|Led Zeppelin - Latter Days: The Best of Led Zeppelin, Vol. 2|
|Music Disc Reviews Audio CD|
|Written by Jerry Del Colliano|
|Tuesday, 21 March 2000|
I’ve been kind of torn over giving this Led Zeppelin best- of compilation a perfect 10 rating for performance. While Zep’s earlier songs like "Stairway To Heaven," "Rock and Roll" and "Whole Lot of Love" are more recognizable and defined the band as one of the biggest in the history of music, ‘Latter Days’ captures a more refined and produced Led Zeppelin.
The songs on ‘Latter Days’ borrow less from blues masters like Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters and focus more on the definitive Led Zeppelin sound. The playlist on the record follows the chronology of Led Zeppelin albums, starting with my personal favorite Zep album, ‘Houses of the Holy,’ and ends with tracks from ‘In Through The Outdoor.’ ‘Latter Days’ gets off to an up-tempo start with the twangy "The Song Remains the Same," featuring some innovative chording by Jimmy Page on a 12-string Gibson. "No Quarter" is a spacey trip of a song from ‘Houses of the Holy,’ but comes as somewhat of a downer after the upbeat intro song. Track Three, "House of the Holy," ironically not from the album ‘Houses of the Holy’ but from ‘Physical Graffiti,’ starts a run of tracks that highlight the indisputable fact that in his day John Bonham was far and away the best and most influential drummer in the world.
"Trampled Underfoot" shows a more 1970s sound from the keys of John Paul Jones, as well as a more James Brown funky feel to the overall groove. The version of "Kasmir" on ‘Latter Days’ is the only song that differs from the original album version in that the "Kasmir" enhanced CD track comes from a live performance from 1975 filmed at London’s Earl’s Court. "Ten Years Gone" from ‘Physical Graffiti’ is one of the best ballads Zeppelin ever recorded. The recording shows Robert Plant’s ability to emotionally lure a listener into the song. Jimmy Page’s solo features a very Paul McCartney Wings sound that was a big departure from the bluesy power found on the earlier albums. "Nobody’s Fault But Mine" is perhaps the unsung hero of the record, with its call-and-response intro flanged into a burning ‘70s oblivion. Bonham’s beat, the catchy melody and well-timed pauses make "Nobody’s Fault But Mine" my favorite cut of the compilation.
In listening to the history of Led Zeppelin across these two CDs, ‘Early Days’ and ‘Latter Days,’ you can easily start to form the argument that Led Zeppelin is the greatest rock and roll band of all time. The Beatles taught us all about song writing, but they never really rocked out like Led Zeppelin. The Rolling Stones rock hard but are still stuck the same blues-inspired format that Zep and The Stones were pioneering to pop-superstardom in the late 1960s. Even the mighty Van Halen can’t show a track record of musically excellent records like Led Zeppelin’s. After Diamond Dave’s departure, Van Halen records may have sold more but their sound became more packaged and less exciting. Led Zeppelin’s sound and songwriting, on the other hand, became more developed and musically important.
The sound quality of the tracks on the record suggests that Atlantic may likely have used the remastered versions from their box set a few years ago. While it’s obvious that the cuts are vintage 1970s analog recordings, the resolution is very good and the dynamics are far better than earlier CD versions. If you haven’t already bought the complete Led Zeppelin catalog in the form of the box set, or as individual CDs, I recommend that you do so. If the price is too steep for you as a less than extreme fan of Led Zeppelin, these two "best of" CDs will definitely get you there with all the Led Zeppelin jams you need.