PictureThe Song Remains the Same comes to us on this BluRay disc using Warner's preferred VC-1 codec at 1080p with a correct theatrical ratio of 1.85:1. Bear in mind that this film is some 35 years old now and as such some of the archival footage of the band arriving, their hallucinations and footage outside Madison Square Gardens display a certain amount of grain; also during these snippets there are some brightness dropouts and the odd, but never intrusive, specks.
Once the actual concert footage kicks in though it's a different matter completely. The film is pristine and Warner should be credited for their remastering process. Colours on stage are wonderfully presented with no bleed and excellent fidelity. Spotlight graduations show no signs of banding, flesh tones from their sweat fevered brows are spot on. Contrast and shadow detail again whilst on stage hold up well. Black levels, whilst still not rich deep, are more than acceptable with shadow detail holding up well with crew easily identified in the wings and behind the speakers.
Encoding is top notch with no signs of any artificial artefacts being introduced. No blocking or enhancement on show. Bearing in mind the age and source quality of some of the footage this still gains a high enough mark.
SoundOn offer are Dolby Digital True HD 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Digital 2.0. Whilst reviewing I switched a few times between the TrueHD and standard 5.1 track for comparison, leaving behind the 2.0 track because it's woefully thin. There's not too much to take between the two. The TrueHD track offers some greater dynamic range (always handy for these guys) and more of a punch for Paul Jones' bass lines.
As I mentioned before on my Destiny's Child review concert footage is obviously dependant on fantastic audio and this remastered disc delivers in spades. Dynamic range is superb from the deep bass lines or Bonham's drums to the high pitched squeals of Plant's vocals and Page's intricate fret work. The audio is wide and encompassing obviously being predominantly front based with wonderful stereo effects coming from the left and right; Plant's vocals squarely emanating from the centre channel.
The surrounds aren't left out either. In the main used for crowd effects or planes taking off, and this works incredibly well. They also kick in with some vocal or guitar echoing effects. Like the crowd effects these work well and add an extra dimension to some of the psychedelic music on offer. Please note that during 8 seconds of Bonham's drum solo during Moby Dick the TrueHD track drops out completely, not a sound can be heard; this doesn't happen with the standard 5.1 or 2.0 Dolby Digital offering.
ExtrasWarner have again pulled out the stops somewhat and included on this disc a good set of extras for fans to enjoy.
- Tampa News Report. - 0:03:27
A Pulse News Report showing the arrival in Tampa of Led Zeppelin's airplane The Starship. The band being escorted to the stadium and the hoards of fans queuing to attend.
- Song: Over the Hills and Far Away. - 0:06:24
Playable in standard 5.1 or Dolby Digital 2.0 this is a song taken from the Houses of the Holy album and never before seen on video. Plant continues with his stage version adding the 'Acapulco Gold' to the end of the line 'A pocket full of gold'
- Boating Down the Thames: Interview with Plant and Grant. - 0:08:22
An interview for The Old Grey Whistle Test where Plant and Grant are interviewed on the Swanage Queen as it steams its way down the Thames. It's an interesting enough short answering questions as to why the concert was filmed in the first place, why isn't it on television and what did in fact happen to that $200,000.00 from The Drake Hotel.
- Song: Celebration Day. - 0:03:41
From Led Zeppelin III another song from the tour which has not before seen the light of day. Like Over the Hills it has an option of a 5.1 or 2.0 track.
- The Robbery. - 0:04:03
A very short pseudo documentary concentrating on the $200,000.00 which went missing from a safe deposit box at The Drake Hotel. The press conference is shown where the hotel's manager and Peter Grant are quizzed. The NYPD is interviewed asking for their opinions and it's all brought together by a news reporter from WNBC.
- Song: Misty Mountain Hop - 0:04:52
Another unreleased video version of this song from Led Zeppelin IV.
- Song: The Ocean 0:04:46
Another unreleased video version of this song from Houses of the Holy.
- Radio Profile Spotlight by Cameron Crowe (1976). - 0:16:09
Probably the best of the extras included here, a vocal only presentation of a profile of Led Zeppelin. Their albums are discussed and how they formed, and the film itself is briefly touched upon. If you want a small insight into their history then this is a good enough place to start.
- Trailer. - 0:01:00
As the name suggests.
The extras in the main consist of a number of previously unseen concert footage and these are all worthwhile, especially as they can be played in Dolby Digital 5.1. It would have been fantastic if some of the band members had contributed to a commentary but alas this wasn't to be and is perhaps a missed opportunity seeing Led Zeppelin are in the ascendancy again. The radio documentary is a well worthwhile listen as is the robbery featurette. Both give some insight into the band and this mysterious robbery.
VerdictLike many others I too had my name in the hat to try and get tickets for their one off gig at the O2 arena. Typically my name never came up so it was a good backup to have this on standby. Why Warner have pulled it from their schedules I can't say, did the audio drop out have anything to do with it; who knows?
Ultimately though this is a worthwhile disc to own, especially now it has been pulled. That aside though it's still more than worth it to see one of, if not the, top rock bands from my generation. Their performances on stage can't be faulted, look at the effort Jimmy Page puts in as the sweat pours off him.
When, and if, you get your hands on it then make sure you crank up those volume dials to 11, sit back and have This is Spinal Tap on standby to see exactly where they picked their inspiration from. Highly recommended.
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- Tampa News Report. - 0:03:27