Perhaps the most-seen concert film after WOODSTOCK (1970), Led Zeppelin's THE SONG REMAINS THE SAME chronicles a Madison Square Garden concert on the band's "Houses of the Holy" tour. Though they left behind a legacy of incredible music and a reputation as one of the greatest rock bands
ever, this particular concert is not one of Led Zeppelin's best offerings.
In an interview after the band's breakup, Robert Plant described Led Zeppelin as a "touring animal," recording albums simply as an excuse to play live. Those watching THE SONG REMAINS THE SAME may find this assertion rather hard to believe, given the sharp contrast between Zep's amazing recorded
body of work and this sloppy, lumbering performance. Though there are a few gems here and there--the crashing dynamics of "Since I Been Lovin You" and "The Rain Song," for example--too often the band simply doesn't quite come together. Plant's vocals frequently sound strained, and Jimmy Page's
guitar histrionics constantly stray far afield of the rhythm set up by bassist John Paul Jones and drummer John Bonham. Also, Zep's penchant for turning a song into an extended jam (or hyperextended, as in "I have hyperextended my knee") drag this 11-song performance out to two hours. Finally, the
use of silly (and, let's be honest, druggy) Celtic fantasy sequences is simply distracting.
Still, die-hard fans will appreciate this rare glimpse of the great band at work, while mavens of unique musical instruments will delight in seeing Page "play" the seldom-used theramin (previously restricted to the Beach Boys's "Good Vibrations" and schlock horror movie soundtracks). Also, it's
kind of fun watching the backstage hysterics of band manager Peter Grant, the man of legendary bad temper who was the basis for Spinal Tap's manager, Ian Faith, in THIS IS SPINAL TAP (1984).
Sadly, the soundtrack to THE SONG REMAINS THE SAME was for many years the only official live Zep recording (though the band was heavily bootlegged); in 1997, though, a collection of early BBC recordings was released, featuring performances much better than those captured in this film. (Profanity,nudity.)
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- Released: 1976
- Rating: R
- Review: Perhaps the most-seen concert film after WOODSTOCK (1970), Led Zeppelin's THE SONG REMAINS THE SAME chronicles a Madison Square Garden concert on the band's "Houses of the Holy" tour. Though they left behind a legacy of incredible music and a reputation as… (more)