‘BBC SES­SIONS’ BRINGS NEW OLD LED ZEP­PELIN RECORD­INGS

Gui­tarist Jimmy Page pulled to­gether vin­tage tapes for the ex­panded re­lease

USA TODAY US Edition - - LIFE - Pa­trick Ryan

Call it Led Zep­pelin’s most am­bi­tious reis­sue yet.

Since 2014, gui­tarist Jimmy Page has re­mas­tered and re-re­leased all nine of the le­gendary Bri­tish rock­ers’ stu­dio al­bums. But cu­rat­ing The Com­plete BBC

Ses­sions, out Fri­day, posed a unique chal­lenge.

“Let’s put it this way: All the other tapes were in my pos­ses­sion in one way or an­other,” says Page, 72, who un­earthed eight un­re­leased record­ings for the three-disc set, in­clud­ing a “lost” three-song ses­sion for BBC ra­dio from March 1969. Those par­tic­u­lar per­for­mances of You Shook Me, I Can’t Quit You Baby and the oth­er­wise un­recorded Sun­shine

Woman had been wiped from BBC’s ar­chives, only to turn up on the boot­leg mar­ket in years since.

The re­cov­ered ver­sions fea­tured on Ses­sions were “recorded off the ra­dio through a mi­cro­phone into a tape recorder by a fan in Eastern Europe,” Page says. “That’d make sense, be­cause it was way be­fore the (Ber­lin) Wall com­ing down and they would’ve been play­ing mu­sic through Eastern Europe on the BBC World Ser­vice. (It’s) the best copy that I could get. It’s pretty raw, but fun.”

Page dug up other un­heard tracks from the Zep­pelin vault, in­clud­ing ex­tended per­for­mances of Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Break

down and Dazed and Con­fused (pre­mier­ing on us­ato­day.com). The band rel­ished play­ing both songs on air, es­pe­cially at the out­set of their ca­reer. “We would do Com­mu­ni­ca­tion

Break­down be­cause it was so hard-hit­ting,” Page says. “Dazed

and Con­fused would re­flect the side of Led Zep­pelin that’s pretty avant-garde, in the fact that it has the (violin) bow sec­tion and ev­ery­thing else. You do those two songs be­cause they’re ex­tremely dif­fer­ent to each other and that would be a good way to pro­mote the (self-ti­tled) first al­bum,” from which they’re taken.

Led Zep­pelin’s pop­u­lar­ity in the U.S. far eclipsed that in their home coun­try, which brought a cer­tain dogged spirit to their BBC per­for­mances. “Air­play was re­ally sub­stan­tial for Led Zep­pelin I in the States, but over in Eng­land, it was min­i­mal,” Page re­mem­bers. “It was pretty limited, the air­time that we would get, so when we got the op­por­tu­nity to do these live ses­sions, we went in there de­ter­mined to re­ally make a name for our­selves.”

Ses­sions was first re­leased as a two-disc set in 1997. This week’s ex­panded re­lease will be avail­able on CD, vinyl and dig­i­tal, with a “su­per deluxe” edi­tion in­clud­ing a 48-page book and print of the orig­i­nal al­bum cover. Page says he was keen to re­mas­ter the al­bum be­cause “it was call­ing out for it,” but af­ter spend­ing so much time on the Zep­pelin reis­sues, “it’s time to pick up the gui­tar and start to think about what I’m go­ing to do next.”

Page an­nounced plans for a new al­bum and tour late last year, but says that “the sched­ule I’d pre­sented to my­self was (too) am­bi­tious.” He hopes to re­lease a solo ef­fort next year, adding that he has not had any dis­cus­sions with for­mer band­mates Robert Plant and John Paul Jones about an­other Zep­pelin re­union show. (The band last per­formed to­gether in 2007, with drum­mer Ja­son Bon­ham step­ping in for his fa­ther, John, who died in 1980.)

As for the pos­si­bil­ity that more un­re­leased mu­sic could see the light of day? “I’ve got a bi­iig ar­chive,” Page laughs. “Let’s just say that.”

RON RAFAELLI

NONE

The Com­plete BBC Ses­sions in­cludes eight un­re­leased tracks from Led Zep­pelin’s 1969 ra­dio per­for­mances.

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