By now the Zep diehards will know much more about this than I would ever care to, but in case it escaped your notice, it was announced yesterday that Phase 2 of the Zeppelin reissues will continue on October 28 with the newly buffed-up releases of their untitled fourth album – aka Led Zeppelin IV, or The One With Stairway On It – and Houses Of The Holy.
I’m not a big one for these sorts of things for the simple reason that there’s usually a very good reason why all those ‘previously unreleased’ tracks were, well, not released. That being: they weren’t as good as the tracks or versions that were released. This is as true of Zeppelin as any other act. Anyone who wants to explain to me how the reissued mix or whatever they called it this summer of ‘Whole Lotta Love’ is remotely as exciting as the original may go ahead and try. But please, this is me, ok? I’m not intrigued by diehard sales-pitch bullshit.
On the other hand… when I actually got to see – to fondle and ogle at – some of the reissues of the first three Zep albums a few weeks ago I have to admit, it was mighty impressive. Kind of like beautiful antique furniture, you don’t necessarily buy them to sit on or stick on a table. You buy them for the sheer pleasure of owning something special. No longer rare, but certainly special.
It will be the same for the countless different editions of Zep IV and Houses coming our way in October. Especially for me as Houses is the first Zeppelin album I ever bought with my own (stolen from my mum’s purse) pocket money. Oh, I’d been deep into Zep IV before that. Of course I was. I was a teenager in the early 70s. Like, duh! But I had borrowed that from my heavy rock friend at school and taped it.
And no, just like everybody else, then and now, I didn’t think Houses was a patch on IV when I first heard it. No ‘Stairway’, man. Come to think of it, no ‘Rock And Roll’ or ‘Black Dog’ or ‘When The Levee Breaks’ or any of the others either. No, in terms of like for like, Houses didn’t even come close. Yet I loved it.
Just looking at the creepy, strangely sexy cover had my teenage brain reeling with I knew not what. Though I would soon come to find out.
So, well, this is exciting, once-in-a-lifetime stuff. Am I looking forward to hearing the ‘new’ version of ‘Stairway’, though? Naw. There’s only one ‘Stairway’. But it will be fun to fool with the rest of the baloney for five minutes and that’s a pretty high score in today’s time-impoverished world. The extra this and ‘new’ that. Hell, the packaging, that being after all what we’re all really buying if we are daft enough to ever buy these things anymore.
Spare me the commentary, though. Having lived through more horseshit interviews and god knows how many ‘best album we’ve done so far’ raps, I can cheerfully live without that.
But the fun and the fizz. That we can all do with a little more of, no?