Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Led Zeppelin II, re-mastered

Ever since news filtered out earlier this year that Led Zeppelin would be re-mastering and re-issuing their first three albums (and the fourth and fifth re-mastered albums will be released soon), I have been trying my best to follow the developments. Foremost on my mind was to find out when the re-mastered records could ever reach our shores.

Mind you, not many people here play their records anymore; only the diehards with their turntables would be interested in the resurgence of vinyl over digital formats. I'm one of them. If there's a choice between picking up a re-mastered record or a digital disc at the right prices, I'd choose the former anytime.

Unfortunately, there aren't many music outlets in Penang that sell vinyl records. It is still very much a niche market here. As far as I know, only CMY Audio & Visual outlet and the two Artist Gallery outlets carry some new selected titles. Really hard put to find dedicated stores selling mainly vinyl records here in Penang.

Therefore, when I was down at The Curve shopping mall in Petaling Jaya at the beginning of August, I was greatly surprised to find the Rock Corner outlet there carrying both the three deluxe editions and the re-mastered original vinyls of Led Zeppelin's first three albums. I wanted to buy the deluxe second album but being surrounded by both family and relatives, I held back my purchase. And I regretted it once I got home. I wouldn't have been able to find the title here.

A second opportunity presented itself when I went down to Kuala Lumpur again last weekend. Although I couldn't go to The Curve, I thought that I could find the deluxe edition at the Rock Corner outlet at The Gardens Mall, MidValley.

I was wrong. They carried only the re-mastered original version. Feeling a bit glum, I was wandering about the whole mall when I decided to go into the Speedy outlet. Noticed that they had quite an extensive record selection there. Not being very hopeful, though, when I went through the racks. But my heart skipped a beat when I came across that very album that I had been searching for. And wasted no time to pick it up. No way was I going to miss another chance to buy it, especially since my original record already sounded rather jaded and well-worn, not to mention that I have to endure the faint crackles and pops too.

So here am I today, listening and enjoying the deluxe edition of Led Zeppelin's second album on 180-gram vinyl which, in my opinion, could be their greatest album as well.

And I've got to say that the sound quality on both records is excellent, very clear definition with absolutely no crackles or pops on them. No wonder that Jimmy Page himself recommended that Led Zeppelin should never be listened as lossy mp3 files. I thoroughly agree with him. The sound quality would have been lost and the listener would have missed a tremendous listening experience.

Re-mastered original album:
Side One: Whole lotta love, What is and what should never be, The lemon song, Thank you
Side Two: Heartbreaker, Living Loving maid (she's just a woman), Ramble on, Moby Dick, Bring it on home

Companion disc:
Side One: Whole lotta love (rough mix with vocal), What is and what should never be (rough mix with vocal), Thank you (backing track), Moby Dick (backing track)
Side Two: Heartbreaker (rough mix with vocal), Living Loving maid (she's just a woman) (backing track), Ramble on (rough mix with vocal), La la (intro/outro rough mix)

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