The first three Zep albums have been remastered by guitarist Jimmy Page and re-released in various configurations including bonus discs and vinyl. Sonic upgrades with extra tracks -- both live tracks and songs-in-the-process -- once only found on bootlegs afford many new nuances in the tone and textures that were lost in previous versions. (The vinyl sounds amazing!) Suffice to say, they are ALL ESSENTIAL.
The first effort, recorded in 1968, was recorded in just 36 hours and birthed the band's genre defining sound -- "heavy metal thunder" -- informed by the American blues, British Mod pop, English folk, and '60s psychedelia with plenty of volume and youthful exuberance. A few months later Zep II would find them using the studio to their sonic advantage -- Page's assertive, majestic guitar riffs and runs, John Paul Jones's melodic bass, John Bonham's thunder-of-the-gods drumming, and Robert Plant's raptured vocals sent the album to the top of charts in both the U.S. and U.K.. Side one may be the greatest collection of rock songs ever recorded. (Check out the rough cut version of "Whole Lotta Love" by the lads on the video above.) By the third album, Zep started to explore their collective musical roots and acoustic numbers would point the band towards new uncharted waters and their fourth album's massive appeal anchored by one of the greatest tracks ever committed to tape -- "Stairway to Heaven." The rest, as we know, is rock history.
I can't wait to hear the remaining albums.