Babe, I'm gonna comeback to you

"Led Zeppelin has confirmed a reunion show on November 26th at London's "The O2", aiding an education fund of the late former Atlantic Records executive Ahmet Ertegün"
"…new collection titled 'Mothership'. The 2-disc collection will feature 24 tracks of Zeppelin's career and will be available in…"
"…a DVD edition of 'The Song Remains The Same' remastered, remixed and with six songs not included on the original release"
"…reunion concert has been postponed to December 10th because guitarist Jimmy Page has fractured his finger."

Indeed, the media fiasco around Led Zeppelin's upcoming reunion show has gone well beyond the tipping point, only fitting the titanic band that is Led Zeppelin – the most successful rock band in history, estimated to have sold almost 110 million albums worldwide.
Rumors around the reunion show, featuring the late John Bonham's son (as royalty, through inheritance) Jason Bonham on drums, spurt well before the actual date was settled and raised the scent of nostalgia in the air…the zeppelin began to float again and became seen and heard in more and more places…pubs squeezed "Ramble On" and "Communication Breakdown" it into their (usually lukewarm) playlists, radio programs from the better side of the FM scale easily reinserted "Whole Lotta Love", "Kashmir" and "Since I've Been Loving You" to their hype-generated playlists, and most recently (November 13th) millions of I-pod users joined-in legally thanks to the remaining band members' decision to launch the band's discography online on iTunes.
Indeed, the zeppelin is airborne again.

While taking off a pin of "Houses Of The Holy" I had on my former high school bag, and relocating it to a small bag I now use for short trips to the nearest metropolis, a wonderment arose in me regarding this – the latest trendy statement. The rocker look is in fashion (especially that of the 80's), so is Zeppelin in its over-popular LiveAid reunion heroin chic yet another symptom or is the rejuvenated hype justified?

Zeppelin, who've sold another copy of one of their albums since you read "Babe, I'm gonna comeback to you" and let "Babe, I'm Gonna Leave You" play, were a phenomenon right from the start. Their 1969 self-titled album struck colossal waves, with its clean blend of blues oriented rock 'n roll and folk, creating what was then the first band to be titled a heavy metal band. In fact, the band's output in retrospect is closer to what one would now name hard rock, but the phrase 'heavy metal' is still contributed to it. The following 2 albums (Led Zeppelin II and Led Zeppelin III), which were out in less than two years, based the band's status as a phenomenon in the music world. The peak of that era was probably (or Led Zeppelin IV), a true classic and an album considered the band's best; "Stairway To Heaven", its center piece, (every guitar player's first attempt) is widely recognized as one of the best-known songs worldwide, with its solo crowned the best guitar solo ever, and about 3 million radio plays in the US alone, despite the fact its length (8:01) prevented it from ever being released as a single.

Led Zep' continued its voyage, explored more and more into folk, blues and psychedelia with the following releases "Houses Of The Holy" and "Physical Graffiti", had a slight misstep in 1976's "Presence" (noted mostly as their weakest album) and made an unconscious affable finale in 1979's "In Through The Out Door". On the morning on September 25th 1980, the ultimate-band fantasy ended. Drummer John Bonham was found dead, the cause being asphyxiation from his own vomit. His alcohol addiction was to bring the band to its end, right before hair metal, glam, synths, shoulder pads and punk took over the world.

With the release of a new collection ("Mothership") going through Zeppelin's eight studio albums, the re-issue of the concert film "The Song Remains The Same", the legal internet digital downloads available and the December 10th reunion show it seems that Zeppelin are attacking on all fronts. Eventually, "Mothership" is isn't their first collection and actually not a much needed one for those who know the band and their immense influence on rock and heavy metal, nor is the reunion the first to occur. The DVD re-issue, however, does show previously unreleased material, with overall much improved sound quality and allows a look on Led Zep's peak (1973).
For a fifth (or sixth, depending on whether you count Page and Plant's work without John Paul Jones) reunion, the unavoidable question of how the performance everyone covets a golden ticket to will be, is the key issue.

Promotion events for "Mothership" and the DVD reissue of "The Song Remains The Same" have been taking place all around, playing the rare footage of the band (out of the deluxe editions), dating from early 1970 to late 1979. On these very videos one can see the band at its best and how it grows and eventually loses some of its magic. Zep's virginity subsided over the years, hair went thinner and shorter, plant's trademark tight pants and visible member got lost in favor of looser pants while page's heroin addiction became more and more visible… it all sums up to the effect of being a successful band. Add that to the recent reports from the current reunion's rehearsals, where some of the songs were given some variations due to Plant not being able to sing as he could in his youth, and you're bound to enjoy the memories (like the 1970 Albert Hall concert featured in the deluxe edition of "Mothership") more than the actual show. But hey, that's nostalgia for ya' – some things, while charming, don't work as well after 40 years of existence.

So what now? Where does the band's legacy stand considering all of the above? Same as the semi-disappointing 2005 Live 8 reunion influenced Pink Floyd's position, influence, and how it's perceived – they're at exactly at the same place. Led Zeppelin's impact on rock is inestimable. Some show, even if it's been almost 20 years since the remaining members preformed together, won't change the impact, the prestige and the legacy of Led Zeppelin.

After the media thunderstorm – following and distorting every word coming out of either Page, Plant, Jones on Bonham junior and turning it into a superlative newspaper-selling-titles or online entry rises – passes by, the gigantic zeppelin in the sky may find itself at a lower place in the public awareness' view, though one thing is for sure – it will be floating at a safer level, only visible to those who really like the band, instead of those who just say they like it 'cause it's currently "cool" to be into vintage stuff. The song indeed remains the same, but only for those who don't ramble on too much, and know that there's nothing like Rock And Roll, baby.

Ofer Vayner

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