay ahead – but those later years of the band may yet see some representation. Page has suggested another multi-track recording will surface in time, that’s “another view compared to How The West Was Won or The Song Remains The Same”. But for now, this is the definitive live record, proving just how mighty the hammer of the gods they wielded was.