Led Zeppelin - The Song Remains the Same
As an album, The Song Remains the Same has a lot to work against. First of all, it’s immediately overshadowed by the film it accompanies. As great as the music is here, it’s hard for this to survive as a cultural artifact when there’s a corresponding movie involving fantasy sequences depicted the band’s members acting like gangsters, wizards and Game of Thrones-like heroes, as well as drag racing and raising livestock. Futhermore, this captures the band playing three shows at Madison Square Garden at the end of its 1973 tour. Supposedly, the band was exhausted and hammed it up for the cameras, and thus this was not among the best shows of the tour.
None of this matters. It’s folly to think that someone is supposed to listen to The Song Remains the Same and relate it to the movie’s fantasy sequences, and how well this recording stacks up against the rest of the 1973 tour really only matters to those in the enviable position of having attended other dates on that tour. The fact of the matter is this was the only documentation of Led Zeppelin live in concert—other than bootlegs—available until the band opened its vaults with How The West Was Won and their eponymous DVD 27 years later. With that responsibility on its shoulders, The Song Remains the Same delivers. An early highlight comes in “The Song Remains the Same” leading straight into “The Rain Song,” just as they proceed on Houses of the Holy, with Page demonstrating his prowess of both necks of a Gibson EDS-1275. Meanwhile, “Dazed and Confused” gets fittingly aired out for an entire side; a performance of the song dissimilar enough from other versions in circulation to stand on its own. A modern music consumer may have other options when looking to hear Led Zeppelin live, but this initial, cinematically oriented offering still holds its own.