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Led Zeppelin - The Song Remains The Same [1976] - 4.97

Bombastic, pretentious and narcissistic, Led Zeppelin's The Song Remains the Same is also one of the best concert films of the 1970s, capturing the greatest rock band of the decade in full flight at Madison Square Gardens in 1973. The notorious "fantasy sequences" punctuate the musical action but don't, fortunately, interrupt it. Playing true to their self-indulgent rock & roll personas, each band member has his own segment, as does legendary larger-than-life manager Peter Grant. Only John Bonham's is reasonably down-to-earth: during his mammoth drum solo ("Moby Dick") he is seen driving his custom car, his Harley chopper, and a drag racer at Santa Pod, as well as inspecting bulls and doing a bit of building work. Well, what else would a working-class lad from Birmingham do with his millions? Elsewhere, John Paul Jones is a demented Phantom of the Opera with an unfeasibly large organ ("No Quarter"); Robert Plant is a quasi-Arthurian knight errant rescuing a suitable rock-chick damsel in distress ("The Song Remains the Same/Rain Song"); while Aleister Crowley acolyte Jimmy Page goes in for sorcery and mysticism as he encounters the wizard from the cover of Led Zep IV ("Dazed & Confused"). But the real magic is the onstage footage: Page wields his Gibson Les Paul as if he is indeed enchanted (the violin bow becomes his magician's wand in "Dazed & Confused"), while Plant preens and prowls his way around the stage, the very image of the rock idol; and quite how Jones and Bonham managed to be such a behemoth of a rhythm section is still a mystery. For all its many faults, this remains an essential document of an era when rock dinosaurs still walked the earth.

On the DVD: No extra features to speak of at all, which is extremely disappointing given the wealth of archive material concerning the band and this movie that must be available. The picture and sound are respectable without being exceptional. --Mark Walker

Customer reviews (av rating: 4.0):

Rating: 5:
AN INTERESTING INSIGHT : Yes, it is and a lot more besides.

Apart from the music there is the myth surrounding the band - the references, the interests, the hype, the juggernaut.
Of course if one is a fan ( I am ) then one will have already seen or owned this film.

It is an interesting mixture of concert footage ( hugely enjoyable ) with self-generated mythology and theatrical fantasy which together ( I feel ) actually give more than concert footage ever could - an insight into the other side of LED ZEPPELIN which we all ( let's face it ) bought in to when they were with us ( and still do today ).

I enjoy this film hugely - I recommend it to anyone.

Rating: 4:
Easily worth the 4 asking price. : I love led zeppelin so my view is obviously biased but if you're considering this dvd I'm guessing you love them too. If you're a fan its worth the 4 just for the great performance of stairway to heaven, it's beautifully played.

Rating: 5:
Masterpiece : Anyone who slates this really hasn't appreciated the essence of it all. Forget the fantasy sequences, this is 1970's New York and a very special period - carefree, post 60's. Everything down to the dated wailing police car sirens and the hairstyles - general mayhem..... the two guys being granted the stage door entry - brilliant. Stuff which you just wouldn't experience at any concert anywhere today ! no chance ! To be there would simply have been amazing. Now the music: These 4 still remain to this day, the greatest Rock and Roll band in history - (read the biography written by their road manager - Richard Cole) and from this footage you get the sense that here is a band who really appreciated each others skills and they were really enjoying themselves. Bother to go and see a tribute band in the UK - "Let's Zepp" for example and you will appreciate the sheer variety of their music - Rock, folk, ballad style - heavy metal is a ridiculous term to use to describe their style. At their peak they were outselling everyone, including the Stones and were packing stadiums to the brim. In this "Song Remains the Same" DvD, Page is awesome (of course) and his nonchalance is just quite hilarious - a musician totally confident in his own ability. Plant is also brilliant with a charisma not possessed by any modern Rock star I know of, and you can take nothing from JPJ and Bonham, surely the greatest rhythm pair of all time - see how they watch each other constantly when beat changes are afoot. When they played they gave it all from start to finish and the concerts were longer in duration then. It is great and unsurprising to see them still picking up music awards - UK music hall of fame in Dec 2006 and even being award the Polar music prize presented to the remaining 3 of them by the King of Sweden in Stockholm in the same year - John Bonham would have laughed his socks off, they still say that Animal in the muppets was modelled off his personality. Get the box set also, but I think this version has atmosphere, despite slightly inferior sound quality. Best played full blast on a Plasma with some serious surround sound wattage to go with it - and I mean full blast. Drives the wife nuts but mesmerizes me every single time.

Rating: 1:
Disastrous Rockumentary : Historical perspective does nothing to redeem this notoriously pretentious film. The decision to film the Madison Square Garden leg of Led Zeppelin's 1973 tour was taken too late to allow sufficient technical and creative planning. Rather than accept that the ensueing footage was simply unusable and the investment in funding it best written off, Jimmy Page threw more money at the project in a hopelessly misguided attempt to salvage it. But the so-called fantasy sequences consequently sequed into this film are vacuous, self-indulgent and comical. And the mimed segments filmed later at a mock-up of the MSG stage at Shepperton Studios don't ring true and result in a host of continuity and synchronicity errors. The actual gig sees 'Zep exhausted toward the end of a major US tour. Page's dexterity on his guitar fretboard is stunning but can't hide the absence of warmth, vitality and joy in these mechanical performances. The sound quality is terrible with the entire concert lacking sharpness and running so fast the pitch is raised an entire semi-tone. 'Dazed And Confused' is reduced to a bloated, ponderous behemoth glued together ineptly from different mixes. Horrendous. If, as seems likely, the film and audio tapes of TSRTS have deteriorated or been mislaid, it will exist for all time as not only a gruesome monument to '70s rock excess but as a technically-flawed one. This film doesn't represent cool retro or nostalgic kitsch; it's simply a cynical and rapacious vanity project.

Rating: 5:
The best band, the best DVD, best of the best! : This is the best DVD I've ever seen! If you've never heard of Led Zeppelin, this is where you should start! If you love Zeppelin, this is a must-have piece in your collection! Thumbs up!

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