The timing of these releases couldn’t have been more appropriate in anticipation of the heralded reunion concert. It gives us another reconsideration of a band that first defined electric blues and later heavy metal/hard rock.
Honestly, Mothership offers no surprises as it is almost the same tracklisting found on the Early and Latter Days releases from a few years ago–the only major difference is that this latest 2-CD compilation tacks on a DVD of excerpts from the excellent Led Zeppelin DVD. So for the casual fan, Mothership is a succinct overview of the might Zep’s career beginning from 1969’s hard-charging Good Times, Bad Times to 1979’s ballad All My Love, along with the familiar classics: “Whole Lotta Love,” “Houses of the Holy,” the signature “Stairway to Heaven,” and the majestic “Kashmir.” Though by no means complete, Mothership is a satisfactory best-of.
Until 1997’s BBC Sessions followed by 2003’s How the West Was Won, the only live recording by Led Zeppelin was the soundtrack to the film The Song Remains the Same. Recorded in 1973 over three nights at Madison Square Garden during the group’s height, Song… is a document of how mesmerizing and masterful Zep was on stage. It gave the members room to jam and perhaps further indulge (i.e. a nearly 30-minute “Dazed and Confused,” and an extended drum turn by the late great John Bonham on “Moby Dick”). The reissue contains six previously unreleased concert recordings not on the original album, including “Black Dog,” “The Ocean,” and “Heartbreaker.”