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Led Zeppelin - "How The West Was Won"
Atlantic 2003

After 23 years since this band split after tragic loss of their irreplaceable drummer John "Bonzo" Bohnam, Jimmy Page decided to recollect some old live stuff (taken from two LA gigs in late June of '72) and to release a new record. It is a special privilege for me to make a review of one of the biggest rock band that ever surfaced the Earth, or let me put it that way: the biggest band of their era.

Heavy monster opens this beauty. You can immediately feel muscular, intense body Bonzo's splashes supported with raunchy fat John's bass guitar Than Robert joins in. Full of energy and straight determination to blow out the speakers he screams out the entire song. Jimmy's schizoid soloing at the closing part of the song with Bonzo's frenetic work that easily falls in heavy counter-rhythms brings the climax of a piece to its melting point. It delivers pure ecstasy from the first moment. I'm talking about Immigrant Song. It is simple fact that the whole album is spine-tingling.

It was the fourth year since birth of the Zepps in 1968 and the four youngsters didn't hide their high ambitions and working enthusiasm on stage shows. At that time it seemed that they've entered their brightest shining life period. Working stage chemistry that this band was capable to build is so convincible that it'll pull you under its wings whether you want it or not. Three-CD sandwich is complete different chapter in comparison with band's BBC sessions (released in fall of '97). It is hard to expose one song, cause every single captures its own magic feel and offers qualities that are hard to describe with just a words. First CD contains mostly "the shorts" as: Black Dog, Over The Hills And Far Away, Stairway To Heaven (even better Plant's performance than that one taken from The Song Remains The Same live record), That's The Way and Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp. Nice fill in is represented by Going To California where acoustical drive will help you to calm down a bit.

And now "the longs". Second CD begins straight with Dazed And Confused with its length over 25 minutes and it captures pure psychedelic moments of ecstasy. It contains genuine use of reverb and echo effects by Jimmy who explored till then the unexplored opportunities in rock music on its very own way. Well simple as that. John Paul lays down a simple melody and helps in building a suitable ground for Jimmy to enter into his own magic dream world. After Robert's frenetic screams he hardly awaits to grab his violin-bow and the rest is a part of band's history. Gentle and in oriental direction driven continuing with Plant's adding some of his amazing wows, confirms that those two guys were born to work and play together. What an electrifying climax!!!! This is pure Page blow job surrounded with intense shooting of rhythm artillery flak (incredible Bonzo's torpedoing closure, he's like wolf on a pray, carefully waits to attack with full force!), and Zepps didn't forget about The Crunch to fill in here (a song lately appeared on band's fifth studio album "The Houses Of The Holy"). This version of Dazed And Confused is surely one of the highlights here. The band returns safe to the ground with What Is And What Should Never Be and Dancing Days, but after that Bonzo comes in center spot by murdering his drum kit during his solo in Moby Dick. Just sit back and enjoy this once in life time wizardry on drums.

Third CD begins with another overstretched song, another amazing experimental adventure. Whole Lotta Love of course with implanted encore medley consisted from covers of artists that Zepps admired very much (John Lee Hooker etc.). Boogie mamma, boogie all night long!

This is surely too short review to reveal everything that this live document still hides. Dixon's cover Bring It On Home is the best possible choice to close album with. Some Pagey's jazzy fills, unpredictable Bonzo's explosions, Robert's addiction of harmonica and John's bass boogie drive. I think I said enough. Four strong unique entities joined together in a perfect puzzle. Everlasting powers of each individual are united and magnified via Led Zeppelin and free to shine forever into eternity.

Author:   Aleš

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