Friday, November 14, 2014
The 2CD deluxe edition of Led Zeppelin IV is similar to many of the other Zeppelin reissues where the original album is on Disc 1 and an ‘alternate’ version of the album is on Disc 2. In comparing the original album to a previous version of this CD, this new release sounds brighter. One of the key differentiators with this new release is that the instruments and separation between the instruments sounds clearer - the crisp sound of the bass and drums is immediately noticeable.
My reservation with this reissue is the bonus disc as there just isn’t a “wow” factor. This second disc runs 41 minutes (as compared to the main disc’s 43 minutes) which is comprised of 6 full-band alternate versions of songs from the main disc and two instrumentals. I can’t figure out the point of the instrumentals as why would someone want to listen to “The Battle of Evermore” and “Going to California” without Plant’s vocals? (Karaoke anyone?) Aside for 1+ minutes being chopped out “The Battle of Evermore”, there really isn’t a noticeable difference between these versions and the finished versions. Things get a bit more interesting with the Sunset Sound mix of “Stairway to Heaven”. This version was recorded at Los Angeles’ Sunset Sound Recorders during the summer of 1971 and the mix brings out some subtle nuances in the instrumentation.
The demo version of “Four Sticks” is noticeably different than the finalized version as this demo version ‘pops’ with an energy and rawness. While the differences aren’t quite as noticeable, this same rawness can also be heard on “When the Levee Breaks”. The basic take of “Black Dog” is also noticeable different than the final studio version as this version is clearly unmixed, has a different, more sustained guitar line and seems to include some additional vocals (including some bum notes). For the remaining songs, my ears couldn’t tell the difference between the two versions.