* J.S. Bach: Cello Suites (ter Linden) (Brilliant Classics 2CD)
* Laurie Spiegel: The Expanding Universe (Unseen Worlds MP3)†
* William Barsinski: The Disintegration Loops (selections) (Temporary Residence MP3)†
* Anthony Braxton 12+1tet: Venezia 10-13-12 (FM FLAC)
* Don Pullen: Healing Force (Black Saint CD)
* Don Pullen/Chico Freeman/Fred Hopkins/Bobby Battle: Warriors (Black Saint CD)
* Don Pullen/Don Moye: Milano Strut (Black Saint CD)
* Don Pullen/Joseph Jarman/Don Moye: The Magic Triangle (Black Saint CD)
* Pat Metheny Group: We Live Here (Geffen CD)
* Pat Metheny Group: Imaginary Day (Geffen DVD-A)
* Material: The Third Power (Island CD)
* Material: Hallucination Engine (Axiom/Island CD)
* Grateful Dead: Stanley Theatre, Pittsburgh, PA 11-30-79 (selections) (SBD 3CDR)
* Grateful Dead: Stanley Theatre, Pittsburgh, PA 12-01-79 (selections) (SBD 3CDR)
* Grateful Dead: Boston Garden, Boston, MA 10-01-94 (selections) (SBD 3CDR)
* Jerry Garcia & David Grisman: Shady Grove (Acoustic Disc HDCD)
* Neil Young & Crazy Horse: Psychedelic Pill (Reprise 2HDCD/BD)
* Led Zeppelin: Celebration Day (Swan Song/Atlantic 2CD/BD/DVD)
* Camel: Camel (MCA/Universal CD)
* Camel: Mirage (Decca/EMI CD)†/‡
* Camel: (Music Inspired By) The Snow Goose (Decca/EMI CD)†
* Camel: Moonmadness (Decca/EMI CD)†
* Camel: Rain Dances (Decca/EMI CD)
* Camel: A Live Record (Decca/EMI 2CD)
* Guided By Voices: The Bears For Lunch (GBV, Inc. CD/LP)
* Guided By Voices: “White Flag” (side B) (GBV, Inc. 7”EP)
* Guided By Voices: “Everywhere Is Miles From Everywhere” (side B) (GBV, Inc. 7”)
* Guided By Voices: “Hangover Child” (side B) (GBV, Inc. 7”)
* Jim O’Rourke: Eureka (Drag City LP)
* Tortoise: It’s All Around You (Thrill Jockey CD)
* Tortoise: Beacons of Ancestorship (Thrill Jockey CD)
* Neurosis: Honor Found In Decay (Epitaph MP3)†
* Opeth: Ghost Reveries (Roadrunner HDCD)†
* Opeth: Watershed (Roadrunner CD)†
* Opeth: Heritage (Roadrunner CD/DVD)†
* Storm Corrosion: Storm Corrosion (Roadrunner CD/BD)
* Anathema: A Natural Disaster (Music For Nations/Sony CD)
* Anathema: We’re Here Because We’re Here (KScope CD/DVD)
* Alcest: Écailles de Lune (Prophecy Productions CD)†/‡
* Alcest: Les Voyages de l’Âme (Prophecy Productions CD)†/‡
* Mastodon: Crack The Skye (Reprise DVD)
* Baroness: Yellow & Green (Relapse 2LP)
* Grails: Take Refuge In Clean Living (Important CD)
* Grails: Burning Off Impurities (Temporary Residence 2LP)
* Grails: Doomsdayer’s Holiday (Temporary Residence CD)
* Grails: Deep Politics (Temporary Residence 2LP)
* Astra: The Weirding (Metal Blade CD)
* Astra: The Black Chord (Metal Blade CD)
Well, this turned out better than anyone could have hoped.
When Led Zeppelin reunited for a one-off gig at the O2 arena in London on December 10, 2007, it was their first live performance in 19 years—and 27 years since the death of drummer, John Bonham. Some 20 million people entered a lottery for the 18,000 tickets available and, needless to say, expectations were through the roof.
Previous reunions had been disastrous to say the least: of their 1985 Live-Aid performance, Robert Plant called it “an atrocity” and the Atlantic Records 40th Anniversary Concert on May 14, 1988 was “one big disappointment” according to Jimmy Page (“the gig was foul,” added Plant). With the death of Ahmet Etregun in late 2006, the three surviving members of Led Zeppelin decided to reunite once more for a charity concert in his honor. John Bonham’s son, Jason, would fittingly sit in on the drums.
This time, they decided to do it right—they would actually rehearse.
Cell phone footage and audience recordings circulated online almost immediately following the concert and it was clear that the band was on fire as they powered through an astonishing two-plus-hour set. Rumors of an ensuing tour were quickly squelched but a DVD of the O2 gig was promised to be released someday. Now, five years later, the official document of what may be Led Zeppelin’s final performance is finally here—and it is a revelation.
Filmed with no less than 15 cameras (including three Super-8s scattered in the audience) and meticulously recorded to multitrack, Celebration Day is a state-of-the-art concert film befitting this legendary band. It starts off rough and ready – they seem a little nervous as they struggle through “Good Times Bad Times” and a re-worked “Ramble On.” However, the salacious “Black Dog” finally catches the band firing on all cylinders and the momentum just builds from there. Some songs are played in a lower key to accommodate Plant’s aging voice but he acquits himself quite well, sounding a lot better than some of those old bootlegs, to be sure. Only “Dazed and Confused” and “Stairway to Heaven” fail to scale the heights of their former glory—but it doesn’t really matter; it’s clear the band is having a blast on stage and their joy is infectious. Moreover, the powerful, hypnotic “Kashmir” is utterly riveting and by far the highlight of the set—and possibly the best live version ever, to my ears. Not bad for an oldies act!
By the end of “Whole Lotta Love” and “Rock And Roll,” Led Zeppelin sounds like they’re just getting warmed up, ready to hit the road for another joint. Page, Bonham and John Paul Jones were apparently willing to go on tour when promoters began offering them millions of dollars up front. But it was Plant who nixed the deal—and who could blame him? After all, he has his own career and has no need for the money. In the long run, it is probably the wise decision. The positive energy and mutual goodwill of the O2 appearance could have quickly dissipated during the stresses of a full-blown tour as old enmities reared their heads. Still, I and millions of others would love the opportunity to see Led Zeppelin live—especially if they sounded anything like this! For now, Celebration Day will remain an inspiring postscript to the Led Zeppelin legacy.
Available in multiple formats, the “deluxe” 2CD/Blu-Ray set includes a bonus DVD of a rehearsal at Shepperton Studios on December 6, 2007. While shot from a static, distant perspective and lacking the excitement of an audience, the band actually sounds even better than on the gig itself, totally relaxed and just going for it with everything they've got. After a spell-binding performance of “Since I’ve Been Loving You,” Plant asks into his mic if the rehearsal is being recorded and. after being answered in the affirmative, he says, “Good. I don’t think we’ve played it that well since about 1910.” Indeed. Even if you’re the most casual Zeppelin fan, this is most highly recommended.